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The legalese of sex and gender

The terms sex and gender have not always been differentiated in the English language. It was not until the 1950s that U.S. and British psychologists and other professionals working with intersex and transsexual patients formally began distinguishing between sex and gender. Since then, psychological and physiological professionals have increasingly used the term gender (Moi 2005). By the end of the twenty-first century, expanding the proper usage of the term gender to everyday language became more challenging—particularly where legal language is concerned. In an effort to clarify usage of the terms sex and gender , U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in a 1994 briefing, “The word gender has acquired the new and useful connotation of cultural or attitudinal characteristics (as opposed to physical characteristics) distinctive to the sexes. That is to say, gender is to sex as feminine is to female and masculine is to male” ( J.E.B. v. Alabama , 144 S. Ct. 1436 [1994]). Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a different take, however. Viewing the words as synonymous, she freely swapped them in her briefings so as to avoid having the word “sex” pop up too often. It is thought that her secretary supported this practice by suggestions to Ginsberg that “those nine men” (the other Supreme Court justices), “hear that word and their first association is not the way you want them to be thinking” (Case 1995). This anecdote reveals that both sex and gender are actually socially defined variables whose definitions change over time.

Sexual orientation

A person’s sexual orientation    is his or her physical, mental, emotional, and sexual attraction to a particular sex (male or female). Sexual orientation is typically divided into four categories: heterosexuality , the attraction to individuals of the other sex; homosexuality , the attraction to individuals of the same sex; bisexuality , the attraction to individuals of either sex; and asexuality , no attraction to either sex. Heterosexuals and homosexuals may also be referred to informally as “straight” and “gay,” respectively. The United States is a heteronormative society , meaning it assumes sexual orientation is biologically determined and unambiguous. Consider that homosexuals are often asked, “When did you know you were gay?” but heterosexuals are rarely asked, “When did you know that you were straight?” (Ryle 2011).

According to current scientific understanding, individuals are usually aware of their sexual orientation between middle childhood and early adolescence (American Psychological Association 2008). They do not have to participate in sexual activity to be aware of these emotional, romantic, and physical attractions; people can be celibate and still recognize their sexual orientation. Homosexual women (also referred to as lesbians), homosexual men (also referred to as gays), and bisexuals of both genders may have very different experiences of discovering and accepting their sexual orientation. At the point of puberty, some may be able to announce their sexual orientations, while others may be unready or unwilling to make their homosexuality or bisexuality known since it goes against U.S. society’s historical norms (APA 2008).

Questions & Answers

what is social change
Maryann Reply
Social change in sociology is the alteration of mechanisms within the social structure, characterized by changes in cultural symbols, rules of behaviour, social organizations, or value systems.
derickamishae
a social change is the difference of material objects and the attitude of using such things along the time and space .
Aqeel
Also collective behavior and social movements are just two of the forces driving social change, which is the change in society created through social movements as well as external factors like environmental shifts or technological innovations. Essentially, any disruptive shift in the status quo.
derickamishae
Derickamishae Thomas,you are corect about social change
Aqeel
Advantage of Extended family over Nuclear family
Patricia Reply
nuclear family means a maried cuple live with unmaried childrens
Aqeel Reply
what are nuclear and non nuclear families?
Syed Reply
nuclear family mean , a maried cuple live with there unmaried children
Aqeel
 extended family group consists of non-nuclear(or "non-immediate") family members considered together with nuclear (or "immediate") familymembers.
Aqeel
sir, a joint family would be considered non nuclear?
Syed
yes offcourse,
Aqeel
Basic features of evolutionary theory
Krishna Reply
previous limits of engineering not yet almost surpassed
Matthew
what is collective behavior
Owais Reply
what is slavery?
naveed Reply
what is stratification
naveed
what are the common characteristics in the early studies carried by anthropologist
justus Reply
How can we define symbolic interaction in family?
hafsa Reply
how does technology impact the soceity?
Lizzy Reply
technology impulse the society to change its manners . bcz society cannot b live without. it has to adopt technology with it's new trend.
Sajjad
who can tell me benefits of sociological imaginations?
Mohamed Reply
who cn tell me benefits of sociological imaginations?
Mohamed
please someone should elaborate on gerontology..
onoja Reply
study of ageing proccess is called gerontology...
Ayaz
why is sociology a science
Joseph Reply
Because its study human individual, group and the society
Baba
b/c the subject matter of sociology is the behavior of human being and society ...and sociology studies these under sceintific method ...empiricaly and clearly...it include all scientific method in its every study level...... 1.observation 2.research or literature reveiw 3.hypothesis 4.testing 5.th
Ayaz
5.theory sociology solve every problem with the help of above methods ...and it is clear that subject which solve any problem by such method is science..
Ayaz
it is a systematically study of human behaviour. sociology is a science bcoz it search the fact behind the behaviour.
derhagwara
socialogy as prospective? explain.
Natasha Reply
sorry i dont know you explain plz
Tariq
I think it is about sociologist view I just want to confirm it
Natasha
Negative impact of family in the Society
Bode Reply
when the family does not pamper their offspring properly it badly effects the society....with my piont of veiw....
Ayaz
can you give me answers please
Bode
negative impact the way people treat badly 😔 with other people
Natasha
what is Florida? plz explain
Hashim
when a family impose outside thoughts on the society or thinking intraward, not take care the principles of society.
Sajjad
This is not a question...?
Matthew
what is the benefits of sociological imagination
mugunda
The Sociological imagination provides a framework for understanding our social world that far surpasses any common sense notion we might derive from our limited social experiences.
hasnain
thanks but I need more points if you have
mugunda
The sociological imagination kind of critical thinking helps to understand other people. It provides clues to the reason why a given person is under-educated, or unable to secure employment. It promotes analytical thinking and identification with the specifics of another person's social situation
Sajjad

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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