Gen Z Voices: Discussing gender is like thinking about clothes, says Ruby George, it’s about what you feel comfortable in

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Nate Minor/CPR News
Ruby George in the CPR Studio.

There’s a growing acceptance these days to add your pronouns when introductions take place. That little addition can have a huge impact. By simply notifying how you identify to someone you’re talking to, it can set the tone for a comfortable conversation about gender.

For some, adding that detail can be new and strange. But its effect on others can be profound.

Lakewood High School senior Ruby George, who identifies as non-binary, gave a TEDxYouth talk on this issue last year called “The Importance of Pronouns.” 

They say that discussing gender can be as simple as thinking about clothes — things that have no gender. But, when viewed as a spectrum, clothes can be a very easy way to understand the complexities of gender identity.

“[Let’s say] on our left side there’s a dress, and on the right side there’s pants,” George said. “And the dress represents being a woman and identifying as a woman. And the pants being a man and identifying as a boy. And maybe one morning someone goes and tries on the pants and they fit perfectly. It’s what they feel comfortable in and what they can go out into society as.”

But maybe some people try on the pants and they just don’t fit right. 

“It’s too tight, doesn’t fit in places, it’s uncomfortable, the fabric is bad,” George said. “So they go to try on the dress, and it fits perfectly. And that’s what they feel comfortable in and that’s how they choose to go out in the world.”

And for George, who feels somewhere in the middle between pants and a dress, it may be something like a skirt and a tank top. They just fit perfectly.

“That’s what I feel comfortable in. And that’s all really gender is,” George said. “It’s how we feel best on the inside. What we feel comfortable as and feel comfortable identifying as out in the world.”

They are one of a number of Colorado Front Range Gen Z students CPR News spoke to about their own TEDxYouth talks. They range from the importance of mental health, to why pronouns matter, and how important education funding is for indigenous youth and teens of color.

The next TEDxYouth at Cherry Creek event will take place March 4.

Explore other Colorado Front Range Gen Z voices: