What a gender-neutral future looks like

NARELLE HENSON
Last updated 13:25 23/06/2014

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OPINION: Once upon a time gender and sex were anchored firmly to your chromosomes. But I think we're severing that tie, which means they will soon float free on the tumultuous and ever-changing sea that is the human heart. Yes indeed, our identities will not much longer rely on what we are, they will rely on what we feel we are. Facebook got me thinking about all this. It has added customisable gender options for users; one can even choose preferred gender pronouns for Facebook notifications.

I must admit it got me caught up in imagining the gender-neutral future we will soon need to avoid offending anyone, and I began to wonder what else we would have to be neutral about. I found my mind wandering to a police station.

I landed next to an officer frantically typing on his computer. He looked up at the statement he had produced, and began to mutter that it simply wouldn't do. I read it, and there saw the words "Police are searching for a 54-year-old European male of average height and build, with light brown hair, slightly balding."

"Blast," said the police officer, "I can't be so judgmental.

"I've been sexist (what if he feels like a woman?), ageist (what if he feels 12?), racist (what if he identifies as Pacifica culturally?) and horrible about his hair."

He quickly erased the message he had written and replaced it with the words: "Police are searching for a person who may feel slightly nervous and tired following a robbery last night. Could members of the public please contact police if they see anyone who fits this description."

With a relieved sigh, he sent the message, and I was transported to prison. It was eerily silent. It turns out all the male prisoners had designated themselves female so that they were sent to the female wing.

Thankful that our prisoners had been offered gender justice along with the rest of society, I was transported to hospital, where a frazzled-looking doctor was peering at his notes. Given that people were allowed to choose their genders, ethnicities, age and sickness based on how they felt, he didn't have much on his clipboard.

"Patient who feels sick in Ward 3," it read. The doctor swore loudly and rushed off.

The scene faded and I found myself in the backyard of a family home where two young children were playing. "Sibling," yelled one to the other, "have you seen parent?"

"Which parent?" the child yelled back.

"The one who feels like dad today," replied the other.

Inside the house, the parents gazed contentedly back at their offspring, with a marriage certificate hanging on the wall behind them.

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"Partner 1" it read, followed by a line that had been filled out with a name, "and partner 2."

Something stirred in the back of my mind like a memory, and that was when I snapped back to reality.

- Waikato Times

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