Gender options

Lynne Murphy lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Tue May 7 16:28:16 UTC 2002

--On Tuesday, May 7, 2002 12:20 pm +0000 AAllan at AOL.COM wrote:

> Once upon a time you would have just two choices: "male" or "female." But
> a recent survey by the American Philosophical Association offers three
> possibilities:
>>> 65. What is your gender?
> 1 Male
> 2 Female
> 3 Transgender<<

One of the problems here is that 'male' and 'female' aren't
genders--they're sexes.  One would think that transgender people would have
a simple gender (masculine/feminine), albeit at odds with their sex, but I
think there's a current sense of identity among transgender people that
they are their own category.

Now, since they're asking about gender, rather than sex, I'd be tempted to
give an essay answer if they asked me.   Happily, they're not asking me.
Usually, when I get such questions, I cross out 'gender' and write 'sex.'

Ever the annoying prescriptivist (well, when it comes to some things),

Dr M Lynne Murphy
Lecturer in Linguistics
Acting Director, MA in Applied Linguistics
School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH

phone +44-(0)1273-678844
fax   +44-(0)1273-671320

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