Y Rod Liddle is Right

Not one to excessively meta-blog, but I have to recommend Rod Liddle’s column in The Sunday Times today.

He opines on the murder of Sophie Lancaster and the pustules of society that perpetrated it. He also comments on Tracy Lagondino, the woman who is pregnant and goes by the name Thomas Beatie. Apparently because she has had some plastic surgery and hormone treatments and changed her name, this is somehow remarkable.

The State of Oregon also let her change the “F” to “M” on her driver’s license, because Oregon believes that sex is determined by plastic surgery, hormone treatments and a name change. This make her transgendered. What legal fiction. She may be gender dysphoric – though apparently not as much as she used to be if she’s having a baby – but while doctors fill her with drugs and chop bits off, they still can’t change XX to XY.

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7 Responses to “Y Rod Liddle is Right”

  1. Nimravid Says:

    Is the presence or absence of a Y chromosome the sole determining factor in sex?

  2. Mary Says:

    Taking your question at face value, in a word, yes.

  3. Nimravid Says:

    In a word, no.

    I’m afraid you are mistaken. There are cases in which women have a Y chromosome due to a condition called XY sex reversal. There are also cases in which men have no Y chromosome due to a condition called XX sex reversal. There are also cases in which a person may have a chimeric genotype, possessing cells with an XX genotype and cells with an XY genotype. One woman whose body was made almost entirely of XY cells (and thus according to you would be a man) happened to have XX cells that developed into her reproductive tract while she was an embryo and hijacked her development, causing her to develop as a female. In spite of being mostly XY, she successfully carried a pregnancy to term.

    If all of these wacky things can cause someone with a genotype typical of one sex to develop as the other sex, there is no reason why a person might also develop externally as their genetic sex yet mentally as the opposite sex.

  4. sol Says:

    So are you suggesting that Ms Lagindino is in posession of XY chromosomes? If not, again, her pregnancy is nothing special. The woman you referred to, who was genetically malformed, might be something closer to a story of a man having a baby.

    But given that she is the result of the amalgamation of two different zygotes in a single embryo and not of a lifestyle choice much pandered to on the Left Coast, I can see why she’s not in the news.

    So really, for all practical purposes, Mary’s answer is correct.

  5. Nimravid Says:

    You miss the point. Embryonic development of the reproductive tract is more complicated than you think it is. Embryonic development of a human’s brain is even more complicated than that. It’s naive to think that XX=female and XY=male are cast-iron absolutes when know absolutely that is not the case.

  6. sol Says:

    You miss the point. It is not the fact that XX=female and XY=male in all but a few cases. It is rather that Ms Lagindino-Beatie is not a man having a baby. She is a woman having a baby.

  7. Nimravid Says:

    Sigh. Let’s try this again. You say:

    “they still can’t change XX to XY.”

    Assumption: XY == male, XX == female

    Further assumptions: phenotype typically male == male, phenotype typically female == female

    The first is not correct. The second is also not correct. There are a lot of kids born with ambiguous genitalia that were “corrected” to female and grew up unfortunately mentally male. There are a lot of kids born with genitalia appearing female that grew up male.

    Most of these cases involve an identifiable genetic mutation. Knowing genetic mutations can produce these results, it’s foolish to rule out genetic causes for reversed sex-identity in cases where we do not know the exact gene. The only reason I can see to draw such a self-contradictory conclusion is a knee-jerk reaction to a situation offending one’s religious or political sensibilities.

    If there can be a mismatch between a person’s genotype and their phenotype, there can also be a mismatch between a person’s phenotype and their self-identified sex–not which one they “choose”, because that’s not the way people work. I doubt you or I woke up this morning and thought, “Today I will choose to be male” or “Today I will choose to be female”. A person begins to identify as one sex or the other early in childhood. For most people the self-identified sex aligns with phenotype, and phenotype aligns with genotype. But this is not true for all people.

    You call it “legal fiction” that he is considered male. This is based upon a dogmatic assertion that XY == male–which you acknowledge is not necessarily true. There are other intersex and transgendered people that think that the sex assigned to them by the state is a “legal fiction”. Considering the person with the interest in this issue is that individual, the state and the rest of the community should mind their own business.

    I do not find it particularly interesting that Thomas Beatie is having a kid. I do find it interesting that you consider yourself qualified to judge what sex Thomas Beatie *really* is in spite of the knowledge that sexual differentiation is a complicated, multifactorial process that is known to produce unexpected results.


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