Agender vs Transgender

January 22, 2015

Check out this fascinating yet tragic NY Times Magazine cover story about a purported hate crime against Sasha, a white boy from Oakland CA who identifies as agender–neither male nor female– also known as genderqueer. In November, 2013, Sasha was wearing a skirt on a bus and a male teenager from the other side of town flicked a lighter and set the skirt on fire while Sasha was sleeping. Sasha had second and third-degree burns and the boy who did it said it was an accident unrelated to homophobia. Sasha is a white boy from one side of town and Richard is black and from the other side of town. Richard was sentenced to seven years in prison. Do you think that’s fair? And what do you think of Sasha wearing a skirt?

Sasha is glad this incident started a national conversation on gender. Yet the first challenge quickly becomes clear. How do you talk about someone without using a gender-specific pronoun? Instead of “he”, “she”, “him” or “her”, Sasha prefers the agender pronouns “they”, “it” and an invented gender-neutral pronoun “ze”.

While transgender people who are biologically one sex yet feel like the other gender are featured on the TV show Transparent and in the news, agender people who are also biologically one sex yet do not identify with either gender are now on the radar. As we receive more evidence that gender is much more complicated than biology, hopefully more people will feel safe to be honest and open about their unique experiences. This can only benefit us all.

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