"gender is a spectrum!" is the "so what are you, like, a 40/60 bisexual? or like what's your breakdown" of gender models

I'm not even saying there's anything wrong with either statement as, like, a rough breakdown of experience ("if gender is a spectrum between male and female, I'm like..."/"if someone who's equally attracted to men and women is a 50/50 bisexual, I'm like...") but both of them are much simpler than the territories they respectively map.

like, how would I answer the "Are you, like, a 40/60 bisexual or what" question? that's just not enough flexibility. like you'd probably rate me as, like, a Kinsey 1 or 2, unless you've heard me talk about butch girls, in which case you'd be hard-pressed to rate me below Kinsey 5. Kinsey's scale did not have "bisexual as in, attracted to gay+ people" in mind

similarly, if "gender is a spectrum" you'd have trouble capturing what I (a woman) have in common with effeminate gay+ men (cis or trans)

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I just don't think the answer is either

more (numeric) axes" (e.g., the 'gender unicorn' or 'genderbread person', if anyone here remembers such things) or

novel conceptual schema (e.g., I saw on Tumblr awhile back the suggestion to use 'solar/lunar' as substitutes for 'masc-aligned/femme aligned', & the development from nonbinary people using celestial/inanimate reference points for THEIR gender to people using celestial/inanimate reference points to UNDERSTAND nonbinary gender is what I mean)

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and I wanna be REAL careful here: I don't care how you explain your own gender to yourself or to other people. that's not what I'm disagreeing with here. if you're stargender, that's fucking excellent. go off, quing!

but if we zoom out, look at gender as a social system we want to understand, two common approaches to expanding beyond the binary are "we just need a bigger number/more numeric variables," or "we just need conceptual frames which are unconnected to the binary"

I don't like either.

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like, if we want to see gender-in-society as connected, as having central principles which help us understand the whole, it is not necessary that those principles be binary... but the gender binary IS central to the process.

the truths we come to understand about nonbinary genders SHOULD relate them with binary genders as part of a social system in connection, connections including suppression/oppression by binary gender frameworks.

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@byttyrs But isn't the result you are approaching here that there likely just *isn't* a model that accurately describes the experienced reality of even just 99% of people (excluding edge cases)?
Like, we have no model to classify all book protagonists. Maybe this topic is just SO made up by humans that it escapes anything beyond a vaguelly accepted model.

@ScienceBird well, what are we attempting to describe? much of what we mean when we say 'experience' is so deeply individual and rooted in hyperspecific mental/cultural factors as to be the death of all classification, yes, but I don't think everything about gender is that explosively hypersubjective.

And I don't think 'classification' is necessarily the goal here. I think, for instance, that to understand what happens to people under gender, we need to be able to say that they are sorted as...

@ScienceBird one gender category at one moment, and another literally seconds later, not to mention hours, days, years... We might even say that a person can be understood as mutually contradictory gendered categories at a single moment, either by different observers or by the same observer who is capturing some more complex truth.

so what I would say is, I would like to describe the patterns of gendered interaction that happen over and over again. when we've done that, experiences outside...

@ScienceBird *any* of those patterns, when you get strict about it, STILL make more sense: we have more points of reference, we can say "this is similar to X in this way at this time, and similar to Y in that way at that time"


@byttyrs It feels like your thoughts on this are so wide and (in a non-joke way) galaxy-brain that it's hard to even follow along for me. You're looking at this from two levels further up than I am currently on.

@ScienceBird lol, sorry!!! ^w^; I do get that way... but, in my defense, I especially get that way when I am asked exceptionally broad-scope and galaxy-brain questions like "doesn't this tend towards it being futile to attempt to describe gender?" 😎👌

@byttyrs @ScienceBird my reading here is: Yes, like all human behaviour, gender and sexuality cannot be perfectly classified and will remain nebulous to some degree. However, if by stronger definitions we can validate some people's identities and reduce the violence done against them, we need to do our best.

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