"unique and rippled landscape"

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Siddhartha Mukherjee explains at Nautilus why sex is binary, but gender is a spectrum:

In 1955, Gerald Swyer, an English endocrinologist investigating female infertility, had discovered a rare syndrome that made humans biologically female but chromosomally male. "Women" born with "Swyer syndrome" were anatomically and physiologically female throughout childhood, but did not achieve female sexual maturity in early adulthood. [...]

In 2005, a team of researchers at Columbia University validated these case reports in a longitudinal study of "genetic males"--i.e., children born with XY chromosomes--who had been assigned to female gender at birth, typically because of the inadequate anatomical development of their genitals. Some of the cases were not as anguished as David Reimer's or C's--but an overwhelming number of males assigned to female gender roles reported experiencing moderate to severe gender dysphoria during childhood. Many had suffered anxiety, depression, and confusion. Many had voluntarily changed genders back to male upon adolescence and adulthood. Most notably, when "genetic males" born with ambiguous genitals were brought up as boys, not girls, not a single case of gender dysphoria or gender change in adulthood was reported.

"The hierarchical organization of this genetic cascade," Mukherjee writes, "illustrates a crucial principle about the link between genes and environments in general:"

At the bottom of the network, in contrast, a purely genetic view fails to perform; it does not provide a particularly sophisticated understanding of gender or its identity. Here, in the estuarine plains of crisscrossing information, history, society, and culture collide and intersect with genetics, like tides. Some waves cancel each other, while others reinforce each other. No force is particularly strong--but their combined effect produces the unique and rippled landscape that we call an individual's identity.

Based on this excerpt, Mukherjee's book The Gene: An Intimate History sounds intriguing.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on January 4, 2017 6:06 PM.

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