NO DOUBT ABOUT THIS-----THIS GENDER IDENTITY MOVEMENT IS DRIVEN BY GLOBAL BANKING 1%.
'The Lawrence Court could have struck down the law under the Equal Protection Clause but chose instead to rely on the Due Process Clause, which protects the fundamental right of privacy. The Court wrote that it did not want to rely on equal protection because if it did, “some might question whether a prohibition would be valid if drawn differently, say, to prohibit the conduct both between same-sex and different sex participants.” Lawrence was also important because, while it protected everyone’s privacy, not just LGBT’s, it explicitly discussed LGBT’s capacity for love, intimacy, and dignity. Although the Court noted that same-sex marriage was not at issue in the case, the implications for marriage equality were obvious'.
When we listen to any media outlet tied to the GENDER IDENTITY NON-BINARY crowd they always make clear-----our GBLT as a population group have mostly identified with being male or female----even our trans citizens feel they want to be man changing to woman----woman changing to man. Bringing the discussion of BODY PARTS into what sex someone is defined is specific to GENDER BLENDING and yes, it does to a large extent tie to the brain and perception.
We acknowledge that for thousands of years there has been a spectrum of gender identity------of a 10% of GBLT population identifying as one sex or the other there no doubt has been a few percentage of citizens finding NO IDENTITY TO EITHER SEX----due to natural biochemistry.
Our discussion focuses on what we KNOW TO BE ARTIFICIALLY MANIPULATED SEX CHROMOSOMES in fetus meant to deliberately create a blending of gender with NO PERMISSION to do so.
So, as CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA MOVE FORWARD human capital as hybrids to be designed according to order-------we have known through hybridization of lower animals and mammals----like our DONKEY/MULE----manipulation of sex chromosomes leaves that hybrid sterile----unable to reproduce.
The mighty Chimera—a single body sprouting lion, goat and snake heads—is one of the most recognizable mythological beasts. The modern chimera is not so physically striking, being a hybrid organism with organs or tissues from multiple species. But it could become an important tool for medical research. Scientists have mixed-and-matched human and animal cells for years, hoping to one day grow replacement human organs or discover genetic pathways of human diseases.
Last year, though, the National Institutes of Health banned funding of animal-human chimeras until it could figure out whether any of this work would bump against ethical boundaries. Like: Could brain scientists endow research animals with human cognitive abilities, or even consciousness, while transplanting human stem cells into the brain of a developing animal embryo? Would it be morally wrong to create animals with human feet, hands, or a face in order to study human morphology? Modern medicine thinks before it acts.
After a nearly year-long ban, on August 4 the NIH said it would soon lift its moratorium and again start accepting grant applications from research labs that want to develop human-animal chimeras. “We thought it was good time to take a deep breath, pause and make sure the ethical frameworks that we have in place allows us to move forward and conduct this research responsibly,” says Carrie Wolinetz, associate director for science policy at NIH.
The boundary between human and animal is not just a philosophical debate. Human subjects in medical research have greater legal protections than laboratory animals, according to Rob Streiffer, assistant professor of bioethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “What it takes to cross a line is a contentious issue,” says Streiffer. For example, some people believe that a lot of animal testing is wrong, because many animals can feel pain and suffering. Others argue that any organism that displays uniquely human traits—things like autonomy, moral reasoning, and controlling one's own behavior—ought to be excluded from research.
Under the new rules, a panel will review any projects that introduce human cells in early vertebrate embryos or introduce human cells in later stage mammals that could change an animal’s brain functions. The new guidelines keep existing restrictions against putting human cells into early-stage primate embryos like monkeys, and prohibit breeding animals that have human cells inside—so any pigoons would have to be sterile.1
Chimera research will be made easier by new gene-editing technologies like Crispr, in combination with human stem cell manipulations that let scientists form any kind of tissue. “The intersection of those two [gene-editing and stem cell technologies] allow us to create animal-human chimeras for research that are little more advanced than the past, triggering questions about animal welfare,” says Wolinetz. While animal-human chimeras have been around for several decades, the ability to transplant human brain tissue into developing animal embryos—potentially endowing animals with more human-like consciousness—drives the debate that led to the NIH’s initial ban.
NIH officials say there are fewer than a dozen US academic labs researching with animal-human chimeras. One is at Stanford University, where Sean Wu is working to understand how to repair human heart tissue. He’s pleased that his work can continue, even if there may be an extra layer of bureaucracy.
Still, Wu says some ethical concerns about human behavior or functions being transplanted into animals are in the realm of science fiction. “There’s a lot of concern and speculation and no data that anyone can offer,” he says. “We think there should be a way to carefully move forward so we can know what are the limits.” The NIH wants to hear from the public and scientists over the next 30 days before coming up with final guidelines, and it expects to fund a new batch of human-animal chimera grants by January 2017.
One way to avoid the consciousness-raising quandary is by deleting bits of DNA that are responsible for the development of certain parts of the human brain before implanting into a lab animal. That way, you could still study the origins of Alzheimer’s or other brain diseases without worrying about creating a human-like animal. “The science is moving very fast,” says Wu. The NIH just wants to make sure its standards can keep up.
Global banking 1% CLINTON, BUSH., OBAMA and their 5% to the 1% pols and players are MOVING FORWARD designer human genetics. As we stated----when George Bush PRETENDED to speak for a FAKE 5% RELIGIOUS RIGHT in stopping embryonic stem cell research in US------Bush and CARLYLE GROUP along with those FAKE 5% RELIGIOUS RIGHT players expanded far-right wing global hedge fund IVY LEAGUES STANFORD AND JOHNS HOPKINS overseas to get the first crack at patenting human genome biogenetics creating those global medical corporations to do so. Because they were overseas---they did anything they wanted to humans, fetus, and DNA--genetic code. These global biogenetic corporations came back to US during OBAMA with total deregulation of US medical and public health with AFFORDABLE CARE ACT. So, the creation of manipulated sex chromosomes blending gender a few decades ago is followed by our GENDER IDENTITY BLENDED CITIZENS now reaching the age of 15-20 years coming back to US ------and these are the global banking 1% GENDER IDENTITY MOVEMENT.
REAL LEFT social progressives want to assure our gender blended citizens do receive all rights and opportunities of EQUAL PROTECTION-----we simply know that these citizens have be VICTIMIZED IN THE WORST OF WAYS having had no say in manipulations in labs with SCIENCE FOR SCIENCE SAKE SOCIOPATHS deliberately harming these citizens for life.
'The term “epigenetics” is defined literally as “in addition to genetics” but in reality refers to changes in the DNA or surrounding chromatin that influence gene expression but do not change genetic composition'.
There are two biochemical techniques that had to combine to advance the current gender blending in fetus-----first is direct INSERTION OF MULTIPLE X AND Y CHROMOSOMES----in various combinations to study changes in gender behavior and association. Second, there had to have been hormone and other biochemical manipulation tied to BRAIN IDENTIFICATION of gender. This could have been done by AGAIN GENETIC manipulation of genes tied to release of these biochemicals----or it could have been done through MICROCHIP or direct application of those biochemicals tied to gender identity.
When our gender blended citizens say GENDER IS IN THE BRAIN------this is what they mean-------epigenetics of sex differences in the brain until CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA kept humans tied to male female gender boundaries------this current MANIPULATION of sex chromosomes take humans outside these boundaries.
The article below is complicated in STEM issues----we share one less complicated after this.
J Neurosci. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 Apr 14.
Published in final edited form as:
J Neurosci. 2009 Oct 14; 29(41): 12815–12823.
The Epigenetics of Sex Differences in the Brain
Margaret M. McCarthy,1 Anthony P. Auger,2 Tracy L. Bale,3 Geert J. De Vries,4 Gregory A. Dunn,3 Nancy G. Forger,4 Elaine K. Murray,4 Bridget M. Nugent,1 Jaclyn M. Schwarz,5 and Melinda E. Wilson6
Author information ► Copyright and License information ►
The publisher's final edited version of this article is available free at J Neurosci
See other articles in PMC that cite the published article.
Epigenetic changes in the nervous system are emerging as a critical component of enduring effects induced by early life experience, hormonal exposure, trauma and injury or learning and memory. Sex differences in the brain are largely determined by steroid hormone exposure during a perinatal sensitive period that alters subsequent hormonal and non-hormonal responses throughout the life span. Steroid receptors are members of a nuclear receptor transcription factor superfamily and recruit multiple proteins that possess enzymatic activity relevant to epigenetic changes such as acetylation and methylation. Thus steroid hormones are uniquely poised to exert epigenetic effects on the developing nervous system to dictate adult sex differences in brain and behavior. Sex differences in the methylation pattern in the promoter of estrogen and progesterone receptor genes are evident in newborns and persist in adults but with a different pattern. Changes in response to injury and in methyl binding proteins and steroid receptor coregulatory proteins are also reported. Many steroid-induced epigenetic changes are opportunistic and restricted to a single lifespan but new evidence suggests endocrine disrupting compounds can exert multigenerational effects. Similarly, maternal diet also induces transgenerational effects but the impact is sex specific. The study of epigenetics of sex differences is in its earliest stages, with needed advances in understanding of the hormonal regulation of enzymes controlling acetylation and methylation, coregulatory proteins, transient versus stable DNA methylation patterns and sex differences across the epigenome in order to fully understand sex differences in brain and behavior.
Now, global banking 1% want global 99% of citizens to believe that in 1998 -------with all the literature and movies around BRAVE NEW WORLD-----1970s short stories UTOPIA tied to manufacturing infants to order-----that we happened upon in this same time period all these global citizens struggling in remote places of the world with gender blending issues.
GENDER REVOLUTION IS MONSANTO'S GREEN REVOLUTION------PRESENTED BY THE SAME FAR-RIGHT WING GLOBAL 1% CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA-----GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM COMES TO HUMANS.
How Science Is Helping Us Understand Gender
Freed from the binary of boy and girl, gender identity is a shifting landscape. Can science help us navigate?
When Massachusetts twins Caleb (left) and Emmie (right) Smith were born in 1998, it was hard to tell them apart. Today Emmie says, “When we were 12, I didn’t feel like a boy, but I didn’t know it was possible to be a girl.” At 17 Emmie came out as transgender, and recently she underwent gender-confirmation surgery. She plays down its significance: “I was no less of a woman before it, and I’m no more of one today.”
Wearing a suit to the eighth-grade prom was an early step on Ray Craig’s journey toward being a “trans guy,” although he decided to wait until after graduating from his middle school in New York State to go public. Now everyone calls him by male pronouns. Ray’s father wasn’t surprised to learn Ray identified as a boy, but “I wasn’t sure if it would be a six-week phase or a four-year phase or a permanent thing.” Next step: thinking about hormone blockers that suppress puberty.
Oti, nine, was assigned male at birth but never felt that way. When she learned to speak, she didn’t say, “I feel like a girl,” but rather “I am a girl.” Oti brought her parents and three older siblings into the transgender activist community. “It’s been so great,” her father, David, says. “We’ve met incredible people who’ve gone through an incredible amount. She opened me. I’m her dad, but she is a leader for me.”
She has always felt more boyish than girlish.
From an early age, E, as she prefers to be called for this story, hated wearing dresses, liked basketball, skateboarding, video games. When we met in May in New York City at an end-of-the-year show for her high school speech team, E was wearing a tailored Brooks Brothers suit and a bow tie from her vast collection. With supershort red hair, a creamy complexion, and delicate features, the 14-year-old looked like a formally dressed, earthbound Peter Pan.
Later that evening E searched for the right label for her gender identity. “Transgender” didn’t quite fit, she told me. For one thing she was still using her birth name and still preferred being referred to as “she.” And while other trans kids often talk about how they’ve always known they were born in the “wrong” body, she said, “I just think I need to make alterations in the body I have, to make it feel like the body I need it to be.” By which she meant a body that doesn’t menstruate and has no breasts, with more defined facial contours and “a ginger beard.” Does that make E a trans guy? A girl who is, as she put it, “insanely androgynous”? Or just someone who rejects the trappings of traditional gender roles altogether?
You’ve probably heard a lot of stories like E’s recently. But that’s the whole point: She’s questioning her gender identity, rather than just accepting her hobbies and wardrobe choices as those of a tomboy, because we’re talking so much about transgender issues these days. These conversations have led to better head counts of transgender Americans, with a doubling, in just a decade, of adults officially tallied as transgender in national surveys; an increase in the number of people who are gender nonconforming, a broad category that didn’t even have a name a generation ago; a rise in the number of elementary school–age children questioning what gender they are; and a growing awareness of the extremely high risk for all of these people to be bullied, to be sexually assaulted, or to attempt suicide.
Carlos, 12, holds a photo of himself as a girl. He is one of a small group of children born in the Dominican Republic with an enzyme deficiency. Their genitalia appear female at birth—then, with a surge of testosterone at puberty, they develop male genitals and mature into men. His uncle simply says Carlos “found his own rhythm.”
Born with an intersex chromosomal condition, Emma, 17, had incomplete male and female anatomy. She was raised as a girl, always aware of her special situation. “I’m comfortable with my differences,” she says. Shy and inventive, she spends hours among the clouds in her bedroom in Florida creating intricate adventures and videos using My Little Pony dolls.
Jonathan, eight, has identified as both a boy and a girl at the same time since age two and a half. At California’s Bay Area Rainbow Day Camp, where children can safely express their gender identities, Jonathan tries on life as a unicorn.
The conversation continues, with evolving notions about what it means to be a woman or a man and the meanings of transgender, cisgender, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, agender, or any of the more than 50 terms Facebook offers users for their profiles. At the same time, scientists are uncovering new complexities in the biological understanding of sex.
Many of us learned in high school biology that sex chromosomes determine a baby’s sex, full stop: XX means it’s a girl; XY means it’s a boy. But on occasion, XX and XY don’t tell the whole story.
Today we know that the various elements of what we consider “male” and “female” don’t always line up neatly, with all the XXs—complete with ovaries, vagina, estrogen, female gender identity, and feminine behavior—on one side and all the XYs—testes, penis, testosterone, male gender identity, and masculine behavior—on the other. It’s possible to be XX and mostly male in terms of anatomy, physiology, and psychology, just as it’s possible to be XY and mostly female.
Each embryo starts out with a pair of primitive organs, the proto-gonads, that develop into male or female gonads at about six to eight weeks. Sex differentiation is usually set in motion by a gene on the Y chromosome, the SRY gene, that makes the proto-gonads turn into testes. The testes then secrete testosterone and other male hormones (collectively called androgens), and the fetus develops a prostate, scrotum, and penis. Without the SRY gene, the proto-gonads become ovaries that secrete estrogen, and the fetus develops female anatomy (uterus, vagina, and clitoris).
But the SRY gene’s function isn’t always straightforward. The gene might be missing or dysfunctional, leading to an XY embryo that fails to develop male anatomy and is identified at birth as a girl. Or it might show up on the X chromosome, leading to an XX embryo that does develop male anatomy and is identified at birth as a boy.
A recent survey of a thousand millennials found that half of them think gender is a spectrum. Genetic variations can occur that are unrelated to the SRY gene, such as complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS), in which an XY embryo’s cells respond minimally, if at all, to the signals of male hormones. Even though the proto-gonads become testes and the fetus produces androgens, male genitals don’t develop. The baby looks female, with a clitoris and vagina, and in most cases will grow up feeling herself to be a girl.
Which is this baby, then? Is she the girl she believes herself to be? Or, because of her XY chromosomes—not to mention the testes in her abdomen—is she “really” male?
Georgiann Davis, 35, was born with CAIS but didn’t know about it until she stumbled upon that information in her medical records when she was nearly 20. No one had ever mentioned her XY status, even when doctors identified it when she was 13 and sent her for surgery at 17 to remove her undescended testes. Rather than reveal what the operation really was for, her parents agreed that the doctors would invent imaginary ovaries that were precancerous and had to be removed.
In other words, they chose to tell their daughter a lie about being at risk for cancer rather than the truth about being intersex—with reproductive anatomy and genetics that didn’t fit the strict definitions of female and male.
“Was having an intersex trait that horrible?” wrote Davis, now a sociologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in Contesting Intersex: The Dubious Diagnosis. “I remember thinking I must be a real freak if even my parents hadn’t been able to tell me the truth.”
A Third Gender in Polynesia
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In Samoa, best friends 12-year-old Sandy (at left) and 10-year-old Mandy (in white T-shirt) do an impromptu dance with their friends and cousins. They identify as fa‘afafine, a gender other than boy or girl. Fa‘afafine children generally take on girls’ roles in play and family. As adults they remain anatomically male with feminine appearance and mannerisms. They help with household chores and childcare and choose men for sexual partners.
Trisha Tuiloma (at right) and a cousin (at left) help prepare the Sunday meal at Tuiloma’s mother’s house. Tuiloma is fa‘afafine, and she feels certain that her five-year-old nephew, lounging across her lap, is too.
Mandy, in her beloved high-heeled sandals, turns towels on a clothesline into a costume only she can imagine—off in her own world of daydreams.
Mandy, wearing one of her favorite dresses, adorns her hair with a matching yellow blossom.
Sandy (foreground) and Mandy take a break from the midday sun and heat, resting and whispering on a platform bed in Mandy’s home. The friends are dressed in lavalavas, traditional Samoan clothing worn by both women and men.
Another intersex trait occurs in an isolated region of the Dominican Republic; it is sometimes referred to disparagingly as guevedoce--“penis at 12.” It was first formally studied in the 1970s by Julianne Imperato-McGinley, an endocrinologist from the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, who had heard about a cohort of these children in the village of Las Salinas. Imperato-McGinley knew that ordinarily, at around eight weeks gestational age, an enzyme in male embryos converts testosterone into the potent hormone DHT. When DHT is present, the embryonic structure called a tubercle grows into a penis; when it’s absent, the tubercle becomes a clitoris. Embryos with this condition, Imperato-McGinley revealed, lack the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT, so they are born with genitals that appear female. They are raised as girls. Some think of themselves as typical girls; others sense that something is different, though they’re not sure what.
But the second phase of masculinization, which happens at puberty, requires no DHT, only a high level of testosterone, which these children produce at normal levels. They have a surge of it at about age 12, just as most boys do, and experience the changes that will turn them into men (although they’re generally infertile): Their voices deepen, muscles develop, facial and body hair appear. And in their case, what had at first seemed to be a clitoris grows into a penis.
When Imperato-McGinley first went to the Dominican Republic, she told me, newly sprouted males were suspect and had to prove themselves more emphatically than other boys did, with impromptu rituals involving blades, before they were accepted as real men. Today these children are generally identified at birth, since parents have learned to look more carefully at newborns’ genitals. But they are often raised as girls anyway.
Gender is an amalgamation of several elements: chromosomes (those X’s and Y’s), anatomy (internal sex organs and external genitals), hormones (relative levels of testosterone and estrogen), psychology (self-defined gender identity), and culture (socially defined gender behaviors). And sometimes people who are born with the chromosomes and genitals of one sex realize that they are transgender, meaning they have an internal gender identity that aligns with the opposite sex—or even, occasionally, with neither gender or with no gender at all.
Living Under Constant Threat
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English (red hair) and Sasha (both street names) live with other transgender women in a storm-water diversion gully in Kingston, Jamaica. Many hide during the day to avoid being attacked and go out to look for sex work at night. Days after these photos were taken, two gangs doused everyone there and all their belongings with gasoline and set them on fire. Both English and Sasha were injured.
For five years Trina (her street name) has been “on the road”—a Jamaican phrase referring to the lifestyle of transgender people forced to leave home and do sex work to survive. Trina has been attacked with acid, knives, a machete, and a gun. She shows the scar from a bullet wound on her right hip.
“Lizzie” demonstrates how easy it is for potential attackers to break into the abandoned house in Kingston that she and other transgender women have taken over, cleaned up, and made somewhat habitable. The cross on the wall, drawn by “Strawberry,” the house leader, represents a hope for protection from those who would do them harm.
While Sasha identifies as a woman, she reserves her feminine expression for the time she spends doing sex work at night. Now 21, Sasha was outed in eighth grade when a schoolmate crawled under a bathroom-stall door to see her body. She was threatened and attacked by family and friends.
As transgender issues become the fare of daily news—Caitlyn Jenner’s announcement that she is a trans woman, legislators across the United States arguing about who gets to use which bathroom—scientists are making their own strides, applying a variety of perspectives to investigate what being transgender is all about.
In terms of biology, some scientists think it might be traced to the syncopated pacing of fetal development. “Sexual differentiation of the genitals takes place in the first two months of pregnancy,” wrote Dick Swaab, a researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam, “and sexual differentiation of the brain starts during the second half of pregnancy.” Genitals and brains are thus subjected to different environments of “hormones, nutrients, medication, and other chemical substances,” several weeks apart in the womb, that affect sexual differentiation.
This doesn’t mean there’s such a thing as a “male” or “female” brain, exactly. But at least a few brain characteristics, such as density of the gray matter or size of the hypothalamus, do tend to differ between genders. It turns out transgender people’s brains may more closely resemble brains of their self-identified gender than those of the gender assigned at birth. In one study, for example, Swaab and his colleagues found that in one region of the brain, transgender women, like other women, have fewer cells associated with the regulator hormone somatostatin than men. In another study scientists from Spain conducted brain scans on transgender men and found that their white matter was neither typically male nor typically female, but somewhere in between.
These studies have several problems. They are often small, involving as few as half a dozen transgender individuals. And they sometimes include people who already have started taking hormones to transition to the opposite gender, meaning that observed brain differences might be the result of, rather than the explanation for, a subject’s transgender identity.
Transgender people are at extremely high risk to be bullied, to be sexually assaulted, or to attempt suicide.
Still, one finding in transgender research has been robust: a connection between gender nonconformity and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). According to John Strang, a pediatric neuropsychologist with the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Gender and Sexuality Development Program at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., children and adolescents on the autism spectrum are seven times more likely than other young people to be gender nonconforming. And, conversely, children and adolescents at gender clinics are six to 15 times more likely than other young people to have ASD.
Emily Brooks, 27, has autism and labels herself nonbinary, though she has kept her birth name. A slender person with a half-shaved head, turquoise streaks in her blond hair, and cute hipster glasses, Brooks recently finished a master’s degree at the City University of New York in disability studies and hopes eventually to create safer spaces for people who are gender nonconforming (which she defines quite broadly) and also have autism. Such people are battling both “ableism” and “transphobia,” she told me over soft drinks at a bar in midtown Manhattan. “And you can’t assume that a place that’s going to be respectful of one identity will be respectful of the other.”
As I sat with Brooks, talking about gender and autism, the bartender came over. “What else can I get you ladies?” he asked. Brooks bristled at being called a lady—evidence that her own search for a safe space is complicated not only by her autism but also by her rejection of the gender binary altogether.
There’s something to be said for the binary. The vast majority of people—more than 99 percent, it seems safe to say—put themselves at one end of the gender spectrum or the other. Being part of the gender binary simplifies the either-or of daily life: clothes shopping, sports teams, passports, the way a bartender asks for your order.
Identity, Sex, and Expression
People are almost always designated male or female at birth based on genitalia. Gender includes components such as gender identity and expression, but not sexual orientation. Some cultures recognize genders that are neither man nor woman. Visit our glossary of terms.
Usually established by age three, this is a deeply felt sense of being a man, a woman, or a gender that is both, fluid, or neither. Cisgender people identify with the sex assigned at birth; transgender people don’t.
both men and women or a gender that is neither
Adam’s apple (male)
Sex determination exists on a spectrum, with genitals, chromosomes, gonads, and
hormones all playing a role. Most fit into the male or female category, but about one in a hundred may fall in between.
body hair (male)
XX chromosomes, ovaries, female
genitals, and female secondary sexual characteristics
Any mix of male and
testicular and ovarian
tissue, genitals, other
XY chromosomes, testes, male
genitals, male secondary sexual characteristics
People express gender through clothing, behavior, language, and other outward signs. Whether these attributes are labeled masculine or feminine varies among cultures.
in ways a culture
being a woman
A combination of
masculine and feminine
traits or a nontraditional
in ways a culture
being a man
But people today—especially young people—are questioning not just the gender they were assigned at birth but also the gender binary itself. “I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy,” Miley Cyrus told Out magazine in 2015, when she was 22, “and I think that’s what I had to understand: Being a girl isn’t what I hate; it’s the box that I get put into.”
Members of Cyrus’s generation are more likely than their parents to think of gender as nonbinary. A recent survey of a thousand millennials ages 18 to 34 found that half of them think “gender is a spectrum, and some people fall outside conventional categories.” And a healthy subset of that half would consider themselves to be nonbinary, according to the Human Rights Campaign. In 2012 the advocacy group polled 10,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teens ages 13 to 17 and found that 6 percent categorized themselves as “genderfluid,” “androgynous,” or some other term outside the binary box.
Young people trying to pinpoint their own place on the spectrum often choose a pronoun they’d like others to use when referring to them. Even if they don’t feel precisely like a girl or a boy, they might still use “he” or “she,” as Emily Brooks does. But many opt instead for a gender-neutral pronoun like “they” or an invented one like “zie.”
Charlie Spiegel, 17, tried using “they” for a while, but now prefers “he.” Charlie was assigned female at birth. But when he went through puberty, Charlie told me by phone from his home in Oakland, California, being called a girl started to feel unsettling. “You know how sometimes you get a pair of shoes online,” he explained, “and it arrives and the label says it should be the right size, and you’re trying it on and it’s clearly not the right size?” That’s how gender felt to Charlie: The girl label was supposed to fit, but it didn’t.
One day during freshman year, Charlie wandered into the school library and picked up I Am J by Cris Beam, a novel about a transgender boy. “Yep, that sounds like me,” Charlie thought as he read it. The revelation was terrifying but also clarifying, a way to start making those metaphoric mail-order shoes less uncomfortable.
A better fitting gender identity didn’t come along right away, though. Charlie—a member of the Youth Council at Gender Spectrum, a national support and advocacy group for transgender and nonbinary teens—went through a process of trial and error similar to that described by other gender-questioning teens. First he tried “butch lesbian,” then “genderfluid,” before settling on his current identity, “nonbinary trans guy.” It might sound almost like an oxymoron—aren’t “nonbinary” and “guy” mutually exclusive?—but the combination feels right to Charlie. He was heading off to college a few months after our conversation, getting ready to start taking testosterone.
When she was four, Trinity Xavier Skeye almost completely stopped talking, started chewing on her boy clothes, and said she wanted to cut off her penis. Her alarmed parents took her to a therapist, who asked them: “Do you want a happy little girl or a dead little boy?” Trinity’s mother, DeShanna Neal, is a fierce advocate for her child, who is now, at 12, on puberty blockers. Trinity is the first minor in Delaware to be covered for this treatment by Medicaid.
If more young people are coming out as nonbinary, that’s partly because the new awareness of the nonbinary option offers “a language to name the source of their experience,” therapist Jean Malpas said when we met last spring at the Manhattan offices of the Ackerman Institute for the Family, where he directs the Gender and Family Project.
But as more children say they’re nonbinary—or, as Malpas prefers, “gender expansive”—parents face new challenges. Take E, for example, who was still using female pronouns when we met in May, while struggling over where exactly to place herself on the gender spectrum. Her mother, Jane, was struggling too, trying to make it safe for E to be neither typically feminine nor typically masculine.
The speech team that had performed in New York City the night E and I met was getting ready to travel to a national competition in California, and Jane showed me the email she’d sent the coach to pave the way. E might be seen by others as male, Jane wrote, now that her hair was so short and her clothing so androgynous. She would probably use “both male and female bathrooms depending on what situation feels safest,” Jane informed the coach, and “will need to tell you when she is going to the restroom and what gender she plans on using.” I asked Jane, the night we met, where she’d place her daughter on the gender spectrum. “I think she wants to fall into a neutral space,” she replied.
A “neutral space” is a hard thing for a teenager to carve out: Biology has a habit of declaring itself eventually. Sometimes, though, biology can be put on hold for a while with puberty-blocking drugs that can buy time for gender-questioning children. If the child reaches age 16 and decides he or she is not transgender after all, the effects of puberty suppression are thought to be reversible: The child stops taking the blockers and matures in the birth sex. But for children who do want to transition at 16, having been on blockers might make it easier. They can start taking cross-sex hormones and go through puberty in the preferred gender—without having developed the secondary sex characteristics, such as breasts, body hair, or deep voices, that can be difficult to undo.
The Endocrine Society recommends blockers for adolescents diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Nonetheless, the blockers’ long-term impact on psychological development, brain growth, and bone mineral density are unknown—leading to some lively disagreement about using them on physically healthy teens.
Assigned female at birth, Hunter Keith, 17, has felt himself to be a boy since fifth grade. By seventh grade he told his friends; by eighth grade he told his parents. Two weeks before this photo was taken, his breasts were removed. Now he relishes skateboarding shirtless in his Michigan neighborhood.
More fraught than the question about puberty blockers is the one about whether too many young children, at too early an age, are being encouraged to socially transition in the first place.
Eric Vilain, a geneticist and pediatrician who directs the UCLA Center for Gender-Based Biology, says that children express many desires and fantasies in passing. What if saying “I wish I were a girl” is a feeling just as fleeting as wishing to be an astronaut, a monkey, a bird? When we spoke by phone last spring, he told me that most studies investigating young children who express discomfort with their birth gender suggest they are more likely to turn out to be cisgender (aligned with their birth-assigned gender) than trans—and relative to the general population, more of these kids will eventually identify as gay or bisexual.
“If a boy is doing things that are girl-like—he wants long hair, wants to try his mother’s shoes on, wants to wear a dress and play with dolls—then he’s saying to himself, ‘I’m doing girl things; therefore I must be a girl,’ ” Vilain said. But these preferences are gender expression, not gender identity. Vilain said he’d like parents to take a step back and remind the boy that he can do all sorts of things that girls do, but that doesn’t mean he is a girl.
At the Gender and Family Project, Jean Malpas said counselors “look for three things in children who express the wish to be a different gender”: that the wish be “persistent, consistent, and insistent.” And many children who come to his clinic meet the mark, he told me, even some five-year-olds. “They’ve been feeling this way for a long time, and they don’t look back.”
That was certainly the case for the daughter of Seattle writer Marlo Mack (the pseudonym she uses in her podcasts and blogs to protect her child’s identity). Mack’s child was identified at birth as a boy but by age three was already insisting he was a girl. Something went wrong in your tummy, he told his mother, begging to be put back inside for a do-over.
As Vilain might have instructed, Mack tried to broaden her child’s understanding of how a boy could behave. “I told my child over and over again that he could continue to be a boy and play with all the Barbies he wanted and wear whatever he liked: dresses, skirts, all the sparkles money could buy,” Mack said in her podcast, How to Be a Girl. “But my child said no, absolutely not. She was a girl.”
Finally, after a year of making both of them “miserable,” Mack let her four-year-old choose a girl’s name, start using female pronouns, and attend preschool as a girl. Almost instantly the gloom lifted. In a podcast that aired two years after that, Mack reported that her transgender daughter, age six, “loves being a girl probably more than any girl you’ve ever met.”
Young people who may not feel precisely like a boy or a girl might opt to refer to themselves with a gender-neutral pronoun like “they.”
Vilain alienates some transgender activists by saying that not every child’s “I wish I were a girl” needs to be encouraged. But he insists that he’s trying to think beyond gender stereotypes. “I am trying to advocate for a wide variety of gender expressions,” he wrote in a late-night email provoked by our phone conversation, “which can go from boys or men having long hair, loving dance and opera, wearing dresses if they want to, loving men, none of which is ‘making them girls’—or from girls shaving their heads, being pierced, wearing pants, loving physics, loving women, none of which is ‘making them boys.’ ”
This is where things get murky in the world of gender. Young people such as Mack’s daughter, or Charlie Spiegel of California, or E of New York City, must make biological decisions that will affect their health and happiness for the next 50 years. Yet these decisions run headlong into the maelstrom of fluctuating gender norms.
“I guess people would call me gender-questioning,” E said the second time we met, in June. “Is that a thing? It sounds like a thing.” But the “questioning” couldn’t go on forever, she knew, and she was already leaning toward “trans guy.” E had moved a few steps closer to that by September, asking people, including me, to use the pronoun “they” when referring to them. If E does eventually settle on a male identity, they feel it won’t be enough just to live as a man, changing pronouns (either sticking with “they” or switching to “he”) and changing their name (the leading candidate is the name “Hue”). It would mean becoming physically male too, which would involve taking testosterone. It was all a bit much, E told me. As their 15th birthday approached, they were giving themselves another year to figure it all out.
E’s thinking about where they fit on the gender spectrum takes the shape it does because E is a child of the 21st century, when concepts like transgender and gender nonconforming are in the air. But their options are still constrained by being raised in a Western culture, where gender remains, for the vast majority, an either-or. How different it might be if E lived where a formal role existed that was neither man nor woman but something in between—a role that constitutes another gender.
There are such places all over the world: South Asia (where a third gender is called hijra), Nigeria (yan daudu), Mexico (muxe), Samoa (fa‘afafine), Thailand (kathoey), Tonga (fakaleiti), and even the U.S., where third genders are found in Hawaii (mahu) and in some Native American peoples (two-spirit). The degree to which third genders are accepted varies, but the category usually includes anatomical males who behave in a feminine manner and are sexually attracted to men, and almost never to other third-gender individuals. More rarely, some third-gender people, such as the burrnesha of Albania or the fa‘afatama of Samoa, are anatomical females who live in a masculine manner.
I met a dozen or so fa‘afafine last summer, when I traveled to Samoa at the invitation of psychology professor Paul Vasey, who believes the Samoan fa‘afafine are among the most well-accepted third gender on Earth.
Four years ago while watching a TV interview of a transgender girl, both Corey Maison (on trampoline) and mother Erica (seated) realized they are transgender. Corey, now 14, began transitioning from boy to girl soon after, but Erica kept her realization a secret in order to focus on Corey and her other children. Erica is now transitioning to Eric, an inconceivable option for him a generation ago. “The biggest step was coming out to my husband. I wouldn’t have done it without his support.”
Vasey, professor and research chair of psychology at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, returns to Samoa so frequently that he has his own home, car, and social life there. One thing that especially intrigues him about third genders, in Samoa and elsewhere, is their ability to shed light on the “evolutionary paradox” of male same-sex attraction. Since fa‘afafine almost never have children of their own, why are they still able to pass along the genes associated with this trait? Without offspring, shouldn’t natural selection pretty much have wiped them out?
Being fa‘afafine runs in families, the same way being gay does, Vasey said. (He said it also occurs at about the same rate as male homosexuality in many Western countries, in about 3 percent of the population.) He introduced me to Jossie, 29, a tall, slim schoolteacher. Jossie lives in a village about an hour from the capital, Apia. She giggled at my questions, especially when I asked about guys. For Jossie, being fa‘afafine is also a family trait. Several fa‘afafine relatives listened to our conversation: Jossie’s uncle Andrew, a retired nurse who goes by the name Angie; her cousin Trisha Tuiloma, who is also Vasey’s research assistant; and Tuiloma’s five-year-old nephew.
“In this village they don’t really like the ‘fa‘fa’ style,” said Angie, who emerged from the house she shares with Jossie wearing nothing but a long skirt, called a lavalava, tied at the waist. Back in her 20s Angie had thought it might be nice “to have an operation to be a woman.” But now, at 57, she said she’s happy without surgery. She no longer feels discriminated against. Fellow church parishioners might criticize the way she and Jossie dress or behave, but “our families here, they understand.”
Vasey is now investigating two hypotheses that might explain the evolutionary paradox of male same-sex sexuality.
The first, the sexually antagonistic gene hypothesis, posits that genes for sexual attraction to males have different effects depending on the sex of the person carrying them: Instead of coming with a reproductive cost, as happens in males, the genes in females have a reproductive benefit—which means that the females with those genes should be more fertile. Vasey and his colleagues have found that the mothers and maternal grandmothers of fa‘afafine do have more babies than the mothers and grandmothers of straight Samoan men. But they haven’t found comparable evidence among paternal grandmothers—or among the aunts of fa‘afafine, which would come closest to definitive proof.
A second possibility is the kin selection hypothesis—the idea that the time and money that same-sex-attracted males devote to nurturing their nieces and nephews make it more likely that the nieces and nephews will pass some of their DNA down to the next generation. Indeed, among the fa‘afafine Vasey introduced me to, several have taken siblings’ children under their wing. Trisha Tuiloma, who is 42, uses the money she earns as Vasey’s research assistant to pay for food, schooling, treats, even electricity for eight nieces and nephews. And in his formal research Vasey has found that fa‘afafine are more likely to offer money, time, and emotional support to their siblings’ children—especially to their sisters’ youngest daughters—than are straight Samoan men or Samoan women.
One other point about gender identity became clear when I met Vasey’s longtime partner, Alatina Ioelu, a fa‘afafine Vasey met 13 summers ago. When Ioelu first drove up to my hotel, my understanding of what it means to be fa‘afafine started to unravel. Ioelu was much more masculine than the other fa‘afafine I’d met. Tall, broad-shouldered, with an open, handsome face, he favored the same clothing—cargo shorts and T-shirts—that Vasey wore. What did it mean for someone who reads as a man to belong to a third gender that implies heightened femininity?
Gradually it dawned on me, as the three of us chatted through dinner, that Ioelu’s identity as a fa‘afafine shows how deeply bound in culture gender itself is. Vasey and Ioelu plan to marry and retire in Canada someday. (Vasey is 50; Ioelu is 38.) “There we’d be perceived as an ordinary same-sex couple,” Vasey told me.
In other words, the gender classification of Ioelu would change, as if by magic, from fa‘afafine to gay man, just by crossing a border.
'A paper from 2004 compared the chicken Z chromosome with platypus X chromosomes and suggested that the two systems are related. The platypus has a ten-chromosome–based system, where the chromosomes form a multivalent chain in male meiosis, segregating into XXXXX-sperm and YYYYY-sperm, with XY-equivalent chromosomes at one end of this chain and the ZW-equivalent chromosomes at the other end'.
We hear in Baltimore-----home of global hedge fund Johns Hopkins and the Bush et al CARLYLE GROUP behind ignoring all ethics, morals, US Rule of Law, and GOD'S NATURAL LAW in MOVING FORWARD human designer chromosome manipulation science-----especially regarding sex chromosome gender blending------THEY ARE FEMINIZING BLACK MEN------INVEST IN PLATYPUS------global banking 1% are actually feminizing not only black men-----not only men---they are blending female towards men deliberately creating ANDROGYNOUS HUMANS.
INVEST IN PLATYPUS------these are the 5% to the 1% global banking pols and players with that insider trading on all these NEW GLOBAL BIOGENETICS CORPORATIONS----these 5% don't care where it all leads---they get a few dollars in the pockets in shareholder dividends so they push all these policies through----
Shhhhhhh, DON'T TELL THIS IS ALL A SECRET.
While genetic insertion of sex chromosomes X and Y have been done these few decades-----what SCIENCE FOR SCIENCE SAKE is doing now---ergo INVEST IN PLATYPUS -------is implanting genetic code from PLATYPUS into human fetuses in an effort to CREATE the multiple gender chromosomes from platypus to humans.
Whereas HUMANS are binary in sex chromosomes ---------platypus is POLY------or NON-BINARY-
'A platypus swimming in a Tasmanian river. It's unclear whether this one is an XXXXXXXXXX or XYXYXYXYXY.
Interpreting Shared Characteristics: The Platypus Genome
By: PZ Myers, Ph.D. (University of Minnesota, Morris) © 2008 Nature Education
Citation: Myers, P. (2008) Interpreting shared characteristics: The platypus genome. Nature Education 1(1):46
The sequencing of the platypus genome has received a high amount of misleading press attention. What does this information really tell us about this strangely unique animal and its genetic past?
Aa Aa Aa
Nature Publishing Group Video: Genome Analysis of the Duck-Billed Platypus
The recent publication of a draft of the platypus genome (Warren et al., 2008) has garnered a great deal of newspaper coverage, much of which has been misleading. Over and over again, the article lead is that the platypus is "weird" or "odd," or even worse, that the animal is a chimera. One author, for instance, describes the platypus as a "genetic potpourri—part bird, part reptile, and part lactating mammal" (AFP, 2008). Unfortunately, such statements are inaccurate. In reality, the platypus is not part bird, as birds are an independent and (directly) unrelated lineage. Moreover, although one could say that the platypus is part reptile, it is so only in the sense that it is a member of the great reptilian clade that also includes prototherians, marsupials, birds, lizards, snakes, dinosaurs, and eutherian mammals (including humans). Using this line of reasoning, we humans could say with equal justification that we, too, are part reptile.
The truth about the platypus—and what makes the animal's recent genomic sequencing particularly interesting—is that it belongs to a lineage that separated from ours approximately 166 million years ago, deep in the Mesozoic era, and since that time, it has independently lost different elements of our last common ancestor. By comparing bits of the platypus genome that were conserved with those that were lost, researchers can develop a clearer picture of what Jurassic mammals were like, and they can also determine what sorts of genetic traits contemporary mammals have gained and lost over the course of evolution.
Are Shared Characteristics a Sign of Relatedness?
Figure 1: Emergence of traits along the mammalian lineage.
Amniotes split into the sauropsids (leading to birds and reptiles) and synapsids (leading to mammal-like reptiles). These small early mammals developed hair, homeothermy, and lactation (red lines). Monotremes diverged from the therian mammal lineage 166 Myr ago and developed a unique suite of characters (dark-red text). Therian mammals with common characters split into marsupials and eutherians around 148 Myr ago (dark-red text). Geological eras and periods with relative times (Myr ago) are indicated on the left. Mammal lineages are in red; diapsid reptiles, shown as archosaurs (birds, crocodilians and dinosaurs), are in blue; and lepidosaurs (snakes, lizards and relatives) are in green.
© 2008 Nature Publishing Group Warren, W. et al.
Genome analysis of the platypus reveals unique signatures of evolution.
Nature 453, 176 (2008). All rights reserved.
In order to better understand the impact of the platypus study, it is helpful to begin by looking at a cladogram that illustrates the dates when derived traits appeared in the various lineages considered in the study (Figure 1). This diagram reflects a fairly conventional picture of our evolutionary history, and it reinforces the evolutionary explanation for the illustrated relationships.
As you can see, a number of modern animals—including birds—are depicted along the top of the cladogram in Figure 1. Note, however, that the cladogram does not imply that modern monotremes (including the platypus) are part bird. Rather, birds are included in this diagram because they are contemporary representatives of the sauropsid lineage, a group of reptile cousins that split from our family tree roughly 315 million years ago. So, if monotremes aren't part bird, why did the investigators who conducted the platypus study examine genomic data from chickens during the course of their research? The primary reason for inclusion of this data relates to comparison. Specifically, the researchers knew that if they found a feature in birds that was also present in monotremes (or marsupials or eutherians), this would mean that the feature was most likely also present in the animals' common ancestor.
For instance, one of the unusual (for a mammal) features of the platypus is meroblastic cleavage. In fact, there is a famous telegram from 1884 in which researchers who were working in Australia announced a dramatic discovery to their colleagues at the British Association: "Monotremes oviparous, ovum meroblastic." Those four words declare that the platypus lays eggs (i.e., it is oviparous) and that the early stages of platypus embryo formation resemble the stages seen in birds and reptiles, not mammals. As opposed to the platypus, eutherians and marsupials have eggs that go through holoblastic cleavage; this means that the first cell divisions following fertilization cut all the way through the ovum, producing multiple, separable daughter cells. On the other hand, in the meroblastic cleavage of the platypus and chicken, the large yolky egg does not completely subdivide, so early cell divisions are incomplete. These incomplete divisions produce a sheet of cells on top of the yolk that are cytoplasmically continuous with the yolk cytoplasm. Indeed, this sheet is a common feature in yolky eggs and is a consequence of physical constraints on cell division.
Thus, both the platypus and the chicken exhibit meroblastic cleavage—but this does not mean that platypuses are part bird. Rather, what it does suggest is that meroblastic cleavage is likely a primitive character, one that was inherited from the last common ancestor of synapsids and sauropsids over 300 million years ago. Another possibility is that birds and monotremes evolved this feature independently, thereby making this trait an example of convergent evolution. Simple observation of meroblastic cleavage in both monotremes and birds is not enough to determine whether this characteristic arose via convergence or via common descent—in order to discover which is the case, we must look at multiple details of the evolutionary process.
Of course, not just the platypus but every living organism is a mix of both conserved, primitive characters and evolutionary novelties—thus, a mouse is just as "weird" as a platypus from an evolutionary perspective, as each is the product of processes that promoted divergence from a common ancestor, and each is equidistant from that ancestor. It's just that we primates share more derived characters, or synapomorphies, with mice than with platypuses because we are more closely related, and the mix of characters in mice is therefore more familiar to us.
Indeed, all modern animals are products of different evolutionary trajectories, and no one species by itself is representative of the ancestral condition. As a result, we must determine the ancestral state of modern animals through the comparison of multiple lineages—and that is the virtue of the data from the platypus. Information regarding the platypus genome adds yet another lineage to our data set—a lineage that diverged from ours over 160 million years ago. The platypus data is therefore a lens that can help us see what novelties arose during that 160 million year window on both the eutherian and monotreme sides of the split.
So, what are some of the details that we've learned from the platypus? One important message relates to the unity of life. Sequencing of the platypus genome reveals that the platypus has about 18,000 genes; humans, by comparison, have somewhere around 20,000. Moreover, roughly 82% of the platypus's genes are shared between monotremes, marsupials, eutherians, birds, and reptiles. This is not at all surprising, because all of these organisms are made of eukaryotic cells, and the basic eukaryotic machinery is going to be shared among species. Platypuses and humans also share a lot of "selfish" DNA bits—about half of both species' genomes consists of LINE and SINE-like sequences.
Humans and platypuses do differ in the details, however. For instance, an obvious difference is that the platypus lays yolky eggs, whereas humans and other eutherians have yolkless eggs that are retained in the mother's body. Thus, as you might expect, the platypus has a gene that humans lack—one that codes for vitellogenin, a crucial yolk protein.
As opposed to the presence of vitellogenin, a trait that both eutherians and monotremes have in common—but one that is not shared with birds—is lactation. (Although some birds can produce crop milk, this is a different adaptation). In the ancestral state, lactation was probably the secretion of fluids and immune system proteins to keep eggs and newborns hydrated and protected, but in our history, parents who invested more effort in secreting additional nutritive components, like sugars, fats, proteins, and calcium, were more successful. Like humans, the platypus secretes a true milk that is loaded with all of these components, including a protein called casein, which is thought to have originated by way of the duplication of a tooth enamel matrix protein gene, of all things. Today, two genes that code for proteins related to tooth production (enamelin and ameloblastin) are clustered with the casein-producing gene in both the platypus and the mouse, suggesting that the kind of sophisticated lactation abilities shared by monotremes and eutherians arose prior to the Jurassic period.
One particularly interesting specialization in the platypus is the evolution of venoms. The platypus has small, sharp spurs on its hind limbs that it uses to inject defensive poisons into predators, an unusual feature not found in other mammals. Where did these venoms come from? As it turns out, they arose through the duplication of genes that have other functions, with subsequent divergence. Many of these genes are involved in the functioning of the platypus's innate immune system. In particular, there is a set of genes in the platypus that code for the production of proteins called b-defensins. These are small, cysteine-rich peptides that are rather like the "bullets" of the immune system; they can bind to viral coat proteins and punch holes in bacterial membranes. We humans have many epithelial cells that secrete b-defensins onto our skin and the lining of our gut and respiratory tract to kill invaders. The cells of our immune system also spew these proteins onto foreign and phagocytized cells to kill them. The platypus has repurposed the b-defensin genes, making copies that have been selected for more effective toxicity when their product proteins are injected into other animals. One especially interesting observation is that these are the same proteins used in venomous reptiles—for instance, snake venoms also contain novel forms of b-defensins. This means that animals from two distantly related groups—the lepidosaurs and the monotremes—both use b-defensin-derived venoms (Figure 2). But does this imply that the groups' last common ancestor also used these venoms?
No, it does not, and here's why: It turns out that venomous snakes and the platypus have different duplications of the b-defensin genes. So, while co-opting these genes seems to be a common strategy for evolving venoms, the details of the gene duplications reveal that platypus venom and snake venom are independently derived features. The production of venom in these animals is therefore clearly a case of convergent evolution.
We want to be clear about these uses of the term NON-BINARY-----indeed there have always been cases of human MEIOSIS having that error of binary X AND Y----xxy or xyy -----that third sex chromosome appearing. As we stated yesterday------these errors have never shown any real difference in gender affiliation not tied to GBLT.
We would ask 99% of WE THE PEOPLE to support any citizen feeling the need for gender identity freedom to honor this-----but we are absolutely SURE that much of what we are seeing today is from GENETIC MANIPULATION OF SEX CHROMOSOMES FROM BINARY TO POLY-----NON-BINARY.
We do not want these DELIBERATE, MAN-MADE MANIPULATIONS OF HUMAN SEX CHROMOSOMES.
Why we’re all non-binary…
April 14, 2014
…and that doesn’t stop people from being women and men.
A rewind, and a few words of explanation. I’d just finished writing an article on gender plurality for a feminist website, and was browsing my twitter feed, simultaneously talking to a friend about people labelling their genders ‘binary’ and ‘non-binary’. Twitter was full of people debating the differences between ‘binary’ and ‘non-binary’ and that, and the article, and the personal conversation – left me feeling somewhat sad – and also angry and in fear of misrepresentation.
Increasingly, I’m seeing an oppositional standpoint develop between people who call themselves ‘non-binary’ and people who call themselves’ binary’. Sometimes with an awareness of the problems of dichotomy – sometimes nearly indistinguishable from the ‘women are like this/men are like that’ sophistry. And, as I have said before, and will say again – if my gender, my self, has no name in a binary system – if a binary system does not allow for my existence, and the existence of people like me, then either I cannot exist or that system cannot exist. And, as much as any human can be sure of it, I’m fairly sure that I exist.
That is why I would say that all genders are ‘non-binary’ – not in the slightest because that means that all people should or could describe themselves as ‘NB’ in the way it’s used as a gender marker and identity label – but because, to allow for people with genders other than male or female, we cannot have only two options. In this plural model, all genders are ‘non-binary’ in the same way that a rainbow is ‘non-binary’ – because it is more than red and blue, not because red and blue are not valid colours within it.
A non-binary universe means that there is space for everyone – and that everyone is equally valid within that space. When a binary system is set up with ‘allowances’ for people like me, for ‘exceptions’, then I am denied the universality that comes through our common humanity. My gender is not an optional extra. How my body and my mind and my words travel through this world is not something to be tacked on at the side because it couldn’t be slotted neatly into an available system.
And, yet, it is more than this. Because I don’t want to dismantle the binary gender system for my sole benefit, or only for the benefit of those nominally like me – it needs to be dismantled for all of us. I am not more unique in who I am and how I could be described than a woman or a man. I am no more deserving of the freedom to define myself to the world, and back to myself, and explore what I mean. How can a system with only two options capture the infinite variety expressed by the words ‘men’ and ‘women’? Let alone a binary, each of the those words is constantly exploding with new categories, new definitions. I don’t know how to respond when someone calls themselves as ‘binary’ man or woman – because what are they referring to? Which period of human history, which culture, has such a categorical definition of womanhood or manhood – and nothing else – that we could use that term in that way?
My mother is a woman, and I am androgynous – and yet our genders are just as rich and complex, and dynamic, as each others’. We share similarities, we share differences – we are both constantly growing and changing, and the language we use can only ever signpost the richness of who we are. I don’t want to be set in opposition to her, or anyone else I love – I want to exist in a framework that allows us all the space we need for difference and the connections we maintain in sharing, empathy, likeness of spirit.
If we allow for a system in which we are all valid, all equals, then you don’t need to use the word ‘binary’ to defend yourself again me. My refusal of the words ‘men’ and ‘women’ is not an insult directed at your usage of them – but I will not reify your centrality with my supposed outsider status. And I will not take one man’s definition of manhood’s over another’s as ‘more real’, ‘more manly’ – or vice versa. Each person’s usage is precious to them, as mine is to me – and it can genuinely be as simple as that, if we want it to be.
So, I suppose, more accurately – it’s not so much ‘we’re all non-binary’ as ‘we all exist in a non-binary universe’ – the possibilities are endless, increasing exponentially which each new person in the world. I don’t want to deny or police or suppress anyone within that – I want to dismantle our current enforced binary system until we reach the starting point of everything and nothing. And then the rest is up to us.