Let me help make something a little clearer. Sex – assigned at birth, greatly based on the biological differences of a individual. Gender – where an individual decides they fall on the large spectrum that is between male and female, they have the freedom to change this at any point they wish, be it daily or at different times within their life. Oh and I almost forgot to say, your opinion on where they fall on the spectrum – it doesn’t matter.
In the past week singer songwriter Sam Smith has made headlines for coming out as Non-Binary in an interview with British actress and activist, Jameela Jamil. Non- Binary is when an individual doesn’t identify as a specific gender. Their gender is recognised as beyond the confinements of the standard male and female brackets.
However, not everyone respected the news of his gender discovery, British Tv personality, Piers Morgan finding it necessary to taunt the artist for his choices. The Sun reported that Morgan said: “Sam Smith has announced he’s gender fluid – he can’t work out if he’s male or female.” He continued: “I’m now identifying as Sam Smith so I can get his royalties. It works both ways.”
While some may find it difficult to understand the idea of someone changing their gender identity, Staffordshire University continues to be a safe and open place for those of any chosen gender. Weekly events organised by the student run LGBT+ network give students the opportunity to socialise and learn tips from others regarding all areas of gender. In the last month workshops have been held to help people with makeup, fashion and wigs.
Katherine ‘Kit’ Hadley, is a member of the LGBT+ community around Staffordshire University, who has a complicated relationship with gender, she said: “I was raised as a boy in a household that didn’t really conform to standard gender roles. When I was about 14 I started realising that I might have in fact been a girl, then I realised that I was non binary in the sense that I didn’t really conform to traditional ideas of femininity or like particularly wanted to transition but recently I’ve kind of realised that’s actually something I desperately do want to do.”
Since the outburst from Piers Morgan, Jameela Jamil has since responded, BirminghamLive reporting that she launched an expletive-ridden rant at Morgan and commended Smith for his confidence for coming out and opening up to her. Having well known profiles such as Sam Smith and Miley Cyrus come out as Non-Binary has really opened doors to conversation around the topic.
Katherine said: “I don’t really think that anyone should really have much of an opinion on someone’s else’s identity. Sam Smith can identify however they want to. It is nice to have a high-profile figure to talk about this kind of thing, to be open about it and I’m glad that its someone that is decidedly neutral. It’s not someone who had drama or like escapades in their past or that kind of thing, so I’m happy that it’s come to the forefront.”
Staffordshire University working along side the student run LGBT+ society has managed to make its grounds a gender friendly space, welcoming and recognising those of all chosen genders.
The LGBT+ network in the university has grown over the past few years but has always been very trans inclusive and supportive of all identities, staff members around the university being fairly informed on all subjects and offering advice where necessary.
“The university have offered more support for me particularly about my gender stuff than any other place has,” Katherine said.
“Like when I first came here my legal name was still the name that I was born with and it wasn’t until about halfway through my first year that I actually changed that. That was never a problem for facilities or anything I was immediately able to update my student card and my name on records just to like be my preferred name despite not having any documentation.”
In related news in February of this year, activist Jamie Windust created an online petition demanding non-binary be an option that can be featured on legal documentation. So fair the petition has just over 12,000 signatures, as it has surpassed the 10,000 mark the government must respond the petition. If the petition collects over 100,000 by August 12 it will be debated in parliament. Add your signature here.
For more information regarding gender take a look at Gender Spectrums website. Or to learn more about and become a part of the LGBT+ network at Staffordshire University take a look at their page here.