What is gender?

With the talk of transgenderism, what is gender? Are human reducible to their physical sex? Or this there something more to this question?

I think there might be. I don’t think gender separate from sex makes sense in a materialistic context. But I wonder if the soul may have a “gender”…

What do y’all understand “gender” to mean? Can it apply to the soul? Or does it apply to something else? Is it permanent and intrinsic to us, like our sex or our race? Or is it transient, like long hair and piercings?

Gender is a grammatical concept that describes how nouns and other parts of speech are formed, masculine, feminine and neuter.

Biological sex describes how men and women are complementary and permanently different.

Gender is male or female or in some cases neutral division of words or species.

Gender is a social construct - girls things and boy things are only labelled that way because society meddles on people’s view of each gender. There is no girl gender and no boy gender - you only see those things because you were raised in a society with “boy toys/jobs” and “girl toys/jobs”.

At the same time, people want to change gender, because they are not happy with the body they were born into. So, a man who believes himself a woman, would go through surgery just so he could simply do “woman things” (that silly social construct of gender!)

In sum: I really don’t know what they want gender to BE. It is a “social construct”, and yet people need surgery to change it… I’m at a loss here :shrug:

This is the heresy of “gender theory” which the Holy Father warned against.

In a more serious note… I’ll say that I believe people can identify with a “gender” different from their biological sex.

Hormonal levels would be enough to determine one’s preferences in a basic level. Less testosterone makes a person less prone to violence, more “maternal”, better at linguistics rather than math, and whatever else we indentify as a characteristic pertaining to the “female gender”. This is a theory that I believe in - do not take it as fact, please.

That said, I do not believe this is enough to move one into mutilating their own body.

I, as a man, may identify myself as a woman - I don’t like “men’s world”, and would feel better as a woman. However, feeling disgust of one’s own body is not a matter of gender identification - it is outright a Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Wanting to remove a body part should be considered a mental disorder (which could be treated if one wanted), not a social justice issue.

We don’t tell anorexic girls they should keep harming themselves until they are happy with their bodies. We also don’t pay surgery for kids that think they are cats, just so they can get a tail and whiskers. And, by the same line of thought, we shouldn’t tell trans-gendered people to keep harming themselves until they are happy with their bodies. You can be feminine in a male body, and you can be masculine in a female body. Body “genders” have their advantages, and a “masculine woman” is just as woman as any feminine woman can be. But she definitely doesn’t have to become a man! (as a woman: who in their sane mind would want to be a man? :rolleyes:)

As for the soul… I never thought about it.** I’d think souls to be neither male nor female**. We don’t really talk of a “woman’s nature” and “man’s nature” - God gave our souls a “human nature”. Anything we feel - as men and women - comes from our mortal bodies. We have hormones and organs that DO affect how we react to the world and how we see ourselves.

This is my current position on this matter, let’s see how it’ll change during this discussion. I’m actually curious to see :thumbsup:

But I really like your questions. I’ll look into Church teachings on this - the Church usually has the right answers :stuck_out_tongue:

I know. If you read carefully, you’ll see I’m being sarcastic :stuck_out_tongue:


God Made Them Male and Female

Now we come to a consideration bearing directly on the question of male and female. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, each soul is individualized by the matter it informs. Just as the statue of Caesar is this statue because the shape is in this block of marble, my soul is this soul because of the condition of the matter it informs. Souls are not like a series of car engines that can be placed in any one of a line of bodies of that particular model.

Each human soul is created directly by God when the organized matter is ready to receive it. From what modern science tells us about DNA this seems to be the moment when sperm and ovum unite to form a new organism. Created from nothing by God,4 the soul is so intimately united with the aptly organized matter that they constitute a single being: this individual human person.

The point I want to stress here is that the conformity of soul to body implies a uniqueness of the soul derived from the condition of the matter it informs. Had the matter been different at the moment its organization made it fit to receive a rational soul, the soul God created would have been a different soul. And its aptitudes would have differed to some extent.

But the organized matter receiving the soul is either male or female. So the soul itself, determined by the matter, is distinguished by that fact. This is not to suggest that the biological differences are somehow present in the soul, as though some souls were biologically male, others female. The human soul is a spirit, having no matter in it. But the implications of being male or female are more than biological; they pertain to the whole being. And because this soul is the form of this body, it follows that there is a modality or aspect to the soul of a man other than the modality belonging to the soul of a woman.

Put it this way: if we take sexuality as more than biological parts, and view it as belonging deeply to the whole person, it extends to the spirit or soul and is not confined to the body. I heard an outstanding Thomistic philosopher in Australia, the late Dr. Austin Woodbury, SM, express it this way: “Sexuality extends from the tip of the toes to the top of the soul.”

“Gender” is a grammatical concept, and only us Anglophones could mistake gender and biological sex :rolleyes:

Christi pax,


Nice article. Makes sense, in a way. We WILL reincarnate with our “gendered” bodies, after all.

But am I wrong to still believe that a male body/soul can be feminine, and a female body/soul masculine? Would explain (to me at least) transgendered concerns with how they view their bodies.

I think you meant to say “resurrect.”

We do NOT reincarnate, in the sense of the soul being reborn as someone else. We will resume our own embodied aliveness.


We really can’t change our gender. We can change the structure of our genitalia, our face shape, etc. We can take male or female hormones, but we all have either male or female DNA, and that is not able to be changed. Our DNA determines our biological gender, either male or female. No amount of hormones can change that.

As others have said again and again, “gender” is a grammatical term. Words have a gender. Human beings have a sex.

That sex is male or female and is written into every cell of the human soma. Even if “transitional” procedures are done, that biological identity remains the same unto death (and in bodily resurrection).

It is not something that we get to choose and the soul can never have the “wrong body.” Each soul is formed in, and for, his or her human body.


So now you need surgery to change what you call a “social construct”?

At my college we have a course called “Philosophy of Gender” and it sure isn’t about grammar! LOL Maybe more people would take it if they called it “Philosophy of Sex!”

LOLM!!! If they changed the title, seats in the class would be assigned by lottery!!!



The problem with the contemporary view on sex is that it is dominated by two extremes: one view sees sexuality as reducable to a person’s genitals (many conservatives, including some Catholics unfortunately), and the other sees sexuality as basically the whole of one’s identity (the children of the sexual revolution, especially the LGBT movement).

The correct view, seems to be some sort of middle ground. The liberal (to use American political terms…which I dislike) is correct to point out that sexuality is not just my gentiles. The conservative is correct that sexuality is not the whole of one’s identity.

On one hand, sexuality is rooted in biology, but on the other, extends far beyond the physical self to the social, emotional, and intellectual self, as well as (and this is very important), other selves. But, at the same time, we are not “just” a sexual self, or even mostly a sexual self.

To the Church, Chasity (as I understand it) is the integration of the sexual self with the physical, social, intellectual, etc. aspect of the self. Due to original sin, these aspects of the self are fragmented and work against each other. For example, the intellectual self knows that fornication is wrong/ against human nature, but the sexual self, or at least the crude pleasure seeking aspect of the sexual self, works against the intellect. We call this concupiscence in Latin theology, St. Paul calls this the “will of the flesh” or the flesh for short, and the Jews call this the yetzer-hara.

Chasity is then integrating the aspects of the self to be as one undivided self, and the self to be integrated to God (actaully, the self can only become integrated into one if it is first integrated to God, via Grace). To use the example above, the integration that Chasity looks for in the above situation is marriage, where the intellectual self is working together with the sexual self, as you are following the Natural Law, while expressing your sexuality. Before, you were expressing you sexuality at the expense of your intellect’s understanding, which leads to weakness in both your intellective and sexual aspect of yourself: to brokenness and conflict within yourself.

So basically, the Church teaches that the only way to fully integrate your sexuality with the rest of you is in practicing Chasity.

This is my understanding of the Christ’s teaching on sexuality. Now, using my system of viewing Christian sexuality, let us analyze the modern conception of sexuality*

To the modern, a person is really reducable to the social/cultural self (identity), which they call gender and orientation when applying their views to sexuality, willpower, and (sometimes) biology.** To them, willpower is the most important, which the social and physical should be subservient to. Due to the rise of modern science, which is really speaking power over nature through technology, many can now create the illusion that the desires of the will have Absolute control over our biology, which, when this is applied to gender, is called a “sex change.” The problem for many moderns is the social constructs that we call gender that “bind and enslave,” constructs that the Oppressors use to oppress. Apparently, Masculinity was constructed in order for some people to suppress others, those who are deemed feminine. Heterosexuality was constructed in order to suppress those who were deemed homosexual, and so on.

Those who “feel” that they really belong in another social category, in the modern view, should be able to translate, especially with the power of technology to reduce a person’s biology to whatever the will wants it to be. All that’s left for the will to overcome, for total “freedom” is these social constructs like gender.

As you can see, the modern view is Marxism applied to sexuality. To put it simply, the different genders are just another bunch of classes, with some trying to oppress others (like the feminist have been saying that men have done to women for centuries). The ultimate Marxist goal is to reduce all classes to one class: to reduce all genders to one gender: whatever the will desires the gender to be.

In reality, gender is not entirely a social construct, and any view that attempts to reduce everything to the will is actaully reducing the will to irrational impulses. Thus in reality those who buy into these theories act like hedonists.

This discourse is the result of meditation on a variety of modern viewpoints. If anyone finds error, I am looking for correction.

Christi pax,


*The modern view is ultimately incoherent and nonsensical, BTW. Of course, moderns have rejected such “restriction” as logic :frowning:

**Some moderns would go so far as to reduce everything to social constructs :roll eyes:

My daughters all played with dolls without any prompting
Show my little nephew a fire engine or tractor and he is as happy as pig in the proverbial
No one forced them to play with those toys
They just did
Gender is not a social construct
It is deep seated

I’m not sure that a kind of toy to play with is the kind of thing that you’re born with. A child’s going to play with the toys that they have, right? If you’d shown your daughters the truck or tractor, they may have gravitated towards it, and the same with your nephew and the dolls. That would be just as okay.

And even so, your daughters and nephew are individual cases. There are children who are happy with playing with toys that aren’t designated for their gender, and there’s not a problem with that. The problem is when we start to physically change who we feel like we ought to be and ignore God’s intention in creating us.

If a boy likes dolls, then great! If a boy likes trucks and tractors, then great! If things get out of hand, that’s when we step in to give the right guidance.

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