The Gender Bill Of Rights

Here’s something I’m working on. I thought maybe you lovely people would have some feedback, and be able to remind me if I am forgetting anything. I’m not interested in scaling this back or making it more “realistic,” only in making it more radical and comprehensive. I’m also interested in wording it in ways that emphasize the ways in which this would actually benefit everyone, including cis men and women, heterosexuals, and others who might generally feel alienated from discussion of transgender liberation.

(I also know there are also a few gender bill of rights type documents floating around out there already. I felt moved to make my own.)

THE GENDER BILL OF RIGHTS

These rights are inalienable, mandatory, and to be taken seriously at all times. This is a model of gender that is fully individual, consensual, voluntary, and free from state intervention. This model of gender has been designed not to oppress anyone and in fact has been designed to benefit all who are affected by gender in this society (that is to say, everyone), including men, women, non-binary people, agender people, cis people, trans people, intersex and non-intersex people, hetero, queer, and asexual people. We are a long way from adopting this model, and to do so would take time. But doing so can ultimately only benefit us all.

  1. You have a right to have your gender treated as valid, equal and real.
  2. You have a right to be referred with proper forms of address, including pronouns, honorifics, correct names, and appropriate gender descriptors.
  3. You have a right to change how you feel about, talk about, relate to and wish others to relate to your gender, or indeed to change your gender itself, in any way, at any time.
  4. You have a right to not have a gender.
  5. You have a right to privacy about your gender or lack thereof.
  6. No one’s gender should ever be assumed. No one should ever be assumed to have a gender.
  7. You have a right to full control over your gender beginning at birth. No surgical alterations should be made on unconsenting infants in order to fit them into a certain paradigm of gender. Gendered names, pronouns, and descriptors should never be used until children can decide for themselves how they wish to be known to the world.
  8. Education should be unbiased towards any gender or lack of gender. Children of school age have a right to role models of any or no gender.
  9. You have a right to be attracted to anybody of any gender or lack of gender, and to carry on sexual or romantic relationships with any number of consenting individuals regardless of gender.
  10. You have a right to engage in any consensual sex act, regardless of your gender.
  11. You have a right to say no at any time to anyone, regardless of your or their gender.
  12. You have a right to raise children, regardless of your gender.
  13. You have a right to access contraception, permanent birth control, and abortion as needed, regardless of your gender.
  14. You have a right to express any emotion that you feel, regardless of your gender.
  15. You have a right to dress and present yourself in any way that you desire, regardless of your gender.
  16. You have a right to total control over your own body and sole authority in making decisions about it.
  17. The state of your body should not be considered a factor in the validity of your gender. Levels of hormones or number of surgeries that you may or may not have undergone should have no influence on how your gender is viewed by others.
  18. You have a right to employment and fair wages, regardless of your gender.
  19. You have a right to housing, regardless of your gender.
  20. You have a right to education, regardless of your gender.
  21. You have a right to healthcare, regardless of your gender, including the right to vital psychological and medical services which may relate to your gender, including hormone therapy and transgender surgeries of any kind. Access to these necessary services should be unabridged.
  22. No one’s gender should ever be pathologized.
  23. You have a right to relieve yourself in public bathrooms which are safe, private, and desegregated.
  24. You have a right to expect that the state, if a state there must be, shall not interfere with, demand information about, or mistreat you on the basis of your gender. You should not be identified to the state or to others by information about your gender. There should be no need for gender markers on any form of legal identification.
  25. No organization, governmental or otherwise, has the right to demand information about your gender. Medical professionals need only know details about their patient’s anatomy, and appropriate polite forms of address to be used with their patients, including correct names, pronouns and honorifics, nothing more.
  26. To the legal system, if a legal system there must be, your gender should be immaterial. You should not be placed in solitary confinement based on your gender. You should not be placed in segregated facilities of any kind based on your gender. You should have a fair trial, regardless of your gender. You have a right to a jury of your peers, i.e. transgender people have a right to not be judged by cisgender people who may be viciously biased against us.

About Asher

Asher Bauer is fast becoming a fixture in the San Francisco kink community, and intends to stay that way. He has worked as a Queer Educator at LYRIC (Lavender Youth Recreation And Information Center), and since has taken his talents as an educator to a wider variety of audiences, teaching on subjects ranging from safer sex to BDSM to trans and queer identities. He is also one of the hosts and originators of Transmission, the new trans-centric party at the San Francisco Citadel, and Invasion, the Citadel's all-genders queer party. View all posts by Asher

21 Responses to “The Gender Bill Of Rights”

  • Susie

    I love this list!! The only suggestions I can think of off the top of my head are:

    In #9, perhaps reverse the order of sexual and romantic. I say this only because people so often consider LGB relationships to be only about sex and not about love, attraction, joy, and all the other things these relationships share in common with straight relationships. I think putting sex first tends to reinforce this thinking.

    Modify #12 to read, “You have a right to raise children, by yourself or with a partner, whatever your gender or that of your partner may be.” Of course, that leaves out relationships involving multiple partners, but perhaps I’ll leave that wording to someone more gifted in writing than I am :)

    Best,

    Susie

  • vileseagulls

    I love this list, but I think point 26 is problematic, specifically “You should not be placed in segregated facilities of any kind based on your gender.” It’s hard placing transgender people correctly to minimise safety concerns, and that should absolutely be dealt with, but I have an issue with the removal of segregated facilities as a whole. I feel that putting male and female prisoners in together would lead to high numbers of rapes (or at the least the hardness women would have to have to survive in that environment would interfere with rehabilitation), and any attempt to put this into action should be fully tested first to see if this is the case.

    • Asher

      Do you seriously think rapes are not happening in both men’s and women’s prisons on a constant basis? I guess as long as a rape is not perpetrated by a cis man on a cis woman it doesn’t count, does it?

      Men are being raped in prison. Women are being raped in prison. And you bet it is interfering with rehabilitation. It is happening right now.

      Segregating prisons by gender does not prevent or even necessarily lower the incidence of rape. Segregating prisons by gender only prevents PREGNANCIES from resulting from rape, in which case the gov’t would be forced to do something about prison rape because they would have to deal with babies!

      • vileseagulls

        All right, that’s fair. I hadn’t considered what was already going on.

        What are your thoughts on reducing overall incidence, in that case?

      • Asher

        That’s a difficult question to answer for someone who doesn’t support the prison system in the first place. I looked for a bit more information and found this site.

        In the U.S., although sexual violence behind bars violates international, federal, and state laws, many corrections facilities fail to take even the simplest preventative measures. At the same time, reports of rape and other forms of sexual abuse are often ignored. In the worst facilities, victims are repeatedly denied help and retaliated against while perpetrators are able to act with impunity.

        Basic precautions, such as identifying likely victims and likely perpetrators – and making sure that they do not get placed in the same cell – would ensure that thousands of men and women are spared the devastation of a sexual assault.

        The site also mentions that many sexual assaults in prisons are committed by staff, not prisoners. Holding such people accountable would be a big step in the right direction.

        I’m off to do some more reading, you might want to do the same.

      • Alix

        Females are sexually assaulted far more than males on the whole. Whether or not segregation is necessary or prudent (since most prison rapes are same sex due to segregation, aside from guards who very often do far more assaults in female segregated cells), we don’t need to act like cis men suffer rape as much as women and other gendered people do. Most non-cis-males I know who have gone to jail have been assaulted. Most cis men I know have not. Period. We need to be careful of erasing the struggles and oppression of people of certain genders when trying to be less oppressive about gender. Being less oppressive does not mean erasing the specific struggles of specific genders. This movement of “all genders are raped” as if there is not a prevalence on certain people is dangerously close to doing that.

      • Asher

        I don’t think I said anything like “cis males are assaulted as much as anyone else.” Cis males in prison are sure as hell assaulted a lot more than cis males outside prison though, and that tends to make the rape of cis males kind of a racialized issue, to say the least.

        Women are raped in gender segregated prisons at a rate of one in four. That’s staggering, and gives the lie to the assumption that people make that there is more rape in men’s prisons than in women’s. Obviously gender segregation is not working as an anti-rape precaution. From looking at sites like Just Detention, I get the impression that it’s pretty much the ONLY anti rape precaution being taken. And it obviously doesn’t do much.

      • Basiorana

        Asher, considering that forced pregnancy as a result of rape amplifies the trauma and can make it a thousand times worse, and pregnancy itself can extremely dangerous and traumatic, I hardly think that forcing people to undergo pregnancy to make the government do something about prison rape is reasonable. It’s a bit like saying that we want the rapists to beat their victims until hospitalization so that the crimes are more visible. ESPECIALLY if the person in question is a man, and forced to carry a pregnancy they did not want– that could be horrifically traumatic for a rape victim to suffer.

      • Asher

        That’s a fair point, although that wasn’t what I was saying. (I also have a little bit of experience with rape and the threat of forced pregnancy, so consider who you’re talking to.)

        The point is that gender segregation of prison facilities is not preventing rape. And while it does prevent pregnancy, I don’t think that’s out of humane considerations, but practical ones.

    • Eden

      Also, non-binary people exist, so segregating into “men” and “women” is binarist.

  • Alix

    I think this is decent and comprehensive. I especially like the last one about judge and jury, which I had never thought of suggesting before. Having the right to have no gender is also great. That is often left out in discussions I find.

  • calistair

    I’d like to add ‘for any reason’ to #11. I’ve heard a lot of people say they felt guilty for saying no to sex because of ‘stupid’ reasons (they were tired, sick, not feeling it, afraid, triggered, too busy).

    Other than that, looks awesome.

  • Amy

    Fantastic. Only one I’d add is perhaps ‘you have a right to enter into a permanent partnership of any kind, religious or secular, regardless of your gender or that of your partner/s’.

    • Amy

      Or long-term partnership. Idk.

      • Amy

        Ack, sorry, this is taking forever to verbalise. Basically I’d like for there to be something about entering into a long-term partnership that is recognised by external groups (if you so wish), regardless of your gender or that of your partner/s.

      • Nentuaby

        I’d say “You have the right to see your relationship commitments recognized, no matter to whom they are made and how they are solemnized.”

  • Christina Kessler

    My hobbity friend pointed me to this, and I’m very glad he did. I love all of these very much. Thank you for sharing it. I especially like 8, 14, 22, and 24. It pisses me off to have to state my gender for all this random shit, from the DMV to forum registrations. It reminds me of the Margaret Cho skit I just listened to:

    MC imitating random person: “I just can’t tell you Asians apart, LOL!”
    MC, nervously: “Um…why do you want to tell us apart? Are we going to be separated or something?!?”

    Replace Asians with gender…you get the idea.

    I hope I am able to raise my children in a community that is educated and respectful enough to implement all of these.

    I have one feedback suggestion: I would word #5 as “You have a right to privacy about your gender or <> thereof,” Instead of “lack thereof” since it’s not “lacking” to not have a gender. What do you think? Maybe absence isn’t the right word either?

  • NuestraHermana

    Hi Asher, I’m sharing this list (with full credit to you of course) on my blog that discusses issues for POC (including for QPOC communities). I am glad to have found your blog and I wanted to send you a big thank you for this.
    I also appreciate the well thought out replies to comments on the issue of rape in prison.

  • the gender bill of rights | rainbowgenderpunk

    [...] posting an article by Asher over at tranarchism.com (read original article).  this is pretty fucking amazing shit and i want to help spread it around.  so, yeah, make [...]

  • mx. punk

    i just posted this article, credited to you, on my blog. if that’s not cool, lemme know and i’ll take it down. i want to share this post with the whole world; it’s damn powerful.

    the only thing i suggest is removing the word “should” from sentences like, “you should not be placed in solitary confinement based on your gender.” i suggest “you have a right to not be placed in solitary confinement based on your gender.” or something like that. anyway, rad post!

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