Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sex/Nature verses Gender/Nurture

That is really the question that all of transsexualism revolves around. Are those of us that believe in nature and sex correct or are those that believe in gender and nurture correct? It is really that simple. I have been receiving comments from someone calling themselves "an old auntie" and I was sort of taken to task over the we change sex not gender and she based it on a belief that all publications classify sex and gender as the same. I was accused of social engineering or changing the meanings of a word.

Usage Note: Traditionally, gender has been used primarily to refer to the grammatical categories of "masculine," "feminine," and "neuter," but in recent years the word has become well established in its use to refer to sex-based categories, as in phrases such as gender gap and the politics of gender. This usage is supported by the practice of many anthropologists, who reserve sex for reference to biological categories, while using gender to refer to social or cultural categories. According to this rule, one would say The effectiveness of the medication appears to depend on the sex (not gender) of the patient, but In peasant societies, gender (not sex) roles are likely to be more clearly defined. This distinction is useful in principle, but it is by no means widely observed, and considerable variation in usage occurs at all levels

Most define gender as an and/or link to the sex of the person. The difference between and/or is monumental.
The correct definition is that sex clearly defines the characteristics both physically and biologically of one of the two binary sexes. Gender defines the cultural and social roles a group of people live by and the masculine and feminine gender may map to the male and female sex but it does not have to. Any other definition is 100% incorrect for some obvious reasons.
If masculine and feminine map 100% to male and female it is thus impossible for there to be a feminine male and a masculine female based directly on your definition. It becomes a dichotomy or a mutually exclusive condition bound by the clear definition that sex and gender are the same. They may be but more importantly they may not be and that is our primary issue.

Sex is not fluid. One is either male, female or possibly intersex but intersex is a combination of one of the binary sex types and the individual will understand which sex they belong to in short order.  David Reimer is a classic example of that.

Because one dresses as a woman and appears feminine does not mean one is female physically. The individual is playing a gender role defined as feminine or transvestite or cross-dresser. This becomes a social issue and not an issue of one's sex. This is not possible if sex and gender are the same and thus transvestites and their ilk are just perverts verses someone with a gender/social issue at times. I prefer the someone with gender issues at time verses pervert but that is just me.

Because sex is binary in reality even if one is intersex it precludes the possibility of one being gender variant.  How can I say that? Variant by definition means varied while intersex means nothing or the sort.  It means a combination of male or female and the individual will know which one they are based on brain sex. The people born intersex will also grow up appearing more like one of the two primary sex types based on the hormonal patterns of their bodies.

Combining sex and gender as one and the same implies that nature and nurture are one and the same. Nature defines the sex characteristics of a male or a female.  There are some species that can change sex and I have to admit I am jealous of that. Sure would have been easier. Nurture defines the social constructs that define one as feminine or masculine and some believe they are. Nurture is how one learns the appropriate gender roles in a specific society.

The correct definitions for sex and gender are clearly defined if reading comprehension is minimally available.

Sex defines the sex characteristics of a male or female and the biological specifics of a male or female but those biological specifics may not be apparent on all of a specified sex. Not all women menstruate or can become pregnant. Not all men are strong and can father children because they are possibly infertile. Only 1 in 20,000 live births in the US is that of a hermaphrodite or a child born with the sex characteristics of both male and female and their brain sex will determine which sex they belong to and not what gender they are raised as.

Gender defines the social and cultural constructs that define masculine and feminine in a particular society and may map directly to the specific sex of a person but not necessarily. Thus feminine men and masculine women are not only possible but as we know exist in significant numbers within society.

The entire argument that sex and gender are the same falls apart based simply on the conjunction "or".

In logic and mathematics, or, also known as logical disjunction or inclusive disjunction, is a logical operator that results in true whenever one or more of its operands are true. E.g. in this context, "A or B" is true if A is true, or if B is true, or if both A and B are true.

If sex or gender have the exact same meaning then male means masculine and female means feminine. It is logically undeniable. They do NOT. What all this bad logic enforces is the paradigm that if one is feminine one is female and if one is masculine one is male and also if one is male then one is masculine and if one is female one is feminine and everyone of sane mind knows this is not true.

The only absolutely assured definition of sex is physiological characteristics such as vagina or penis. Sex crosses all species known to man with few exceptions and homo sapien is not one of the exceptions. 

The only absolutely assured definition of gender is the social or cultural norms that define feminine and masculine in a specific society and they differ based on the society and its belief system.  In other words gender is different for many societies if they even have the concept of gender. All societies have the concept of sex.

I am as guilty as everyone in misusing gender and sex because like most I was partially brainwashed by the same blurred lines. The more important thing is something I remembered from a conversation I had 40 years ago with a noted psychiatrist I have discussed a lot. We were discussing, reluctantly on my part by the way, when I was raped in February of 1960 shortly after I started hormones by a neighbor. She said he was a pedophile and then added he was probably born that way because it was incurable. Maybe just an off-handed remark but it leads me to another thought.

I rest my case based on this article by Milton Diamond of the University of Hawaii.


Anonymous said...

Actually, my comment was a far more restricted and tactical one. Perhaps the assumption on-line is that everyone commenting is attacking. I'm not. I'm warning. I've had arguments with people who reject the definition of gender you use. (It's the one use too, when I'm not arguing with someone.) My comments have been offered only as a warning you and your readers, when you assume "gender" does not mean biological sex, you are vulnerable to challengers who drag out a dictionary to deny your premise.

Having been burned several times, I'm careful about definition games. My dictionary references were meant to show how easy it is for an opponent who wants deny your definition of terms. You've read far more into my comments than I intended.

- an old aunty

Anonymous said...

Post Script:

I'm painfully reminded of a State Supreme Court ruling some years ago against a sister where they ignored all the well documented and very logical evidence in her favor and dragged out a mundane dictionary, using it's definition to supersede all the logic and evidence on her side.

Be wary of small minded dictionary thumpers.

-an old aunty

Miz Know-It-All said...

I don't know whether to gibber and dance about with glee at the sheer pleasure of reading yet another post that makes complete and perfect sense in this vast sea of utter and complete nonsense!
Or should I walk away shaking my head that there is cause to post the equivalent of the great revelation of the sun rising in the east? Worse still, what does it say to have someone such as Dr Diamond write such a definitive paper on the topic nine years ago and yet it is still an issue in contention? (excellent paper btw) Me thinks perhaps it means the lunatics have been off their meds then left in charge way way too long!