Maleness and Femaleness are inadequate descriptors of a person’s sex. Biologists are proving that more than 2 sexes exist, i.e. that people are more than just male or female, and some are both male and female:
Chromosomally, there are six biological karyotypes or sexes.
- X – Roughly 1 in 2,000 to 1 in 5,000 people
- XX – Most common form of female
- XXY – Roughly 1 in 500 to 1 in 1,000 people
- 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 (1)
A person’s sex is assigned at birth by the presence or absence of specific external genitalia, and as adults, how male or female one looks. However, biological sex is not only reliant on a chromosomal karyotype, as it is possible for our brain, our body, and our reproductive systems to all have different biological sexes. (2)
Biological sex and gender are NOT interchangeable terms.
Gender expression utilises social constructs such as masculinity or femininity which are defined according to the dominant ideal at any point in time and locale. These incorporate cultural behaviors such as dress, mannerisms, signs of deference or power, that differentiate the sexes. “Trans and genderqueer people are as complex and varied in their gender expression as non-trans people.” (3)
Gender identity on the other hand, is internal, deeply-rooted, and a central part of many people’s senses of self. (4) It is the gender that people identify with and that can include being both maleness and femaleness.
Personal traits and qualities are expressions of personality and consciousness and regardless of your gender expression and gender identity we are all the sum of our likes, dislikes, values, and habits. (5) However the values and habits and gender identity we recognise in ourselves can be rejected, marginalised & disregarded by those who hold power in their society, especially so if race, ethnicity, and religion are involved.
This is very clear in the article written by a Black Transgender man:
“The world is unkind to Black bois. The world is unkind to Black girls. But the way our gendered bodies are policed is different. Black bois are assumed thugs, thieves, rapists, and overly aggressive.”
Not only is he seen by his peers as a lesser man but more significantly, his chosen gender expression disempowers him, giving him no room to express his identity.
Traditional stereotypical assumptions and definitions of gender and gendered behaviour are extremely suffocating. I’m not disputing that there are some differences between many men and women, but human beings are far more complex and are defined by so much more than gender. As long as it isn’t abusive to other people we should be free to express our individual traits without condemnation and fear, regardless of our gender identity and gender expression.
(1) & (2) “The 6 Most Common Biological Sexes in Humans”. Joshua Kennon. June 7, 2013.
(3), (4) & (5) “Separating Out Gender Identity from Gender Expression”.Wiley Reading. May 15, 2014.