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

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

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

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