Dismantling the Gender Binary

Gender binary is the classification of both sex and gender into two distinct and disconnected categories. The unrealistic expectations that go along with the labels boy and girl, leave people striving to meet standards that harm others and themselves. Take masculinity for example;  “[Society] constructed an idea of masculinity in the United States that doesn’t give young boys a way to feel secure in their masculinity. So [they are made to] prove it all the time.” (Dr. Michael Kimmel, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hc45-ptHMxo) This creates hypermasculinity, which causes gender based violence, and low self-esteem. Now let’s switch to femininity. It is displayed in media with violent and oppressive images that shapes how women are viewed; as objects to be utilized by men.

The gender binary also hurts those who do not fit the binary. They do not meet societal expectations, and therefore face ostracisation and become victims of bullying and violence. The exclusive gender binary creates a divide which disconnects genders completely. Colonialism views gender as an either/or, not as fluid scale. This is an issue as the expectations are of the extreme ends of the scale, which leaves people in the middle to pick a side or risk exclusion.

For myself, it was interesting to discover the extent that gender binary hurts all people. I had assumed that without the pressures of femininity and masculinity, that scrutinization would be minimized, not magnified. It is important to undo the gender binary so that it gives people the ability to feel secure in themselves. Undoing gender is difficult, but it starts with simple changes such as using non-gender specific compliments, encouraging people to experience emotions across the gender spectrum, and uplift the voices of those who reject the gender binary. I also try to reassuring the men in my life that masculinity does not rely on proof, and I create my own expectations of what it means to be my best self. It is through hard work and conscious effort that the gender binary will be dismantled.

How do you plan to or already partake in the dismantlement of the gender binary?



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Author: Hayley Hodson

I have known I wanted to be a teacher my entire life. I never had a doubt in my mind of what I wanted to be in this world. Even though I was certain of the end goal, I never stopped to wonder what the journey to get to that point would look like. This blog is it. This blog is the messy middle where I transition from student to teacher. Every thought and belief I have and learn throughout my education is posted to this blog in order to document my journey in becoming a teacher. I invite you all to join me as I strive to become more than just a teacher, but also a kind and inclusive citizen.

3 thoughts on “Dismantling the Gender Binary”

  1. Hi Hayley, I really enjoyed your post.
    I thought you nailed it on the nose that there are unrealistic characteristics for people that they have to conform to the ones that society presets onto us. As well, the idea that women are treated like objects by men is true. There are people that are male feminists like Justin Trudeau and I would be curious to see your take on that.
    There are also kids that face stress and trauma from bullying because they are afraid from being who they were meant to be. To say that you need to pick a side or be excluded and face negative consequences is a very true story and it is tragic.
    I agree with that the gender binary hurts all people who do not neccessarily conform to it. I would want to respect people wherever they want to classify themselves in whatever conform and not set extreme exceptations on people.
    Thank you for your post!



  2. Thanks for your insightful post, Hayley! In my own story about gender, I wrote about how I never felt the need to assert my masculinity. Maybe it was because I was raised by a single mother, and only had a sister. Thus, I did not have an older male role model. Of course, this is not the best thing, as a good male role model could have helped me a lot, but the lack of one was helpful in that I was not constantly reminded of what it means to be a “man” or “manly”. I learned very well from my mom and sister how to be a person, and still I felt that I was still a boy..
    I agree that to help, we should use gender non-specific language. We should be careful in our use of pronouns, compliments, descriptions of objects, emotions, etc. The more that we make all of these things non-gender specific, the more we accept each person as an individual who is comprised of all of these things, but not defined by them. Cheers!


  3. Hi hayley , I enjoyed the post. You made great points about the unrealistic expectations that are set on girls and boys. As the new generation we need to open doors and have new views on how we see genders because you are definitely right, it is hurting many people. i agree with your statement about undoing the gender binary, that is a great way to start.
    thanks for the post!


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