By Shelby Moring
As the media increasingly covers LGBTQ – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer – issues, our understanding of gender is broadened. The gender binary is the idea that only male or female genders exist; however, this system does not apply to everyone.
Gender diversity on Bonita Vista’s campus alone exemplifies the various areas on the gender spectrum where people fall. From individuals who were assigned a gender which they did not identify with to those who do not identify with a gender at all, it is clear that the gender binary is an outdated thought.
Here, we would like to share the stories of two Barons who are proving that gender is a complex idea.
Hundreds of Barons pour in and out of the PE locker rooms on a daily basis, each entering their respective doors. Among the sea of students stands sophomore Xcaret Arballo, who, unlike his peers, had to take an extra step before entering the boy’s changing room. As a transgender boy, Arballo was unable to casually walk into the boy’s locker room in his freshman year so he met with counselor Brian Smith, who would in turn discuss the nature of Arballo’s situation with the administration before allowing Arballo to change with the other male students. After Mr. Smith explained Arballo’s situation, Bonita Vista High School’s administration allowed Arballo to use the male facilities on campus.
Through Bonita Vista’s welcoming of a transgender student alone, our understanding of gender is altered. Arballo, who runs a YouTube channel called XcaretArballo23, is one of the many individuals in the LGBT community.
“I was always the kid who always wanted to dress up as a boy,” Arballo said in a YouTube video posted to his channel. “When you’re little, people don’t make a big deal out of it… ‘It’s a phase.’ But it’s not a phase, trust me.”
When one does not identify with the gender they were assigned, it is commonly classified as “gender dysphoria.” Individuals who experience these feelings will often identify as transgender.
“In a nutshell – people who are transgender have the brain of the opposite gender in which they are,” health teacher Ms. Shannon Bruce said.
Arballo, whose pronouns are “he/him/his,” expressed that one’s gender expression and identification should be a reflection of what they are most comfortable with, rather than an identity imposed on an individual.
“I describe ‘gender’ as being able to be happy as what you identify yourself as,” Arballo said. “I know there are a lot of people on campus who run their mouths about me a lot, but that says a lot about them, as well; my gender shouldn’t really matter to them.”
While the thoughts concerning Arballo’s gender are clear in his own mind, much of the outside world has yet to understand Arballo’s struggle. Because the idea of the gender binary is the only reality that many of us accept, it is often difficult for individuals who do not identify with either genders to express themselves.
“[The] gender binary divides people into clear cut gender roles,” Bruce said.
An agender BVHS student, who expressed wishes to be kept anonymous, attributes this difficulty to society’s perpetuation of the gender binary.
“Our society views gender as a binary thing, meaning it is composed of two opposite parts, male and female and everything should fit into those classifications,” the anonymous student said. “Gender, however is a spectrum, with genders ranging from multigender, androgyne, demigirl/demiboy, to agender, neutrois, gender neutral and everything in between.”
An incredible array of gender diversity can be found across the globe. The way we view gender is gradually changing, from the stereotypes we associate with the binary genders to the popular new pronouns like “ze/zir” that people are now using.
“I think that things are really changing – boys aren’t always wearing blue and girls aren’t always sleeping in a pink room. I think our media is helping the situation,” Bruce said.
Understanding gender is crucial, as the likelihood of encountering an individual who does not identify with the gender binary is high. Once an understanding is established, respect must follow. For example, it is important to use the individual’s correct pronouns as a sign of respect.
“We need to treat the student as the person they are – if they identify as a male – I think we should all be respectful to address them by him/he/his and vice versa,” Bruce said.
Bonita is home to hundreds of unique individuals. The stories of these two Barons alone serve as reminders that gender diversity is present in everyday life.
“Gender is not a black and white thing, but rather a large spectrum,” the anonymous student said. “Your biological sex does not determine your gender, and I think that is one of the hardest things for people to understand.”