17 March 2008

On gender

A pet peeve of mine: use of gender versus sex. Gender seems to have replaced sex in many peoples' everyday speech. Is it because people are uncomfortable saying the word 'sex'? Maybe. But these two words mean different things. Here's an example. When asking a pregnant person about their baby, it is appropriate to ask, "do you know the sex?" The person can then answer yes, no, boy, girl... you get the idea. In contrast, if you ask "do you know the gender?" the person doesn't really know the answer. The baby being spoken about may not even know that answer for years. And the answer may change. This is because gender and sex are not always linked. Many people born biologically female (sex) identify as female (gender). Ditto many males. However, some people do not identify (gender) with their biological sex. Some people don't identify with either sex. Just something to think about.

On a related note, the New York Times had a great article recently about transgendered individuals, particularly transmen (biological females who identify as male or other) attending women's colleges. Take a look at it here: "When Girls Will Be Boys".

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