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Here is a link to the BEM Sex Role Inventory:

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What is gender? Where did it come from? Do we really know what we think we know about it?

Go to to get your very own Want/Will/Won't Poster:

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Host: Dr. Lindsey Doe

Directing/Filming/Editing: Nicholas Jenkins

Titles: Michael Aranda

Executive Producer: Hank Green


You may remember studying Columbus, Vasco da Gama, and Magellan in middle school. They're on the book for their pioneering explorations, their navigations of the ocean, and their rudimentary thinking.

A channel through this land mass? Yeah! But way down here, buddy! (pointing at US) A part of Asia? (Shakes head)
Magellan in particular is known for being the captain of the first voyage to circumnavigate the globe (Uhh...that's not circumnavigation). This (pointing across map) would be true circumference; this (gesturing to voyage plan) not so much. We call this circumnavigation because no one at the time realized that planes and rockets and satellites and who knows what else could actually circumnavigate more efficiently.

 Part 1

This is where we are with gender - Magellans. We're curious, and we're navigating. But we're limited by our abilities and our language to truly and completely navigate gender. Sometimes we have the words, but not a complete sense of the concept. Like gender performance, roles, script. Other times we have concepts, but lack the words to realize them.

Historically, navigation of gender has looked like this. We started with no gender. These were merely the inversion of these. The thinking was that this body had more vital heat, and so it forced the genitals to descend in order to cool off.

Then, there was the belief that gender was strictly grammatical. Any use beyond that was considered a joke or an error. It wasn't until 1955 that gender took on the role it has today.

 Dr. John Money and The Reimers

The Reimer family consulted John Money about their two boys. One's penis had been damaged during surgery, and Dr. John Money recommended that 1. the penile tissue and testicles be removed, and 2. that the child be raised as a girl. Similarly to Magellan's European sailors bringing disease and death to the natives, Money's pioneering thoughts on gender were also traumatic. Baby Bruce, who was raised Baby Brenda, reportedly never felt, acted, or identified as female, and eventually committed suicide. Nurture over nature - noo.

Gender is a complex sense of how an individual relates to and identifies with one, multiple, or no gender categorizations that our culture constructs. Some describe it as a sense of identity. In my culture, this may include bigender, man, genderfluid, genderqueer, woman, cis, transgender, agender, pangender, two-spirit, neutrois, questioning, mtf, ftm, mtm, ftf. In comparison, gender roles are the stereotypes that our culture has for these genders. The primary assessment of one's adherence to these roles was designed in the 1970s by Dr. Sandra Lipsitz Bem. This is an online version of the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI); 60 items - 20 feminine, 20 masculine, 20 neutral. It was designed in the 1970s, of course I'm gonna splatter the gender roles!

Gender isn't the parts of your body, it's how you express your body in the context of culture, innately or otherwise. In the words of gender navigator Judith Butler, "We act as if that being of a man or that being of a woman is actually an internal reality or something that is simply true about us, a fact about us, but actually it's a phenomenon that is being produced all the time and reproduced all the time."

Perhaps we are each a unique gender, perhaps no gender at all (it's times like these I could use a TARDIS). Until then, we draw squiggles! It's our best effort to understand gender as we develop the language that allows us to circumnavigate it. Stay curious!


In my culture, this might include pigender - pigender!
(Offscreen:) My favorite kind of gender!