Don’t Know Much Biology


The New England Journal of Medicine has published a paper titled Failed Assignments — Rethinking Sex Designations on Birth Certificates which claims that designating a child’s sex on a birth certificate can be harmful. Here’s the paper’s abstract.

Sex designations on birth certificates offer no clinical utility, and they can be harmful for intersex and transgender people. Moving such designations below the line of demarcation wouldn’t compromise the birth certificate’s public health function but could avoid harm.

Boys and girls grow and develop at different rates and in different ways. I am not a physician, but it seems to me that knowledge of a child’s normally expected development should have real clinical utility and that ignoring it could be a form of malpractice.

BTW, neither of the two physicians among the paper’s authors is a pediatrician. The third author is a lawyer.

Titania McGrath was unavailable for comment.

Don’t Know Much Biology


Over at PowerLine, John Hinderacker has a post about a Canadian who legally changed his gender to female in order to save $91 a month on car insurance.

Some “trans” Canadians were angry, much as some actual Indians were angry at Elizabeth Warren for worming her way onto the Harvard faculty on the basis of high cheekbones and alleged family lore:

Members of the trans community in Canada have reacted with outrage to David’s cost-cutting scheme.

‘I think it cheapens the whole process. It sort of casts doubt on everybody else’s motives for making those changes,’ said Marie Little, a former chair of the Trans Alliance Society. ‘I think it gives ammunition to people who want to take rights away from trans people.’

That’s one way of looking at it. In my view, it highlights the absurdity of the concepts of gender “identification” and “assignment.” The more people who make the current regime look silly, the sooner it will collapse of its own weight.

This kind of nonsense highlights what happens when we allow the meanings of words to be hijacked.

Sex is a property of living organisms. In the case of human beings, sex is determined by the presence or lack of Y-chromonsomes. People with Y-chromonsomes are male, i.e., men and boys. People without Y-chromonsomes are female, i.e., women and girls. The science is really quite settled on this.

Gender is a property of words. Nouns and pronouns in the English language can be masculine, feminine, indefinite, or neuter. When speaking of a human being, the feminine form is used for a woman or a girl, the masculine form is used for a man or a boy, and the indefinite form (which is the same as the masculine) is used when the person’s sex is unknown. Note that the forms differ only for singular nouns. The plural forms are the same (and should not be used when speaking of a single individual).

Other languages have different rules for dealing with gender, but the biology of sex is the same worldwide.

Sex, Grammar, and Microagression


The recent brouhaha over Bruce Jenner has led me to want to explain the use of English language pronouns on this blog—

Feminine pronouns (she/her/hers) are used for human beings lacking Y-chromosomes, other female biological entities, and for certain inanimate objects such as ships.

Masculine pronouns (he/him/his) are used for human beings possessing Y-chromosomes and other male biological entities.

Indefinite pronouns (he/him/his) are used for human beings whose possession of Y-chromosomes is unknown and may be used for other biological entities. One/one/one’s may be used for any human being regardless of Y-choromosome status when the subjunctive mood is used.

Neuter pronouns (it/it/its) are used for inanimate objects and may be used for non-human biological entities.

The plural pronouns (they/them/their) should only be used for groups of person or things.

These rules are not microagression. They’re science-based, clear-thinking, real-world grammar punching back twice as hard.