Man, woman – or …

Questioning look at the issue of gender. (Image: Devenorr / iStock)

Which is actually the “stronger” gender and how clear is the distinction between male and female? In the October issue, in addition to the biological and medical aspects of gender, the focus is also on intersex and trans identity. It is becoming apparent that more and more people want a physical adjustment to their personally perceived gender.

In the first article of the three-part cover story, bdw author Susanne Donner first addresses the biological and medical differences between men and women. The key here is the clear difference in life expectancy between the two sexes. The author throws light on the question of what the apparently greater resilience of women is all about in contrast to the allegedly stronger sex.

It illustrates how and why women are statistically less affected than men by many health problems. Some reasons for this have to do with genes and the immune system. Accordingly, the second X chromosome has a beneficial effect and pregnancy can also sharpen women’s physical defenses. But the different lifestyles also play an important role: sex hormones promote riskier behavior by men – and thus accidents, reports Donner in the sub-article “Women have an advantage”.

Intersex and trans identity

Then the focus is on the distinction between female and male, because this allocation is far less clear than many people think. The impetus for this part of the cover story was the new gender designation “diverse”, which has officially been considered the third legal option alongside “female” and “male” for several months. The term refers to intersex – or to a non-binary gender identity.

First of all, the bdw author Christian Jung deals with the topic of intersex. This term is used in connection with people whose external and internal sexual appearance from birth in terms of chromosomes, gonads or hormone production does not only appear male or only female, but is a mixture of both. In the article “The third, fourth, fifth … gender”, the author clarifies what lies behind this definition and what complex consequences intersexuality can be associated with.

In the third part of the title topic, Jung then deals with people who have the personal feeling that they are in a sexually incorrect body. “Anja Bäcker”, who was affected, explains what that means. More and more of the so-called transgender people also have their sex adjusted through an operation, reports Jung. Many of them are young people. In the article “Man instead of woman, woman instead of man”, the author clarifies the tricky questions, opportunities and risks associated with this path.

You will find the title topic “male, female, diverse” in the October issue of bild der Wissenschaft, which will be available in stores from September 15th.

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