This post will take a look at sex and gender. I have previously written in (The Gender Binary?) that they are independent concepts (i.e. sex does not equal gender). I did not examine this in much detail there; here I will attempt to elucidate the independence of the two. I plan to cover what sex is, focusing in on one particular aspect of it, and I will also cover what gender is, which is not as easy as it might sound as it is even slicker than sex to delineate. After this exploration I will move on to why I believe that they do not mean the same thing, and try to say why they do not. Finally, I will say why I think it is important to know the difference.
[Note – I may not give references for all I mention in this post. Most are in the public domain. Be forewarned to avoid transphobic material, as these sites will provide you with crap that has no valid scientific reason to believe them.]
Now for the fun part—sex. Sex has various meanings. It is used as in having sex of whatever stripe—more fun. You will also find it in sexual orientation—who you want to have fun with. Some find even more fun—indulging in sexual imagery (e.g. pornography, advertisements, etc.. Had enough fun for now? Then let me get serious.
The pertinent use of “sex” germane to my topic of discussion in this post is that of biological sex. What genitalia do you display? Both of these can be confusing. Genitalia present at birth does not always reflects someone’s genetic sex. This is because some people are born with genitalia that is not straight forward or might only become apparent at puberty or even later. These individuals are commonly labeled “intersex,” although some people with that label do not like it. They is not exactly one sex or another.
Parents used to be talked into having intersex children operated on to give them the clear appearance of either a male or a female (usually). This is done without the child’s consent. And, parents are not fully informed to make that decision for their child. This used to be standard practice leaving parents with no real say, and the child’s psychological health in jeopardy. At present day, while still occurring, these operations are declining.
Or if that’s to confusing, what sex chromosomes do you have? Don’t think that is a simple answer coming because it isn’t. It contains at least ten variations plus the one’s for male and female. These cause all sorts of issues. Here is a webpage that exclaims something of all these variation (https://genetic.org/variations/)
The sexual appearance of the child is the basis of what gets put on their birth certificate, which will most likely travel with them through out their lives. Unless you get it change. So sex on your birth certificate for most people is equal to seeing it as matching their gender.
Gender can be even more confusing. There is not only the cismale and cisfemale, but their transgender counter parts. So that isn’t to confusing. But wait. There are so many in between. Non-binary genders can be whatever a person feels that fits into the standard non-binary genders. Oh wait again. There are actually people without any gender at at all. Agender.
I mean I am a transgender woman, and I can’t even figure out how that can be or why I have such an intense identification as a woman (What’s It Like?). I am a woman through and through (Was It Ever a Choice?, I Have Always Been, I am not a Guy). These post will give you a good look at my transition. So, being transgender person can be confusing. But, what they are confused about it is not an issue, so they need no more ill treatment. As in treat them in a way that their gender is wrong. This is straight out wrong and should be illegal for minors to be treated in this fashion (like conversion therapy. No parents you do not have the the right to leave your child in mental turmoil. That is child abuse.
People are quite perplex about transgender and gender diverse persons. Sometimes when I am at a store or out some where, especially in the beginning of my transition I got stares where the person looks quite confused. Confusion everywhere, whether cis or trans people. It’s better now, but occasionally I get that confused stare. That doesn’t bother me so much, but when it is sign of disgust or other hurtful feelings. Again, now these are few and far between, but still happen.
What to do? With all the confusion out there is education a feasible plan. Transgender people are really seen on main stream media. And then, it is usually something to do with entertainment. This is what I see, maybe yours is a different view. But, I think advocacy is lacking is full force. Yes there are those that do this like The Transgender Law Center and The National Center for Transgender Equality [NCTE]. But, I do not know how they are doing. I was dissed† by the NCTE when I applied for a peer counsellor. Not even a reply that they had received it. So, I am confused on the advocacy issues.
You would think these organization would help a person wanting to do transgender advocacy. But, I have not gotten one reply back, accept thanking me for signing up for there email updates. I didn’t even sign up for that. I signed to tell my story. It is shitty that a very willing person can get no help to do anything but donate, which I can’t afford. Where is there compassion? Can’t they help a girl help? This also confusing.
Confusion seems to be everywhere. Within the transgender or gender diverse person, the general public, and what advocacy groups are doing, and where is the education are we left on our own to educate those we know and those we come across in public. I might be living in hole in the ground (no adventures here), but what is happening below my radar. And if it is, it shouldn’t be. When will we stand up and do all we can reasonably do whether your a gender diverse or transgender person or an ally or even a parent who wants to help there child be all that they can be as a person. Where is the help from transgender advocacy groups. Oh just donate. That doesn’t count for this poor girl.
Sorry if I confused anyone, including myself.
† Since writing this last revision they did and have added me as a candidate for the 2023 round of openings.
3 thoughts on “Sex and Gender”
Hi Stephie, I hope you’re keeping well.
The media certainly have a lot to answer for when it comes to public acceptance of the REAL trans community. According to the media the only trans people who exist are Drag Queens on RuPaul’s Drag Show.
Well, here’s a wake up call for the media.
Not all trans women are drag queens. Not all trans women are able to be drag queens. Not all trans women would ever want to be a drag queen. Most trans women are just trying to survive day to day.
Plus, not all trans people are trans women. Trans guys have a damned hard time too. And then there’s all those who don’t fit the societal gender binary.
God, I hate the media.
Great post, Stephie! xx
The media can’t get most things right anyway. How are they supposed to get she a grey area of life correct. I would like to do a post on this topic, but I do not think I have enough background in this topic
If it weren’t for my neck. I would be doing pretty good. Still I am volunteering to be a friendly ear to an elderly trans person. I also wrote up my story for Trans Empowerment Project. It looks like I might have finally begun some advocacy.
Oh, I restarted my philosophy blog, I had to change to a new one because I seemed not to have any more access to the first one. So now it is “aquestionersjourney2”