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Constructing Binary Sex
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Biological Sex
Social Construction
Binary Sex

How to Cite

Kitchen, Deeb. 2020. “Constructing Binary Sex”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, November. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


All of us participate in constructing the social world. We put things in one category or another. Oftentimes we evaluate and criticize these categories. Other times, we accept them as natural or inescapable. We categorize people and actions, physical objects and ideas. Developing and using categories is a key aspect of creating knowledge and formulating...

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Subject Area(s):
Sex and Gender
Resource Type(s):
Class Activity
Class Level(s):
Any Level
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

This exercise focuses on the relationship between objects and ideas and helps (1) demonstrate how we use concepts that humans create in order to understand the world in particular ways (2) illustrates how our understanding physical, biological bodies is a social phenomenon, (3) functions as a catalyst to imagine how taken for granted ideas could be...

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Appreciate how we create categories and concepts in order to understand our world.
  2. Identify the lack of precision required to create binary categories.
  3. Explain why we say that biological sex is a social construction.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. Assess students’ ability to appreciate the ways we create concepts through class discussion on how they created their groups.
  2. Assess students’ ability to identify that binary categories require less precision through class discussion and comparisons of what all items in the group share.
  3. Assess students’ abilities to explain why biological sex is a social construction through a short written assignment in the next class.

When using resources from TRAILS, please include a clear and legible citation.

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