Posted in Blog Posts

The difference between sex and gender

Feminism is concerned with many intersections, including sex AND gender which can sometimes throw people off, because often times people mistakenly think of the as synonymous.

The North Carolina bathroom bill that started stirring controversy this summer brought issues of transgender rights and issues to the forefront  national conversations and media outlets. People worrying about whether or not they were  in the bathroom with the opposite sex became such a response, that the issue of gender was not really talked about.

When it comes to classifying people, as a society we tend to rely on genitals and the binary. While biological sex is determined by one’s sex organs, gender is a social determination.

The gender binary is the socially reinforced idea that gender is synonymous with biological sex and there are only two options: boy and girl.

Gender is fluid, and because it’s classifications are based on social cues, people often fall on a spectrum. Think about it, no one born with female sex organs will automatically love Barbie dolls and princesses, it is not ingrained in their mind to do so. A person born with female sex organs is just that, and what they end up liking or identifying with is shaped by a combination of social expectations and biochemical predispositions far more complex than pink and blue.

So, in the conversations of bathrooms and people who identify as transgender, the idea that men and women would be going into the opposite bathrooms was perpetuated without identifying the difference between sex and gender. Yes, if someone identifies as transgender they may have a biological sex  that does not align with their gender representation. But that doesn’t mean they are “dressing up” like women or men, it means they are dressing in a way that is comfortable for the, and corresponds best with their gender identity.

The “othering” of those that fal, outside of the binary or identify as trans seems to be based on the false notion that gender and sex are the same and the sooner we realize that they are very different entities of identity, the sooner we can view gendered issues like this in media in a more intersectional way.



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