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Are Gender Categories Still Relevant in the Modern World?

April 16, 2012, 9:15 AM

What's the Latest Development?

To address the contemporary transgender dilemma, the Australian government now offers three options on its national passports: male, female, and indeterminate. The government's move was a response to growing social concerns over prescribed gender roles. When Jenna Talackova reached the final round of Canada's Miss Universe pageant, for example, she ignited controversy after being disqualified for not being a 'natural born' female, despite having begun hormone treatment at 14 and having sex reassignment surgery at 19. 

What's the Big Idea?

On our largest social network, the Internet, we constantly interact with individuals whose gender is not disclosed, nor do we consider it important to ask. Might official gender categories be relics of an era that denied women access to basic civil rights, from owning property to voting? "Perhaps eliminating the occasions on which this [gender] question is asked for no good reason would not only make life easier for those who can’t be squeezed into strict categories, but would also help to reduce inequality for women." Is the next advance in civil rights the elimination of official gender categories? 

Photo credit: shutterstock.com


Are Gender Categories Still...

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