Let's talk about sex
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that maybe…
Us humans have never really had a good definition of what it means to be a certain sex. A male maybe looks like a male and acts like a male and maybe has male secondary sexual characteristics and maybe probably produces sperm or “smaller mobile gametes”. While a female, maybe looks like a female, maybe acts like a female and has female secondary sexual characteristics and maybe probably can produce eggs or “larger non-motile gametes”. Intersex, no one really bothers with trying to define them because they ruin all the traditional and conservative narratives of sex. One thing that is true right now is that everyone wants to redefine sex. Conservatives want a new definition to stop the “woke mind virus” and progressives want one to be more inclusive. The problem with sex definitions is that none of these characteristics we use to try and define it are universally true. Which, I’m sorry to say, doesn’t make them very “scientific”. But that doesn’t stop people from declaring otherwise. The definition of an electron isn’t correct 95% of the time. Quantum mechanics exists because Newtonian mechanics wasn’t correct all the time. Making universally true definitions of sex is probably impossible and to be honest, all the attempts are weak as fuck. Maybe we should stop trying?
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We should probably start with the whole chromosome argument because it’s the worst one but it’s the most common thing I hear in defense of traditional sex definitions. Chromosomes do not determine what sex you are except on the highest most abstract level and that’s not even consistent. To start, human beings have 22 other chromosome pairs that control who we become. The X Y “sex” chromosomes generally do very little. Truth is though, it’s not the Y chromosome that really does anything. To generalize, it’s the SRY gene on the Y chromosome that is the real culprit. It creates a genetic cascade that causes other genes to be expressed and hormones to be produced. Generally, lack of a functional SRY and most will develop into a female. Some individuals have non-functional SRY, which leads to the development of female characteristics. A single base pair change in SRY can make it non-functional. There is also a thing called SRY Translocation, where the SRY gene, through a genetic event, winds up as part of the X chromosome and these individuals develop as male despite not having Y chromosomes. There are many many ways we have found that people develop separately from what their XY chromosomes would determine including androgen insensitivity and other genetic changes. There have even been cases where the cause of so-called sex reversal is unknown. (sex reversal is a “sex” different than sex chromosomes)
When SRY does work it causes testes to develop which then causes testosterone &c to be produced. But still that doesn’t determine “sex”. Non-functional testes obviously wouldn’t create a male, so would different levels and amount of hormones during development. Even then, hormones and gene expression can play a role in the development of secondary sex characteristics during puberty and long after birth (i.e. what makes someone look “male” or “female”). The environment, your diet, the function of many genes all can affect the development of traits that we used to determine sex. The way you look, your fat distribution, boobs, your sexual organs and sperm count, all of these things can be influenced by things that have nothing to do with sex chromosomes and all of these things have spectrums. These spectrums have never really been documented, analyzed or quantified. Hairy women, men with boobs or small penises. You get what I’m saying? Most humans don’t even know their genetics, which makes chromosomally defining sex arguments even more funny. Everyone is just hoping that the reason they look “female” or “male” is proper chromosome genetics, but they don’t know. Even still, such definitions are so generic. It’s like saying an ATV/4 wheeler is an automobile because it has 4 wheels and a motor. Seems kind of ridiculous. The sad truth is that there are infinitely more names for 4 wheeled vehicles than there are humans and yet humans are much more diverse.
Hormones can play as large a role as genetics and yet no human knows the timeline and expression levels of hormones through their life. If your estrogen levels increase in someone who has “male” genetics, you grow boobs, fat distribution changes and you stop producing sperm, these effects are permanent. It is suspected that hormones alone are responsible for “female” spotted hyenas having a pseudo-penis, which is used in sex, urination and even child birth thus has created a female dominant matriarchal culture. Maybe female isn’t the best and most scientific way to define this spotted hyenas sex? This is the basis of the problem. Instead of expanding our definitions of sex, people have tried to narrow them even though it doesn’t make sense to.
Conservatives and traditionalists for some reason think that it’s better if the definition of sex is restricted to things like, presence of a uterus or ability to make sperm or eggs. To any reasonably intelligent person, binary sex should seem ridiculous. A binary is not trying to define sex but rather categorize individuals in a way to exclude others.
Can transwomen make human eggs? Not yet. Eventually, it will be trivial to turn stem cells into egg producing cells and implant them into people. Do transwomen have a uterus? Not yet. But uterus transplants are possible and have been done in “women” without a functioning uterus. So it can probably be done in transwomen as well. How long till definitions of sex relying on these characteristics would be outdated? This has always been the problem. Whenever our technology allows transwomen to grow boobs or have a vagina or transmen to do the opposite, the conservatives immediately start to shift their definition of sex again. The truth is that even if we did use these measurements, how many individuals assigned female at birth wouldn’t even pass? A definition of sex that excludes even members of the “sex”? Is this really what people are going for?
Do we have a good reason to even define sex? There is probably never a time where sex is pertinent to anything in our life. I challenge you to construct an event where someone, anyone, needs to know your sex. Many countries, including Germany, Italy and Australia among many others, don’t even list sex/gender on driver’s licenses. Even still, when I travel around the world as a transwoman looking like a woman, with my appearance not even close to matching my picture or stated male sex on my passport, nooooo oneeee caressss. Why do we have it on the document then?
Sex definitions should be inclusive. If we have them at all. There is no logical reason to exclude anyone from a sex. If you think inclusivity will expose women or people to sexual predators, then you’re a bigot. Your Pastor, Priest and local politician are way more likely to be a sexual assaulters and abusers than a trans person. But still you elect them as President of the United States. Being inclusive doesn’t make you more or less a male or female. It doesn’t take away your rights. It makes society a more accepting and caring place. What does excluding people do?
Sex is complicated and that’s not bad, it’s actually really cool. Humans, mammals, animals in general have complex sex traits and it’s only going to get even more weird and crazy as we become better at manipulating these things through genetic engineering and medicine. Why keep trying to force sex into some binary? Who wins with that?