On Striving for Gender Neutrality

I once experienced a freak Saharan heatwave with highs over 40° C while studying in Madrid. It was a dry heat, though, and very different from one recent 103° F July afternoon in south Georgia. I bounced to a thrift store in search of some well-worn (breathable) medical scrubs and that’s when I saw it: the plain, charred olive A-line mini. It struck me as the ultimate heatbuster and looked so sensible and professional that it triggered a brief flashback to my days in the corporate offices of a large regional bank and I wondered, as progressive as the bank was, if I would have been permitted to elect its female dress code. On second thought, I have no desire to cross-dress, but shouldn’t gender equality give men the option to wear skirts just as it gave women the option to wear pants many decades ago? As counterintuitive as it might be, I suspect the bank would have been much more cerebral than most universities in contemplating such questions. This being a summer break, I decided to test the waters and having donned various skirts for three weeks now, I reflect upon deeply disconcerting truths.Continue Reading

Gender Equality in the Shadow of 1960s Civil Rights

The outside temperature reached 103° F one recent July afternoon in south Georgia. I once experienced even hotter temperatures in Spain a decade ago, but the gulf humidity here is a beast of a different kind. I bounced to a thrift store in search of extensively used (i.e. breathable) medical scrubs. Little did I know that this simple mission would ignite a profound inquiry into gender equality.Continue Reading

A Quick Note on Sex & Gender

Sex and gender are not the same things. Biological sex is defined by anatomy and genetics. Gender, however, refers to the manifestation of that physiological sex. A person whose biological sex and manifested gender are congruent are termed cisgender. A person whose biological sex and manifested gender are incongruent may be (over broadly) considered transgender, but that does not necessarily mean such person intends to undergo medical sex reassignment or that such person intends to live as a different sex. More appropriately being “trans” simply means that the person transcends binary gender much in the way that D-block elements on the periodic table are called transitional elements because those elements have both metallic and nonmetallic properties. Such transmetals can appear to be metals in one context but nonmetals in another context.

Gender does influence sexuality but gender is not determinative of sexuality. In actuality, there are three components at work: Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Sexual Orientation.Continue Reading

Is Sexual Orientation a Choice?

So I was just pondering the statement that “straight” people don’t choose to be straight. Of course, the über-religious will say that’s because it’s the natural order of things…the way we’re created. But if someone is physiochemically wired a certain way, doesn’t that imply that God either makes mistakes or that God is a watchmaker rather than a timepiece? To avoid that theological quagmire, they equate homosexuality with sin and since sin necessarily depends on choice, sexual orientation must therefore be a choice as well. It seems to me that the blindly religious are spending way more energy trying to avoid the theological heavy lifting than it would take to just sit patiently and meditatively for understanding to come. Theophilosophy shouldn’t weaken one’s faith; it should strengthen and deepen it. As an axiom, a sovereign deity cannot err and all people must have the same free will. So shouldn’t it be the case that if heteros don’t choose to be hetero, homos don’t choose to be homo?

What Is Gender Nonconformity?

As noted in another post, sex and gender are not the same thing. Sex is typically seen as a binary trait that flows from reproductive function whether that be regarded as genital, chromosomal, gonadal, hormonal, or structural. There are, of course, biologically intersex persons born with karyotype disorders, androgen insensitivity disorders, and/or genital dysgenesis disorders. According to the U.N. World Health Organization, as much as 1% to 2% of persons are born intersex worldwide. Gender, however, is more complex and is not a monolithic construct.Continue Reading

The Fundamental Flaw in HB2

As do countless citizens and corporations, I fundamentally disagreed with North Carolina’s 2016 legislation now known commonly as HB2. It was as much hateful as it was an egregious violation of federal law. I have pointed out in other posts that treating all females as frail victims incapable of defending themselves or speaking for themselves is supremely misogynistic just as it is supremely misandrist to presume all males to be menacing predators. In fact, I argue that the same mental processes which make a particular person (man or woman) a predator are the very same mental processes that make a comparable person a hero. You see, while a predator perceives a given set of circumstances as a potential victim to be exploited, a hero perceives those exact same circumstances as a potential victim in need of defense. And in this the old cartoons got it right! The hero and the villain wear identical hats and the color merely reflected the content of their character. Apart from these extremes, though, most males just go about their own business and their presence is neither good nor evil.Continue Reading

Corporate Retailer Gender Policies

USA Today reports that Target does not stand alone in its respect for non-cisgender persons. Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, and Hudson Bay (Sacks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor) all condone customer election of the facility that matches that customer’s gender identity. Sears (as well as its Kmart subsidiary) is not as outspoken, but condemns all forms of discrimination. Read the full print article here

And there is evidence that other companies agree. CBS affiliate KTVT reports that Ross Dress-For-Less and TJX (TJ Maxx, Marshall’s) also endorse facility election based on that customer’s gender identity. The station also reports that Walmart has no specific gender policy one way or the other. Read the full story here.

Heroes, Villains, and Toilets

The old cartoons with the heroes in white hats and villains in black hats were pretty much right on the money. Heroes and villains can dress alike, look alike, and even act alike and if not careful, the hero can be lumped in together with the villain. Continue Reading