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Is Gender Independent of Biology?
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Posted 10/16/13 , edited 10/16/13

MopZ wrote:

Also, the same theocratic pushing of creationism also pushes that hole "it's just aesthetics" argument when confronting transgenders, just so you know.


I think some people may be hopelessly ignorant.
Posted 10/27/13
That is more up to the decision for an individual to make. In my opinion people who have changed their gender 4/5 want to take it back. Plenty of people go through certain phases in life that not everyone else goes through. Overall you should be happy with the body you have, because it's original and unique.
Posted 10/27/13
I don't know, I feel like only transgendered people can answer this question.


Like I'm feminine on the inside but I'm happy with having a male body.


I suppose transgendered people aren't happy with the body genetics assigned them with. I think a lot of people are confused about social construct and hormonal influences.


For example, postpartum depression is something that is unnatural, most mothers would love their newborns. But something in the brain caused few mothers to have postpartum depression.


I'm not saying transgenderism is a "mental illness issue", what I'm saying is that it's much more complex than saying it's a "social construct" because gender is a "social construct".


To be unhappy with one's physical traits is more than just a "social construct", it's to do with hormonal changes in the brain that don't match the genetic sex chromosomes.
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Posted 10/28/13

Nyuboom wrote:

That is more up to the decision for an individual to make. In my opinion people who have changed their gender 4/5 want to take it back. Plenty of people go through certain phases in life that not everyone else goes through. Overall you should be happy with the body you have, because it's original and unique.


Do you ever get haircuts? You shouldn't, right, because your hair (which is PART of your body) is original and unique?
Have you ever tried to gain/lose weight or muscle? You shouldn't, right, because your body is original and unique?
Posted 10/28/13
This thread needs a fingerprint scanner, so intense
Posted 10/28/13 , edited 10/28/13

justapersonwatchinganime wrote:


Nyuboom wrote:

That is more up to the decision for an individual to make. In my opinion people who have changed their gender 4/5 want to take it back. Plenty of people go through certain phases in life that not everyone else goes through. Overall you should be happy with the body you have, because it's original and unique.


Do you ever get haircuts? You shouldn't, right, because your hair (which is PART of your body) is original and unique?
Have you ever tried to gain/lose weight or muscle? You shouldn't, right, because your body is original and unique?


I don't need to undergo surgery to make myself feel better. If you think it will help go for it.
sarnox 
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Posted 10/29/13 , edited 10/29/13
Question just begs for polarized debate. lol at how poorly the question is phrased.. Isn't everything even remotely related to humans ultimately biologically/evolutionary based? Still big props to OP for bringing this discussion to an anime community, interesting choice.

EDIT: Guess I'll bite the bullet and give it a go. Skipped a lot of posts, sorry if what I'm about to say has already been mentioned or pointed out.

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Humans relate to concepts in a categorical fashion; when we compare and catalog ideas we do so by delineating borders and limits around that idea. Even our definitions are most commonly done by genus-differentia; i.e. when establishing a definition we categorize it to other concepts by similarity while expressing the differences that distinguish it from ideas in the same category.

Example: a table is a piece of furniture, with a raised horizontal surface.
Here the concept of the table that we are trying to define is expressed by providing the overarching category of similar concepts, while underlining the difference that makes that concept unique from others in the category.

Because of this categorical method of reasoning, questions that deal with grey zones between our concepts, or that necessitate a revision of its similarity-difference bordering, usually trigger conversations and debates like the one in this thread. I will leave the question whether or not it is of relevance to be semantically precise with definitions, as well as the role language plays in our use of concepts for another time. However, when laws, rights, and people's lives are affected by the way society draws the lines, then debates of this kind are no longer a matter of intellectual amusement, but of juridical need.


It is important to be aware that in a similar fashion genetics, biology, psychology, neurology, sociology, etc. are just some of the angles that are used to approach the nurture vs nature problems, and when differing results are compared, one can only begin to realize that no one explanation is 100% right. In fact all tools need to be unified to get a bigger and complete picture over the forces at play that ultimately produce the mental and physical framework of a human being.

One way I like to view it (and this doesn't just apply to gender, but to other similar discussions like intelligence or predisposition/risk towards diseases), is that we, as humans, are the sum of a large spectrum of factors that all have come to play a role in our development. We've been given a unique biological fingerprint that starts with our genes as a basis for our genesis, which then combined with our upbringing, nourishment in formative years, and any other external stimuli further develops into a constellation of beliefs, habits, mannerisms, and other personality traits.

Sex (also known as biological sex) by definition is a biological property of an animal, that is intrinsic to reproduction, which is a hallmark of every entity that we perceive as living (consumption, propagation, mortality). Gender is an umbrella term used to express various concepts depending on context. In colloquial speech it is used interchangeably with sex, but more often than not it is used to denote a social structure, as is the case when we talk about gender roles or preconceived notions of what qualities the male and female gender might possess (e.g. masculinity and femininity). Gender identity (not to be confused with sexual identity or sexual orientation, which possess their own differing meanings) represents the personal perception of ones gender, which may or may not be in relation to the already existing gender concepts within society.

So in other terms, gender is a categorization that is specific for a community or larger society, whereas gender identity is the private act of perceiving oneself in one of the already existing gender categories or developing a personal one and then attempting to reconcile it with the general views.

The act of gender identity (and also sexual identity) is important, because it's a basis for an individual to relate to the other overarching social structures later on in life. We might say it's one of the earlier forms of self-identification that an individual establishes which allows him/her to relate to more complex structures with greater ease. An individual that struggles with gender identity or that finds that their own perceptions of oneself deviate too greatly from those observed within society might find it hard to relate to other social structures, like the idea of a family.

And why do we need to have society be so black and white when it comes to genders or any social structure for that matter (family, nationality, etc.)? Because one way or another we are bound to categorize concepts, and we can only retain new concepts by comparison in similarities and differences. So even if we shift the boundaries around, they will have to exist somewhere. The reason we think categorically and organize information in this manner is purely neurological, which means that the spontaneous development of gender aside from stemming from physiological properties associated to biological sex, is in fact still a biological development side product.
Sidenote: It might be idealistic to think that one day there will be no gender boundaries, but wherever there are differences, there will be conceptual categorizing, so we might no longer call it gender in the future, but some form of expressing the differences that are associated with biological sex will remain. The only way to eliminate them entirely would be to reach a point of genetically altered society without sex or family structure or multilayer-ed communities, which is a big feat on its own.

Getting back to the question, whether or not gender (as viewed by society) or gender identity (as viewed by oneself) is a biologically independent or not, we could also argue that the former comes from the rationalization and sociological development that stemmed from the differences in biological sex. Meaning that for one reason or another (modern phenotypes, behaviors, etc.) the distinction was made and became integrated in the social structures; the distinction would not have occurred without biological sex differences, which means the concept of gender although now independent from the concept of sex still is related to a biological basis. Similarly we can differentiate between siblings and strangers and associate appropriate behaviors and labels which differ accordingly. We can differentiate between biological sex, therefore behaviors and labels will trickle into norms and customs related to them and form an overarching gender concept. In those cases where sex is not clear, we attempt to use our preconceived categorized concepts of gender, which may or may not fail in a given situation, which is why the whole discussion of grey line gender identification becomes a problem for certain people.

Now in the case of the latter (gender identification and non "standard" genders) the process is a bit trickier. The exact methodology in establishing a self-identification of gender is unclear, mainly due to the fact that it's unique for every individual. Genes will play a role in brain physiology, but upbringing, nourishment, and conditioning will also determine brain neuro-pathways. If a child is abused or experiences a traumatic event in their early years it will influence their brain chemistry, which in turn will influence their hormones.
Examples that should clarify this are fairly easy to find. Even biological sex isn't always determined by pure genetic traits, as is the example in many animal species where environmental conditions or hormone related interplay will push the probability of one sex over another during the growth of the pre-born. An individual that lives their entire life in a sexually repressed and stagnant environment might develop sexual behaviors that are drastically out of the norm for most people, which further shows how environment can affect biology.

Similarly we need to treat gender identification (analogous to sexual identification and sexual orientation) as an amalgam of various genetic, biological, hormonal, environmental factors which will then serve as the basis for further psychological and societal upbringing. Outside stimuli can often affect your psyche, which can affect your brain chemistry, and further affect your hormones, which in turn affects your psyche, etc. There is little distinction between where neurobiology ends and where psychology starts, similarly in one form or another we can relate everything back to biology, but the question is to what degree and during what stage was there the greatest impact.

When it comes to sexual orientation, I believe most of it will be determined pre-birth, with only small factors during the first few post-birth months as the brain network starts to solidify. Whereas in the case of gender identity, not only is the fetal development of relevance, but so are the subsequent years when the body undergoes certain hormonal shifts and transitions. In the past medical doctors believed to be able to influence gender identification through the use of hormones and conditioning, but the reality is that brain chemistry is too complicated to be easily manipulated in that fashion.

The majority of pharmaceuticals which are used to address mental disorders or other brain related targets are administered not along the basis that the interaction between pharmaceutical and brain environment is understood, but from the statistics pooled out of clinical trials and studies. No one truly understands the brain, which is why no one truly can say how certain drugs work.

Now I'll cut it short before I go on further pontificating how the concept of consciousness or single persona can be skewed from these last statements as well as how other hot topics of debate can be pulled out (e.g. free will vs determinism from the angle of brain physiology).
I hope my thought process illustrates how there are several layers acting as an obstacle when attempting to find a resolution to the question exposed in the OP. On one side there is always language and definitions, but I brought it further to underline the issue with categorization. On the other hand we have the inability to isolate factors and realized that everything within nature and nurture is interconnected and can become relevant. And finally that gender stemmed through social evolution from a biological basis, and will continue to exist so long as the roots do, while gender identity will always be personal, but also rooted within biology, because anything up to the highest levels of human behavior, choices, tastes, interests can be brought back down to biology in one form or another.
Biology plays a role, but it's most certainly not 100% founded in one source or another. Now how each individual will express their gender is a whole other thing altogether.

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TLDR: Why bother reading a wall of text on an internet forum lol.. it's not like I'm going to dissuade your strongly opinionated views anyway.
Shoot me a PM if you have something to say/add/insult/etc, cause I most probably will miss it here. I'm not a member nor acquainted with transgender communities, but as a scientist and intellectual some of the previous posts made me cringe.

Just to make it clear how strong brain chemistry controls our lives:



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Posted 10/30/13 , edited 10/30/13
"the distinction [between gender and gender idenitity] would not have occurred without biological sex differences, which means the concept of gender although now independent from the concept of sex still is related to a biological basis"
&
"We can differentiate between biological sex, therefore behaviors and labels will trickle into norms and customs related to them and form an overarching gender concept. In those cases where sex is not clear, we attempt to use our preconceived categorized concepts of gender, which may or may not fail in a given situation"

This isn't strictly (by which I mean undoubtedly) true. I'll point out two ways sex based behaviours needn't resolve themselves in exaggerated, 'over-arching gender concepts':
1 - if people didn't generalise and make such a big deal of behaviors rooted in sexual characteristics (e.g. women have to nurse the baby, only they can do that, ergo women should be on hand to feed the baby at all times and are their best nurturers / companions, and are always first choice for stay at home carers!) then gender characteristics could be a very small, fuzzy, uninmportant idea that people wouldn't pay much attention to; you can imagine a culture where gender isn't really a big thing, just different people, because your sex isn't seen as definitive of you or your identity in any great way.
2 - what if there were so few bona fide sexually determined behaviors (such as feeding a baby breast milk) that what we call gender could only be seen as an incredibly gross departure from them, a social fiction that in no way deserves our validation and reproduction because it is a mere caricature?

A lot of theories on gender (gender as social construction or performance), which I doubt either of us are equipped to dismiss, basically say this. They say that 'gender characteristics' are not derived from sex, or are greatly exaggerated, e.g. there is nothing that makes women like or have an association with pink, to the effect that all of the characteristics that we consider to be 'feminine' (such as gentleness, beauty, chattiness or domesticity) are in no way female traits - all women don't inherently possess these traits to some great degree, regardless of culture or individual nature. Some of these gender characteristics might become associated with women because of cultural attitudes and reinforcement - see women typically not working until the 1940s, or not wearing trousers in the past because they weren't feminine! - others are pure exaggeration and whimsy (all girls are princesses), or just what is demanded of women in their time. These kinds of theories allow us to posit alternate realities in which gender characteristics are reversed or jumbled up - males of many animal species dance for the females, so why shouldn't men be the pole dancers in one of these realities? And what's so feminine about pink? Maybe there's a culture of men who see it as a near-red, which is invariably associated with blood. Maybe in one reality men are sperm cattle, best kept at home, protecting the babies / children and always ready to make more if the wife wants, while women are the bread winners. These theories say that it doesn't matter what characteristics you associate with men and women (they could be literally anything, however absurd or tenuous), as long as there are characteristics which are considered one or the other, people will gravitate towards them as it suits their self-identity and needs, but strictly speaking there are very few biologically given differences between men and women that have any great influence on their respective gender characteristics (men are more violent thanks to testosterone, but that doesn't mean women can't or shouldn't beef up and protect themselves, couldn't be more violent in another culture, or even that men should self-identify as and be proud of being violent). I want to add this to the conversation because it is true to a degree, but I don't want to invalidate gender and its relation to sex.

"There is little distinction between where neurobiology ends and where psychology starts, similarly in one form or another we can relate everything back to biology, but the question is to what degree and during what stage was there the greatest impact"

Honestly, when I look at the issues I think gender must have some kind of firm basis in sex, pink is superfluous, WE associate with women, another culture might not, but the being gentle, or the receptive partner? THAT is always going to be seen as feminine, I imagine, and is what male to females etc. identify with (pink might be adopted by them, but ONLY because in our culture it means something, it is literally a badge of femininity). I don't think gender is entirely performative or constructed by any means, at the same time, I think a lot of it is - gender characteristics are exaggerated, we play up to them, and they aren't immutable, they change with the times and circumstances, but they must have some kind of skeleton to avoid being completely arbitrary. So I agree that gender identity is no doubt dictated by genetics and biology at a deep level, it is rooted in sex based characteristics, but I think our culture is very exaggerated and almost pathological in its observance of gender and gender characteristics, it could be far less rigid, self-assured and insistent.
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Posted 10/31/13

Morbidhanson wrote:

Sex is biological.

Gender is a social construct.

They are NOT interchangeable terms.


This.
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Posted 11/3/13 , edited 11/3/13
http://www.sexchangeregret.com/Things-Ive-Learned
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