International Women’s week has come and gone, and all throughout campus and Montreal were events celebrating said day. An interesting event of which being a panel titled “The Gender Spectrum”, which was held on March 8th. The panel featured a host, Owen Wood, and four guest speakers, Lucas, Karine, Betty, and Kimura. The talk aimed at widening the horizons of the students at Vanier by exposing them to underrepresented experiences, as well as by offering them different points of views on certain issues. Of course, the message of the panel was that there is a spectrum in genders, and that it is not binary. Examples of this were seen in the stories of all of the guest speakers, two of which being trans, one being femme, and a third being intersex.
The guest speakers were very engaging and funny. Betty was the first to speak, and she had the crowd laughing whenever she wanted; this sense of open-ness and humor was carried on throughout the talk. In terms of information, the speakers were all effective at getting their messages and stories across. This was a breath of fresh air because students aren’t genreally used to hearing about such situations, and the fact that every story was easily understood is imperative.
Betty’s story, paired with Lucas’, offered a strong new insight on trans people. Seeing the two on the stage helped to ensure the idea that there was nothing odd about it, and that we’re all the same, all with our own unique and personal stories.
Karine’s story helped to strengthen the idea of open-mindedness and rejection of binaries. She described herself as, and this is a paraphrase, “Part Tomboy, part Princess.” She is queer, and describes herself as a femme, which, in other words, means she relates to the feminine-associated traits of caring and nurturing (among others), while rejecting the ‘girly’ label of femininity. Her experience had a lot to do with acceptance of self: she likes wearing dresses, and doing many feminine things, but also doesn’t like to be confined to the female stereotypes. Her contribution to the talk offered us an opportunity to be more open-minded and a tad more critical, as she challenged the norms of society and was able to find comfort, certainty, and power in doing so.
The last of the stories belonged to Kimura, whose story was a lot more directly genetic, due to her being born intersex. This caused her a confusion on what to classify herself as, as none of the two binary genders could define her 100%. Her story offered a concrete and inarguable proof of the genders being part of a spectrum, as well as proof that we don’t necessarily need to strive to fit into either end of said spectrum.
It’s interesting to note the extent of the notion of gender in comparison to the history of humanity. For one, there has always been a solid definition for what a male or a female is, but in recent history, these ideas are changing. Where our history books never saw issues of gender spectrums, we are now in the middle of discovering previously inconceivable possibilities.
What this means is a stronger level of freedom to express ones’ self in today’s society. There is a lot of sprouting science out there to help people express themselves in new ways, and paired with the online culture and ease of access into windowing into the experiences of others, it doesn’t seem like this entire concept will do anything aside from become stronger and more pronounced.
It’s incredible how far humanity has gone in terms of knowledge and freedom considering the many dark eras of the past, and although there are still constant battles being fought by those who are more directly affected, it’s going to continue looking up at a steady pace.
Written By: Mikhael L’Heureux