Imagine that it is your child’s first day of kindergarten. They wake up energized and excited to start school and you are beaming with pride. During an exercise in their class, the teacher tells all of the boys to go to one side of the room and sends the girls to another. Your child was one of the - born with ambiguous genitalia each year. They identify in different ways with both sexes and you have tried your best to let them express themselves however they wish. As the door opens after school you immediately see a face full of embarrassment and despair. They explain to you through sobs that when they chose to join the group of girls, they were teased relentlessly for displaying some of the physical characteristics usually associated with the male sex. This has always been a fear of yours because you know how mean children can be to one another without any real intention for harm; this is especially true concerning the gender binary. From an age as early as kindergarteners, children are well aware of the narrow definitions associated with men and women.
Most people in the world live their everyday lives without ever thinking about or questioning their gender. Waking up every morning and feeling with conviction that their gender coincides with their physical body is something the majority of the population takes for granted. One could even argue that society has actually been built upon the gender binary. The clear differences between the only two acceptable types of people, men and women are infiltrated deeply throughout the world. All restroom areas are clearly labeled for only men and women; there are women’s schools and men’s schools. Even the food we eat is constantly being sized up in comparison to our gender. But what about those individuals whose gender is not as clear-cut as society wants it to be? As a result of the way society supports and perpetuates the gender binary, those who fall outside of it live far more complicated and difficult lives. The experiences of Cheryl Chase and Max Beck reveal how confusing and in some cases painful life can become when gender is not completely clear.