September 30th, 2017

Simplicity itself: XX, XY

A while back, commenter “parker” wrote—and I think he spoke for a lot of people when he said it:

It is simple, because I admit I am a simpleton. Born XY you are male, Born XX you are female.

Now of course parker is no simpleton; he was being sarcastic. He’s only repeating what we learned in school about XX and XY, and there’s no reason most of us would ever have to learn differently. What’s more, for the vast majority of human beings, “XY you are male, XX you are female” accurately describes the way it works.

But actually, that’s not the whole story. In fact, there are a host of in-between physical states that can create all sorts of intersex anomalies, some involving disorders of the sex chromosomes themselves and some involving disorders of other systems that affect the way sex assignation is physically expressed. In other words, genotype is not always unambiguous, and what’s more, phenotype does not always match genotype.

Before I go on, I need to deal with the question of where transgendered people might fit in. The vast majority lack any genetic anomalies of the sort I’m describing. So this post is not about the vast majority of transgendered people, or about transgendered people (in the social sense) at all. It’s about other people who have anomalies of sex chromosomes (or other physical anomalies) that can cause a wide variety of sexual characteristics and categories that differ from that simple binary system as parker described it and as most of us learned it.

Some of these anomalies are obvious at birth and involve genitalia that are ambiguous. Other anomalies only become obvious at puberty when secondary sexual characteristics don’t develop in the normal manner. Others manifest still later, when infertility is the first sign. Some are disorders in which the child is born with either XX or XY and the problem is in some other system that affects the development of sexual characteristics.

This is helpful in understanding that sometimes the simple-seeming nature of the thing is actually relatively unsimple:

It is true that in typical male development, the SRY gene on the tip of the Y chromosome helps to send the embryo down the masculine pathway. But more than the SRY is needed for sex determination and differentiation; for example, women with CAIS (Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome) have the SRY gene [and therefore are conventionally genetically male] but lack androgen receptors. In terms of hormone effects on their bodies (including their brains), women with CAIS have had much less “masculinization” than the average 46,XX woman because their cells do not respond to androgens [46,XX women have less androgen but more “masculinization” because they do respond to the smaller amount of androgen produced by the bodies].

Moreover, the SRY gene can be translocated onto an X chromosome (so that a 46,XX person may develop along a typical masculine pathway), and there are dozens of genes on chromosomes other than the X and the Y that contribute to sexual differentiation. And beyond the genes, a person’s sex development can be significantly influenced by environmental factors (including the maternal uterine environment in which the fetus developed).

So it is simply incorrect to think that you can tell a person’s sex just looking at whether he or she has a Y chromosome.

Also, please take a look at this list of conditions of this type. Click on each of them and you’ll find an explanation for how it works.

I had to learn a lot about these conditions in a course that was required for my graduate degree, and I was as surprised as anyone to find that the physical situation was far more complex than I’d originally thought.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

22 Responses to “Simplicity itself: XX, XY”

  1. Tatterdemalian Says:

    Sure, mutations happen. Compared to the rates of mental illness, attention whoring, and virtue signalling, though, the number of people actually born that way are statisticslly insignificant.

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    Tatterdemalian:

    Yes, it’s not so common. But my point is that these phenomena indicate that the simplicity of the binary system is illusory in terms of the way genes work. Genotype is not phenotype.

  3. Esther Says:

    The book Middlesex was a very sensitive portrayal of a person with an intersex condition, I had never heard of it before reading the novel.

  4. parker Says:

    Well, if my memory serves me well, I do believe I also stated that for an itsy bitsy teeny tiny minority it was not entirely one or the other situation. I would venture to say the majority of the very small ‘transgendered’ minority it is a mental/emotional issue that needs therapy, not the surgeon’s knife or the pharmacist’s hormone dosage. And to promote this agenda when it comes to young children is in fact abuse.

  5. miklos000rosza Says:

    I published a long piece of fiction online in 2912 starring Kim or Kimberly. loosely based on Andy Warhol’s Candy Darling or someone of that ilk. The story is extremely sympathetic to the “pre-op transsexual” — as such individuals used to be called back in in the 1970s. I wasn’t trying to prove any points, just trying to imagine what it would be like to actually be my character.

    The piece has somewhat of a collage-type format, so I go from quoting a paragraph on varieties of eye makeup to the corruption in the Miss Gigi Beauty Contest — the ultimate, final test is the swimsuit competition, as females generally have subcutaneous fat which renders their buttocks and legs shapely in a way difficult for males to achieve. (High heels make things worse.)

    The story is called “Lamentations of Babylon” if anyone is moved to seek it out. It’s not for everyone. Trigger warnings on several levels. I don’t want to go on and on about it here.

  6. Sergey Says:

    While formal genetics is a relatively simple and exact science, its studies only the laws of transmitting genes and their interactions in dominant or recessive way of expression. Development science describing realisation of genetical information in formation of phenotypical traits is, in a stark contrast, extremely complex and poorly understood. And untill very recently the number of scientists working in developmental biology was about hundred times less than those who worked in genetics. Developmental anomalies like testicular feminization referenced above is extremely rare, about one case per million. In a recent study there were found only 13 women with this condition in the whole USA population. They all had XY genotype but anatomically were female except for reproductive system: no uterus, no ovaries, they had testicules in their abdomens that produced testosterone but due to mutation in testosteron receptor gene their tissues were unresponsive to this hormone, so almost exact female phenotype was formed. Interestingly enough, their mentality was purely masculine, even hypermasculine: adventurism, rebellious undependence, and all other features associated with so-called “toxic masculinity”. The most well-known historical example of this condition was Jean D’Arc. A famous Russian geneticist Vladimir Efroimson wrote a book on this case. He found protocols of her Inquisition trial. The fact which made inquisitors believe that she was a witch was that there were no a single hair at her body except the head.

  7. Mike K Says:

    One of the most famous movie stars of the present and recent past is an example of Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, what used to be called Testicular Feminization Syndrome. She has been highly successful and is a beautiful woman. These rare individuals are usually diagnosed at puberty and the testicles should be removed as the risk of cancer is significant, as in all undescended testes.

    I doubt the aggression aspect is significant as I have heard nothing about any such sentiments. She is the usual Hollywood Trump hater but I doubt it goes beyond that.

  8. TommyJay Says:

    The TV show “House” was about medical mysteries and a Sherlock Holmes (M.D.) sleuth who solved them. One episode “Skin Deep” was exactly the situation that Mike K. describes.

    A 16 year old female super model collapses on the runway. The symptoms suggest paraneoplastic syndrome, so they look for a cancerous tumor but can’t find it. That is, until they go looking for her testicles.

  9. Ray Says:

    A. E. Brain has lots of information on the subject.
    http://aebrain.blogspot.com/p/transsexual-and-intersex-gender-identity.html

  10. skeptic Says:

    Neo writes:
    “Yes, it’s not so common. But my point is that these phenomena indicate that the simplicity of the binary system is illusory in terms of the way genes work. Genotype is not phenotype.”

    You are buying into the Left’s agenda with this statement. The simplicity is NOT illusory when you factor in the prevalence of these disorders. When stated as a statistical decision rule, you can state that XX or XY determines the behavior of the individual and be right in essentially all cases.

    The Left loves to pick far-outlier cases and use them to get society to bend to their will. There are many examples:
    In the abortion debate the Left loves to bring up pregnancies resulting from rape or incest when these are a vanishingly small fraction of pregnancies.

    In the homosexual agenda debate the Left obscures the prevalence of this disorder. Good data are hard to find because the Left suppresses studies that try to answer this question but I think a good number is 1-2% of the population is homosexual. Yet, many young people think the prevalence is 30-40%. Indeed, I recall reading a study recently where 30-40% of young people think they are homosexual. This is mass hysteria similar to people thinking there were witches in the Middle Ages.

    You are letting your sophistication in the underlying science make you buy into the Left’s agenda. Should society set up rules like making bathrooms open to both sexes based on a tiny group people?

  11. n.n Says:

    So, sex as defined by genetic makeup is binary. Gender, including mental and behavioral characteristics are narrowly distributed on a spectrum that is centered on the sex of an individual. Homosexual and bisexual orientations are an example of the Transgender Spectrum Disorder where only mental deviations from normal are exhibited. The other extreme of the TSD is populated by individuals with natural physical anomalies and, with a progressive occurrence, forced through medical corruption. Each condition on the TSD is nonconforming with variable mental and physical deviations from normal.

    That said, since there is no evidence that TSD is a progressive condition, and it does not pose a viable threat to society or humanity (a la twilight faith, Pro-Choice religion, and quasi-scientific appeals to viability that deny human evolution), it stands to reason that TSD individuals can and should be tolerated. However, since TSD does not have any redeeming value to society, humanity, or to duck dynasties (i.e. evolutionary fitness), there is no legitimate cause to normalize the disorder. Especially not with establishment of politically congruent schemes (e.g. “=”) that selectively discriminate for politically favored classes a la color and sex diversity (racism, and sexism, respectively).

  12. Mike K Says:

    the Left loves to bring up pregnancies resulting from rape or incest when these are a vanishingly small fraction of pregnancies.

    A guy who works with me and is a retired OBGYN once published a paper on delivering twins in which one was white and the other was black. The woman was raped two weeks after her husband impregnated her. The rapist was black. He laughed as the result is that he is quoted in OB textbooks.

  13. Ymar Sakar Says:

    As I stated before, humans do not understand the DNA digital code. They can see the symbols, as physical proteins, but they have not cracked the code. They have hacked the code, as one can see with human animal hybrid experiments or animal cloning.

    Hacking and cracking are two very different things however.

    The fact which made inquisitors believe that she was a witch was that there were no a single hair at her body except the head.

    My analysis of those records; the facts of the case is that the kangaroo Inquisitors had to get rid of the French holy woman because she was getting in their way politically and militarily. Thus, in order to accomplish that, they brought an inquisition of only English clerics to stand as judges and steam rolled over any dissenting views.

    What the court records, which were preserved, showed was just how many machinations and corrupt practices the clerics used due to their English political goals. The judgment was already set in stone, they merely had to come up with a pretext. A pretext would be Pearl Harbor, to justify FDR’s Lend Lease Act and Americans already fighting in China, a way to avoid being blamed for going back on his promise.

    You are buying into the Left’s agenda with this statement.

    This Reactionism to the Left typical of the anti Left or Alt Right, tends to make people think that there is nothing independent of the Left. That everything the Left does, is pre determinative and thus must be reacted to and taken into account.

    It is as limiting for scientific research and exploration as it is for political neutrality.

    When every topic in statistics or scientific research is distilled down to “who wins, the Ctrl Left or the Alt Right”… in the culture war, you have lost the point of your entire civilization. Which means the Leftist alliance has already won, it won’t even matter what you do later on from this point.

  14. Ymar Sakar Says:

    https://www.ted.com/talks/moshe_szyf_how_early_life_experience_is_written_into_dna

    For those Westerners or individuals who want to really delve into this topic, they would need to catch up on the leading edge in genetic research.

    Epigenetics

    https://www.ted.com/talks/dean_ornish_says_your_genes_are_not_your_fate

    Humans being humans, most won’t do it. They rely on the Gatekeepers and their political leaders to do the thinking and strategic formulation.

    Also, there is a remarkable difference between the application of this field of research. Strangely enough, even for a prototype theoretical field of research, political factions were already using it last year.

    The Alt Right sees this as the new Western advance, similar to Mao’s Western advancement (into starvation and supremacy). This can be seen in the White Supremacy movement, which uses epigenetics to explain why white civilizations are superior to black civilizations: the DNA is superior, they think, so you shouldn’t mix your superior white genes with inferior black ones.

    The Ctrl Left sees this in a different way. As a genetic monster farm to control humans with, so that Lucifer wins.

    Meanwhile, the capitalist barons, think there’s a way to make money with this in marketing.

    Eugenics 2.0 on the way, people.

    There’s even a bonus for religious factions. Want to know why sins carry from the father to the son through the third generation or more? Epigenetic markers can be inherited or activated from sins like murder, adultery, fornication, etc.

    Now we have a Religious Litmus Morality test that have objective testing standards for how negative or positive family life is affected because of the sins of the “father”, not just the descendants…. not that we hadn’t picked up on this before due to socio economic “correlations” that seem to have generations of families stuck in poverty (mostly because the RIch know how to get out of it, they call it marriage and sharing resources and private education).

  15. Gringo Says:

    That statistical insignificance of these genetic differences from the norm is contrasted with the great significance that our proggy friends place on them.

  16. neo-neocon Says:

    Gringo:

    These anomalies aren’t of much interest to progressives at all. This has little to nothing to do with transgenderism or same-sex attraction. These are strictly medical conditions with psychological ramifications rather than psychological causes. The only political movement I’ve seen connected with them (and I think it really transcends left or right, actually) is a movement against this sort of surgery.

  17. The Other Chuck Says:

    Gringo, our progressive friends are merely carrying the logical extension of God’s perfection to its conclusion, that if He is the benevolent Creator we believe Him to be, then these are NOT anomalies or mistakes. They are throwing what they believe to be our hypocrisy and disbelief back in our faces. Either God goofed and is not perfect, or he purposefully created these outliers in His image and we should fully accept them as His divine creation.

  18. DNW Says:

    ” The Other Chuck Says:
    October 2nd, 2017 at 12:43 am

    Gringo, our progressive friends are merely carrying the logical extension of God’s perfection to its conclusion, that if He is the benevolent Creator we believe Him to be, then these are NOT anomalies or mistakes. They are throwing what they believe to be our hypocrisy and disbelief back in our faces. Either God goofed and is not perfect, or he purposefully created these outliers in His image and we should fully accept them as His divine creation.”

    Yeah, right, but here’s the problem for progressives.

    Either these “anomalies” are genetic defects as in chromosomal abnormalities or faulty expressions and so on, or they are not.

    That is, either there is a “true to proper form” and an expression toward a proper end-result, natural to the kind (mankind), or there is not.

    Now, if not, if there is no proper form to a natural kind to be manifest in the first place, then there is no morally entitled “victim” of a defect; nor can there be any real alternative type as there is no objective “type” in any case: only sui generis manifestations of whatever … no real species, no real genera, and no moral kinds.

    So either you are a human, damaged or otherwise, or you are not. If you are a damaged like kind, you may have a moral claim to the sympathy and understanding of others not so taxed; but no claim to their affirmation of your problem as a good per se.

    But if you are not a member of the same kind, broken or whole, then you have no claim to their intra-specific respect as a moral quality which you are entitled to experience through your status as a like-kind.

    You are just an alien in that case. And that, is what the “transgendered” are reducing themselves to with their attempts to parody natural law by setting themselves up as sui generis kinds with their own internal moral economies.

    The trouble with parlaying that logic, is that the result is that the extension of their newly connoted or intensional transgendered moral class or category (based on the attributes of their de novo natural kinds) does not overlap in denotation or extension with the class membership of the old natural and binary kind.

    The classes don’t have members in common.

    Therefore: when they try to adopt the form of the old natural rights arguments to their new “gender” identities classes, they essentially must define themselves as another kind altogether, one ultimately having nothing in moral common with the natural ends of the older binary natural kind.

    Now, certain people may claim that these subversives have always lived among normal humans and in their society.

    But once you take the further step of claiming that these social subversives are not broken like-kinds acting badly, but instead, are alternate kinds with their own moral trajectories and life purposes, then, while the advocate of that position may have fabricated a new internal teleology for his client to parallel the human one, he has at the same time departed from the teleological (and thus moral) category of mankind, at the same moment.

  19. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Either God goofed and is not perfect, or he purposefully created these outliers in His image and we should fully accept them as His divine creation.

    This argument may be popular because christians don’t actually understand what is in their bible.

    There are 3 causes for humanity’s problem, not just the Garden of Eden. Deuteronomy 32 covers the Tower of Babel, and later on Nimrod trying to create a gate tower to Jehovah to kill the Most High.

    The one before that was the Genesis Six fall of the Watchers, the rebellious angels. This was where genetic tampering occurred.

    Humanity’s gene code has already been corrupted. Remember a little bit before the Divine Flood during Noah’s days, that it was said that all flesh had been corrupted. Noah’s lines were pure, but his wife or his sons’ wives were not.

    The Leftist alliance uses their superior position of knowledge, to attack, when they know that a defense exists but that humans are too ignorant to use it. Although by “they”, that is most likely not the zombies but the ones who use the Left as cannonfodder, the priest kings and philosopher leaders.

    You are just an alien in that case. And that, is what the “transgendered” are reducing themselves to with their attempts to parody natural law by setting themselves up as sui generis kinds with their own internal moral economies.

    It’s mostly just a stalking horse. The homosexuals are merely canary birds, cannonfodder, designed to create a stimulis to test the response in the experiment.

    That experiment is designed to see if humans can accept alien gods. Something the Vatican’s theological doctrine writers have been considering rewriting doctrine about, and some of them already have.

    What would it take for humans to tolerate or accept the Authority of alien gods? Can we make Jesus or other religious founders, into some kind of enlightened aliens? Will aliens from space have additional revelations superior to the human holy books?

    The Left did the same thing to the feminists that they are doing to the homos. And the powers that be, controlling the System and the Leftist alliance, have their own agendas of course.

  20. Ben David Says:

    None of these genetic conditions – or ANY genetic markers – correlate to homosexuality.

    Yet the “born that way” lie is repeated incessantly. As if not just correlation but causation has been proved.

    It hasn’t.

    Science this isn’t.

    These are double lies – first lie is that there is no genetic evidence.

    Second lie is that even if there were, that wouldn’t change the evaluation of these conditions/behaviors as dysfunctional.

    A clarifying counterexample – there is ample evidence for genetic causation of both schizophrenia and depression – but nobody is throwing open the psych wards and telling these people to “celebrate their difference”…

    Our generation has been subjected to a combination of emotional manipulation and media messages that purposely confuse “found in nature” with “natural” (remember the “gay” polar bear in the German zoo – who turned out to prefer females when they were available, after years of heart tugging propaganda fluff pieces?) and then go on to claim these behaviors are “normal”.

    Yes – I believe you have been influenced by the constant drumbeat of politicized pseudo-science.

  21. Jim Miller Says:

    In her book, “Woman”, Natalie Angier says that about 1 in 20,000 babies are born with the complete Androgen Insenstiity Syndrome defect. Haven’t followed up her footnotes, or checked for more recent numbers, but I have found her a reasonably careful journalist.

    Just to be clear, people with AIS are externally female, but not internally.

    Angier suggests that Wallis Simpson, who upset the British monarchy may have been an example of someone with AIS — which would be ironic, to say the least.

    (I found Angier’s book fascinating, though marred somewhat by her insistence on carrying on a quarrel with her father from her childhood.)

  22. DNW Says:

    “Second lie is that even if there were, that wouldn’t change the evaluation of these conditions/behaviors as dysfunctional.

    A clarifying counterexample – there is ample evidence for genetic causation of both schizophrenia and depression – but nobody is throwing open the psych wards and telling these people to “celebrate their difference”…”

    Good thinking … and not just because others here may have said similar things. For while it is true that no reasoning person would “celebrate” pica disorder, or OCD, or a cleft-palate, thalassaemia, or Turner’s Syndrome as normal “variation” they will try to do so with sexual disorders … probably because of the strong reinforcement involved.

    And this leads to your second point regarding “natural” which has become a kind of terminological substitute for the idea of having “a nature”, which involves the idea of teleology, and not just some occurrence observed in a stipulatedly non-supernatural world …

    “Our generation has been subjected to a combination of emotional manipulation and media messages that purposely confuse “found in nature” with “natural” (remember the “gay” polar bear in the German zoo – who turned out to prefer females when they were available, after years of heart tugging propaganda fluff pieces?) and then go on to claim these behaviors are “normal”.

    Yes – I believe you have been influenced by the constant drumbeat of politicized pseudo-science.”

    Yes. Either there are natural kinds, in the sense of real kinds having a particular nature and tending when properly functioning toward a particular end … or there are not.

    And if there are not, no appeal to a right to consideration from others of “your kind” can bear any logical freight.

    And if there are real natural kinds, then the homosexual is either a broken like-kind in need of sympathy and reparative assistance; or, an unlike (but real and self-sustaining) kind having an antagonistic teleology: and thus, no moral claim upon the sympathy or assistance of the competing kind which finds the homosexual kind’s presence antithetical to their own aims.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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