It’s the Genderbread Person!

by | February 5, 2012
filed under Feminism

Genderbread Person
It’s Pronounced Metrosexual came up with this awesome infographic that helps clarify some gender binary terminology. The cool thing about it is how it shows all these aspects are on continuums – it’s not one or the other. And as the creator, Sam, points out, it shows: “Gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, and sexual orientation are independent of one another (i.e., they are not connected).” That means not everyone is stuck on one side of the chart or the other.

For a more detailed breakdown of the chart and the continuums Sam describes, visit the original post here.


(h/t to A. Lynn of Nerdy Feminist

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  • This image is still really problematic in a lot of ways. explains it better than I do (in the ‘bodies’ section). Basically, the idea that physical sex has some kind of innate maleness or femaleness outside of gender identification is really harmful to a lot of people. If a woman has a penis, her penis isn’t ‘male’ just because society happens to think penises belong to men. She’s ‘female-bodied’, because she’s a woman. As Asher says, the ‘X trapped in a Y’s body’ trope and related concepts can be confused and contribute to both internalized and external cissexism.

    I also take issue with the idea of spectra. Yes, they’re better than an on-off switch model, but they’re still oversimplified and leave a lot of things out. They also perpetuate the idea that male and female are mutually exclusive: that the more ‘male’ you are, the less ‘female’ you can be, and vice versa.

    I know that Sam is trying to improve the genderbread person currently (or at least is trying to improve the orientation spectrum), but I don’t really know if sticking with spectra is the right way to go for any of the qualities he’s trying to explain. I don’t actually know if there is an easy 2-dimensional model for this kind of thing. As a friend of mine often says about gender, “Turns out, shit’s complicated.”

    I definitely don’t think that Sam was intending to be cissexist or erasing in his creation of the original genderbread person, though I’m not really sure how to help him improve it in its current form. I am trying to leave him a similar comment to this one, but his Disqus comments are being really slow right now. :)

  • jarrahpenguin

    Hey Stephanie,

    Thanks for the comment and I do hope you’re able to get it to Sam. I agree it’s oversimplified and I agree ascribing anything to biological sex is problematic (though I think Sam does an okay job explaining the problems with it in his detailed analysis). I think it’s a decent start that can be helpful for people who have no knowledge of queer theory or theories of gender socialization, but of course I’d love to see someone take it a step farther to address some of the lingering issues you brought up.

  • jarrahpenguin

    Basically I think its biggest problem is that it doesn’t really help us break the binary, although it does help make it visible and easier to discuss.

  • Love Stephanie’s comment!

    When we are more present, accepting, loving, and curious with each other we remove the need for binaries and labels, and we remove the need for someone to make a genderbread person at all. I’ve yet to see a spectrum of sexuality packaged in such a way that is appeasing or all-inclusive, and I think that might be because any sexual spectra is an attempt at answering a question that, besides being impossible to answer, originates from mistrust and fear. We can conceive genderbread algorithms all day, I still feel the answer is less important than addressing why the question is being asked.

  • This is a VERY helpful tool when working with transgender and gender nonconforming children. It helps them to understand that how they feel about themselves doesn’t need to be an “either/or” situation. The complexities of gender politics will come later.

    • That’s a great point! Hadn’t considered that.