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An individual's sex is not determined by gender

COMMENTARY
By Julie Masiga | October 29th 2019

Alignment is a big thing in the spiritual world. It’s almost impossible to find a god or prophet who doesn’t preach alignment as one of the paths to enlightenment. Christians are taught to align their thoughts with the mind of Christ. For Hindus, the ultimate aim is to be aligned with the divine.

In Africa, before the continent was ‘discovered’, our ancestors aligned with nature in its infinite manifestations. And many atheists will tell you how important it is to align with your true intentions.

So, yes; alignment is a big thing, and not just for these particular belief systems. It’s both a spiritual and a rational principle rooted in the fact that there is order in the universe, and the belief that the universe is always conspiring for your good. The quickest route to all things good is to get in formation with an energy that vibrates at a frequency that is higher than yours. Some call that energy God, others call it nature, and others still call it intention.

Earthly realm

That’s the metaphysics of it all. In this earthly realm, however, alignment can mean a whole load of other things. It can mean getting your spine snapped back into place by a chiropractor. Or tailoring your political views to fit in with certain ideologies.

It can also mean changing the way you present physically to reflect how you feel psychologically. As far back as any of us can remember, there have been people born biologically male – or female – who grow up feeling that their genitalia is not the right representation of their gender.

So, a person born anatomically female might identify as a man, and one born anatomically male might identify as a woman. Meaning that there is a misalignment between their sex and gender. Doctors, nurses, parents, et cetera, are typically blamed for dropping the ball. For assuming that newborn children are either boys or girls based only on their biological sex. Which is a total mind screw.

What other information would they have at the point of birth to tell them otherwise? See, humans are born anatomically male, female or intersex, and in the world that I grew up in, gender derived from genitals.

I admit that was, and still is, a very narrow view of the gender spectrum. We now have a common understanding that gender is a social construct that should complement biology, rather than derive from it. And that gender identity is not restricted to being a man or a woman. In fact, there a number of different genders. Folks can identify as non-binary, genderqueer, gender-fluid, transgender, bigender, trigender, pangender, agender, non-gendered, genderless, gender-free, and so on.  

Which is all well and good. People should be who they want to be. But the problem with this brave new world is the tendency to sideline ‘naturally-occurring’ women; those who were born biologically female and identify as women.

These women, myself included, are now known as cisgender. ‘Cis’ is a Latin prefix, meaning ‘on this side of’, as opposed to ‘trans’, which means ‘on the other side of’. So if your gender identity matches with your birth sex, then you’re considered cisgender.

Quickly evolving

Women-in-alignment are now just one category of ‘woman’, one that is often profiled as ‘privileged’ by virtue of that alignment. And that presumed privilege often excludes us from contemporary feminism discourse because, supposedly, we don’t understand the struggle of women who were not born female. As a result, there is an acute sensitivity to the rights and freedoms of non-female women, and it is quickly evolving into an exclusionary, gender-misalignment movement. That’s not on.

Listen, I was born anatomically female and I identify as a woman. I’ve fixed my mouth to use all those descriptive words because of the restrictive lens of political correctness that now dictates what people think, and how they express themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, though; I’m grateful for the privilege of alignment. I ovulate, I menstruate and I can procreate – naturally. This is indeed a blessing. It is a blessing and a privilege that I am well aware of. I’m also aware that being this kind of woman, in a man’s world, is a struggle on its own.

I’ve been exploited and discriminated against because of my uterus, breasts and vagina. Those three markers have often been a curse. I refuse to be a footnote in the history of womanity because I have sex and gender ‘on my side’. That’s all.

Ms Masiga is Peace and Security Editor, The Conversation Africa

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