Gender is who you are, sexuality is who you like, or who you are attracted to. With that in mind, it’s important to understand that gender, or identity, is not a binary concept (man and woman), as it was taught sometime. It is, though, a set of combinations and negations that lead to the deconstruction of this dichotomy, making appear labels that don’t fit in this rigid structure. Freegender is one of this classifications that try to broaden this spectrum, just as agender, transgender, intergender, fluid gender, genderqueer, androgynous, and so on.
Adoption or not of any of these labels is personal and can vary from one individual to another: it’s the truth of the gender each one identifies and lives with. Even though discussions regarding non-binary gender are a hot topic among academics, on media, or even in the bar down the street, the discussion usually orbits the man/woman label. When we talk about Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox and Chaz Bono, we are talking about transgender people, but still inside the binary spectre, being a man or a woman. What about the non-binary trans person that does not identify with the body they were born with, but neither with the direct opposite gender?
This simple question is enough to show the amplitude of this matter, and the way gender identity related matters are still treated in a shallow way. Even more, it shows how society makes invisible millions of people who do not fit in these pre-determined boxes, which affects everybody socially and economically. If you feel this issue does not reach you, think again. In a globalized world, my problem is your problem. Eventually any person, company or public institution will come across a non-binary person, and that’s your time to deal with the question.
Does non-binary gender matter to the market?
Be it sexual, gender, or race identity, 2015 is probably the year this word was most discussed in history… Debates about these concepts question how far can we bend and create new identities. Access to information has an undoubtful role in this process – videos like the campaign It Gets Better, celebrities like Miley Cyrus defining herself as gender and sexual fluid, and even reality shows and series tackling this subject.
Add that to a globalized society, where part of this identity is built on consumption, and we have the answer to the question above. Yes, gender identities – specially non-binary- are so important to the market that they can determine which companies will remain relevant on the next decades. Fashion, for example, as one of the most important symbols to identity expression, has been presenting collections progressively less sectorized regarding gender in the latest seasons.
Each passing day more and more people stop seeing themselves necessarily as men or women, and are willing to push the gender boundaries further. Even if it still implies a hard fight, it’s undeniable that freedom is being conquered step by step. So, when gender identity enters the popular discussion subject, and markets that move trillions start paying attention to this matters, it is natural that the discussion clearly influences how companies will communicate and position their products from now on.
“Some people have been asking me what is the benefit in broadening gender possibilities. I tend to answer: possibility is not a commodity; it’s as crucial as bread.”
– Judith Butler
More frequently than ever we read news about parents allowing their children to dress up as characters classified as the opposing sex, videos gone viral about children questioning why there are toys exclusively for boys or girls. These are manifestations that alert the industry: it’s no use labeling products by gender. Dictating how each gender must relate to consumption will be an act increasingly hated by the public, that now understands this division as a sign of belatedness. On the other extreme, attempts to dissipate barriers will be well received.
From now on who decides if a piece of clothing, electronic device, game, toy, or color was made for boys, girls, no one, or everyone, are the consumers. This is not only due to gender identity but also to the equality movement by the already known binary genders. That is, equality between men and women also tends to a less divided world.
It looks like we are pacing towards a world without differentiation. But it’s not exactly like that. People will continue to search for products that are compliant with what they believe coherent with their identities, they just don’t want to have to be defined by that. The fact that I consider myself a cisgender man doesn’t mean I can’t buy a dress. Even more, I must not be repressed or feel oppressed for satisfying a desire that society still does not consider fitting to my gender: who defines this from today on is me.
“I’m happy that in 2015 we live in a world where boys can be make pretend princesses and girls can be make pretend soldiers.”
— Taylor Swift