What’s it like to be “gender-neutral”? Craig Storrie finds out.
In more recent years awareness of gender neutrality has slowly been on the rise. In the media the term is mostly used in reference to raising children in an environment that doesn’t lean towards one gender or the other so that the child isn’t influenced by society’s labels towards how they refer to themselves and their outlook on life.
For example, a child in a gender-neutral environment will be exposed to toys or clothes that neither leans towards a female or a male designation, such as dolls for girls and cars for boys. They will also be able to play with or wear whatever they want when they are old enough to choose what interests them, regardless if a child born a boy wants to wear a dress or a child born a girl wants to play with action figures. It’s a very healthy way of bringing up a child by showing that labels aren’t important, it’s that child’s happiness that matters the most.
More and more over the last few years many young adults and adults that were brought up with the usual conventions of things for boys and things for girls are now identifying themselves as gender-neutral as they do not feel that they identify with or fit into any of the labels or categories that are currently out there.
They don’t see themselves as feminine or masculine, just as a person who wants to live their lives the way that they choose to. A large majority of people who identify as gender-neutral associate themselves and feel more comfortable within the LGBT+ community as there is more acceptance from people who can relate to feelings of rejection and confusion. Many people who are LGBT+ also grow up not knowing where they fitted in society in general.
To further understand the viewpoints and outlook of a person who is gender-neutral I interviewed someone who was physically born a man but has always referred to themselves as gender-neutral. Gabe is 21 years old from Kansas City, Missouri, and has never really identified as having a gender.
“Sure, I said I was a guy/ man/ dude, but for me, I was really only saying that I have a penis, not that my personality is in any way tied to those pronouns,” he says. “I never understood why people limit themselves and try to push themselves into categories instead of just living in a way they want to live. I’ve always blurred the lines because I didn’t really believe in them. The more I learn about the world, the more I see that our language often hinders us from seeing the way things truly are, and I think that gender is a language problem. I think that it’s fine to somehow indicate to a person that you are XX or XY, but problems come when people try to treat those like categories for personalities/ identities to fall into.”
The most common question I have seen asked when people are interested in learning about gender neutrality is the subject of sexuality. Such as how does someone who doesn’t identify as having a gender describe themselves in regards to sexuality?
When I put the question to Gabe he explained that “I believe that humans are naturally pansexual. Without the society we are cultured in, I think people would love who they want and have sex with who they want without worrying about fitting into a category or label.
“I’m not saying people don’t have preferences, though. I can only see myself with another male for some reason, but who knows? I could fall in love with a best friend some day and it wouldn’t matter what genitals they have. I wish that there were no terms for attraction or sexuality and we had to ask people to describe themselves. Instead of all of the words people are constantly trying to assign, I wish we could all just say who we are and what we like.”
It’s an insightful and powerful answer that should resonate with everyone as anyone should be able to love whomsoever they choose regardless of their own sexuality or gender.
Although when it comes down to it, does being gender-neutral make life harder for the people that identify that way or does being free of the social conventions and labels of day to day life make things that much easier?
For Gabe it is definitely the latter: “Being gender-neutral makes life easier. It’s so nice to never worry about fitting into a category. I don’t police myself on my identity because I don’t see anything as out of bounds. Shopping for clothing is a blast because I’m not afraid to shop in a whole store instead of half of it and I can mix and match items that make me feel cute without worrying if I look ‘manly’ or ‘feminine’ enough. I guess that some people might give me weird looks or judge me for wearing whatever I want, but usually people are intimidated if anything. I really just don’t ever worry about my gender because I don’t think anyone needs to. That makes life a little easier and I’ve never had it affect my daily life. I see the world eventually being genderless and I’m excited to live in a time when we are starting to head in that direction.”