SCIENCE AND NON-BINARY GENDERS
IT IS COMMON for persons who have seen through other forms of identity politics to insist that there are only two genders
in the human species, even going so far as to invoke “chromosomes” in defense of their beliefs.
However, the claim that “XX = female and XY = male, therefore there are only two genders” is provably incorrect.
(Several decades ago, “sex” meant what one was biologically, and “gender” meant what one was socialized to be, i.e., one’s gender-identity.
Apparently the usage has changed in the interim.
Cf. “Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity. Depending on
the context, these characteristics may include biological sex [i.e. the state of being male, female or
intersex], sex-based social
structures [including gender roles and other social roles], or gender identity.”)
“Humans, as well as some other organisms, can have a chromosomal arrangement that is contrary to their phenotypic sex; for example,
or XY females (see androgen insensitivity syndrome). Additionally, an abnormal number of sex chromosomes (aneuploidy) may be present, such
as Turner’s syndrome, in which a single X chromosome is present, and Klinefelter’s syndrome, in which two X chromosomes and a Y chromosome
are present, XYY syndrome and XXYY syndrome. Other less common chromosomal arrangements include: triple X syndrome, 48, XXXX, and 49, XXXXX.”
In genetic males with [androgen insensitivity syndrome], the condition is divided into three categories that are differentiated by
the degree of genital masculinization: CAIS, or complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, is indicated when the external genitalia
are that of a normal female; PAIS, or partial androgen insensitivity syndrome, is indicated when the external genitalia are partially,
but not fully, masculinized; MAIS, or mild androgen insensitivity syndrome, is indicated when the external genitalia are that of a
Androgen insensitivity syndrome is the largest single entity that leads to 46,XY undermasculinized genitalia in intersex persons.
As with other intersex conditions, androgen insensitivity syndrome is independent of both sexual orientation and gender identity.
The full spectrum of human sexual orientations has been reported among genetically female and genetically male AIS individuals alike,
including: androphilia (i.e. sexual attraction to males) reported by most female-identified genetically-male female-bodied CAIS
individuals; gynephilia (i.e. sexual attraction to females) reported even among some female-identified genetically-male female-bodied
CAIS individuals in lesbian relationships; ambiphilia (i.e. bisexuality) is also known to occur.
Similarly, although AIS individuals may report any gender identity, a female gender identity is the gender identity of most, but
not all, genetically-male female-bodied individuals with CAIS. Historically, however, the gender identity of CAIS individuals who
identify as female has often been the cause of negative social bias and discrimination once their condition is made public. It is
a matter of contention for some whether a CAIS individual with a female gender identity and external female body but genetic male
sex should be regarded as “transgender.” Some might regard such a person as “transgender” for identifying as female despite their
genetic sex being male (even though they have an external female body), or they can be regarded as simply identifying as female
in harmony to their external female body (despite their genetic male sex)....
Male gender identities among a minority of individuals with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome have also been reported.
This has resulted in CAIS individuals who are genetically male with an external female body but a male gender identity
(irrespective of sexual orientation).
If there were only two genders/sexes, where would
hermaphrodites fit into that supposed binary?
Aside from having an ambiguous-looking external genitalia, true hermaphroditism in humans differs from pseudohermaphroditism in that
the person’s karyotype has both XX and XY chromosome pairs (46XX/46XY, 46XX/47XXY or 45X/XY mosaic) and having both testicular and
ovarian tissue. One possible pathophysiologic explanation of this rare phenomenon is a parthenogenetic division of a haploid ovum
into two haploid ova. Upon fertilization of the two ova by two sperm cells (one carrying an X and the other carrying a Y chromosome),
the two fertilized ova are then fused together resulting in a person having dual genitalial, gonadal (ovotestes) and genetic sex.
For the curious, or the doubtful, long-extant photographs (from 1860!) can be found here.
Pseudohermaphroditism ... is the condition in which an organism is born with primary sex characteristics of one
sex but develops the secondary sex characteristics that are different from what would be expected on the basis of the gonadal
tissue (ovary or testis).
In some cases, the external sex organs look intermediate between a typical clitoris and penis. In other cases, the external sex organs have
an appearance that would be expected to be seen with the "opposite" gonadal tissue....
In human beings, the sex status is defined at four levels: chromosomal (XY; XX), internal organs (ovaries; testicles), external organs
(breasts, vulva + vagina; penis), and psyche (sexual identity). In a XX human the default development process results in a female. In a XY human a set of
genes on the Y chromosome trigger a cascade of events normally resulting in a male. A complete female or male developmental process entails the expression
of female and male sex hormones, respectively, and of their corresponding receptors in the target tissues. Without these hormones and their receptors, the
internal and external sex organs, and psyche, will not develop as expected. Sex hormones, their receptors, and downstream signal transduction proteins are
coded by genes that may be genetically defective.
All these factors mean that genetic mutations can block the sexual development process at three stages: (a) before the development of the internal sex organs;
(b) after the development of the internal sex organs but before the development of external sex organs; and (c) after the development of external sex organs
but before the maturation of the sexual component of the psyche.
While in (a) the XY human will be indistinguishable anatomically and psychologically from a female; in (b) the individual may either be born with ambiguous
external genitals or have genitals apparently in the normal range at birth but, at pubertal age, not develop secondary sexual characteristics at all or
develop secondary sexual characteristics that do not match the external genitals; and in (c) the individual will be transgender (formerly referred to
In particular, [consider the situation] where either the individual is a chimeraresulting from a fusion of two distinct embryos, one male and one female, during fetal development
(not a genetic mosaic), or the individual contains duplicated chromosomes in the genome (XXY; XXXY). In the former case some tissues will be in the XX and
others in the XY configuration; in the latter, all cells contain the Y chromosome and may or may not use it. This is a gynandromorph, which has both female
and male characteristics at all four levels and may have either ambiguous sex organs (the XY/XX configuration may not be evenly distributed throughout the body)
or unambiguous male and female sex organs (hermaphrodite).
And where does that leave people like
Christiane Völling: “Völling was born in 1959 with XX sex chromosomes, typically associated with being female,
and likely also with Congenital adrenal hyperplasia. She had ambiguous genitalia and was [surgically] assigned and raised male. She had an
early puberty with what was considered to be striking physical growth, including beard growth. At age 14, she had an appendectomy and
internal female organs were detected, including ovaries and fallopian tubes. While no testicular tissue was detected, Völling was
diagnosed as having a mix of both male and female organs. She was informed of the presence of female organs and told she was 60% female.”
(The same tissues that grow together to produce the penis in males produce the labia in females. Foreskin = clitoral hood,
glans = clitoris, etc. Since much can go wrong in that process, phenotypically there is undeniably a spectrum of genders.)
How does the environmental presence of estrogen-mimicking
endocrine disruptors affect the psychological makeup of young boys today, in addition to the more overt ways
in which they are being feminized? (“Any system in the body controlled by hormones can be derailed by hormone disruptors. Specifically,
endocrine disruptors may be associated with ... the development of learning disabilities, severe attention deficit disorder, cognitive
and brain development problems; deformations of the body (including limbs); breast cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid and other cancers;
sexual development problems such as feminizing of males or masculinizing effects on females.... Xenoestrogens are a type of xenohormone
that imitates estrogen. Synthetic xenoestrogens include widely used industrial compounds, such as PCBs, BPA and phthalates, which have
estrogenic effects on a living organism.”)
Does the above relate to transgenderism (e.g., of biological males feeling they are “girls trapped in boys’ bodies”), esp. in terms of
it being more than just a “fad”? (Around two-thirds of transgenders were biologically male at birth.)
So: Genetically there are provably more than two genders/sexes; phenotypically there are individuals with both male and female sex organs;
and psychologically, there is undeniably an infinite spectrum of combinations of stereotypically “masculine” and “feminine” traits,
whose balance may fluctuate based on social situation and/or hormones (e.g., testosterone = “fuck it or kill it”).
In what possible sense, then, could anyone coherently claim that there are only “two genders”?
Plus, consider this:
In the 1950s, when pioneers in the field of behavioral endocrinology starting researching the role of sex differences, they began from the assumption that sexual behavior was somaticthat the brain simply directed actions dictated to the animal by its body. Then some female guinea pigs were tested whose mothers were given testosterone during pregnancy. They went around mounting other guinea pigs like males would, despite not having penises. This was a breakthrough discovery, which taught us that the prenatal period was a critical period in which male and female brains “differentiated.”
Were we able to converse with those animals, is it not probable that they would express the feeling that they were “male guinea pigs trapped
in female bodies”?
Finally, simplistic attempts to
explain transgenderism away as being merely part of the “‘identity crisis’ of adolescence” would carry
more weight if children as young as
two or three years of age were not voluntarily expressing gender identities that did not match their biology:
“Most people know their gender in early childhood.”
In fact, among
persistently and insistently and consistently identify as another gender over a number of years, the number [who later change their minds was close] to 0 percent. Zero percent deciding that they aren’t transgender after all. (And who would expect a non-transgender child who seemed very happy with their gender to change their mind about this after age six or seven or eightor later? Most kids do know their gender by this age, whether they’re trans or not.)
Or at least that’s one set of claims. By contrast, the American College of Pediatricians
According to the DSM-V, as many as 98% of gender-confused [sic] boys and 88% of
gender-confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty....
On page 455 of the DSM-V under “Gender Dysphoria without a disorder of sex development” it states:
“Rates of persistence of gender dysphoria from childhood into adolescence or adulthood vary. In natal males,
persistence has ranged from 2.2% to 30%. In natal females, persistence has ranged from 12% to 50%.”
Simple math allows one to calculate that for natal boys: resolution occurs in as many as 100% – 2.2% = 97.8% (approx. 98% of gender-confused boys).
Similarly, for natal girls: resolution occurs in as many as 100% – 12% = 88% gender-confused girls.
So, while the ACPeds’ statement is technically true, it could just as well be rephrased: “As few as
70% of gender-confused boys and 50% of gender-confused girls eventually accept their biological sex.”
While neither of those figures are close to the zero percent claimed by transgender activists, they are also
nowhere near the figures misleadingly claimed by the
socially conservative ACP.
Additionally, per the DSM, as authored by the American Psychiatric Association: “The critical element of gender dysphoria is the presence
of clinically significant distress associated with the condition....
This condition causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.”
Conversely, those who embrace and celebrate their transgender state would in principle not be diagnosed
as suffering from a mental disorder.
Jesse Singal further
[I]ntersex people [are] born with neither “traditional” male nor female genitalia. For a long time, established medical practice was for the doctor or doctors present at childbirth to make the call one way or another and effectively carve a newborn’s genitals into the “proper” configuration, and in some cases to eventually prescribe courses of potentially harmful or unnecessary hormones. Sometimes the child in question was never even informed that they hadn’t been born a boy or a girl in the classical senseindeed, sometimes even their parents weren’t. To the medical Establishment, all that matteredeven above patients’ physical and psychological healthwas that young bodies fit neatly into one established gender category or the other.
In 2003, [J. Michael] Bailey released The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism, a book in which he relates the stories of several transgender women and promotes the theories of Ray Blanchard, a Canadian sex researcher with a long history of working with patients who were born anatomically male but hoped to undergo gender reassignment.
In his book, Bailey explains that Blanchard believed his patients who had transitioned, or who were hoping to, fit into two rather different categories. Some were “transkids” ... folks who were born as boys but had been very effeminate by societal standards since childhood, and who were attracted to men once they hit puberty. In these cases, Blanchard posited, access to sex and intimate companionship might have been one component of what eventually pushed them to start presenting as female.... [T]he fact that transkids come across so effeminate “means that their sexual opportunities are often limited while they are presenting themselves as men. Straight men aren’t interested in having sex with them because they’re male, and gay men often aren’t sexually attracted to them because most gay men are sexually attracted to masculinity, not femininity, and these guys are really femme.” Transitioning, then, gives transkids an opportunity to have the relationships with men they’d like tobecause they’re effeminate, they can pass as women whom straight men find themselves attracted to.
The second, more controversial type of male-to-female transitioner posited by Blanchard consisted of folks with so-called autogynephilia. These individuals have usually presented as male for most of their lives and are attracted to women, but they discover along the way that they are sexually aroused by the idea of being a woman. They tend to transition later in life, often after having married women and started families.
There is, to say the least, a huge amount going on here. But what’s key to keep in mind is that some transgender people and activists hold very dear the idea that they have simply been born in the wrong type of body, that transitioning allows them to effectively fix a mistake that nature made. The notion that there might be a cultural component to the decision to transition, or that sexuality, rather than a hardwired gender identity, could be a factor, complicates this gender-identity-only narrative. It also brings sexuality back into a conversation that some trans activists have been trying to make solely about gender identity.
* * *
The comedian and atheist Pat Condell (YouTube, Twitter)
has come to conclusions, across a wide variety of subjects, from vegetarianism to Islam to Brexit, that align nearly exactly with my own.
fails miserably on transgender issues:
The only thing “shameful” there is Condell’s ignorance, expressed in the context of defending an archaic, obsolete, second-wave feminist:
Germaine Greer, who herself once ignorantly argued that
“attempts to outlaw FGM amounted to ‘an attack on cultural identity,’ stating:
‘one man’s beautification is another man’s mutilation.’”
As one responder said, Condell should stick to atheism, where he’s competent to have an informed opinion. Indeed, the comedian
realized he was transgendered at the age of four.
And there’s at least one Python-influenced, adult transgender
(Sarah Franken) currently performing brilliant stand-up comedy within mere miles of Condell’s home, should he care to talk to her and discover how horrendously
wrong he is on this subject.
One then cannot help but wonder: On how many other subjects is Condell equally passing his prejudices and bluster off as if they were based in anything
more than pure ignorance?
Well, public verbal abuse of gays, for one: His idiotic tweets regarding the
video showing a Tube
passenger launching homophobic rant at gay man after ‘hurling abuse at drag queen on way home from New Year celebrations
have to be read to be believed:
Summary: Man argues with drunk on late night tube, and now it’s “news” because we still think we can bully people into the correct [i.e., non-homophobic] opinions....
He posted the “shocking clip” with the intention of publicly shaming a late night drunk for merely being obnoxious [!!]....
[Homophobia] is still widely acceptable outside the “progressive” bubble, and gays who behave like this [i.e., by dressing in drag late at night,
or by calmly recording unprovoked abuse, and posting it online] aren’t helping to change that....
Why did nobody else join in? There was no reason for them to. [Bullshit: They were just keeping their heads down and arms folded, as cowards,
trying to get home without getting involved. People do it all the time. Doesn’t mean there wasn’t an incident happening right beside them.]
If he had kept his mouth shut it would have blown over, but he kept it going.
So now it’s the fault of the guy recording the abuse, and trying to engage in a calm dialogue with the abusive homophobic bigot. Brilliant.
To which a few of Condell’s thinking, decent commenters responded:
[Y]ou think the man who is drunkenly threatening strangers is being bullied. Lol....
“[W]hy oh why can’t I threaten and abuse people in public when drunk? My freedom to threaten strangers!”....
[I]t’s called respect. if you can’t see how insulting a stranger in public is rude and unacceptable, you’ve gone too far....
[Y]es harass people for not being you. And they should get used to it....
[I]f it was a Muslim threatening the man you’d be up in arms, making spittle-flecked videos for your braying fans....
[E]vil prevail[s] when good men fold their arms and do nothing. I am surprised as to how you approached this....
[H]ave to disagree on this occasionbeing drunk no excuse for shooting mouth off and bullying. fair game to video it.
I agree completely: Publicly shame that pathetic, dickless excuse for a man. If the guy in drag had started the altercation, that would
totally different. But he didn’t; and the courageous, calm “white knight” who stepped in deserves praise, not condemnation (i.e., not being called a
“dick” by the dope Condell).
Others pointed out that Condell’s moronic argument that people in drag should expect to be abused is very similar to the idea that women who dress in short
skirts are asking to be raped; and that, if dressing in drag is grounds for others to behave “merely obnoxiously” [!!] toward you, then so is being black.
And suddenly, the cultic, totalitarian “progressive bubble” almost starts to look reasonable by comparison.
And why should the police become involved? Public drunkenness,
for one. In the United Kingdom:
In a public place, it is an offence to be:
drunk and disorderly
It is also an offence to be drunk ... while travelling ... on public transport
The police will only get involved if the person is so drunk they are unable to act in a reasonable manner, such as passing out on the street.
Was the homophobic drunk “unable to act in a reasonable manner,” even if not passed out on the street?
Or was his manner of action transparently unreasonable? I suppose it’ll be up to the courts to decide, m’lord.
Regardless, you’ve got to give the
man high-school-dropout (Condell) credit: When he gets it wrong, he really, really, really gets it wrong.
(Question: If Condell considers transgenderism to be a “mental disorder,” what grounds could he possibly have for not viewing homosexuality in exactly the same way?)
And then, to top it all off, Condell
tweets, of the Christian television presenter Dan Walker and his refusal to work on Sundays (per the Biblical
“I actually quite admire this guy for his principled conviction, crackpot though it may be. It’s harmless enough.”
Walker and his wife have three children. Each of those will be brought up with the same “believe in Jesus and take the Bible
literally [e.g., don’t work on the Sabbath]
or you’ll burn in hell” system of cultic thought. As such, Walker will compromise, if not utterly destroy the enjoyment and intellectual
potentials, of three lives other than his own.
Transgenders, of themselves, are harming no one else. But religious believers and their beliefs are never harmless to
others, as a matter of both principle and practice (e.g., in voting, child-rearing, and encouraging groupthink).
P.S. Yes, “transgenderism,” “biologically male/female” and “genetically male/female” are all
politically incorrect terms, with “transgender people” and “assigned/designated at birth” being the currently preferred language.
Who knows which of those words will have been “reclaimed” a decade from now?