If you only listen to one radio programme this week, make it the latest edition of BBC Radio 4’s Analysis on the under-explored science of gender.
The usual line goes that ‘sex is biological while gender is social’ – meaning that while genetics determines our sex, how masculine or feminine we are is determined by specific cultural practices.
It turns out to be a little more complicated than this. It has long been known (although frequently forgotten) that typical sex markers like body shape and genitalia are actually quite diverse to the point of being ambiguous in some.
On the other hand, there is evidence that some gender-related behaviours may be related to the biology of development and not solely to cultural factors.
But even with these caveats considered, what gender we ‘feel’ also turns out to be subject to a wide amount of variation with some people saying they have the gender of another sex, or that their gender is fluid, or that they have no gender at all.
The latest edition of Analysis explores this in detail, looking at how we can understand ‘disorders’ of gender in this context, what it means to you are transgender, or whether we should just dump the whole concept of a one-or-the-other gender completely.
A genuinely challenging, horizon pushing programme.