A few months ago, I wrote a post called What I Believe as an Atheist. I delved into my beliefs on the multiverse, the supernatural, astrology, death, morality, free will, veganism, LGBTQ issues, and more. The closest I got to my beliefs on gender in that post was, in regards to LGBTQ issues, saying:
“I don’t think there are really any secular arguments, or any good arguments at all, against LGBT rights. To me, homophobia is no different from racism. Just don’t judge people or try to take away their rights based on qualities that are out of their control and that don’t affect your life. How hard is that?”
Four months later, I really haven’t changed my mind about LGBT rights. But I haven’t said before what my views on gender are. How many are there? Does gender work differently than sex? Can you pick either one?
I’ll start this off by sharing what is probably obvious if you’re familiar at all with me or my blog already: I’m a straight cisgender woman with female chromosomes and female biology. I’m even married to a (really great) man. Gender is far from my area of expertise, but I think it’s definitely something to be aware of and sensitive to.
I think that gender is a hard topic to really wrap your mind around, even though if you ask me, there are only two of them. That sounds like a controversial thing to say in 2019, but my views in general really are not as extreme as that may have sounded.
Yes, I do believe that quantitatively, there are only two sexes and two genders: male and female (not to be confused with “male and female He created them;” that’s not where this is going). But I think that where you get a lot of deviation is how those may be combined. Some people are just female, some are just male, and some used to be one but are now the other (although in that case, they would still have the sex chromosomes of the former; that’s something they cannot change even with hormones and surgery).
The way I understand it is that sex is much more definite than gender. It’s in your biology, although to be honest, I don’t know if it is truly defined by your chromosomes or your genitals. But gender is a lot harder to pinpoint. It’s grounded a lot more in society and in the brain than in biology or the body. A lot of people like to say that gender identity is just “whatever you feel like that day,” which is harsh, but it does convey that it’s less tied down than sex.
The deviation goes further: maybe you’re transgender and you identify as one gender but have the body of the other. Maybe you were born ambiguous of sex. Maybe you identify as neither, or both, or something on some days and something else on other days. Does this mean that there are more than two genders?
Not necessarily, no. I think that this really only means that you have one, two, or zero genders. I don’t know where you would get a third or fourth. And even if your gender situation is a complicated one, your chromosomes should usually be able to determine your sex for you—unless you have a rare chromosome combination, like XO or XXY.
The spectrum of beliefs surrounding gender is far and wide. There are ultra-conservatives who believe that your gender is only determined by your sex and by God, and cannot be changed. There are also those who believe in one thousand genders (literally), but I think that these people are the reason why transgender people are so often mocked. My views lie pretty directly in the middle.
Personally, I am a huge fan of transgender woman Blaire White and her YouTube channel, and watching her was the inspiration for writing this post. If you don’t know who she is, she is actually conservative in her views, and she never hesitates to criticize those with outlandish views on gender who can make the whole lot of them look crazy. I highly recommend her YouTube channel if you want to hear about these topics from someone more informed than I am and be entertained at the same time.
Also, you may have noticed that there weren’t any citations in this post; that’s because I’m just musing and writing down my thoughts on this topic for fun. I’m definitely not the authority on gender, so feel free to correct anything that I may have gotten wrong, but make sure to keep this in mind when you do so! While you’re at it, I’m always interested in hearing what you think I should write in upcoming weeks!