Review: Gender Revolution, Overcoming Ignorance

Gender identity used to be so simple. It consisted of male and female and nothing else. Nowadays, there are hundreds of gender identities to choose from. It may seem like a sudden change, but gender has never been just blue for boys and pink for girls — it’s always been a spectrum.

“Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric,” a National Geographic documentary, explains the rainbow of gender hues in today’s society.

The Beaumont chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays) hosted a public screening of the documentary and a subsequent panel discussion, Aug. 5, at the Theodore Johns Library in Beaumont.

This is the best documentary on gender identity for the uninitiated. The research and scientific facts presented in the film not only gives the viewer greater insight into the science behind the conditions, but also answers many of the most-asked questions.

Gender discussions have become more prominent in the past few years, from Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover to the infamous South Carolina “Bathroom Bill” (HB2) to, most recently, President Donald Trump’s proposal to ban transgender people from serving in the military.

Couric travels across the United States to investigate if gender has changed throughout generations. Her conclusion is that it hasn’t — people are now just more aware and open to talk about their identities.

She strives to explain terms such as non-binary, pangender, genderfluid, transgender and intersex, etc., which are more now more common in media and political conversations.

What strikes one most about this film is the stories of those affected by a close-minded society. There comes a point when people need to stop focusing so much on how others see themselves; society needs to remember that members of the LGBT+ community are humans, too, and shouldn’t be denied basic rights, such as being able to use the bathroom of their choice.

Many people who disagree with the so-called “revolution” regard the conversation surrounding gender identity as contrived to inflate a “liberal-agenda” and disregard it as unnecessary political correctness.

For those people who think that men will start dressing as women to get into girls’ bathrooms, get real. When men decide to attack women, they do it regardless of their surroundings, so why don’t we focus on the sexual assault rates of men who are actually attacking women, and not some ignorant attempt to disguise one’s prejudice.

It’s 2017, why is being transgender or intersex or non-binary, etc. such an issue? America has always been seen as the land of freedom; we’re supposed to be forward-thinking and innovative, but instead we focus on non-issues and cause people to suffer.

Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens and PFLAG Education Coordinator Payshunz Nagashima discuss ways to teach officers sensitivity training in regards to the LGBT+ community. Photo by Olivia Malick.

An estimated 12 percent of the population is non-gender conforming. Statistically, that means that you will probably know someone in your lifetime that will identify as something other than male or female. This documentary raises awareness of the necessity for acceptance and tolerance in this country. America is divided by these issues because change is occurring, and if history has taught us anything, it’s that change is inevitable.According to the Williams Institute of Law at the University of California at Los Angeles, 50 percent of people who are gender non-conforming attempt suicide at some point in their lifetime. Fifty percent! Not to mention that systemic discrimination leads to an overwhelming proportion of the LGBT+ to live below the poverty line, as well as face higher unemployment and higher risks of violence being brought against them.

People who oppose LGBT+ rights often cite religion a reason, but the First Amendment grants us freedom of religion, which includes freedom from religion, i.e. separation of church and state, leaving that argument invalid.

The documentary covers the spectrum of American life — from small, rural, overtly religious towns to large, diverse cities, showing that gender nonconforming people are just like everyone else — they aren’t a “trend” that will fade away.

“Gender revolution” is unbiased, informative, and offers a perspective on what it’s like to live as a gender nonconforming person in America in the 21st century. It is a film that deserves to be seen by everyone.

To learn more about PFLAG, visit their Facebook page @ PFLAG Beaumont.

National Geographic released the documentary in February 2017 to coincide with their January issue.

Olivia Malick, UP staff writer

Author: Olivia S. Malick

I'm currently a sophomore at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. I am the managing editor of The University Press which is the student-led, student-run newspaper of Lamar University. I have been a journalist for almost six years and it is my greatest passion in life. I love discovering the way the world works and showcasing the truth.

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