Gender Neutrality Essay

3592 words - 14 pages

To what extent does the term 'gender-neutral' (and those who identify as such) pose problems for the current gender discourse, religious ideas of gender and religiosity?It is in the opinion of this essay that modernist queer theory and the current gender discourse exists within a self-contained irony. This irony is produced primarily when scholars who aim to criticise concepts such as established social norms and binaries indirectly perpetuate their existence, by either creating a slightly more accommodating style of binary or by establishing more labels for people to adopt. This essay will examine the academic obsession with 'the binary' - considering whether a discussion on gender (or lack thereof) is possible without binaries, or whether they are far too embedded within our cultural discourse to be fully amputated from the discussion. In the discussion of the 'gender-neutral', an attempt will be made to see if - as a term - it can offer a form of identity without binaries. A case study featuring two people who identity under the rubric of 'gender-neutral' will offer insight into what this term represents for such people, whether they have used binaries to create 'The Self' through the negation of 'The Other' and how this term has impacted on their religiosity. Post-structuralism and post-modern theories from scholars such as Judith Butler will be employed to see if a state of 'post-binary' (or even more ambitiously 'post-gender') can be achieved.It is important to define the key terms under discussion, as they are loaded linguistically with a number of possible assumptions that need to be addressed. Gender-neutrality is both a biological precedent and an identity phenomenon, with a very complex definition (it often means different things for different people). It encompasses those who are scientifically classed as intersex, often those who are hermaphrodites, some Transgender individuals and other labels that diverge from the male/female or masculine/feminine spectrum. This idea of a biological basis for the definition (in some cases) sets it apart from other labels intrinsically, which will be discussed later in regards to the terms male and female. Those who are not born into the scientific definitions listed above, yet have decided to identify as gender-neutral out of choice are sometimes considered Transgender, especially if they have undergone some form of gender-reassignment surgery, hormones or likewise. In most cases, a person who identifies as gender-neutral is also considered to have 'Gender Dysphoria', when a person is not comfortable with their assumed birth gender (Heylens, et al., 2012, pp. 751-757). The blurring and amalgamating of these definitions is obviously confusing and problematic. When in this essay the term 'gender-neutral' occurs, it primarily means to discuss those that have diverged from their birth gender into a state of the 'genderless', however those who have not been assigned a gender from birth will also be...

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