Zoning in: Gender Neutrality

Nyomi Fox, Opinion Editor

We’ve known the rule since childhood—you can’t fit square pegs into round holes. Still abiding by this elementary standard, those who do not fit into one of the two traditional gender categories, male or female, should not be shoved into one with which they do not align. Fortunately, Gen Z grasps the rule preached to toddlers.

There have undoubtedly been people who have identified as non-binary in the past, but our generation is acknowledging the validity of their identities and providing the opportunity to reject their unwanted labels. Expression once stifled and repressed by the expectations of others is now deemed to be yet another element of diversity.

In recent years, schools have embraced the notion that “she” and “he” are not the only available pronouns for use. Bathrooms labeled “gender neutral” have been introduced—WJ has two. Activists in Argentina are pushing for gender-neutral educational systems and, even further, for gender-neutral language. Our generation craves diverse expression and demands acceptance. 

Abandoning such an accepted concept, one incorporated into society since the discovery of genitalia, is an act of bravery and defiance. An act of such meaning should be applauded and celebrated. 

Gen Z’ers live on a spectrum. The world, in our blue-light-ridden eyes, is no longer masculine or feminine, gay or straight. Our generation sees the grey area and welcomes it. Sexuality is not limited to the attraction towards one gender; gender is not limited to identity coinciding with male or female labels.

No, this does not mean the people who bravely disassociate from a certain gender-identity will walk easy paths towards acceptance. But within our generation, there are more opportunities for support and recognition, and we should capitalize on the progress. 

For reasons other than the celebration of diversity, why should this nuance be applauded? Due to inherent physical disparities, historically women have been stigmatized to be weaker, domestic and generally less useful to society. Take a quick glance at every mode of currency in America to determine the perception of men—their smug faces will share it all. Gender, like race, has only served to separate, to illuminate differences that have no bearing on the potential or capacity of a human being. 

Ridding oneself of the ties to this sexist construct is protesting the stigmatism that America radiates. While nonbinary people may not identify as such for this reason, my metaphorical heart floats at the thought of people simply being people, not burdened by meaningless labels. 

Not all people will understand the decision to divorce oneself from the traditional gender identities; some opponents claim a spectrum of gender identity is a source of confusion for children growing up in this progressive era. 

Stigmatizing non-traditional expressionism as a source for confusion is nonsense. Children growing up today will not feel confused, but instead unrestricted. For most, being enveloped by an atmosphere of social freedom facilitates expression that feels right, comfortable. If this is considered confusion, then we may as well be labeled the Land of the Confused. Freedom doesn’t spark perplexity, so why are opponents acting like it does?