Intersex, dimorphism & denial – This is feminism 4
But what about intersex? Human sexual dimorphism and the denial of biology.
There is one question that identity politics supporters cannot answer: what is a woman?
They sometimes make a stab, but never to the point where you could objectively distinguish a woman from a child or a man. Often it’s just “a woman is someone who identifies as a woman” – which is, of course, a recursive answer; you can’t use the word itself for its definition! Apart from anything else, you then need to ask, “what are you identifying with?”.
Why is it important to know the answer?
Well firstly, and most obviously, words mean things. Secondly, this definition has important political implications for women’s rights – if anyone can be a woman, then woman is no longer a class of people – and laws intended to protect women become meaningless.
The usual dictionary definition of woman is: an adult human female, and the definition of female is “of or denoting the sex that can bear offspring or produce eggs, distinguished biologically by the production of gametes (ova) which can be fertilized by male gamete (sperm)”. Note the use of the word “of” – this does not mean that anyone who doesn’t, can’t, can no longer, or cannot yet produce offspring isn’t female – it means they belong to the sex that does.
Identity politics used to say that someone’s body may be of the male sex, but their “gender identity” is that of a woman. The oft-heard saying is that they have a woman’s brain. The brain is little understood even by experts in the field, but I think we can safely say that if your body is male, your brain is too. We can no more say that your brain is the opposite sex than your elbow is.
But now identity politics is going one stage further: not only does a transwoman have a female gender identity, they claim, but also a female body. “Some women have penises, some men have vaginas – get over it!” they chide.
To muddy the waters further they also describe sex (as in male and female) as a social construct – so gender is innate, immutable and sacred, but our sex is something humans invented (often at this point it’s stated that it was a colonial invention forced upon native peoples, just so they can accuse us of being racist too).
Humans reproduce sexually.
We all know about sexual reproduction so I won’t describe it here, but in order to reproduce, 2 gametes are required and each comes from one class of person. There is no third sex, no other class of person necessary to bring about this miracle of life. We need someone with XX chromosomes (a woman) and someone with XY chromosomes (a man).
What about intersex, then?
Very occasionally a child is produced who has a disorder of sexual development (DSD) which used to be described as Intersex. There are many versions of this, and I won’t go into them here but we will cover it soon.
The transgender argument goes that these mutations/birth defects prove that sex is not a binary. There are a few refutations to this:
- The presence of birth defects in the human population does nothing to disprove the sexual binary – just as children being born with one leg missing does not disprove that humans are bipedal.
- X and Y chromosome abnormalities cause infertility and other health problems – they are serious for those with them as many other chromosome abnormalities are. Co-opting them for gender politics is exploitative and dishonest.
- The fact that not everyone has been “karyotyped” for their sex chromosomes does not mean there is a hidden population of intersex people. If you successfully ejaculate or have periods then you are almost certainly typical of a man or woman. This is even more true if you or your partner have been pregnant.
- Nearly all intersex people fall into one sex category or the other. Actual hermaphroditism is vanishingly rare.
- The number of intersex people isn’t established because some conditions are counted by some and not by others. For example, some studies refer to micropenises as intersex, or even PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) as this is a hormone disorder – even though clearly the sufferers are female.
I will write in another chapter about how male and female bodies differ, but suffice it to say that it goes beyond our sexual organs. These differences are important because they make women vulnerable to men, and explain why women like me are fighting this assault on the language we use.