Gender binary is the separation of gender into two contrasting categories, female and male. This accepts that specific genders have correlating identities and roles and rejects the idea of incorporating characteristics of opposing gender identities. This social construct expects specific behaviors and actions dependent on a person’s gender and this allows degradation of any person who opposes this binary system.
Exclusion Caused by Gender Binary
People do not fit into the gender binary for many reasons. This can be due to genetic differences that do not allow a person to fit into one specific gender or the lack of acceptance of the gender identity and role assigned by a specific gender. Whatever the reason, people who do not fit into this binary are discriminated against by other individuals, social institutions, and even laws.
People who defy their gender identity and role in any way do not fit perfectly into the gender binary. People challenge their expected gender identity in many difference methods, from the choice in clothing a person wears to personality traits that go against the expectations for their gender. Not adhering to an expected gender identity has become more common; however, people still face discrimination when defying their gender and the social norms associated with gender.
Unlike people who actively choose to defy their gender, other people have genetic differences that they are born with. Genetic differences biologically cause a person not to be able to fit directly into one category of gender. This is known as intersex. A person who is intersex exhibits both male and female traits.
Heteronormativity is created from the social contructs of the gender binary. This creates the assumption that males are sexually attracted to females and females are attracted to males. The expectation is that a person will be attracted to another person of the opposite gender and anyone who strays form this idea is not fitting into the expected binary.
Life Stages of the Gender Binary
The gender binary can be observed in all facets of life, from the color of blanket newborn children are wrapped in at birth to the separation of bathrooms by gender. The gender binary paves the expected route each person should follow through life depending on their gender. The gender binary is seen even before birth, as Gender Stories shows, expecting parents hoping that their child will be a certain gender because of the presumed characteristics that child will have (Foss, Domenico, and Foss 62).
Thomas Moore’s Utopia also shows the gender binary most simply in the clothing differences between the two genders (43). In the attempt to make a perfect place where everyone is equal each person should have the same clothing but the clothing would be different for the different genders. In Moore’s description it is almost stated that there would be no possible way for men and women to wear the same clothing. This separation shows that even when equality is the goal with a gender binary there can never be equality between the two genders.
Foss, Sonja F., Mary E. Domenico, and Karen A. Foss. Gender Stories: Negotiating Identity of a Binary World. Long Grove: Waveland Press, 2013. Print.
Gender Binary System. 2012. Picture. SMYRC. Web. 9 Jan 2013.
Moore, Thomas. Utopia. Hollywood: Simon & Brown, 2011. Print.