Instigator / Pro

Resolved: Gender is not a binary


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With 3 votes and 14 points ahead, the winner is ...

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Resolution: Gender is not a binary

Theweakeredge’s position: Affirmative (Pro)
Contender’s Position: Negative (Con)

As the claim is phrased as a: “x is true” or “x is not true”, debaters share a BoP. Pro’s goalpost’s is “Gender is not a binary”; whereas, Con’s goalpost is “Gender is a binary”


Gender - “refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex, : the condition of being male, female, or neuter.” [1] Where Neuter is synonymous with Neither

Binary - “a division into two groups or classes that are considered diametrically opposite” [2]



Round 1
Resolved: Gender is not a binary 

BoP: To justify the proposition - “Gender is not a binary”

Opening Statement: 
Thanks RationalMadman for accepting,
As is usually the case, limiting a statement to “either or” will exclude some possibility or category. This is the fundamental hurdle Con must overcome in order to establish their BoP. I look forward to Con’s arguments for this, to a good debate and all.

  • The housekeeping I have to uptake: I have made the claim “Gender is not a binary”, thus I will use this argument to establish my case as such. 
  • My opponent will have to both rebut these arguments and provide their own demonstration of their claim in order to properly fulfill their BoP. 
In order to fulfill my BoP I will establish a case using two contentions, which are listed below:
  1. Gender, by definition, can not be a binary
     2. Gender is a spectrum 
These two contentions, within my case for Non-binary Gender, properly fulfill my BoP. Onto some further definitions for the debate and the actual arguments themselves. 
Definitions (Clarify Contentions):
  • Spectrum - “ continuum stretching from x to y” whereas x to y is masculine to feminine 
  • Definition - “a statement of the meaning of a word or word group or a sign or symbol”
Recall: Definitions provided in full description:

  • Gender - “refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex, the condition of being male, female, or neuter.” Where Neuter is synonymous with Neither
  • Binary - “a division into two groups or classes that are considered diametrically opposite” 
Note: All definitions have been used according to the topicality of the debate, or definitions which are relating to the resolution best. 
Gender is, definitionally, not a binary
As I have defined above gender cannot be a Binary, though this will not be the crux of this argument, I will explain what I mean precisely. 
  • As noted in definitions neuter, the third condition when relating to gender, is a synonym for neither and contextually means so in the definition provided. 
  • Neither does not have to only apply to the state of being no gender, neither can also refer to a gender that is neither male nor female
The state of confirming to neither gender is known as Non-Binary, this both supports the definition I have provided and further demonstrates my claims. In other words - a non-binary individual does not fill in either gender’s societal “presence” so to speak, nor have the general social aspects of either male or female. 
To provide further evidence of my claim I will list every accredited dictionary definition I can find, do note that the definition as regarding the psychology of an individual is the most topical and should be taken with the most weight.
(Note II: As we are speaking of Gender broadly I did not include the other definition, as this one applies to this argument topically)
  • Oxford Languages - Gender I - “The term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female.”
  • APA Dictionary of Psychology - Gender II - “the condition of being male, female, or neuter. In a human context, the distinction between gender and sex reflects the usage of these terms: Sex usually refers to the biological aspects of maleness or femaleness, whereas gender implies the psychological, behavioral, social, and cultural aspects of being male or female (i.e., masculinity or femininity).”

  • - Gender III - “a socially constructed (presumed after a sex is assigned) and leads to labels such as masculinity or femininity and their related behaviors.  People may declare themselves to be a man or woman, as having no gender, or falling on a continuum somewhere between man and woman. “

Notice that each definition allows the possibility of no gender, or in some cases, to be between genders. Because this is true, Con is factually incorrect about their position. 
Gender is a Spectrum
  • Recall the definition of spectrum: “continuum stretching from x to y” whereas x to y is masculine to feminine”
  • The definitions of Gender as specified above
  • Compare the two
Firstly, I will argue this based on the several definitions presented above for gender fulfill this burden, specifically definitions I and III
Secondly, I will argue based on the fact that the “Gender Spectrum” is also a definition and actual existent concept within psychology, The university of south Dakota notes:
  • “The gender spectrum visualizes gender as a continuum stretching from men to women and masculine to feminine. Gender identities other than man or woman are considered to be non-binary. “
This is clearly demonstrating a spectrum, as it is the actual declared concept as generally accepted by psychologists. To help explain my case I import this simplified explanation of what makes up a person’s gender.
  • “A person’s gender is the complex interrelationship between three dimensions: body, identity, and social gender”
As all three of these dimensions are not constrained by being male or female and nothing else, we wouldn’t expect the combined aspect to be a binary either. Instead we would measure said aspect in accordance to all three parts of the relationship. 
It is true that it may not even be a linear spectrum, but a vast spectrum, composed of different dimensions entirely, Harvard concludes as follows:
  • “Science tells us that gender is certainly not binary; it may not even be a linear spectrum. Like many other facets of identity, it can operate on a broad range of levels and operate outside of many definitions. And it also appears that gender may not be as static as we assume. At the forefront of this, transgender identity is complex – it’s unlikely we’ll ever be able to attribute it to one neat, contained set of causes, and there is still much to be learned. But we know now that several of those causes are biological. These individuals are not suffering a mental illness, or capriciously “choosing” a different identity. The transgender identity is multi-dimensional – but it deserves no less recognition or respect than any other facet of humankind.”
To conclude both of these contentions: The inherent definition of gender denotes it as being nonbinary, and the huge leap in which it takes to correlate gender as being binary is too large a gap in logical reasoning, and is not true. 

As argued in my two contentions - Gender is, definitionally, not a binary: and; Gender is a spectrum - Gender is not a binary, and I have demonstrated my claim and fulfilled my BoP. This would leave two burdens on Con in their first round.
  1. Demonstrate that Gender is Binary
  2. Rebut Pro’s contentions on why Gender is not binary
Thanks to Con once again for accepting the debate, I look forward to their arguments. 

Disclaimer: I do not believe there is a superior gender or that transgenderism is an abomination. I am left-wing and pro-LGBTQ as well as an ardent feminist who wanted Elizabeth Warren to be president and was overjoyed at Kamala Harris being announced as Vice President on Biden's ticket. Women are extremely important to a society, they are the gel that holds it together and femininity is severely important for us to embrace and love as masculinity will have us hurting each other brutally and counter-productively if we keep at it. The Right-wing ethos is the most masculine one, this is what I am going to begin to discuss later on in this debate, for this Round it's not entirely necessary but know that I do not believe in any way that women or trans people are inferior. We all play our role, it's not transphobic or sexist to know what the roles and tendencies are as long as you respect that anomalies and outliers are real and should be allowed to be themselves.

Digital vs Binary, Analogue vs Tertiary+

Digital vs Analogue is the debate that Pro wants to have, which is of course what a lot of gender-focused psychiatrists, political activists and lawyers have used to justify gender-variation be legally recognised and accepted. I am going to explain something that will seem like a semantic play but what is important to observe is how I will expose Pro as the one who is playing semantics instead.

Pro wants Con to admit that masculinity vs femininity is an analog(ue) scale, wherein there are multiple values of any variation that one can land on, similar to temperature, brightness so on and so forth. This is of course fair enough to say, since the primary opponent-type of people who believe gender isn't binary are transphobes who refuse to accept that the degree to which one is psychologically wired in the brain and/or built hormonally in Testosterone/Androgen vs ostrogen is not solely attributed to their genitalia, merely correlated with it. I am not here as a transphobe, I am here as someone who took this debate playing devil's advocate to a degree who also thinks there's a genuine case to be made that gender is analogue yet binary.

When you have a temperature, brightness or gender-severity measuring scale, it isn't going to be digital, where one is either 'male' or 'female' in a flat-out sense, instead, there will be binary poles (hot vs cold, bright vs dark, masculine vs feminine) that are binary and similar even to yang vs yin but are indeed scaled. Just as you will be able to render 'lukewarm', 'cool', 'fairly hot', 'partially bright', 'somewhat dark' in the said scales of temperature and brightness, you also can get gender-fluid variations of how severely masculine vs feminine one is. Therefore, it follows that not everyone will be simply 'extremely masculine' or 'extremely feminine' in their result, which would be what a typical person who assumed gender is binary portrays men vs women as.

I am not here in the slightest to downgrade or disqualify how hard the struggle is for extremely masculine sex-based-women or extremely feminine sex-based-men. Their life is tough and society is cruel and twisted in how it has gone about bullying them into conformity in the past. In contrast, I am here to show compassion to transgender people, since it was because gender is binary that they had to transition in order to truly express to society 'I am a masculine being that was born with XX chromosomes' or vice versa.

These people should be legally allowed to transition, since it makes sense that transitioning helps them truly express and experience their bodies in the way that better matches with their tendencies and feelings.

There is no third gender, it is semantic trickery (even by LGBTQ groups to themselves) to say that there are infinite genders. Instead there are 2 gender-poles of masculinity and femininity towards which people are not always severely to one end of the spectrum. There's no third-end of the spectrum, the middle isn't proof of a tertiary direction in which one's gender-balance can go. Gender-fluid people are medium in how masculine vs feminine they are and that's completely natural variation, I am not arguing that it's an abomination or anything.

Masculinity vs Feminity and the problem with 'gender' being based on societal norms (for Pro)

Pro defined gender in a way that many pro-LGBTQ people do (I am one of them). The basis on which gender is defined is the attributes which are associated with 'men' and 'women', not just their birth-sex. However, I don't think anyone who is pro-LGBTQ will outright deny that one's birth-sex is part of the 'attributes associated with the gender' and this is where definitions get murky and suddenly the basis on which gender is determined backfires on Pro.

We have society defining masculinity vs femininity as the lines along which male vs female is expressed in their particular culture. So, I will agree with Pro that it's somewhat arbitrary when a colour like blue is associated with males and a colour like pink is associated with females. That surely isn't entirely concrete in basis and that split is rooted merely in the fact that other feminine clothes, styles and tendency to enjoy the colour are linked to pink while the opposite proved true for males at some point in such a culture's history. While that is arbitrary and is based on the non-arbitrary feminine things being linked to pink in the society while the male ones were to blue, the point I am making is that the 'split' and the fact that when someone wants to express themselves as a very masculine being, they may want hormone therapy, surgery and to mimic the colours, styles and habits of the other/opposite/complimentary gender to which they were assigned at birth based on their sex being linked to it, that person is basing their transition on the fact that gender is binary.

That's right, what I am saying is that transgenderism, when it is the physically-altering hormone therapy and/or surgery/ies that alter one's physically-experienced and expressed gender, is entirely based on the fact that one is wanting to change to the other binary gender because they feel that their place on the gender spectrum, between the binary poles of masculine vs feminine, is so significantly towards the other one than the one that's associated with their birth-sex that the transition is necessary for them to feel fully comfortable in their identity as a person of the other, new gender.

So, while a lot about gender is arbitrary (because the fact that masculine beings had short head hair whereas everywhere else on the body hairiness is considered masculine, is just one of many examples of society attributing things rather arbitrarily), we cannot simply deny that masculinity vs femininity is always the basis on which the split occurs and I will now explain why the core fundamentals along which gender is split is not arbitrary, but based in hormones and brain-wiring.

Before going into the science, I want to look at any species that isn't human to understand what masculine vs feminine behaviour is when we take 'societal norms' out of the hunan-only picture.

There are exceptions to every rule, of course. Male seahorses get pregnant. Female spotted hyenas dominate males and sport a pseudo-penis (enlarged clitoris) that is capable of erection and can be as much as 90 percent the size of a male’s penis. As matriarchal as spotted hyena society is, it doesn’t quite reach the level of the northern jacana, a wading bird species whose common territory ranges from Panama to Mexico. Female northern jacanas patrol a territory full of males and fight off intruding females; the smaller males engage in less territorial behavior than females, instead spending that time caring for a nest full of the resident female’s eggs.

Turning to our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, we see additional illustrative examples of the natural variation that exists in sex-correlated behavior. Although the two species are 99.6 percent genetically identical (and equidistant from humans), they are quite different. In general, adult male chimpanzees, like males of many species, are aggressive, domineering, and status-seeking. Much of their time is spent either patrolling territorial boundaries to deter or even kill members of other communities, or vying for social power within their own group. Adult females are generally less political and less violent—they have other priorities, like caring for offspring—but they can still influence the state of social affairs by breaking up male fights or leading rival males to reconcile. After all, as is the case in many species, much of what males stand to gain from high status is access to mating opportunities with females.

It’s been said that if chimpanzees are from Mars, then bonobos are from Venus. Bonobo society is generally female-dominated. Unlike female chimpanzees who mostly, though not always, keep their noses out of politics, female bonobos reign by forming male-dominating coalitions. They bond partly through genito-genital rubbing (it is what it sounds like), forming stronger relationships than female chimps typically have with one another. As for male bonobos, they are much less violent on average than male chimps. Unlike with chimpanzees, lethal aggression has never formally been observed in bonobos (though there has been one suspected instance); bonobos are more likely to share food (and maybe sex) with a stranger than to fight. 

What this pro-trans-source article is admitting is that masculinity and femininity is there in all species and even societies of non-human animals. It is true that exceptions and variations occur and I am not here to deny that, instead I am here to note that masculinity itself is falsely perceived to be based on arbitrary societal norms, instead those societal norms that can indeed be arbitrary were linked to non-arbitrary splits between a dynamic that is there in all high-functioning species (especially primates and mammals) that have males and females.

Bonobo males are less masculine than chimpanzee males, by and large, while bonobo females are much more feminine than chimpanzee females. This is not denying the binary elements of femininity, instead it's understanding that the norms can shift. Think of it also like how in one country the 'centre' between left-wing and right-wing can be much more left or right vs another country's centre.

The ideas of masculinity and femininity are not actually artbirary and societal, only specific traits associated with them can be. Testosterone (based on the chemical androgen) and oestrogen are a hormonal dichotomy that indeed is a binary rivalry, even though humans have both (especially women, they have testosterone more than men have oestrogen, this is because humans in general are a more masculine species than most).

I am going to explain something that is just as true in a matriarchy as a patriarchy as an egalitarian society, however the degree to which the truth is expressed is often only truest and most blatant in a patriarchal one. 

Instead of directly quoting a source, I'll cut this down to self-written bullet points and if Pro wishes to proves me wrong with my own sources, he is welcome to (I say 'he' as Pro identifies as male on his profile at present).

I am going to lay out clear-cut lines along which the scale of masculinity vs femininity is applied. This goes much deeper than the societal norms that can at times be arbitarily associated with the genders.

I will quote one thing though:
The fears are not always groundless. Side-effects can also include fatigue and weight gain. But Ryan has witnessed positives, too. As professor of medicine and urology at the University of California, he has noticed that the medical students who have passed through his clinic in the 18 years that he has been treating prostate cancer invariably comment: “Dr Ryan, your patients are so nice.” He replies, jokingly: “It’s because they don’t have any testosterone. They can’t be mean.”
A quip about prostate cancer patients. This is from the last link out of those listed above.

I now will list the differences between masculinity and femininity and link them to tesosterone vs oestrogen.

  • Aggression without provocation is extremely masculine, whereas aggression solely based on provocation, especially when done without hesitation or forethought, is feminine. This is because while oestrogen makes one's baseline more passive, their sensivitiy to provocation, pain and other such stimuli is increased. Tesosterone makes one aggressive regardless of outside stimuli, masculine beings are prone to change their environment and be the dominant 'gamechangers' in any competitive scenario whereas feminine beings are those that adapt to the masculine beings fastest as they're the most sensitive to the stimuli. This dichotomy is very complimentary even as without feminine beings, masculine beings will hurt each other too severely and readily without anyone to passionately defend them and maintain peace.
  • Being very aware of physical surroundings in terms of space and calculations is masculine whereas being very aware of emotional surroundings and the weather based on psychological perkiness to anguish vs pleasure in others and sensory alertness to surrounding temperature and other such variations is feminine.
  • Being open to persuasion and negotiating in a very win-win manner, if not even one where one is willing to lose out in the short-term, is feminine. Being extremely self-centred and wanting immediate gains is a masculine behaviour. In human beings this dichotomy has been over-amplified by societal norms in the past, the split is very real however it's just that because masculine women were suppressed in the past and feminine men were teased and humiliatied for being weak, this split is disregarded as true and instead as arbitrary (it's not though and hormones play a bigger role in this one than brain chemistry itself).
  • Wanting to be extremely good at one or two things is masculine, wanting to be bad at very little and a 'jack of all trades' is feminine. Indeed, the term 'jack of all trades' is based on sexist ideas from older societies where only males were able to be experienced in any line of work. Women are more balanced in their skillsets, while men are more pushed towards specialisation, this is both due to the hormones and the brain wiring. This is part of the reason why, despite actual laws and opportunities being equal, males are still dominating all fields of work while finally a few masculine females are being allowed to excel and I am happy for that. Masculine beings want to push boundaries, change norms and fight, feminine beings want to avoid the 'bad boundary' of any particular lacking skillset and aim to be all-rounded in both temperament and expertise.
  • Sadism is masculine but masochism is not exactly feminine. Masculine beings embrace pain itself a lot more readily than feminine beings do, both in terms of inflicting it and being willing to receive it. This is proven in all species, especially mammalian ones. This is not aggression, I am speaking of enjoying pain and play-fighting tendencies. Spiders and insects often have females that are more aggressive in actions but the males still are proven to relish in the aggression more. The concept of enjoying pain, especially inflicting it, is something that when it's seen in females is because they are masculine females who are outliers of their gender, towards 'masculine' in the spectrum.
  • Remembering and even in the present relishing in visual stimulation, both sexually and emotionally, is a masculine trait. Paying attention to sounds and feelings (physicaly sensations as well as emotional) is feminine. Males are sight-driven beings and the role of males in hunting was seen in absolutely all cultures throughout history, even in matriarchal tribes, simply because males are better suited to it and much more capable at aiming and reacting to visual stimuli, both close and far. Feminine beings are driven to pay attention to sounds and emotions of those around them, their alertness to a baby's distant cry or even adult's groan of pain (or joy) helped them be the alarm system and 'problem patchers' of absolutely all tribes, cultures, societies etc throughout our history as a species as well as in many other species.

Round 2
Resolution: Gender is not a binary


Thank you RationalMadman for your, nearly late, response. This preamble is primarily to give my thoughts on the last round, explain to the voters and audience the overall message I got, and to explain how I will spend my round in simplified terms of course. 

Objection! Con did not provide any rebuttals towards my case, simply constructing a constructive to demonstrate theirs. This is not inherently poor conduct or anything of the sort, but it does give me a distinct advantage. Con has dropped two entire contentions for this round, rendering them to me. 

Structure - I will first address any issue or arguments against my contentions, or I would if there were any, next I will firmly rebut my opponent’s two contentions on the matter, rendering my opponent’s BoP unfulfilled. Finally, I will finish with the conclusion and list the sources used beneath that. 

BoP: To justify the proposition - “Gender is not a binary”

Pro’s Constructive:

 Con did mention some of my arguments within their case, but my contentions were never directly addressed, and no reasoning provided for why one should not accept these arguments, besides the Con’s own constructive. 

Gender is, definitionally, not a binary: Con explains they will address in r2, Extend all arguments until then

Gender is a spectrum: Con explains they will address in r2, Extend all arguments until then

Con’s Constructive (Rebuttal):

Con makes two essential contentions to justify their position: “Gender is a binary”;

  1. Digital vs Binary, Analogue vs Tertiary, 
  2. Masculinity vs Feminity and the problem with ‘gender’ being based on societal norms

Let’s address them now: 

DvB,AvT (Rebuttal):

The concept of a spectrum should be recalled from the first round: “Spectrum - “continuum stretching from x to y” whereas x to y is masculine to feminine” 

From there this argument is fairly simple to refute, the only thing I have to do is demonstrate that gender is in fact, not a binary, recall the definition of Binary: “Binary - “a division into two groups or classes that are considered diametrically opposite””

The simple refutation is pointing out that Con actually agrees with the Pro’s position here: No, gender is not separated into a division of two groups or classes that are considered diametrically opposite. My proof lies beneath me:

“When you have a temperature, brightness or gender-severity measuring scale, it isn't going to be digital, where one is either 'male' or 'female' in a flat-out sense, instead, there will be binary poles (hot vs cold, bright vs dark, masculine vs feminine) that are binary and similar even to yang vs yin but are indeed scaled.”

Essentially my opponent is arguing that male and female are two poles, like cold and hot, and there is something in between of a scale. Implying that there is a scale at all detracts from the definition of Binary “diametrically opposite” obviously if it scaled, then the middle would not at all be the opposite. Just because males and females exist as opposites does not demonstrate Con’s point, they must demonstrate that is all there is. 

To continue on - My opponent conflates binary with meaning that something is confined to two positions exclusively, this is a misunderstanding of the definition of binary as I have proposed the definition (note: Con has not brought up proses with definition of binary)

Regardless, however, they simply dismiss the notion of a third position, however, this is frankly untrue. As my definition of gender earlier suggested, “Male, Female, or neuter” Neuter refers to either the position that one simply does not hold a gender at all, or that they hold a gender which is neither male nor female. This is also using my argument: Gender is, definitionally, not a binary and Gender is a spectrum.

Frankly, Con provides no valid reasoning to support their position, instead arguing in favor of mine. 

MvF, Prob w/ gender based on societal norms (Rebuttal):

  • First, Con goes on to point out that a lot of genders is along with an arbitrary basis of reasoning, such as the color associated with each gender, but, that hormones which transgender individuals use to transition demonstrate that there is more to gender than a societal basis. 

  • Second, Con goes on to note the difference as recorded in separate species, to further increase the impact of their argument, linking it to further studies which suggest even more clear separations between femininity and masculinity. 

This would all be well in good, if not for the fundamental mistake Con makes here. First let’s explore the quote which Con quotes:

“Turning to our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, we see additional illustrative examples of the natural variation that exists in sex-correlated behavior.”

Please note that this source is indicating that the study is based on sex-correlated behavior and not gender-correlated behavior, as my definition which Con has not refuted points out, Sex and Gender are not the same

  • Let’s explore the topic further shall we? 

What seems to be the misunderstanding Con has is that the hormones one takes upon transition surgery are supposed to change one’s gender. This is not at all the case, transition surgery is to help one who has a gender that is different from their sex which is assigned at birth. To make their body reflect their gender, to make their sex reflect their gender.

Essentially - My opponent is arguing that because of the clear distinction between female-associated and male-associated hormones, clearly, gender is binary. Except this would apply to sex, not gender. If that were perhaps the resolution: That sex is not a binary, then perhaps Con would have a point, alas, it is not and they do not. 


Con has not satisfactorily fulfilled their BoP, in either regard, perhaps this would be less telling had their arguments in favor of their position been sturdier, but a simple look at the definitions and resolutions reveal that Con has not at all demonstrated their claim, instead making a gish gallop, as unintentional as I believe it to be. 

In contrast, my two contentions go unopposed, therefore my BoP has been satisfactorily fulfilled. Please do note, that while this refutation was less extensive than usual it was not any less comprehensive, do not mistake my conciseness for inability, but instead, note that my refutation completely destroyed the links Con’s arguments had to the resolution.

Back to Con.

Round 3
My opponent has failed to object to my argument therefore

extend all arguments

Back to con
Round 4
Round 5
Unless Con decides to post in this round, doubtful do to the fact that they left the website, then this is a full forfeit.

Extend all arguments

Vote for Pro