Gender – it’s more than XX and XY
Being aware that boys are XY and girls are XX it all seemed so straight forward in Year 9 science. Numerous years ago I started seeing more and more information into the biology of gender. It led me to ask the question is our biology all that defines our gender?
“Humans are born with 46 chromosomes in 23 pairs. The X and Y chromosomes determine a person’s sex. Most women are 46XX and most men are 46XY. Research suggests, however, that in a few births per thousand some individuals will be born with a single sex chromosome (45X or 45Y) (sex monosomies) and some with three or more sex chromosomes (47XXX, 47XYY or 47XXY, etc.) (sex polysomies). In addition, some males are born 46XX due to the translocation of a tiny section of the sex determining region of the Y chromosome. Similarly some females are also born 46XY due to mutations in the Y chromosome. Clearly, there are not only females who are XX and males who are XY, but rather, there is a range of chromosome complements, hormone balances, and phenotypic variations that determine sex.” World Health Organisation
In and around the biology of gender comes the social constructs. In Western civilisation it is probably most easily explained by the common practise of baby girls being dressed in pink and being given dolls and boys dressed in blue being given cars. The challenge to the gender stereotypes have been most obvious since the 70’s but still, as a society, we tend to move between the pink and blue – look down the aisle of any department store.
We also tend to see gender as just male and female. The definition of gender provided by the World Health Organisation gave me a starting point – it’s not all about XX and XY.