Friday, May 20, 2005

Searching for the Third Gender: Part 2

I have been very busy with my preparations for my exam, thus delay publishing my posts is inevitable. I hope I have not disappointed too many people. I decide to publish this half-written post anyway. I am very convicted to do well academically because of my moral obligation to my parents, their financial committment to our future and most importantly, we believe in bringing out the best of each other. That's what family for, isn't it? I love my parents. BTW, to all fellow Singaporeans at Imperial College (and the UK as well), I would like to wish you all good luck and all the best for your examinations.

The previous post has highlighted that God created only 2 genders, therefore the 3rd gender must be a social extension to categorise people whose gender identities cannot fit the classical description of male or female. This post aims to answer the question "Is strictly classifying people male/female sufficient?" by exploring the feasibility of the third gender in our society.

The third Gender is theologically feasible. Justification for the Third Gender does not lie in Creation, but Free Will. The Third Gender is one of the manifestation of Free Will. There are two levels of Free Will. The first level of Free Will is involuntary choice. Involuntary choice is what we all would deem as natural, because the resultant actions are guided by our body inclination. Breathing is natural. The urge to have sex is natural. The urge to eat is natural. Attraction to somebody is natural as well. All these are involuntary choices that results from the manifestation of Free Will. The second level of Free Will is voluntary choice. The most generic way to describe voluntary choice is that "you can do what you want". This includes choosing whether to take the elevator or walk up the staircase. As much as primary Free Will (involuntary choice) determines that you must eat, the secondary Free Will facilitates you to choose your diet.

Our ideas of gender identity has been built by physical basis of the mode distribution of differences in sexual characteristics throughout history. This idea was chosen not because it is the most comprehensive one, but because it is the most convenient mean of gender differentiation.

In order to extend the gender classification system, we have to build the construct of gender identity on two levels. The primary level is based on this mode distribution. This is in hand with the biblical system because it recognises what God had created. The secondary level, which is determined by social interaction, takes in account of the individual's opinion and society's opinion. The gender identity which we all express spontaneously is in fact the materialisation of the secondary level.

The individual's opinion can be measured easily (eg. the Kinsey's Scale), but society's opinion cannot. Although one can observe the effect of society's opinion of the individual's behavior, it is difficult to quantify the diverse opinions represented in society, because the effect of society's opinion is time-dependent. Perturbation effects must be taken in account for a proper evaluation. It is this tremendous effort needed to overcome the difficulty of measuring society's opinion that makes this comprehensive classification system much less convenient to use. However, we should not carry on imposing gender identities on individuals in the namesake of a liberal civil society. We should not carry on this discrimination.

We shall examine Free Will, Individual's Opinion, Society's Opinion in my next post, in order to extract a more descriptive picture of the Third Gender. Meanwhile, here is a rebuttal to a friend:

"I think most people would agree that males and females think differently, primarily due to social conditioning, but also due to instinctive responces. Faced with dificulty, a male brain is more likely to get excited, and prepare to fight, wheras a female brain is more likely to turn and run. These and other characteristics are not due to social conditioning, and in most cases these characteristics match the genetic and physical make up of the person. each of these characteristics are defined by the hormones present in the body, so surely gender should be determined in terms of hormones. Also it should be noted that males poses varying levels of masculinity due to the ratio's of male to female hormones. Some men will be extremely masculine due to lots of male hormones, wheras some will be more feminine. Yet no man can be completely feminine, due to the presence of some male hormones. Therefore our current clasification of gender implies that the presence of any hormones caused by the male chromosone (Y) defines 'male' and the lack thereof implies 'female'. It would seem that there exists two genders: male and female, but within male there are varying degrees." - Oliver

Oliver's arguement rests on the mode distribution of differences in sexual characteristics as the primary basis of gender differentiation. In fact, he accounts diversity of gender identities with varying degrees of hormonal balance. A recent medical experiment showed that gay men and straight woman showed signs of arousal to male pheromones. Is that due to hormonal imbalance or is it manifestation of primary Free Will? In fact, he ends his arguement with "there exists two genders: male and female, but within male there are varying degrees." The most obvious flaw in this conclusion is that he fails to recognise genetics females are capable of masculine behavior. Free Will (primary or secondary), in no way, hinders females from expressing their masculine side. The arguement of Free Will qualifies better than the arguement of varying hormonal balances.

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