Transgendered Information

Gender is the wide set of characteristics that are seen to distinguish between male and female. It can extend from sex to social role or gender identity. As a word, "gender" has more than one valid definition. In ordinary speech, it is used interchangeably with "sex" to denote the condition of being male or female. In the social sciences, however, it refers specifically to socially constructed and institutionalized differences such as gender roles. The World Health Organization , for example, uses "gender" to refer to "the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women". Some cultures have distinct gender-related social roles that can be considered distinct from male and female, such as the hijra of India and Pakistan.

While the social sciences and gender studies approach gender as a social construct, the natural sciences, regard biological and behavioral differences in males and females as influencing the development of gender in humans; both inform debate about how far biological differences influence gender identity formation. Biologist and feminist academic Anne Fausto-Sterling rejects the discourse of biological versus social determinism and advocates a deeper analysis of how interactions between the biological being and the social environment influence individuals' capacities.

The historical meaning of gender is "things we treat differently because of their inherent differences". It has three common applications in contemporary English. Most commonly, it is applied to the general differences between male and female entities, without any overt assumptions regarding biology or sociology. Sometimes, however, the usage is technical or overtly assumes a particular theory of human nature, which is usually made clear from the context. Finally, gender is also commonly applied to the independent concept of distinctive word categories in certain languages. Grammatical gender has little or nothing to do with differences between female and male.

Wikipedia, Transgendered, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender (as of Aug 5, 2010)

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