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Have you even gotten a case of deja vu?

Sex can be much more complicated than it at first seems. According to the simple scenario, the presence or absence of a Y chromosome is what counts: with it, you are male, and without it, you are female. But doctors have long known that some people straddle the boundary — their sex chromosomes say one thing, but their gonads (ovaries or testes) or sexual anatomy say another.

[27:43] … sex chromosomes were discovered just before 1910. Many scientists including Woolley were quick to claim the X chromosome as the female counterpart to the Y. This belief pops up even today, and it’s absolutely wrong.

As far as we know, every single human being has an X chromosome. It contains genes critical for the development of our skin, eyes, nose, intestines, muscles, and other necessary anatomy. The X even contains more genes related to testicular development than the Y chromosome. You cannot make a human being of any sex without an X chromosome.

On the flip side, you don’t need a Y chromosome to make a man. XX males are rare, constituting maybe 1 in 20,000 births, but they’ve been well documented by science. Nor, for that matter, does the presence of a Y chromosome guarantee maleness, as XY females also exist.


“The main problem with a strong dichotomy is that there are intermediate cases that push the limits and ask us to figure out exactly where the dividing line is between males and females,” says Arthur Arnold at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies biological sex differences. “And that’s often a very difficult problem, because sex can be defined a number of ways.”

[45:33] Human development is just a very messy, complicated affair, and most of us are ignorant of its diversity. Have you heard of micropenises? Aphalia? Ovo-testes? Mosaicism? And I’ve deliberately steered clear of sexuality and transgender people, as their inclusion adds entirely new dimensions of complexity.

At the same time, there are patterns in how we develop, some of which are more likely to happen than others. To represent these patterns, we have jointly developed some terms to tame the complexity, terms like “male” and “female.”

Sex really is a social construct, then, exactly as the Transfeminist Manifesto claims.

Yep, a major scientific publication just argued that sex is a social construct, and used some of the same talking points I did a year ago. It’s remarkably flattering to find the experts view your “original” thoughts as the scientific consensus.

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