As with the original author, you defend a position about a thing which you don’t first define: “sex.” Animals that “change sex” aren’t changing sex; they’re undergoing a change reproductive morphology. These are not the same thing. (Unless you’re defining sex as reproductive organs. I don’t know because you didn’t say…)

One of the foremost thinkers on the topic of human biological sex, Brown University professor emerita Anne Fausto-Sterling, has argued that “sex” is not one thing, but several things: brain sex, gonadal sex, genital sex, genetic sex, and hormonal sex. Every one of those aspects of a person’s sex is constantly undergoing change. Constant. Change. Period. And that change happens within social, cultural, and environmental contexts that impact those changes — sometimes determining or driving them.

Bodies are not static or fixed objects. They’re ongoing, dynamic processes.

Before we can decide if a thing is “socially constructed” we must first agree on what that thing “is.” But if a priori you define that thing as outside the bounds of social construction (i.e. it’s determined by “nature”), then proceed to argue that it’s not socially constructed, you’ve engaged in what’s called a “straw man” argument. It’s disingenuous and not a legitimate form of scholarly inquiry.

If you can point me to the aspect of human biological sex that is not undergoing constant, dynamic change (if only at the molecular or physiological level) or which exists outside a social/cultural/environmental context, then I am prepared to entertain the possibility that “sex” is not socially constructed. But since the boundary between culture and nature is, in itself, a social construct, I have no idea how one would ever do that…

I’ve written more on this topic here:

Michael J. Murphy, MA, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Illinois. He is the author of many book chapters, and encyclopedia and journal articles. Most recently he edited Living Out Loud: An Introduction to LGBTQ History, Society, and Culture (Routledge, 2019). He lives in St. Louis with his husband.

Professional homosexual. Professor. Writer. Scholar. Activist. Husband.

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