In today’s society, there is a lot of talk about gender, especially among the young generations. But how many genders are there according to science?
It’s a common misconception that there are only two genders: male and female. But science proves there is actually more. Contrary to sex, gender isn’t binary. It’s fluid and ever-changing, which means that there are an endless number of possibilities.
Learn in This Article
- What Is Gender Identity
- Sex vs. Gender
- History of Gender Identity
- Types of Gender Identity
- Key Takeaways
What Is Gender Identity
Defining gender isn’t as straightforward as you might think. As the World Health Organization claims, the scientific definition of gender refers to the socially created qualities of women and men. This covers the standards, behaviors, interpersonal interactions, and roles that are expected by a woman or a man. Gender is a social construct that differs by civilization and can change over time.
It’s true that the vast majority of people identify as entirely masculine or feminine. But that’s not the same for everyone. For example, some express their gender as more masculine than feminine, while some others identify as more feminine than masculine. Some don’t fit into any male or female standard imposed by society.
Sex vs. Gender
Many people use the terms “sex” and “gender” interchangeably, but keep in mind that the two don’t have the same meaning.
As already stated, gender refers to the socially constructed roles and behaviors that are assigned to people. On the other hand, sex is referred as to the biological characteristics of a person, such as their sex organs, hormones, and chromosomes.
It’s safe to say that science recognizes three sexes: male, female, and intersex. However, gender is not made up of binary forms. Instead, it’s a wide spectrum.
History of Gender Identity
Although the talk about gender identity has been a hot topic in recent years, it’s not a new concept.
The word gender identity was first coined in 1964 by Robert J. Stoller and popularized by John Money. However, the nature of gender identity has been debated by psychologists and philosophers since the late 20th century.
While essentialists believe that gender identity is fixed at birth by biological factors, social constructivists oppose that theory entirely. They argue that gender is expressed and determined by social and cultural influences.
Types of Gender Identity
It’s true that there are multiple genders out there, as science has recognized a fair share of them. Although you can probably recognize some common terms such as cisgender or transgender, gender identities don’t stop there.
The term agender means “without gender.” People who identify as agender are also known as genderless, gender-free, or ungendered. Contrary to many other gender identities, agender people don’t conform to gender norms. Therefore, they don’t usually have a specific set of pronouns.
Also known as dual gender, bigender people identify as both female and male. This can be experienced simultaneously or separately. People who identify as bigender can also fluctuate between the two genders’ characteristics.
Cisgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. The word “cisgender” comes from the Latin prefix “cis,” which means “on this side of.” So, “cisgender” literally means “on this side of gender.”
Gender expansive refers to people who defy societal expectations and norms around gender. Some gender-expansive people identify as a combination of genders, while others as neither.
Gender-expansive people occasionally use gender-neutral pronouns, although they can exist as any gender and use any pronouns. Regardless of how they express their gender, they may or may not be content with their bodies as they are.
Genderfluid is a term used to describe people who don’t consistently identify as male or female. They may fluctuate and move between genders, or they may feel that they are somewhere in between.
Genderqueer is a term that is used to describe people who don’t identify as either male or female. This can be because they feel that they are both genders, or because they feel that they are neither gender.
Some genderqueer people may also choose to use pronouns other than he/she, such as they/them.
What does it mean to be nonbinary? In short, the non-binary spectrum includes every person that does not identify as solely male or female. This can be because they feel like they are both genders, without a gender, or somewhere in between.
This term is usually used interchangeably with genderqueer, genderfluid, or gender non-conforming.
Omnigender is a term used to describe people who experience multiple genders. Unlike genderfluid people, who move between different genders from day to day or week to week, omnigender people experience all genders at the same time.
Polygender or Pangender
Polygender or pangender people are those who experience more than one gender. This can mean feeling like a mix of genders or feeling like all genders simultaneously.
As opposed to cisgender, transgender people don’t match the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, a transgender person may have been born with a female body but identify as a male.
Although a fair share of transgender people uses hormones and surgery to change their bodies, not all of them choose to do so.
Two-spirit is a term that has been historically used by indigenous North Americans to describe people who possess both a masculine and a feminine spirit.
How Many Genders Are There According to Science: Key Takeaways
So, how many genders does science say exist? Well, it’s complicated. Unfortunately, science still hasn’t come to terms with how many genders are out there—but it’s definitely not two as many argue. In fact, there is a wide range of gender identities that fall outside of the binary spectrum.
While the debate about genders is still heated, you can’t deny that gender and sex are two separate entities.
Frequently Asked Questions
The gender spectrum refers to the range of gender identities that exist outside of the traditional binary of male and female. Non-binary genders can include, but are not limited to, agender, bigender, and genderfluid.
The concept of the gender spectrum is often used to challenge the notion that there are only two genders. Instead, it highlights the fluidity of gender and allows for a more inclusive understanding of gender identity.
Gender is an important part of how we understand ourselves and our place in the world. For many people, their gender identity is a central part of their personal identity. As such, it can be very damaging to force someone into a gender role that they don’t identify with. In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on gender inclusivity and the importance of allowing people to express their gender in a way that is authentic to them.