In A Gist: Sex And Gender Oversimplified

Posted By: Aarushi Srivastava

“God created two genders, anything other than those two are mental disorders” If you haven’t heard this at any point in your life, you’re probably trapped in a bubble or living in a fantasy, utopian world.

Let us start with one of the many topics that are considered taboo in most Indian households – sex. No, not just sexual intercourse, but biological sex. It is assigned to a person based on the chromosome structure, hormones and genitals they are born with.

Before we dwell onto different types of sexes, let us first clarify what it is based on. A human baby has 23 pairs of chromosomes and the 23rd pair determines the sex of the baby. Commonly, the baby takes one chromosome from each parent and either forms XX (Female) or XY (Male).

There are currently six different types of biological sexes identified in humans, namely:

  1. XTurner’s Syndrome, in which a ‘female’ is born with only one X chromosome.
  2. XX – Most common form of biological ‘female’
  3. XXYKlinefelter’s Syndrome, in which a ‘male’ is born with an extra copy of the X chromosome.
  4. XY – Most common form of biological ‘male’
  5. XYYJacob’s Syndrome, in which a ‘male’ is born with an extra copy of the Y chromosome.
  6. XXXY – A syndrome in which a ‘male’ is born with two extra X chromosomes.

Usually, persons possessing the rare mutations in their chromosomes are collectively referred to as ‘intersex’. Being intersex is a biological condition and must not be confused with being transgender.

Now that we have established that there are in fact more than two sexes, it is time to talk about the concept of ‘gender identity’. Gender is a sociological concept maintained by society. It is a socially and culturally constructed phenomenon. For ages, it was believed that the social roles assigned to people based on their sex was biological, natural and therefore, cannot be changed.

However this notion was (and is still) challenged by feminists and scientists who oppose the very notion of biological essentialism. Different cultures have their own diverse ideas of masculinity and femininity which therefore, strongly suggests that gender roles are assigned rather than biologically inherent in human beings.

Since it is a social concept, gender (like sex) isn’t binary. The entire premise of the “two gender debate” is to limit people, their self expression, their choices, and to limit their right to self determine. Many cultures have embraced more than two genders; ours included.


In conclusion, sex is biological and gender is social. Neither sex nor gender are binary. As mentioned before, sex too is a spectrum determined by various biological components. Therefore, the idea that there exists only two gender has arised out of an urge to irk and provoke people who may not want to conform to the gendered roles of society.

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Did you enjoy reading this article? Then check out: The History Of Men’s Rights Activism And Where It Went Wrong

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