Re: Is this just an English thing ?
"The statement that gender is a fact of biology is controversial."
There are languages (mostly outside the Indo-European group, I think) where the statement is flat-out wrong. The word "gender" comes from the same roots as genus and general and is a linguists synonym for "type" (of a noun). Masculine and feminine are two very common "types" in language, but some languages have "types" for animate objects, vegetation, even means of transport. You'll be pleased to learn that none of these languages are actually consistent, hence the jokes about German girls (and yes, I know about diminutives, but it still demonstrates the problem).