There’s a quote from
the Bahá’í writings, “the world of humanity is possessed of two wings,
male and female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the
bird will not fly.” Beautifully written, but sadly, not reflected in
reality, which is why the ‘glass ceiling’ and ‘sticky floor’ phenomena still
exist, why the word ‘feminist’ still comes accompanied by baggage, and why
despite having evolved as a society, our ideas of gender have yet to catch up.

 

Gender as it
functions today, despite present-day initiatives, remains an injustice because it still finds its roots entrenched in stereotypes. Men must be tough. He is the “man of the house”, the breadwinner, and
must stay strong at all times. Frowned upon is the man who portrays his soft
side. Women need to be demure, to listen, to bear not only children but in some
areas, abuse. As Russian President Putin mentions in his International Women’s
Day speech, women are supposed to “…have time for everything, manage social
issues, and still stay gentle, bright and charming…” which is, ironically,
exactly the double standard women are trying to overcome.

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The 21st century has heralded many
radical improvements for gender equality, but yet we struggle to transcend
these typecasts that each gender seems to be shackled to. By harbouring such cherished (and
anachronic) beliefs, society effectively ostracizes anyone who doesn’t conform,
because this gender bias perpetuates the notion that our dreams and identities
are mutually exclusive. This discrimination, against effeminate men or females
who stray from archetypal mannerisms or those who are blind to gender when it
comes to love, creates a new kind of social inequality – inequality in
treatment of the LGBT community.

 

The repudiation
faced by the LGBT community stems from homophobia and transphobia. Prima facie,
it seems to be dichotomised from gender inequality, but closer inspection shows
they are linked through their aetiology. Homophobia is not simply
discrimination about sexuality; the crux of it lies in normalising gender
stereotypes and subjecting anyone who doesn’t ‘fit’ to castigation, a familiar
theme that underlies gender inequality.

 

Fighting for gender
equality entails believing that women and men shouldn’t be restricted by
traditional roles and have equal opportunity. Fighting for LGBT rights revolves
around the notion that no one should be confined to certain
orientations. The parallels are apparent.

 

Homophobia,
transphobia, and sexism, they’re all rooted in the same prejudice, that the one
perception at birth – the sex one is born with – dictates who they are and
their actions. It’s why the fight for LGBT equality is so inextricably
intertwined with that for gender equality, and why our gender bias unequivocally
undermines LGBT equity.  

 

Such exclusionary rhetorics
only highlight that we weaken our ties when we define some of us as more equal
than others. Our goal is a society where individuals are able to pursue their
passions, even those that society once deemed was mutually exclusive with being
feminine or masculine, and still be seen, valued and respected as humans.