Trying to understand gender
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09-10-2017, 11:02 PM
RE: Trying to understand gender
I'm sorry to hear that Emma, people can be so thoughtless Sad Heart

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11-10-2017, 12:55 AM
RE: Trying to understand gender
I thought I'd write a summary of my findings and thoughts so far. This is written from a purely scientific viewpoint, without any sort of judgement implied. I'm completely open to being corrected, and I'd welcome links which would further my understanding on any particular point.

Sex

Males produce sperm, females produce eggs. If a human can somehow produce both, I suppose it is male and female. I don't know if this is possible. If a human can't be reasonably said to have the systems which would normally produce either (even if they don't work), it would have no sex (which I would read as "no sexual/reproductive function"). Further thoughts:

It seems to be a classification made at birth. However, it clearly isn't dependent on the human being able to produce sperm/eggs at that time (age zero) so it seems to me that this is somewhat subjective. One can only approximate that a particular baby will eventually produce sperm/eggs (even after assuming no surgery is done to stop it happening), so clearly the actual end result isn't a requirement. I assume that non-functioning but distinct reproductive organs would still count towards sex, but then this is also subjective since there is no distinct cut-off point at which the reproductive system "stops being counted".
Brain gender (my own term)

This is the reproductive system and body type that your brain expects you to have. It's typically the same as your sex, but not always (gender dysphoria). If your brain doesn't expect either, I'd say this is "none". Can this be fluid? As far as I'm aware, no.

Personality gender (my own term)

This is how much you identify with the stereotypical male and female, in ways further than your brain gender. Does this have any biological basis? I'm not sure. Maybe hormone levels could shift your personality and experiences away from your brain gender. Can your personality gender oppose your brain gender? I don't know. Can it fall in-between? I think so, yes. Can this be fluid? Perhaps.

Legal gender

This is obviously non-biological. It defaults to your sex, but can be changed to match your brain/personality gender through a rigorous process. If you were born with no sex, or both, I don't know what would happen. There isn't a category for "none/intergender" as far as I know. Should there be? Perhaps. I'd rather see this field omitted altogether whenever data is needed, unless it's specifically relevant.

Gender

Without careful use, it's difficult to tell exactly which of the above this word refers to. Informally, it's going to be the legal gender, or perhaps sex if you're ignorant/bigoted. If used scientifically, it seems to be some sort of amalgamation of brain and personality gender. But is personality gender in any way scientific, or is it purely social? I'm not sure. How can you be "gender fluid"? Only, I think, if we permit the personality element. How can you be "gender neutral"? Perhaps by having no brain gender, or else by taking the personality gender into account as overriding the brain gender.

As for me

Sex: Male
Brain gender: Male
Personality gender: ? (Not entirely convinced this is a real thing yet. Jury is out. If I was forced to pick male or female, I'd say female. If I could pick none or inbetween, I'd pick that instead. Not fluid.)
Legal gender: Male

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11-10-2017, 06:54 AM
RE: Trying to understand gender
(11-10-2017 12:55 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  I thought I'd write a summary of my findings and thoughts so far. This is written from a purely scientific viewpoint, without any sort of judgement implied. I'm completely open to being corrected, and I'd welcome links which would further my understanding on any particular point.

Sex

Males produce sperm, females produce eggs. If a human can somehow produce both, I suppose it is male and female. I don't know if this is possible. If a human can't be reasonably said to have the systems which would normally produce either (even if they don't work), it would have no sex (which I would read as "no sexual/reproductive function"). Further thoughts:

It seems to be a classification made at birth. However, it clearly isn't dependent on the human being able to produce sperm/eggs at that time (age zero) so it seems to me that this is somewhat subjective. One can only approximate that a particular baby will eventually produce sperm/eggs (even after assuming no surgery is done to stop it happening), so clearly the actual end result isn't a requirement. I assume that non-functioning but distinct reproductive organs would still count towards sex, but then this is also subjective since there is no distinct cut-off point at which the reproductive system "stops being counted".
Brain gender (my own term)

This is the reproductive system and body type that your brain expects you to have. It's typically the same as your sex, but not always (gender dysphoria). If your brain doesn't expect either, I'd say this is "none". Can this be fluid? As far as I'm aware, no.

Personality gender (my own term)

This is how much you identify with the stereotypical male and female, in ways further than your brain gender. Does this have any biological basis? I'm not sure. Maybe hormone levels could shift your personality and experiences away from your brain gender. Can your personality gender oppose your brain gender? I don't know. Can it fall in-between? I think so, yes. Can this be fluid? Perhaps.

Legal gender

This is obviously non-biological. It defaults to your sex, but can be changed to match your brain/personality gender through a rigorous process. If you were born with no sex, or both, I don't know what would happen. There isn't a category for "none/intergender" as far as I know. Should there be? Perhaps. I'd rather see this field omitted altogether whenever data is needed, unless it's specifically relevant.

Gender

Without careful use, it's difficult to tell exactly which of the above this word refers to. Informally, it's going to be the legal gender, or perhaps sex if you're ignorant/bigoted. If used scientifically, it seems to be some sort of amalgamation of brain and personality gender. But is personality gender in any way scientific, or is it purely social? I'm not sure. How can you be "gender fluid"? Only, I think, if we permit the personality element. How can you be "gender neutral"? Perhaps by having no brain gender, or else by taking the personality gender into account as overriding the brain gender.

As for me

Sex: Male
Brain gender: Male
Personality gender: ? (Not entirely convinced this is a real thing yet. Jury is out. If I was forced to pick male or female, I'd say female. If I could pick none or inbetween, I'd pick that instead. Not fluid.)
Legal gender: Male

I think you did a great job (imo) illustrating how all comes together (brain, personality, bio sex organs, societal/legal gender) to form a person's identity--that identity is so much more than sex organs. I'm hoping that will help showcase to some that gender is all encompassing and not just a penis or vagina.

Here's mine:

Sex: Born with Female sex organs
Brain Gender: Female
Legal Gender: Female
Personality Gender: I have male and female personality traits, imo. I like "stereotypical" and "societally-based" female things like hair, makeup, nails, shoes, fashion. But I also like hiking, ultralight backpacking, Krav Maga, and I have been told numerous times that I have a guy's sense of humor.

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11-10-2017, 08:44 AM
RE: Trying to understand gender
Thanks very much, I appreciate it Smile

This is one of those words that you have to carefully define before a discussion, or else you can spend hours talking at cross purposes.

Funnily enough, my wife is not typically "girly" at all and is more of a tomboy. We meet somewhere in the middle, or perhaps pass each other Wink

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11-10-2017, 09:28 AM
RE: Trying to understand gender
The interesting thing to me is that if you take a particular person and move them around between different cultures and time periods, their personality gender will change, but not their brain gender (or sex, obviously). So does their "gender" change? Clearly, it depends on what elements you're talking about.

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11-10-2017, 09:54 AM
RE: Trying to understand gender
(11-10-2017 12:55 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  I thought I'd write a summary of my findings and thoughts so far. This is written from a purely scientific viewpoint, without any sort of judgement implied. I'm completely open to being corrected, and I'd welcome links which would further my understanding on any particular point.

Sex

Males produce sperm, females produce eggs. If a human can somehow produce both, I suppose it is male and female. I don't know if this is possible. If a human can't be reasonably said to have the systems which would normally produce either (even if they don't work), it would have no sex (which I would read as "no sexual/reproductive function"). Further thoughts:

It seems to be a classification made at birth. However, it clearly isn't dependent on the human being able to produce sperm/eggs at that time (age zero) so it seems to me that this is somewhat subjective. One can only approximate that a particular baby will eventually produce sperm/eggs (even after assuming no surgery is done to stop it happening), so clearly the actual end result isn't a requirement. I assume that non-functioning but distinct reproductive organs would still count towards sex, but then this is also subjective since there is no distinct cut-off point at which the reproductive system "stops being counted".
Brain gender (my own term)

This is the reproductive system and body type that your brain expects you to have. It's typically the same as your sex, but not always (gender dysphoria). If your brain doesn't expect either, I'd say this is "none". Can this be fluid? As far as I'm aware, no.

Personality gender (my own term)

This is how much you identify with the stereotypical male and female, in ways further than your brain gender. Does this have any biological basis? I'm not sure. Maybe hormone levels could shift your personality and experiences away from your brain gender. Can your personality gender oppose your brain gender? I don't know. Can it fall in-between? I think so, yes. Can this be fluid? Perhaps.

Legal gender

This is obviously non-biological. It defaults to your sex, but can be changed to match your brain/personality gender through a rigorous process. If you were born with no sex, or both, I don't know what would happen. There isn't a category for "none/intergender" as far as I know. Should there be? Perhaps. I'd rather see this field omitted altogether whenever data is needed, unless it's specifically relevant.

Gender

Without careful use, it's difficult to tell exactly which of the above this word refers to. Informally, it's going to be the legal gender, or perhaps sex if you're ignorant/bigoted. If used scientifically, it seems to be some sort of amalgamation of brain and personality gender. But is personality gender in any way scientific, or is it purely social? I'm not sure. How can you be "gender fluid"? Only, I think, if we permit the personality element. How can you be "gender neutral"? Perhaps by having no brain gender, or else by taking the personality gender into account as overriding the brain gender.

As for me

Sex: Male
Brain gender: Male
Personality gender: ? (Not entirely convinced this is a real thing yet. Jury is out. If I was forced to pick male or female, I'd say female. If I could pick none or inbetween, I'd pick that instead. Not fluid.)
Legal gender: Male

This seems to me like it might be a fairly decent description- though I'm not completely certain. It's possible that there are other factors unaccounted for or misrepresented and I'm not necessarily a good judge of that. So, for now, I'm tentatively sort of with you on it lol. Tongue

Some trans people do take issue with having to classify "sex" differently than "brain gender" because it is such a weighty bludgeon used to oppress and condemn us out in the world- which I see that you included as a caveat for the bigots lol. It's difficult and complicated for me, as well, honestly. Because as I said before, "we are our brain" and I think that's true as much and more than we are the rest of our body. And since "sex" is typically viewed as the more important aspect of who we are over "brain gender" in the world beyond science, it remains very risky and difficult for us to acknowledge wholeheartedly that our "sex" continues to persist post transition as was at birth (if it can be said that it does persist). For me to say that I will always have a "male" sex opens me up to an extreme potential for bigots to oppress. Especially since the parts operate in such different ways based on the hormones they are fed lol. If the world were not so powerfully bent against trans people (and I acknowledge that it's generally getting better and better these days), then risk would not play a part.

Also- my legal sex/gender is still complicated because my Birth Certificate still says "male", even though all of my other documentation says "female". This is why so many bathroom bill lawmakers are pushing their laws based on birth certificates. They are harder to change in most states- if it's even possible in your particular state. When it is possible to change, they often require very invasive and expensive surgeries (which also permanently sterilize the individual) that many trans people will not even opt for (for a variety of reasons). Some bigots even push for their laws to be based on "biological sex", which is intended to force even those who have had bottom surgery to operate as though they are still their sex at birth- bypassing gender classification on identification documents that can be changed. So, as I said before... it's complicated. Undecided

So, with that said...
Sex: Male, I guess?
Brain gender: Female
Personality gender: More or less female, I suppose, to the point it can be classified based on currently gendered interests.
Legal gender: Female on my DL, Social Security, Passport. Male on Birth Certificate and... "biological sex" or whatever. Dodgy
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11-10-2017, 11:05 AM (This post was last modified: 11-10-2017 11:12 AM by Robvalue.)
RE: Trying to understand gender
Thank you Emma Smile

I absolutely agree that society's focus on peoples' sex is very unhealthy and backwards. I was only using it from a scientific perspective; once you take a single step into society it's rather irrelevant to try and clout people round the head with the snapshot of their reproductive systems at birth. I have no idea what it proves.

I hope for a society one day where people just chill the fuck out about gender, stop featuring it everywhere on forms when it's not necessary, and move towards unisex bathrooms and such. Let people identify how they want to, and respect it. If laws are sufficiently non-sexist, legal gender shouldn't really be relevant either in almost any respect.

Maybe people won't even need to identify as anything eventually, because people will just respect each other regardless and treat them as people.

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11-10-2017, 12:06 PM
RE: Trying to understand gender
(11-10-2017 11:05 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  Thank you Emma Smile

I absolutely agree that society's focus on peoples' sex is very unhealthy and backwards. I was only using it from a scientific perspective; once you take a single step into society it's rather irrelevant to try and clout people round the head with the snapshot of their reproductive systems at birth. I have no idea what it proves.

I hope for a society one day where people just chill the fuck out about gender, stop featuring it everywhere on forms when it's not necessary, and move towards unisex bathrooms and such. Let people identify how they want to, and respect it. If laws are sufficiently non-sexist, legal gender shouldn't really be relevant either in almost any respect.

Maybe people won't even need to identify as anything eventually, because people will just respect each other regardless and treat them as people.

I agree, I hate that people need to identify as anything. I think you just are what you are (based on how you personally view yourself) and that's it. It's no one else's business--especially not the government's. I don't like boxes of any kind--too many gray areas in life. Not one person fits neatly into a box.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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12-10-2017, 11:13 PM
RE: Trying to understand gender
(11-10-2017 09:28 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  The interesting thing to me is that if you take a particular person and move them around between different cultures and time periods, their personality gender will change, but not their brain gender (or sex, obviously). So does their "gender" change? Clearly, it depends on what elements you're talking about.

I've been thinking more about this.

If you asked a group of people (even including scientists/sociologists), "Can your gender change by moving to another country?", I wonder what the results would be? I lean towards the vast majority of people answering, "No".

If that is the case, and people want the word to be unaffected by where you happen to live, then you'd have to exclude this personality element completely and just go with brain gender.

I do wonder if this should be the case anyhow. What happens if personality gender opposes brain gender? I don't know how that would work, scientifically or informally. It seems that there is a battle going on, within the word. On one hand we have a very scientific determination of the brain's expectation of the body. And then we have a social element railing against that somewhat, and not wanting to be pigeon-holed even by this, to be free to move into more grey areas.

What to make of all this?

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13-10-2017, 05:39 AM
RE: Trying to understand gender
(12-10-2017 11:13 PM)Robvalue Wrote:  
(11-10-2017 09:28 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  The interesting thing to me is that if you take a particular person and move them around between different cultures and time periods, their personality gender will change, but not their brain gender (or sex, obviously). So does their "gender" change? Clearly, it depends on what elements you're talking about.

I've been thinking more about this.

If you asked a group of people (even including scientists/sociologists), "Can your gender change by moving to another country?", I wonder what the results would be? I lean towards the vast majority of people answering, "No".

If that is the case, and people want the word to be unaffected by where you happen to live, then you'd have to exclude this personality element completely and just go with brain gender.

I do wonder if this should be the case anyhow. What happens if personality gender opposes brain gender? I don't know how that would work, scientifically or informally. It seems that there is a battle going on, within the word. On one hand we have a very scientific determination of the brain's expectation of the body. And then we have a social element railing against that somewhat, and not wanting to be pigeon-holed even by this, to be free to move into more grey areas.

What to make of all this?

I think what further confuses some people is sexual identity along with someone being transgender. For instance, (just like everyone else) a transgender person may be physically attracted to men or women or both. I just remember when Caitlyn Jenner was describing her sexual identity in an interview and I remember there was even a post here with some people saying...wait she's transgender and is attracted to xyz?

Anyway, sexual identity is also a component in how society views you and in some cases still, (archaically) gender. I think the bottom line is there are so many components that go into the makings of a person. Nothing in life is 100 percent black and white--why should gender be. Many things are fluid. I think the bottom line is "How do you view yourself?" Whatever the answer is, is what it is. The rest are just pieces to who you are as an individual. I think it was Emma who wrote "The brain leads the body." I think that is very true and covers all facets of how we view ourselves and interact with the world.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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