HomeFavorite PostsSex, Gender, Deviation, and Science: What Is Normal…and the Path to Proving It


Sex, Gender, Deviation, and Science: What Is Normal…and the Path to Proving It — 14 Comments

  1. Holly, let me tell you a story. A foster child of mine had a little boy five years ago. However genetically he wasn’t quite connected properly. He had a penis and it presumably would have worked during sex, but the baby peed like a girl. Apparently this is not so unusual. The doctors went thru a battery of tests with this infant to make sure he was a “he”. Then they reconnected his penis to the proper tube, so he didn’t do anything different than any other little boy. And they closed up the I properly place hole. He’s fine now, but in your universe, would they have left him alone, or done what they did? Just wondering.

  2. The problem with your hypothesis is the underlying assumption that people will listen to what science tells us. This affects all ends of the political spectra. Certain conservatives have become (in)famous for saying, “I’m not a scientist” and using that for a justification for ignoring what science tells us. An example from the other end of the spectrum is the ongoing fears about GMOs despite all the science telling us there is little to fear.

    • Hi, Hugh. I don’t actually think that the people who loathe science will listen. They don’t dare listen to anything, because their position (the position of holding their fingers in their ears and screaming “I can’t hear you!”) is utterly untenable and unsupportable if they do.

      I do think that, if we have the language of science brought to bear on this issue rather than the languages of emotion, politics, and protest, it will become easier for the people who are undecided to see this as legitimate, and worth their consideration, their involvement, and their action.

      When the only voices you hear are people shouting, if you are not swayed by shouting and unreason, you move away.

      If you are a human being who seeks reason, then reason will bring you closer, and allow you to hear more.

  3. I think mostly the evidence is already there, at least for gay and bisexual people; a long series of studies have proven that a) desires are innate and b) trying to change someone’s inborn desires, rather than succeeding, traumatizes them. And I’m open to being proven wrong, but I don’t see that many other persecuted genders.

    I do love the idea of crowdsourcing science, though. Not just new inventions (which are already huge on Kickstarter) but genuine science.

    • 😀

      For the complex genders, as opposed to the simple genders, choice exists. Choice to say, “I am attracted to all genders, but why make my life hell by admitting it?”

      A pan-gendered individual can express only part of his sexuality and still live a reasonably satisfied life.

      Someone whose gender orientation is uni/same, on the other hand, has the unenviable options of pretending to be who he is not, and being miserable, or admitting who he is, and risking persecution.

      It is the fact that pan-gendered folks DO have options, with living partway in the closet being both relatively simple and risk-free (if not fully satisfying) that makes me suspect there are significant numbers of them.

  4. I admit to believing the hypothesis as stated. Unfortunately, I also agree that Betty Z. has a valid point. Humans, whether Americans or others, keep their boundaries of difference out of fear and a need to feel either in control of or superior to those unlike themselves.

    Fear is an irrational. It’s an emotion, after all. Science seldom affects a human as directly or deeply as fear. Without a unique driver to push the understanding home, like a nail into the brain, all the science in the world, regardless of the funding source, won’t come out on top.

    Fear and greed seem to control humans in this century. If scientists can break that cycle, getting the point across about genders would be a snap. JMHO

  5. I support the idea of a scientific study — certainly it wouldn’t hurt anyone (and it might convince a few) — but I’m feeling sort of iffy as to your reasoning.

    Gender might not be inherently political, but people engage with it as if it were. While scientific studies into proving the necessary nature of gender differences wouldn’t harm anyone, I don’t think science would necessarily sway the deeply conservative. After all, there are those who still deny evolution, who still refuse to become vaccinated, despite all the science.

    People discriminate to assert themselves in comparison (women are not as capable of doing these jobs), as a way to form boundaries between “them and us” (migrants stealing all the jobs) and often out of a deep seated fear or the need to find acceptable targets for their anger. These causes are inherently political.

    Which is not to say “gay pride movements” are necessarily a solution either since it only serves to again form a defensive “them vs us” mentality. It’s a little ridiculous to feel proud of a sexuality; I’m straight, but I don’t see it as a point of pride.

    Scientific studies would only convince those “on the fence” so to speak, rather than those who need to be convinced most, I guess, is what I’m trying to say.

  6. On one hand I’m surprised more has not been done in the crowdfunding arena. Then again, I have two theories why it has not.

    First, it’s a new idea and very different from the established grant writing process. If this is the reason, things can change.

    The second is there are a significant number of people in this “industry” who don’t care what the science really says. They just want the political impact they can gain from causing a ruckus. Think Jesse Jackson and his ilk for Civil Rights. Those guys make a fortune from racism. I’m thinking there are people in the Gay Pride arena somewhere making a fortune on the hubbub they can cause politically and socially. Otherwise, they would have pressed for less emotionally charged things to obtain the equivalent legal rights.

    • I suspect you’re right on both counts.

      What could make this fly is having a quiet majority of folks who:

      1) don’t comfortably fit in the binary gender model, but who have been managing to live their lives as normally as they can in spite of this,

      2) who have no desire to make themselves part of the marchers, protesters, and media seekers, but who…

      3) still want to win the rights granted to other human beings,

      4) and who want to do it not by joining the circus, but by proving their case as calm and reasoned adults.

      • I do believe crowdfunding is a superb idea. I’d be interested to see what ethical review boards think about it. I believe it’s ethical, but it’s an area not specifically covered up until now, so I’m sure they’re going to need to devise guidelines (which will need to be prominently posted or at least posted in the crowdfunding package).

        Science has gone off the reservation over the last twenty years and needs to get back on track. There’s been far too much political mumbo jumbo injected.

  7. I don’t know any biologists or geneticists, but I would ABSOLUTELY donate to a crowdfunding project for this research. And I participate in drug trials and other studies for cystic fibrosis, so I could ask the people running those projects if they know any scientists who would be interested in this kind of research. What types of scientists do we want to recruit?

    • Forgot to say that this somehow reminds me of Joss Whedon’s Equality Now speech that he gave when he received an award from them. I’m sure I’m misquoting, but I remember one thing he said about how equality is the natural way of things and that the world is not in balance so long as women are being denied their human rights. After we do this research on gender, it would be interesting to see if there was any way to do real scientific testing about gender equality, and whether or not we could actually prove that society benefits from people being treated equally. And maybe there are already studies out there that show this, but if there was some way to get it more mainstream maybe that would be helpful?

      I don’t know, I’m rambling 🙂

      • If research on this turned up anything that fits my hypothesis, gender equality would stop being a binary issue.

        As for equal treatment…equal rights and the application of those rights under the law are absolute necessities.

        But no two people on the planet are equal in fact.

        People should not be treated as equals in fact, or the ones who are dropped into jobs for which they are not smart enough will kill people out of ignorance and incomprehension, and the ones who are dropped into jobs for which they are not strong enough will end up crushed and dead.

        Two examples from a potential list of infinite length.

    • Hi, Johanna,

      I’ve contacted two top scientists in the field of gender research, and one PHD with significant experience in the field, and have asked all three for recommendations.

      Whether I’ll hear back or not is a question: I aimed high in all three cases.

      We’ll need folks who can develop unbiased surveys. Folks who can interpret the data.

      And at the point where data suggests there is something worth pursuing past the points of anecdotal evidence, folks capable of doing original research:

      The fields that suggest themselves as possible to me would be:

      neonatal studies,
      broad biology, perhaps looking into potential correlations in great apes

      Beyond that, I don’t know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.