Friday, October 06, 2006


Male Producing Gene


Females have two chromosomes called X chromosomes and males have an X and a Y chromosome. But what happens when a female is born with the XY chromosome?

Gender represents a person’s social identity as a male or a female. Most of us accept the fact that people are born either as male or female – that’s all there is to it. While sex and gender are simple matters for most people, it is a complex issue for some. In order to understand the problem, we have to distinguish among phenotypic sex (a person’s sex organs and secondary sexual characteristics), chromosomal sex (the number of X and Y chromosomes), and genetic sex (the presence of genes that determine sex).

A human embryo develops a set of generalized organs and tubes that will eventually turn into the sex organs. A gene, usually found on the Y chromosome, controls which set of organs, male or female develops. Between the fifth and seventh week of development, this gene, if present, produces a chemical that influences the undifferentiated gonad to become a testis. Once the testis begins to develop, it produces secretions that turn the other structures into the male sex organs. If this does not occur by the thirteenth week, the gonad begins to develop into an ovary, and under the influence of ovarian secretions, the undifferentiated organs develop into female structures.

Can an XY individual be a female? This can happen if the male producing gene is not operating (a mutation) or if the receptor sites on the undifferentiated organs do not respond to the presence of the hormone. In addition to this, other problems result in ambiguous phenotypic sex.

One area of human endeavor where this has become a major issue is athletic competition, especially the Olympics. Fearing that a phenotypic female who is a genetic or chromosomal male will have an unfair advantage, all phenotypic female athletes have been forced to undergo testing. Female athletes are put through this demeaning process in spite of the fact that several decades of testing have demonstrated that the few phenotypic females, who, for an example, carry an X and a Y chromosome, do not have any particular athletic advantage.

Women with this syndrome have breasts and vaginas and are socialized as females, but lack a uterus and ovaries and have a testis located within their bodies.

(Quoted from “Gender, Sex and Athletics”, Physical Anthropology-Sixth Edition by Philip L. Stein and Bruce M. Rowe)

Rain

1 Comments:

Blogger Haren said...

Could this shed new light on sexuality as well...? I know that the Catholic Church refuses to accept that Gay people are born that way... but could this line of research prove that it is in fact the case? I think it will be very interesting to follow up on, especially in light of the Abrahamic religious doctorines and how they might react to suggestions that 'God creates gays..." (no disrespect intended to any individual or group)

8:59 AM  

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