Cultural Views on Gender Identity: Tips for Inclusion
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


Understanding the cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum is a journey filled with fascinating ideas, unique viewpoints, and a wealth of knowledge that can enrich our lives and interactions. It encourages us to see the world through a different lens, fostering a sense of connection and respect for diverse identities. Let's take a walk through this diverse spectrum of gender identities across different cultures.

How different cultures view gender identity

When it comes to gender identity, cultures around the world offer a lush tapestry of perspectives. These unique viewpoints shape how societies define, understand, and interact with gender. Let's look at a few examples:

  • The Bugis people of Indonesia: The Bugis recognize not two, but five genders. They include makkunrai (feminine women), oroané (masculine men), bissu (a transcendental gender embodying both male and female energies), calabai (feminine men), and calalai (masculine women). Here, the cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum are broad and complex, going beyond binary definitions.
  • Native American Two-Spirit: Many Native American cultures have long recognized the existence of Two-Spirit individuals. These are people who embody both masculine and feminine spirits. They often held—and continue to hold—important roles in their communities, offering a distinct perspective within the cultural gender spectrum.
  • India's Hijra community: The Hijras, often described as the 'third gender,' have a recorded history of more than 4,000 years in South Asia. They are considered neither completely male nor female but encompass a range of identities. This community offers another rich example of cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum.

These examples show that the concept of gender is fluid and diverse, varying from culture to culture. Understanding these cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum can help us respect and appreciate the diversity of human experiences.

Why inclusion matters in the context of gender identity

Now that we've explored various cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum, let's discuss why inclusion matters. Inclusion isn't just a buzzword—it's a necessity in our diverse world, and especially so when it comes to gender identity.

First, inclusion promotes respect and dignity. When we include and acknowledge all gender identities, we're saying: "You matter. Your identity is valid. You deserve respect." This can have a profound impact on people's wellbeing and self-esteem.

Second, inclusion fosters a sense of belonging. Imagine being in a place where your identity is recognized, validated, and celebrated. It feels good, doesn't it? That's the power of inclusion—it creates environments where everyone feels they belong.

Third, inclusive practices can help reduce discrimination and bias. By recognizing and respecting the entire spectrum of gender identities, we can help create societies that are fairer and more equitable. This is a key step towards addressing larger issues like discrimination and prejudice.

Finally, inclusion enriches our collective understanding of humanity. The cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum are vast and varied. By embracing this diversity, we open ourselves to new ideas, experiences, and insights. This makes us more empathetic, more open-minded, and ultimately, more human.

So, you see, inclusion is not just about being politically correct—it's about creating a world that is fair, respectful, and embracing of all its colorful identities.

How to respect cultural differences in gender identity

Respecting cultural differences in gender identity is a key part of fostering inclusion. But how do we do this in practical terms? Here are some tips to get you started.

Firstly, educate yourself. Ignorance often breeds misunderstanding, so take the time to learn about the different cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum. Read books, watch documentaries, attend seminars, or even speak to individuals from different cultures. Remember, knowledge is the first step towards respect.

Secondly, avoid making assumptions. Each person's experience with gender identity is unique and influenced by various cultural factors. So, don't make blanket assumptions based on stereotypes. Treat each person as an individual, and respect their self-identified gender.

Thirdly, use inclusive language. Words carry weight, and using someone's correct pronouns or gender identity is a simple yet powerful way to show respect. If you're unsure about someone's pronouns, don't hesitate to ask—it's better to ask than to assume.

Fourthly, challenge discriminatory behavior. If you see or hear someone being disrespectful or discriminatory towards someone's gender identity, don't be a silent bystander. Stand up for them, challenge the behavior, and promote a more inclusive mindset.

Finally, remember that respect is an ongoing process. Learning about cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum is not a one-time event, but a continuous journey. Stay open-minded, keep learning, and keep improving. Because every step we take towards respect, is a step closer to inclusion.

Tips for promoting inclusion in diverse settings

Inclusion isn’t a checklist, it's an attitude. It's about recognizing, accepting, and valuing the diversity that each person brings to the table. Here are some tips to promote inclusion in diverse settings, particularly when considering the cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum.

1. Set clear expectations: From the get-go, make it clear that inclusion is a priority. If you're in a leadership position, this might look like creating policies that promote equality and non-discrimination. But even as an individual, you can set the tone by treating everyone with respect and expecting the same from others.

2. Listen and learn: Everyone has a story to tell. By actively listening to the experiences of others, especially those from different cultural backgrounds, you foster an environment where all voices are valued. You might even learn a thing or two!

3. Encourage diverse perspectives: Different cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum can provide valuable insights. Encourage open dialogue, and consider implementing ideas from various cultural standpoints.

4. Create safe spaces: Inclusion sometimes means having difficult conversations. Creating a safe space where people can express their thoughts, fears, and experiences without judgment can go a long way in promoting understanding and acceptance.

5. Be patient: Change doesn't happen overnight. It takes time and continuous effort. But remember, every step towards inclusion, no matter how small, is progress.

Remember, promoting inclusion is not just about making others feel accepted—it's about enriching our own lives, too. After all, a world where everyone is respected for who they are, is a world where everyone thrives.

How to educate others about cultural views on gender identity

When it comes to cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum, it's important to remember that learning is a lifelong journey. Here are some ways to share what you've learned and help others expand their understanding too:

1. Start with the basics: Don't assume everyone has the same level of understanding. Begin with simple concepts like the difference between sex and gender, and the idea that gender isn't strictly binary. Explain that different cultures may have distinct perspectives on these concepts.

2. Share resources: There are many great books, documentaries, podcasts, and articles out there that delve into cultural perspectives on gender. Share these resources with those interested in learning more. Remember, though, no single resource has all the answers—variety is key.

3. Invite conversation: Encourage open dialogue. Ask questions, and be ready to answer them as well. Remember, it's okay not to know everything—what matters is the willingness to learn.

4. Lead by example: Show respect for all gender identities in your everyday life. This could mean using the correct pronouns for someone, or standing up against discrimination when you see it.

5. Keep learning and growing: The conversation around cultural views on gender identity is constantly evolving. Stay informed and be open to changing your own perceptions.

Remember, each one of us has a role to play in shaping a more inclusive world. By educating others, we can help create a ripple effect of understanding and acceptance that extends far beyond our immediate circles.

Addressing Challenges When Promoting Inclusion

When advocating for inclusion and sharing cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum, you might face some hurdles. But don't worry, they're part of the process. Let's look at how to navigate these potential challenges:

1. Resistance to New Ideas: People often find it hard to unlearn ingrained beliefs. Be patient, persistent, and understanding. Try to communicate the facts clearly and provide evidence where possible.

2. Limited Knowledge: It's not uncommon to encounter misconceptions about gender and culture. Instead of getting frustrated, use these moments as opportunities to educate. Remember, learning is a continuous process.

3. Sensitivity: Conversations around gender can be personal and sensitive. Always approach them with empathy, respect, and open-mindedness. Listen more than you speak, and validate other people's experiences.

4. Cultural Barriers: Different cultures can have different understandings of gender. When discussing cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum, remember to honor and respect these differences.

5. Language Barriers: Not everyone may be familiar with terms like "gender spectrum" or "inclusion". Try to explain these concepts in simple, understandable language.

The road to promoting inclusion might be full of challenges, but they're not insurmountable. By addressing these issues head-on, you can help make a positive impact in your community and beyond.

How to Handle Discussions on Gender Identity with Respect

When discussing gender identity, especially when exploring cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum, respect is paramount. Here are some tips on how to ensure these conversations are respectful and inclusive:

1. Use Correct Pronouns: If someone shares their pronouns with you, make sure you use them. This simple act can show respect for their identity.

2. Avoid Assumptions: Don't make assumptions about people's gender based on their appearance or name. When in doubt, it's okay to politely ask.

3. Listen Actively: Allow people to share their experiences without interruption. Show interest and empathy. Remember, it's not a debate, it's a conversation.

4. Be Open-Minded: Be willing to learn and understand new perspectives. This can help foster more inclusive conversations.

5. Respect Boundaries: Not everyone is comfortable discussing their gender identity. If someone doesn't want to talk about it, respect their decision.

Remember, every conversation is a chance to learn and grow. By approaching discussions on gender identity with respect, you can help create a more inclusive and understanding environment.

Building Awareness of Cultural Differences in Gender Identity

Understanding cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum is a journey of awareness that takes time and effort. Here are some ways to broaden your understanding and awareness of cultural differences in gender identity:

1. Research: Read books, watch documentaries, or listen to podcasts that explore different cultural views on gender identity. Knowledge is power, and it's the first step towards understanding.

2. Engage in Conversations: Connect with people from diverse backgrounds and learn from their experiences. Remember, it's okay to ask questions—curiosity encourages learning.

3. Attend Workshops or Seminars: Look for local workshops or online seminars that focus on gender identity in different cultures. This is an opportunity to learn from experts in the field.

4. Be Respectful of Differences: It's important to respect that not all cultures view gender identity in the same way. Recognizing and honoring these differences is a key step towards inclusivity.

5. Spread Awareness: Share what you've learned with others, whether it's a casual conversation with friends or a social media post. By spreading awareness, you can help others understand the richness and diversity of cultural perspectives on the gender spectrum.

Remember, the goal isn't to become an overnight expert, but rather to develop a deeper understanding and respect for the many ways people experience and express their gender across cultures.

If you're interested in learning more about cultural views on gender identity and fostering inclusion, check out the workshop called 'Shifts in Perspective' by Celina Rodriguez. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and practical tips on how to embrace diversity and promote an inclusive environment for all.