Unassigned: Gender TBD

UNASSIGNED

An embryo is genderless for the first eleven weeks of its life and if parents delay finding out their baby’s sex, it will remain genderless till it’s born. For those eleven weeks, or nine months, that person will be pure potential, without being boxed into any category, any future plans or any personality. There is freedom in that.

As a child I was a tomboy. I eventually traded my muddy, scraped knees for making mud pies and then traded those in for an Easy-Bake oven. I learned how to become the girl I was expected to be, but I missed the wild abandon of climbing trees and getting dirty.

By putting men’s masks on women, and vice versa, I wanted to explore what life might be like if we could unabashedly assume traits from the opposite gender. Thick-skinned. Soft. Self-confident. Rebellious. Nurturing. By replacing the face—an obvious gender identifying trait—with its opposite, I am playing with perception and prejudice.

What if a woman could be strong and successful without being labeled “overbearing”? What if a man could be sensitive without having his sexuality questioned? What if we could learn from our opposites’ innate characteristics, borrowing when necessary, with gratitude and play? Would we have a more colorful palette to paint our lives with? Would we judge one another less and come to appreciate one another more? And would our relationships and the world we live in change? I think so.

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