• Purple Pond
    193
    What makes a man a male and a woman a female? It's hard to say because we can usually give counter examples. For example, we can't say that to be a woman you have to be able to give birth because there are plenty of women who can't give birth. Still, we can examine a person and tell if they are a man or a woman. Just because we can't put in words the "essence" of a male or female doesn't mean there aren't specific characteristics that the constitute them.

    A man can go through extreme measures to look more feminine, including surgery, but he's still a guy. He still has an XY chromosome. There is no real sex change only an appearance change. If a guy dresses up like a woman nobody says he is a female. But when the guy goes through a bit of surgery we start calling him a lady. How much surgery is required to turn a man into a lady?

    I'm not trying to be bigoted or transphobic but I just don't understand why we call a man who merely looks and acts like a woman a female.
  • Noble Dust
    2.9k


    Vaginas and penises are a start.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k

    Gender as a biological state vs Gender as a learned social role. We have no choice of biological state but we can choose social roles. There are different senses to the word `Gender` but it can have the same referent.
  • fdrake
    1k
    I have an anecdote from a f2m transexual I used to work with. He kept an eye on the number of times he was interrupted in conversation as a function of the pitch of his voice - which was being decreased by the hormones. Pitch went down, so did the interruptions.

    I had to collect a bunch of data from students and staff at the university, I collected from him and asked if I could record a little * in the gender column of the spreadsheet to signify that they were currently going through gender reassignment therapy. They said 'yes, of course, there are probably lots of biological differences between me and a typical male relevant to the study - and that should be controlled for'. Not that I could've seen any trend from a single data point. So for the purposes of the analysis, I included him as a him, then excluded him, then included him as a her to see if there were any differences - there weren't any, no effect sizes large compared to the noise.

    How much gender matters depends a lot on the questions you ask. And if you're tactful and respectful, your requests don't go into the expected prejudice box that reactionary ideology paints as already existent and unavoidable.
  • Buxtebuddha
    1.8k
    One can change their gender, but not their sex. The person who goes to extreme lengths to change their body do so for a number of reasons, but one's sex is locked in and won't ever change. In light of this, the modern contention has been the growing emphasis on gender rather than sex in determining the degree of maleness or femaleness in a person. Doing so creates its own set of problems, but at the same time, I take no issue with calling a transgender person by their preferred pronouns, say, but they are still biologically a man, woman, or intersex.
  • charleton
    1.2k
    Vaginas and penises are a start.Noble Dust

    There is a tribe in South America where all children are girls. In the early teens, when puberty strikes, around half of all children start to grow penises.

    There are ultimately very few differences between the sexes and in most areas there is more variation within a gender than there are differences between genders.

    In the West there are a small but significant number of children born of indeterminate sex, and many have suffered the indignities of surgery that have assigned them in the direction counter to their eventual innate feelings upon reaching puberty.

    Sexual orientation in terms of attraction preference seems to be natural, and beyond the sensible choice of individuals. Homosexuality seems to be perfectly natural. And many people seem to exist on a spectrum of attraction in scale and towards both sexes in different degrees.

    Some species are capable of changing sex during their lives, whilst others can have characteristics of two genders.

    Given these observations I do not think it possible to argue for gender indelibility on naturalistic grounds.

    The idea that the possession of a vagina or a cock must mean you have to comply with what is a socially defined status in not arguable on naturalistic or scientific grounds.
  • Michael
    6.5k
    A man can go through extreme measures to look more feminine, including surgery, but he's still a guy. He still has an XY chromosome.Purple Pond

    Vaginas and penises are a start.Noble Dust

    So what of someone with XY gonadal dysgenesis? They have XY chromosomes but female genitalia (albeit with streak gonads rather than ovaries or testes).

    Man? Woman? Both? Neither?
  • Michael
    6.5k
    Then there's XX male syndrome, where the person has XX chromosomes but male genitalia.

    And a number of other sex chromosome disorders.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    866
    There is a tribe in South America where all children are girls. In the early teens, when puberty strikes, around half of all children start to grow penises.charleton

    Do these children still have wombs when this happens? do they have wombs and then they disappear? or do they not have wombs even though they are determined as female at birth, and it turns out they were always male, the process just took longer to develop?
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    866
    Then there's XX male syndrome, where the person has XX chromosomes but male genitalia.

    And a number of other sex chromosome disorders.
    Michael

    How common are these?

    If I had to categorise an animal, and 99+% of them fit a particular description, would I need to throw that categorical description out the window because less than 1% of them have a particular disorder? Or would I say, under regular circumstances, they fall under X category, unless they have a particular disorder, in which case the particular individual with the disorder would be characterised as an anomaly ?
  • Michael
    6.5k
    Do these children still have wombs when this happens? do they have wombs and then they disappear? or do they not have wombs even thought they are determined as female at birth, and it turns out they were always male, the process just took longer to develop?Mr Phil O'Sophy

    It's 5α-Reductase deficiency:

    Although the external genitalia can sometimes be completely female, the vagina consists of only the lower two-thirds of a normal vagina, creating a blind-ending vaginal pouch. Because of normal action of Müllerian inhibiting factor produced by the testes in utero, individuals with 5-ARD lack a uterus and Fallopian tubes. Thus, they would not physically be able to carry a pregnancy in any event. Even with treatments such as surrogate motherhood, female infertility is caused by the lack of any ova to implant in a surrogate mother.
  • Hanover
    3.6k
    So what of someone with XY gonadal dysgenesis? They have XY chromosomes but female genitalia (albeit with streak gonads rather than ovaries or testes).

    Man? Woman? Both? Neither?
    Michael

    The person you described would be sexually ambiguous.

    What of a person who was XY and had a normal penis? Man? Woman? Both? Neither?
  • Michael
    6.5k
    How common are these?Mr Phil O'Sophy

    1:20,000 males.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    866
    So a percentage of 0.005% throws the other 99.995% in to question?
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    866
    I know you didn't. But i'm still asking the question.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    866
    If there is a correlation of 99+% is that grounds to say that theres a good enough reason to say their are two genders, male and female? because it is almost completely conforms to this pattern, regardless of which country you are in. Anything that falls out of this category would be referred to as an anomaly.
  • Michael
    6.5k
    What should be called into question is the notion that "man" and "woman" refer to some dichotomous 'essence' that people have. I'm not an essentialist, and would instead follow Wittgenstein's line of thinking when he asks "what is a game?" The words "man" and "woman" have a use in our language, and although traditionally they may have been used with reference to external genitalia (at birth), and then later perhaps sex chromosomes, times have changed and with it their use (and so meaning). These days they're often used to refer to a self-selected identity, which although admittedly makes for gender to be an abstract rather than concrete thing, is ultimately harmless and nonsensical to argue against.

    Language traditionalists only really have a point if the new use entails unsuccessful communication (for example if I choose to use the word "dog" to refer to cats without informing you), but I don't think that holds at all in this case.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    866
    In answer to the question. I don't think you can change your gender, but you can change your gender representation. But that doesn't make you the opposite gender it just means you're representing yourself as something other than you are.

    For example: I usually present myself as a human being, but if I decide to start dressing as a rhino (or even have surgery to be perceived more as a rhino than simply dressing as one), I would still be a human. I have just changed my representation, but not the fact that I am what I am. I would be a human that is representing oneself as a rhino. I could argue till I was blue in the face, but no amount of surgery or persistence would change the fact that I am what I was born.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    866
    These days they're often used to refer to a self-selected identityMichael

    not for 99+% of the population. And not only that, I thought the argument of trans was that they were born that way and it wasn't a choice? To say its a self-selected identity undermines that argument.

    The words "man" and "woman" have a use in our language, and although traditionally they may have been used with reference to external genitalia (at birth), and then later perhaps sex chromosomes, times change and with it their use (and so meaning).Michael

    Times may be changing, but it would be wholly fallacious to say that is all the words 'man' and 'woman' have represented. Traditionally, they also related to ones social role.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    866
    These days they're often used to refer to a self-selected identity,Michael

    Could one even go as far as to say this is a transphobic comment?

    I'm not suggesting it is, but if we accept the premise that they are born in the 'wrong bodies', then it would follow that it is unfair to refer to gender as a self selected identity. The trans argument is completely undermined by that assumption.
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