Brain excrement resulting from this comment
. There may be a point here or not. I'm just musing.
I've got a few beefs with the definitions of the terms "male" and "female." I invite you to contribute to this. :)
When a person uses the term "male" or "female" to refer to someone, they are generally not referring to an experience of someone's genitalia or chromosomes. They are referring to their experience of a person based on cultural norms and secondary sex characteristics. I.e. clothing, hair style, breast size, height, voice, facial shape, name, etc.
Yes, there are assumptions made connecting a person's gender experience with a person's genitalia and chromosomes. Most people make the assumption that if they experience a person as "male" then that person has a fully functional penis and testicles, XY chromosomes, etc.. They will assume that a person they experience as "female" has a vagina, a functional uterus, ovaries, XX chromosomes, etc. Is this generally the case? Perhaps. But the reality of the situation is that this is not always the case. In fact, it is not the case in a non-trivial portion of the population. Trans-people and intersex people make up a large portion of this group. Androgynous people and cross-dressers make up another large portion, I would imagine.
I question the use of "male" and "female" as terms to define both gender and sex. BOTH concepts seem a hell of a lot more fluid than we'd like to believe, as a society.
When you're born, you're assigned a gender based on a brief survey of your primary sex characteristics. In most cases, very little research is done beyond this to identify precisely where your sex and gender lie in terms of the many many other characteristics associated with gender and sex.
(An aside. It really bugs me that I'm programmed to always refer to a male first when saying things like "him and her" or "male and female." It feels awkward and strange to say it the other way around. Urk.)
So getting back to my point-less musings... We've totally smooshed together primary sex characteristics with social gender roles and secondary sex characteristics, when these things don't always have anything to do with one another. Certainly, gender roles are almost completely based on social expectations, if not totally based on such.
I want the smooshing to end. I say that I was assigned male at birth, with the implication that doing so was a poor decision to have made. Let me state that again: I was assigned "male," meaning that I was expected to have a full set of all the characteristics associated with being a "male" in this culture. That never happened. My voice didn't start sounding even remotely male until years after it "should" have. My strength never matched a "male's" strength. My personality has never meshed with what "men" should be. Was all that because I'm trans? No. That's just because I'm human, and human beings don't fit into this nice neat boxes of "male" and "female." To assign someone an entire life of expectations, both physical and social, based on a brief survey of primary sex characteristics, when those do not happen consistently for all people, is absolutely absurd.
Okay... Can I make a point, here? hmmm... Let me try: What I'm advocating is a change in the terminology we use to refer to both gender and sex. Stop using "female" and "male" to refer to a BOTH the gender AND the sex of a person. Use it for one or the other, preferably gender, because, as I was ranting about above, that's what people ACTUALLY use it to refer to. They only make assumptions that the "sex" of a person completely matches the gender they perceive. When referring to sex, since we're only REALLY concerned about it in a medical capacity, let's just refer to reproductive, chromosomal, and endocrinal(sp?) aspects of a person. "This person has a penis and is capable of producing virile sperm." "This person has XX chromosomes" "This person has a high level of testosterone." "This person and this person can reproduce"
I wonder if that actually makes any sense and if a society using such a concept would work. Of course, our society is built on the idea that everyone out there is a perfect little "heterosexual female" or "heterosexual male," and anyone else is a freak to be destroyed or corrected. I see the GLBT and feminist movements as basically attacking the core of those assumptions and demanding equal acknowledgment of the whole diversity of humanity, instead of just this magic little perfect gender/sex boxes.
Well... That's the end of my musings. I hope some of it actually made sense. Disclaimer: Since this was a musing and not an argument, not all of this may be well reasoned or well thought out. :)