October 13, 2022

Do animals have genders? Are there transgender animals? A scientist find some clues among chimpanzees.

Some people are trying to reduce gender to biological sex, appealing to “common sense” or even “science”. This is one way of dismissing gender variance and transgender people. The fact is that gender is a common term used in animal studies.

To simplify: In biology biological sex in animals most often refers to gonads (sperm or eggs), while gender refers to either (1) their behavior and (2) different variants of a specific biological sex. 

(In some animals males and females (as defined by sperm/eggs) may come in different “morphs” or phenotypes. There may be two distinct types of males, for instance, with different body types. Let us leave that aside for now.)

Traditionally the difference between sex and gender has been explained as sex being “biological” and gender “cultural”.

Frans de Waal, one of the world’s leading primatologists, do not see it exactly this way. For him gender is the end result of an interplay between biology and culture. This is also the case for apes like chimpanzees and bonobos, and – as he sees – also humans.

This presentation is based on his new book  Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist, and some of his recent articles.

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!