Sex & gender: Easier than it seems

A lot of people seem confused about sex, gender and sexuality and where one begins and the other ends. But it’s not so complicated, actually. Simply don’t assume that one always equals the other and you’re on your way to a greater understanding. If you want to delve a bit deeper, here’s a handy guide to how I view these not-really-so-confusing matters:

Your options

Biological sex

Your biological sex mostly has to do with what part you’re biologically primed to be playing when it comes to procreating – are you an inseminator or an incubator? Normally, this only plays a role in actual procreation and that’s why your biological sex is a thing between you, your partner and possibly your doctor. There is no need for anyone else to care about your biological sex.

There are a lot of ways of making this a bit more complicated. Some people are born with non-standard configurations of genitalia and other offspring-producing tools, but they’re still people and deserve to be treated as such. Some people aren’t comfortable with what nature has randomly selected for them and want to change it and these people too are human.

And none of it changes the simple fact that a persons biological sex is none of your business, unless you’re their partner or doctor.

Social gender

Why do some people feel the need to teach their children to be proud men and proper ladies? If how we act is a natural thing born from our biological sex, those behaviours would sort themselves out, right? And yet many people seem to think that nature can’t be natural on it’s own but needs a bit of help.

Our social gender is a way to identify with and conform to major groups of people in the world. Most people adopt the culture that corresponds to their biological sex, but some choose not to and some don’t even have that option. And why should my function in procreation dictate how I talk, what things I like to do or what clothes I wear? We pride ourselves with being civilized, with being above crude instincts and animalistic behaviour, yet when it comes to this we cling on to a practice that is completely at odds with civilized behaviour.

Social gender can be pretty fluid, just like you sometimes change your preference in music or style of clothing, and that’s fine. Many people stick to one social gender their entire life and that’s fine too, as long as they’re happy about it.

Another persons social gender is your business, but that business is only to accept it. You get to decide on your own social gender, not others.

Sexuality

In simplified terms, your sexuality is what kind of people you’re attracted to. In total this is a complex thing, but we often simplify it to mean what gender we’re attracted to. Or what sex we’re attracted to. Or combination of sex and gender. See, it’s already complicated.

Sexuality is generally connected to the biological sex since it’s a function for producing offspring, but it is not tied down to it. And since humans have sex not only to generate new blobs of DNA but also for fun, it’s not very important if your fleshy liason actually is capable of genetic duplication or not.

Another persons sexuality is only your concern if you plan on having sex with that person and that person plans on having sex with you. Or, again, possibly if you’re their doctor. If you’re not both planning to have sex with each other, it’s not your business.

Clothes

We are not biologically primed to wear certain types of clothes; that’s a social construct. The pleated skirt is commonly associated with schoolgirls, but also with scots and the greek presidential guard.

Also, what I wear does not change who I am. I do not suddenly become attracted to guys just because I put on a dress, thusly what I wear has no impact on my sexuality. It cannot change my physical sex so it has no impact on that.

My choice of clothing can have a connection to my social gender, but not in any kind of absolute way and it’s mostly one-sided: Wearing a dress does not make my gender female, but identifying as the female gender might make me choose a dress to wear.

The car analogy

Let’s say you have a car. It’s a pickup truck. A Dodge. Let’s say you remove the body of the car, keep the motor and the frame and put a Ford body on there instead. Is the car still a Dodge or is it now a Ford? A Dodge car with a Ford body? A Ford car with a Dodge motor? I don’t know these things because I’m not really into cars, but if the owner were to tell me it’s a Ford, I’d trust the owner to know. If the owner said that it might look like a Ford, but it’s really a Dodge then I’d trust that too. It’s not up to me to decide and it really makes no difference. The car is still the car.

And you know what? You might think that one shouldn’t put the body of one car on the frame of another, but people are doing it anyway. And it isn’t unravelling the fabric of our society.

Your possibilities

How many combinations do we have in total? Well, that’s pretty hard to say. Biological sexes are at least two, but then we have the cases that don’t really fit in. Should they all be lumped together as one sex? Or are they all different sexes? And what about gender? It’s a social construct so we can construct as many genders as we like. Sexuality is all about how finely grained you want to be and what distinctions you want to make so it too can have a lot of options. And clothing is limited only by the sewing skills of the person you buy your clothes from.

That means that you can have a person with a womb and vagina who identifies as a man and generally wears man-coded clothes, but still likes a bit of make-up, and who is attracted only to androgynous people of either sex but female gender. Or a person like me, who has a penis, identifies as a male, is only attracted to female gendered vagina-bearers and still has been known to rock a bit of eye-liner and the occasional skirt.

And when it comes to non-sexual interaction with this person, none of that should matter to you.

Leave a Reply