North Texas Daily

Gendered products promote exclusivity of nonbinary and trans individuals

Gendered products promote exclusivity of nonbinary and trans individuals

Gendered products promote exclusivity of nonbinary and trans individuals
April 08
13:00 2022

The production of strictly gendered products is incredibly harmful to the existence of nonbinary and/or gender non-conforming individuals. Having grown up playing with Barbies and Monster High Dolls and being made to believe that those were the toys only girls were allowed to play with, it was hard for me to break those deeply ingrained habits.

Unfortunately, society and its obsessive love for unnecessarily gendered products are suffering from the same fate. We must make a conscious effort to mitigate this trend and be more inclusive toward those who feel uncomfortable with the expectation to use products that correspond with what society anticipates their gender identity to be.

It is entirely unreasonable to presume that all humans will always conform to one specific gender: male or female. This is not, has never and will never be the case. 

Nonbinary and gender-fluid people existing at all is reason enough to be inclusive toward their gender identity. The deliberate production of products “just for men,” or “just for women” erases their existence, at least within the material world.

It is also ridiculous to expect individuals who identify as cisgender to use a product that corresponds with their gender assigned at birth. Why do girls have to use things that are colored pink or purple and labeled with frilly fonts and covered in sparkles? Why do boys have to use things that are scratched up and dirty and labeled with aggressive and blocky fonts?

People, regardless of gender identity or lack thereof, should be able to use products with whatever coloring, decoration, font or style they would like, without fear of judgment from those who are not accepting of gender neutrality or ambiguity. 

Research done by two individuals who were intrigued by the impacts of such gendered products actually proves that the gendering of products itself creates an unequal and toxic environment between males and females. This tension created between cisgender males and females drove some to call for a “de-gendering movement.” So imagine how people who don’t identify as cisgender male or female feel. The need for the erasure of gendered products is immense.

BIC Pens For Her and Dude Wipes are some of the needlessly gendered products that still sit on shelves today. My question is: why do you have to identify as a woman to use those pens, or why do you have to identify as a man to use those hygiene wipes?

The only possible exceptions to this issue would be creating things such as shampoo, vitamins or other hygiene products that feature certain ingredients catered specifically to a male or female body. Paying attention to your body’s natural needs is incredibly important, but with this comes the need for companies to do a better job at marketing these products to be more inclusive of individuals who are transgender.

Creating such stereotypically gendered packaging for products like that shows a complete disregard for trans individuals and their gender identity. Selling products such as these should be focused on the anatomical and/or medicinal benefits to the consumer, rather than their gender. 

Overall, the blatant and extreme gendering of products that don’t even have any sort of gender is pointless. Doing so does nothing except make people within the LGBTQ+ community feel uncomfortable and invalid, specifically trans and gender non-conforming individuals. 

The need for more gender neutrality within marketing tactics is pressing, and we must make more significant strides toward inclusivity as other aspects of society do the same. It is imperative that the acceptance of those specific members of the LGBTQ+ community be normalized, and this is one of the biggest steps that can be made to do so. 

I must clarify that as a queer, yet cisgender individual, I do not entirely share any of the struggles or exclusiveness that is placed upon the nonbinary, transgender and/or gender non-conforming community.

The purpose of this article is to bring light to an issue I believe deserves more recognition than it is given. I have no intention to speak on behalf of this community because that is not my place. I simply wish to begin to highlight this issue and raise awareness in a supportive capacity.

Featured Illustration By J. Robynn Aviles

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Natalie VanDerWal

Natalie VanDerWal

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