I was watching the local news, and the teaser before the commercial said that there was a problem with consent forms for the H1N1 vaccine at schools in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Because I have been following H1N1 news stories (with much annoyance), I decided to wait and see what this big problem was all about.
As it turns out, the big contraversy was that consent form asked for students' gender, but gave 5 options instead of 2 (male, female, other, unknown, and transgender). The horror! Isn't it outrageous of them to try and be so inclusive and disregard the binary that so many people have worked so hard to create and uphold? (I really wish sarcasm worked better online).
The Sault Star reports that local Catholic trustee Kathleen Rosilius was "astonished" at the "agenda-driven, social-engineering" language of the form. Because asking people their gender is agenda-driven. I'm sure the writers of the survey intended to convert as many people as possible to... to what, exactly? Ambiguity? The only agenda that they may have been pushing was tolerance.
I really cannot understand why people are offended with this consent form. All it does is acknowledge that there may be more gender options than most other forms that I've filled out recently (including EVERY scholarship and bursary application that I have filled out this year). How does including a few extra categories hurt anyone? How do reading these words have any kind of negative impact on anybody's lives? But omitting them does have consequences as it denies that this very omission is part of a specific agenda.
I can't help but think that if seeing words like 'transgender' and 'unknown' on most, if not every, form that requires gender information became the norm, then people who live outside of the gender binary would be much more readily accepted than they are right now.