Bursting the Binary Bubble
By Mila Madison
It is pretty obvious that we live in a binary world. Almost everything in our existence is organized as one or the other. It can be as simple as up and down or back and front. In theology it is heaven and hell. In politics we have left and right, or Democrats and Republicans. The middle, independent or “other” option rarely gets to be truly taken seriously. There is black and white, in or out, new and old, stop and go, the list can go on and on, or is it on and off? You get the picture.
“IT IS NOT SURPRISING TO SEE THAT WE LIVE IN A WORLD THAT SEEMS TO CLING TO THE BINARY VIEWS OF GENDER.”
It is not surprising to see that we live in a world that seems to cling to the binary views of gender. You have male or female. It is easy to digest for many as it conforms to the simple model that we are constantly bombarded with in everyday society. It is a world of duality and opposites. You don’t have to look much further than Isaac Newton’s third law of physics, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” It is easy to digest and it keeps things simple. It brings balance to one’s perception of the universe.
Though it may feel safe to simplify things in life and live in a binary bubble, it is time for that bubble to burst. Life is just not that simple. Today we have quantum physics and a better understanding of what goes on in between the binary spectrum. There are all kinds of variations and possibilities. We know in genetics, things are not as simplistic as just “XY” and “XX” chromosomes. We now know that chromosomes are the blueprints for the body and how it is “supposed” to develop. Things do not always go according to plan. You have epigenetics, in a way the quantum physics of genetics. We have proteins within our DNA such as the SRY gene that we now know can be a determining factor in how one’s physical sex may develop.
“THE FACT IS THAT THERE IS DIVERSITY IN EVERYTHING AND VARIATIONS ARE AT THE CORE OF ALL THAT EXISTS.”
To better explain it, just think of an electrical panel in a house. You have the main circuit breaker (XY or XX and variations) that powers the whole house, but you also have many little sub breakers that control each room. You can have power to the house, but if one of those little breakers trip, you have a room with no lights. It is the same with genetics. If one gene doesn’t fire the right way in development, you are left with a body with a biological variance. The fact is that there is diversity in everything and variations are at the core of all that exists. These are just facts in nature whether people choose to believe them or not.
Being transgender we often have to endure bigotry and a lack of understanding. Some will say we are mentally ill when all the science shows we are not. Though we do need more science on the subject, we already know a lot more about being transgender than many other things. We know there are biological underpinnings of the gender spectrum. It is proven there are genetic variations in physical sex, just look at XY females as an example. There are variations in biology that occur all living things. It is at the core of evolution. The problem is that people do not want to see the proof. They are more comfortable in the bubble, and that is what they really fear losing.
“IS IT NORMAL TO VERBALLY ABUSE PEOPLE WHO ARE MENTALLY ILL?”
From a binary view it is easier to say someone is mentally ill than take the time to truly understand something. To do so does not fit the model of binary politics. For most people it is like team sports. They root for their team, in this case Democrats or Republicans no matter what. They don’t take the time to really understand their own stance. Most do not even question it. One team may be pushing an anti-transgender agenda and those who follow just fall in line without truly understanding the issue. Every time I am told I am mentally ill, I am always happy to present the evidence proving otherwise. Every time I do so, the person attacking me does not care to read it. That is because they just don’t want to understand. That is complicated. They are happier with their simple view of the world. So I ask, who is mentally ill here? And what if I was? Is it normal to verbally abuse people who are mentally ill? Is it normal to spend your day going after transgender people just to ridicule and abuse them while disregarding the facts? Is that normal mental health? I don’t think so.
Transgender people are quite the contrary to what the detractors think. Because of our experiences we are open minded to exploring the world outside the binary. We have already seen it. As far as society, I don’t really care if I ever fit in. I never really did regardless of how I was presenting. It doesn’t matter if they think I am mentally ill or a freak. It doesn’t matter if they think my existence is a choice or a fact of biology. I know the truth. After all I am happy living in my own world, with my own community. And to it I bring a sense of curiosity and willingness to understand what it means to live authentically. Society will not change until everyone is willing to see beyond the binary. The good news is that many people are beginning to do so. As for the rest of them, we will just have to wait for them to catch up.
Stay safe and keep fighting for all of us!
Love and peace,