Advocates of gender neutrality just received another card to play in their attempts to rethink how toys are made and marketed and generally get society thinking in a more nuanced way about what it means to be a “boy” or a “girl.” New research finds the human brain — it’s features, structures, and associated behaviors — don’t fit into defined categories of “male” or “female” any more than a toy aisle should.
The researchers took MRI scans of about 1,400 individual brains and, instead of finding characteristics that were distinct to men or to women, they found that each brain was a mash-up of varying characteristics that are, to some extent, unique. To put that into neurosurgeon-ese, some guys had bigger hippocampuses than some women, but other guys had adorable little hippocampuses. The researchers did not make any mention of what size hippocampus women preferred.
This conclusion isn’t as obvious as it might seem on its face, because there’splenty of research to suggest neurological differences between the genders. And while the new findings need to be replicated before they supplant more traditional scientific views, they’re nevertheless an interesting signal for those looking to move away from a binary understanding of gender — like, say, the parents of non-gender-conforming kids.