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!