Beyond the Genderbread Person

The Failures of Biological Sex

Part 1: What is Biological Sex?

A stylized render of several X chromosome pairs floating in a blue liquid

1. either the male or female division of a species, especially as differentiated with reference to the reproductive functions.

2. the sum of the structural and functional differences by which the male and female are distinguished, or the phenomena or behavior dependent on these differences.

Sometimes we’re talking about sex assigned at birth, and a lot of other times we’re talking about the anatomical sex that someone embodies (which changes, for all of us, throughout the course of our lives — although that change is, for some of us, more drastically, or for different reasons, than others).

Part 2: The Entire Biological State of the Human Body Can’t Reasonably Be Reduced Down to a Single Bimodal Variable

A vague collection of reddish lines and swirls, presumably as part of a cell
Photo by Adrien Converse on Unsplash
Pictured: Me, a Biological Male whose internal biology is identical to when I was born
A chart detailing current medical standards for assigning sex at birth, provided by ISNA.

Part 3: How Biological Sex Obscures Biology

A translucent person sitting on a bench
Two people walking in the woods
Photo by Boxed Water Is Better on Unsplash
A clean medical office
Photo by Arseny Togulev on Unsplash
some undefined statistics on a screen
Photo by M. B. M. on Unsplash

Part 4: The Point of Biological Sex

An image of two people kissing
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash
The original Genderbread Person, featuring 4 spectrums from male to female in Attraction, Identity, Expression, and Sex
Two people presumably celebrating a gender reveal party
Photo by Josh Kahen on Unsplash
A roughly painted set of LGBT pride flag colors
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash
The biological sex spectrums from GPv2, featuring presets for male, female, intersex, “female self-ID” and “male self-ID”

Part 5: Objections

Two people talking to each other on a bench in front of a window with a view of a beach
Photo by Etienne Boulanger on Unsplash

Many feminist issues, like birth control and abortion, are heavily tied in with biology. Do you believe that these issues cannot be considered fundamentally feminist, and do you think that biology has no place in feminism?

We can’t expect children to understand such complicated concepts as what you’re talking about. Even I find it hard to understand!

What is the source of gender dysphoria if biological sex isn’t real? Do you believe that transitioning is wrong and that trans people should just accept their bodies as they are?

You can’t change the fact that beards are masculine and boobs are feminine. Thousands of years of human history won’t change in an instant just because your feelings are hurt.

Do you think I’m transphobic because I have difficulty internally understanding someone’s self-identified gender?

Do you think I’m transphobic because I have a genital preference?

Why do we have to change this to make it more complicated? Why can’t you just accept the framework we’ve been using for centuries?

Part 6: The End of Biological Sex

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

When a suggested change or criticism can help move the Genderbread Person a little closer to being best possible (most accurate, inclusive, and helpful) depiction of gender in society, I generally make that change.

When a suggested change or criticism would instead make the Genderbread Person a better depiction of ideal/utopian society, I generally do not make that change.

Photo by Matt Popovich on Unsplash



Trans Internet Creator with an engineering degree. She/they.

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Trans Internet Creator with an engineering degree. She/they.