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shainarobin's picture

I had a breakthrough last night while I was reading My New Gender Workbook. Kate, the author, asked readers to think about “any journeys [they’d] made across identities.” Before this comment, I had been having trouble connecting with Kate and her “twibe’s” gender identity experiences. While I was interested in them, I was at a level where I couldn’t truly understand them. That is until I was asked to think about my own identity. That’s when I realized that the way gender identity had been described throughout the book so far was similar to the way I felt about my own racial identity. I am mixed race with a Black mother and a White father (to put it simply). Yet all of my life I have been strictly classified as Black. Why? Because it’s convenient to put people in specific categories and think of them as just that. If there was a name for every combination and racial mix of people out there then our perception of race would be even more complicated than it already is. Is that a bad thing though? 

As I read the scenarios that Kate painted of gender expression in her quizzes, I was reminded of  an experience of my own. When I was filling out the personal information section of the PSAT three years ago, I found myself enter a mini state of panic. On the sheet there were six categories listing specific races (Native American or Pacific Islander, African American, Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, and Other). In the instructions on the sheet I was told that I could only check one box. The rigidness of the racial categories given to me and fact that I had to choose between being Black, White, or Other made my mind reel in a way that only a few of my classmates could understand.  Looking back at this experience, I realize that many people have probably experienced something similar with gender. Though my race can’t necessarily change the same way gender can, I still get what Kate means when she talks about the absurdity of there being a gender binary.  How can something that is so complex and limitless be classified as such a small thing? 

My New Gender Workbook has lighted a fire in me that I hope to keep burning as I continue seeing myself change in the way I think about and experience gender.