Research suggests that increasing numbers of young people are questioning received ideas about gender and sexual identity.
A growing number of young people report identifying as transgender, non-binary or genderfluid. In response, social media giant Facebook now offers its users a diverse list of gender identities to choose from, from male and female, to agender and two-spirit. Similarly, the idea that sexuality can be fluid, and that bisexuality – an attraction to more than one gender – is a real and valid identity has also been gaining traction among the younger generation. For example, the most recent data released by the Office of National Statistics demonstrates an increase in the proportion of people, particularly young women, who identify as bisexual.
This kind of change is, of course, nothing new – sexual politics is in constant flux. However, generational differences in attitudes can provide useful snapshots that allow us to trace change over time. The ‘baby boomers’ born in the middle of the last century challenged the idea that married heterosexual monogamy was the only acceptable form of sexual expression, lobbied for the decriminalisation of male homosexuality, and pioneered LGBT equality campaigning. Their ‘Generation X’ and ‘Generation Y’ children and grandchildren took this further, successfully lobbying for legal recognition of same-sex partnerships, and arguing for greater acceptance of bi and trans people. Millennials’ contribution has been to begin to question two linked assumptions underlying previous generations’ understandings of gender and sexuality – that they are dichotomous (male/female, straight/gay) and inherent (people are ‘born gay’ or, if trans ‘born in the wrong body’). Read more…