Monday, July 24, 2023

Review of The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths about Sex and Identity in Our Society by Debra Soh

This book review was written by Eugene Kernes   

Book can be found in: 
Genre = Sociology
Book Club Event = Book List (02/10/2024)
Intriguing Connections = 1) Relationships, Right?, 2) The Evolution of Evolution

Watch Short Review


Biological sex is either male or female.  Contrary to what is commonly believed, sex is defined not by chromosomes or our genitals or hormonal profiles, but by gametes, which are mature reproductive cells.  There are only two types of gametes: small ones called sperm that are produced by males, and large ones called eggs that are produced by females.  There are no intermediate types of gametes between egg and sperm cells.  Sex is therefore binary.  It is not a spectrum.” – Debra Soh, Myth #1: Biological Sex Is A Spectrum, Page 14

“Scientific studies have confirmed sex differences in the brain that lead to differences in our interests and behavior.  These differences are not due to the postnatal environment or societal messaging.  Gender is indeed biological and not due to socialization.” – Debra Soh, Myth #2: Gender Is A Social Construct, Page 32

“Indeed, gender identity is not the same thing as sexuality, but the two are linked, and just to add further confusion to the discussion, sexual orientation is biological, but the way it expresses itself in relation to gender is influenced by social factors.” – Debra Soh, Myth #4: Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity Are Unrelated, Page 72


Is This An Overview?

Gender and sex are not the same, although many say gender when they mean sex.  Biological sex is determined by gametes, not chromosomes or genitals.  Gametes are mature reproductive cells, and there are only two types of gametes.  Sperm produced by males, and eggs produced by females.  Making sex binary.  Intersex individuals are born with male and female sexual anatomy.  But intersex people produce only a single type of gamete.

Gender identity is the relation between how the individual perceives themselves and their sex.  Whether the individual feels masculine or feminine.  Gender expression is how gender identity is externally expressed.  Hormonal exposure in the womb influences gender identity.  Making gender a biological product.  Along with sexual attraction.  Socialization influences what gender aspects can be expressed or suppressed, but not the individual’s preferences for masculine or feminine traits. 

The terms, what they mean, and their implications has received a lot of attraction, often not the wanted kind.  Opposing views that perceive the science and social values differently.  Sparking conflict, and confusion.  Confusion fueled by the spread of misinformation that has negative consequences on the vulnerable people who are seeking help.  What is needed is to treat everyone with respect, no matter their biological aspects, sexual proclivities, or gender identity.


How Does Politics Effect Biology?

Biology has been subsumed into politics and social media.  Used as a tool of power rather than informational discovery.  Seeking justice is not enough, for those who power is against are punished.  People have lost their jobs, along with mental and physical safety.  Science is being suppressed even in academia.  Scientists are willing to lie for political favor.  Everyone else is hurt by not knowing the value of information.

There are even consequences of seeking information.  No matter why or what the individual thinks about the ideas, they are punished.  Seeking information about biology has become a threat to those in power.

Historically, there were many links between biology and sex that were incorrect, such as making the claim that women are less intellectually competent.  But, even with more refined biological understanding and how biology effects the human being, biology is still stigmatized. 

Science is meant to consider different opposing sides, rather than just one.  As a sex researcher, the author wanted to combat sexual stigma and shame. 


Are There Sex Differences?

There are sex differences in the brain.  Differences that lead to people having different interests and behaviors.  Biology, rather than socialization.  As different sexes have different interests, they gravitate to different occupations.  The gender hiring gap can be created through biology influencing interests rather than discrimination. 

Equality between the sexes does not require each to be treated the same.  Women can make their own decisions.


Should Someone Change Gender’s Or Transition Their Sex?

People can identify, or misidentify, their gender for social benefits such as to get dates.  Gender identity has become a way of belonging to a community, rather than reflecting their own ideas.  The problem with gender is not that its binary, the problem is that people stereotype based on gender. 

People should have the same opportunities, but that does not mean that physical characteristics of people are the same.  Transitioning one’s sex, does not change the physical biological characteristics.  Males transitioning to female, do not lose their physical advantages, even with hormonal therapy.  

Parents are pressured to have their children transition, for their children’s safety even though transitioning does not have the expected results.  Children can feel discomfort in their bodies, but then become comfortable in them as they grow up. 

Children are not allowed to make various choices because they lack the emotional and intellectual skills to make life-altering decisions.  Yet people still try to have children transition early. 



This is a sensitive and polarizing topic.  The author shares consequences of expressing certain views in this book.  A theme of the book is what makes science, and how scientific views in the book are under attack.  The problem is that the way the author approaches these topics, knowing the sensitivity of the issues, can be inappropriate.  The author reciprocates the opposition’s high disapproval with high disapproval, which can prevent the opposition from consider the ideas in the book. 

Although there is science in the book, the interpretations of the findings have varying qualities.  A theme of the book is that biology determines sex and gender, rather than social values.  But the distinction between biology and social values are not given enough consideration, specifically the impact of culture on biological inclinations.  The author acknowledges that the brain has neuroplasticity, but sees the function as very limited.  There is other research indicating that culture can override genetic inclinations.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?  Why do people read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•To whom would you suggest this book?
•What is sex?
•What is gender?
•What are gametes?
•Who are the intersex?
•How much does biology influence sex and gender?
•What does culture effect?
•What is science meant to be and how the science of sex gets treated?
•Are different occupational choices due to discrimination? 
•Should someone transition? 
•How many different types of genders are there? 
•Why do people identify a specific gender? 
•Why did the author abandon the academic field?
•How does a blank slate perspective effect discrimination? 
•How much can neuroplasticity influence people? 
•Is the author feminist?
•What are the benefits and consequence of gender-neutral spaces? 
•How are people sexually selected? 
•What is intrasexual competition? 

Book Details
Edition:                 First Threshold Editions
Publisher:             Threshold Editions [Simon & Schuster]
Edition ISBN:      9781982132538
Pages to read:       199
Publication:          2020
1st Edition:           2020
Format:                 eBook 

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          4
Overall          4