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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The 1024+ Biological Sexes

Image result for human sexual differentiation
Most of the western world seems convinced that there are only two biological sexes: male and female. The biological reality is that human sexual differentiation is not a binary system at all; it is more of a spectrum (or even a matrix).

It makes me sad that our society ignores the existence of all of these variations of human biology and attempts to push everyone into boxes that for some of us are impossible to fit into.

There are 5 basic biological qualities that determine sex: genitalia, gonads, hormone levels, physical brain structure, and genetics. Each of these qualities has 4 basic variations: male, female, intersex, or neuter giving us 4 to the 5th power (or 1024) possible biological outcomes.

I created a presentation for a set of lectures I gave to explain this:

The Endocrine and Reproductive Systems

Now I have to admit I oversimplified this and in reality there are probably at least 4096 unique sex possibilities since there is another biological characteristic or quality that I ignored and that is auxiliary structures such as the uterus, prostate, Fallopian tubes, etc.  These structures in some cases may also develop to not match the sex of the genitalia or gonads. I didn't go into the details of this category because I thought 1024 human sexes was enough to keep the minds of my audience occupied.


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