Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Gender

Slugs and snails and puppy-dogs' tails.

Indisputably, there are biological differences between males and females. The alternative shape, location and function of organs is obvious. That there are differences in the type and release of hormones is clear; although how far their effects vary from person to person is subject to study and debate.

While those differences are "given", does it necessarily follow that certain behaviours as gender specific? Challenging those assumptions is becoming increasingly acceptable, even mandatory.

Fifty years ago there was clear separation between sports that were suitable for boys and those acceptable for girls. The same applied to trades and professions and to hierarchies within them. Most jewelery was worn almost exclusively by women; men with earrings were seen as, in one way or another, on the fringe of society.

Today, on-line shopping sites still differentiate between "toys for boys" and "toys for girls". Is that because the biological differences determine that one gender desires princess play castles in pink and the other a camouflage den tent? Or are those preferences learned from the traditional assumptions of previous generations? assumptions nurtured by those who desire power.

The answers to these questions have huge implications regarding "gender assignment".

Sometimes a person is genuinely convinced that they are "in the wrong body". Sometimes, though, that is actually the expression of a feeling that the behaviours with which they are comfortable are generally seen as appropriate to the opposite gender.

Can it really be (as is sometimes claimed) that some pre-pubescent children know themselves to be in the wrong body?

We should never fail to respect how people see themselves, to accept and to empathise. That does not necessarily mean that we should agree that the best solutions to gender conflict are hormones and surgery.

What is "wrong" may not be your body type but what society expects from those who share it.

Do you have a view on this? Share your opinion (politely and constructively, of course) in our Facebook Group »

transgender symbol with rainbow flag