[Edited] News sources are reporting that the Nepalese government will begin recognizing a “third gender” on its citizenship certificates:
Bhola Siwakoti, a senior official in the home ministry, said that its offices across the country had been instructed to allow people to register as “a third gender” when completing their citizenship certificates.
I don’t know when Nepal started tracking genders or what the first two gender options are, but it’s adding a third category. This effect is that transgender citizens who don’t want to identify as male or female will no longer have to do so. But…”male” and “female” refer to physical sex, not gender, so I’m not sure why this is important. I haven’t found any news reports actually explaining what the rational relationship between sex and gender is.
I am left to wonder, is “third gender” a replacement for sex? Or is “third gender” tracked in addition to sex?
Just as I suspected: the terms sex and gender are being used interchangeably! Male, female, or third gender. “Third gender” is a total replacement for sex.
And what is “third gender”?
The third gender in Nepal is an identity-based category for people who do not identify themselves as either male or female. This may include people who want to perform or want to be presented as a gender that is different than the one which was assigned to them at birth, based on genitalia or other criteria. It can also include people who do not feel the male or female gender roles that their culture dictates to them match their true social, sexual, or gender role preference.
“Third gender” is an identity-based category.
Females, please ask yourself if the (female) gender role that your culture dictates to you matches your “true social, sexual, or gender role preference.” If not, I’m concerned that you might identify as “third gender” AND be female sexed at the same time. And then I just don’t know what you would do!! But I’m being funny.
Sex cannot be reasonably reduced to whether one feels that the “male or female gender roles that their culture dictates to them match their true social, sexual, or gender role preference” without trivializing sex-based experience and the mechanics of sex-based oppression of females.
Sex is not an identity dependent category. Sex exists regardless of your gender role preference. Sex refers, one, to an individual’s actual reproductive capacity and, two, sex also dictates the “male or female gender role” “assigned to them at birth, based on genitalia.” Sex is not voluntary in either sense of the word.
Sex matters because female fertility is not a choice. Male physical use and control of female bodies for the purpose of reproductive exploitation (compulsory childbearing, rape, unwanted pregnancy, etc.) remains completely unacknowledged and unchallenged by a “third gender” classification.
Further, sex matters because sex-specific social stratification in the form of “male or female gender roles” “assigned to [us] at birth, based on genitalia” are inherently unequal. Gender role dictates vary by culture, but they have these results in common:
…the collective female social location is consistently less than similarly situated males in terms of: (i) material resources received as an infant and child, (ii) respect, attention, and intellectual encouragement received as an infant and child, (iii) risk of being sexually exploited or victimized, (iv) role within the hetero family unit, (v) representation and power in government, (vi) access to education, jobs, and promotions in the workforce, (vii) property ownership and dominion over space.[vi]
Sex-specific male and female gender roles have very real, very unequal consequences that transcend cultural specificity. They are not optional. There is not a “third gender” option at a female’s birth so that she can avoid gendered disparities in her future quality of life. There is not a “third gender” opt-out when a female finds herself with an unwanted pregnancy.
Sex is an objective reality that determines your reproductive fertility on a biological basis; and on a social basis your sex dictates your gender role: SEX MATTERS.
Some people say that semantic sloppiness has no place in the law, but actually, it does. Semantic sloppiness is your best friend when you want to legally reduce the female sex to gender role stereotype identification using a nebulous, subjective “third gender” classification because you don’t understand why sex matters to females. Just pick your favorite identity-based category and high five the nearest postmodernist! No socio-political structural analysis required. Easy!