Gender identity and sexual attraction, part 1 – models for gender identity

Posts in this series:

Last time I presented a couple of flowcharts for sexual attraction. But they weren’t really adequate. So let’s dig into gender identity a little.

To set the tone, here is Irving Kaufman singing Edgar Leslie and James Monaco’s 1925 song “Masculine Women! Feminine Men!”

Masculine Women! Feminine Men!

I present three models for gender identity.

It’s important to realize that these are just models. We’re going to try to use them to describe people, but the people are the important thing – not the model. If a real person and an artificial model don’t fit together, it is the model that is at fault, not the person.

Binary model

The binary model I grew up with admits of only two genders. It is useful only as a starting point for further development.

Binary gender model

We can express this mathematically as G2 = {♀, ♂}. We can define some labels:

  • A female person has gender ♀.
  • A male person has gender ♂.

Ugh. Surely we can do better than this.

Continuum model

The continuum model extends the binary model by creating a continuous spectrum of genders between the two genders in the binary model. This allows for more meaningful discourse but is still flawed.

Continuum gender model

We can express this mathematically as Gc = { (1 − λ)♀ + λ♂ | λ ∈ [0, 1] }. λ tells us the relative position of the gender compared to the binary genders ♀ and ♂. The model reduces to G2 in the case where λ ∈ {0, 1}.

We can define some labels:

  • A female person has λ near 0.
  • A male person has λ near 1.
  • A nonbinary person has λ away from 0 and 1.

The Galactian Alignments system allows for gender alignment of nonbinary people:

  • A female-aligned nonbinary person is lunarian.
  • A male-aligned nonbinary person is solarian.
  • A non-aligned nonbinary person is stellarian.

Here’s the same diagram showing the labels.

Gender continuum with labels

That’s a little better.

Triangle model

The triangle model extends the continuum model by adding a notion of gender saturation:

Triangle gender model

To express this mathematically we introduce ⚪ – meaning agender/genderlessness – and identify it with 0. We define the triangle GΔ = { κ((1 − λ)♀ + λ♂) | κ, λ ∈ [0, 1] }. κ is the degree of gender saturation. This reduces to the continuum model Gc in the case where κ = 1.

New definitions:

  • A gendered person has κ near 1.
  • An agender/genderless person has κ near 0.
  • A partially gendered person has κ away from 0 and 1.
  • A female person has (λ, κ) near (0, 1).
  • A male person has (λ, κ) near (1, 1).

Here’s the same diagram showing the labels:

Triangle gender model with labels

Better still.

Now, even this model is flawed – for example, it doesn’t fit with genderfluid or bimodal people – but I’ll stop here for the sake of space.

It is likely that, even as far as it goes, this post contains mistakes. If you find any please let me know.

Exercise: are agender/genderless people nonbinary?

2 thoughts on “Gender identity and sexual attraction, part 1 – models for gender identity

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