What Is Gender?

By: Alex Fikes
OwlFeed Journalist

Gender, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, is “Either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. The term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female.”

While according to the same dictionary, sex is defined as “Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and most other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.”

The word sex is used in the definition of gender, so are they related? Are they the same thing? Does your sex determine your gender or maybe the other way around? All those questions are going to get answered right here.

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                      Photo credit: Alex Fikes                           Caption: Members of the Sexual and Gender Acceptance Club meet in Mr. Nightengale’s room for their weekly meeting.

Gender is how you identify. Society often has it backwards — it defines gender as majorly based around your reproductive organs, which actually determines your sex. The truth is gender and sex are two completely different concepts. While your sex is given to you at birth, your gender is something you decide from how you feel about yourself, and how you represent yourself in society.

Sex is determined when you are born, whether you have XX chromosomes or XY chromosomes. Determining whether you have male or female reproductive organs, or maybe a mixture of both. Most people believe that having both is a myth or impossible but it can happen.

Sometimes sex can help you determine your own gender. Maybe you don’t like the way you are treated socially and want to be treated in a more masculine or feminine way depending on your sex. It can also make you feel pressured or trapped with only one gender, as it may have been forced upon you since childhood, and you feel as though there isn’t another option.

Male and female can be both a sex and gender. For the purpose of this article we will use them as sexes and the terms boy and girl in reference to gender. Boy and girl are the cisgenders, the binary or main genders accepted by society. While there are other genders, such as non-binary, agender, genderfluid, etc., these are the ones accepted most in society.

Non-binary is an umbrella term for any gender that is outside the binary or cisgenders. Non-binary describes anyone who doesn’t identify as a girl or boy.

Agender, an identity under the non-binary umbrella, is defined as feeling without gender. It’s when a person feels like they aren’t a girl, boy, or any other gender. They feel like they are just a human being, needing no label to define their gender.

Genderfluid is described as a state of feeling an array of genders. Some days they feel more feminine, or like a girl, and other days more masculine, like a boy. Some days they feel like they don’t have a gender or multiple at once. Gender is all about how you feel you identify.

While talking to Agua Fria student Ky King, who identifies as agender and is a member of the Sexual and Gender Acceptance Club, they described how the words “she/her makes me uncomfortable. Something in between is how I’d describe it. I prefer they/them overall. Non-binary.”

A biologist, Natalie Nunner, stated “I don’t think most people mean to be inconsiderate. They are just uninformed. It’s basic ignorance.” People don’t intentionally disrespect pronouns and preferred names. People just don’t understand or are uninformed.