If you grew up in any era prior to, you know, right now, you were probably taught that there is a simple answer to this question. And that answer is two.
But science has helped us discover that there is so much more to gender than we previously thought. Now we recognize that there is a difference between biological sex and the culturally created and highly variable concept of gender. We know that both sex and gender are more expansive than simply “male” and “female.” And far more complicated.
The World Health Organization defines gender as:
The socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as norms, roles and relationships of and between groups of women and men. It varies from society to society and can be changed.
Let’s point out a few key phrases here. Gender…
Is socially constructed
Varies from society to society
Can be changed
Gender is not an “either/or” situation. It’s not a rule book that everyone follows. Rather, gender is a spectrum of behaviors, attitudes, appearances, and more, and is expressed differently in every individual regardless of biological sex. Gender is influenced by when someone is born, family values, social environments, sexual orientation, and countless other factors.
From “Welcoming and Affirming: A Guide to Supporting and Working with LGBTQ+ Christian Youth” by Leigh Finke – Broadleaf Books