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Monday, September 16, 2019

Padilla: More gender alphabet

AFTER LGBTQIA, let’s do Sogie and if this column were a radio program, I hope Anabelle, the researcher-turned-chef, reads this. I bumped into Anabelle when we were both looking for a sastre to cut our jeans’ hems.

Anabelle says my Tuesday space provides her reading respite from politics and drugs that fill most spaces. Probably, one day, Bel, I’d get up the courage and write love stories but for now let me continue with the gender alphabet.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights opens with “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and this declaration has been unequivocal. However, the recent attack at a gay bar in Orlando, USA has shown that some still look at gender differences as an abomination that deserves the rain of fire.

The homophobic attitudes, often combined with a lack of adequate legal protection against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, expose many LGBT people of all ages and in all regions of the world to egregious violations of their human rights. At the base of this homophobic attitude is knowledge that is still anchored on sex (and not gender), language that is limited to binary divides, and some religions that has labeled LGBTQIAs as worse-than-beasts and aberrations of evolution.

Understanding Sogie can begin with first defining the SO or Sexual Orientation. This “describes to whom a person is sexually attracted.”

For example, the heterosexual female is expected to be attracted to a heterosexual male. Such attraction is called “straight”. But there can be females who are attracted to women. These women are labeled as lesbians.

A man who is attracted to another man is “gay”.

However, there are men and women who may be attracted to both heterosexual male and female and also to people of other genders. They are bisexuals.

A pansexual/fluid is someone attracted to people regardless of gender. Sometimes they are also or alternately called as “omnisexual” or “polysexual.”

The GIE in Sogie means Gender Identity And Expression. It is the “ways in which a person identifies and/or expresses their gender, including self-image, appearance, and embodiment of gender roles.”

For example, at birth, parents have stereotypically assigned blue to male babies and pink to female babies. Long hair, lipstick, high heels, dresses, and fancy bags are female. So when a male wears what is considered as female’s, he is automatically labeled as “gay”. But not all gays like female stuff and simply like other males without the frills.

One’s sex is usually assigned at birth based on one’s physical biology but one’s gender (e.g. male, female, genderqueer, etc.) is one’s internal sense of self and identity. One’s gender expression (e.g. masculine, feminine, androgynous, etc.) is how one embodies gender attributes, presentations, roles, and more.

The most common gender expression is cross-dressing which “refers to occasionally wearing clothing of the “opposite” gender, and someone who considers this an integral part of their identity.” Crossdressing is preferable to “transvestite” and neither may ever be used to describe a transsexual person. However, cross-dressing is not necessarily tied to erotic activity or sexual orientation.

Then there’s the androgynous--the mixing of masculine and feminine gender expression or the lack of gender identification. The terms “androgyne, agender, and neutrois are sometimes used by people who identify as genderless, non-gendered, beyond or between genders, or some combination thereof.”

I first encountered the term “intersex” when I read about the suicide of Julia Buencamino. Intersex is “a general term used for a variety of genetic, hormonal, or anatomical conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. Some intersex individuals identify as transgender or gender variant; others do not.”

Lastly, we have transgenders or those “gender benders with no desire for surgery or hormones” and transsexuals “who desire to legally and medically change their sex.”

This definitions are bound to evolve. For example,the 2015 Oxford dictionary has added Mx. to Ms., Mr.,and Miss as a form of honorific. The gender-neutral Mx. is used as a title for those who do not identify as being of a particular gender, or for people who simply don't want to be identified by gender.
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