Challenging Gender Identity: Biologists Say Gender Expands Across A Spectrum, Rather Than Simply Boy And Girl

The sex designation of your brain and body may not be as black and white as scientists have believed it to be. Instead gender may fall somewhere on a gray scale. Scientists are trying to unravel the complex biological breakdowns of gender, and as they learn more, it’s becoming more apparent there aren’t just men and women among us.

In a comprehensive breakdown published in the journal Nature, geneticists weigh in on the question of gender identity. “The main problem with a strong dichotomy is that there are intermediate cases that push the limits and ask us to figure out exactly where the dividing line is between males and females,” biology sex expert Arthur Arnold at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Nature. “And that’s often a very difficult problem, because sex can be defined a number of ways.”

Because a human being cannot legally be labeled as anything but male or female in most countries, biologists believe it may be difficult to breach the matter. However, if societal acceptance can catch up with the science, sex on a spectrum may have a future in human history. Transgender and intersex advocates hope for a day when a person’s sex or gender are irrelevant in society’s parameters, albeit the skepticism of scientists such as Greenberg. “This is potentially a critically important decision for children born with intersex traits,” gender legal specialist Julie Greenberg, from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Calif., told Nature. “I think to get rid of gender markers altogether or to allow a third, indeterminate marker, is going to be difficult.”

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