Gender Expression is a Human Right

Gender expression can be defined as the way in which every human being expresses themselves in gendered terms – the way in which all persons express themselves within the different possibilities that the gender spectrum offers -like masculinity, femininity, androgyny, etc.

Unlike one’s sexual orientation (who someone is sexually attracted to – so terms like bisexual, lesbian etc) and gender identity, gender expression is eminently social in nature and constitutes a fundamental part of the way in which we are perceived and the way in which we perceive others.

So why is gender expression a human right? Well, it’s a human right because the notion of gender expression allows us to bring to light a wide variety of human rights violations that are committed on account of the way in which people express themselves socially in terms of gender, regardless of their identity. Certain legal regulations, such as those that penalize one’s dressing in clothes of the opposite gender, or certain habitual interpretations of regulations on public scandal, prostitution and vagrancy effectively criminalize those people whose gender expression goes against the cultural stereotypes of masculinity and femininity, thus putting them in a position of social and institutional vulnerability.

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