Social issues can only be remedied by a collective acceptance of those opinions we view as opposing our own.
I'm so tired of hearing the phrase, "gender is a spectrum," coming from individuals ignorant of what it is they are actually trying to claim. This ignorance has led to more damages for everyone than it has resolved trauma—within the LGBTQ+ community especially—and it stems from a lack of understanding on all sides. Though the phrase is pithy and can serve many different purposes, it just doesn't hit the mark for properly explaining the concept of the gender spectrum.
Within this article I will seek to explain the phrase, "gender is a spectrum," in such a way that everyone can understand it, accept it as fact, and cease using the phrase as a tool for performative cruelty; of course, this will be from a nonpartisan perspective.
It is unarguable that gender is a spectrum, but that does not denote a lack of necessity for traditional gender roles. In fact, traditional gender roles are the entire foundation for the spectrum itself.
— Kyler J. Falk
What Does, "Gender Is a Spectrum," Mean?
When someone says that, "gender is a spectrum," that pithy phrase cannot cover the complexity of the idea itself. More often than not, people get confused or even offended by the concise telling of the fact. So let's break it down as concisely as possible, without giving off a partisan vibe:
The gender spectrum is a way for individuals to be just that, individuals. It is a psychological tool that people use to establish their unique identity, and they do so by comparing themselves to the idea of traditional gender roles and branching outwards. No two individuals are alike, but being able to visualize your gender as a spectrum allows you to explore life without the fear of being forced to conform to gender-traditional roles.
Without being able to see gender as a spectrum—if the spectrum were to be non-existent—we would still hold women as unarguably subservient to their male counterparts. Men would not partake in tasks such as house cleaning, child rearing, and even things that are considered to be the art of beauty without some grasp of the reality that gender is a spectrum. If gender were not a spectrum then we would all perfectly conform to our traditional gender roles without question, nor exceptions.
I hope that with this explanation you have come to a better understanding of the phrase, "gender is a spectrum," but I know this article won't do much in the way of swaying the masses toward love and acceptance.
The Phrase Itself Is Nonpartisan
Before we even bite into the meat of this topic it needs to be stated outright that the phrase, "gender is a spectrum," is not a partisan phrase in and of itself. Though it may seem like it is at times, saying that gender is a spectrum is nonpartisan. Even if a political or sociopolitical figure appropriates the phrase for their own gain, it should not be taken to heart that the gender spectrum is—at its core—a political issue.
To give credit where credit is due, however, I'd like to acknowledge the contributions to this topic of the main political parties in the United States. Those two political parties, as we all should know by now, are the democrats and republicans. Both of these parties have made significant contributions to the issues surrounding the phrase, "gender is a spectrum."
The democratic party within America has somehow established itself as the savior of those who suffer from occupying a non-traditional space on the gender spectrum, and also the worst enemy of those same individuals. On one hand we have figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez leading the charge for gender equality. Then on the other hand, her extremism and lack of tact in these same issues brings the ignorance of the democrats into the spotlight.
It is the ignorance and brute-force approach of the democratic party that feeds the bigotry of the many republicans in the United States. Go and try to explain the idea that gender is a spectrum to a hardline republican like Donald Trump—a man who seems to live for degrading and undermining social justice for everyone—and you'll see just how horrible the republican party can truly be. Is the damage they cause to important sentiments such as gender being a spectrum any worse than what the democrats do, though?
The answer to that is no, an unabashed no at that, and this is where we come to the conclusion that the phrase itself is—as it should be—nonpartisan. It is up to all of us, on all sides of the discussion, to come to the middle and seek the facts about the gender spectrum outside of the political boxing ring. In order to do this, however, we must first realize that the gender spectrum is deeply rooted in the societal construct of traditional gender roles.
The Foundation for the Gender Spectrum
When we try to draw out what the gender spectrum actually looks like, we get something that looks a bit like the color spectrum. Essentially we get a giant rainbow full of diversity, or the pride flag if you want something a little more tangible than that. We have our reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigoes, and even our violets.
However, it must be taken into account that even the diversity of the color spectrum has its strong roots. In the color spectrum we would have our primary colors, and those are red, green and blue as most of us already know. Within the gender spectrum we find the primary genders of male and female. Unlike with colors and their simplistic characteristics, though, gender is much more complex.
The most basic of qualities we look for to denote gender would have to be biological markers such as chromosomes, genitals, and all the other traits within our DNA that make up the foundation for our sex. However, to take only those qualities into account when determining gender would be as incorrect as it is unfair. Unlike sex, gender relies on the anecdotal input of the individual whose gender you wish to determine.
After discovering what the sex of an individual is, an arguably unimportant aspect of gender, you may then move on to determining their place on the gender spectrum. Even in doing this, touching on every little important detail you possibly can, you will find yourself returning to the roots of the gender spectrum. If we did not have the roots of color that are primary colors we would have no color at all, and just like colors we return to the foundation of the gender spectrum which are traditional gender roles of the male and female sexes to determine gender.
Only once we accept the importance of acknowledging and maintaining the sentiments of traditional gender roles can we move on to explore gender as a spectrum in a meaningful way.
Placing Yourself on the Gender Spectrum
When somebody says that gender is a spectrum it should never signal to you that they have decided that, "there are only two genders," and equally so it should not signal that they are some crazy person who sees everyone as falling outside of the traditional male and female titles. In fact, no one can place you on the spectrum in an accurate way except for you, and that position can be as flexible or rigid as you so desire. That's the beauty of the spectrum itself, in all honesty, being able to determine where you land on it based on how you feel.
Take myself for example, I refuse to occupy any one place within the gender spectrum except for short moments. However, that is not how I want to be perceived because I like to function within the ideals of traditional gender roles. Though I may be feeling like a beautiful woman who models for Gucci, Prada, or Vera Wang when I get dressed up, I always want to be perceived as the strong male figure. Such a feeling makes it difficult for anyone, even myself, to place me on the gender spectrum.
In any situation, my place on the gender spectrum is being determined by traditional gender roles. I dress up in beautiful clothing, sometimes meant for women to add a bit of flair, but I am nothing less than a strong male figure. Most of the traits I exude in such a time where I doll up would make people put a myriad of confusing labels upon me, and even those who agree with the fact that gender is a spectrum wrongfully label me all the time.
"Gender is a spectrum," is where the bigotry and ignorance can be eliminated, because such a concept puts the power of labels into the hands of the individual. Where I see myself unquestionably as a strong male figure, there are many who do the exact same thing as me outwardly but feel they are neither gender, the opposite gender, or an amalgam of different existent gender combinations. Only you can put yourself on the spectrum; it is up to you to not place others into a labelled position on the spectrum, but to instead let them label themselves as they grow and evolve.
Make the World a Better Place for Everyone
After having read this article I hope that you now have a better understanding of what it should mean when someone says that gender is a spectrum. It really is an important facet of human existence to realize that we cannot fall into one, or even two of the genders at all times. Equally so, I hope you realize the importance of categorizing things such as gender in order to establish a sense of identity at the individual level.
That is the most important part of all this, that the gender spectrum helps individuals to establish their identity as a unique part of this world. You would not want to be shamed, discriminated against, or even hurt because you viewed yourself as strictly male or female. Open up your mind, and broaden your horizons so that you may explore the evolution of identity with those who are still on their adventures through gender identity.
For those of you just as rigid as spectrum deniers, please, allow those individuals the time it takes to adapt to newer ideas. You cause us all more damage when you scream at the top of your lungs demanding conformity to your desired structure of gender. It is staunch fact that the gender spectrum is just that, a social construct; there will be individuals who disagree, and they are allowed to disagree with it in the same manner in which you present the idea!
Let's all come together and celebrate our diversity. We need it in these trying times!
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Kyler J Falk
Kyler J Falk (author) from California on February 28, 2021:
Thank you, Ravi, I worked very hard on this one trying to make it impartial and objective. To know I hit the nail on the head is refreshing as well, because I often fail to hit that mark.
Thanks for reading!
Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on February 27, 2021:
a bit of a controversial topic and it is obvious that such a topic will have strong sentiments associated with it. You have tried to deal it with an objectivity which is refreshing.Thanks for sharing.
Kyler J Falk (author) from California on February 27, 2021:
@John: It's one of these new spins on language that journalists like to use to stir up trouble, but the community at large tends to adopt and misuse them. If I'm being honest, I think these start as a journalist's attempt to stir up a story, and it spirals out of control within online communities who are near-constantly at war with one another. Nonetheless, there are individuals who I felt I should attempt to see from the viewpoint of, and I'm glad to hear I did the topic justice.
Thanks for reading!
Kyler J Falk (author) from California on February 27, 2021:
@Brenda: You are failing to make the distinction between sex and gender, Brenda, although in your case it would be accurate to say they are the same exact thing. That's really the beauty of gender, that you get to choose! I'm exactly the same way as well, choosing to strictly remain within my birth sex and seeking to maintain the traditional gender role assigned to it.
Often times I find those who differentiate their gender from their sex to be insufferable, but looking at things from a more educated perspective on the matter makes them less so, and even tolerable if they aren't extremist about it.
Thanks for reading!
BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on February 27, 2021:
On this one I disagree.
Maybe I'm old school, but in my book there are only two genders.
Male & female. Just the way God made us.
Each one of us will have to account to God when out time is due.
I am no judge, and will not be a jury on this one, but for me...I will adhere with what I have been taught to believe.
I will not say anything to discriminate one's choices, but I will live my life with God's natural choice.
The one I was born to be.
To each his own as they say.
Have a great day & keep being who you want to be.
John Hansen from Queensland Australia on February 27, 2021:
Interesting article and you make some good points Kyler. I have to admit that I am somewhat out of the “gender debate” loop, but I don’t think I had ever heard the term “gender is a spectrum” before. Thanks for enlightening me.