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This Gender related article has been assessed as SIGNIFICANTLY PROBLEMATIC in one or more ways. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.

This article requires attention for the following reason(s):
  • Needs more sources Tagged since February 2023

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Gender vs. Personality[edit]

I think you people need to know "gender" and "personality" are different things.

Just because you are an effeminate man doesn't mean you are actually a woman, you are a man with an effeminate personality. RockyRob97 (talk) 07:45, 28 June 2021 (UTC)

Although they're not synonyms, I think they are somewhat similar concepts. Gender is socially constructed as much as one's own personality is socially constructed. (Profile) - (Spoke!) 10:59, 4 October 2021 (UTC)

A cool video to sheer up the mood[edit]

Notes for a rebuttal of essentialism[edit]


What follows is meant to serve as an outline based on my limited knowledge of gender. I am not currently interested in this area, and as a result, I cannot be bothered to spend time and energy reading detailed sources. What I will provide, however, is a general outline of a rebuttal of essentialism and, in particular, bio-essentialism.

My Notes[edit]

  1. Proposals have been made in branding to replace ‘women’ and ‘men’, with nonessentialist terms such as ‘persons’ or ‘people’, such that ‘people who have ovaries’ or ‘people that have testes’.
  2. Essentialism := the belief that objects have a set of attributes that are necessary to their identity. Bio-essentialism is an instance.
  3. Essentialism can be traced back to Aristotle. Aristotle believed in an essence-accident distinction e.g. he believed that ‘it is essential for man to be rational’; but ‘accidental to be bipedal’.
  4. Aristotle’s essence-accident distinction corresponds to the modern distinctions between: connotation-denotation, intension-extension, or meaning and reference.
  5. Bio-essentialists claim, for instance, that ‘only women have uteruses’, which is an instance of #2 ‘to be a woman it is necessary that a given object has such and such attributes [e.g. they must have a uterus]. N.b. These types of statements have the obvious benefit of being easily falsified.
  6. Both the singular terms—‘man’ and ‘woman’—, and the plural terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ are largely social constructs, which have existed as long as they have for practical reasons. Using the generic ‘men’ or ‘women’ terms in marketing, for instance, as opposed to the longer ‘people who have testes’ or ‘people who have ovaries’ (to name the more simple scientifically-accurate paraphrases), confers obvious practical advantages for marketing. Indeed, the terms ‘man’, ‘men’, ‘woman’, and ‘women’, are useful as façons de parler—the danger arises when people misunderstand these convenient expressions by way of use-mention confusions and the reification fallacy.
  7. ‘Women’ or ‘Woman’ are mentalistic social-constructs, they will go the way of other folk concepts
  8. Necessity is a viciously circular.
  9. Identity is quantitative not qualitative. It is signified by this sign ‘=’.
  10. All that is required for identity: extensionality, Euclid’s law, the indiscernibility of identicals, the law of identity.
  11. Properties/attributes—putative second-order entities, (‘being a woman’, ‘being a man’, ‘being a …’ etc.) — are unintelligible and needn’t be reified; classes shall suffice.
  12. Our best science shows that Bio-essentialism is false tout court.
  13. Even the terms ‘person’ and ‘people’ can be dispensed with in favour of the predicate ‘is a homo sapien’.
  14. We can then construct a sentence: ‘There is some x such that (it is a homo sapien and it has ovaries)’, which in turn can be represented more perspicuously as ‘There is some x such that (x is a homo sapien . x has ovaries)’; and finally, this sentence can be represented even more perspicuously as ‘∃x (Hx . Ox)’, where ‘H’ is a predicate denoting the class of humans, and ‘O’ is a predicate denoting the class of humans that have ovaries.
  15. However, to fully explicate this sentence we need to move to class theory. The original sentence is predicating something of a specific subclass of humans viz. humans that have ovaries.
  16. Thus, ‘∃y∃x (({yεY|O}) .⊆X {xεX|H})’
  17. (#16) can be interpreted as there is some class y for some class x such that (y is a member of a class Y—if and only if— it satisfies ‘has ovaries’) and the class y is a subclass of the class of Homo sapiens.


Another common problem that leads to essentialism is the tendency to project properties onto objects that are merely artefacts of our computational practices. For instance, when we use algorithmic procedures to evaluate an algebraic expression e.g. ‘(x+y)×z’ we use the following algorithm x+z first, then multiply by y; however, whilst this algorithm is suitable for helping us understand the properties e.g. (commutativity or associativity) of quantities involved in a simple algebraic expression, its simple order-based format is inadequate for capturing the real properties that a physical system has.

For example, Fourier and his school demonstrated whilst analysing the behaviour of certain physical objects e.g. vibrating dustbin caps that: (a) we cannot prima facie assume that certain properties hold of a physical system, we must prove that they hold viz. we should not, from the outset, assume that intuitive mathematical properties e.g. connectedness or smoothness—that were the result of simpler algorithms—continue to hold for an infinite series as it tends towards its limit. Furthermore, if we want to increase our accuracy, we should use a function over a small, precise Real-valued interval (if we want to divine the real properties of a physical system—the smaller the interval the better), (b) as evidenced by Fourier’s discovery of the “Saw tooth function”, when algorithms take limits ‘δ’ (viz. of infinite series) as their input they behave in ways that are incompatible with simplistic order-based algorithms viz. the very notion of ‘first, then second’ (as we saw as a method of computing simpler, algebraic expressions) breaks down, exhibiting properties that violate intuitive mathematical properties such as ‘connectedness’. All of the above serves as a caution to those who are quick to project certain predicates (viz. project them as properties) onto certain physical systems; who are quick to mistake the practical necessity of certain computational methods—and the properties they involve—for genuine features of nature.

Essentialism, is just the whoozy, a priori, projection of linguistic artefacts onto objects; we can speak humans “being rational” or “being female” without presupposing that the ways we happen to speak about objects imply that said objects must have “such and such properties” in order to be that object; the ways we speak about objects, about people, change over time—they don’t imply that archaic linguistic-happenstance has any bearing on nature, nor do they affirm that armchair fancy overrides the continuing progress of science.

Post scriptum: I owe the majority of my discussion here, i.e. concerning the projection of incorrect properties onto physical systems and on the challenges Fourier and his school faced to Mark Wilson , in particular to his book Wandering Significance (cf. “The fight from intension”). Although my comments here may seem largely orthogonal to the topic of essentialism, I still hope that I’ve illuminated the connections between both topics, and perhaps, provided the correct diagnostics to the underlying problems of essentialism. LeucippusSapere aude 20:30, 24 October 2021 (UTC)


  • Too much on the idea that gender and sex are different. Thats not true.
  • Has left leaning bias

Needs overhaul Jah (talk) 00:44, 29 October 2021 (UTC)

Please educate us on how the years required to even begin to understand the complex intricacies of biological expressions of sex and interactions and interplay with the sociological contexts is just a form of "left-leaning bias". --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario!(Mod) 02:08, 29 October 2021 (UTC)

Concept of gender inherently harmful & counter productive to all types of people? A ramble.[edit]

I want to preface this by saying that I support anyone's right to self-identify any which way, to fill any which role they want, and make any which modifications to their bodies. I.E., I support the trans+ community in that way. But I do believe some harm is being done by some members of both the trans and cisgender communities, by claiming that gender is a separate thing from sex.

I'm witnessing the following things:

  • Our culture has for a long time associated certain roles, interests, and activities, and behavioural traits with men, and another set of these with women. (and when I say men and women here, I both mean sex and now gender, I guess).
  • These associations are mirrored in the vast vast majority of our widespread media.
  • Many if not most of these associations are relatively recent, in the sense that for example, cars didn't exist hundreds of years ago and so at the time, an interest in cars was certainly not a thing considered to be a thing that belongs within the domain of masculinity, despite this having become a popular stereotype still reinforced by today's media.
  • And of course, we know that these associations are falsy, E.G.: Lots of women are interested in how cars work, or want to work at a job, and lots of men would like to be more beautiful, or fashionable, or to stay home and raise a child.
  • It's also easy enough to imagine plausible ways in which these associations were created. E.G., men had jobs and therefore money to buy cars, as well as incentive to buy them, at a time when women weren't afforded these things, and over decades men were the ones seen to be tinkering with these devices and thus, associations were born. Or 'most women were carrying unborn children for 9 months followed by some recovery time, giving them fewer opportunities to train and become good hunters / fighters, so it made sense for men to be the ones going out and doing XYZ activity while women stayed in the village with the other women and children', and thus associations were born.

And then further to the above, I'm also seeing:

  • People disassociating with their ascribed gender because they don't possess the interests that are 'supposed' to align with their birth gender, which have been force-fed down their throats in every aspect of life since birth.
  • People going out of their way to separate sex and gender as 2 concepts, one with physical implications and the other with.. Personality and behavioural implications I guess?

I'm just confused as to how the trans community arrived at the Sex vs Gender debate.. I'm a bio-male who possesses only a few interests and traits associated with masculinity, and a good few associated with femininity. Does this lead me to feel un-manly? No. It leads me to conclude that our culture has placed too much importance on the effect that biological sex has on our interests and personality traits (or that the concept of 'manly' is a false one). Which seems obvious enough to me.

Some of the trans folk I've spoken to have told me that they never felt any kinship with their gender or the interests associated with it and that's why they became trans. Simplified example: "I never liked sports, cars, or rough housing but I always loved dolls, makeup and clothes so I felt more feminine and chose to identify with that gender". I've also met trans people who had concerns closer to: "I was always uncomfortable with my male genitalia, it was a source of distress for me, so transitioning was a way for me to overcome this"-- which I can understand much much more despite not having felt this myself.

In the latter example, I could imagine that being some kind of phantom-limb-like condition; the brain expects certain physical parameters but these expectations aren't met. Easy enough to understand, this way. But the former example strikes me as trying to find a box to fit into when neither box actually maps to anything in reality, beyond our tribalistic tendencies to want to divide things cleanly between two boxes (and then pick one..).

I think there's also the subset of trans folk for whom it comes down to how they want to be treat by others (treat like female, treat like male). I see this as problematic for bio men and women and ultimately many trans men and women, too.

Which leads into my actual point here, I guess. We shouldn't be treating men and women differently to begin with! We also shouldn't be telling either gender to be any particular way, or to perform any particular activities. Growing up and hearing about trans stuff I always assumed that this was the whole point of the movement; to let people be people, not 'let people lump themselves into whichever harmful, predefined box they want'. To transcend the concept of gender. I've come to the conclusion that the idea of sex and gender being different things is harmful to trans folk, as well as harmful to those who aren't trans (E.G., toxic masculinity encouraging men to bottle their feelings and suffer mental health consequences, toxic femininity encouraging women to sacrifice their health for beauty, or sacrifice their agency for popularity / fitting in.) It just seems to re-enforce these norms.

So my question for anyone reading is on whether I have missed something important here. Am I way off-base? Is it not true that associating Gender/Sex with anything besides genitalia just re-enforces the very same gender norms that I feel most of us now consider harmful? And doesn't that just ultimately create more people suffering from trans/gender-related problems? Should we not just be saying "sex doesn't matter except when choosing a mate" and that "gender is irrelevant and should not impact what you are 'supposed' to do?"

I want to reiterate that ultimately, I do want everyone to feel comfortable and would always use the label they feel most comfortable with, potential societal harm or no, because I can at least optimise to cause less harm to those around me. I do get that when the words 'male' and 'female' carry so much dead weight, you might feel uncomfortable having them used to describe you, with all of these words' baggage. It just seems to me, that the source of discomfort for a good chunk of the trans community has less to do with the concept of gender and more to do with the concept of gender norms, and I have to wonder if the current approaches I see in the trans community are self-defeating. Nasm (talk) 16:10, 17 February 2023 (UTC)

While the division between gender and sex may be a somewhat recent one in mainstream Western society, third gendersWikipedia are nothing new on the anthropological sphere. The HijraWikipedia community in South Asia, for example, a community that identify as neither male nor female, are fucking ancient. Another (European) example, are the Balkan sworn virgins.Wikipedia They are people assigned female at birth but take a vow of chastity and live as men in the traditionally patriarchal Balkan society. To claim that the gender binary is universal is anthropologically dubious at best, and outright farcical at worst. Vee (talk) 15:59, 17 February 2023 (UTC)
@Vee I don't believe I actually made that claim, I certainly didn't intend to. I'm not saying there are 2 universal genders, I'm saying that genders are fairly close to being imaginary, and that we'd be better served by both: abandoning genders, and: devaluing the importance of Sex outside of.. sex. Nasm (talk) 16:10, 17 February 2023 (UTC)
Tbf your rant was rambling. Vee (talk) 16:14, 17 February 2023 (UTC)
I.e., you didn't finish it or even read the bold parts? But you're not wrong, neither :D Nasm (talk) 16:17, 17 February 2023 (UTC)
There is a real problem of authority in the formal understanding of gender. The concept of community is an artificial way to talk about groups of people. Groups that are unrelated in any way other than they may share a certain characteristic are often called a community. The largest such groups tend to be racial such as the Black community. Yet one would never say "the white community," as if the group had an existence in any useful sense. We speak of "whiteness," as though it were a kind of mold on old bread. We do not understand ourselves as human beings as well as might be possible. In time I imagine we will see gender as simply one aspect of human personality that defies final definition. If you are confused that is a sign you should be cautious in your approach to the subject. Ariel31459 (talk) 16:38, 17 February 2023 (UTC)
I agree with your point RE: communities/groups being a loosely defined thing, easily used to paint with a broad brush. I did try to be careful in how I approached this question (which, I hope it's clear I ask with the best of intentions, to clear up my confusion)-- specifically by using language like 'some people within..' rather than just 'the trans community' as well as offering several of the experiences I've heard about from those within it, not just focusing on the ones relating to my confusion. I think that should be reasonable within a rational community, if I'm doing it in good-faith. I also tried to include a lot of context for how I arrived at the moment of posting this question. However, it was already a long post and there was no room for further tiptoeing (and I do not know what parts to tiptoe around, and likely won't find out until someone points out where the eggshells are). Nasm (talk) 17:12, 17 February 2023 (UTC)