Posts Tagged ‘Gender’

Gender is a classification and identity is not a choice

June 30, 2022

Identity is not a choice.

Our physical attributes are a consequence of our identity – not the determinants of identity. Being tall or short or fat or black or slant-eyed are descriptors which can be used to distinguish between humans, but they all follow, or are consequences of, identity. Our names are identifiers, but are not identity. Our professions – lawyer, teacher, murderer, thief – are descriptors of identity, not determinants. Some physical characteristics can change and be changed, but identity remains inviolate. You can eat more and become fat, or have surgery to thin your lips, but your identity remains unchanged. Physical attributes can be disguised. A white girl in California (where else) can pretend to be black to gain some perceived privileges, but identity does not change. Our behaviour – within the constraints of what is physiologically possible – is a choice. Behaviour does not, however, determine identity.

Gender is a classification. It can be used as a descriptor, but it is not identity. Among humans, gender is a binodal classification, with overlap, in a continuum. There are only two classes – male and female. But being a classification, and since the two classes overlap to some extent, there can be masculine females and feminine males. (There are only two classes with overlap. There is no 3rd class). Surgery or hormone treatment can help change a classification but identity remains untouchable. You can change your name from Kyle to Courtney or from Elliott to Ellen or from Maxine to Max, but that does nothing to identity.

I observe that some sports are now applying common sense and not allowing men, pretending to be women, to compete against women. (I also observe that there are never any women, pretending to be men, competing against men).

Identity – of anything – is not a choice in our universe. It is a consequence of existence.

Where numbers come from

To be discrete and unique give substance to identity. Existence (a Great Mystery) comes first, of course. To have identity is to have some distinguishing characteristic which enables the quality of “oneness”. Note that the quality of being identical (similar) does not disturb identity. Two, or many, things may be identical, but the identity of each remains inviolate. An atom of hydrogen here may be identical to an atom of hydrogen elsewhere, but the identity of each remains undisturbed. It is estimated that there are between 1078 to 1082 atoms existing in the observable universe. Each one distinct from all the others. Each one having identity.

We use the word identity in many contexts. In the philosophical sense, which includes the context of counting, my definition of identity is then:

identity – oneness; the distinguishing character of a thing that constitutes the objective reality of that thing

It is the discreteness and uniqueness contained in identity which gives rise to the concept of oneness as a quality of a thing which makes that thing countable. It is having the concept of oneness which allows us to define a concept of number, label it as “one” and give it a symbol (1). How the concept of identity (oneness) emerged in the species is another one of the Great Mysteries of life and consciousness.

With living things, uniqueness is conferred at the time of conception. The identity of any life-form is fixed when the existence of that life is conceived. It could be an egg or a seed or a zygote. Once fixed that identity persists till the death of that life. For humans that identity may be remembered long after its death. The identity of any living thing is never a choice.

Does life start when the egg is laid?

In the case of humans a fertilised egg is called a “zygote” until it has implanted itself (about 6 -10 days after conception) in the wall of the womb. It is then called an “embryo”. It is called a “fetus” only from 8 weeks after conception and remains a “fetus” till the birth of a “child”. Just as a “chick” only emerges after egg hatching, a human “child” only emerges after birth. But in both cases life, life has begun much earlier. By the time a hen lays an egg, the genetic identity of the embryo in the egg has already been fixed. The unique genetic identity whether for chicken or for human is actually fixed when conception occurs. ………

The time when a unique identity is established and life begins is quite simply defined and the Great Abortion Debate is actually about the ethics of terminating that life at different times during its existence. It is trying to make an ethical distinction between breaking an egg for a breakfast omelette or killing a chicken for a roast dinner. (But note also that many vegetarians eat eggs but a chicken eater is never considered a vegetarian). Abortion, infanticide, murder or euthanasia are just labels for different times at which life is to be terminated. Abortion always kills a fetus (not a child) and infanticide always kills a child (not a fetus). But whether it is a zygote which fails to implant itself, or a fetus which is aborted, or a child killed for being the wrong gender, or an aged person being assisted to die, it is the same life, the same identity, which is terminated. …..

A unique genetic identity and life are established with conception.

Related: Immortality of identity

A unique identity is recognisable first when an egg is fertilised. That identity cannot be foretold but it may be remembered long after the individual dies. It may in due course be forgotten. But whether or not it is forgotten, the fact of the creation of that identity remains. Forever. It is identity, once created, which remains unique and immortal.

“Girls were made to love and kiss” – and who are we to interfere with this

December 19, 2018

Fertility drops when you can’t tell the boys from the girls.

This is now as politically incorrect as it is possible to be.

Still true though.

“Flirting is jolly, it’s folly, but fun”

I must have first heard this in the 1960s and it was probably the Richard Tauber version I heard on radio. It is still as enjoyable now as it was then. (The second verse has not quite the meaning it once had).


From the Operetta “Paganini” (1925) (Franz Lehár)

(Original libretto by Paul Knepler & Béla Jenbach)

(English adaptations by A.P. Herbert & Harry Dexter (1937),

and by David Kram & Dennis Olsen) 

As recorded by Richard Tauber:


Girls were made to love and kiss

And who am I to interfere with this?

Is it well?  Who can tell?

But I know the good Lord made it so


Am I ashamed to follow nature’s way?

Shall I be blamed if God has made me gay?

Does it pay?  Who can say?

I’m a man and kiss her when I can


Yet I have suffered in love’s great deeps

I know the passion that never sleeps

I know the longing and wronging of hearts

The hope that flatters and shatters and smarts


I suffer still but I sleep at nights

Man cannot always be on the heights

And when our aching and breaking is done

Flirting is jolly, it’s folly, but fun


Girls were made to love and kiss

And who am I to interfere with this?

Does it pay?  Who can say?

I’m a man and kiss her when I can


Gendered aspects of the universe

March 12, 2018

The Canadian Environment Minister (how stupid can you get?) recently expressed concern for the “gendered aspects of climate change”.

I am no doubt incorrigibly sexist but I thought I would try and look at the gendered aspects of the Universe.

Mother Earth must be female and Father Sun must be male. Hydrogen must be male so that makes oxygen female in a polygamous relationship. I put Fire and Air as male which leaves Earth and Water to be female. Summer is male and so is Winter. Spring and Autumn are obviously female. Trees are male and grass is female. Weeds are male and Flowers are female. Beef, potatoes, asparagus and onions are male while chicken, cheese, tomatoes and cauliflower are female. Mushrooms are transgender.

Of the planets it is apparent that Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Neptune and Saturn are male. Which leaves Venus, the Earth and Uranus (sort of) as female. Pluto has been neutered. Comets are male but galaxies are female. Double stars are gay. H, Li, Na, K, Rb, Ca and Fr are obviously male. It follows that He, Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe and Rn are all female. The rest of the periodic table falls in line. (Elements with odd atomic numbers are male and those with even atomic numbers are female).

If Physics is male then Chemistry is female. Metallurgy is male and Biology is female. Mathematics must be transgender. Sociology must be deviant.


Gender is a continuum, gayness is not gaiety and language has to catch up

March 30, 2014

Gender as a binodal continuum

The view that human gender is strictly dimorphic is giving way to the view that gender must be seen as a binodal continuum. How many people are “transgender” at birth  is uncertain both in number and in definition, but estimates range from 1 in 2000 all the way up to 10%. In addition to this modified view of genetic, gender variations in humans, the range  of socially “acceptable” behaviours is expanding. More countries are legalising “gay marriage”. LGBT (for  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) is becoming an accepted term.

Changes are happening faster than language can keep up with. Old terms are being used in new ways and new words will need to be found. Elljibeetee is almost a word. I find the term LGBT itself somewhat illogical since I take “gay” in its modern usage to mean “homosexual” and would have thought that “gay” would then encompass “lesbian”. There is no word for just male homosexuality. Also L, G and B are primarily behavioural traits whereas T is genetic and fixed by the time of birth. There are those who claim that sexual preference is also genetic but there is little evidence for that. What evidence there is speaks more to sexual preference being a behavioural trait acquired and developed largely after birth.

Unlike mathematics, the usage of most languages always trumps “correctness” or logic (and I like to think of mathematics as that special sub-set of language where logic prevails over usage). The spelling or even meaning of a word can be changed by weight of usage but 2+2 will not be 5 even if all 7 billion humans believe it is.

We now have the situation where monogamy refers not to one but to two people while bisexuality cannot be implemented without at least three people involved. Monosexual is taken to be a sexual preference for only one gender with a sub-set of homosexual (a preference for persons of the same gender) and a sub-set of heterosexual (a preference for persons of the opposite gender). Bisexual – in common usage – is taken to be a preference for any gender. The illogicality comes in that heterosexual is linguistically a sub-set of monosexual but is actually bisexualPolysexual or pansexual would make more sense than bisexual if gender is now to be seen as a continuum but they are rarely used. Having a gender continuum is going to get even more confusing for language.

Gaiety can still be used for the state of being gay (in the cheerful sense) and carries no connotations of sexual preferences. Gay however can no longer be used just to mean merry and cheerful since usage overwhelmingly means homosexual. Gayness is now presumably the state of being gay.

Currently monogamy is then the state where there is a permanent or semi-permanent partnership between a male and a female. If formalised by civil contract the state is called marriage. The male is termed the husband and the female the wife. Even if gender is a continuum and not dimorphic, these terms can continue to be used since societies expect these roles to be fulfilled. Perhaps we have to consider using grades of manliness and womanliness? In the diagram above a very manly man will be just as far from the “normal” (abnormal)  as a very womanly man or a very manly woman! The very manly man and the very womanly woman would be the most lonely.

A part of such a civil contract is the mutual exclusivity of sexual relations promised between the two individuals involved. Where a male breaks such exclusivity by having sexual relations with other females, such other females are called his mistresses. Where a female breaks such exclusivity by having sexual relationships with other males they are not her masters but are known as her lovers or paramours. Lovers and paramours can equally apply as the illicit partners of  errant husbandsIf either a male or a female breaks the exclusivity provisions by entering into another “exclusive” arrangement then it is called bigamy and the violator is called a bigamist. The term bigamist also applies in the case of multiple “exclusive” contracts being entered into by an individual (and using the more logical polygamist for such a person would go against current usage of polygamy).

When marriage is extended to include a new category of gay marriage, terms for the partners themselves and for any illicit partners are undefined. Husband, wife and mistress can no longer be used. New words will no doubt evolve. Language already lags behind socially accepted behaviour. Lover and paramour could still be used and I suppose that bigamy and bigamist would still apply. A conventional marriage would still need to be distinguished from a gay marriage. All marriage involving just two individuals should then be monogamy with conventional marriage being a bisexual monogamy and a gay marriage would be a monosexual monogamy. And with the continuum in mind some partnerships could be pansexual monogamies.

When there are more than two people involved things get complex. The possibilities that language must cope with increase in a geometric progression. Some societies permit a husband to have several wives simultaneously and this is termed polygyny whereas a wife having several husbands is polyandry. They are both forms of polygamy (or more logically both are bisexual polygamies assuming of course that sexual relationships in the group are always heterosexual or do I mean bisexual?). Group marriage has no special term and exists when several husbands are allied to several wives but any husband only has sexual relations with any wife (a poly-bisexual polygamy?) What should we then call a group consisting of a man with several husbands or a female with several wives? A poly-monosexual polygamy? And a group of people with no restrictions on sexual partners could then be a  polypansexual polygamy?

If gender were truly a continuum then the male/female distinctions could be dispensed with and many of the prefixes could be discarded. Misogyny and misandry would become obsolete. Misanthropy would still remain. But the gender continuum is weak  – even if real – and the fact remains that the distribution of gender characteristics among humans is very strongly binodal. “Binodal with a significant overlap” is probably the best description. As long as the clear nodal distribution exists then gender differences will also exist and legislating for gender equality will not remove those differences.

Prefixes from the Greek

  • mono = “one, only, single”
  • bi = “twice, two”
  • homo = “same”
  • hetero = “different, other”
  • pan =  “all, of everything”
  • poly = “much, many”

There are “keepers of language” who would like to guide its evolution and there others who are concerned about the “correctness” of usage. Both are futile exercises and actual usage will always prevail.

He-she-it (der-die-das) now legal for babies in Germany

November 4, 2013

The German language has long had 3 genders. The rules are deceptively simple but I did not find it easy when learning the language.

German, besides capitalizing all nouns, goes them one better and adds a third gender: neuter. The masculine definite article (“the”) is der, feminine is die, and neuter is das.

It gets confusing when a girl can be masculine as in das Madchen or a boy can be feminine (die Junge) or when the sea can be all three genders – der Ozean, das Meer, die See. The sun is feminine (die Sonne) while the moon is masculine (der Mond).

If you’re going to guess, guess der. The highest percentage of German nouns are masculine. … All German nouns, regardless of gender, become die in the nominative and accusative plural. So a noun such as das Jahr (year) becomes die Jahre (years) in the plural. Sometimes the only way to recognize the plural form of a German noun is by the article: das Fenster (window) – die Fenster (windows). 

Rivers can be masculine (der Rhein) or feminine (die Donau) but never neuter. But rivers outside Europe are always masculine! Most chemical elements are neuter but some are particularly virile and masculine (hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorous). Names of cars are masculine (der Mercedes, der VW, der BMW) but names of motorcycles, ships and aircraft are feminine (die BMW, die Titanic, die Boeing 787).

One in about 2,000 births is a transgender birth to some extent. Germany is now the first European country to acknowledge this legally. The view is growing that the gender paradigm is not the simple dimorphic view but represents a bimodal continuum.

Gender continuum blackless et al

Gender continuum blackless et al

BBC:  Germany has become Europe’s first country to allow babies with characteristics of both sexes to be registered as neither male nor female. Parents are now allowed to leave the gender blank on birth certificates, in effect creating a new category of “indeterminate sex”.

The move is aimed at removing pressure on parents to make quick decisions on sex assignment surgery for newborns.

As many as one in 2,000 people have characteristics of both sexes.

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