What’s that? There are only two genders? People are either born male or female? That doesn’t sound right to me but – oh, you say it’s science? Mmhm. Yep. I see.
So you’re saying that biology and psychology clearly and empirically demonstrate the existence of a binary gender construct for homo sapiens? Facts don’t care about my feelings huh? The way you see it, I can’t dispute science. Right?
You’re right. I can’t.
But I can dispute pseudo-science bullshit dreamt up by bigots, idiots, and ignorant “thinkers” who believe they can “figure out” gender without doing any actual science.
Myth 1: Biology demonstrates a binary gender construct. We can clearly see that children are born with either a penis (male) or a vagina (female). You’re either born a male or a female.
First off, we don’t do science with just our eyes. We do science by performing observations and measurements. We don’t work backward from an assumption. We gather all the relevant evidence, not just that which suits us.
If we don’t have access to a state-of-the-art laboratory and all the relevant data necessary to form our own conclusions, we should shut the fuck up and read the peer-reviewed work of those who do.
So for example, if you think you can tell a person’s gender by looking at their junk: you’re wrong.
Oh, you can see a penis? So what. In the modern world, we can literally edit people’s genes. Anyone who thinks “I saw a penis” is enough science to convince them of the reality of gender is obviously confused about what “science” is.
In order to understand gender, we need to use all the tools available to us today, not just those that were around when people were writing religious texts 2,000 years ago.
Let’s start with nature. A few hundred years ago, people believed in dragons and bigfoots. Today we’ve explored the vast majority of the planet and documented its species in ways scientists couldn’t have dreamed of just a few decades ago. We know a lot about the natural world that biologists and psychologists didn’t in the 1950s when the bulk of modern gender views were codified in the world of “science.”
In all of nature, we can now observe myriad configurations for gender presentation. These range from creatures that have both “male” and “female” sex organs, to those that reproduce with neither, all the way to those whose gender is fluid throughout their lifespans – that is, they change between “male” and “female” depending on environmental or biological conditions.
What’s interesting about the particular species that outwardly exhibit non-binary gender flux, is that they do so outwardly. We can observe it, typically, in non-invasive ways.
But these creatures aren’t the only species on Earth with fluid biological gender paradigms. In fact, arguably, all complex life exhibits these traits.
Take humans, for example, like most mammals we’re formed when a sperm cell and an egg cell hook up and become a zygote. The easiest way to visualize a human being created from those two disparate objects is to imagine cells multiplying.
As our people-cells multiply and start becoming more than just a bunch of microscopic goo-filled membranes, they’re no longer viewed as a bunch of cells but as a fetus. Eventually, those cells become an infant, then a toddler, a kid, an adolescent, an adult, and finally a corpse.
In humans, typically, those parts of us often associated with gender – things like penises, ovaries, and testes – don’t always grow in direct correlation to the chromosomes we traditionally assign to them.
Let me rephrase that so it’s perfectly clear: people with XX chromosomes can have a penis and/or testes at birth. People with an XY chromosome can be born with vaginas and/or ovaries. This is science.
This empirically disputes the claim that “biology” demonstrates that there are only men and women and that you’re born as one or the other.
Have you seen your own DNA?
Gender, in most species, is in flux. Whether it tends to resolve before or after birth can differ not only between species but between individuals within a species.
Again: There are people who were born with vaginas and ovaries, who grow up to have breasts and a bone structure typically associated with “females,” who have the XY chromosome typically associated with “males,” and vice versa.
It is impossible to know the number of people born “different” from the traditional male/female paradigm because we don’t usually check for that and we’ve only known this much about genetics for a few decades. It’s certain that a lot of biologically gender-fluid people have lived and died in the history of humans.
You can’t eyeball a human and determine their gender. At least not scientifically. Without extensively studying their DNA and brains, you’re just making a prediction.
Myth 2: Psychologists have proven that men and women have different brains. Gender isn’t just in the DNA, men and women also think differently.
Truth: Lol. Bullshit. That’s the dumbest, most unscientific thing I’ve ever heard and if someone said that to me in person I would laugh at them until they left no matter how long it took.
But since we’re already here, let’s break down the science. Simply put: there have been dozens of studies in which the notion that you’re either born with a “man brain” or a “woman brain” has been debunked.
Let’s just take the most famous example of sexual dimorphism in the brain: the sexually dimorphic nucleus of the preoptic area (sdnPOA). This tiny brain area with a disproportionately sized name is slightly larger in males than in females. But it’s unclear if that size difference indicates distinctly wired sdnPOAs in males versus females, or if—as with the bipotential primordium—the same wiring is functionally weighted toward opposite ends of a spectrum. Throw in the observation that the sdnPOA in gay men is closer to that of straight females than straight males, and the idea of “the male brain” falls apart.
In other words: our brains aren’t gendered.
Gender, at the biological, endocrinological, and psychological levels is a demonstrably fluid concept.
In summation: science doesn’t care about your feelings. People who peddle the binary gender construct are pushing a false narrative either intentionally or through ignorance. The science is clear and consistent.
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Tristan is a science and technology journalist who values life, humanity, and taco soup. He/him