Aug 222016
 

This is part of an ongoing discussion about gender equality, sexual orientation and intersex. You can read Part 1 here. You can read part 2 here. Be warned before reading further the following contains content some would consider only appropriate for mature readers and content some might find offensive in a public forum.

 

It’s time for Sex Education 201. Not that what you learned in high school or college biology is wrong. It’s probably just incomplete. To understand and counter the LGBTQQIA community and its mostly destructive agenda – an all out assault on biological sex and gender distinctions – you must understand biological sex and gender.

“I already know this,” you say. “It’s really quite simple,” you tell me. All you need to know is males have an X and Y chromosome and females have two X chromosomes. Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina. Anything else is simply LGBT propaganda. Right?

If only it were so simple.

Biological Sex Markers

We can begin with biological sex, which is more than simply X and Y chromosomes and genitals, because these don’t always match. Let’s break it down into three markers.

Chromosomes serve as the first gender marker. The presence of a Y chromosome usually indicates a male. The absence of a Y chromosome usually indicates a female.

External genitalia serve as the second sender marker, and usually the one used at birth. A penis marks a boy and a vagina marks a girl. These external sex organs and their critical role in reproduction and human sexual interaction might arguably be more important than chromosomes.

But don’t individuals with a Y chromosome always have a penis and individuals with two X chromosomes always have a vagina? Of course not! Nature is miraculous, but far from perfect.

Internal sex organs serve as a third marker for biological sex, particularly the gonads. These are the testes for males and ovaries for females. Girls also have a uterus and fallopian tubes.

It might surprise you to learn some babies are born with a vagina and testicles. It certainly comes as a surprise to most of these girls, because – they almost universally are raised as girls and identify themselves as girls – when this truth is discovered. The diagnosis usually comes in the mid to late teens when they fail to begin menstruation.

One final marker for biological sex – and to some extent gender – is hormones and secondary sex characteristics. Hormones play a major role in sexual development of the fetus and the development of secondary sex characteristics at puberty. In fact, hormones begin their role at around six weeks after conception. The primary female hormone is estrogen, while the primary male hormone is testosterone. Testosterone is actually built-up from estrogen.

Male or Female?

Let’s say 98% of the time, a person born with an X and a Y chromosome will develop a penis and scrotum externally, testicles which produce testosterone internally. This person is a biological male.

Let’s also say 98% of the time, a person born with two X chromosomes will develop a vagina and labia externally, ovaries which produce estrogen internally, and also a uterus and associated internal reproductive organs. This person is a biological female.

The problem comes with the other two percent when one or more markers get mixed up. Sometimes the mix-up doesn’t show up until puberty. Sometimes the confusion is apparent from birth.

An estimated 1 in every 2000 births delivers a baby with ambiguous genitals. This means the doctors cannot be sure if the baby is male or female by looking only at the genitals.

Some girls – usually after exposure to large amounts of testosterone during development – are born with a clitoris the size of a penis and labia fused together looking like a scrotum. Some boys are born with hypospadias, a condition in which the urethra is not centered at the tip of the penis. In extreme hypospadias, the urethra opens at the base of the penis above the scrotum. At birth, these two conditions are almost indistinguishable.

More about what can go wrong with biological sex next time. For now, can we agree identifying biological sex is more complicated than a DNA test or external exam? Comment below.

Gender

But we’re not done yet. Sex education 201 includes a basic understanding of gender. While biological sex lies in the realm of nature and natural phenomena, most modern types want to argue gender is simply a social construct.

Not so fast.

Gender has multiple components just like biological sex. Gender certainly has a sociological aspect, but it also has a psychological aspect. And increasingly it appears to be influenced by biological factors as well – especially hormones.

Let’s try to break gender down into various components, just like we did with biological sex..

First, we have gender identity. Much talked about lately, this piece of the gender puzzle comes across as psychological, but appears to also have a biological component – at least for some people. Simply put, your gender identity is the gender you think of yourself as being. Is the voice you hear inside your head male or female? Gender identity usually matches other components of gender, as well as biological sex. But not always. Again, nature isn’t perfect.

Second, we have gender behavior. We need to make a distinction here between gender roles or expectations and gender behavior. Society forms and agrees on roles and expectations. Behaviors are the actions of individuals. In recent decades, our society has broadened gender roles and expectations, becoming very tolerant of a wide variety of gender behavior, especially in females. The tomboy is less likely to be bullied than the sissy.

Societies in all times and all places have had a different set of roles and expectations for males and females. In some societies those roles are quite clearly and narrowly defined and severely enforced. In others, like our own, they can be very ambiguous or seemingly non-existent. However, gender roles are not simply arbitrary rules. They are neccessary for a society to survive. But that’s a topic for later.

Sexual Orientation

One final characteristic involved with sex and gender needs to be discussed – sexual orientation. Sexual orientation means the type – we might even say the form – of individual with which a person desires genital interaction.

When we consider the various ways biological sex and gender can become confused, simply labeling someone gay or straight might not be sufficient. For instance, male to female transgenders who are attracted to males and want males to be attracted to them as women have historically been considered homosexual, while those who are attracted to women are considered heterosexual.

It might be less confusing to refer to individuals as androphyllic and gynephyllic. Those who are androphyllic are attracted to men, males, and masculinity. Those who are gynephyllic are attracted to women, females, and femininity. These terms are more descriptive than homosexual or heterosexual which require clearly identifying the gender and biological sex of both individuals which — as we have seen — might be difficult.

Male, Female, and . . . ?

To summarize, most of the time someone with an X and a Y chromosome has a penis and testicles, produces testosterone, identifies as a male and acts masculine, and is gynephillic. Someone with two X chromosomes will have a vagina, ovaries, and a uterus, produce estrogen, identify as a female and act feminine, and be androphyllic.

Our society accommodates the norms because well over 50% fit into the norms. That’s why they’re the norms. The last few decades the exceptions have been clamoring to be included in the norms. Do they have a legitimate grievance? Comment below and stay tuned.

Aug 012016
 

This is Part 2 of a multi-part series. Part 1 can be found here.

We live in a land of confusion regarding gender and sex. Demands for gender equality, equal rights regardless of sexual orientation, recognition of an individual’s right to determine his or her own sexual identity seem confusing to those who see sex and gender as a single idea consisting of two categories: male and female. Most Americans don’t even know intersex individuals exist, much less what intersex means.

Dimorphic Twenty-First Century America

In twenty-first century American society, we tend to regard everything as dimorphic – coming in two forms. Every issue seems to be divided between two sides – left or right, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican.

In the real world, very few people fall completely on one side or the other all the time. People are not politically dimorphic. Neither are the issues which tend to divide us.

We’ve been led to believe we are all standing on one side or the other of a vast canyon, with no place to stand in the middle. Anyone who tries falls in and is never heard from again. We are deceived into believing there is no wiggle room. No place for nuance.

The truth is more like a great big room. Some of us stand closer to the left wall, some of us closer to the right. But most of us stand somewhere in the middle. Where we stand depends on the particular issue being discussed.

The Role of Identity Politics

Identity politics plays a part in the deception. Identity politics lumps all people with a particular characteristic together for political purposes. It is stereotyping in the worst way.

According to identity politics, if you are black you should have one set of values and opinions. If you are white, you must have a different set of values and opinions. The same is true for male and female, straight and gay, rich and poor, and a host of other categories we all could name.

Strangely, identity politics is practiced most consistently by the those who complain the most about sexism and racism. It’s one of life’s ironies.

The point is, according to the dimorphic, identity politics dominated society we live in, if you are a woman you should support feminist views and demand gender equality. Likewise, if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex or an ally you should be part of the LGBTQQIA Community and support their agenda.

Adjective Versus Identity

Let’s take a moment to explain the difference between an adjective and an identity. Identity politics gains its strength from those who claim a specific identity. We can start with an example from a less controversial group – those who are deaf.

Not everyone who is deaf is Deaf. The difference between a lower-case d and an upper-case D is the difference between an adjective and an identity. It’s the difference between someone who uses the word deaf as one of many words to describe himself and someone who uses the word Deaf to identify himself.

A person who is deaf might see deafness as an important characteristic to include in a description of himself – or not. He will likely regard his deafness as a disability. He would be open to treatment to remove his deafness. His deafness does not define who he is or the community to which he belongs.

A Deaf person regards his deafness as perhaps his most important characteristic. It is not a disability, it is who he is. The suggestion of treatment to remove his deafness and make him hearing would be insulting. Perhaps he was born deaf. His deafness might be genetic. He is a proud member of the Deaf community and works for Deaf rights. This is what it means to be Deaf.

I live in an area with a number of deaf individuals and can say unequivocally not everyone who is deaf identifies as Deaf. Yet they cannot ignore the Deaf community. For instance, anyone receiving a cochlear ear implant is likely to lose friends.

Identity Communities

Plenty of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, or intersex do not identify with the LGBTQQIA community, but they cannot ignore it. The LGBT community has a script, an agenda, a set of ideals it expects the members of the community to support – such as same-sex marriage – not everyone who is lesbian or gay or bisexual or transgender or queer or questioning or intersex endorses.

Yet because our society has become so dimorphic and engrossed in identity politics, it is difficult for individuals who do have one of the conditions embraced by the LGBT community to find acceptance outside the LGBT community.

It’s another irony. Those who oppose the agenda of the LGBT community drive more members to it by mindless opposition. A perfect example is the North Carolina bathroom bill, which insists everyone use the public facilities of his or her birth sex. For many who are intersex and for those who express a transgender condition from an early age – and their families – this makes the LGBTQQIA community their only ally.

Seeking Solutions

A more reasonable solution is needed. In the culture war, the battle over sex and gender tends to cause both sides to ignore reality, lumping everyone who doesn’t fit into dimorphic categories of male and female into one giant pot.

To find a serious solution, one which protects both individuals and the common good, it is necessary we all become better informed. It might be time for a little sex education. Or at least some honest talk about sex and gender.

So in Part 3, I will break down the difference between sex and gender and the way we as humans encounter them in the real world. Regardless of which side you might be on, it’s more complicated than you think.