Gender fluidity by Rohit Malik

Gender fluidity: my experiences and ideas


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What if there was a society which felt the blood group is very important and said all babies who have blood of type A must be made to wear red clothes and those who have type B should be made to wear blue clothes, and so on? You would think that is absurd, but I can argue that in various situations it would be more meaningful to differentiate people by blood group rather than by the genitalia. In most social and work situations, there is no legitimate reason for the other person to be concerned about your gender. For example, a person working in a bank is not expected to do anything as part of their professional work using the body parts based on which a gender is assigned to them. However, if someone in the bank meets with an accident, it would be more useful to know what type of blood they have and not what type of genitalia they have. So, why not name people in such a way that we know their blood group—and not their gender—by just hearing their name? Blood group is of course a hypothetical example. People have been treated differentially because of the circumstances they were born in—race, skin color and caste (specifically in India). We now agree that such differentiation is unethical, but as a society we have not done much introspection about the impact of assigning a gender to a child.

In one of the earliest observations a teacher has written in my school report, there is a remark which reads “does not mingle with other boys.” I do not have the opportunity to interview that teacher now. But from the language used, I can only guess that they decided I am a “boy” and I was supposed to mingle with other “boys”. My failure to do so was something unusual. I remember that I used to like many games and activities that were typically reserved for “girls” and did not feel comfortable being forced to participate only in “boys’” activities. I did not want to become a girl either. I could not understand why a child has to be a “boy” or a “girl”. I just wanted to be an “awesome child”: not an “awesome boy”, not an “awesome girl”. Society would not accept that and this created a lot of practical problems. I was lucky to be in a coeducational school. I am fortunate to have liberal-thinking parents, although they find my non-conformance to social norms like gender a challenge at times. While in school, even though boys and girls were generally seated separately, on occasion, I was allowed to join a group of girls for studies or other activities. Even then, certain boys would try to create problems for me because they felt I was trying to impress the girls, while I was just trying to explore our shared interests.

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