Sex and Gender II

Sex doesn’t matter.

Sex is physical, gender is cultural. Sex does not matter unless you are having it, looking for it, or looking for someone to have it with. Sex, maleness or femaleness, is so little of human experience that, compared to gender, it does not matter.

Gender is how we relate to each other. Arguably it is gender rather than sex that men generally ask women out rather than the other way round. Gender is how we present ourselves to each other, or even to ourselves. Gender is our whole lives.

So if you are forced into a masculine gender, when it does not fit, it is as oppressive as to be forced to be someone else, pretending all the time, never allowed to be yourself.

That does not mean that you would be happier in a feminine gender. It can be as restrictive. It probably fits you better, but there is that small matter of sex, a tiny part of life but important all the same, and the fact that the feminine gender is not “opposite” to masculine. It is not binary, On or Off, 1 or 0, but a huge range as diverse as all of humanity. Your gender does not fit the culture, male or female, and you can try to make it fit or be yourself. Those are the choices.

“Transsexual” makes no sense at all. You cannot get female sexual organs, only a rough simulacrum of them. You might think that customary ways of using what you have don’t really fit your gender, but alteration can’t make it better. If you want to be passive, having The Operation does not suddenly make that permissible.

I felt it did. I felt sexual passivity and post-op trans organs went together. After the operation I could give myself permission. If only I could have given myself permission to be passive without the operation.

Only non-binary can fit a human being as they is. No-one fits gender stereotypes, some people can sort of fit just for a quiet life, some of us who don’t fit at all have to rebel and create our own gender, idiosyncratically ourselves.

I wrote a post called “sex and gender” in 2013, and put it completely differently. At the time, I felt a strong need to change sex in order to feel permitted to change gender. I associated the feminine gender too much with the female sex, and denied my own idiosyncrasies to try and fit the feminine gender as I had tried to fit masculinity. What a shame I could not realise any of this before now.

12 thoughts on “Sex and Gender II

  1. Perhaps because my parents consciously or unconsciously accepted that gender and sex are not identical, no pressure was placed on myself and my siblings to behave in specific ways. Of course influences outside the family did have a significant effect and my siblings had adopted socially “acceptable” behaviour by the time they had reached puberty.

    However, I didn’t learn to be quite so binary, possibly because I was unaware of social pressures due to my autism, and as I reached puberty, this became another indicator that I was “not normal” and therefore an acceptable target for bullying.

    I’ve written about one incidence of bullying in my post Last meal, but that was just one of many forms of physical and non-physical violence (or as it was considered at the time “character building”) that I was at the receiving end of because I failed to conform to “normal” behaviour.

    I learnt to survive, by making myself as inconspicuous as possible and trying to imitate socially acceptable norms. It was a partially successful strategy, but very exhausting to carry out. In hindsight, I think there are better ways I could have handled it, and I think openly expressing my uniqueness might have been less stressful in the long run.

    I agree with you Clare that gender is a social construct. Unfortunately our society is based on the assumption that human behaviour is binary in almost every aspect. I’m firmly of the opinion that every aspect of being human is along a continuum and there is nothing inherently “right” about being under the highest part of the bell curve for any particular aspect.

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      • I didn’t feel particularly brave at the time, and I was at the receiving end of physical assults on several occasions by the time I reached my early twenties. I’ve been told that my non conformity was threatening in some way to the assailants, but I don’t really see how.

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        • Perhaps your non-controllability. Others could be intimidated or controlled by those social signals you can’t see, but you could not? I don’t know if that is a good thing or not. There may be blessing in it somewhere…

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          • Certainly not because of non- controllability. I was extremely gullible (and probably still am) and generally very compliant so unless I was able to detect a sinister motive I always did what I was asked – I never questioned their motives. Through my teens I became better at hiding the real me but in hindsight I now realise that as my deception got better, the “punishment” I received when I was caught out got worse. Sometimes I think it was because they didn’t like being lied to, but I think that’s just me trying to justify their actions.

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  2. I’m not as certain that gender is a social construct. I don’t mean to be argumentative, really. I’m just not sure that it matters as much what it is as much as what it is to be one gender or another. And if that is the case then it doesn’t matter so much.

    For example, if gender were mainly socially derived then I think more people would bend the rules, fight back. Many enjoy that.

    Regardless, I envy and would like to be considered part of the female gender irrespective of sex organs although I’d like for those to be aligned accordingly too. Is that a social construct? Does that matter?

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  3. this is such a difficult subject Clare because we really don’t know how much of gender is innate and biological. But it makes sense that it is not static and that it falls along a spectrum which is why we see feminine men and masculine women and everything in between.

    I would like to see the day ( and I think it is coming) when the social constructs surrounding gender behavior are so unrestrictive as to allow people to dress and behave as they want because it really isn’t that big of a deal or shouldn’t be.

    People like to follow and not stand out which is why most of them are carbon copies of each other and those who aren’t dysphoric just aren’t going to rock the boat. Those of us who are however can push that envelope as much as we need to so we don’t feel obliged to switch sides if we don’t need to..

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    • As I see it, men can be feminine, women can be masculine, and transition can be an answer, helping us to be ourselves; and I would rather we could be ourselves without it. And there are pressures enforcing gendered behaviour.

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  4. To be true to ourselves is so difficult when there is the social pressure. I wonder about soul and gender too. And if there is a soul or God does this mean genderless or an amazing spectrum of all the
    attributes of gender.

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