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The IU Bloomington Libraries' Philosophy collection supports research and teaching in all branches of philosophy.

Metaphysics of Gender

While in common parlance the word gender often serves as a kid-friendly synonym for sex, in feminist and academic discussions, the two are often seen as conceptually distinct. A rough and hasty description of the sex-gender distinction might say that sex is a biological given, gender is a social construction, and never the twain shall meet. However, even if we grant the sex-gender distinction (and a number of feminists do reject it for a variety of reasons), it remains far from obvious what, precisely, gender is, what it means for gender to be socially constructed, or what we should make of gender anyway.

Fortunately, feminists and philosophers have recently taken interest in the metaphysics of gender. This LibGuide serves as a selective bibliography on some of the scholarly work being done in this fascinating and important field of inquiry. A companion subject post on this topic is forthcoming.

Getting Started

For introductory material on the philosophy of gender and feminist philosophy, check out these articles from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which also provides extensive bibliographies of their own that are worth exploring:

Additionally, the following bibliography identifies sources (within and without philosophy) on matters pertaining to trans genders, the lived experiences of transfolk, and intersectionality, and should prove a valuable resource for those interested in the metaphysics of gender:

Next Steps

If you'd like to explore this topic further, our library subject research portals are also a good place to get started; among other things, they provide tailored, subject-based lists of research resources:

Sources on the nature of social construction, considered as such or with particular respect to gender:

Sources on the genealogy of gender:

Sources on the metaphysics of gender:

Sources on feminist metaphysics and the metaphysics of gender vis-à-vis "mainstream" metaphysics: