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Gender Diversity in Nature

Fun fact: sex diversity is natural and fundamental to life on earth.

In biology, "male" and "female" are recognized as distinct categories based on a single factor: gamete size (or reproductive cells). All other aspects of an organism's anatomy and behavior might not be relevant to biological sex. In other words, the ability to produce large or small gametes is the only determining factor of biological sex.

This means, there is an incredible amount of sex diversity in nature!

Anatomical and behavioral characteristics that we usually associate with a particular sex can be found across the plant and animal kingdoms to varying degrees. And - spoiler! - these characteristics don't always correlate with the biological sex of the organism.

Even more exciting, many species in nature have the ability to change, switch, or become the "opposite sex" throughout their lifetime (and, as in the case of the ginger plant, throughout the day!).

We’re received a lot of feedback on the use of the term “gender diversity” in the title here, where it should be “sex diversity.” This is true! The entanglement of sex and gender is a big topic! Our intention with highlighting these cool creatures was to establish that binary sex is not the universal standard, and that both plants and animals (which includes humans!) exist beyond this binary both in terms of physical anatomy, sexual behavior, reproduction, and society (i.e. gender).

We also recognize that in our attempts to combat the transphobic narrative of exclusive binary sex (and/or exclusive binary gender), we conflated the terms sex and gender. These are very different ideas, which we hope to establish and emphasize in a future zine that explores the connection between sex, society, and science.

We hope that by exploring sex diversity in nature, we can begin to deconstruct the harmful myths of binary gender.

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