(An argument inspired by the Sociology of Gender course against the Ontario’s Policy Resolution R4. It explains gender in/equality in Canadian society.)
In light of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, the Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) Party’s “Resolution R4, Education and Community Safety” weakens the very foundation of Canada’s tradition of ordered liberty, which includes one’s freedom of expression. Thus, the party’s recognition of “gender identity,” as highly controversial and unscientific liberal ideology, is extremely bias and politically motivated. This kind of political creed is a deception to Canada’s diversity and multiculturalist character that aligns the challenges of social disparity including the traditional roles between men and women. Excluding the “gender identity theory” from Ontario schools sex-education curriculum is a failure and an ignominy of the provincial incumbent leaders. The exclusion deprives our youths to understand the changing perceptions on human roles and performances, which is a reality albeit a usual misconception about human interactions in our modern society.
Reality, which describes how people live in a daily basis, is socially constructed. It means that society is created by humans and their interactions, termed as “habitualization” – describing any action frequently repeated becomes a pattern that can be performed in the future in the same manner (Berger and Luckmann, 1966 qtd. Little, 2016). In this sense, if a boy acts as a girl and repeatedly does it, hence his performances become a pattern of social interactions that could be executed throughout his adult life. So, the reality of that boy is a girl, who will probably be performing woman’s role in his later life. This concept can also be viewed through the Thomas theorem (W. I. Thomas): “If a person perceives a situation as real, it is real in its consequences.” This explains that one’s behavior could be determined by subjective interpretation of reality and not through objective reality. The boy, in the former example, whose subjective interpretation of his own reality is a girl by performing the roles of a girl, is not a boy – an objective reality – in his expressions. For this instance, that reality interprets gender identity, which is the focus of the arguments in this paper.
To bring this social issue to light, it is significant to intensely describe the social background of gender identity. First, gender, a socio-cultural peculiarities and roles associated with being a male or a female, is a socially constructed idea. Gender, however, is an achieved status constructed through psychological, cultural and social doings (West and Zimmerman, 1987). Nevertheless, it represents an activity of managing one’s conduct in conformity with normative conceptions of attitudes such as appropriate deeds for one’s assigned sex category. Second, sex, which identifies one’s genitalia at birth, is an ascribed characteristic based on one’s biological and physiological features. Third, while sex category is a presumption of a person’s sex, it is also attributed to gender identity of being a male or a female.
Accordingly, “doing gender,” in West’s and Zimmerman’s study, is an individual complex activities in quest of natural masculine or feminine expressions, which are socially guided perceptions and interactions. Also, they argue that gender cannot be only identified by traits, culture or social roles, albeit a product of constant social doings through interactions that gives meaning to it, for instance, making a difference between girls and boys out of the natural and biological spheres. Consequently, gender identity is an achieved status by socially performing either male or female roles regardless of one’s ascribed sex or sex category. In this case, performance of either roles entails one’s freedom of expression that defines who the person categorically or really is.
More so, Michel Foucault (1969) argues that medicine, psychology, and the law produced discourses – frameworks of knowledge – around gender and sexuality, which conceals the facts outside of these discourses that implies the distortion of truth for the best interests of the powerful. This is exactly what the Ontario PC Party Resolution R4 did – hid and altered the facts and misrepresented the truths for the party’s advantage. Their notion “gender identity is a liberal ideology” is a strong indicator of a political unresponsiveness to social challenges of our times, thus the party in power campaigned against inclusion of the subject in sex-education.
The foregoing sociological concepts and research outcomes are presented because the resolution’s articles of justification are not available for arguments. Literature on gender identity are critical analyses and not purely public discourses, which could be best deliberated to quash the Policy Resolution R4. They are explained extensively to emphasize that the inclusion of “gender identity theory” in school curriculum is necessary for the youths of today and the coming generations. In doing so, the adverse repercussions of this social reality such as discrimination, harassment, abuses, and the likes will be mitigated through learning processes starting at an early age. Seamlessly, schools are the best venues and the appropriate institutions to disseminate such kind of sensitive information, which will provide public awareness and understanding of transgender people’s reality while guaranteeing community safety.
Democratically, it is assumed that public policies are enacted to uphold every citizen’s social inclusion and equality, ensure public order and safety, and protect human rights and freedoms on the basis of just and fair legislation. If policies create polarity among people, then democracy is in jeopardy and the suppression of freedom takes precedence in our society, which the Policy Resolution R4 articulates.
Little, W. (2016). Introduction to Sociology: 2nd Edition. pp. 869-870. (An online academic textbook)
Rahman, M., & Jackson, S. (2010). Gender & sexuality sociological approaches. pp. 122-123. Cambridge: Polity Press
Rocca, R. (2018, November 17). Ontario PC Party passes resolution to debate recognition of gender identity. Global News. Web: https://globalnews.ca/news/4673240/ontario-pc- recognize-gender-identity/
West, C., & Zimmerman, D. H. (2015). Doing gender. The gendered society reader. pp. 34-44. Oxford University Press Canada.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-gender-identity-1.4911524. Retrieved 12, March 2020.
Photo Credits: Sources were written on each photo.