Gender shapes our lives in fundamental ways. It impacts everything from the activities we are encouraged to enjoy and the behaviours we are encouraged to display, to the subjects we study, the jobs we do, and the responsibilities we undertake as adults.
Precisely because it structures so much of who we are within society, gender has long been a hotly-debated issue. For decades, feminist thinkers have sought to redress the gender bias of patriarchy, whereby men continue to hold more power, wealth, and influence than women.
In recent years, the gender debate has evolved further, as high-profile awareness campaigns and landmark laws have recognized those who identify outside of the simple division of male and female — those whose gender experience is instead transgender, “genderfluid”, or “genderflux”.
But these steps towards a more gender fluid world have met fierce resistance from those who wish to uphold a clear demarcation between man and woman, and with it, essential – biological – attributes to each gender. Violence against transgender people – in particular black transgender women (women who were assigned male sex at birth) – is on the rise.
The average life expectancy of a trans woman in the Americas is between 30 and 35 years of age. In countries where political and religious conservatism hold sway, the notion of gender fluidity is frequently construed as a dangerous and destabilizing threat to society – in particular to young children.
What’s behind this heated and increasingly vicious debate? Our book Is Gender Fluid? takes a step back from the moral panic and agitated rhetoric to present the key facts on gender fluidity. Here are some of its learnings: