Sex, gender and identity – looking ahead to Transgender Awareness Week

We are looking ahead to November which draws our attention in particularly to Trans Inclusion – Transgender Awareness Week (13-19) and Trans Day of Remembrance (20) – and Religion and Belief. As Naz reminded us last week, the final months of the year are a time of celebration for many religions and Interfaith Week (8-15) is an excellent opportunity to learn about different religions.

To support your awareness raising of these topics be sure to book onto our Trans Day of Remembrance and Trans Inclusion and Religion and Belief in the Workplace webinars.

Today we’re delighted to introduce you to another new member of our growing team, Kylie Thompson, Senior Inclusion and Diversity Consultant. Read on to find out why Kylie is passionate about gender, sex and how these influence our sense of self.

There’s been a lot of conversation recently about sex and gender, and which one should define whether you are male or female. This is threatening many people’s ability to be themselves. I personally identify and express myself as female and I’m cisgender (my gender identity matches my gender assigned at birth) – pronouns she, her, hers. But I have built my life around ‘firsts’ and not fitting into norms. I was the first person in my family to go to University, the first to work abroad and the first to try and conquer mountains. I believe that you should be able to achieve whatever you want to achieve and be who you are – regardless of your gender, age, sexuality, abilities, background or colour of your skin.
‘Sex’ refers to the biological differences between males and females, such as body parts and genetic differences. ‘Gender’ (also known as our gender identity) is an individual’s concept of their gender.

Some people argue that ‘sex’ – your body parts, genetics – is what it means to be male or female, but this does not take into account the diversity within human bodies and indeed how people innately feel about their gender identity. This way of thinking erases intersex individuals, trans people and indeed the complexity that biologists increasingly see as part of all human bodies As you can see defining male or female from sex isn’t straightforward.

If we look at ‘gender’ or society’s idea of what it means to be male or female, it becomes even more confusing. Gender is based  societal norms that males and females must behave or see themselves in a certain way. Yet gender norms and the concepts of masculinity and femininity are changing. Men are increasingly taking on roles traditionally seen as belonging to women, and women are playing the parts previously assigned mostly to men. We are seeing more non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals who identify with neither gender, or both. A lot of gender discrimination and gender bias are perpetuated by these more traditional gender ideas. We can see, again, that gender is a complicated concept, and this narrow definition of male and female is restrictive for everyone.

What do I think? As a go getter of firsts and someone who doesn’t fit the gender mould in a lot of ways, I have always believed in encouraging everyone to be their full selves – to be who they are – not what they’re expected to be. Maybe this means redefining what it means to be male or female, or just letting people choose? That’s why I’m here at Inclusive Employers, to help everyone thrive in environments where they can truly be themselves, feeling valued and supported. And that’s why having honest, meaningful conversation about sex and gender will continue to be important. These conversations should be commonplace, but Transgender Awareness Week and Trans Day of Remembrance provides the opportunity for us to expand our knowledge and understanding of our own, and others gender identity.

And if you’re still not sure, let me leave you with this quote from the legend that was Ruth Bader Ginsburg…

“True gender equality is the ability to decide on to choose and perform your gender as you wish, whether that is women working outside the home … men staying home and caring for children, men loving other men, women loving other women.”