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Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Sex vs Gender vs Gender Roles

Sex is biological. It is determined by your hormones and chromosomes. You can only be a male or a female. Gender is also biologically determined by your sex. Gender is the external expression of your sex; if you are a female then your physical gender will be expressed through having breasts, longer hair, no facial hair and broader hips. If you are a male then your physical gender will be expressed through having a penis, testicles, facial hair, a larger and broader frame, etc.

When I was in sixth form I did A Level Psychology and one of our modules was about gender. This was before the days of there being hundreds of made-up genders. This is what we learned about gender; sex is the internal genetic make-up, and gender is the external physical expression. People who suffer from gender dysphoria experience their sex and gender not matching. They may have chromosomes and hormones of a female, but their outward gender expresses characteristics of a man. This is why they undergo gender reassignment surgery; it ensures that their external gender matches their internal sex.

When people talk about gender being socially constructed, I think that what they mean are gender roles. Gender roles are not entirely socially constructed; women are more inclined towards beauty products and shopping due to sexual selection, a process which makes women more attractive than men (in humans) so women can attract mates for pro-creation. However, as humans have evolved our gender roles have become more socially constructed and 'fluid.' Activities seen as traditionally masculine or feminine have now become less rigid as we move away from gender stereotypes.

Gender roles have changed throughout the course of human history in various cultures. Ideas associated with being a man or a woman have fluctuated. This doesn't mean that our actual gender has fluctuated; there have only ever been two genders; man and woman. But what it means to 'be' a man or a woman has differentiated overtime. There was a time when women were seen as belonging in the kitchen and men belonged at work. Nowadays we don't really think like this anymore in certain societies.

Transgender is not a gender; a transgender person is someone who suffers from gender dysphoria and has not yet undergone the surgery for their biological sex to match their external gender. A trans person can only go from male-female or female-male. Trans people are concrete proof that gender is biological, not socially constructed.

Intersex is not a gender; klinefelter syndrome and turner syndrome are not genders, they are medical conditions caused by hormonal imbalances. A person with klinefelter syndrome is still a man; a person with turner syndrome is still a woman. Having hormonal imbalances doesn't mean that there is a 'third' gender, it means that a person's sexual makeup is not typical of their sex. It doesn't make them weird or a freak or 'special', its just a birth defect like cerebral palsy or down's syndrome.

I understand that there are many people, especially younger people, who disagree with me on this topic. That is completely fine because I acknowledge and understand that everyone has differing points of view, and that people are allowed to think what they want. What I don't respect is people trying to insist that their way of thinking is absolute and correct and that if you don't agree with them you are a bigot or close-minded. The irony is that when you label people like that, you are being close-minded.

Everyone is entitled to their own point of view, as long as they don't push it on to people. What I have presented here is my own personal viewpoint of sex and gender. My viewpoints are rooted in science as opposed to 'feelings'; I don't personally think it matters what you 'feel' you are as it doesn't change what you are. I have dark skin; if I say I 'feel' white, it doesn't change the fact that I am black. However, for some people, feelings are more important than facts on this topic. I'm not saying they are right or wrong, I am simply saying I disagree with them but they are entitled to their opinion.

I'm right, and so are you! 

I'm not really sure why gender has suddenly blown up to be such a huge and seemingly important topic. People are allowed to express their gender however they want; in the UK men and women are not forced to do certain things due to their gender (in most cases). If a woman wants to have short hair and wear jeans and join the military then that is perfectly fine. If a man wants to have long curly hair and wear makeup and high heels then that is perfectly fine. Musicians such as Prince, Grace Jones and David Bowie were/are all androgynous; they didn't 'change' their gender or ignore biology, but they didn't conform to gender stereotypes in how they dressed. Prince was a man, but he dressed in ways that were traditionally feminine.

I think there are far more important things in this world then the sex-gender debate, and I do find it kind of infuriating that people view it as something that requires such a severe amount of importance to the point where we need to let our children 'pick' their gender. Another irony of this is that LGBT people have argued for years (rightly) that sexuality is biologically determined. You don't 'choose' to be gay, bi or lesbian. Yet these same people seem to think that you can suddenly 'choose' your gender. Am I the only one who finds this to be strange?

Please let me know what your thoughts are on this topic.

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'There is no evidence that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex (e.g., “a man trapped in a woman’s body”). The consensus of scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the proposition that a physically and developmentally normal boy or girl is indeed what he or she appears to be at birth.'

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I'm Zarina Macha, an author, blogger, and musician from London. I write about stuff on the internet 'cos having opinions is fun -- if you want to join the games, please note your thoughts below. All thoughts welcome, even if they're mean (just no spam links please -- can't tell you what a liability those are to remove).
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