Gender binary

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Spectra and binaries

The gender binary is the western traditional view on human gender. Most people do not think of it as an ideology, as it is so ingrained in the public consciousness; nevertheless, it has come under heavy fire as gender has become more widely studied.

The gender binary is a belief that every human born falls into one of two rigid categories, male and female. It enforces conformance to socially acceptable forms of gender expression, such as choices in clothing, careers, and romantic partners.

Today, there are many groups of people who do not fall under the firm constraints dictated by the gender binary. Intersex people are born with genitals not matching their DNA karyotype, or with a deformed or intermediate set. An XX fetus may have congenital adrenal hyperplasia, causing excessive androgens which results in male development, and an XY fetus may have androgen insensitivity syndrome, causing female development. Transgender people, broadly speaking, adopt traits of genders not matching their birth sex—people identifying as genderqueer, bigender, genderless, and so on may reject traditional categorization whatsoever. Transsexual people present a somewhat unique case, as their gender expression does not break the gender binary, but moves from one side to the other. There are also some countries such as Australia and India that recognize a third gender, either formally or informally.

The backlash against the gender binary has produced movements aiming to broaden the range of recognized gender categories, or abolish gender as a legal and/or social concept entirely.

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