Hi, there, lovelies! I have been (unsurprisingly) considering language and identity YET AGAIN.
It won't stop! ;)
I have heard the phrase "dyadic" a few times since talking to intersex activists and in reading about intersex in general. I didn't really understand what this word meant at first, but in context, I came to realize that it was shorthand for "non-intersex."
This puzzled me a bit.
I don't think it would be a bad idea to have an adjective meaning "non-intersex." Having a term like "intersex" without an opposite serves to identify an individual as intersex, but doesn't really help you understand what a not-intersex person is. The implication is that non-intersex people are just "normal," and because they're "normal," they don't need to have an extra word applied to them. The extra-word burden is on those people that are different. But having an opposite-word can be really important, because instead of having the "normal" state of being and the weirdo one with the funny name, having two words means that for this state of being, there's more than one way to be. There's no value judgment implicit in having multiple terms for a different states of being like there is in having a term only for the less-typical one.
This can be exemplified by looking at the words "transgender" and "cisgender." The concept of cisgender wasn't something that existed when people initially were using the term transgender. There were transgender people, and then there was everyone else. The implication was that these non-trans* people were normal, so no other label had to be applied to them. But later, trans* individuals began using the word cisgender to refer to non-trans* people. Having both of these terms sent out a message that asserted, "Hey! There's different ways you can be. Some people are cisgender, some people are transgeder. Ya got choices, yo!" It allows individuals to see that the more common identity isn't inherently more valid or normal...it's just perceived that way by the majority.
I'm not against having another term for non-intersex people, but I don't think that dyadic is the greatest choice. The term dyadic means "two" - a dyad, a pair. By calling a non-intersex person a dyadic male or female, you're basically saying that everyone who's not intersex fits nicely into that binary of male, female. But the fact that intersex people exist at all means that there is, and never was, dyadic sex as long as intersex people were around. By using the term dyadic to refer to non-intersex people, it totally glosses over the implications of intersex people existing: that binary sex is actually real.
If biological sex isn't binary, then using a term like "dyadic" to describe non-intersex makes about as much sense as saying we've got a binary color wheel that's composed of red and blue, when we know full well that there's purple and orange and magenta out there, being awesome. What phrase could we use instead? I'd love to hear some suggestions. But whatever they are, they shouldn't uphold this idea that somehow, despite our existence, the idea of dyadic biological sex is still legit.
Anyone got any ideas for terms that could be used?