The complexities of gender

August 21, 2009 at 4:54 pm Leave a comment

As The Daily Mail reports, it isn’t as simple as X or Y…

It is the case of ‘intersexuality’, however, that leads to the greatest degree of confusion and, often, prejudice.

As we have already seen, it is possible for a person to be genetically ‘male’ or female’ and yet, for complex hormonal reasons, show only partial male or female bodily characteristics.

But there are several known abnormalities that can lead to specific sexual ambiguity.

So called ‘XX male syndrome’ occurs in people who have two X chromosomes – one of which contains a significant amount of genetic material from a Y chromosome.

These people appear to be male, but are, in fact, genetically female. Typically, they will possess male sex organs, but these will often be underdeveloped.

They will also often develop breasts and maintain a high-pitched speaking voice.

In fact, biologists now recognise a host of conditions, both genetic and otherwise, which are labelled under the umbrella term ‘intersex’ – which replaces older terms such as ‘hermaphrodite’.

It is estimated that about one in 5,000 babies born falls into the Intersex category – although, because there are such strong taboos and prejudices concerning sex, gender and identity in most societies, the true number may be much higher.

Read more here.

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Entry filed under: etc, play, think. Tags: , , .

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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

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