February 1, 2012

Thinking about Sex outside the Box

I came upon the graphic below on Facebook today and was instantly struck by its brilliance. The point of it is that people are not simply either male or female. Moreover, there are a number of aspects of a person that we refer to as gender, sex, etc., that are not binary, but occur on more or less continuous scales. Perhaps this is seen most easily on what is represented below as the Biological Sex scale. A person born with an extra X chromosome or a person born with both male and female sex organs has a problem when presented with M and F check boxes on a form. Such a person certainly has a sex; it just isn’t either male or female!

The Genderbread Person graphic is intended to get people thinking outside the box and to realize that dividing people into the classes Men and Women is a simplification of reality.

The Genderbread Person is the work of Samuel Killermann, whose Web site is It’s Pronounced Metrosexual. Killermann provides an explanation of his creation (so I don’t have to) here. His diagram—and his explanation, for that matter—may not be perfect, but it has a certain elegance and is surely thought provoking.

Click on the graphic below, by the way, for a larger view.

The Genderbread Person

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