Oak’s Gender Unicorns offer identity spectrum

The Oak Institute recently placed “Gender Unicorn” graphics around campus as part of their Gender theme for the year. With the support of the Bridge, Feminist Alliance, and WOCA, the Oak Institute hopes to expand people’s conceptions of gender and sexuality.

The Gender Unicorn graphic, created by Trans Student Educational Resources, presents gender identity, gender expression/presentation, sexual attraction, and emotional attraction as spectrums that can be filled out according to one’s personal identity. Sex assigned is not presented as a spectrum but include other/intersex as an option. This presentation is meant to encourage viewing gender and sexual identity and expression as spectrums and not just as binary systems.

Using the medium of the Gender Unicorn allowed for maximum visibility around campus. As a bright, colorful graphic that could be placed as cards in dining halls and as posters around campus, the Gender Unicorn is the most accessible to the greatest number of Colby students.

The binary system limits how people can self-identify to two very strictly defined spheres, but allowing people to identify on a spectrum allows for full self-expression. One feature of the graphic that was particularly appealing to those working on this initiative was its inclusiveness of those who identify as asexual, agender, asex, and or intersex. Those who identify as such are often given the option to self-express on spectrums like these.

Another challenging aspect of the Gender Unicorn was allowing for gender expression to be presented as a spectrum, which is a challenge for many to understand and accept. Grace DeNoon, co-chair of the Oak Institute, says, “Many people assume gender is biologically, rather than socially, constructed and that biological sex is a natural binary rather than something assigned to us, placed upon us by an outsider, at birth. We wanted to challenge all of these notions and thought that Oak was well positioned to do so.”

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