The differentiation between “sex” and “gender” originates in sea urchins, according to the paper entitled “Sex versus Gender in Sea Urchins and Leeches Two Centuries after Lamarck 1816.” What I thought were eggs in sea urchins turned out to be gonads, so it doesn’t matter whether they are male or female; they taste the same. Some of them release eggs while others release sperms into the water, and it’s the eggs and sperms that have “sex,” not the sea urchins. Or, at least, that’s how the terms were originally defined by the German zoologist Oscar Hertwig in the 1870s.
Sea urchins were used for the study because they are gendered (like we are), but the fertilization (”sex”) happened in the water. It was helpful in defining what exactly “sex” is, as sea urchins don’t perform anything nasty to each other. So, technically, I’ve never had “sex”; it’s performed by my sperms. I’m not sure how I feel about it.
Apparently, some sea urchins can produce both eggs and sperms, so gender non-binaries also exist for the originator of the term “gender.” It’s also interesting that physically they are almost identical and taste the same. Whether they produce eggs or sperms seems like a performative difference.
It’s unfortunate that our language is so gendered. I wish it were gender-neutral, at least in appearance, like sea urchins. So, I propose a solution to de-gender it.
Since our last names are gender-neutral, we should get in the habit of calling everyone by their last names. But, some last names are too long, like mine “Suematsu.” In these cases, we take the last few syllables, like “Matsu.” My wife and daughter’s last name is “Wolanczyk” which should be shortened to “Lanczyk” or “Lancheck.”
And, we do away with gender pronouns and always use these names. So, for instance, at school, my kid’s friends would be addressing her like this:
“Lancheck told me that Lancheck’s dad is autistic.”
The advantage of this strategy is that it’s completely future-proof. Even if my kid decides to change her gender, nobody would need to learn a new way of addressing her. It’s a permanent solution.
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