Kuiper smiles in front of the Transgender House in Topeka, KS.

Biology is Complicated

Trans rights are human rights. Now and forever, here and everywhere.

Biology is complicated, y’all. When I was a kid, I learned that “girls have XX sex chromosomes, and boys have XY sex chromosomes.” Turns out those aren’t the only 2 options. Some people have X, XXX, XXY, XYY, XXXX, XXXY genes, or even some cells with XY and some with XX. The last is called “mosaicism”; mosaic expression of coat color is how we get calico cats. When a mosaic’s cells are from more than one zygote, we call it “chimerism.” That’s sometimes how we get beauties like¬†@venustwofacecat.

Chimerism happens in people, too, and most aren’t aware. In 1981, a researcher named Winifred Watkins stumbled across a blood donor with two different red blood cell types. Upon further testing, she determined that the man carried XX cells in some of his tissues, and XY in others. But for Winifred’s chance encounter, the man would have likely never have discovered his chimerism.

Also: the case of Karen Keegan who, after compatability testing for a kidney transplant, discovered that two of her children were not her own (despite having given birth to them!) She turned out to be an XX/XX chimera.

But wait, there’s more! Sometimes people with XY chromosomes have androgen insensitivity. For all intents and purposes, they can physically appear female, and may not discover they have a Y chromosome until their period never shows up during puberty. The reverse can happen to people with XX chromosomes and congenital adrenal hyperplasia or a mutation called the SRY gene. Sometimes these modifications aren’t clear cut, and a person may not be born with “standard-issue” parts.

In the non-human animal kingdom, things get even wilder.¬†Unlike nearly all other mammals, transcaucasian mole voles don’t even HAVE Y chromosomes (or SRY genes.) We have *no idea* what the genetic difference is between a female transcaucasian mole vole and a male transcaucasian mole vole.

In short, it’s best to keep in mind that there are exceptions to every “rule.” Let’s treat everyone with the kindness and respect they deserve.

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BpdASpIDd7G/

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