Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that gender ideologues believe that a man can identify as a woman. But did you know that you can identify as a rock?
This is the position of Gender Spectrum, arguably the most influential gender identity nonprofit in K-12 education. Gender Spectrum’s website says that it has “trained thousands of schools and school districts . . . building the capacities of tens of thousands of teachers, administrators . . . and other leaders to create gender inclusive environments.” The organization has partnered with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National PTA, the American School Counselors Association, and the School Superintendents Association, among others. With the National Education Association, it has released a 2015 report titled “Schools in Transition,” the first major policy paper arguing that social gender transitions should be kept secret from parents. And Gender Spectrum consulted on the CDC-endorsed National Sex Education Standards, which recommends promoting puberty blockers to third-graders.
Auditors from Open the Books examined a 2022 Gender Spectrum video training titled “Intro to Neoidentities and Neopronouns.” Naomi Cruz, then Gender Spectrum’s manager of family and educational programming, explained that it’s wrong to assume that gender identity should be confined to variants of male and female. Neopronouns and neo-identities help to break down the gender binary and move “away from a societal gender to a personal gender.” It is “impossible,” she explains, to know all potential gender identities or pronouns. But it’s “really important” to have an “intersectional understanding” of gender because race, religion, location, and even hobbies can affect people’s understanding of gender. (Though some gender theorists claim that gender identity is fixed and immutable, possibly requiring sterilizing hormones and castration, Gender Spectrum’s stance is that gender kinda depends on your hobbies.)
The current neo-identity movement, Cruz explains, got its start on Tumblr in the mid-2010s. These Tumblr posters introduced, among other things, emoji-self genders, with pronouns like J/Js/Jself. You could try to pronounce that as smiley/smileys/smileyself. But for many, the un-pronounceability is the point. Cruz explains that “by having pronouns that are essentially unable to be pronounced and can only be understood when typed online, we are completely distancing ourselves from the gender identities of man and woman.” She may have a point there.
Then there are noungenders—for example, rockgender, moongender, and foxgender. If a man identifies as a woman, then, according to gender ideologues, he truly is a woman. However, if a man identifies as the moon, he is not necessarily the moon. It might just mean that he identifies with society’s perception of the moon. Get it?
It is, however, important to note that you’re not permitted to assume a gender identity associated with another race, Cruz explains. A white person cannot identify as a black-related gender. A white person can, however, identify as a rock. And a black person could, of course, identify as a penguin.
You probably wouldn’t think that autism and borderline personality disorder are gender identities. But you would be wrong, says Cruz. There is autismgender and bordergender. There is also gendervague. Cruz couldn’t quite explain what this one meant, but you can only identify as gendervague if you are neurodiverse.
Anticipating objections, Cruz said that “of course” neogenders are “valid,” and “They are not taking it too far. They are a radical act of stepping away from a system that’s causing a lot of harm for folks.” Using neo-identities is “a way of undoing the gender binary and gender norms, which liberates everyone.”
This all might sound fringe, but Gender Spectrum is no fringe gender-identity organization. Few, if any, nonprofits have done more to influence how public education addresses gender identity and gender-identity issues. And Gender Spectrum believes that rockgender and autismgender are both valid gender-identity categories.
And who’s willing to say that they’re wrong? I contacted the National Education Association, the American School Counselors Association, the National Parent Teacher Association, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals to ask whether they also believe that emojis, rocks, and autism are all gender identities. None returned my request for comment.
That could be because it’s such an absurd question that their communications staff refused to dignify it with an answer. Or it could be because the first rule of gender ideology is that you don’t question the rules of gender ideology, and the second rule is that organizations like Gender Spectrum decide what those rules are—taking their cues, of course, from stuff teenage girls (or possibly rocks, who knows?) say on Tumblr.