The Body in Society – Binary

“There’s a real simple way to look at gender: Once upon a time, someone drew a line in the sands of a culture and proclaimed with great self-importance, “On this side, you are a man; on the other side, you are a woman.” It’s time for the winds of change to blow that line away. Simple.” – Kate Bornstein (1995)

Binary is the concept that people are put into groups, stay in those groups and do not gravitate towards the other. For example, gender. At birth, babies are assigned to either being a girl or a boy according to their physical sex. It is almost impossible to purchase baby clothes that are gender neutral, yet if the baby is just in a nappy, there is no way that you can tell their sex just by looking at them. As children are brought up, they are given gendered toys and are often taken to gendered hobbies. For example, boys are given toy cars and dinosaurs, whereas girls have pretend irons and kitchens. Boys go to football, whereas girls go to ballet. But as those children grow into adults, some feel that they do not belong to the gender that their parents; most likely unknowingly, have pushed them into being. Some transgender people say that they knew from childhood that they were ‘in the wrong body’. Transgender people are proof that people are not 100% in a binary group, from gender to sexuality, even down to cat and dog people.


Ailles, J. L. (2003) ‘Pomosexual play’, Journal of Bisexuality, 3(3-4), pp. 71–85. doi: 10.1300/j159v03n03_05.


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