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Gender

How Many Genders Are There?

A person's gender refers to characteristics that relate to the categories male, female, or some combination thereof. The words "gender" and "sex" are sometimes confused, but a person's sex refers to biological characteristics determined at conception or in utero; a person's gender is understood by many researchers to be influenced by a range of societal and environmental factors as well as biological factors. A person can be biologically female and experience gender dysphoria or gender incongruence, because they do not identify with their assigned sex.

A person might identify as transgender has a gender identity that does not correspond to their biological sex. The term "cisgender" refers to a gender identity that corresponds to one's biological sex. People whose gender identity feels neither masculine nor feminine, may identify as non-binary.

In recent years, expanding the public understanding of gender has freed many to feel more comfortable in their own skin.

Modern Gender Identity

Social and biological analyses of gender that stray from the typical male/female dichotomy offend some people. It’s a common refrain that gender was simpler in “the old days," when men hunted, women bore and raised children, and neither strayed from their assigned roles. But the reality is that many ancient civilizations had much more complex and fluid understandings of gender.

Today, in cultures that deny the existence of transgender or non-binary individuals, or deny rights to such individuals, people who don’t identify with the gender binary may be forced to live in secrecy or be threatened with violence.

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