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HE and ZE: SafeRides and Gender Exclusion

So a lot of folks were excited to attend Safe Ride’s Annual He and She pageant on Wednesday! As they should have been. Judging by the the contestants photos, it was most definitely shaping up to be a great event. SafeRides is also a wonderful organization! The work they do on campus is unique, necessary and effective in shaping a safer campus climate. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to support their events?

I would have attended the event myself, if it weren’t for one thing. The pageant is called He and She. As someone who strives to dismantle the gender binary or at least allow those people not fitting within in it some breathing room, this pageant is just not rubbing me the right way. And the pink and blue is really hitting us over the head with it, don’t you think?


As numerous organizations submitted their contestants, one boy and one girl, one group in particular was left out of the opportunity. Madison Equality has declined participation in the event for the last few years due to the fact that not all of its members can even be considered for participation.

Before I explain, lets clear up this misconception. This issue is somewhat about sexual orientation, but it is mostly about gender identity. The event is quite clearly heteronormative, mandating that two people of the same gender can not be crowned.

But the more prominent concern is that gender non-conforming and gender-fluid folks who do not identify as He or She quite literally have no place in this pageant. Some people identify as He AND She and some people identify as neither. Some people identify as Ze or Xe or Ve or They or Sally or …you get my point.



It’s so not cool to exclude people who don’t identify as men or women from a campus wide event. Gender non-conforming folks deserve representation and a chance to participate without being forced to check a box they don’t fit into. If the title and rules of this pageant are changed to allow entry by any two people regardless of sex or gender, both problems are addressed. I heard that there was some movement to change the event this year which was blocked due to red tape, but I truly hope SafeRides will hold themselves accountable to becoming more inclusive in the future.  (Mr. and Mrs. Madison should reconsider as well…#notcute.)

P.S – there are a lot of gender non-conforming people in groups outside of Madison Equality so every organization should be thinking about who they might be excluding by choosing to participate.

P.P.S – here’s a great resource on gender neutral pronouns and how to use them!

Let your opinions be heard below!

4 Responses to “HE and ZE: SafeRides and Gender Exclusion”

  1. ChelleBelle

    I love that you pointed this out! The weeks leading up to the event really threw it in your face like you said and I just feel like if I was in the position where I was excluded, my feelings would be very hurt. I hope that maybe next year they can work to make this a more inclusive campus event! Thanks for sharing this.


  2. cpowell92

    I must say I also love that you pointed this out. I would have never caught that and I think it is an important point to consider. Even though I feel like I fit into the gender category of a woman, that is not true for all people. Creating awareness is what this post did for me because I would not have recognized that event as having a bit of a gender issue. Great post! Hopefully next year they will make it more inclusive!


  3. steeleba

    I definitely agree that events need to be more Inclusive. Unfortunately, I feel that people that aren’t educated about the subject may not even recognize that its offesnsive. They need to try and find something neutral like “Madison pageant” or something of that sort so then everyone can enter and you don’t have to be put in a category of ‘he’ or ‘she’.


  4. tohellwithsugarandspice

    Thank you for writing about this! Unfortunately, this year name changes couldn’t occur due to contracts signed in the beginning of the year. I am in the process of transitioning this event for next year in the hopes of it being gender neutral! This article will be of help in this transition and I will not graduate without this being addressed. You know I always appreciate your opinion. No fear shout outters, I’m on it! SafeRides is a judgement free org that is known for helping people find their place and feel at home. Our family wouldn’t want to exclude anyone from anything, especially fun events like this! Thanks again.



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