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Dear Andrew,

It's helpful to untangle sex, which is biological, a matter of chromosomes and bodies, from gender, which is both a constantly changing set of social conventions, a kind of shared language for expressing ourselves and understanding others, and for most of us a deep-seated sense of who we are, part of what we call identity or self. There's no established science on this yet, but there are indications that gender identity has some basis in the physical characteristics of the brain;physically male and female brains have somewhat different characteristics, and transsexual brains seem in preliminary studies to have characteristics associated with brains of the sex that is the opposite of their chromosomes. But even if gender identity is physically based, what we think of as gender (how men and women do or should act) is a human construct, or rather a constant communal negotiation.