Academics & Research News

Students go beyond binaries to understand human sexuality

LGBT activist Robyn Ochs got students moving in the UC Ballroom during her activity that helped to break down binaries in the LGBT community. She began her workshop by expressing the importance of historical studies on homosexuality, and why it’s necessary to expand those studies to address a complex group of identities.

“We tend to try and organize sexuality, which creates more obstruction rather than clarity,” Ochs said. “Every single one of your identities, including race, class, and occupation, affects your other identities.”

The Council of Ethnic Organizations and the LGBT Resource Center hosted the Beyond Binaries: Identity and Sexuality workshop, led by  Ochs, about gender and sexuality stereotypes and understanding.

Ochs, who no longer uses the term “opposite sex,” focused the discussion on moving beyond the gender binary. She said there was a need to avoid binary language, and wanted students to understand and make choices that make sense to them.

“We all have two jobs,” Ochs said. “We must understand data and be thoughtful and intelligent people. Decide what makes sense to you.”

Students engaged in the discoveries and the range of identities in the room. Audience members responded positively to the discoveries made in the workshop.

“It was great to have her [Ochs] come and present,” said Hispanic studies doctoral student Carolina Alonso. “It was great to see everyone interact in such a fluid way.”

Professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Guillermo de los Reyes said he was also impressed with the workshop.

“I was amazing that we were able to challenge the notion of binary identities,” Reyes said. “The speaker talked about how fluid sexual orientation and gender identity is. It reaffirmed some of the topics we discuss in my class, and shows we need to think deeper about these things.”

Students can find more information about upcoming LGBT Resource Center events at

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