Stripping Labels and Unlearning Lessons

From the moment we’re born, blue or pink begin to define who society thinks we should be. The clothing we wear, which toys we play with and our favorite colors must fall within certain constraints in order to fit “the norm.” 

As we get older, we start being told we’re better at certain subjects or more suited to certain types of jobs based on our gender. 

Ads targeted to each gender are rampant, and the personal hygiene aisles at supermarkets are filled to the brim with different shades of “feminine” and “masculine” colors. 

From deodorant and razors to shampoo and bars of soap, nearly every single product is targeted to a certain gender. Oftentimes, the options that are pink and flowery cost more than those that aren’t, which is an example of the pink tax. 

When I was younger, I absolutely hated anything the color pink and made it my mission to avoid “girly” things. 

I remember getting frustrated when my parents would call me “princess” and would roll my eyes at the thought of wearing even a smidge of makeup. 

Of course, a lot has changed since then, but I think I was onto something back then. After really reflecting on my childhood, I’ve realized that I always hated the stereotypes that were associated with gender. 

To all my classmates growing up that had to deal with my questioning and challenging nearly everything - sorry, not sorry! 

Our society has been based on gender norms for centuries, and my generation is working hard to undo these norms and bring equality and inclusivity to the forefront of what unites this country. 

From gender to sexuality, and countless other topics that fall within the realm of what makes people who they are, we are changing the narrative and allowing ourselves to do what works for us, not society’s standards. 

This shift in perspective has also become prevalent in the media recently; anywhere from Twitter to TV shows, you can tell that times have changed. 

One small example of how young people are working to normalize the inclusion of one’s pronouns in everyday conversations is through social media. 

As of right now, it is not all that common to hear people state their pronouns after introducing themselves, but we are working to change this. 

The addition of one’s pronouns — no matter who they are or what they identify as — to their social media pages can help normalize this practice and encourage others to do the same. 

This also helps people learn that they should never assume someone’s pronouns. 

Some of the most heartfelt Twitter conversations I’ve seen are between people who are disagreeing on an issue but stop to ask for each other’s pronouns before continuing the conversation and avoiding referring to someone by the wrong pronoun. 

For those who may be having a hard time grasping why this is an issue, think about the last time your name was misspelled or mispronounced by someone else. 

The error could have easily been avoided had someone double-checked the mail or taken the time to ask you how it’s pronounced, right? Misusing pronouns is a similar scenario. 

Think of pronouns as being equally as important as someone’s name, as that’s what a pronoun is for, after all. 

As a cis woman, I recognize that my thoughts and reflections on this specific issue are not necessarily reflective of those who identify as non-binary, gender non-conforming, etc. 

In the past six months, two new shows have featured transgender actors starring in roles that don’t use the fact that they’re trans as a plot-point. 

In most shows and movies, trans actors are cast to play characters that fit a certain mold and exude certain stereotypes, but this was not the case with Jules in Euphoria, who is played by Hunter Schaefer, and James in The Politician, who is played by Theo Germaine. 

Both shows are about high school students and portray some of the key traits of Gen Z-ers. 

In Euphoria, Zendaya plays Rue, a teenager grappling with drug abuse and recovery while also simultaneously falling in love with one of her friends. 

One of the best parts of the show is that Rue’s sexuality - or any character’s sexuality - is never labeled. It is understood that while Rue is clearly queer, she has no desire to label her sexuality nor be defined by it. 

In one of the episodes, her mom simply asks about her girlfriend and is just happy to see her daughter so content. 

While this level of acceptance around other’s sexualities and the movement away from labeling everything is not as common in everyday life, I am hopeful that this will soon become a reality. 

We have recognized that there are major issues with the things that we were taught growing up and are working to change our mindsets in order to make our society more inclusive. 

We want our future children and those in generations to come to live in a world that is even better than ours, and this is just one example of how we’re working to accomplish that. 

Young people are shaking things up beyond ditching stereotypes and rejecting norms - they are tackling social issues head-on and are organizing movements that promote positive and necessary change. 

We recognize that if no one else has made these critical changes by now, it’s up to us to make them. 

From politics to social media, inclusivity is becoming the norm - and it’s a norm that we are proud to uphold. 

Compassion and empathy fuel our generation and help propel us to a better and brighter tomorrow. 

Slowly but surely, gender roles are fading away and gender-neutral clothing brands and hygiene products are becoming widespread. 

The gender binary is incredibly limiting, and we are moving into a time in which the way someone dresses or acts no longer has any tie to their gender expression. 

I am proud to be a part of this generation and I am excited to see what our future holds. As we are facing some of the most pressing issues of our time, I am sure that things will change for the better in due time. 

It won’t be without long and hard work and a lot of determination, but it will always be worth it if it saves our future and ensures that future generations will be better off.