"Freed from the Binary of Body" How the Gender Revolution Rejects the Body and its meaning

In recent years, the transgenderism phenomenon has become increasingly more popular within American culture. Transgenderism is described as the condition in which a person's "internal" gender identity does not match the gender associated with their body's biological sex. Specifically, transgender persons are those who identify as the gender opposite to the one associated with their biological sex. Yet, as transgenderism has gained more traction within popular culture, the gender binary of male and female has itself been called into question. In attempts to fuel the momentum of the transgender movement and the redefining of gender itself, National Geographic released its "Gender Revolution" issue in January 2017.

Throughout the magazine, the various authors' treatment of gender is predicated upon both a person-body dualism and a subjectivistic view of the person.

This "transgenderist interpretation" of gender not only rejects any objective aspect of the person in his or her body, but it also—as a result of its initial rejection of the body—rejects any objective aspect of the male-female duality found in human embodiment.

Important Terms

Agender, Androgynous, Cisgender, Gender Binary, Gender Conforming, Gender Dysphoria, Gender Expression, Genderfluid, Gender Identity, Gender Marker, Gender Nonconforming, Genderqueer, Intersex, LGBTQ, Nonbinary, Pronouns, Puberty Suppression, Queer, Sexual Orientation, Transgender, Transsexual

Overview & Key Articles

  • “I Am Nine Years Old” by Eve Conant
  • “Helping Families Talk About Gender” - guidance drawn from HealthyChildren.org
  • “Rethinking Gender” by Robin Marantz Henig
  • “Making A Man” by Chip Brown
  • “Dads At Home” by Patricia Edmonds
  • “American Girl” by Tina Rosenberg
  • “Dangerous Lives of Girls” by Alexis Okeowo

Gender Definition

“Gender is an amalgamation of several elements: chromosomes…anatomy…hormones…psychology…and culture” (Henig, 56).

I. Gender and Person-Body Dualism

"Understand that gender identity and sexual orientation cannot be changed, but the way people identify their gender identity or sexual orientation may change over time as they discover more about themselves." (14)

Guevedoce ("penis at twelve") - These individuals lack the embryonic enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT which allows the tubercle to grow into a penis. When puberty comes with the second wave of testosterone, the tubercle grows into a penis.

Because incongruity between identity and body may exist, personal identity does not depend upon the body in any necessary way.

This dualism rejects the primordial fact that "man is a body."

Moreover, it rejects the two distinct modes in which persons are created: male and female.

II. Gender and Subjectivity

Despite gender being described as an amalgamation of various traits, gender identity is fundamentally a subjective fact detached from any objective fact of the body or external reality. It is determined by the person's internal sense of him- or herself.

This "subjectivistic" view of the person rejects any objectivity of the person in his or her body and its corresponding masculinity and femininity.

III. Gender and Society

"Sometimes I secretly help my older brother [on the farm]. Mom whacks me when she finds out. She says that girls who do these things will grow calluses on their hands; then they become ugly." (Conant, 35)

Fang Wang Yaqueshi, China


When we "let experience speak in its entire scope" we will find (and have already found) that persons are intimately and essentially connected to their body and their biological sex.

Created By
Jared Eckert


National Geographic

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