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Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under Creative Commons licence. But are they right? That claim might sound strange. It goes like this:. There are exactly two kinds of people. One kind, men, have a penis, testes, and XY chromosomes, and the other kind, women, have a vulva, uterus, breasts, and XX chromosomes.
Everyone is one or the other. Men and women have different character traits that follow naturally from their different bodies, and therefore are suited to different social roles. It ensures that men on the whole have greater power, opportunity and status compared to women. On top of this, many people have a subjective sense of themselves as men, women, some other gender, or none at all, known as gender identity.
Trans people are people whose gender identity is different from the way they were categorised as male or female at birth based on their body. The myth that men and women have different characters and are suited to different social roles makes it seem like there is one thing going on here — biological sex — which has all sorts of natural implications.
But whether we think in terms of one thing sex or two things sex and gender , this is far too simple. Each of these would give us different results about who goes in which category.
And when we move to look at the social world, it gets even more messy. Looking at gender identity will get us still more results, as will looking at how people fit in with stereotypes of gendered character traits being caring, for instance and at how people are legally classified. For example, for certain medical purposes — tests for different kinds of cancer, say — it would be most useful to divide people up based on their internal reproductive organs.