Feminist analysis has often rejected ideas that biology influences gender development as inherently reactionary. However, some trans people have found personal and political utility in making the argument that they were “born this way.” This essay argues for an understanding of nature and culture that aims to supersede a division of bodies as authentic and real versus constructed and mutable—reappraising scientific understandings of sex and gender can overcome this false dichotomy. Recent biological and neurological research has shifted from linear determinism toward ideas of nonlinearity, contingency, self-organization, and open-endedness. Feminist and trans studies engagement with such research offers ways around theoretical impasses and can assist struggles for social and political change.

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