I can tell you all the things that I enjoy. I love reading, I can draw, I enjoy doing special effects makeup. I can tell you the things I’m passionate about: I love music, but I can't sing or play an instrument. I don’t like senseless gossip that hurts people. I absolutely hate bullies. It’s very overused, but I am the type of person to defend and argue over something that I don’t think is fair, even if it's the smallest and least significant thing.
This is going to be where I discuss my opinions and feelings about gender. Before I took a gender studies class, I had all of these ideas that I had no name for and there were things that I was confused about. While taking this class, I have been able to gain a clearer focus and identity in who I am and what I think.
I am an 18 year old bisexual woman who is a feminist and is very proud to say it. This class, while helping me strengthen my identity, also helped me realize the inequality in our world that no one really talks about. The feminist movement, something that fights for equality, actively practices oppression within themselves by denying the same opportunities to women of color and other religions. Meanwhile, men are stuck in the roles that society has created; they must be aggressive, controlling and powerful. Anything that they show that is considered a feminine trait is condemned and threatens their masculinity. Most importantly, I think that we cannot make change unless all genders, races, and religions make an effort to reconstruct our binaries.
The social concept of gender is that it has to fit into two categories: male and female. Biologically classifying genitalia as one of these two sexes might seem logical, but the problem is this: there are more than only two sexes.
The presence of more than two sexes in nature is prevalent. There are at least five sexes or more. Intersex is a term used to describe groups that have a variation of both the female and male genitalia:
- Some of us have one testie and one ovary.
- Some of us have testies and some aspects of female genitalia.
- Some of us have ovaries and some aspects of the male genitalia.
In the case of Levi Suydam described by Anne Fausto- Sterling in The Five Sexes, s/he seemed to physically resemble a female with a regular menstruation cycle with thoughts and mannerisms that represent both man and woman. With this example of Suydam, intersex identity is more than just physical. (Fausto-Sterling 1993). However, there are so many variations that go beyond just physically observing which external sex organs someone has.
For many intersex people, one set of genitalia work quite well while the other is not operational. Even when someone has two sex organs, their chromosomes frequently do not match them. While people can show strong feminine development, growing breasts and menstruating, the clitoris can form into a penis or can be partially fused forming an underdeveloped scrotum. It is common for people who have a more masculine physique to have a functioning penis that menstrual blood can come from.
In the embryonic stage, sex often happens early on, but these decision can also happen later in the gestation leaving fused or non-functional secondary sex characteristics. Because of new science, intersexion can be seen at birth and the parents have a choice to enter the children into a program to predetermine hormones and gender surgeries (Fausto-Sterling, 1993). While this isn’t malicious and can help these children live a ‘normal’ life in society, such medical procedures encourage the idea that there are and should only be two sexes.
In human origin stories, religions and histories, intersex people are consistently mentioned, including the belief that Adam was a hermaphrodite until God split him into a woman and a man. It was often suspected that there were three genders: male, female and intersex but the latter was lost in time. Today, the medical community has tried to pretend that the existence of a third gender does not exist even though there are people who have sex organs from both sexes that can preform equally during intercourse (Fausto-Sterling 1993).
Gender cannot be seen as a binary because it isn’t, no matter what religion or social beliefs dictate. The existence of more than one gender, physically and genetically, is undeniable. If a person is born with male AND female genitalia, that is natural. It unnatural to fear or to hate it.
Fausto-Sterling, A. (1993). The Five Sexes.