Male, Female, Etc.

Male, Female, Etc.

sex vs. gender

Kristen Jan Heimuli

 The popular phrases, “It’s a boy!” and “It’s a girl!” are now outdated, old-fashioned themes for baby showers everywhere.

Gender has moved from two types to over 50. In fact, as of February of this year, Facebook has provided a list of 58 gender options users can select from when creating their Facebook account. In case you didn’t catch that, that’s 58 genders – 58.

Google has also become aware of this trend. Upon making a Google account, the gender options list includes “male”, “female” and “other.”

Before realizing the consequences of this change in norms, it is essential to understand how gender is accurately defined.

In terms of science, an individual’s “sex” refers to biological, anatomical, and hormonal differences, while “gender “refers to social and cultural expectations.

Still confused?

The sex of a baby is determined by biological chromosomes: XY for male and XX for female.

The words “feminine” and “masculine” refer specifically to the concept of gender, or societal expectations according to the sex you are inherently given at birth.

Based on this definition of gender, many individuals feel like they fail to fit their “mold.” But do girls need to love ballet and Barbies to be girls? Or do boys need to love football and monster trucks to be considered boys?

Many are advocating that gender is whatever you decide you want to be, based on where you fit in. It is a product of nurture, or environmental influences, and does not stem from nature, or biology, in any way. Thus, the numerous additions in gender types.

For example, individuals and organizations such as genderspectrum.org, state that gender is not at all inherently connected with one’s anatomy.

But despite the trendiness of this argument, there are still many who believe there is a correlation between sex and gender. According to many in the medical profession, “neither sex nor gender refers to orientation or choice.” They are both something you come with and leave with regardless of personal decisions.

So, is there more to gender than its politically correct definition?

Let’s take a look at the famous case of Bruce Reimer, who quickly became Brenda Reimer and eventually changed to David.

Back in 1965, Bruce Reimer had an awful incident happen to him as a baby. During his circumcision procedure, things went terribly wrong. Unsure of how to handle this accident, his parents sought help from Dr. John Money, a psychologist who specialized in sex changes.

Dr. Money had a theory that gender was completely determined by nurture, and this would be the perfect experiment to put that theory to the test.

Ecstatic at the prospect of this unique experiment, Dr. Money encouraged the Reimers to raise Bruce as their daughter instead of their son. Their little boy would soon be treated like any other little girl with the hopes he would essentially become a girl through this gender socialization.

As a child, it seemed that Bruce/Brenda was fitting into the role of a girl, although there were some noticeable “masculine” tendencies she displayed as noted by her parents. Once in his teens, he became very depressed and even suicidal. He was not a happy “girl.” After seeing his personal conflicts, his parents revealed the big secret and Bruce who was Brenda quickly decided to become David.

Eventually, even after marrying and moving forward in life, David took his life.

What we learn from this tragedy is that when individuals behave according to “gender” roles that directly contradict their inherent sex roles, it is likely to be a confusing experience. Some might argue that Bruce Reimer’s case is a rare exception with an outcome that doesn’t prove to hold true for the general population.

But would anyone like to try this experiment again?

The consequences of entirely disregarding nature in reference to gender may be devastating. While society should always strive to be tolerant, just how accommodating should we really be? Do we need 58 versions of gender? Do you want your little girl to use a public restroom where men who have embraced a feminine “gender” are also using that same restroom? Where will the line be drawn? Can our society be accepting of differences without completely disregarding biological realities?

There may be more science to gender than girls wearing pink and boys wearing blue.

 

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