Don't pretend to know my smile or understand my humor. I am just a young woman who has finally come to terms with who I am suppose to be. Time ticked by while I stood still. Life swept me up into so many different places. Standing strong is not for the faint of heart. Being true to one's self is life's real test. I stand now on my own two feet and have opened the door to my future, not knowing all along I had the key to every locked door.
View my work about what matters to not only me but to us. Our worlds collide with issues that aren't unbeknowst to us. We live in a world where gender cannot find justice on its own. Only through education and acknowledgement will we be able to make a difference in the world. A better place for my children to grow up in. A place where they won't face struggles like "what's good hair?" or "white privelege" or "not being able to get a job because of their gender or sexual orientation" like I've had to struggle with. I am Dominique Mendez-Rose and I will create CHANGE.
GENDER BINARY. This term means that gender is one of two things. Gender is either female or male. This may be true for some people; however this is not the case for all individuals. Some people assume that sex and gender are one and the same. However this is not true either. Your sex is determined by biology whereas gender is socially constructed. Society leads us to believe that having a penis means that your gender is male. If you have a vagina, then your gender is female. Thee notions leave many people out in the cold. What happens to those who either have both sex organs or those who don't feel as though their sex organs match their gender expression?
The gender binary is constructed in a manner where it forces people to feel as though they must fix themselves within predetermined categories to feel a part of the norm.
The right to define one’s own identity and have society respect it is a prime reason why the gender binary must be dismantled. One should have the sole right to make their own decisions. Yet we aren’t permitted to live in a world that is free from a patriarchal binary gender system. What is a "real" display of womanhood? What is a "real" display of manhood? Is it only physical? Do breasts prove that one is a woman? Does being able to produce working sperm mean that you are a "real" man? What about the mother of two who had to have a double mastectomy after finding out she had breast cancer? Does she not qualify as a woman anymore because she lost her breasts?
Many Americans find it difficult to accept the idea that gender moves beyond a male-female system. On February 8, 2015, Fusion published their results from a poll that was conducted with 1,000 Americans. The survey participants were told that there are many countries that believe there is a third gender that is neither female or male. When asked which idea more closely aligned with their beliefs, 50% of the respondents believe that gender is a spectrum and that some fit outside the conventional category; 46% believed there are only two genders--- male and female--- and 4% didn’t know. Challenging your mind and removing what you thought you knew about gender will assist you in learning what its means to be transgender or gender non-conforming.
The idea of a fixed gender binary seems to garner its biggest challenge from transgender identites who defy any notion that our biological sex and gender identity overlap. According to the Human Rights Campaign website and the Trans People of Color Coalition, at least 21 transgender people have been murdered in the US in 2015. Transgender people, especially those of color, are faced with danger more frequently that anyone else. According to the Washington Post’s article, “8 critical facts about the state of Transgender America” by Danielle Paquette, Transgender people face a much higher suicide risk. A survey in “Injustice at Every Turn" further reported that 41% of transgendered people attempted suicide compared to the 1.6% of general population. Homeless shelters can also be especially hostile environment for transgender people. More than half have reported being harassed.
A task as seemingly simple as using the bathroom is called into question when the world is all about a Gender Binary. This simple task is a difficult, daily struggle for transgender and non-gender conforming individuals who are faced with these difficult situations when it comes to using the restroom. The concept of “what bathroom is the right bathroom to use?” is a question that they are faced with every day. There seems to be such fear that erupts when the concept of gender neutral bathrooms is insinuated. The fear for the safety for women and children ironically disregards safety for transgender people. However, many people forget that bathroom activism isn’t a brand new notion. Bathroom activism was set in motion since the Civil Rights Movement where the bathrooms was separated by class and race.
Dismantling the gender binary and achieveing transgender justice mean more than just a bathroom phenomenon. It is much bigger than that. We need to educate others and allow everyone to be comfortable in the skin they are in.
Koyama, E. (2003). The transfeminist manifesto. Catching a wave: Reclaiming feminism for the 21st century, 244-259.