In recent times, gender neutrality has gained popularity with people around the globe wanting to raise their kids as gender-neutral, fashion designers creating gender neutral apparels, countries opting for gender neutral uniforms in schools, demand for equal pay based on skills and implementation of gender neutral toilets. India too has joined the movement with a new bill introduced in the parliament to make sexual crimes gender neutral.
Gender-neutral implies not referring to anyone in terms of their sex but as people in general. It is the view of any individual as a person, irrespective of their biological sex or sexual orientation. Gender Neutrality is the idea and a movement that takes this view to a broader application, urgining policies, social institutions and language should not discriminate people based on their sex or gender. This refers to any discrimination socailly, legally or economically. The movement promotes that social roles can be equally carried out by all genders and public policies must cater to all genders from an equal perspective.
This concept or idea has trickles down in favour of both either sexes. For example, it gives men having equal opportunity to claim custody of their children in a divorce/separation scenario, which was earlier was biased to women. For women, job opportunities at workplaces improves due as candidate selection is not restricted by gender. Infact, gender neutrality is a goal which is equally supported by feminists as well as masculists. The reason is because it talks about transcending gender and viewing every human being equal.
Gender neutrality also benefits people of all age groups, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. It gives people who are confused about their gender identity, especially children and young adults who are in the exploratory phase, an invisible platform and environment do so without fear and as per individual preference. People in collective and closed cultural groups, also benefit from the concept and promotion of gender neutrality, as it lays emphasis on personal freedom rather than defining the person as either male or female.
It is widely accepted that ideas related to what is female and male is embedded in the childhood and formative years of an individual. It is not only related to the views of family and friends but a large part of it is contributed through marketing, fashion, education, movies, literature and language. Studies how that children toys are differently marketed to girls and boys, like pastels are associated with toys for girls and bold colours are associated with toys for boys. Similarly, superheros, weapons, cars have been primarily marketed to boys while dolls and soft toys are targeted towards girls. In the same manner, having separate schools, different dress codes for both sexes and describing behavioural aspects as suited to one sex only, develops the notions of treating genders as separate from early childhood. Gender stereotyping related to small choices like physical activities and sports, to larger life choices like career and marriage, are also created by immediate environment and surroundings.
While there are changes happening all around us to promote the idea of gender neutrality from childhood and it is being adopted in large number of urban population, especially among millennials and Gen Z, there is still more work that needs to be done to achieve an ideal gender neutral world view. There needs to be more guidance and awareness extended in all forms of life so people can easily embrace gender neutrality.