The term Gender refers to core personality traits that determine
whether a person is a man or a woman.
Those personality traits correlate with characteristic differences in brain function.
The differences are present at birth.
Gender (Personality) is different from Biology (Sex)
Gender refers to personality, while Sex refers to biology.
A woman is a woman because she has a female gender; ie, she has core personality traits that are characteristic of women.
A man is a man because he has a male gender; ie, he has core personality traits that are characteristic of men.
Anatomy does NOT determine whether a person is a man or a woman. For the most part, sex-specific body parts are hidden under clothes -- yet it's still possible to figure out male vs female. A woman remains a woman even if she has a hysterectomy, if she has her ovaries removed or if she has a mastectomy. She doesn't become a man if she dopes on testosterone. Biology does NOT determine whether a woman is Really a Woman.
A man remains a man even if he undergoes testicular surgery, or if he loses his penis in an accident. Biology does NOT determine whether a man is a Really a Man.
Intersexuality refers to numerous medical conditions that involve sexual biology in some way: For example, an XY person born with a vagina and later develops breasts; an XX person with a penis; people who have a part of their body XY (say, a leg) while the rest is XX. ...And so on. In spite of all these variations in biology, intersexuals are born fully aware of whether they're female (and have female gender-traits) or male (with male gender-traits). These infants have a consistent, often predictable, innate Gender (personality), in spite of the variations in sexual biology.
During the 1960's - 1990's, physicians were so sure that biology determined gender that they took newborns (usually boys) and gave them female anatomy and female hormones. Sometimes the parents weren't even informed that the surgery had been done. The children were raised as girls, but every single one knew that they were male (Gender Identity), and acted fully male (Gender - personality.)
Biology does NOT determine whether a woman is Really a Woman.
Every person is unique. Some are natural accountants -- they're orderly and organized, with a mathematical bend. Others are active -- they love to dance, skydive or make touchdowns. There are artists, musicians, plumbers, military generals, teachers and politicians. Personality is what makes people unique: gifts & talents, insights, perspectives, weaknesses & challenges, reasoning, values, and so on. The range of personalities is infinite: It's called diversity. In a diverse society, whatever happens; whatever crisis pops up; whatever the need, somebody will have the right answer -- somebody will have the personality traits necessary to solve the problem.
Diversity is strength.
In this website, personality refers specifically to the set of natural gifts that are present at birth. For example, anyone can learn to play the piano, given enough time and practice. But there are certain people who are born with an innate gift for music: Even in early childhood, they're a virtuoso after minimal training. No matter how long and hard the average person studies, they can never become another Mozart. Personality includes the gifts, abilities, needs, perspectives and challenges that made Mozart different from everybody else. He had special traits that were present at birth. Traits that were hard-wired into his brain during fetal development.
Gender is the portion of personality that distinguishes a woman from a man. During the 1950's & 1960's, researchers visited elementary schools across America to observe the spontaneous behavior of young children. The goal was to determine the inherent traits that were characteristic to boys and girls. (Young children of 3-6 years were used so that the effects of experience & social indoctrination would be minimized.)
Although scores of traits were evaluated, the traits that were tied most closely to being a boy or being a girl were:
-- boys participate in "rough & tumble play", while girls' play is quiet & cooperative
-- boys have mathematical skills, while girls have linguistic skills
-- boys have spatial perception, while girls have relational perception
-- boys are logical & organized, while girls are intuitive & creative
In this website, these four traits are considered to be the "core gender traits", because they're present at a very early age and don't change throughout life.
The early observations were later extended using functional MRI's (fMRI) that measure the activity within various parts of the brain when a subject is given some task. The studies showed that different areas of the brain consistently "light up" when a female performs a certain task compared to when a male is doing exactly the same task.
For example, a male and a female test subject is given a geometric problem to solve (eg, What would this figure look like if it were rotated to the right 180 degrees?) fMRI's show different pathways are activated in a male compared to a female -- even though they both reach the same correct answer. Put simply, women use language centers to solve the geometric problem, while men use visual centers. The result seems to confirm the earlier observation that women are linguistically gifted and use those special gifts in a wide range of day-to-day tasks.
The following pictures illustrate the research findings. Notice that the red areas of brain activity are significantly different in control males compared to control females.
Gender is a Spectrum
Many XX people like trucks & football. Lots of people born with a penis are artists and like children.
Although it's common to only refer to "women" and "men", everyone knows that there are distinct gender (personality) differences between one "man" and another. Likewise, not all "women" have the same gender (personality) traits. Statistically speaking, a few men may have all four core male-gender traits, while most have three out of the four (plus one "female" trait). Many other people have an even mix (two "male" & two "female" traits -- that is, they're androgynous).
When the numbers are plotted on a graph, the gender distribution that results is depicted above. The blue line shows the gender distribution for biologic males, while the pink line refers to biologic females. The number of gender traits for an individual is shown across the bottom: Someone with ALL of the male core personality traits would be added to the count at the far left of the graph. Someone with ALL of the female traits would appear at the far right. Someone with half female traits and half male traits would plot out in the middle.
Note that MOST people with a penis have MOSTLY male personality traits (the large blue peak on the left). While MOST people with a vagina have MOSTLY female traits (the large red peak on the right). But there are a lot of people in the middle with an even mixture of female and male traits (where the blue & red lines cross each other).
Real Gender Biology
Okay, I exaggerated. There IS one biologic structure that does determine a person's gender: the brain. Female and male brains are structurally and functionally different. Whether a fetus will have a female brain or a male brain is established during the first few weeks of gestation -- BEFORE the gonads differentiate and before there's any testosterone circulating. (Which is why an individual's gender [personality] traits often don't match their biologic characteristics.)
Since Gender is encoded in the structure of the brain, it's present from birth and can't be changed.
For more information about the biologic basis of gender, go HERE.
The New Gender Paradigm
Furthermore, these results have been extended to newborns in their first weeks of life. For example, infant girls fix their gaze on faces and can recognize faces, whereas infant boys fix their gaze on objects and can recognize an object even when it has a different orientation. Baby girls communicate and speak at a significantly earlier age compared to baby boys.
The Mythology Portal
The Gender Portal
Three German Princes being "Socially Constructed" into girls
During the 19th century it was standard practice to put babies with penises and babies with vaginas into dresses. ...Until about 5-6 years, when the penis children underwent "breaching".
The term "Gender" described here is quite different from the Gender taught in Gender Studies programs. Actually, gender theory is based on many different mutually contradictory myths. When textbooks use the word "gender", in one sentence it has a meaning based on one theory, but every other sentence uses it differently, based on different mythology.
For example, here are some common gender myths:
1. "Gender Assignment"
Transsexuality is usually defined as "someone who doesn't conform to the gender they were assigned at birth." Apparently doctors have the power to turn a newborn into either a girl or a boy. Not only that, the child would be mentally ill if they fail to conform to the doctor's "assignment".
2. "Gender is a Social Construct"
Supposedly, newborns are born without any gender at all. Society has arbitrarily determined that there are only two "genders" (called "female" and "male"). Society also arbitrarily assigns stereotypic behaviors to each gender (Henceforth, all girls will like dolls.) Stereotypic dress & interests turn a neuter newborn into a girl or a boy.
3. Sexual Biology determines Gender
Some people believe that all infants with a penis (or maybe XY-chromosomes) always grow up to look and act just like John Wayne. Likewise, all infants with a vagina (or XX-chromosomes) will always grow up to be exact duplicates of Angela Jolie. If they don't, they're mentally ill.
4. Gender is a Choice
All you have to do is say, "I identify as a..." and immediately you're transformed into that gender -- regardless of your biology or behavior.
© Cassandra Branch MD