Some of a person's personality traits are characteristically "female" or "male". The overall sum of an individual's gender traits determines whether they have a gender that's "female", "male" or somewhere in between.
People with a mixture of both female AND male GENDER (personality) TRAITS. Some individuals may be mostly female, but with a few male traits; others may be mostly male, with a few female traits; while still others may be half & half.
The Basics: Woman or Man?
Sex refers to BIOLOGY
Gender refers to PERSONALITY
Whether a person is a woman or a man depends on their GENDER IDENTITY.
A person's Gender -- whether they act like a woman, man or a blend of both -- isn't affected by biology.
A crossdresser lives as a MALE most of the time. He has mostly male personality traits and interests. He has a wife and family. But occasionally -- say, a few hours each month -- he adopts a fully FEMALE persona.
Gender is a complex subject to learn. It involves the complexities of neurobiology, human development and personality. Unfortunately, the simplistic version taught in grade school is misleading -- most people have to unlearn those myths and change old thought patterns. But the truth that replaces those myths is marvelous and exquisite.
Most people visit this site to answer questions such as: Am I transsexual? and What does it mean to be transsexual? But the place to start is even more basic: What does it mean to be a woman? and Who is a man?
A simplistic answer is that a woman has a vagina and a man has a penis; end of story. Except there are vagina-owners who wear a sweatshirt & pants; who like trucks and action movies. And there are sensitive, creative men who are interested in fashion and color. -- Not to mention intersexuals who seem to violate all the simplistic rules. The real world is complex:
The New Gender Paradigm
Biologic-sex does NOT determine Gender. An XX-person may be a gender-male, a gender-female, or may have a "mixed" gender. ...As may an XY person, or anyone else on the biologic spectrum.
Sexual orientation refers to falling in love. It consists of 3 independent factors:
-- sexual attraction
-- intercourse patterns
Current society categorizes sexual orientation based on whether the partners are "female" or "male" -- without bothering to specify whether that determination should be based on biology or gender, and which of the 3 factors are to be used.
As a result, "sexual orientation" is a meaningless concept. Human interpersonal relationships and intercourse patterns are infinitely complex, diverse and variable.
Transsexuality is an issue of gender & biology, not sexual orientation.
An in-depth study of gender can be found in the book, The New Gender Paradigm -- a 1200 page, 3 volume encyclopedia of transsexuality. The book considers the phenomenon from all aspects: transsexual children, transsexual spouses & parents; school policies, legal aspects & medical care.
Research has shown that a person's gender identity is permanently set into the brain during the first few weeks of fetal gestation. ...BEFORE the Y-chromosome activates and the rest of sexual biology is determined.
OTHER BASIC PRINCIPLES
Gender isn't just a question about being a woman or man. There's a range or spectrum of gender traits, with woman and man on the extreme ends. In between is an infinite array of shades and blends.
Biologyis also a range or spectrum. One person may have a big penis and another a small penis; a prominent clitoris or a small clitoris; large breasts or a flat chest; lots of testosterone and just a little testosterone. The big shock comes when one realizes that sexual biology has no relationship to whether a person is a woman or a man.
Meet the Real World
This website involves a voyage into the Real World with eyes wide open and biases checked at the door. The trip requires an agreement about terminology. Most of the confusion and misunderstanding about gender occur due to loose use of the words. For example, people often use the word "gender" when they actually mean "gender expression". Clarity requires words to have one meaning only. Writers must be meticulous about using the correct terminology: Gender is NOT the same as Sex.
The following section offers a brief definition of each word, but is actually a jumping off point for the study of human sexuality. Click on each term to find an in-depth discussion of the subject. The site also has a dictionary instantly available at the top (the "Terms" button). Far greater information is available in the companion book,The New Gender Paradigm.