Sex and Gender, Two Categories that can have Different Answers

by ebentley on October 14, 2016 - 9:04pm

Sex and gender are often thought as two categories that are dependent of each other. In all reality though, sex and gender can have two sperately different answers that don't relate. In the article " BEARDS AND BODIES Doing Sex in a Gendered World" by Raine Dozier, he quotes from Lorber saying "Talking about gender for most people is equivelent of fish talking about water" meaning that gender is not a topic most people talk about. Today's society has brought about new relationships, allowing people to speak and feel free about their gender identity. This leading to that gender is a subject worth discussing and allowing people to voice their gender as they feel that well fits them.

Let's take the example of filling out paperwork about yourself, you start filling out the information and come across a spot that asks for both your sex and gender, how do you answer to these questions? For a person who feels they are a transgender, transsexual, or other, they will fill out the two categories differently. Say you were born technically as a female, but now see yourself as a male. In the sex category youwould write down female, but in the gender category you would write down male. People today take their sex and gender differentials very seriously and deserve respect and should be treated just like anyone else in society. So yes sex and gender are two completly different categories, and when you go to fill out paperwork next time you should ask yourself about your own answers for sex and gender.



You raise a very valid point in this post, as the difference between sex and gender are very significant (at least nowadays). What I have taken from your post is that someone's gender is to be their "biological" sex (like you said "were born technically as a female". You make a good argument that "Today's society has brought about new relationships, allowing people to speak and feel free about their gender identity", which is true in the fact there are more movements about awareness about equality and the notion of choice. Their gender however, is how they wish to be identified by society and institutions, as like you said there are more and more people coming forward that identify differently than their biological traits, and some even change this. When it comes to "filling out paperwork" for example, individuals should be able to have the opportunity to identify however they wish. Overall, this was an educational post, a bit more detail in how this has progressed and also the dealings of "paperwork" would have made it that more educational for others who are not familiar on the subject, but this post did do such to a high degree. I have one question for you, what do you think of some institutions only giving the "male or female" option on said, paperwork? Are they taking away peoples right to identify?

Hi ebentley!

I find your post very interesting as it is not something people often think about as being of concern if they are not in that situation. It brings to light an issue that is not well noted in society. I believe that when filling out paperwork rather than defining our sex the question should be to state our gender other than if the paperwork has to do with medical information that the sex in which you were born needs to be noted. This would be a much more acceptable question for everyone so that those who are transgender, transexual or other feel comfortable and confident in answering how they currently define themselves. I am interested in your viewpoint for what would be a better way of addressing a persons sex/gender in paperwork.

Hi there,
I really enjoyed reading your post! It really made me consider the differences between a gender identity compared to a sexual identity which is something that I’ve never considered before. You raise numerous good points about the differences, provide examples and emphasize the need to consider the differences in present day. I also really like how you pointed out that gender and sexual identity is not something that people talk about often and when it does come up in conversation there isn’t much to be said on it. There really is a significant difference between the two, especially when someone feels that they don’t fit into the gender identity that matches with their sexually identity. I’m just curious, as you didn’t mention it in your example, what someone who do if they identified their gender as being both? What would they select then? Are government documents taking away the freedom of people to be so gender fluid and if so how do you feel about that?
I’ve always been completely okay with the idea of gender fluidity and that people may feel they fit into a different category then what they were born into. That’s the great thing about the 21st century, is that for the most part there is a lot of freedom in individual choices. However, I never approached the idea of filling out paper work asking for your sex or gender, and considered how one would answer it. It just hasn’t been something that I even ever considered to be honest, but your post really brought this idea to mind, so thank you for that. Finally, I can tell that you are really passionate about this topic and this was a really great, informative post that made me really think about the ideas that you presented! Great job!

Hi there,

Very interesting and informative discussion post! I think that the majority of society may find taking about sex and gender as a controversial topic. So I applaud you in talking about a contentious topic. In today's generation, I personally feel that people are becoming more open and accepting of each others sexual and gender identity. I am a strong advocate of accepting anyone regardless of how they identify themselves. However, I often find that the way in which society is structured makes it difficult for people who may be trans-gendered to be able to identify as who they want to be. For example, many public areas still use the traditional male and female bathrooms or change rooms. This often can make it difficult for those who identify themselves as the opposite sex to what they were born as. Unfortunately, I also do feel that there are some areas in the world who are not advocates for trans-gendered identities. I think this could be potentially due to how some people are raised or the way in the areas these people grew up view sexual identity. However, let us not forget that there have been several steps forward in this topic! For instance, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the liberal government have passed a legislation bill, Bill C-16, that accepts and guarantees legal and human rights protection to all transgender people across Canada. The Trudeau government is very proud and states, "that Canadians will be free to identify themselves and to express their gender as they wish while being protected against discrimination and hate." I think this evidently demonstrates that there is progress within the Canadian government that "old societal norms" are transitioning into a new era, and era where sex and gender can be considered one identity rather than two separate identities. Personally, I feel that any citizens should be respected in regards on identifying who they feel they are. I think having someone fill out paper work asking for them to identify two different sex's and gender's it a sense of controversy. People should be able to identify themselves as one sex and gender together, not separately.

Again, thank you for the great discussion post. I think you brought up some excellent posts. My question for you is how do you think we can have everyone on board with accepting this new era of accepting people's identify as whoever they feel they truly are?

Hi again,

I forgot to post the link to the article I mentioned in my post. Feel free to take a look at the article. I would appericate any feedback or any perceptions you have on the article.

Thank you!

Hi ebentley. I like how your article points out the difference between sex and gender by showing concrete examples of these two key concepts. Research has shown that sex and gender are indeed independent of each other. It is important, however, to discuss these two concepts in depth.
Sex is purely physiological, corresponding to the biological genitalia assigned to each individual at birth, whereas gender is the social construct created by one society to another that denotes the attitudes, behaviours, and even emotions that should be performed by members of each sex. The performance of gender of an individual corresponds to their gender expression. People of a certain sex are expected to perform their gender the way they should (based on their sex). Those that do are rewarded, whereas those that don't are punished. Problems arise when one’s gender identity (the way they personally feel inside regarding their gender) doesn’t reflect their gender expression (this is shown in your example about the transgender person filling out paperwork about themselves). Many people that suffer from gender dysphoria deal with hiding who they truly are every day. These individuals can experience severe anxiety and depression as a result of their condition. This is why, as you said, it is important to recognize and be respectful of one’s choices regarding their gender and allow them to express their true identities freely. Caitlyn Jenner, the athlete turned reality TV star formerly known as Bruce Jenner, has recently come out as transgender. In a Vanity Fair interview, she states that “If [she had been] lying on [her] deathbed and […] had kept [her] secret [(about her gender identity)] and [had] never [done] anything about it, [she would have been] lying there saying, 'You just blew your entire life. You never dealt with yourself.'" (Cosmopolitan). Attached you will find links that may help explain gender expression and identity and repercussions of gender dysphoria.

Works Cited

Hi ebentley,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on sex and gender. I fully agree with you regarding the fact that today’s society has made striking progress in accepting different gender-orientations. I think you make an excellent point that sex and gender are two very different categories and that people should feel respected enough to freely express their identity in this day and age. Looking back on material seen it class, I’d like to bring up some reasons that can help explain why some individuals unfortunately struggle to express their identity as freely as they’d like to. It is first important to mention that gender is a social construct that has been used to define how members in our society should act based on their sex. Consequently, the idea of gender performativity emerged, which stipulates that gender is performed, and its performance depends on the social context a person is in, as well as the idea that people who do not perform their gender “correctly” are penalized. By this I mean that they do not conform to the ideals set by the patriarchal “man box”, which notably promotes heterosexual, white male dominance. To recap, an individual can express or perform a gender in a way that does not correspond to the way they identify gender-wise. For example, someone might be born with what is biologically considered the male sex, yet can identify as female. Unfortunately, “the man box” would peg this person as feminine and many members of society who strongly believe in the patriarchal view would cast this individual away. In this case, the person may choose to “put on an act” where they perform a socially accepted male gender, but truly identify as female. Therefore I think that the important nuance is that expressing our identity on paper is one thing, but doing so in real life situations is a different matter. Thank you again for the insightful post, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!