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Gender essentialism refers to the belief that women and men have a certain essence to their personality in connection with their gender. Concrete examples include the belief that women are gentler, more passive, more easily frightened, and so on, whereas men are stronger, more active, more courageous, and so on. In other words, gender essentialism is the belief that traditional gender roles and gender stereotypes are inherent and natural to the sexes.
Feminists are strongly opposed to gender essentialism, as it's used by conservatives to argue that sexist social hierarchies are natural and inevitable.
Trans activists frequently use the misnomer "biological essentialism" when arguing against the reality of biological sex. They say that it is "biological essentialism" (and therefore somehow bad) to argue that women, by definition, are anatomically female humans. This might in fact be a form of projection resulting from the unwillingness to acknowledge the criticism of their own gender essentialism.