So lately I’ve been dealing with people trying to claim that “science” says I’m not a man, and that because of my chromosomes I’ll always be a woman. When I point out intersex people, they tend to say things like, “females with intersex conditions” thus erasing the intersex person.
So I generally point out that biological sex as they like to call it is multiple different aspects of a person lumped into one easy to use label based on typical assumptions of sex. (There’s even a full article about it here) Outside of perhaps grade school, I have yet to be in a science class that uses the term “biological sex”, even in my A&P courses. Some of my teachers have even expressed disdain over the term because it is highly reductionist and ignores that one can have both male and female aspects within the makeup that is biological sex.
For a quick refresher, what most people think is biological sex is either chromosomes or external genitalia. Biological sex however is composed of chromosomal sex (genotype, XX/Xy/var), endocrinologic sex (which helps make the secondary sex characteristics), gonadal sex (gonads), sex hormones, and morphological sex just to name a few components.
Of these, the only one we currently CANNOT change is the chromosome (genotype) portion.
For those who follow me on Twitter and elsewhere, I recently got back my results from my genetic testing, which confirmed I have XX chromosomes. For most people that would be the end of the road, I’m a woman because XX.
Problem is that I’m a trans man, so I decided to delve a little deeper.
I decided to do an experiment and got my doctors to help out with this.
Before I came out as trans, I had already had a hysterectomy, meaning I no longer have the internal genitals that would be associated with a cis woman. Externally I still have a vulva, but again, external genitals are only a portion of what makes up biological sex.
So prior to beginning HRT (hormone replacement therapy), I had higher than average testosterone levels, but still mostly average levels of estrogen. After a year on HRT I now am not producing estrogen outside of what would be considered normal for a cis man my age, and have testosterone levels that are average to slightly above average for a cis man my age.
Prior to top surgery, I had what would be considered typical or above average sized breasts for a cis woman, post top surgery my chest is one that would be associated with a typical cis man, including nipple size.
Prior to beginning HRT I had my measurements taken and compared to the “standard” for men and women. This is what we got:
Height: Average for cis woman, within range for normal for cis man
Shoulder and chest (under breast) measurements: On average for a cis man of my height, above average (large) for a cis woman of my height.
Hip measurement: Slightly above average for a cis woman, very above average for a cis man
Bone density: Average for a cis man, higher than average for a cis woman
Long bone length: Average to slightly above average for a cis woman, below average for a cis man.
After being on HRT for a year, while most of my measurements have remained the same due to starting HRT well past the end of puberty, my bones have become somewhat denser and my fat distribution is aligning more with what would be associated as typical cis man than typical cis woman.
So lets sum it all up, shall we?
- Chromosomal sex (the one I can’t change): XX or typical female
- Secondary sex characteristics: Typical male (body hair, facial hair, chest, etc)
- Gonads: None!
- Endocrine/Hormone levels: Typical male
- External genitals: Typical female with atypical female for clitoris
- Skeletal composition: Both
Well looking at all of it together…I’ve got 2 for female and 2 for male, and 1 for both.
So either I’m both male and female per “biological sex”, or we have to admit that biological sex is WAY more complicated than anti-trans people wish to let on.