The truth behind genders

By Michaela Edlin


Gender and sex are different; that’s a fact.

Before you were born, you were most likely assigned a gender from ultrasound imaging or maybe the doctor told your parents, ‘It’s a boy!’ or ‘It’s a girl!’ after you were delivered. In reality, it’s not that simple. These doctors were only looking at part of the picture-genitals.

Gender, on the other hand, has nothing to do with sex, which genitals attribute to. Gender is how someone identifies, whether that corresponds to the sex they were assigned at birth or not. It’s a trait just as much being shy or outspoken is.

For those skeptical, there is a biological basis for this distinction of gender. White matter connects areas of the brain and typically forms different shapes depending on a person’s gender. In a study conducted at the National University of Distance Education in Madrid, Spain, they found that the white matter of trans people were often in shapes close to that of cis people of the same gender, or indistinguishably shaped.

It’s no wonder that people are curious about gender, and with very few resources, people are confused. That’s why it’s important to make the facts clear, and separate misconceptions from the truth.

Common misconceptions:

“Gender and sex are the same.” The American Psychological Association said, “Sex… refers to the biological aspects of maleness or femaleness, whereas gender implies the psychological, behavioral, social, and cultural aspects of being male or female.”

“There are two genders.” In our history, there have been various socially and institutionally recognized people known as ‘third gender.’ These include two-spirited people from Native American culture and hijras from South Asian cultures. Today, some countries allow legal recognition of third gender or nonbinary people including Nepal, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia. Two people have been legally recognized as nonbinary in the U.S.

“Being trans is a trend.” There has always been trans people, whether that be when trans men joined troops in the Civil War era, in ancient culture or in film such as the documentary “Paris is Burning,” and the musical, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Increased visibility has led many cisgender people to falsely believe being trans has become a trend, rather than a legitimate identity.

“They/them pronouns are grammatically incorrect.”

Merriam Webster said, “People have used singular ‘they’ to describe someone whose gender is unknown for a long time, but the non-binary use…is relatively new.” Singular ‘they’ has been used since the rise of singular ‘you’, both common in English. The use of singular ‘they’ is more popular now, though Merriam Webster has, “evidence in our files of the non-binary ‘they’ dates back to 1950.”

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