Reading bits and pieces of Kate Bornstein’s My Gender Workbook has lead me to explore the basics of gender, how we form them, where we get them from, and what we do with them. Our lives are dominated by the assumption that we fit into either the male or female gender categories and yet we forget that this is not always the case for everyone. Many people in fact lie in a gender Bornstein describes as ‘no gender’, which is where she places herself.
What exactly is “no gender”? Kate Bornstein explains this in simple terms:
I live pretty much without a gender, which paradoxically means I can do many genders.
The idea of ‘no gender’ thus appears to have a sense of complete gender freedom, perhaps deciding on your own gender when you wake up in the morning or assuming multiple genders at the same time. Questioning our genders in this way is still however generally blocked culturally as a taboo subject, although the public discourse is gradually catching up and exploring these issues that millions struggle with daily due to a lack of understanding and support.
I see gender as a limitless scale, of which we all fall somewhere regarding our preferences in gender formation. Our own identities defined by our upbringing, the people we meet and the people we choose to be allow for us to also choose our own genders, and have absolute control to change genders at any point in our lives if we feel like it. Bornstein’s personal journey lead her to change her gender from male to female, and now identifies as neither. Gradually our society will begin to embrace the idea of “no gender” and overturn traditionally taboo ideas. Here’s a link to Kate’s own blog which is regularly updated.
Here’s a blog and short clip from Nat Geo’s Taboo: Changing Gender, an interesting insight and perspective on the “no gender” dichotomy.