I’m sure you’ve filled in forms online and other places before.; Name: Age: Gender: here there is normally a drop-down menu with most likely the options; male, female, other, prefer not to say. If you are given the option to say you’d prefer not to say then what’s the point of asking your gender?

I was inspired to write this article in an assembly when the teacher taking it said; “What is your identity, it is made up of many things about you such as your gender.” And I thought, is it? Because humans are so much more than that- we all have identities totally separate from each other, and the 50/50 divide in humans doesn’t define who we are.

Your sex is the parts you’re born with, you’re either male or female in this sense- nothing we can do to control that. But what is gender? Is it the same as sex or is it whether you’re a girl or a boy, whether you grow up in dresses or shorts, with action men or barbies?

If you never knew your gender would you have the typical personality traits of young girls or boys? In general, until the later years of Primary School girls and boys play separately, have different interests and mostly seem to avoid those of the opposite group, but that isn’t what’s in their genes, this isn’t because of chromosomes- it’s because that’s what parents, teachers and others expect.

In recent years some couples have made the decision not to tell anyone the gender of their new baby because it shouldn’t matter, they are of the belief that the sex of your grandchild, godchild or friend’s child shouldn’t make a difference to what you buy it or how you treat it. They dress their child in clothes designed for boys and girls, give them a gender-neutral name and buy all manner of toys.

In theory, this seems like a post-modern and progressive plan; however, imagine life for that child once they start school. To other children this is going to seem strange; from TV, films and their limited life experience so far they are going to assume that those with long hair, dresses, and names such as Jessica, Molly, and Francesca are girls and ought to be avoided by the boys. Similarly, children are taught that anyone with short hair, trousers, and names like Tom, Harry, and Ben are the ones boys will be playing with. What happens when Sammi, long hair and shorts arrives at school? Children’s minds are curious and yet to be filled with polite manners, undoubtedly at some point- after a few days when all are mightily confused by this phenomenon of one without an obvious gender, something which no one will have come across before- one brave youngster will pose the question; “Are you a boy or a girl?”

What is our Sammi meant to respond with? “My parents didn’t tell me”, “I don’t know”, “What do you mean”. How far can you take this, will Sammi even know what ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ mean? Any of these answers will surely confuse the children in the class who will go to their parents and tell them about that one at school who isn’t a boy OR a girl!

How do we solve this problem of growing up with such a clear understanding of what your sex means for your life? It’s all well and good saying we’ll teach our children that they should play with girls and boys and they can have whatever toys and colours and clothes they like but it really needs a group effort. Unless everyone shares this opinion, children of such an impressionable age will soon learn from those with less forward-thinking parents the ‘traditional’ view of gender.

The big question is, why does sex matter so much in life? Separate toilets and changing rooms; it seems ludicrous to anyone living in a society where anything different would be shunned, but why do we have to be separated? Splitting people into teams at school or groups for an activity by sex is no different from splitting people by race or [dis]ability. We separate groups of people who are all totally diverse individuals into groups with one difference in a certain aspect of their being which is simply how they are born!

Many people think the world needs to change, we shouldn’t be viewing people as two totally separate groups of males and females; individuals in those groups are all different is some ways and there are overlaps between the groups in others.

Nothing about how you are born defines you; your sex is not your identity.