My Thoughts on Gender

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!

12 Replies to “My Thoughts on Gender”

  1. I couldn’t disagree with you more. And recommending Blair White as an educational resource is just abhorrent! She speaks with such visceral rhetoric that is not only disagreeable but nasty and mean spirited.

    As a transgender woman and philosopher I welcome you to my page to look up some arguments and scientific resources on the subject.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A good read. Although I am a fellow non-expert on gender theory, I did cover some basics in my previous Sociology studies. In your piece, where you say (at least I think you’re saying, please correct if I have misunderstood) that there are only two genders regarding there are male, female and mixture of the two, I think that makes sense. For example, someone who is non-binary is a mixture of male/female, same can be said of intersex.

    I think what is helpful is to remind ourselves of the distinction between gender/sex. Although in common language are used synomously, they are not synonyms. Sex= biologically determined. Gender= socially constructed. An example of this is gender roles. You can have a biological woman, but the roles expected of her to fulfil are (usually) socially constructed.

    Identity can get tricky. Regarding gender identity, given the existence of intersex people, this provides compelling evidence that gender identity is not (completely) determined by biological sex. For instance, if one was to assert that gender is completely determined by biological sex, and that gender is only binary (only man or only woman, but never both or neither), then this results in a contradiction. To resolve the contradiction, we have to allow for determining factors of gender identity that exist outside biological sex. This list spells this out more clearly.

    Human beings can only be a man or only be a woman, never both or neither
    If human beings possess biological traits possessed only their biological sex (chromosomes, genitals, etc), then that is their gender identity
    Intersex people possess biological traits of both men and women
    Intersex people are both a man and a woman

    As you can see, number 1 contradicts number 4.

    Furthermore, when intersex people do identify as either a man or woman, this seems to not be as counterintuitive as a biological man who identifies as a woman, and vice versa, although the conflict is technically the same (if one was to assert that gender identity is completely tied to one’s biological sex)

    If you’re looking for topic to write, perhaps look into the Nurture/Nature debate. This may help regarding your interest on this subject as well, since it delves into the issue on how much of human behaviour is biologically or socially determined. A great example of this is Noam Chomsky vs Frank Skinner regarding language acquisition.

    Thanks again for writing the article, that brought up a topic I hadn’t thought about for a while and got the brain firing again,


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  3. I believe in ambigenderism. Always have been even though I was a political conservative until the age of 28. I lost my virginity at 14 six or so months before declaring myself an atheist. At 80 I have only memories.

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  4. I must admit, and it sounds equally potentially controversial, I don’t really buy gender theory, not in the sense that the Catholic Church teaches “male and female he created them”, but in the sense that I just don’t find the concept of gender helpful in the first place. To the extent that I believe in gender, I would call myself a non-gendered entity, to use Camille Paglia’s phrase. Obviously there are different expectations for biological males and females, but it seems to me that one could just as easily speak of “sex roles” as “gender roles.” Bringing this concept of gender as opposed to biological sex into it seems to add something to the discussion that just doesn’t add up. The problem is, the idea of 1000 genders really does seem to stem logically from the foundational precepts of gender theory.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I wish I had an intelligent pithy comment on this topic, but my mind is stuck on the number 2. Anything other than 2 does not compute in any logical manner. I would have to completely sever the left side of my brain and totally engage in the imagination of Right brain thinking to even come close to the idea of 1000 genders…or Harry Potterish / Lord of the Rings fantasy worlds.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Why does it matter that one can, or can’t identify with a specific box to check? Why is this an issue at all? We are forced to contemplate something of no consequence because Of beliefs—

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  7. Right. We got sex, gender, sexual preference, LGBTQ+, and more twists and turns than my mind can manage. I just got “Deciphering The Gospels: Proves Jesus Never Existed” by R.G. Price. Have you read it?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am pretty much with you on this. I am not an expert either and I think you did a good job with the article. My main thing for people to remember is that no matter what gender, what sexual preference, what belief system you have we are all human beings. We all deserve respect and acceptance. Even when we do not agree, all should be loved and treated fairly.

    Liked by 1 person

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