Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Do chromosomes define us?

I recently read an article called I'm a woman with male chromosomes and I learned about an issue I had only vaguely heard of before: Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS). The article tells the story of a young woman who was born with female parts on the outside but on the inside, had somewhat male parts. Apparently she was born with XY chromosomes but her body in the womb developed everything on the outside as female so she had a vagina like any other woman but there was no uterus and no ovaries.

She talks about the stress of living with this condition...how girly she was and yet she was constantly ridiculed as "being a boy" because she had XY chromosomes. Reading her story, I found I could completely relate. I mean, I don't have AIS, I wasn't born with a vagina but even with my male parts intact, something did happen in my brain or somewhere else in my body in the womb such that I now know I am a girl.

The article also took me back to my parents and my ex-wife telling me that no matter what I did to my body, my chromosomes would always be XY so I would always be a "man". Well tell me please....is this woman a man? I don't think anyone in their right mind would say so and though my condition is not quite the same, it's very similar.

Also, I read somewhere recently about the Nikki Araguz case that in some previous cases in Texas, they considered gender to be a combination of what your birth certificate and what other documents say as well as your chromosomes. I was kind of taken aback because in most cases, once you change your birth certificate to female, there's no way someone can say you're male. So here is a case where if they really considered chromosomes to define gender, they'd have to be crazy.

I like this article because it brings up an issue that is more closely understood by others than the usual Transgenderism issues and yet it's very closely related. I've often wondered about getting a kareotype test to find out if I'm one of the rare cases of XXY but the truth is that no matter if my chromosomes are XXY or XY, I know I am a woman.


Shannon said...

Yes, you are a woman. A beautiful and precious daughter of God. And my Poppa has spent a lot of sweat and tears to bring you to this point in your life. I happen to know that He is very fond of you! I know because He told me so!

Jen said...

I'm not in the habit of commenting on total strangers blogs, however this is an excellent subject and I couldn’t help myself. I agree with you 100% There are so many variations in the gender vs. chromosome debate I can’t understand why people don’t get it other than just a lack of education or a strong prejudice. You bring up a good point with AIS, and also Klinefelter's syndrome (XXY), and there’s another called CAH, (congenital adrenal hyperplasia) which is responsible for people who are born intersex. There are so many scientific contradictions to the XY=male, XX=female paradigm. But you’re right at the end of the day if you know who you are, that's all that matters.

Rick Muth said...

I find this very interesting. Sounds like a good topic for a video.

Lucy Melford said...

Well, I have had it thrown at me that 'because I have XY chromosomes' I will forever 'be a man' no matter how I look or behave. I have rejected that particular assertion on the ground that, rare though they might be, there are XY women. Besides, I haven't had any chromosome test: I'm almost certainly XY, but nobody really knows. (I wonder what would be said if it were proved that I am some other variant)

The long and short of it is that chromosomes don't determine what you are. I reckon what happens in your brain does. Or indeed what is in God's mind.


Allison said...

Very well written, Debra. Life and biology is so much more complex than people want to admit. I'm glad that you are so confident in who you are.

Lady Jane said...

Just wanted to let you know I'm following you on Twitter now, "en homme," as they say. Looking forward to your updates!

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