There are 2 mechanisms that drive gender differentiation: MIF (mullerian inhibitory hormone) and DHT (dihydrotestosterone - super testosterone). The overall genital program is directed by MIF (male or female) and the details of how it develops, like the appearance, is directed by DHT.
This mutation makes it so DHT doesn’t get made specifically during embryonic development, making it so that the external sexual characteristics don’t develop. But because the ovarian / testicular differentiation is mediated by a different hormone called MIF, all the male parts are there, but left underdeveloped- the clit doesn’t fuse, the testicles don’t drop, etc. Men who make MIF don’t develop ovaries. The kids grow up thinking that they’re girls (for lack of proper equipment) and then they hit puberty and the body starts making testosterone and secondary sources of DHT are activated. This leads to virilization and developing male interests. Like Caster Semanya. Caster gets to blame his mom for giving him the mutation.
This is interesting because it really brings up questions as to how we define male or female. External genitalia? Testicles or ovaries? Sexual orientation? How we were raised? Chromosomes? Receptors on cells?
Ramza: Its a different problem from the girl in the House episode, but its similar.
Klez brings the argument that XX = female and XY = male. Is gender really that simple? What if you have a mutation in the MIF gene with an XY combination. The guy would grow a vagina. (I don’t think its the case here specifically because the change in gender identity hit at puberty).
I think I see where Curtis is coming from. Societally speaking, a person’s gender is determined personally. Socially, if this woman feels she is a woman, and has been living as a woman all her life, she should be considered a woman for all intents and purposes.
Biologically speaking, if she turns out to be male, she still shouldn’t be allowed to compete assuming that this gives her an advantage over her competitors. You can’t overcome a “societal expectation” to run faster.
I still believe that they’ve handled it rather poorly. This should have been something that was handled in private rather than outed publicly. I’m sure Semenya will be humiliated no matter what the result is at this point.
From what I could understand, people made a fuss at the meet, that caught the news and the news forced the organization to admit it was investigating the issue. Because its such an unusual topic, the media just ate it up.
GAP: so if you think you’re a girl you should compete as a girl? The problem here is that if Michael Phelps decides that he has always felt he was a woman, should he compete with the women? It doesn’t work that way.
Sure in all other social contexts, its just awkward and unusual, but here is a situation where specific definitions are important and its interesting to see how such a simple question is harder to answer than any of us earlier thought.
edit: there is more to male / female than genitalia. These are called secondary sexual characteristics: shoulder width, voice depth, body hair distribution, hips, breasts, etc.
No, actually. I was saying exactly what you’re saying. If you’re biologically male, you shouldn’t be able to compete as a woman. “You can’t overcome a ‘societal expectation’ to run faster.” <—see this facetious comment
In all other things, you should be able to be treated as a woman, however. I’m more upset that they did this so publicly.
I don’t think the answer can be made from just one of those questions, it should be a combination of all of them. Although I think I’ve got a biological lean, because I think that there are very few instances where despite someone’s chromosomes I might consider them a man/woman.
Just because someone thinks they are a certain gender doesn’t make that the truth.
I have no idea in that case. I’d say though that still go with the most external of the genitalia - so if there’s a penis, he’s a guy, if a vagina, she’s a woman. I don’t know how much abnormality there can be in regards to those two organs.
Sin: You know more about this than I do, but I suspect the authorities will want to wash their hands off this as fast as possible. Thus: if she has the Y chromosome, then she’s a man, period, never mind genitalia, physical development, genetic mutations or even her athletic achievements. Not our problem , no sir.
Btw I seem to recall a case like this a few years ago. Anyone know what happened then?