In terms of gender and how we identify with it, what would be determined as natural? This topic has created headlines in news sources recently involving President Donald Trump’s decision to repeal the right to choose the bathroom that their gender identifies with that transgender individuals had during the Obama administration.
“Our new secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, went to bat to keep the transgendered legislation that Obama had put into place to allow students to use the bathroom that is congruent with their gendered identity. However, Jeff Sessions, who is our attorney general, has legislation in place that said no, so they went to bat and Trump weighed in and took Sessions’ side. She wanted to keep the language that you can’t bully, and that’s been repealed too,” said Psychology Professor, Rebecca Walker-Sands at her discussion: “The Many Faces of Gender: What it means to be male, female, or someone in between”.
“[I] discuss the biological bases of gendered behavior so that people understand that there are biological events that happen prenatally that set brains in predictable ways,” said Walker-Sands.
Not only is it important to see how the news, media, and government discusses and sees gender, it is also important to see what the next generation’s views are on this topic. Lucas Green, a sophomore at Central Oregon Community College, has been part of the LGBTQ & Ally Club for almost two years.
“For knowing about gender identities, there are a lot of kids that don’t know anything because they don’t teach this type of stuff in schools. They go through their life wondering who exactly they are,” Green stated.
“I know a lot of trans people, and they don’t know why exactly they feel the way that they do until they get older and have to do their own research, and even then it’s still confusing,” he said.
Green provided some insight about the media.
“I think that the media portrays gender in general just really badly. They make it out to be this really taboo subject that no one wants to talk about, and the ones that do talk about it might not know exactly how to talk about it to the point where they can offend others,” he explained.
The misinformation about transgender individuals and the topic of gender alone is why Walker-Sands has continued to present to students at COCC. Walker-Sands explains both the biological basis and how others see and think about gender because of their culture.
“There is nothing genetic or inherent about the idea that the girl is going to wear pink. The only reason that girls do that is, at this point of time, it’s a manifestation of “girliness” in our society,” she explained.
Walker-Sands has been an activist for years, specifically since Ballot Measure 36 was passed which defined marriage as one man and one woman, which was later revoked in 2014.
She has also begun to revamp her talks because of the miseducation that comes with the statements about the topic of gender and transgender individuals.
Walker-Sand’s knowledge about the biological basis of gender presented that there are hormonal influences on physical traits, mate preferences, and gender behavior that an individual is born with; it is not something that is chosen. Her education on zoology helped explain how there are many ways in nature where gender fluidity is possible and completely natural.
The next talks presented by Walker-Sands will be next quarter to talk about the biological and cultural components of gender, which dates have not been set yet.
Katya Agatucci | The Broadside