From Sex and Intersex. Version 0.5.1
To start, let's briefly review how sex happens. I won't even attempt to start defining what sex is exactly,
just the various body parts and processes that we will later associate
with an overarching concept. Let's also hold off a moment from intersex
cases and just consider typical, non-intersex cases; we need to learn
the rules before we learn how to break them.
divided up into groups called chromosomes and the set of chromosomes
has is called the karyotype. A human karyotype has 46 chromosomes.The
genes mainly responsible for delegating an offspring as female or male
are contained in the chromosomes X and Y. A female has a karyotype of
XX and a male has XY, keeping the totals at an equal 46. When we
reproduce, our gonads (ovaries in females and testes in males) create gametes (ovum or eggs in females and sperm in
males) which have half the chromosomes or the original gonad. A gamete,
then, has a karyotype of 23 chromosomes, one of which is an X or Y. An
ovum always has a sex karyotype of X while a sperm may have either an X
or Y. A fetus is formed when an ovum and sperm come together and
combine their chromosomes into a full 46 human karyotype.
next phase I find fascinating but it is usually skipped in high school
biology and sex ed. For the first seven weeks every fetus develops the
same genitals and gonads regardless of genes. The genitals are shown
the following website has an excellent, animated diagram of the genital
(Also, the following website has an excellent, animated diagram of the genital transformation. www.sickkids.ca/childphysiology/cpwp/Genital/genitaldevelopment.htm)
Notice the two folds of skin are the labia which surround the
vagina and urethra in females. A vagina is not fully developed at this
stage but is present as a membrane. The genital tubercle between the
labia resembles the female clitoris in location and size. The brain
structure is far less dramatically differentiated between females and
males but it also resembles a female state more closely. Nipples are
also present. By all visible characteristics, the genitals are female.
You may have heard the mythic statement that we all begin as female;
here it is. Biologically speaking, the human archetype is female.
If the fetus has an XX karyotype, they will continue development along the same path maturing into the finer detail show below.
The Y chromosome is the smallest human chromosome with only 23 genes. It exists solely to change the course of human development from female to male. The famous gene on Y is SRY which activates between the seventh and eighth week. The SRY gene causes a change in the balance of androgens (masculine hormones"'Male' hormones is an unfortunate term, since these hormones are ordinarily present and active in both males and females." (ISNA www.isna.org/faq/conditions/ais) I call it masculine because the hormones are gendered: we associate them with males. These hormones are not present on the Y chromosome, only called by it. ). The body responds to these hormonal balance in the way new tissues grow. The genital tubercle grow larger to become the head of the penis, the urethra (where urine is later discharged) moves from within the labia to the penis head, the penis shaft is formed from a homologous and invisible structure in females, and the scrotum is formed from the labia. An artifact of this transformation is still visible throughout a male's life; looking at the scrotum you can see a soft ridge, the raphe, which marks the fusion of the two labia.
SRY causes a change in the gonads too. They will become ovaries without the addition of androgen hormones. The most visible change is the descent from within the body (near would the ovaries reside) down into the scrotum, one on each side of the raphe. Sometime between the 16th and 24th weeks a "hormonal wash" takes place over the brain which is responsible for (at least some) of the brain differences between females and males. The nipples remain.
When sex is assigned by a doctor, it is assigned based on the
appearance of the genitals and not on genes, hormones or reproductive
All of this is the first of two processes of sexual
differentiation. This stage creates the primary sexual characteristics,
the genitals and gonads, which are responsible for reproduction. The
second stage is more familiar: puberty. During puberty secondary sex
characteristics are produced: body hair, fat placement (including
breasts), and voice pitch. Both sexes experience greater levels of
"masculine" hormones which is responsible for the growth of hair,
height, muscle and deepening voice. The reasons this happens more to
males is that their androgen increases is greater than females.
Reproductive capabilities which were already formed by latent are now
active with females ovulating and menstruating and both sexes capable
of physical arousal.
I want to emphasize that the development of females and males are not exact opposites, as if mirror images. Rather, all humans begin with female hormones and anatomy. Those with XX chromosomes will continue thusly all their life; those with XY chromosomes will displace their female anatomy and hormones with male. This is why prepubescent males and females are anatomically closer than post-puberty; the prepubescent males are "more female."Not to get off on a tangent, but this is also why pedophile men who are attracted to boys are almost always heterosexual; boys resemble females. The concept of homosexual pedophiles are a propaganda product The Box Turtle Bulletin features an excellent study on the subject. www.boxturtlebulletin.com/Articles/000,002.htm This goes a long way in understanding the nature of intersex and transgender physiology and the inherent complexity of transgenderism. It also suggests that the psychology of Leach which interchanges male transgender behavior with female is too simplistic. It also suggests that the gender binary, which states that females cannot become males and vice versa, is already broken every time a male leaves the womb.
Continue: Response of Pro-Binary Organizations