Gender options

Tue May 7 17:55:00 UTC 2002


> Except that when you start using terms like 'transgender', you start
> acknowledging a difference between sex and gender, I think.  (My
> prescriptivist motivations are less linguistic than political.)  Whether
> you want to use 'sex' or 'gender' as the name for it is another matter,
> it seems to me that the question here (what gender are you: male, female,
> transgender) is asking "Do you identify yourself by your chromosomal sex
> not.  If yes, what is it?"

You have a point here.  The way I understand the usage, one's sex(usually
either male or female)is biological.  One is born with it, IOW.  "Gender",
OTOH, seems to be increasingly defined as the social constructs attached to
each biological sex in any given society.  Maybe my understanding is wrong,
though.  I've been known to be wrong many times, and I'll probably be wrong
many more.

> It's interesting to compare this to 'mixed race' or 'multiracial' as a
> relatively new category on census (etc.) forms.  (The US census actually
> asked people to check 'one or more' racial/ethnic groups.  Could that be
> done with genders, one wonders?)  While 'biracial' and 'multiracial'
> categories are  quite successful these days (i.e., people are opting into
> them even if they have the option of a single category), I can't see a
> 'mixed gender' category being so successful.
> This is probably in part to do with the fact that one can consider oneself
> 'multiracial' without self-evaluation (one looks at one's ancestors), but
> gender categorisation is entirely intrapsychic.  But I think it's also
> because of continued taboos on (admitting to) crossing gender-sex lines.
> Actually, the last two points are not unconnected.

Again, you have a point, but "biracial" is a category that is, IMHO
relatively easily accepted because "race" is widely understood to be a
social category with slight biological components(things like skin color are
genetically relatively inconsequential for "survival" or "adaptation"
purposes), and there are a lot of people of "mixed" ancestry who have
previously been classified as one "race" or another, but apparently want to
acknowledge both heritages.  There  *is* a "taboo" on crossing gender/sex
lines, but one's sex is obviously biological, however one's "race" is less
obviously tied to biology.
Anne G

Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
Checked by AVG anti-virus system (
Version: 6.0.351 / Virus Database: 197 - Release Date: 4/19/02

More information about the Ads-l mailing list