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Social protest to advocate the abolition of gender

Postgenderism is a social, political and cultural movement which arose from the eroding of the cultural, psychological, and social role of gender, and an argument for why the erosion of binary gender will be liberatory.[1]

Postgenderists argue that gender is an arbitrary and unnecessary limitation on human potential, and foresee the elimination of involuntary psychological gendering in the human species as a result of social and cultural designations and through the application of neurotechnology, biotechnology, and assistive reproductive technologies.[1]

Advocates of postgenderism argue that the presence of gender roles, social stratification, and gender differences is generally to the detriment of individuals and society. Given the radical potential for advanced assistive reproductive options, postgenderists believe that sex for reproductive purposes will either become obsolete or that all post-gendered humans will have the ability, if they so choose, to both carry a pregnancy to term and impregnate someone, which, postgenderists believe, would have the effect of eliminating the need for definite genders in such a society.[1]

Cultural roots[edit]

Postgenderism as a cultural phenomenon has roots in feminism, masculism, along with the androgyny, metrosexual/technosexual and transgender movements. However, it has been through the application of transhumanist philosophy that postgenderists have conceived the potential for actual morphological changes to the members of the human species and how future humans in a postgender society will reproduce. In this sense, it is an offshoot of transhumanism, posthumanism,[2] and futurism.[1]

In the 19th century, Russian philosopher Nikolay Chernyshevsky believed that "people will be happy when there will be neither women nor men".[3]

Urania, a feminist journal privately published between 1916 and 1940, advanced the abolishment of gender;[4] each issue was headed with the statement: "There are no 'men' or 'women' in Urania."[5]

One of the earliest expressions of postgenderism was Shulamith Firestone's 1970 book The Dialectic of Sex. It argues,[6]

[The] end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally. (A reversion to an unobstructed pansexuality Freud's 'polymorphous perversity'—would probably supersede hetero/homo/bi-sexuality.) The reproduction of the species by one sex for the benefit of both would be replaced by (at least the option of) artificial reproduction: children would be born to both sexes equally, or independently of either, however one chooses to look at it; the dependence of the child on the mother (and vice versa) would give way to a greatly shortened dependence on a small group of others in general, and any remaining inferiority to adults in physical strength would be compensated for culturally.

Gayle Rubin expresses in "The Traffic in Woman" (1975) her desire for "an androgynous and genderless (though not sexless) society, in which one's sexual anatomy is irrelevant to who one is, what one does, and with whom one makes love."[7]

Another important and influential work in this regard was socialist feminist Donna Haraway's essay, "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century", in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York; Routledge, 1991), pp. 149–181. In this work, Haraway is interpreted as arguing that women would only be freed from their biological restraints when their reproductive obligations were dispensed with. This may be viewed as Haraway expressing a belief that women will only achieve true liberation once they become postbiological organisms, or postgendered.[1] However, Haraway has publicly stated that their use of the word "post-gender" has been grossly misinterpreted.[8]

The term "postgenderism" is also used by George Dvorsky to describe the diverse social, political, and cultural movement that affirms the voluntary elimination of gender in the human species by applying advanced biotechnology and assisted reproductive technologies.[9]


Postgenderists are not exclusively advocates of androgyny, although most believe that a "mixing" of both feminine and masculine traits is desirable—essentially the creation of androgynous individuals who exhibit the best of what females and males have to offer in terms of physical and psychological abilities and proclivities. Just what these traits are exactly is a matter of great debate and conjecture.[1]

Postgenderism is not concerned solely with the physical sex or its assumed traits. It is focused on the idea of eliminating or moving beyond gendered identities. In a traditional gender construct, one is either a man or woman, but in postgenderism one is neither a man nor woman nor any other assumed gender role. Thus an individual in society is not reduced to a gender role but is simply an agent of humanity who is to be defined (if at all) by one's actions.

However, not all postgenderists are against the existence of gender roles in some form; some only argue for the deemphasization of gender roles. In this situation, people would be able to identify as a gender if they decided to, but identifying as one would not be mandatory, and gender roles would have little bearing on how people actually act or are treated in society.

Postgenderists maintain that a genderless society does not imply the existence of a species uninterested in sex and sexuality. It is thought that sexual relations and interpersonal intimacy can and will exist in a postgendered future but that those activities may take on different forms.[1] For example, this theory raises the relationship between gender and technologies such as the latter's role in the dismantling of the conventional gender order.[10] Postgenderism, however, is not directly concerned with the physical act of sex or with sexuality. It is believed to offer a more egalitarian system where individuals are classified according to factors such as age, talents, and interests instead of gender.[10]

In regard to potential assistive reproductive technologies, it is believed that reproduction can continue to happen outside of conventional methods, namely intercourse and artificial insemination. Advances such as human cloning, parthenogenesis and artificial wombs may significantly extend the potential for human reproduction.[1]

Many argue that posthuman space will be more virtual than real. Individuals may consist of uploaded minds living as data patterns on supercomputers or users engaged in completely immersive virtual realities. Postgenderists contend that these types of existences are not gender-specific thus allowing individuals to morph their virtual appearances and sexuality at will.[1]


Transfeminist Julia Serano criticizes the idea of "end of gender", pointing out the negative impact it has on transgender people. On one hand, they are taken up as "undermining the gender system", while on the other, they are regularly criticized for strengthening gender stereotypes. In her opinion, feminism should fight for "end of sexism", rather than "end of gender". At the same time, Serano questions what should be considered the end of gender and what a society without gender should look like. She asks the question: "Who gets to decide what is gender and what is not?"[11]

Claims of transphobia[edit]

In Feminist Philosophy Quarterly, contributor Matthew J. Cull considers multiple formulations of gender abolitionism from varying perspectives and argues that they are uniformly transphobic and imperil trans lives.[12]

Novels with postgenderist themes[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dvorsky, George (2008). "Postgenderism: Beyond the Gender Binary". Retrieved 13 April 2008. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Ferrando, Francesca (2014). "Is the Post-Human a Post-Woman? Robots, Cyborgs and the Futures of Gender". European Journal of Futures Research. 2. doi:10.1007/s40309-014-0043-8.
  3. ^ Polyakov, L. V. (1992). "Women's Emancipation and the Theology of Sex in Nineteenth-Century Russia". Philosophy East and West. 42 (2): 297–308. doi:10.2307/1399293. JSTOR 1399293.
  4. ^ Carey, Niamh. "The Politics of Urania". Glasgow Women's Library. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  5. ^ Hamer, Emily (2016). Britannia's Glory: A History of Twentieth Century Lesbians. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 69. ISBN 978-1-4742-9280-1.
  6. ^ The Dialectic of Sex, publ. The Women's Press, 1979. Chapter 1
  7. ^ Rubin, Gayle S. (2011). Deviations: a Gayle Rubin reader. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. p. 61. ISBN 9780822349860.
  8. ^ Carrico, Dale (2008). ""Post-Gender" or Gender Poets?". Retrieved 13 April 2008. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ Aggrawal, Anil (2008). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 349. ISBN 9781420043082.
  10. ^ a b Oliffe, John; Greaves, Lorraine (2011). Designing and Conducting Gender, Sex, and Health Research. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE. p. 30. ISBN 9781412982436.
  11. ^ Serano, Julia (2013). "The Perversion of "The Personal Is Political"". Excluded. Seal Press.
  12. ^ Cull, Matthew J. (14 September 2019). "Against Abolition". Feminist Philosophy Quarterly. 5 (3). doi:10.5206/fpq/2019.3.5898. ISSN 2371-2570.
  13. ^ Goonan., Kathleen Ann (2012). "2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (review)". Configurations. 20 (1): 199–203. doi:10.1353/con.2012.0009. S2CID 144768201. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Clyde, Irene". SFE. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  15. ^ Bertek, Tihana (2014). Beyond Gender? Imagining Gender in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness (PDF) (Thesis). Central European University. doi:10.3828/EXTR.2001.42.4.317. S2CID 164657601. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 February 2020.
  16. ^ Tucker., Jeffrey A (2007). "'The Human Contradiction': Identity and/as Essence in Octavia E. Butler's 'Xenogenesis' Trilogy". The Yearbook of English Studies. 37 (1): 164–181. doi:10.1353/yes.2007.0001. JSTOR 20479308. S2CID 245841726.
  17. ^ Haraway, Donna J. (1996). Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Free Association Books.


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