50 percent of millennials believe gender exists as a spectrum
This year, Fusion’s annual "Massive Millennial Poll" found that 50 percent of millennials believe that gender exists on a spectrum.
Fusion, a multiplatform media company owned jointly by Univision Communications and Disney/ABC Television, surveys a representative sample of 1,000 millennials, defined as people who are between 18 and 34 years of age, every year to find out what opinions and attitudes are popular among this age group, according to its website.
The survey was conducted by Bendixen and Amandi International, an independent research firm. Bendixen and Amandi International specializes in researching Hispanic attitudes and opinions, but also works with other socioeconomic groups.
Zaneta Rago, the Director of Rutgers’ Social Justice Center, said that she was surprised there were not more millennials who believed that gender exists on a spectrum.
“It's wonderful that approximately half of the respondents understood gender as a spectrum, but that means we're only half way there," she said.
Daniella Anconetami, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said that she believes in the gender spectrum.
She said that she discovered that gender “wasn’t black and white” in high school, and said that her opinions about gender identity changed after meeting someone who was transgender in high school.
Jennifer Oh, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, said that she believes gender exists on a vast spectrum.
She said that parents of the millennial generation usually taught their kids that male and female were the only two categories for gender, but doing research and meeting transgender people can change millennials' minds.
Rago also emphasized the importance of education in spreading awareness about non-binary forms of gender identity.
"The data [in the poll] showed that the numbers shifted between regions and level of education," she said. "There is quite a bit of work being done across campuses in regards to inclusion and awareness, and I think the numbers accurately reflect the work."
She said people should still keep in mind that not everyone will have the economic access to a college education, so making sure campuses are reaching their surrounding populations and partnering with community-based organizations will be key to spreading awareness.
Rago also said that she thinks millennials are “courageous” because they are “defining their experiences for themselves” instead of following more rigid binaries of gender.
“To live outside of society's expectations means you are working towards your own authenticity, and it's not always an easy thing to do," she said.
Still, Rago said she was concerned about the lives of people who had non-traditional gender identities.
While there has been a recent rise in visibility for the Trans* community, there are many folks who identify as Gender Nonconforming, or outside of the "man" and "woman" binary, that also have difficulty navigating a binary-centric society, she said.
In 2013, The National Report on Hate Violence Against LGBTQ and HIV Affected Communities found that transgender people were among the groups most at risk of experiencing severe violence.
Among transgendered people, transgender people of color face higher risks of violence than their white counterparts. The report also found that few hate crime survivors reported violence to the police, and when crimes were reported, police departments were meeting claims with increased hostility.
Anconetami said that she thought Rutgers was doing enough to help people with nontraditional gender identities.
Oh, on the other hand, thought that Rutgers could do more to help transgender people.
She said that she wishes Rutgers did more for the transgender community, because she does not see any events that show support for transgender people or support awareness.
Rago said that she encourages students to visit the Social Justice Center if they are interested in LGBTQ issues.
She said that the Social Justice Center runs a monthly training program, SafeR Space, for people who want to be better allies for the LGBTQ community.
The program meets every last Friday of the month on Livingston campus’s Tillett Hall, she said.