2012-Gender Identity

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As far as I’m concerned, being any gender is a drag. Patti Smith

            For evolutionary ‘purposes’ reproduction in humans involves the ‘separation’ of the species in two different sexes, identified as the male and the female. The different sexes have many physiological differences that can be either evident in physical appearance and others that are not. Differences can also be observed in behaviour, some are direct results of physiological differences and others relate to the organization of our species in groups and societies. Thus beyond the sex and its physiological aspects we have expected behaviour that relates to the sex of the person, this has been termed gender which is more sociologically determined. A biological man or a woman is expected to behave, act, dress in a particular way and this is socially defined and it is called gender. Some societies have more than two gender categories. Gender identity is the way in which an individual self-identifies with a gender category, for example, as being either a man or a woman, or in some cases being neither, which can be distinct from biological sex.

For most people sex and gender are in congruence, but there is always a minority of people for whom the two do not match. There are some people who do not identify with their biological sex, others do identify with it but still behave differently to what is expected by their society. People who dressed as the opposite gender were termed cross dressers or transvestites and people who identified and behaved as the opposite gender (to their biological sex) were termed transgender people.  Some people have one extra step and have employed surgery to look like the gender they identify with they are termed transsexual. Sexuality and sexual orientation are terms associated with sex (biological) and gender (sociological) and confuse the issues but they are separate. The terms continue to become confused and complicated with intersex people whose biological sex isn’t clear and does not fall into the category male or female.

            Why do some people not identify with their biological sex? What force drives them to go against social norms? Why do some people do not behave according to their gender? What sort of needs motivate them? What are the consequences? Why do we need gender? Would we be better off without it?

The only queer people are those who don’t love anybody. Rita Mae Brown