Where I grew up, there were two genders. You were either a boy or a girl depending on which reproductive organs you had. You could be a girl who liked to play soccer, lift weights and hang out with boys, but you were still a girl and vice versa. It’s not the same way in the US. I have heard it said that Gender is different from sex. While sex is fixed at birth, Gender is what you identify yourself as. That’s poppycock. Allow me to explain.
If all goes well in a woman’s pregnancy, she is going to give birth to a child with one of two types of reproductive system. Let’s call them type A and type B. Type A includes ovaries, mammary glands, a uterus and several other organs. Type B includes a Penis, Scrotum and Testicles. Let’s call individuals of type A ‘women’ and individuals of type B ‘men’. (Just for simplicity)
Women and Men often have distinct physical, emotional and behavioral characteristics. As a result, society comes to expect them to behave in certain ways and want and do certain things. Every once in a while, however, there comes an individual who wants to buck the trend – a woman who wants to study engineering instead of medicine and a man who wants to be a nurse instead of an engineer, for instance. Despite their uncharacteristic behavior, they still share the same type of reproductive system as their more traditional peers. As a result, society still classifies them as ‘men’ or ‘women’ based on their reproductive system.
There are certain things that could go wrong in this system. Let’s look at case studies.
Sandy: Sandy has reproductive system A and so is cultural classified as a woman. However, she wants to be a man. Since the age of 2 she has dressed in the clothes of her male counterparts and asked to be referred to as ‘he’. She acts in accordance with the culturally accepted characteristics of men. i.e. she dresses, walks, talks and acts the way men do on average.
Ginny: Ginny also has reproductive system A but she believes herself to be a man. She acts very much like Sandy.
Carl: Carl has reproductive system type B. He does not want to be a woman, but he does want to act like one. He wants to wear skirts, be a ballerina, wear makeup, etc. But he doesn’t mind having the reproductive system that he has.
Of the three, Carl is the one with no real problem. Sure, he’s weird, but so are girls who study engineering and don’t like teddy bears (in my opinion). One might argue that there is something about him that goes deeper than desiring the unconventional, that while it is normal for girls to pursue engineering, it is disturbing for one to wish to behave like a man. That’s an issue for another day. As far as I’m concerned, he may dress as he wishes. He may pour ketchup on his head and dress solely in banana leaves for all I care.
Sandy is different. She has a female reproductive system. She does not want it. She wants a male one. She wants to be something that she is not. Now, if she were a dancer and she wanted to be an architect, I would tell her to go to college and get a degree. But, no. This is akin to a black girl wanting to be white. She might want it really, really, badly. She might bleach her skin and dye her hair and wear colored contacts, but she’ll only look different. There’s this really cheesy saying about ‘you being the best person to be’ that I would want Sandy to know about.
Ginny’s case is even more serious. She believes herself to be something she is not. Every time I see my psychiatrist, she asks questions to make sure I’m not deluded. Of course, I give the same answers every time, but she has to check because believing something that is obviously not true is a serious illness.
Those who say that gender is what you self identify as want to make it so that people like Ginny and Sandy, instead of getting counseling to find out why they are so dissatisfied with who they are are affirmed, praised and ‘accepted’. So that they can get whatever hormones and surgery will give them the illusion of being what they wish. What cruelty!
In my world, there is what you are and there is what you wish to be. So people like Sandy are not ‘biologically female but male in gender’. They are biological females who want to be males. The cruelty is that rather than trying to help them, some people try to aid them in deluding themselves by coming up with such ridiculous classifications. You can wear an estrogen patch and have your genitals removed (and God knows I wish you no harm) but before you permanently disfigure yourself, I recommend that you try other options.
Let me make it clear: I believe you can go about getting surgery to change your sex if you like. You can also bleach your skin and have all your hair removed. But there is no difference between sex and gender. If you invent one, don’t demand that we share it.