Gender is where the feminist and LGBTI movements meet. Here’s why

LGBTI

(Christian Sterk, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Julia Ehrt, Director of Programmes, International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association


We have recently witnessed millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people protesting in streets across the globe to call out homo-, bi-, trans and interphobia, to fight against discrimination and violence towards our communities and for a life lived in dignity and respect. And while LGBTI issues have entered the common media, and much has been written on the root causes of the violence and discrimination against LBGTI people, there continues to be a plethora of misperceptions and ill-founded assumptions around sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics. The lack of knowledge on LGBTI issues is striking and hard to eradicate – and sometimes, it is members of our own communities who perpetuate these ideas.

One very common pattern of thought is that if people read or hear about sexual orientation or gender identity, they will assume the subject is an LGBTI person. While this is understandable, because that terminology was coined to fight against discrimination on these grounds, it falls short of recognizing that every human being has a sexual orientation and a gender identity. Sexual orientation gives an answer to the question about to whom we feel sexually attracted – if at all – and with whom we want to have sexual and/or romantic relationships. This is the case irrespective of what that sexual orientation is. Our gender identity, on the other hand, is a reference to how we experience our own sense of being a gendered individual. It does not matter whether we are trans, non-binary, gender diverse, a-gender, male or female, or have an indigenous gender identity – everybody has a gender identity.

Another very commonly held view is that our gender is fixed throughout our life – or in other words, if we are born female or male, we will die female or male. While this is true for many people, it is not true for everyone. Identities change over the course of our lives and the same can be true for our gender identity. Often these changes are small – almost unnoticeable – and only become apparent over long periods of time. Sometimes changes can be perceived as quite drastic – for example when a trans persons ‘comes out’ as trans and declares that he/she/they want to use a different gendered pronoun, a different name or that their gender identity is now different. From the outside this looks like a drastic change – on the inside it often is not. The majority of trans people will have thought about their coming out for a long time before going public.

A very commonly held notion about trans people is that we are a person of one gender born into a differently gendered body. For example, trans women are often referred to as ‘women born with a male body’. This can go as far as saying trans women had ‘female brains’ in male bodies.

Some trans people perceive their situation in this way, but many do not. The ‘born into a body of the wrong sex’ notion is just a reflection of the social construct that our bodies define our gender, which then again defines our (gendered) roles in society. This is problematic. Firstly, there is a clear hierarchy in gender roles in most societies – women have less autonomy and less access to power, they are less independent and are paid less. Furthermore, the ‘sex defines gender’ notion gives rise to the reverse train of thought, that a person with a female (or male) identity has to be someone who has a female (or male) body. This forces trans people into gender-confirming surgeries in order for their bodies to resemble those of cis (someone whose gender matches the sex they were assignd at birth) women or men.

This is a step towards normalizing surgeries on intersex infants, children and adults – often performed without their consent (intersex persons are persons born with or who develop sex characteristics that cannot be assigned as completely male or completely female). Intersex persons have often been used by the LGBT community, feminist and women’s movements and others to make the case that sex is not binary. Although it is true that neither sex nor gender are intrinsically binary, using intersex people to claim a third sex disregards the fact that many – if not the majority of – intersex people identify as male or female and only some identify as intersex, non-binary or other than male or female.

 

What is common to all these examples is the simplified notion that the sex we are assigned at birth defines our gender, and that both this sex and associated gendering inform our gender role as social beings as well as our sexual orientation. Anyone who deviates from this pattern can experience severe consequences which manifest themselves in violence, discrimination and ill-treatment of women and LGBTI people globally.

The feminist movement has been dismantling the belief that our sex and gender should define our roles in society and has been fighting the inherent gender-based discrimination and violence resulting from that belief for more than a century. This is where feminist and LGBTI movements meet: the ill-treatment of women in our societies and the ill-treatment of LGBTI persons have the same root cause. It is all about sex and gender – and they should be tackled jointly.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Building climate resilience and peace, go hand in hand for Africa’s Sahel – UN forum

Myanmar military committed ‘routine, systematic’ sexual violence against ethnic minorities, UN experts find

London is becoming the world’s first National Park City

These are the places with the most climate change deniers

Amending Guatemala ‘reconciliation law’ would lead to unjust amnesty, warns Bachelet

What next for Europe? Three (completely) different Davos views

Afghanistan: UN mission welcomes new polling dates following election delays

Can privatisation be the panacea for the lack of growth in Europe?

Office workers in these economies clock up the most extra hours

A Sting Exclusive: “Asia-Pacific response to COVID-19 and climate emergency must build a resilient and sustainable future”, by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General

‘Being open about my mental health created a better work culture’

Actions not words: what was promised at the UN’s landmark climate summit?

Localized microfactories – the new face of globalized manufacturing

Chart of the day: These countries have the largest carbon footprints

Mexico: Helping refugees go into business, a ‘win-win situation’, says UNHCR’s Grandi

Commission’s feeble response to financial benchmarks fraud

Migration: Better travel safe than sorry

Universal Health Coverage will ‘drive progress’ on 2030 Development Agenda

European Council: Choosing new leaders for the EU betrays efforts for a wider arrangement

The 28 EU leaders don’t touch the thorny issues

How the United States is falling in love with secondhand clothes

Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Libya ‘war crime’ attack, Sudan, Myanmar rights violations continue, ‘xenophobia’ in Assam, South Sudan update

Steps taken to end Saudi ‘guardianship’ system for women, ‘encouraging’ start

25 years on from landmark conference, millions of women and girls still in danger: UN deputy chief

Partner countries get €3bn in loans to prop up economies affected by pandemic

Ukraine’s Poroshenko implicates NATO in his duel with Putin

This is the life of a refugee: the constant destruction and construction of dreams every day

Global leaders and companies pledge to reduce the gender pay gap by 2030

EU to present a “hefty” exit bill to the UK moments before Brexit negotiations

Prisoner executions in Belarus ‘simply unacceptable’, says UN rights body

Four in five adolescents failing to exercise for even 60 minutes a day, UN health agency warns

Central African Republic militia leader and football executive, transferred to ICC

Deeper reforms in Korea will ensure more inclusive and sustainable growth

The vehicles of our future

Coronavirus update: Countries urged to fight ‘controllable’ pandemic

Philippe de Backer of ALDE at European Business Summit 2015 stresses: “Reinvent your business”

The Red Cross’s health chief explains how business must respond to coronavirus

What is the Coral Triangle?

The Challenger Within – Mental Health In Romania During Lockdown

Refugee crisis update: EU seeks now close cooperation with Africa while Schulz is shocked to witness live one single wreck full of immigrants

We must prevent a post-COVID ‘carmageddon’. Here’s how

Millions of Bangladeshi children at risk from climate crisis, warns UNICEF

Bahamas: ‘Clock is ticking’ to help those who lost everything in Hurricane Dorian, says UN

UN chief welcomes prisoner exchange between the Russia and Ukraine

World is closer than ever to seeing polio disappear for good

Major UN aid operation for 650,000 gets underway across Syria-Jordan border

Theresa May expresses her optimism about Britain’s economic success while UK business outlook seems ominous

Draghi: Germany has to spend if Eurozone is to exit recession

Theresa May’s global Britain against Philip Hammond’s Brexit fog

Can we balance conservation and development? Science says yes

Commission challenges Council over EU 2014 budget

Why we need to rethink geo-economics to beat climate change

Hospitals among seven health centres attacked in Syria’s north-east

ITU Telecom World 2017: exploring smart digital transformation

Guterres underlines climate action urgency, as UN weather agency confirms record global warming

Human Rights Council election: 5 things you need to know about it

EU to fail 2050 Green targets due to lack of European citizens’ engagement

G20 LIVE: “Re-envisioning the economy to enable women to reach their full potential” live from Antalya Turkey

India’s Largest Entrepreneurship Event is Back! (23-24th August 2016)

The Japanese have a word to help them be less wasteful – ‘mottainai’

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s