Does biological gender exist?

I’m trying to better understand what trans really means.

What I get is that cultural gender norms are completely invented, so there are people born to a gender who associate themselves more with the other cultural gender.

But that doesn’t seem to be how trans people feel. They seem to feel that they have the wrong biological organs (at least in some cases).

I don’t know how to square that with a view that there are biological differences between males and females, because objectively there are physical differences in genitalia.

yes. you can call it a different word, but there are definitely biological differences.

my uterus is bleeding right now. it’s annoying. if i decide to identify as a man it won’t just stop.

I think that’s biological sex. Not biological gender.

I think he’s asking if there’s aspects of gender that’s not culturally influenced.

I think there are layers of this.

Things like boys like trucks, and girls like dolls, or blue vs pink, or being a cop vs begin a nurse, are obviously cultural.

Then there are things that we infer that are based on population norms. Men tend to have deeper voices than women, so we associate deep voice with being male. This obviously doesn’t work a lot of the times. But it can start to become a dogmatic expectation when the culture reinforces this. Same goes with mannerism. So there’s some biological aspect to this. Maybe 50/50 biological vs cultural.

Then there’s the pure gender identity. When someone looks in the mirror, they don’t feel like they belong in that body, regardless of what society defines what’s masculine and what’s feminine. I think it’s best if a trans person explains how this feels like.

One key point is that sex and gender mean different things and shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Sex typically is used to refer to biological or assigned sex, while gender is more complicated and is largely a social construct. Then your gender identity is a 3rd thing which is how you view your own gender.

For most people, sex and gender identity match. For some of us, our assigned sex is different than our gender identity. I don’t have a keyboard right now and want to keep this short, but when your gender identity differs from your assigned sex you often want to do things to make your appearance match your identity. Some transgender people will do very little, some will receive hormone treatment, some will get surgery. There is no ‘correct’ way to be trans. None of those options change what your assigned sex at birth was.


Yes, iirc blue vs pink was opposite in the late 1800/early 1900s in the US.

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I didn’t know you were that old!

I am surprised you don’t remember I was in the elementary school class you taught.


If I’m reading the OP right, I think he’s asking if there are aspects of gender, and thus gender identity, that’s biological.

For instance, can a lone human, deprived of ever having cultural contact, have gender dysmorphia?
Perhaps that’s an unfair question. For example, I’m not sure if sexual orientation can be identified without some sort of human interaction either. Once the element of human interaction is introduced, we then have a reference frame for gender identity, and sexual orientation. We’re capable of saying we are/we are not, and we like/we don’t like.

Sick burn, bro!

okay, this topic confuses me then.

I’d use the analogy of soccer.

Soccer is definitely “socially constructed.” We chose to invent soccer, and there can be human beings who never play soccer. And soccer is not the same as our bodies, or an inevitable outcome of our bodies. Just because we walk on two legs and can kick a ball, it doesn’t mean soccer is inevitable.

That said, it’s incorrect to think that soccer is independent of our bodies. Our bodies influence soccer. Our legs are real, and if we didn’t have them then there would be no soccer.

And there are probably propensities of our nature, outside our legs, that direct us towards soccer as a possible choice, perhaps even a likely choice.

In the same way, i see gender as an expression of our genius in that it is genuinely additional to that organizing principle of our bodies we might call sex. But while it is in addition to sex, it is also intimately related to, and depends on, sex.

Added- I think it is in our nature to play some kind of physical games, of which soccer is a type, and also to identify ourselves with one sex or the other, of which our particular genders are a result.

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I’m not so sure of that. When my daughter was born we did everything we could to try to provide a neutral environment, providing “boy” and “girl” toys, etc. We had no TV or cable, so she wasn’t picking the culture up there. Well before being able to pick up culture during school or playdates, she had - I would use the word “naturally” - been drawn to the dolls and never had the slightest interest in the trucks.


Yeah this. It’s obviously not 100% for everyone, which is the nature of most of the disagreements on this, but certainly boys in general are often drawn to different things than girls in general. Same with our kids, we noticed this early on.
We also noticed that our neighbour’s kid (boy) was drawn to typically girl things from a very early age - like kindergarden or earlier. He’d come over and play dolls with my daughter. Unclear if that’s making the case or not lol. Anyway, he eventually came out as gay, but if he came out as M2F trans I wouldn’t be surprised.
Just reminded me of last year, he was on vacation with us. We’re at the liquor store, he walks out and he’s getting checked out by a couple of women/girls his age. He waves his hand dismsissively and says ‘I like d*ck, ladies’. Lol.

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There’s a lot of people in the public saying “sex is biological and gender is cultural”, and I agree with that.

What I don’t agree with is that gender is completely separable from biology. Biology (male/female/indeterminate) is very clear and falls into two categories. [I could be convinced that there is a third, that “indeterminate” or “intersex”]. So what’s a gender?

Gender is the social presentation of sex. It’s not “how you feel about being a man or woman”, which is personality. So if gender is a social presentation of sex, it must align to the two or three categories of sex.

What it means for individuals within that specific gender is a whole different issue, however, Gender expression can vary nearly infinitely across various cultures and societies. In that sense, I agree that “gender is a spectrum”. I don’t agree that there are an infinite number of genders, based on individual feelings.

Look at any personality characteristic (aggression, empathy, nurturement, introspection, interest in people vs. interest in things, etc.). You’ll find humans of both genders all along the spectrum. But in general, males will tend towards one end of the spectrum of that characteristic relative to women, and women will tend towards the other end of the spectrum relative to men. But that doesn’t mean that there are an infinite number of genders to accommodate those differences. Sometimes you have more-than-average aggressive women, and sometimes you have more-than-average aggressive men.

For me, for example, I am less aggressive than the average male, I am more nurturing than the average male, I am more creative than the average male. Being more nurturing doesn’t mean I’m any less of a man and any more of a woman. These are just different expressions along the various spectra of what does it mean to be a man or a woman.

So, @Snikelfritz , “biological” gender doesn’t exist. In the same vein, “biological” sex doesn’t exist, because to be “biological” sex would require there to also be a non-biological sex. Sex itself is biological, so calling it “biological sex” is redundant. Thus there isn’t a biological gender, because I don’t agree there’s a “non-biological” gender. There just is sex, and there just is gender.

I’ll take a stab at this, at least for how I feel. I’m going to overshare, so if that makes you feel uncomfortable skip this post. I think it varies a lot from person to person – if you asked 10 people to answer this you would get 10 different responses. But basically there is some combination of dysphoria you feel about your assigned sex and euphoria you feel about your own gender identity. Things that remind me that I look like a man trigger dysphoria, things that make me feel like a woman make me happy. Not everyone experiences both, some people repress the dysphoria so hard that they don’t feel it until experiencing the euphoria.

I fall into the historically repressing dysphoria hard core camp. I’ve been depressed on and off ever since hitting puberty, and in retrospect that was driven by my gender dysphoria. I have never looked into the mirror and felt that I was an attractive man, but have been told that I was and had good luck dating. I was aware that I hated how hairy my body was, and used to pluck hairs from my fingers, still pluck hairs from my ears (switching now to using tweezers for that b/c I don’t want to damage my new nails). I historically would always wear a shirt when I would allow myself to wear panties b/c I couldn’t stand seeing the contrast between underwear I liked and my hairy belly. The first time I ever put on a wig I felt like I looked like man with a mop on his head, felt dysphoric as all hell and broke down and cried.

I’ll skip the details, but what led me to start wondering whether or not I am trans was how much I enjoy wearing women’s underwear. I eventually stopped wearing men’s underwear when I realized how much more confident I felt when wearing my underwear. A couple weeks after that, I came out to myself and promptly shaved my legs for the first time. The euphoria from taking all that gross man hair off of my legs and seeing my beautiful smooth girl legs for the first time was fantastic (this is a super common experience). Maybe a week after that I shaved my belly and chest, equally euphoric, and now I can stand in front of the mirror in just my underwear and be happy. And TMI but important for gender identity: with the right type of underwear to help hold things in place, trans women can rearrange their extra lady bits in order to appear more feminine and not have an unsightly bulge downstairs. I suspect to a cis man this may sound uncomfortable if not painful, for me it feels fantastic to do so and then look at myself in the mirror.

Now that I’ve accepted the idea that I am a woman, I love getting dressed and putting on my jewelry. When I look at myself in the mirror wearing a dress or a cute skirt, I feel beautiful. I know that until I find a better wig and figure out makeup that society will think that I look weird, but I am happy with my appearance for the first time in my life.


Thanks for sharing.
I think this is part of what the OP is asking. The fact that you enjoy wearing women’s underwear, jewelry, skirts…,etc. certainly does indicate a conflcit, but these are all cultural things that are assigned by society to womanhood. There’s nothing inherently feminine about these things…or is there?

Perhaps this touches on what magillaG suggested, that perhaps we humans assigned these things to womanhood because there’s something instrinsically womanly about these things. While this may be true about jewelry (though from a biological perspective, it’s usually the male that exhibits “flashiness”), I’m not so sure it’s true about say, high heels or skirts or makeup, which had historically been worn by men. And if these aren’t intrinsically feminine, then it perhaps has more to do with wanting to fit in with the cultural construct of what’s feminine at the time? Stripping these invented accessories away though, what makes someone look at themselves and think not just “I hate my body hair” (which both men and women do), but rather, “I’m of the wrong sex”?

I speculate there is an instinct to have “men” and “women” and therefore manly and womanly things. In other words, there is something in our brains that makes us identify with either men or women. I don’t think dresses, say, are inherently womanish.

My uncle wears a skirt when he plays ths bagpipes. And that tradition may get passeded down to me someday.

That’s the whole “social construct” part. There’s obviously nothing that makes a skirt intrinsically male or female. But any particular skirt is a marker of masculinity or femininity.

I liked the soccer analogy.