Gender Neutrality

Essay by richardsoasUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 2014

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To what extent does the term 'gender-neutral' (and those who identify as such) pose problems for the current gender discourse, religious ideas of gender and religiosity?

It is in the opinion of this essay that modernist queer theory and the current gender discourse exists within a self-contained irony. This irony is produced primarily when scholars who aim to criticise concepts such as established social norms and binaries indirectly perpetuate their existence, by either creating a slightly more accommodating style of binary or by establishing more labels for people to adopt. This essay will examine the academic obsession with 'the binary' - considering whether a discussion on gender (or lack thereof) is possible without binaries, or whether they are far too embedded within our cultural discourse to be fully amputated from the discussion. In the discussion of the 'gender-neutral', an attempt will be made to see if - as a term - it can offer a form of identity without binaries.

A case study featuring two people who identity under the rubric of 'gender-neutral' will offer insight into what this term represents for such people, whether they have used binaries to create 'The Self' through the negation of 'The Other' and how this term has impacted on their religiosity. Post-structuralism and post-modern theories from scholars such as Judith Butler will be employed to see if a state of 'post-binary' (or even more ambitiously 'post-gender') can be achieved.

It is important to define the key terms under discussion, as they are loaded linguistically with a number of possible assumptions that need to be addressed. Gender-neutrality is both a biological precedent and an identity phenomenon, with a very complex definition (it often means different things for different people). It encompasses those who are scientifically classed as intersex, often those who are hermaphrodites, some...