Yes ... what is a man, or a woman as well? Strange question? Perhaps, without context. So here's the context. This year, the California Supreme Court will decide on Proposition 8, the gay-lesbian marriage ban. Critical to their decision is whether to accept and support the definition of marriage partners (supporting Prop 8) or to allow a localized aberration of that definition (oppose Prop 8). The time-honored, long-standing, cross-cultural, traditional definition of marriage partners acknowledged by the overwhelming vast majority of the world's population, about which there is no rational conjecture is: "between a MAN and a WOMAN as HUSBAND and WIFE". The reality of it is not in question. If the court is to allow a localized aberration of that definition and oppose Prop 8, thus allowing gay-lesbian marriage in California, one of the factors they will likely have to consider during deliberation is what is it that makes a man a man and a woman a woman. A ridiculous consideration, you say? In a gay/lesbian relationship, there is a lack of one gender essential to the definition of marriage partners, so the answer is obvious that there's always a man or a woman missing that violates the definition of required marriage partners. Or ... is there? Many homosexuals acknowledge that one person in their relationship plays the "man's" role and the other the "woman's", each dressing and acting a little more in traditional gender stereotypical fashion, not by pretense or facade, but because that's just each their usual idiosyncratic way. Is that sufficient to satisfy the "man and a woman" requirement for marriage? But the issue facing California only broaches a subject we've perhaps long taken for granted, a subject that has additional political ramifications: how do you know that a man is a man? Is a man a man because he "looks" like what a man is "supposed" to look like? And who decides what a man "looks like" ... or is that simply obvious? Is a man a man because he says he is, no matter what he looks like? Is a man a man because he has male genitalia? And, if you're in doubt, how do you know -- do you ask him to drop his drawers for proof? Is a man a man because of the size of his genitalia, that he's a man if it's above a certain size and not a man if it's below a certain size? Which brings us then to intersexuality (the "hermaphrodite"), "a person born with diminished sexual organs of both sexes as a result of a genetic anomaly, and therefore has physical sexual traits and characteristics in between that of a man or a woman. The hermaphroditic individual is usually incapable of reproduction." (from this link). (For more on intersexuality, see Intersexuality, Wikipedia. Is an intersexed person a man or a woman ... or neither? Is an intersexed person whatever he/she says he/she is, or is whether the interexed person is a man or a woman or neither to be decided by an appeal to some standard objective authority to which we must all rationally appeal? And then what about transsexuals, people whose physiological genetalia doesn't match their psychological gender? (For more on transsexuality, see Transsexualism, Wikipedia) If a man transsexually says he's a woman "trapped" in a man's body, does his physiology rule the definition of his manhood or does his psychology rule the definition of his womanhood? And what about transsexuals who then have sex change operations with respect to their psychological experience of gender -- is a man surgically altered to then have genitalia more like a woman still a man because he was born with male genitalia, or is he now truly a woman, whether or not he can procreate as a woman? To some, this may seem like absolute nothings to muse about, but the question of what is a man and what is a woman has political implications today like never before, thanks to advances in medical science that's created new knowledge. Questions arise additional to that of marriage partners. Who can use what dressing room at the gym? What box does one check for "sex" on the U.S. census form? Who can play for the college "men's" sports team ... and who can fairly play for the college "women's" sports team? And does a hormone test rightly decide the matter, or does a genetalia examination rightly decide the matter ... or what? When clubs, associations, international diplomatic meetings, etc. call for a representative from both genders, who can be sent? Is it really so simple to tell who's a man and who's a woman anymore? Differentiation does appear to matter collectively as well as individually. Yet there is real controversy in the matter. How are we to accurately decide what is a man or what is a woman in situations where the decision is obviously required?