Gender binary

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Gender binary (also known as gender binarism, binarism, or genderism) is the classification of gender into two distinct, opposite forms of masculine and feminine, whether by social system or cultural belief. Gender binary_sentence_0

In this binary model, sex, gender, and sexuality may be assumed by default to align, with aspects of one's gender inherently linked to one's genetic or gamete-based sex, or with one's sex assigned at birth. Gender binary_sentence_1

For example, when a male is born, gender binarism may assume the male will be masculine in appearance, character traits, and behavior, including having a heterosexual attraction to females. Gender binary_sentence_2

These aspects may include expectations of dressing, behavior, sexual orientation, names or pronouns, preferred restroom, or other qualities. Gender binary_sentence_3

These expectations may reinforce negative attitudes, bias, and discrimination towards people who display expressions of gender variance or nonconformity or whose gender identity is incongruent with their birth sex. Gender binary_sentence_4

General aspects Gender binary_section_0

The term gender binary describes the system in which a society allocates its members into one of two sets of gender roles, gender identities, and attributes based on the type of genitalia. Gender binary_sentence_5

In the case of people born with organs that fall outside this classification system (intersex people), enforcement of the binary often includes coercive surgical gender reassignment. Gender binary_sentence_6

Intersex people often identify anatomically as male or female; however, their innate gender identity may be different. Gender binary_sentence_7

Gender binary therefore focuses primarily on one's innate identity irrespective of their anatomical features. Gender binary_sentence_8

Gender roles are a major aspect of the gender binary. Gender binary_sentence_9

Gender roles shape and constrain people's life experiences, impacting aspects of self-expression ranging from clothing choices to occupation. Gender binary_sentence_10

Most people have feminine and masculine psychological characteristics. Gender binary_sentence_11

Traditional gender roles are influenced by the media, religion, mainstream education, political systems, cultural systems, and social systems. Gender binary_sentence_12

Major religions such as Islam and Christianity, in particular, act as authorities for gender roles. Gender binary_sentence_13

Islam, for example, teaches that mothers are the primary care givers to their children and the Catholic Church, the largest Christian denomination, only ordains cisgender men as priests. Gender binary_sentence_14

Christianity supports its adherence to a gender binary with the Book of Genesis in the Bible, where it is declared in verse 27 that "God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Gender binary_sentence_15

Orthodox Judaism also forbids women to be ordained as rabbis and serve as clergy in their congregations. Gender binary_sentence_16

In English, some nouns (e.g., boy), honorific titles (e.g., Miss), occupational titles (e.g., actress), and pronouns (e.g., she, his) are gendered, and they fall into a male/female binary. Gender binary_sentence_17

Children raised within English-speaking (and other gendered-language) environments come to view gender as a binary category. Gender binary_sentence_18

Studies have found that for children who learn English as their primary language in the U.S., adults' use of the gender binary to explicitly sort individuals (i.e. "boys" and "girls" bathrooms and softball teams), as opposed to just the presence of gender markers, causes gender biases. Gender binary_sentence_19

According to Thomas Keith in Masculinities in Contemporary American Culture, the longstanding cultural assumption that male–female dualities are "natural and immutable" partly explains the persistence of systems of patriarchy and male privilege in modern society. Gender binary_sentence_20

Hyde and colleagues suggest that gender being visibly marked makes it become unnaturally psychologically salient. Gender binary_sentence_21

In the LGBT community Gender binary_section_1

Gender binarism may create institutionalized structures of power, and individuals who identify outside traditional gender binaries may experience discrimination and harassment within the LGBT community. Gender binary_sentence_22

Most of this discrimination stems from societal expectations of gender that are expressed in the LGBT community. Gender binary_sentence_23

But many LGBT people and many youth activist groups advocate against gender binarism within the LGBT community. Gender binary_sentence_24

Many individuals within the LGBT+ community report an internal hierarchy of power status. Gender binary_sentence_25

Some who do not identify within a binary system experience being at the bottom of the hierarchy. Gender binary_sentence_26

The multitude of different variables such as race, ethnicity, age, gender, and more can lower or raise one's perceived power. Gender binary_sentence_27

Worldwide, there are many individuals and several subcultures that can be considered exceptions to the gender binary or specific transgender identities. Gender binary_sentence_28

In addition to individuals whose bodies are naturally intersex, there are also specific social roles that involve aspects of both or neither of the binary genders. Gender binary_sentence_29

These include Two-Spirit Native Americans and hijra of India. Gender binary_sentence_30

Feminist philosopher María Lugones argues that Western colonizers imposed their dualistic ideas of gender on indigenous peoples, replacing pre-existing indigenous concepts. Gender binary_sentence_31

In the contemporary West, non-binary or genderqueer people do not adhere to the gender binary by refusing terms like "male" and "female" as they do not identify as either. Gender binary_sentence_32

Transgender people have a unique place in relation to the gender binary. Gender binary_sentence_33

In some cases, attempting to conform to societal expectations for their gender, transsexual individuals may opt for surgery, hormones, or both. Gender binary_sentence_34

Limitations and rejection Gender binary_section_2

Some scholars have contested the existence of a clear gender binary. Gender binary_sentence_35

Judith Lorber explains the problem of failing to question dividing people into these two groups "even though they often find more significant within-group differences than between-group differences." Gender binary_sentence_36

Lorber argues that this corroborates the fact that the gender binary is arbitrary and leads to false expectations of both men and women. Gender binary_sentence_37

Instead, there is growing support for the possibility of utilizing additional categories that compare people without "prior assumptions about who is like whom". Gender binary_sentence_38

Scholars who study the gender binary from an intersectional feminist and critical race theory perspective agree that during the process of European colonization of the U.S., a binary system of gender was enforced as a means of protecting patriarchal norms and upholding European nationalism. Gender binary_sentence_39

This idea of a gender as a binary is thought to be an oppressive means of reflecting differential power dynamics. Gender binary_sentence_40

Studies of Two Spirit traditions have shown that various indigenous cultures understand gender and sexuality in a way that opposes Western norms. Gender binary_sentence_41

Gender binarism also poses limitations on the adequacy of medical care provided to gender nonconforming patients. Gender binary_sentence_42

There is a large gap in medical literature on non-binary populations who have unique healthcare needs. Gender binary_sentence_43

Anne Fausto-Sterling suggests a classification of 23 sexes and to move away from the classification of male and female. Gender binary_sentence_44

In her paper "The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough", she discusses the existence of intersex people, individuals possessing a combination of male and female sexual characteristics, who are seen as deviations from the norm, and who frequently undergo coercive surgery at a very young age in order to maintain the two-gender system. Gender binary_sentence_45

The existence of these individuals challenges the standards of gender binaries and puts into question society's role in constructing gender. Gender binary_sentence_46

Fausto-Sterling says that modern practitioners encourage the idea that gender is a cultural construct and concludes that, "we are moving from an era of sexual dimorphism to one of variety beyond the number 2." Gender binary_sentence_47

See also Gender binary_section_3

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: binary.