The law must respect science

Don Norvell

When Martin Luther King Jr. described his dream that people would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” he drew an important philosophical distinction between “what we are” and “who we are.”

“What we are” is genetic, indisputable and unchangeable.

“Who we are” is subject to change with every life experience. Every choice we make allows us to mold our characters as we choose.

The logic is simple. We do not get to choose what we are (skin color, sex). Therefore, we should not be penalized for what we are.

Transsexuals present a dilemma.

If we accept that a person can willfully choose his or her sex, then sex moves from “what” to “who,” and a person can be judged for his or her choice. By erasing the line between “what” and “who,” King’s philosophy collapses. And so, in order to avoid destroying the progress of civil rights, transsexuals must question the biological determination of one’s sex.

We all know that men have XY chromosomes and women have XX chromosomes. Transsexuals are quick to point out that some men have two X chromosomes. This is a half-truth. When sex cells are produced, they are supposed to have 23 chromosomes. However, there are randomly occurring errors whereby some have 22 or 24 chromosomes, and children are sometimes conceived with an extra or missing chromosome. These men have an extra X chromosome resulting in an XXY combination. This phenomenon also causes some women to have one X chromosome or three. The basic point is that all men have a Y chromosome, and all women do not.

Transsexuals also cite intersexed people as evidence that sex is biologically ambiguous. Being intersexed means that the external genitals are deformed preventing a visual determination of the person’s sex. The key word is “visual.” As established above, the chromosomes eliminate all uncertainty.

Another argument is based upon the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTc) of the brain. In men, the BSTc has twice as many neurons as in women. For transsexuals, the numbers are reversed. A paper by Frank Kruijver et al. in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reports that hormone-replacement therapy is not the cause, as I at first suspected.

Firstly, the only difference between deformities of the brain and other organs is we do not yet know how to fix the brain. The exponential advancement of science will remedy this problem in due time. Therefore, the chromosomes must take precedence as with intersexed people.

Secondly, it may not be a natural phenomenon. An article in the March issue of Playboy reports that minute amounts of endocrine disrupters in water have caused male fish to grow ovaries. Furthermore, endocrine disrupters are present in pesticides, plastics and pharmaceuticals and are blamed for declining sperm counts throughout the industrialized world. Prenatal exposure could impact brain development.

The ultimate point is that there is no scientific reason for the government and by force of law, the rest of society to recognize “sex changes” because it is not biologically possible to change one’s sex.

Don Norvell is a physics graduate assistant and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]