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Denial, Inequality, and Ignorance, Oh My

There’s a long piece I’ve been procrastinating on / working on for weeks (WokeBros™ Are Pushing Us Into A Republican Trap) , and now all this blows up. Maya Forstater’s judge with no judgement [1]. JKRowling deciding enough is enough [2]. By the time I push the “publish” button, this will be hours out of date and suitable for the Stone Ages.

Anyway, just some minor commentary which everyone else has already said too.

Mammalian sexes are not a spectrum. They are binary. There is the large gamete sex, female, and the small gamete sex, male. That’s it. There ain’t no more. Spergs and speggs don’t exist.

Earliest instance found: by Pinepalm [3] on reddit.

Denying this biological reality is more la-la than being a Flat Earther. At least a Flat Earth *looks* plausible if you’re completely ignorant. Denying biological sex is denying how babies get made and that is something all of humanity is rather clear on. (Well, except for WokeBros™, male or female.) It’s much much much stupider than denying evolution or climate science since those require a minimal understanding of not-always-immediately-obvious evidence.

The usual refrain, including from some biologists, is “but, but clownfish!” Yes, there are clownfish. Yes, there’s sea lettuce (Ulva sp.) with identical sized gametes. Yes, some fungi have dozens of mating strains with very complex ways of producing the next generation. Invertebrate animals have all sorts of gametic flexibility. Even alligators and some birds have temperature-dependent sex ratios in their offspring.

Notice one thing about all of those? They are not mammals. Humans are mammals. We have none of that sexual diversity. In humans sex is binary. End of story.

Intersex individuals do not change that. They have chromosomal or developmental variants superimposed on the basic binary. Their secondary sexual characteristics can vary from the usual. Since everything except the production of egg or sperm is a secondary sexual characteristic, including organs like penis, vagina, or breasts, looks can be unrelated to genetics. That means without scientific tools, like karyotyping or DNA sequencing, the genetics is unknown.

The existence of variants does not turn sex into a spectrum any more than the existence of babies born without limbs means that there’s a spectrum of leg formation. Chimeric inheritance is a condition where two zygotes (fused egg and sperm) fuse together and develop as one individual. The cells derived from one of the two can be interspersed or more or less separate in different organ systems or even sides of the person. That can result in a very rare Difference of Sex Development (DSD) where there’s one ovary and one testicle in one body. (The two hormone systems interfere with each other during development, so there have been no documented cases of both systems being fertile.) In another situation, separation of one embryo into two may stop before completion and conjoined twins result. But the existence of developmental variants like chimerism or conjoined twins does not imply we’re all on a spectrum from one to multiple people.

Intersex individuals are uncommon. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is the commonest, at about 1.4% of live births. All the other forms combined come to 0.1%, one in a thousand, live births. CAH causes overproduction of hormones. Since a number of sex organs are developed from homologous embryonic tissues (clitoris – penis, outer labia – scrotum) overproduction during development can — does not always — alter external morphology to superficially resemble the opposite sex.

Chromosomal abnormalities, like XXY, or XYY, or XO, also change nothing about the sex binary. They either result in individuals indistinguishable from XX / XY without genetic testing, or in individuals who don’t reproduce but look and are treated as female or male. They have nothing to do with the desire to transition to some other social role.

To me, an interesting side note is XO, also known as 45X, aka Turner syndrome. Just one X chromosome results in a female-looking individual who is sterile. The second X has a role only in the formation of the female reproductive tract. One of the two Xs is eventually inactivated in each cell during development. The only function of the Y chromosome is to develop the variants on the female pattern that result in male reproduction. In other words, human society has been wrong about this for millenia. Male is not the default. Female is the default.

A chart of DSDs annotated to show their rarity and the point that about 75% of them are due to just one of the factors noted, congenital adrenal hyperplasia. (The original image is here [4], full size image here [5])

None of the above has anything to do with gender, which is the main concern of trans people. Gender is defined as the collection of character traits society decides belong to people based on their sex. Social constructs can be anything society decides — there’s no limit on alphabets, for instance. So if trans people want to invert or subvert or multiply genders, that’s up to them.

Which brings me to the other thing that made my jaw drop about this massive kerfuffle. When JKRowling made her extraordinarily obvious tweet:


the bad feelings engendered in some of the trans community were explained in a thread on Twitter.

@alicegoldfuss / ms claws is a protected account. This quote was in a comment by @jackstarbright / Amanda [6].

JKRowling’s points are “not actual support.”

Well, DUH. Of course they’re not. You’re not supporting me, you know. Nor do you have to. Neither do I have to support you. In a free society we all have equal rights and nobody gets to demand service from others. We just leave each other alone to live our lives as we want and as best we can.

It’s called equal rights. Not equal support. Who died and made you king of deciding who has to stand ready with support?

That attitude of expecting others to forget their own needs and support transwomen is so blitheringly smug and entitled, it’s mindboggling.

It also reminds me a lot of something I see out in the world all the time. Something like a class of people who seem to think women should always hover about fulfilling their needs…. It’s on the tip of my tongue…. But that can’t be right because the transwomen who have that attitude are quite sure they’re women.

11 Comments (Open | Close)

11 Comments To "Denial, Inequality, and Ignorance, Oh My"

#1 Comment By earlynerd On 25 Dec, 2019 @ 00:54

(formerly PDXpat, but with what this state now is..)

SO very glad to see one woman not bow to online and CW pressure wrt fake females. As someone once said, and as I read again online recently, men will give anyone else rights before they’ll grant women equality.

I and more than half the population of the fkn world have lived all our lives up to now with all the bondage, all the legal constraints, all the limits on us solely due to men having the brute force use of law – everywhere, in almost every country.

NOW we’re to fkn kowtow to male wannabe’s? Oregon’s AG’s civil rights officer recently confirmed that women, all 51% of us, were left out of that state’s hate crimes laws, but that “transgender” and “sexual identification” were added last year to Oregon’s hate crime’s statues.

As a lesbian, non-white identifying female, she was sure that women as women had no issues, and our only ethical issues were a one-way fight for -her- rights. Forget the men in her various groups, they were already pre-pardoned.

From the brave lesbian women I’ve seen posting here over the years, I know that her attitude doesn’t represent lesbian women everywhere, just in cowardly, convenient Oregon.

How is this different than blackface? Wasn’t Pierre Trudeau recently excoriated for an innocuous appearance as Alladin? How are males vacay’ing in women’s lived existence any different?

But if women in the U.S. weren’t such craven sellouts, this, as well as abortion, birth control and all other equal rights would have been settled this twenty years or more.

I’m glad to see at least one surviving example of online integrity.

#2 Comment By quixote On 25 Dec, 2019 @ 14:56

Hi, early! Spend more time on the British web. They’re more lionhearted over there 😀 . (Seriously. Lots of good stuff. Jane Clare Jones, Kathleen Stock, Sarah Ditum, Helen Joyce, Rosa Freedman, the Mumsnet forums under Talk called Women’s Rights, Julie Bindel, Graham Linehan, and that’s just a few.) I guess it makes sense that the land of the Magna Carta would have a better sense of rights?

‘…women were left out of that state’s hate crimes laws, but “transgender” and “sexual identification” were added last year to Oregon’s hate crimes statutes.’ *This* is the garbage that just makes me want to stop the world and fly off. Considering the war-level violence against women, the effortless and total ignorance of it is an insult so vast it’s impossible to even see all of it in one go.

If you’re thinking of this brilliant summary: Fully Raw Cannibals Will Have Rights Before Women, I’m pretty sure that comes from Riverdaughter, of confluence.com and, no doubt, twitter. It’s true, too.

I don’t know where all this is headed. Once upon a time I would have said, Nah, they would *never* do that — meaning fall down a well of denying totally obvious facts — but there’s really no predicting what people are capable of.

#3 Comment By Earlynerd On 25 Dec, 2019 @ 23:56

“I guess it makes sense that the land of the Magna Carta would have a better sense of rights?”

Whereas in America, women are living in pre-Carta divine right days, given that the reason the courts are letting male governed churches govern us is cause “God said so”.

Thanks, Q, for understanding why this is soooooo infuriating. It just helps to have somewhere for a reality check, where I won’t get swarmed by people who may have meant well at one point but now seem to have become a reflexive thoughtless mob.

I seem to remember that Riverdaughter post too – she did put it well and succintly. As I must have said before, I think the reason it’s true is that the one equality that keeps coming in last is the one that would cost men absolutely the most – not just the annexed uteri they’re getting back now almost free of charge, but all the enormous economic, emotioinal and status benefits they get from their current master-servant relationship with women. And the ones who have the most to lose are white men, which is why their pool of available servants-in-waiting, white women, must be kept as wide and deep and dependent as possible. Hence, the recent and successful on-line hate campaigns, hence the absurdity of laws like the hate crimes laws here.

Thank you for the recommendations, they sound like a much needed relief. I should mention, too, that I got stuck in, of all places, southern Oregon. It was the only available housing after that company and Oregon state’s refusal to abide by and enforce the law left me homeless for over a year. So any relief from these tRump-loving, subservient-woman-demanding, logger wannabes is very very welcome.

#4 Comment By earlynerd On 27 Dec, 2019 @ 00:13

This is the horror, the violation of human dignity that paved the way for Trump and his cohorts.

I posted almost a decade ago that Jesse Helms was an exemplar of why liberal males allowed racism in any politician, so long as they guaranteed sexism.

This horror is the reality that comes from that. All of Toni Morrison’s “oh, *I’m* not a white woman. What’s done to them doesn’t matter to me” falls by the wayside. THIS IS SLAVERY.

[7]

#5 Comment By quixote On 27 Dec, 2019 @ 22:59

That story about rapists and custody … . just no words.

More proof, as if we needed any, that the only purpose of the anti-abortion laws is to turn women into brood mares, and whose feelings matter about as much as those of livestock.

#6 Comment By NW Luna On 28 Dec, 2019 @ 14:13

“The only function of the Y chromosome is to develop the variants on the female pattern that result in male reproduction. … Female is the default.”

I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to read someone who knows real science! There is so much bullshit around such as “intersex is as common as redheads,” to mention just the latest inaccuracy I’ve had the displeasure to read.

In my first biology classes I’d wonder why that interesting fact of female being the default in development from embryo (hazy on reproductive medicine now — does it start even as early as the blastocyst?) to fetus was never remarked on. How naive I was. Of course that fact is inconvenient to the male powers.

The whole Rowling kerfluffle — I feel as if we could say “the sky is blue” to TRAs and they’d yell “transphobe!” Biology doesn’t hate transpeople.

Too bad trans people think they have to change body parts to wear and behave a certain way. They’re stuck in sexist stereotypes. This is excluding those who are AGP.

If transwomen were really women, they’d know why we feel unsafe and uncomfortable with male-bodied people in our restrooms, changing rooms, and shelters.

#7 Comment By quixote On 28 Dec, 2019 @ 22:27

Yeah, Luna. As a bright wit said (Miranda Yardley?), they identify as women but not with women

#8 Comment By Branjor On 03 Jan, 2020 @ 09:56

To identify with women would make them allies and they are certainly no allies of women. They are, as men have been for ages now, colonizers of women. Nothing new except for the new way they have found to do it.

#9 Comment By Branjor On 03 Jan, 2020 @ 17:06

[removed by request of poster]

#10 Comment By quixote On 03 Jan, 2020 @ 20:43

No problem, Branjor. (I also removed the comment in ref to that, since it now points to nothing. Hope that’s okay?)

At least the situation on the UK web gives me some hope that people are starting to say, “Wait. What? You want me to mouth total nonsense? That’s not tolerance. That’s stupid.”

Since that’s reality, it’s inevitable it eventually spreads. I just hope it doesn’t take forever in our neck of the woods!

#11 Comment By Branjor On 04 Jan, 2020 @ 11:17

Thanks, Quixote! 🙂