For the past few years, traditional perspectives towards gender have changed around the world. It is important to avoid discrimination for people who do not see themselves in stereotypical male or female categories, and to fulfill human rights so that everyone should be treated equally regardless of their choice of their own gender or sexuality. As a result, the gender-neutral and genderless culture, beyond a trend, is now reflected across different areas including official documentation, education, and fashion in different countries.
Australia and Europe
To start with, in Australia, ‘X’ is included in the passports gender options for intersex people, who were born with sexual anatomy that does not follow definitions of female or male. In addition, transgender people can also choose their gender if they are supported by a doctor’s statement. Some of the states in Australia allow people to have ‘not specified’ or not to state their gender at all if they prefer not to reveal their sex in their documentation.
Moving to European countries, Sweden is considered one of the most equal countries in the world when it comes to gender. Gender advisers are common in schools and gender-neutral school curriculums are promoted to avoid the traditional presentation of gender and parenting roles. German parents can leave the gender section blank on their child’s birth certificate since 2013 but there is now a third option that is neither male or female. Adult citizens can self-identify their gender without any medical examination in Denmark, Malta, Ireland and Norway.
United States and Japan
In the United States, people who have not undergone a transgender operation can choose gender as they prefer on their passports and public unisex toilets are a prerequisite in some of the states. In Vermont and California, the law covering family restrooms is announced in public. Furthermore, the government encourages teachers to create a gender-neutral environment in their class and to use inclusive language.
There have been changes regarding gender in Asian cultures as well. The genderless trend has broadened the choice of cosmetics and fashion that sometimes falls against traditional gender categories. In Japan, ‘genderless’ male models often promote makeup products such as eyeshadow and lip products. Similarly, in Korea, makeup is not a necessity only for females anymore as markets for the male cosmetic product is enlarging. Unlike western countries, most male celebrities wear makeup and Koreans do not judge them for being too feminine.
The gender-neutral and genderless trend is changing our society to offer flexible options that embrace people with a different determination of their own sexuality. As long as the change supports human rights, considering new systems needs to be promoted and practiced for the equality of everyone.
By Kim Hae-in, Overseas Correspondent
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