Gender vs. Sex

In her article Sex Changes and Changing Rooms, Elizabeth P. Challinor talks about the increasing use of the word gender as a substitute for the word sex. She differentiates between the actual meaning of each word and what they refer to. Gender refers to the “cultural interpretations of biological difference” while sex refers to “the biological body”. Challinor quotes a doctor referring to a medical sex change as gender change which is very interesting to me. When people go to a doctor for a surgery that will change their genitalia from male to female or vice versa they are changing their body
(sex) not their gender (which is a product of the mind).tumblr_m584ln1xnn1r08enqo1_1280 One may possess male genitalia as a part of their physical body however their mind may be that of a female. It is impossible to change gender of the person; nonetheless it is medically possible to amend their sex through reconstructive surgery. The instances that Challinor encountered show the misuse and improper substitution of the word gender for sex. She also makes a point that the use of the word sex nowadays is more commonly used only when talking about the physical act of sex between two beings. Challinor argues that to word gender has simply become so mainstream that is being used inappropriately as a substitute for the word sex. However this makes me wonder at a deeper level why the word gender has become so mainstream while the use of the word sex is declining besides for discussions based purely on the physical sexual act.


2 thoughts on “Gender vs. Sex

  1. I also have that problem of confusing sex with gender. Sex is a biological upbringing, while Gender is something that Anthropologists can use to understand our norms and such.

  2. I think this post is extremely well written and has really summed up a lot of my miscellanies thoughts and opinions in regards to the battle between “gender” and “sex”. To sum up Van’s comment, sex and gender are two different things which society now uses interchangeably while referring to either one of the two sub-catorgories.

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