Biological Sex and Gender are not Binary

Biological Sex and Gender are not Binary October 18, 2019

Mormon doctrine is expansive enough to make room for clinical knowledge we are continually acquiring. That is why I am so glad we have the principle of ongoing revelation as a doctrinal foundation.

Today’s guest post is written by Lisa Scott.   Opinions shared on guest posts may not completely reflect the positions of the blog’s author. 

Lisa Scott is a Ph.D. student at BYU studying Counseling Psychology. She teaches an undergraduate course titled “Women’s Issues in Career Exploration”, and also works as a therapist at Encircle in Provo. She is passionate about understanding the processes of marginalization, and because of this, most of her research is focused on marginalized groups and their experiences. Longterm, Lisa hopes to become a multicultural psychologist and a professor.

Talking about sex or gender as a binary concept is not in line with psychological OR biological science, and is so harmful to those that do not fit in the traditional binary model. Please, before forming opinions about this topic, read up on the current research. Even in my biology/psychology courses at BYU, we talk about these things in very complex ways. Women and men are more similar than traditionally thought, more and more research is surfacing about the biological basis of sexual orientation, biological sex exists on a spectrum, etc. Gender/sex is complex and fascinating, and a very tough topic to force into a black and white paradigm. Let’s get excited about this reality, instead of fearing it. We live in a fascinating world with fascinating bodies and minds!

“As science looks more closely, however, it becomes increasingly clear that a pair of chromosomes do not always suffice to distinguish girl/boy—either from the standpoint of sex (biological traits) or of gender (social identity).

In the cultural realm, this shift in perspective has already received a wide embrace. “Nonbinary” definitions of gender—transfeminine, genderqueer, hijra—have entered the vernacular. Less visible perhaps are the changes taking place in the biological sciences. The emerging picture that denotes “girlness” or “boyness” reveals the involvement of complex gene networks—and the entire process appears to extend far beyond a specific moment six weeks after gestation when the gonads begin to form.

To varying extents, many of us are biological hybrids on a male-female continuum. Researchers have found XY cells in a 94-year-old woman, and surgeons discovered a womb in a 70-year-old man, a father of four. New evidence suggests that the brain consists of a “mosaic” of cell types, some more yin, others further along the yang scale.”

The New Science of Sex and Gender


Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST, CSTS,  can be reached at natashaparker.org and runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex Info Podcasts, is the current past president of the Mormon Mental Health Association and runs a sex education program, Sex Talk with Natasha. She has over 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.

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