Please pay attention to these tweets: https://twitter.com/ergo_praxis/status/1356491580807540737
They raise good questions. Why should sex be determined by gametes, or reproductive capability? What justification is there for such categorization, and definition of sex?
Why isn't sex determined by genes, hair color, height, blood type, or anything else only? Why specifically gametes, or reproductive capability?
The model is changed to be based around anisogamy, solely so they can maintain their precious binary, but by doing that, they've also created a typology so narrow as to make the study of sex-variation impossible.
The bit I don't understand is EVEN IF you accepted that this is the important difference, how many people's chromosomes, gametes and genitals have they personally checked? It just makes no sense.
Even if we say sex is determined by gametes, or reproductive capability, we can not check people's gametes, sex organs and genes by observing them, especially when they are clothed. That can only be done in the lab. It would be pointless for sex to be determined by gametes, genes, and sex organs, when people wear clothes and we can not observe what's underneath the clothes, and even if we could, if they surgically removed their sex organs, we'd have to observe their genes which can not be done by the eyes.
Insisting that sex is binary because there are two kinds of gametes is as compelling as arguing there are four sexes because there are like four hair colours. The conception of sex in terms of any body part must be justified, it can't just be presupposed because it's convenient.
The only reason the latter seems more unconnected is that it is the sort of arbitrary connection that doesn't have the force of tradition behind it. But tradition is not a good reason to adopt a conception. It's not any sort of reason at all.
Why does producing sperm make one a man? Why is this fact not irrelevant? Why should sperm be an inherently masculine anatomical object at all? This always ends with "that's just how we speak", which is no more than the dogmatic appeal to tradition and its conceptions coming out.
There are people who produce big gametes, and people that produce small, and no one else (allegedly). Ok, so what? There are people with broader and sharper waists (and this is even part of the sexual dimorphism people are fond of) why isn't that our criterion for sex assignment?
And imagine if whenever someone objected to this I went "are you denying that people have differently sized waists? Are you denying there are broader waists? Are you a waist-denier?". That'd just be comical. They'd clearly be objecting to my criteria, not the parts they pick out.
Ah, yes. The four sexes: Blonde, red head, brunette, and black haired.
These are immutable sexes and you can't change your sex by simply dyeing your hair. That's against biology.
What would be the best way of determining sex then? Like a gradient of Hormones + Gametes +++ other things?
I think it depends on our purpose. Scientists could probably pick and choose, depending on what they are actually studying. Someone may be interested in chromosomal sex, someone else in mosaic sex. Outside science, I'm not confident the concept of sex does any real work.
But to link sex with “can these two people produce offspring together?” seems to me to be less arbitrary?
Given that's the ONLY thing that can be usefully gleaned from reproductive capability, no, it's really not more relevant.
How often do you find yourself concerned about your ability to reproduce with a person? How often is that, SPECIFICALLY, your thought?
Because I've never once on a date (or generally about anyone I've met) thought, "This person cannot have value to me unless we are reproductively compatible."
I don't think most people have besides a certain class of patriarchal misogynist.
It doesn't MATTER almost EVER.
There are only 2 heights. Below 167 cm, and 167cm and above. That’s just factually true. No person isn’t in that range of height. I’m very smart.
I thought it was accepted that there are genetic sexes that cannot be changed, but gender is fluid?
That's close to the old sex/gender distinction view, but I don't think its proponents view sex as immutable, or strictly binary, really. Particular aspects of biological sex (in this view) are currently unchangeable, like e.g. chromosomal sex.
But the relation between these aspects of sex and the sexes generally (whether it's necessary and/or sufficient, which aspects of sex, if any, should be privileged in its assignment and so on) remains contentious.
Independently of the wider political discussion, I do find interesting the discussion of our justification for the way we gender the body (including chromosomes), and the way these conceptions systematically fail to even accommodate the entire diversity of human phenotypes.
biological categories are socially constructed. This does not mean that biology is not real. It means that when we take a bunch of complex, continuous variables, and attempt to simplify them into simple(r) categories, we are constructing those categories
Biology is wonderfully complicated. We should not be dumbing biology down for "easy wins"
Sex/gender was never binary, somehow many still argue against that. The paradox of the heap applies to sex. Sex has always been a spectrum (that applies even when it is solely defined physiologically). It doesn't follow that female or male doesn't exist (or can't be defined).
Moreoever, X and Y come in countless variants, so if there are thousands of X and Y variants, and that chromosome defines sex, there are thousands of sexes.
There are many variations between the two sexes.
Males with persistent Müllerian duct syndrome have uterus, and fallopian tubes which are female sex organs.
People with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome have wombs, and testes: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/differences-in-sex-development/
Intersex are variations, and not disorders. Even if disorders, they'd be variations. These variations show that males can have uteruses, etc. And females can have testes, penises, etc.
When the sex organs of males can exist in females, and the sex organs of females can exist in males, how can you call these organs specifically female or male organs?
And why wouldn't these variations show that sex is a spectrum?
thoroughly shape the reality of people.
not really, but either way, many things have social significance for the lives of people, but that doesn't make them signifiers of being male or female.
it's an importance to have adequate word describing [...] people who produce sperms and those who produce eggs.
You managed just fine without any mention of sex here
It seems we don't need male or female. We can simply say "people who produce sperm" and "people who carry eggs". Why use male and female when we can just use "sperm producers" and "egg carriers"?
There’s two gametes but not everyone produces them, so by that logic sex would be at least a trinary. Not to mention there’s two sexual chromosomes but more than two combinations of those chromosomes.
And people with a certain set of chromosomes don't always develop in the way associated with them
That too, XX male and XY female are a thing that exists (not to mention several other phenotypes with those chromosomes, those are just the most well-known ones)
XY females who have successfully conceived without medical assistance and carried to term, then raised the kid to an adult before discovering they’re XY, no less!
And had daughters who were also XY who also gave birth
I would like to know what you think of this person's arguments: https://twitter.com/cheomitII/status/1213110009061507072
“Sex is binary because there are only two types of gamete/two sex chromosomes/two roles in reproduction/two primary sex organs/... and that’s just biology!”
OK, cool. So then ABO blood group is binary because there are only two antigens.
The “O” is for “only”, right?
The mistake in all these examples is trying to apply a system from one level to a higher, more complex level.
For blood type, it’s confusing a molecular binary with a cellular phenotype. For the others, it’s trying to apply a molecular or cellular binary to a whole organism.
1) Doesn’t matter how many species it exists in - the relevant feature (exactly two fundamental determinants) is perfectly analogous.
2) ABO blood type is very well defined, and relies only on those two antigens. Yes, overall human blood type is more complex - but ABO isn’t.
3) the analogy directly answers this. You’re making a category error in trying to apply a low level binary to a higher level, more complex system.
4) again, this is the problem - trying to apply a micro system (gametes or whatever) to a macro one (whole organism)
You’re still arguing a cell-level binary translates into an organism-level one - exactly like arguing that a pair of antigens means that organisms can be binarily categorised based on them.
not everyone fits one and only one of those categories, so sex isn’t binary.
They took the ABO blood system, and showed we can not take gametes, and categorize the whole organism based on gametes, just as we can not with blood.