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The gender Binary Contradiction

Jade Price

The gender binary, a systemic paradigm upheld in most societies around the globe, states that
only two genders exist: male or female. The way to determine if someone is male or female is then based
upon clothing, hair cut, mannerisms, vocal tone, and overall appearance. The gender binary then creates a
massive conflict by putting these defined genders in opposition with one another. The ideology states that
if you identify as male you are actively avoiding being considered female and if you identify as being
female you are actively avoiding any attributes associated with masculinity. This system is inherently
false because no one person on the globe could uphold all of the social norms associated with the gender
class assigned to them at birth. One prime example of this is the social fact that “men are not allowed to
cry”, this statement is physically impossible to adhere to because it is a biological function of any man
with tear ducts. Have you ever met or seen a man cry? My guess is that you have. Did their crying
invalidate the fact that they are a man? No, it did not. How could a gender binary, full of contradiction
like this exist, it doesn’t make sense, therefore it can not be real.

The gender binary is the belief system reinforced by social norms, that there are only two choices
of existing: male or female. These two choices have set rules that force individuals to follow in order to
not be met with violence, hatred, or simply put, rejection from society. The gender binary is upheld by not
only structural functionalism, a macro-level perspective of society, but also at an individualistic paradigm
(Dunn 1-11:00). With each interaction in hetero-normative culture, the driving perspective lens in which
heterosexuality is the default and sole representation of a society, the imaginary binary is upheld.

Before even being born individuals are reduced to a color that dictates their way of being. Since
before we are born we are pink or blue, tough or sensitive, girl or boy. This creates a subconscious reflex
that causes a reaction to a child’s behavior. Parents tend to positively reinforce behavior that their children
display that upholds the gender binary norms and punish behavior that contradicts the binary norms
(Leena Nahata in the Official Journal for the American Academy of Pediatrics). Because such a ridiculous
standard is impossible to uphold it is often reinforced with overcompensation. Overcompensation is the
birthplace of dysfunction. A prime example of this is toxic masculinity, the overexertion of unwanted
force usually towards females or female-presenting people to establish dominance, as a trait in men. This
makes way for violence to become a social norm and then be wrongfully accepted because it is seen as
incongruence with the binary expectation of the male gender.

Being met with violence and hatred because of a systemic lie in place is unjust. It negates basic
human rights for the people that do not ascribe to the socially recognized gender options (i.e. male and
female). There is no reason why deviance from the norm should signal a rage in someone that elicits harm
on to someone else. Transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming bodies should not be policied
or discriminated against solely due to existence. Because the gender binary is non-existent, logically,
those individual deviants should be considered valid with a basic human right to wake up each morning
and express their true identities without fear of violence, hatred, bigotry, and in a lot of cases persecution
by death.

In the United States alone, police brutality rates are shockingly high towards trans and gender
non-conforming people. Police enforce the gender binary by being a weaponized militia that targets
deviant individuals. The gender-queer, umbrella term for members of the LQBTQIA+ community that do
not identify with the limited binary options, are reduced to fear of violence at all times due to the fact their
government is murdering them. In the past month alone, four Black transgender women have been
murdered by the police, their names are Nina Pop, Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau, Riah Milton and
Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells. This is not a new occurrence. In the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in New
York, police were able to arrest innocent civilians based on their clothing. If an officer believed that
someone was wearing three articles of clothing of the “opposite gender” than they assumed they were
assigned at birth, police were legally allowed to use aggressive force and jail them. This law was referred
to as the three article law. “Laws criminalizing cross-dressing spread like wildfire around the United
States in the mid-19th century. New York’s, dating back to 1845, was one of the oldest”. (Ryan, Hugh.
“How Dressing in Drag Was Labeled a Crime in the 20th Century).

Some people believe that the binary is a necessary part of societal order. Viewing the binary
through a biological lens, the most common counter-argument to the binary’s existence, is based upon
genitalia and chromosomes. Most individuals that chose to use this tactic to discriminate against gender
non-conforming people are usually very ill-informed. According to an article posted by Leena Nahata in
the Official Journal for the American Academy of Pediatrics,“..boys and girls could be distinguished by
46, XY versus 46, XX chromosomes in addition to their internal and external genitalia. In pediatrics, we
now know that this is not always the case. Currently, it is estimated that 1 in 4500 to 5500 infants are born
with a difference of sex development, congenital conditions within which the development of
chromosomal, gonadal, and anatomic sex is atypical”. Like all things attached to a human each part has a
very unique presentation, genitalia and chromosomes are no exception. These individuals that are atypical
biologically are more commonly referred to as intersexed. Intersexed refers to people who are not
technically male or female (according to the traditional biological perspective). The existence of
intersexed people completely invalidates the gender binary.

Even members of the self-proclaimed “boomer generation” (people of the ages 56 - 76) that are
known to have unwavering problematic views, have witnessed the gender binary to their disadvantage and
the disadvantage of those around them; most of the time being subconsciously unaware. The boomer
generation was riddled with hetero-normative anti-deviant binary culture that enforced the binary
ideology with intense violence (recognized as bullying). Boomer’s witnessed, heterosexual and
cis-gendered (people who continue to identify with their assigned genders at birth), friends being beaten,
battered, and bruised for not being “man enough”. They witnessed and experienced harassment due to
things as trivial as hair that was too long (being seen as a hippie). Violence was an accepted method of
conversion for any attribute that opposed the systematic construction of the binary.

In conclusion, the binary does not exist. It is a systemic structure designed to reduce the beautiful
multidimensionality of the human experience into two rigid and oppressive categories, man and woman.
We value living in a society that would not judge someone by their skin color, religion, class, sexual
orientation but why do we continue to judge the outer layer of fabric or hair cut or shoe choice or makeup
that someone chooses to adorn themselves with (Vaid-Menon, Alok. Beyond the Gender Binary). The
idea that only two ways of being in existence is ludicrous and untrue. I have never in my life met a
woman or a man. I have never met one person that inherited every stereotype or social norm that their
assigned gender at birth prescribed to them. I am non-binary, you are non-binary, the world is non-binary.
Daniel Berger says it best in a NY Times article titled, “The Struggles of Rejecting the Gender Binary,
“We’re all born nonbinary. We learn the gender. And at some point, some of us can’t stand it anymore”.


Works Cited

The Three Sociological Paradigms/Perspectives. Authored by: Ruth Dunn. Located at: License: CC BY Attribution

Bergner, Daniel. “The Struggles of Rejecting the Gender Binary.” Google, Google, Jan. 2019,

Vaid-Menon, Alok. Beyond the Gender Binary. Penguin Workshop, 2020.
Action, Every. “Justice for Tony McDade.” EveryAction, 2020, (This link leads to a petition that you can
sign in order to seek justice for Tony Mcdades wrongful murder by the Tallahassee PD)

Ryan, Hugh. “How Dressing in Drag Was Labeled a Crime in the 20th Century.”, A&E
Television Networks, 25 June 2019,

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