6 Types of Sex

Why are we relying on the 3 least reliable sex markers to determine a person’s legal and social gender?

Early proponent of sex reassignment, John Money, described six types of sex[1]. His aim was to tease out the ways in which one might “trans” or change sex by breaking sex into a number of negotiable components.

Of course we know that sex is immutable, and changing one dimension won’t change your whole sex.

But let’s play along.

  1. Chromosomal Sex – most people are XX (female) or XY (male). Chromosomes permeate every cell and cannot be changed. See notes below variations on disorders of sexual development.
  2. Anatomical or Morphological Sex – Primary and secondary sexual characteristics such as genitals, facial hair, breasts. These can be observed and is usually how babies are sexed at birth. Their vulva or penis is observed and this is taken as a reasonable measure of the sex.
  3. Genital or gonadal sex – testes in a male and ovaries in a female. This cannot be changed.
  4. Legal sex – what it says on your passport, birth certificate, driver’s licence or other documents of identity.
  5. Endocrine or Hormonal Sex – levels of estrogen and testosterone, and their effects on the body. Males tend to higher testosterone and females tend to higher estrogen.
  6. Psychological sex – the state of feeling one is a male or a female.

How reliable are these measures?

Let’s see whether each one is patent (can be easily observed), reliable (is backed up by other measures) and immutable (cannot be changed).

Chromosomal sex cannot be altered, but can only be confirmed with genetic testing. Chromosomes are reliable – an XX is female and an XY is male. There are other chromosomal configurations that make up a small percentage of people. Chromosomal sex is immutable – it cannot be changed.

Anatomical sex (breasts, hair growth, vulva etc) can be easily seen, but isn’t reliable. An XY person who is insensitive to androgens may appear to be female. It is not immutable because hormones and surgery may change the appearance to some extent. Phalloplasty can give you a phallus, but not a penis. Vaginoplasty can create a crevice but not a vagina.

Genital/Gonadal sex can be observed in males who have external testes, is a reliable marker of sex and is immutable. An XY person who appears female will have testes, although these will be internal. It is usually patent, reliable and immutable.

Which markers os sex should we base our legal definitions of male and female upon?

None of Legal, Endocrine or Psychological sex are patent. They cannot be observed by looking at a body. These types of sex are closer to being components of gender.

They are not reliable, bearing no relationship to any of the other measures of sex. A person might feel like non-binary, take male hormones, and have a female passport. YouTuber Luxander fits this bill exactly.

These 3 sexes are not immutable. Legal sex can be changed using a form. Psychological sex can be changed with the weather. Hormonal sex requires a prescription or a developmental event such as menopause. We would not say that menopausal women are really men. Why do we say that males who take estrogen are really women?

Using the sexes as proof

On the one hand, there are the biological and immutable sexes. Their definitions buttress one another – chromosomes drive the formation of primary and secondary sex characteristics. Gonads are primary sex organs, and these produce sex hormones that further develop & differentiate the secondary sex characteristics.

On the other hand are more pliable definitions that tend to follow from one another in a chain.

A psychological feeling of womanhood leads a man to request hormones and then surgery. This commitment is taken as ‘proof’ that he is legally entitled to become a woman. Voila – a new legal identity is created, and rights conferred, predicated on a subjective notion of what it might be to be a woman.

The idea that one can ‘change sex’ is founded on gender not sex.

Entitlement

Is it meaningful to change these superficial markers of sex? What does sex means outside of gender. Or gender outside of sex? Does a change in gender entitle one to claim to have changed sex?

What females have in common with other females is their shared experience of a female body. The body may be clothed in stockings and lace, or in denim overalls. It is a female body that grows breasts, bleeds, produces eggs and possibly children. There is a shared experience of developing and living in these bodies. Even if a female does not to some or all of these things, her body has the potential to. Her experience is physically determined because her sex is physically determined.

A male altering his hormones and giving his body a female appearance cannot achieve female chromosomes and gonads. He might be entitled to claim femininity but not femaleness.

Women-specific rights are based around the shared experience and demands of the female body. Pregnancy, the risk of rape, the drains of menstruation, the trials of ‘the change’, and the rollercoaster of motherhood. The disappointment if you can’t have children but want to; the social pressure if you eschew having children by choice.

Allowing a man to ‘become a woman’ based on his subjective idea of being a woman opens the door to any man to declare that he is entitled to women’s rights and protections, even though he will never need them.

He is still a man. As a man he feels he is entitled.

Notes

Read this book. I know it looks a bit scary but it’s well-written and prescient.

[1]: The Transsexual Empire by Janice Raymond, p6. If you haven’t read The Transsexual Empire, click off and go read it now for free.

Gender: either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. The term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female.”a condition that affects people of both genders” Google Dictionary

There are only so many qualifying ‘air quotes’ that can usefully be added into a paragraph.

Addendum – How reliable are chromosomes anyway?

Updated on 3 January 2020 with notes from Freya.

I’ve stated that the presence of a Y chromosome means male. It isn’t entirely that simple, but the complexity doesn’t undermine the reliability of chromosomes as a measure of sex. The fact that we can detect and study these variances furnishes us with an understanding of how they work.

When you examine chromosomes they indicate a definite sex or an intersex condition. There are a number of disorders of sexual development (intersex) where a person has different chromosomes other than XX or XY, or where a person’s body develops differently. Together these conditions are rare. Taken individually, they are vanishingly rare.

Confronted with abnormal chromosomes, decisions are made.

Take the woman with 46XY chromosomes who went through puberty, menstruated and gave birth to children. Is she female?

Here is where the 6 sexes are useful. Her body appears and functions as a female body. Her hormonal level are in line with the expectation for females and she has functioning gonads. (I’m not actually a doctor so I’m winging it a bit on that statement). Her legal, and presumably psychological sex are female.

In Turner Syndrome – one of the two X chromosomes that are typically present in the cells of females is missing or incomplete. Most affected women will not experience breast development and many will not have menstrual periods.

There are variations related to the SRY gene that typically attaches to the Y chromosome cause a female development in an XY male. But can attach itself to an X and cause masculine development in an XX female.

Confronted with abnormal chromosomes, decisions are made.

The first time I came across “Intersex” was reading that babies with “ambiguous genitalia” were operated on soon after birth to fix them up and they were raised as the chosen gender. The feminist text that reported this did so in an appalled tone. There is now more awareness of intersex conditions and people with disorders of sexual development. Hopefully these practices have reduced.

Still, choices are made. Chromosomes are not examined in a vacuum. It takes effort to find out a person’s chromosomes and you would likely do so only to explain a variation.

Categories, not a spectrum

Opening up a category for XY people with complete androgen insensitivity does not invalidate the validity of the male/female divide. Nor does it make sex a spectrum. A spectrum is continuous; a rainbow is continuous because the wavelength of light can be any number. Human chromosomes cannot be anything at all, they are variations on discrete values.

A new variation in sex is just that – a pocket of people who are different, but no less human.

Bans on ‘Conversion Therapy’

Conversion Therapy. The backwards notion that you can “pray away the gay” in someone. Horrific practices have been recorded where people were subjected to fasting, extreme physical exercise, starvation, electric shocks and more. Also mild practices are recorded – counselling, group therapy and support groups.

These practices have an association with some religious groups who view homosexuality and homosexual acts as contrary to God’s teaching. I will point out that sometimes these practices are forced or coerced. As Douglas Murray points out in his book The Madness of Crowds, it is possible for some people to voluntarily seek out counselling to suppress their homosexual nature. They might be motivated by religion, a wish to live a ‘conventional’ life or desire to have a family without adopting. (NOTE: There are some people who voluntarily try to become straight. I’ve mentioned it here because it’s their right as adults to try, not because I believe it’s what they should be doing.)

What’s happening in Australia

Australia is facing the systematic introduction of near-identical bills to ban conversion therapy at a state level. For gay men, lesbians and bisexuals this seems like great news.

However the bills go much deeper. They criminalise the “conversion or suppression’ of a person’s gender identity.

How Gender Identity is going to be protected

Gender identity means a person’s gender-related identity” and may include “other expressions of gender, including dress, speech, mannerisms, names and personal preferences”

In other words – the bill protects a characteristic that has a circular definition. It adds on transient characteristics that express gender – presumably acting in a manner stereotypical of the opposite gender.

What does that mean?

It means sex will be legally replaced by gender identity. Your sexed body will not be as legally important as your self-image. The self-image for gender identity is grounded in stereotypes.

Image may contain: 2 people

When Elliot Page announced in December 2020 that he is trans (clue: used to be an accomplished actress). Memes appeared with the ironic caption “there were no signs” above images depicting Page wearing stereotypically masculine clothing: a check shirt. Page dressed in male fashion, therefore Page is a man.

In the same month we received news that transvestite comedian Eddie Izzard has announced that he will now be permanently “based in girl mode”. Izzard achieves “girl mode” by adopting feminine characteristics such as wearing makeup and heels.

When ‘woman’ and ‘man’ are defined by clothes and not bodies, there is no longer a basis for women’s rights.

What practices are banned?

The range of activities that are banned is very broad. It could range from physical torture to checking on a friend to ask “are you sure it’s not a phase”?

The bills bans “practices” that aim to “change or suppress sexual orientation or gender identity“. It lumps sexuality in with gender identity. This is logically inconsistent.

Changing a person from a male-attracted-male to a male-attracted-female converts him from homosexual to nominally heterosexual.

Not to mention that the process of transitioning from a male to a female is literally attempting to convert the male into a female.

Practices means:

  • “psychiatry or psychotherapy, consultation, treatment or therapy, or any other similar consultation, treatment or therapy;
  • “carrying out a religious practice, including but not limited to, a prayer based practice,
  • “giving a person a referral for the purposes of a change or suppression practice”
  • which can be done “remotely (including online) or in person

This means that any person – therapist or not – can break the law by

  • providing counselling that doesn’t affirm gender identity
  • prays with a person in a way that doesn’t affirm their gender identity

Bear in mind that a gender identity is “a person’s gender-related identity” and relates to clothes and mannerisms.

What about voluntary participation?

These activities are banned when carried out “with or without the person’s consent“.

A therapist cannot counsel a person who desires to avoid homosexual behaviour. They cannot counsel a person who wishes to desist from being transgender.

Penalties

There are penalties for breaking these laws.

A commission is established by the bills to investigate and compel evidence to be produced.

Whether actively participating or simply ‘negligent‘ about knowing whether the practice is occuring, the penalties are stiff. 10 years maximum imprisonment and/or $10 000 fine.

What does this bill mean for homosexuality?

The bills abandon the traditional definition of sexuality to include homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual in favour of gender. It is now the vague statement that:

“sexual orientation means a person’s emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, or intimate or sexual relations with, persons of a different gender or the same gender or more than one gender“.

The Victorian bill amends the definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. Amends the act! Sexual orientation is now gender orientation.

State of play

Queensland – bill passed

Victoria – bill passed lower house and introduced upper house 10 December 2020

ACT – bill passed 

Update 7 January 2021: consultation period in Tasmania

Who is fighting back?

Holly Lawford-Smith is a feminist academic who is vocal on this issue. Support her!

So far the party opposing these bills is the National-Liberal Party. Louise Staley MP (VIC) and Senator Claire Chandler (TAS) have spoken passionately in parliament about women’s rights and the harm that gender ideology (not trans people!) will cause to women. They are fighting for us.

You might feel uncomfortable supporting the NLP. But please support these brave and capable women.

David Southwick MP (NLP) (VIC) proposed that the bill be paused until consultation was undertaken. This wasn’t carried.

Who isn’t fighting back? The Labor party has introduced and carried these bills.

What can you do?

WRITE TO YOUR STATE MP and tell them you oppose this bill that:

  • undermines the rights of parents to support their children who may be questioning their gender or sexual orientation
  • takes away the right of people to support if they want to question their gender identity and/sexual orientation
  • it erases homosexuals by redefining sexual orientation
  • reduces womanhood and manhood to stereotypes and ‘mannerisms’

WRITE TO THE LABOUR PARTY. The Labor party has introduced these bills. Let them know you aren’t happy.

WRITE TO A SENATOR – especially if you are in Victoria. Tell them what you told the MP.

SHOW SUPPORT FOR THOSE WHO ARE FIGHTING BACK. Write to these women, support them on YouTube, support them on Twitter and Facebook.

JOIN OR START A FEMINIST FACEBOOK GROUP

START A CONVERSATION

  • with your friend
  • with your hairdresser
  • the parents at the PnC
  • with anyone who will listen
  • with other women in your area

Tell them sex-based rights are going away and they will be left trying to respect rights based on feelings and mannerisms.

Testosterone Levels at Olympic Levels

Trans women are allowed double the testosterone as female athletes

Males have a typically very high testosterone, in the range 8-30nm/L. This is the level that trans women are starting from.

Women have a testosterone level of 0.5 to 2.4nm/L.

Trans women desire to have a testosterone level of 2nm/L. This is comparable to (high) natural female levels.

A woman will be disqualified if her testosterone breaches 5nm/L

A trans woman must reach 10nm/L (double the female level) before being disqualified.

What about trans men?

Trans men are allowed to compete without restriction.

Trans men are natal females who start with the testosterone levels of a natal female – 0.5 to 2.4nm/L. They target a testosterone level of around 17nm/L.

Trans men compete against males without a testosterone restriction – up to 30nm/L

Is it surprising that the number of notable trans women athletes is twice as long as the same list for trans men?

With these few exceptions, these athletes competed against females while they had elevated testosterone.

These are the exceptions:

Competed as male

Schuyler Bailar

Patricio Manuel

Chris Mosier

Willy De Bruyn (may have had a DSD/intersex condition)

Retired before transition

Balian Buschbaum

Zdeněk Koubek

Mark Weston (had a DSD/Intersex condition)

A different story

Erik Schinegger was disqualified and medals rescinded after it was discovered he had XY chromosomes

Andreas Krieger – was secretly doped with Testosterone most of her life. Competed against females.

Cory Oskam – no further info

These athletes who compete and win against men are to be applauded. They have taken on sport on their own terms, and risen to the top. That’s a true sporting spirit.

Do the quick math

14 “trans male” athletes on the list.

Minus 3 with “a different story” = 11

Minus 3 who retired at before transition = 8

Minus 4 who compete in male categories

Leaving …

4 who took performance-enhancing drugs while they competed in female categories. There’s a word for this. Starts with C. Ends in heat.