Due to fast societal development, notions that used to be similar in the past get various meanings in the modern world. This relates to the concepts of “gender” and “sex” as well. Nowadays, it is considered that the term “gender” defines the biological and anatomical differences between men and women, while “gender” relates to the cultural, psychological, social, and other aspects. Sex represents biological distinctions between male and female characters that define which reproductive function the person will perform in the future. It cannot be naturally changed throughout the lifetime, unlike some animal species, for example.
Various groups of researchers ascribe to the notion of “gender” different meanings. However, the best solution is to utilize the concept presented by the World Health Organization. Gender can be defined as the social characteristics of men and women, and the behavior and roles that representatives of both sexes play in society. As it is a social construction norm related to the notion can vary not only from ethnicity to ethnicity but transform inside one nation or country. Therefore, in conclusion, sex is an inborn anatomic given, and gender is the way men and women feel, behave, and are apprehended by other people in society.
The issue of gender and sex can be explained by physicians as well. It is not necessary to be intersexual to have a sex and self-identification disagreement. And often the two notions of “sex” and “gender” are considered too broad or too narrow. Therefore, such terms as gender identity or gender expression were created to precisely describe the developed ideas. Additionally, none of them along with gender influence sexual orientation or preferences.
In the minds of the majority of people, only two sexes exist – male and female, and those apply to the broad-based and traditional genders – male and female as well. However, nowadays, it becomes obvious that those simple and narrow meanings cannot explain the whole difference between people’s self-identification, biological and inborn characteristics, thoughts, and ways of self-representation. Therefore, in the modern world, the notion of “sex” has a much more compound idea in comparison to the binomial “man-woman” system.
It is considered that reproductive organs define people’s sex, however, this fact is not entirely true as it discriminates against transgender or intersexual people. The representatives of such communities usually decided not to make surgeries on their genitals due to risks related to such operational interventions. Although chromosomes can define to what sex people apply biologically, they cannot depict self-identification and are useless in situations with chromosome deformations. Primary and secondary sexual characters are the other criteria according to which people are divided in the existing binomial “man-woman” system. For example, hormones are considered some of the most important features in the human body, therefore, they are examined, and researched. The norm of their production and the chemical composition differs among men and women. However, sexes cannot be defined based on genitals, hair, hormone presence, or absence as exceptions can be found in every rule. Every person in the world is different, hence, everything from hormones to self-identification is different.
In this situation, the notion of “gender” comes out and explains people’s ideas of themselves and their place in the world. Even though the majority of people identify themselves as men or women, some groups apply themselves to non-binary, transgender, inter-sexual, or bisexual people. And the number of such categories grows fast as society develops and the influence of representatives of transgender groups increases. Some of the most famous gender peculiarities are femininity, masculinity, and androgyny. Femininity describes the total of all characteristics, peculiarities, and virtues that objectively inhere to women; and masculinity means the same but related to men. Androgyny combines masculinity and femininity and means an aggregate of feminine and masculine characteristics.
Therefore, modern society is oriented toward such a combination of both genders’ virtues and tries to apply them to all spheres of people’s lives. It concentrates on the reduction of toxic, incorrect, or intolerant aims and the increase of gender education. Therefore, a conclusion can be made, that nowadays people understand gender as more related to the psychological understanding of oneself rather than biological evidence. Sex on the opposite is considered the aggregate of all in-born characteristics related to people’s bodies and defines the “biological” version of gender. Gender identity is the way a person prefers to be seen by society. Therefore, when talking to a transgender person it is required to treat them according to their self-identification even if the biological evidence does not support this idea.
However, genders and sexes differ a lot even in some biological questions such as adipose tissue. For example, according to Eric Chang (2018), gender differences in adiposity along with metabolism vary throughout people’s lifetime by stages of life. He states that body composition and weight tendency become more apparent during the early puberty period (Chang, 2018). The sex differences also become essential as men tend to consume more fat, and therefore, they develop more central distributed fat. At the same time, women’s body resists weight gain by high levels of estrogen.
Some differences between sex and gender regard biological characteristics of the human body. For example, Hines (2020) states that the central region of the bed nucleus of the stria terminals (BST) shows a sex difference related to gender identity. Her research concentrates on sex differences in the brain that are produced by both sexes’ behaviors. Therefore, the author suggests as well that the gender- and sex-related distinctions in the BST result from experience but cause flexibility in gender identity (Hines, 2020). Hence, the biological features shown vary from sex to sex and are connected to gender identity.
In conclusion, the distinctions between gender and sex are huge, especially in some cases, therefore, it is important to utilize the notions correctly. As stated before, gender shows self-identification rather than biological evidence, while sex relates to the in-born physical features of the human body. However, the power of the human brain is sometimes depicted in the examples of transgender or intersexual people. Usually, a person who identifies themselves as the opposite sex makes decisions and behaves as characters of the chosen sex, and it changes the chemical composition of the body. Sometimes, biological changes related to the chemical balance, fat rate, and muscle mass naturally occur due to self-identification.
Therefore, a clear distinction cannot be drawn between male and female characters even concerning sex and gender. Sex is an inborn feature that cannot be changed naturally, only surgically, therefore, it is connected with various risks to the physical condition of the body. On the opposite, gender is discovered throughout the lifetime. People start identifying themselves in the conscious age when they can estimate reality and analyze their preferences and feelings. Hence, one more difference between those two notions is the need for basic logical thinking to discover the gender and thinking not involved in sex identification.
Chang, Eric, et al. “Gender and Sex Differences in Adipose Tissue.” Current Diabetes Reports, vol. 18, no.69, 2018, Web.
Hines, Melissa. “Neuroscience and Sex/Gender: Looking Back and Forward.” Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 40, no. 1, 2020, pp. 37-43. Web.