What is the Gender binary?
The gender binary is a social classification system that divides gender identity and gender expression into two mutually exclusive categories (i.e., male/masculine and female/feminine) with narrowly defined limits of what is appropriate for each in terms of appearance, behavior, interests, attire, professional occupations, roles, and responsibilities. Adherence to the expectations for these categories is privileged and rewarded where as deviation or non-conformity results in marginalization, harassment, or discrimination. Sandra Bem (1995) used the phrase “gender polarization” to refer to the system and practices of (a) defining mutually exclusive scripts for being male and female and (b) categorizing any person or behavior that deviates from these scripts as problematic. Problems, in this case, are defined as immoral acts that defy religious perspectives or which are psychologically pathological.