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View Diary: Pfc. Manning Statement Re: Gender Identity on Today Show (137 comments)

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  •  It's common for people to think of the (3+ / 0-)
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    Transactivist, aitchdee, Nowhere Man

    "other sex" as a different species.  But it's not so, really.  Once upon a time, you were a single-sex being.  Up until the SRY gene activates, triggering the start of a hormonal cascade, humans are unisex.  What this means is that every tissue on a male has a corresponding tissue on a female.  A glans is a clitoris.  Testes are ovaries.  The prostate is the paraurethral gland.  And on and on.  Are you male?  If so, you'll find a line running down the center of your scrotum - that's where your labia fused together before you were born (if you're female, your labia minora are just an unfused scrotum).  

    We're all made of the same material - the question is just what hormonal triggers they've received to take various developmental paths.  And in fact, you can trigger these paths late.  A person with an otherwise "male" body will not only develop breasts when exposed to estrogen, but all of the subtissue glandular structure and ducting and can even breastfeed if prolactin production is triggered.  A person with an otherwise "female" body, taking testosterone, will have their clitoris develop into a micropenis.  Yes, the delay in receiving the trigger can hinder the maximum development, and of course going in reverse is a whole different story, but the simple fact is, they're the same body parts, and they're malleable.  

    And, of course, sometimes nature does the malleable aspects instead.  As mentioned, there's a whole hormonal cascade in the divergence of sexes, and there's all sorts of things that can go wrong - some quite rare, and some quite common.  You can have XX men, XY women, people with intermediary genitals, mismatched genitals, etc.   Some are even delayed - for example, 5-alpha reductace deficiency (known in the Dominican Republic where it's common as "Guevedoche" - "balls at 12"), wherein a child who appears to be female at birth, when they hit puberty, have the testes descend, a penis grow, go through a male puberty, and can even (albeit sometimes requiring help) father children.

    Now think for a second.  With all of the incredible malleability which nature seems to love throwing at bodies... why wouldn't that apply to the mind as well?  

    And indeed, it certainly does seem to happen.  There've been some rather remarkable studies of the brains on transsexuals, and the most notable differences appear to be in certain parts of the hypothalamus.  The hypothalamus a highly gender-dimorphic structure in the brain which functions as the link between the nervous system and the endocrine (hormonal) system.  It's already been linked to sexuality by many studies, to the point that one team found that they could make straight male ferrets exhibit homosexual behavior by inducing a lesion in a particular portion of the hypothalamus.  But certain portions seem to have a very strong gender identity link as well, with, for example, transwomen measurements matching up with that of natal females and not natal males, regardless of level of hormone treatment they've received.

    Your instinct is to want to gender people based on their external appearances.   But as with, for example, guevedoche, that doesn't always match what's on the inside.  Gender isn't some absolute binary.

    But of course, none of this matters.

    Because you want to be a good person, right?

    You have respect for your fellow human beings, and their choices?

    So is it really that much of a sacrifice for you to use pronouns and a name that matter an incredible amount to another human being?

    You don't have to understand why it matters so much to them.  You just have to respect them and their feelings.

    Já þýðir já. Nei þýðir nei. Hvað er svona erfitt við það?

    by Rei on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 03:43:54 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent comment; would make a good diary. (nt) (0+ / 0-)

      Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

      by Nowhere Man on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 08:25:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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