At least 16 states have recently introduced legislation to restrict access to multiuser restrooms and locker rooms on the basis of sex. Many of these bills use terms like “biological sex,” “genetic sex,” and “sex as determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth.” Some of these bills also use the phrase “sex or gender,” implying that those terms are synonymous. But are biological sex and gender the same thing? Do anatomy and genetics completely determine sex and/or gender? How do biologists describe sex determination in humans and other animals? Is gender a biological term at all?
At this Science on Tap, Lisa Sardinia, PhD, JD, associate professor of biology at Pacific University will approach the biological basis of sexual reproduction from a scientific perspective. She will describe the mechanisms of sex determination in humans, how those processes relate to the terms “sex” and “gender,” and how things are not quite as simple as they might seem.