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Traditionally, the western culture of the United States has viewed gender as binary. Prior to the European invasion, native cultures had a variety of views that stated gender was on a spectrum rather than identity being defined by two opposing options.

Most still do see gender as a spectrum, but that does not mean the conversation isn’t on the tip of many tongues. A survey recently conducted by global market research and consulting firm Ipsos found that 19 percent of their male participants agree that gender is in fact on a spectrum. To be expected, those who identified as female were in a larger percentage, with 28 percent of female participants viewing gender as a spectrum. Only 16 percent of all participants believe that gender is strictly confined to either male or female. 

Genitals and reproductive organs also plays a part for many who hold gender binary beliefs. More than half of the male participants stated that they agree gender is defined by a person’s reproductive organs, and 46 percent of female participants expressed their agreement as well.

There are different discussions about gender around the world, as more and more folks are coming out as being outside of the former status quo. Recently, singers Janelle Monae and Sam Smith came out to the public as nonbinary, as did actor Liv Hewson, known for their role as the child of Drew Barrymore in Santa Clarita Diet. As public figures continue to use their platform to bring visibility to LGBTQ rights, issues around proper language in mainstream media being used, understood, and valid is showing up across stretches of land.

Positive strides are also being made in consumer companies. People are becoming more conscious of gender variations from the traditional norms. Mattel released gender-neutral dolls in 2019 and Always removed the Venus symbol from their sanitary packaging last year.

Addition, the singular pronoun ‘they’ was recognized as a proper term by the Merriam-Webster dictionary last year.

This subject is not new to some of us. Pew Research Center found that one in five Americans know a person using they/them pronouns. The terms “nonbinary” and “genderfluid” have also been trending searches in recent Google history.

It is no surprise the LGBTQ community is more accepting of the concept of gender being outside the binary, and even fluid. However, the conversation of gender and sexuality being of two different frames of thought is somewhat new. People are becoming more aware of the importance of recognizing the spectrum of gender and removing the boxed-in concepts of either/or.