Exploring Gender Beyond the Binary (Grade 10)

Did you know that gender is a construct? Do you know what that means? Have you ever heard of the gender binary?

The Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) defines gender as, “socially constructed roles, behaviours, expressions and identities of girls, women, boys, men, and gender diverse people. It influences how people perceive themselves and each other, how they act and interact, and the distribution of power and resources in society. Gender identity is not confined to a binary (girl/woman, boy/man) nor is it static; it exists along a continuum and can change over time. There is considerable diversity in how individuals and groups understand, experience and express gender through the roles they take on, the expectations placed on them, relations with others and the complex ways that gender is institutionalized in society.” (2020, para 2.)

Non-binary, for example, is a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine. Non-binary people feel their gender identity cannot be defined within the margins of the male/female gender binary – which is the classification of gender into two distinct, opposite forms. Instead, they understand their gender identity as distinct from the identities of ‘man’ or ‘woman.’

Non-binary communities are incredibly diverse. Non-binary people may identify as both male and female or neither male nor female. Non-binary identities can also fall under the transgender umbrella since many non-binary people identify with a gender that is different from their assigned sex at birth. It is important to acknowledge that non-binary folks experience discrimination in schools and society. Today, Canada legally recognizes non-binary or third gender classifications, but this has only been the case since 2016. New Brunswick only just announced the third gender marker for birth certificates in the middle of 2019. Not very long ago.

This cellphilm was created for use in the Grade 10 Social Studies classroom in New Brunswick, which focuses on Medieval History. Exploring gender expressions and identities from the past and how societies shape and police gender is important to think through. This cellphilm seeks to address the specific curriculum outcomes: o Emergence of the Modern Era o 6.1.1 Identify the values and perspectives which characterized the Renaissance mindset This cellphilm was produced as a part of the "Queering Social Studies" project at the University of New Brunswick. The project is supported by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant & NBIF Emerging Projects Grant.