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JlMC 477 Defining Sex and Gender and Variations

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Joel Geske

on 30 May 2015

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Transcript of JlMC 477 Defining Sex and Gender and Variations

Sex or Gender?
Sex and gender are two distinctly different terms.

Sex refers to the chromosomes and physical body parts.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, sex "tends now to refer to biological differences, while ... [gender] often refers to cultural or social ones."

For the World Health Organization, "'sex' refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women" and "'male' and 'female' are sex categories."

"'Gender' refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women" and that "'masculine' and 'feminine' are gender categories.
“Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female externally, but having mostly male-typical anatomy internally.

A person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types—for example, a girl may be born with a noticeably large clitoris, or lacking a vaginal opening, or a boy may be born with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like labia.
1 in 100
A person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of his or her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY or may have XXY or XYY makeup.

Researcher Ann Faust-Sterling estimates that the total number of people whose bodies differ from standard male or female is about 1 in 100 births. Sometimes the differences are noticeable and sometimes not.
For more info you can visit the Intersex Society : www.isna.org/faq/what_is_intersex
Sex is body parts and chromosomes and hormones...and can be ambiguous.
Gender is how one presents to the word...as masculine or feminine. This may or may not match a person's sex or may be impermanent for some individuals.
For this module we will look at the typical depictions of men and women. We'll examine transgender later on.
This TV news story that ran on 20/20 brings the issue of intersex to the general public. They do a solid job of covering a sensitive issue including things like referencing the term as "outdated" and educating the audience on the newer, more correct terminology. It does seem odd though that the host would call this "disturbing." As a journalist, I would steer away from making this sound like a "freak show" or exploitative of the population under report.

This segment looks at intersex. We will explore transgender in a later module.
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