Sex vs gender

Posted: September 13, 2010 in Bodies, Gender, Sex & Sexuality

This post features my internalised cissexism and transphobia, and I apologise sincerely to anyone who has read it and found that it invalidates them (because it is invalidating to many people); that was my fault for not thinking hard enough and not managing to unpack kyriarchal views. Thank you to Dreki for calling me out on this in the comments – still debating as to whether to take this post down, although I feel I should acknowledge my mistakes.What’s driving me batty at the moment is people, educated, intelligent people, not knowing the difference between gender and sex. Not knowing that male/female are sexes, while woman/man are genders. Sociology handouts are saying that gender is determined at birth by biology. I could scream.

Perhaps gender is biological – I haven’t chosen my (lack of) gender, and it’s virtually impossible that I was socialised into it since according to everyone I know my (lack of) gender is impossible and can’t exist. But it’s certainly not based on the sex characteristics that we use to assign infants a sex/gender.

Gender is not something that anyone bar the person zanself can know. It’s internal. Sex… I may disapprove of the social constructs of one set of loosely-related physical characteristics as male and another as female (I believe we’re all different, and that male/female are inadequate), but I can’t deny that it is visible externally. I dislike referring to myself as male or female, but I have to because my body is sexed and for health reasons that needs to be acknowledged. I just wish that people could look beyond their incorrect use of language to see the actual use of the terms.

  1. Dreki says:

    I have to because my body is sexed and for health reasons that needs to be acknowledged.

    YOU have to because YOU choose to. YOU have no right to tell anyone else what THEIR body is, that they have to listen to an establishment that’s just as happy to leave them to die, or that they’re using “incorrect language” to refer to their own experiences. It’s fine if YOU consider YOUR sex to be reflective of your assigned sex. But don’t tell anyone else that theirs has to.

    Maybe this was aimed at cis people who don’t get it- but you’re ignoring the trans people who have to live with being told that their own words to define their body are invalid. No, you’re not ignoring them, YOU ARE ACTIVELY INVALIDATING THEM. You are actively telling trans people that our own definitions and experiences of our body are invalid because you say so.

    • Dreki says:

      I want to apoogize for my tone in that comment. This is something that comes up a lot and it gets very exhausting having people, even non-cis people, insist that trans people aren’t allowed to define their own bodies and use words that they dislike and I was more harsh than I should have been because of that.

  2. JKBC says:

    I’m sorry – I know what you mean and why I was wrong. Don’t worry about getting angry – I’ve changed my mind since (refusing to use sexed terms these days) and really ought to take this post down. Will put an edit at the top of the page apologising and put it under a fold in the main page, unless you think it’d be better to take it right down.

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