Discussions about Gender

I thought I would spark some discussion by presenting some videos and an article that present some varying thoughts on gender differences, including biological difference (for example, in the brain).

One of the points made by Daphna Joel in the first video touches on something that fascinates me and that I have brought up against race realists. There is the fact that males are 882% more likely to commit violent criminal behaviour. If you are going to discriminate against, say, blacks over whites, then actually you should discriminate far, far more against men. In other words, if you are going to disallow blacks immigration entry tights to your country on account of some claimed negative difference, then you are on far stronger ground to disallow men.

Anyway, I digress.

Let’s start here:

This debate is then worth looking at. Jordan Peterson, who appears in that first clip, here debates the issue of Canadian legislation concerning transgender issues and identity. This caused an uproar and got him pretty famous. He is not a fan of Social Justice Warriors and the (far?) left:

Peterson’s biological position is further expounded here:

In National Geographic’s “How Science Is Helping Us Understand Gender“, we have the following:

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.

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?

It continues:

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.

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.

One finding discussed in the article is between transgender and autism: children and adolescents on the autism spectrum are seven times more likely than other young people to be gender nonconforming. Furthermore, children and adolescents at gender clinics are -15 times more likely than other young people to have Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

The gender binary idea is something that is certainly being challenged by the younger generations and there is often much frustration, confusion or simply hot air about pronouns that should be used.

The amount of pharmacology and surgery now available to people to reassign themselves is now quite incredible. I’m at the philosophical point where I really couldn’t care. If people want to change their bodies and identity in such a way, go for it. I don’t have a problem with cosmetic surgery (well, I can object on a subjective aesthetic level), so I don’t see a problem here, especially if it concerns problematic psychological scenarios.

The article documents interesting cultural examples of third genders (such as the fa‘afafine in Samoa) that are worth reading into, especially as they relate to cultural influences and identities.

All told, here is some good stimulus for discussion, I hope.

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