Originally Posted by 'trane
gender and sex are two different things, although often aligned. i'm not sure that i agree with what these parents have done, but i'm not sure that i completely disagree either. there is something to be said for self-identification, and the more we categorize children from the outset, the less they are able to self-identify.
Actually, I don't entirely agree with that, at least not in the case of a transgendered person. In fact, some transgendered people have said that being forced into a role actually helped them realize their issues at an earlier age. They knew something was wrong. They didn't "feel right". Thus, while uncomfortable, being told they were "this" or "that" actually helped them recognize the disconnect between their sex and how they felt in terms of gender.
Personally, from an emotional and psychological perspective, I think it would just be easier for many, many people if society would offer a broader range of possibililites. But still, I don't think that alone solves the problem for a transgendered person, because that suggests that their problem is simply a matter of social construct, which is probably insulting to them. In fact, I know it's insulting to some of them. They feel their situation has a very real biological component.
So, I think it's a complicated issue. In some cases, gender is fluid. Based on what I've read and heard, some of which might be wrong, people have a mosaic brain. That is, a bunch of characteristics that we associate with masculinity and femininity should be viewed as a spectrum. Different humans will be more or less "feminine" or "masculine" in different areas. You get all kinds of combinations. For example, on average, women might be more "nurturing" care givers to babies. But not all women will be better than every man, and some of that will be enviromental but not all of it. Also, for example, many men will have better spacial and depth perception skills than women (and it can be re-produced via repeated tests and drills) but not all men will be better than all women. And some of the women who have above average depth and spacial skills will be drawn to activities that seem more "masculine". Some of it is construct and some of it is biological reality. I think the culture that arises around particular activities may be constructed, but some of it stems from the biological reality that a particular sex is more likely to be able to do a given activity and be drawn to it.
I think things like clothes have some fluidity. Just look at how feminine the men looked during the Victorian era. Or, going back to my WWF comment from yesterday, take a look at Randy Savage's outfits in the 80s.
However, there is more to gender than things like clothes. I view it as a spectrum with probabilities related to the sexes, but those probabilities are never absolutes.
Edit - I apologize if I did a poor job of explaining my position. I might have just confused things..ah