Why sex can be real and still so complicated...

in #blog6 days ago

#SexIsReal right?

This might be you: someone seems being bullied over asserting that sex is real, and the people doing it look like people who just play pretend and can deal with things simply by stopping to do that. Easy choice, you side with the people that fight for the rights of women and girls. And by doing that you get called out for being a TERF. What is going on here?

When you try to figure this out (many are so convinced at this point that they don't), the arguments can go all over the place and seem just stupid. And you already gained that TERF label so you get so many complaints about your actions that it seems more and more justified.

So, let's touch that subject: what do you mean when you say #SexIsReal?

The common point is that everyone is either a man or a woman. That seems logical enough to most people. The existence of intersex people is usually explained away by stating that they have one real sex and the rest is not natural, or seen as too insignificant of a part of society that they should be respected on their own with their own issues.

So, let's figure out what biological sex is then.

Most people go for genetics: XX is female and XY is male (in some extreme forms "everything that has an Y is male" to go around the XXX, XX with SRY and XY without SRY issue).

Nothing in society actually uses this definition in practice.

The definition that usually ends up on your passport is the length of your private parts. Long is male, short is female and when it's hard to decide, the doctor makes a judgement call.

When that judgement call is wrong, that is usually decided by hormones, another way to decide biological sex.

Another way to solve this conundrum is fertility: can you impregnate someone or can you be impregnated.

The most common one though is how you appear. When we try to make up our minds about what sex someone has, we use their phenotype to decide what must definitely be true.

There are many other elements that apply, but I think you get the picture.

None of these elements is either one side or the other, and they don't necessarily agree with one another.

That is what we mean when biological sex is not binary: even if you can decide male, female, both, neither, something else on all of those, that doesn't mean all of them agree with that.

The social part of all of this is usually decided by what we call gender, which doesn't depend on any of those but can have matching elements on any, all or none of those. Transgender people that transitioned usually have several or even all of these matching their new gender (yes I have a trans friend that hits all of them including fertility, and she still gets bullied for being trans). Cis people (basically people that are fine with how they are categorized from birth) can also have issues with some of those and suffer transphobia: long women are complimented for passing well or directed to the male bathroom, short men are seen as women, some athletes have uncommon hormone levels that make them unequal in sports, and intersex people will still have their dangling parts out there in the locker room even if they are XX and can give birth.

What we fight for is not to be seen for what we are not, but for common decency, respect and understanding about the complicated human beings that we are (and attention generally in all kinds of industries that we need to know which element of biological sex you refer to when you say something applies to men or women -- trans people can sometimes need the other-gendered product but not always.).

Thanks for reading this to this point, and I hope you understand a bit better why #SexIsReal is both true and completely missing the point.

Originally posted on https://telegra.ph/SexIsReal-right-02-21

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My original post on telegra.ph got blocked on Twitter somehow, so I decided to put it on Hive instead. Better give this some persistance anyway, right?