This will be a very brief and concise piece on gender and sex. Right away I know I’m going to get comments from the right saying I’m an SJW, feminist, and their entire category of insults and from the liberals I’m going to be called a bigot, sexist, and their category of insults. So please let’s not turn this into a who can throw the biggest insults match but instead a rational discussion based on science and fact. But without further ado;
Firstly, we must understand there is a scientific (and verifiable) difference between gender and sex. Sex as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary is as follows;
“Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and most other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions”
And, also defined by the same dictionary is;
“The state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones)”
In other words, there are only 2 sexes and there only will ever be 2 sexes. Divided by male and female and determined by X and Y chromosomes. X and Y chromosomes of course, determine whether you’re born with a vagina and ovaries or with a penis and testicles but if we include all common X and Y chromosome outcomes than there are technically six sexes. These being;
“X – Roughly 1 in 2,000 to 1 in 5,000 people (Turner’s syndrome)
XX – Most common form of female
XXY – Roughly 1 in 500 to 1 in 1,000 people (Klinefelter syndrome)
XY – Most common form of male
XYY – Roughly 1 out of 1,000 people
XXXY – Roughly 1 in 18,000 to 1 in 50,000 births”
Whether you want to say there’s two or six sexes doesn’t really matter, science and linguistics backs up both claims, it’s merely a matter of interpretation.
Gender, as opposed to sex, isn’t something necessarily determined by biology (although based on it, along with ones sexual preference). Genders are social roles given to groups of people based on that group’s’ average physical and mental abilities. For example the male sex is on average more physically capable than someone of the female sex so the male gender reflects this by have males usually portrayed as hard labourers, protector of the family, etc. Where as someone of the female sex is on average more caring, sympathetic and nurturing than someone of the male sex so therefore the female gender role is, at least in the west, one of a mother, caregiver, etc.
So when someone says “there are only two genders!” That is true to an extent. As far as traditional western family structure goes there are only two genders. But this is not absolute, everything is subject to change and everything will eventually change.
Around the world you can find a large diversity of genders that aren’t just male and female. Pretty much every non-western society recognizes a third or fourth gender. For example, In China, along with the traditional male and female gender there is also gender called ‘yinyang ren’ that reflects bisexual behavior. Across the Americas in virtually all Native American culture there has always been a third gender of someone who is of the male sex but behaves as a female (people who occupy these genders are typically gay men). These genders are the the winkte in Lakota culture, the nadleehi in Navajo culture, the muxe in the Zapotec cultures and many more.
With all these gender variants it’s safe to say gender is only a social construct that is given to groups of people based on the group’s physical and mental capability and occasionally sexual preference. Social constructs, like anything and everything, are always subject to change and always will change as contradictions play out and create something new. Just remember the difference between sex and gender and don’t get them confused.