This is the first part of a series about the complex biological realities of sex. Though the posts build on one another, each can be understood alone.
Content note: this post contains images and language that may not be safe for work.
I first learned about the social construction of sex from a lovely trans woman named Kiki.
She said, “You may have heard before that gender is socially constructed, while sex is biological. But I’m here to tell you that what you’ve heard isn’t true. Sex is socially constructed too. So are you ready for the truth? Are you going to take the red pill or the blue pill?”
Three years later, I was diagnosed by my gynecologist with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which means that my body produces hormones intermediate between “typical men” and “typical women.” What I learned from Kiki gave me context in which to understand what this meant about my body and who I am. But it’s still very hard for me to talk about. My hormones affect me in ways that are hard to see, so even most of my lovers don’t know. I can count the number of people in my personal life who know this about me on my two hands.
I picked the red pill. If you read on, you can take the red pill too.