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Majority of the people were/are born biologically male or female and the progeny of the sexual union of them carries the world on. The importance of procreation has cemented society's firm belief in the current sex dichotomy all over the world. Every individual must be male or female, no in-between. Even individuals who are born intersexed, which means that either their sexual anatomy, or their chromosomes, do not fall within the traditional classification of male and female, are forced to conform by society, and by medical intervention, to either the male or female category ("International Spectrum," 2015). One way this was carried out in the past was through conversion therapy, which was also known as reparative or reorientation therapy. It consisted of "a set of varied psychological and therapeutic interventions that have as their primary objective the alteration of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals' sexual orientation from one that is homosexual in nature to one that is predominantly heterosexual" (Cramer, Golom, LoPresto, & Kirkley, 2008, p. 94). This was widely practiced for many years by medical professionals to change individuals in order to force them into the strict sex dichotomy. Recently this was banned in the U. S. at the state level (Dockterman, 2015), as it has no medical or scientific justification (Shapiro, 2016). It is impossible and unethical to treat something, such as being LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, plus more), as a psychological disorder when it is not.

Although sex is a biological construct that cannot be fundamentally changed, it does not define an individual. The way in which society views it can.

Several distinctions should be made among the wide variety of terms used to describe sex, gender, and individual identifications that already exist. In general, "sex" refers to biological sex, which includes three categories: biological males, biological females, and intersexed individuals.

Gender is the socially constructed characteristics and roles associated with each biological sex (Killerman, 2014). Gender identity then, is the subjective sense of being male or female, as defined by one's culture and society (Rosenberg & Kosslyn, 2014). For some people their gender identity is in accord with their biological sex; for others, it is not. When an individual's gender identity, gender expression, and biological sex are aligned, the individual is considered cis-gender, and when these elements are not aligned, the individual is considered transgender (Killerman, 2014). An individual who identifies as transgender is also often clinically diagnosed as having gender dysphoria, which is "a psychological disorder characterized by an incongruence between a person's assigned gender at birth and the subjective experience of his or her gender, and that incongruence causes distress" (Rosenberg & Kosslyn, 2014, p. 329). Some individuals also identify as genderless, meaning they do not identify with any gender (Killerman, 2014). Gender expression, terms such as male, female, two-spirit, genderneutral, gender-queer, gender-fluid, etc. are used to refer to how individuals display gender through such things as appearance, speech, behavior, movement, and other factors usually associated with masculinity or femininity.

Sexual orientation is the type of sexual, romantic, and/or physical attraction that an individual feels towards others (Killerman, 2014). Common sexual orientation include labels such as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, straight with a bit of gayness, aromantic, asexual, and on and on. Expressions of gender and sexuality actually go beyond all these and they are increasingly moving from the margins to the mainstream. Facebook, with its more than 1 billion users, now has about 60 options for users' gender. And companies are getting in on the movement too-a recent Bud Light commercial declared that beer is for "people of all genders."

Recently, transgenderism has received a great deal of attention in the media. A large amount of this attention can be attributed to Bruce Jenner, a former Olympian, who publicly came out as transgender in June 2015 when she was 65 years old. Jenner, who now goes by the name Caitlyn, came out as a male-to-female transgender individual on the 2015 June cover of Vanity Fair. According to Bissinger (2015), this was not the first time that Jenner had gone through the transition process. In the mid- to late 1980s Jenner had begun the transition, but stopped due to fear of being discovered. Jenner had struggled with gender dysphoria throughout her entire life as if the female gender gravity had been pulling her and finally had bestowed her with the courage to come out and live her self-discovery as she has been feeling for a very long time.

This revelation is just one of many examples of how individuals cross the sex and gender dichotomy divide every day. A broader definition of sex and gender needs to be used instead.

More Sexes

Fausto-Sterling (1993) argues that two sexes, male and female, are not adequate enough to describe the vast variety of differences that exist in humans. She argues that "biologically speaking, there are many gradations running from female to male; and depending on how one calls the shots, one can argue that along that spectrum lie at least five sexes-and perhaps even more" (p. 68). The other three sexes, aside from male and female, are the three subgroups of inter-sexed individuals: true hermaphrodites (one testis and one ovary), male pseudohermaphrodites (some female genitalia, but no ovaries), and female pseudohermaphrodites (ovaries and some male genitalia, but no testes). Approximately 4% of the population worldwide is intersexed, and although this may seem like a relatively small number of individuals, this number really is quite significant (Gibson, 2011). Fausto-Sterling (1993) argues that "the percentage of male and female characteristics [...] vary enormously among members of the same subgroup, [...] sex is a vast, infinitely malleable continuum that defies the constraints of even five categories" (p. 69). Thus, biological sex involves more variance than the traditional two categories are able to capture. Indeed there is more natural variation than has been widely acknowledged and that terminology is far more limited than the sum of human experience.

The Third Gender

Many countries around the world recognize a third gender. Often this term is used to refer to people who are intersexed. Many countries are also beginning to allow a third option on passports and birth certificates, among them, Australia (Biekski, 2011), Bangladesh, New Zealand, Germany, India, Nepal, Columbia, Argentina, Ireland, Malta, Denmark (Macarow, 2015), and Pakistan (Khan, 2015). Currently, the only sexes legally recognized by the U. S. are male and female (Nichols, 2014). However, in 2014 a petition began circulating that asks the U.S. government to legally recognize individuals whose gender identity and expression are not in alignment with their biological sex, and those who exist outside of the typical binary of male and female (Nichols, 2014). Some of the legal trappings that organize society around two categories of sex and gender are also beginning to be challenged (Steinmetz, 2017).

The Obama Administration's so called "Bathroom Bills" has instructed all federally-funded schools to allow students to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity. Cities across the U.S. are passing laws that require single user bathrooms to be marked as "gendemeutral" or "all-gender." The interesting fact is that President Obama has established one such bathroom at the White House, and even though President Trump's Administration rescinded the Bathroom Bill, he kept the bathroom! And yet, despite Trump's disdain of the gender issues, California introduced a bill in January of 2017 that would add a third gender option on identification documents like driver's licenses and birth certificates: male, female or non-binary.

If so many countries and counties are already accepting that sex and genders are far more complex than the current dichotomy allows them to be, the scenario raises the question: How should sex and gender or gender identity be better represented? This paper intends to provide some possible answers.

Sexuality and the Anima/Animus Archetypes

Exploring the gray areas of human sexuality, pioneering sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, the founder of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction (more widely known as the Kinsey Institute) and his colleagues at the Indiana University developed the Kinsey Scale for measuring sexual orientation in the human male (1948) and in the human female (1953) on which a "0" describes someone who is exclusively heterosexual and "6" exclusively homosexual. This was the first publication that portrayed human sexuality lying on a continuum.

Carl Jung recognizes that humans are essentially bisexual. Even biologically, the sexes overlap; "[...] each sex secretes the hormones of the other sex as well as those of its own sex" (Schultz, & Schultz, 2013, p. 97). Furthermore, psychologically, temperaments, characteristics, and attitudes overlap between the sexes. Jung classifies these overlaps through the use of two archetypes: animus and anima. The anima archetype represents the "feminine aspects of the male psyche," while the animus archetype represents the "masculine aspects of the female psyche." (Schultz, & Schultz, 2013, p. 97).

Previous Gender Identity Scales

In the past, three main scales have been most commonly used to classify individuals in relation to aspects associated with gender expression and identity: Bern's (1974) Sex Role Inventory (BSRI), the Sexual Identity Scale (SIS, Stem, Barak, and Gould, 1987), and the Personal Attribute Questionnaire (PAQ, Palan, Areni, & Kiecker, 1999). Furthermore, all these scales were developed more than 18 to 43 years ago and therefore are limited by the fact that gender identities are much more multifaceted today than they were then, potentially making these scales unreliable in relation to current culture. Although gender identity scales have been created in the past and used with relative frequency, they are neither recent nor comprehensive enough to account for the diverse gender identities present in today's society, nor do they account for the societal changes that have occurred since they were created.

The current study intends to rectify the limitations presented in using the three aforementioned gender identity/expression scales. It intends to not only rectify such limitations, but also to create a more comprehensive scale that involves, besides gender identity, gender expression and biological sex as well.



The Anima-Animus Continuum Scale: A 6-item, 11-point survey scale was constructed to measure the participant's rating of another individual referred to as P, who was defined as someone whom the participant was extremely close to, such as a spouse, partner, family member, roommate, or close friend, and that they had known each other for at least three years. The participant was asked to place P along this 11-point continuum based on six items: where they thought P should be, where they thought P would place themself, how P looks, how P feels, what P does, and what P's interests are. The continuum varied from extremely masculine to equally masculine and feminine in the center, to extremely feminine.


A total of 301 individuals participated in this study. After multivariate outliers were removed, only 245 subjects remained in the analysis. 99 of these participants were recruited via Nipissing University's Research Participation System and the remaining 146 participants were recruited via social media outlets. The mean age of the raters (participants) was 23.70, SD = 9.807 and there were 217 females and 28 males. The mean age of P was 28.36, SD = 13.266 and there were 155 females and 90 males.


The responses to these 6 items were item-analyzed and all of the items appeared to fit the scale very well. Cronbach's Coefficient alpha was found to be 0.964, indicating very strong internal consistency. A principal component analysis extracted one factor which accounted for 86% of the variance. The factor loadings can be found in Table I. This factor was named accordingly as the anima-animus continuum and its factor score, the distribution of which is shown in Figure 1, was saved for further analysis. Since this single factor accounts for more than 70% of the variance, this scale is considered to be unidimensional (Green, Bock, Humphreys, Linn, & Reckase, 1984), measuring a single trait.

A logistic regression was conducted using the factor score as the predictor and biological sex of P as the dichotomous dependent variable to determine if an individual's anima-animus score could predict biological sex. The Nagelkerke [R.sup.2] was 0.93 and the accuracy of prediction by the logistic regression was a hefty 97.1%. This means that an individual's level of anima-animus could accurately predict biological sex. The implication of this finding is revealing in that behind the dichotomy of sex and gender lies a malleable continuum capable of capturing the natural variance in sex and gender to encompass the sum of human experiences. Of equal importance is the fact that the unidimensional anima-animus continuum scale appears to be both reliable and valid in measuring some of the major characteristics that run the length from the woman of women to the man of men.


This study demonstrates that a relatively large amount of variance exists within each biological sex and that sex as a whole does not consist strictly of two separate entities. It could be readily seen from Figure 1 that the distribution of level of anima-animus is continuous and that individuals do not lie at only the extremities as the sex and gender dichotomy would have predicted. On the contrary, individuals do spread out across the entire continuum, demonstrating that people are not strictly masculine or feminine; they vary in the characteristics that they possess.

Limitations and Future Directions

The limitation that potentially has the greatest influence on the results of this study is that it was based on the respondent's rating of someone else. It was not based on direct self-reports as a means to shield the results from biases that might have stemmed from the fact that the information being gathered was very sensitive. Future research should replicate this study using self-reports rather than the ratings of other. Another limitation to this study is the issue of generalizability. The sample of participants consisted largely of Caucasian individuals from Ontario, Canada. A better design begs for a more diverse sample. A third limitation is that both participants and those who were rated are relatively young. The fourth limitation that existed in this study was that both the participants and the raters were predominantly female. Finally, no participants were identified as inter-sexed. Future research would benefit from equal sample sizes among the three biological sex options.


This study has demonstrated that the dichotomization of sex and gender is not an adequate representation of human nature. The study has flung open the doors to further research into this concept of anima-animus continuum in the hope that sex education should devote at least a chapter in delineating the diversity of biological sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, human sexuality as well as describing how holistic gender is. According to Steinmetz (2017), over one-third of LGBTQ+ students have endured verbal and physical harassments at school. They are also at increased risk for violence and sadly, attempted suicide. This is even more so for those who lack family support. Despite these drawbacks, more people are coming out of the closet in this age of information and social media. Ultimately, more people will be, as Steinmetz (p. 54) puts it, "emboldened to think beyond whatever they may have been told about who they ought to be and how they can express it."

It has been shown in this study that gender and sex, which have long been dichotomized, do vary along a continuum. This study has provided evidence for such a continuum, demonstrating that the traditional dichotomization of sex renders deficiency in clarity in our understanding of this aspect of human nature which is innately associated with our disposition to think, act, and behave. Furthermore, Steinmetz (2017, p. 50) observed that, "the erosion of these binaries could, over time, have profound implications for the many systems that prop up the two-gender reality most people are accustomed to: not just in Facebook statuses, but in competitive sports, courts, the military, toy aisles, relationships." How true!

How should sex and gender be better represented for those who grew up alienated by the dichotomous options? How many of those labels, asked Steinmetz (2017), belong in text books, on surveys or on official documents? It is definitely hard to insert new labels into a belief system encased in tradition and buttressed by religions. For now, bringing to the fore the concept of a third sex seems the most sensible thing to do through official recognition as well as through education. This is a step in the right direction in the study and understanding of who we are.


Nipissing University


University of Western Ontario


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Caption: Figure 1. The distribution of the anima-animus continuum factor score.
Table 1. Factor loadings of the
anima-animus continuum scale.

Factor Loadings

             Factor 1

PFEELS         .974
PLOOK.S        .967
P_P            .963
R_P            .961
PDOES          .961
PINTERES       .687
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Author:Chow, Peter; Jeffery, Mikayla
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2018
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