Gender fluid, gender neutral, agender, and bigender are just some of the new gender identities being created on Tumblr. Supporters of nonbinary genders argue that since gender is a personal issue, it is impossible to fully understand what is in another person’s mind. In fact, many of these supporters believe gender exists on a spectrum. Skeptics of nonbinary genders are often accused of being closed-minded and bigoted. However, science suggests that most people fall into the traditional gender binary.
First, what is gender? Gender is comprised of three components: biological sex, gender identity, and gender expression. Biological sex is determined by chromosomes, hormones, genitals, and gonads, and these primary sex characteristics work together to form secondary sex characteristics, such as body hair and the pitch of one’s voice. The vast majority of people (99.95%) perfectly fit as either biologically male or female. The remaining 0.05% of people have a disorder of sex development and are categorized as intersex. Many intersex individuals strongly lean toward one of the two binary sexes. For example, some people who are intersex have a micropenis and others may have an oversized clitoris. Next, gender expression is how people express their gender, whether it be masculine, feminine, or androgynous. Contrary, gender identity is the social identification of biological sex. Since there are only two sexes, there are likewise only two genders.
Many supporters of nonbinary genders believe intersex individuals are a paradox to the gender binary. But as mentioned earlier, intersex is a birth defect, making it an anomaly and not a third sex. In fact, being intersex is not often a perfect equilibrium of being neither male nor female. If an intersex individual is born with a micropenis, they are a man. Similarly, if someone has an oversized clitoris, they are a woman.
Dr. Leonard Sax, an American psychologist and family physician, has carefully studied gender and has concluded that there are innate differences between girls and boys. On a podcast with Brett McKay, Dr. Sax states that whenever boys and girls are told they can draw whatever they want, most girls draw people, pets, flowers, and trees, and the people often have eyes, mouths, hair, and clothes. Contrary, the majority of boys draw something completely different, often a scene of action. If human figures are drawn, they usually lack key physical features. Dr. Sax argues that ignoring gender differences does not eliminate gender stereotypes, but actually reinforces them. He cites that in 1987, 34% of students enrolled in AP Computer Science were female. By 2014, that ratio fell to just 19%. Since testosterone levels are not significantly different among young children, Dr. Sax attributes gender differences to genetics and mentions that these differences are also found in monkeys and chimpanzees, mankind’s closest species.
Even though psychological differences exist between the binary genders, a new gender does not need to be created for anyone who slightly differs from the norm. There are now some teenage girls identifying outside the gender binary due to being a tomboy, and similarly, there are young men doing the same based on not liking sports or painting their nails. Most of these people do not suffer from body dysphoria nor have any plans to physically transition. They simply want to earn oppression points and be part of a group that is “marginalized” since it is no longer cool to be an ordinary, cisgender individual.
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