With the announcement that Facebook will now allow you to pick from 50 different genders there is bound to be lots of discussion about gender, what it is, and what it isn't. These will range from "Well, it's whatever you say it is" to "DNA is the difference, choice of two".
Of course some of the latter will be quite cruel, and we'll leave them to it. I just want to mess with your heads for a bit.
What are you? Not what you think, I'll tell you that.
So, you're a man. Why do you say that? Because you were born with male genitalia? So equipment at birth is the key, is it? Do you think that's how it started out?
Hate to break it to you but all embryos' gentials look the same. They are identical for the first two months.
Here they are at about 9 weeks:
This is why doctors can do miraculous things later on in transgender surgery. All the stuff you need is there.
So, obviously the DNA is what directs development after that. The baby "knows" which it is going to be. (Usually. 1 in 1000 babies born are intersexed. Look it up if you don't believe me.)
The problem is, this only really applies to structural aspects of development. Almost all other differences are cultural. Somewhere along the way "we" decided that girls do this and boys do that, and we tend to encourage the pattern.
In a unique and curious reversal of rights, we allow girls to dress, play, and behave like boys, but not the other way around. Presumably because boys are better, right? O.o.
I was that tomboy.
I was a sweet little thing, but I didn't do girl.
I did more interesting things. I dug holes.
Given the choice of buying shoes or digging holes, I would still rather dig holes.
I had cars and trucks and trains and balls and holes. I had a very happy childhood.
Then I grew up, and got married and had babies. Being a tomboy didn't make me a lesbian, and it didn't make me a bad mother. These things are not connected.
So why is it that if a boy wants to wear dresses, and paint his nails, he is discouraged, teased, and bullied? Makes no sense.
What do these things have to do with our biology? Nothing.
300 years ago men wore skirts, high heels, make up, and powdered wigs.
If you can find a correlation between fashion and DNA, do let us all know.
There are two ways to look at this. One way is to designate yourself something, and use that word to describe your own individual selection of satorial choices, sexual preferences, and importance to biology.
The other way is to say "female is whatever I say it is".
You'll encounter objections either way, so it really makes no difference.