Why We Need Gender Labels

Rebecca Reilly-Cooper writes, “The solution to an oppressive system that puts people into pink and blue boxes is not to create more and more boxes that are any colour but blue or pink. The solution is to tear down the boxes altogether.”

Many people like to think that a world without gender, or gender labels, would be ideal; that this utopian world would obliterate gender-related prejudice in all of its many forms. However, I want to push back on that narrative.

An absence of gender will not equal an absence of transphobia, or hate against anyone who identifies as something other than cisgender. It’s extremely easy for cisgender people to hold disdain for the various labels that non-cis people choose to identify as, but it should not be up to cis people to decide that these labels are all of a sudden “unnecessary.”

Perhaps it’s a sense of inferiority that cis people feel when they are told that there are more genders than cisgender; almost as if being cis is “boring,” and therefore deserves to hold more importance in society.

This idea of removing all gender labels makes me think of those who “don’t see color.” In no way am I trying to equate gender expression with race, but there is much intersectionality between the two when it comes to people wanting to be “color-blind” or “gender-blind.”

Choosing to ignore someone’s race or gender identity is to simultaneously diminish their experiences and trivialize the challenges they face due to their identity and how they express themselves.

Instead of wishing gender labels didn’t exist, educate yourself on said gender labels, be accepting of those who don’t fit into the genders you are most familiar with, and push back against your preconceived notions that being cis is the default, or the “boring” option, as Reilly-Cooper seems to be arguing in her article.

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