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Undefined: How gender-oppressive definitions erase people

With compassion and humanity hard enough to come by as it is, you’d think the government would be there to back you up.

That’s what it is there for, right? To support our human rights. And yet, within the past year of the most recent presidency, we have seen our human rights being threatened this way and that.

Admittedly, some of us are far better off than others. In fact, it is marginalized groups that are being so harshly discriminated against, whether verbally or physically.

It seems that minute after minute, there is another newsbreak covering some proposition from the current administration to undermine what it means to define ourselves.

More recently, there has been a leak from the US Department of Health and Human Services that suggests there is talk of eradicating the idea of gender expression.

According to NBC News, this leak argued “that the government needs to adopt a unified definition of gender,” based on an individual’s biology.

There is little need to read further into this, because it is clear that whoever is drafting this argument does not understand the difference between sex and gender.

Sex is what a person is assigned at birth, but gender is how they personally identify. If the Department of Health and Human Services were to make a “unified definition of gender,” entire portions of the LGBTQ+ community would be erased. This is demeaning, as each of us has the right to express our gender identity as we see fit.

To enact a this-or-that definition of gender sets our country back years of hard work toward allowing people to identify as they please.

It is blatant discrimination to pretend genders outside of “male” and “female” are nonexistent. Human rights and LGBTQ+ movements have worked tediously for years fighting for equal rights, only to have them be threatened over and over again. Their hard work should not be diminished because it is not understood.

Truthfully, lack of knowledge is at the basis of a proposition such as this. Sure, discrimination plays a role, but at the core of that discrimination is often a lack of understanding. Rather than try to understand the concept of gender identity, to some, it seems easier to pretend it doesn’t exist. Education is imperative.

In middle and high school, students are required to have a sex education class, which is already often severely lacking as is. Perhaps if our schools were to even briefly discuss gender identity, such as the difference between sex and gender, our students could begin to pave the way to a better society.
As for older generations that are in college, out of school, or professionals in their careers, the least they could do is try to be open-minded.

No one is saying you have to agree with gender identity, but rather, there needs to be a general acknowledgement that it is something people believe in.

Were we to take a moment to pause and reflect on how we would feel if something we believed in, and identified with, was threatened to be erased out of existence, we might become more compassionate and understanding of others.

We must be vigilant in the furthering of our knowledge on gender identity. We must be willing to accept those who are different from ourselves, and to fight for the rights of any and all individuals – no matter how they identify.

Without our collective voices, something like what is allegedly leaked from the Department of Health and Human Services could come into action, which is detrimental to marginalized communities throughout the country.

Although this is a leak and there is no definitive proof that there are plans to create a specific definition of gender, it is still a possibility.
With that comes a need to be vocal about what it means to be tolerant of each other’s beliefs, and to be compassionate toward all of humankind.

Kristin is a sophomore Secondary Education English major. She is a Staff Writer for The Voice.

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