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Old 28th July 2022, 09:38 AM   #161
Elaedith
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Good stuff.

Here is something that really stuck out to me as someone who once trained in statistics: It occurs to me just now that we could conceivably choose a variable worth graphing out, e.g. number of viable gametes produced per month.
For what purpose?

It would produce a clear distinction between adult females and most adult males (those who are not infertile) if plotted on the same axis.

It still wouldn't be plotting 'maleness/femaleness' because males who produce more gametes are not more male than those with a lower sperm count.
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Old 28th July 2022, 09:48 AM   #162
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Originally Posted by Elaedith View Post
For what purpose?
I think you answered this question in your next sentence.

On an appropriate logarithmic scale, we would see one cluster around zero (individuals who are subject of this thread), one cluster around one, and another cluster way up the line.
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Old 28th July 2022, 09:53 AM   #163
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I think you answered this question in your next sentence.

On an appropriate logarithmic scale, we would see one cluster around zero (individuals who are subject of this thread), one cluster around one, and another cluster way up the line.
Translate this, please? 0, 1, and a lot? Who do you think falls into those categories?
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Old 28th July 2022, 10:25 AM   #164
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Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Translate this, please? 0, 1, and a lot? Who do you think falls into those categories?
Adult females of reproductive age will tend to produce around one viable gamete per month.

Adult males of repoductive age produce something at least in the billions.

Intersex individuals of reproductive age who are not fertile in either of the above senses will cluster around zero viable gametes per month.
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Old 28th July 2022, 10:40 AM   #165
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Lots of people of both sexes who are not intersex and who are of normal reproductive age will post either zero or (in the case of males) a low-ish number of viable gametes due to infertility or sub-fertility. Intersex conditions are far from the only causes of infertility or sub-fertility.

Then you have individuals of both sexes before puberty, and females post menopause. It's not that helpful for population classification when you take all that into account.
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Old 28th July 2022, 11:03 AM   #166
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Lots of people of both sexes who are not intersex and who are of normal reproductive age will post either zero or (in the case of males) a low-ish number of viable gametes due to infertility or sub-fertility.
Lowish for males will still be way higher than normal for females, so there won't be any doubt which bell curve to group those individuals into.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Intersex conditions are far from the only causes of infertility or sub-fertility.
Fair point, but putting the zeroes aside we'd still a bimodal curve.
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Old 28th July 2022, 11:28 AM   #167
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Yes, I suppose that's a point.
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Old 28th July 2022, 11:57 AM   #168
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Lowish for males will still be way higher than normal for females, so there won't be any doubt which bell curve to group those individuals into.

Fair point, but putting the zeroes aside we'd still a bimodal curve.
I know nothing about statistics, but wouldn't a binary distribution (or whatever the right technical term is) generate an essentially bimodal curve?
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Old 28th July 2022, 12:24 PM   #169
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I know nothing about statistics, but wouldn't a binary distribution (or whatever the right technical term is) generate an essentially bimodal curve?
A binary variable is a categorical variable with two categories so it doesn't generate a curve. A categorical variable with more than two categories can technically have two modes but does not generate a meaningful curve if there is no logical order to the categories. Characteristics associated with sex that can be plotted on a continuous distribution will show bimodal characteristics because these characteristics are associated with an underlying variable that is binary.
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Old 28th July 2022, 01:43 PM   #170
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Adult females of reproductive age will tend to produce around one viable gamete per month.

Adult males of repoductive age produce something at least in the billions.

Intersex individuals of reproductive age who are not fertile in either of the above senses will cluster around zero viable gametes per month.
Females don't produce an egg a month, we release an egg a month. All of our eggs are produced during fetal development.

Males begin producing sperm with puberty, and have none prior to that.
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Old 28th July 2022, 01:52 PM   #171
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Fair point, but putting the zeroes aside we'd still a bimodal curve.
You'd see one curve, and a spike. Because it isn't one population, it's two populations stuck on the same graph.
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Old 28th July 2022, 01:56 PM   #172
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I know nothing about statistics, but wouldn't a binary distribution (or whatever the right technical term is) generate an essentially bimodal curve?
Binary distribution creates two spikes. It's a yes/no distribution, so what you end up with is a visual representation of the probability of a yes versus a no.

Binary is a categorical distribution. You can only get a bimodal result from an ordinal or continuous distribution. And in 99.99% of cases, when you get a bimodal result, it's an indicator to go look at your data set, because you've probably got two distinct populations based on a characteristic not captured in your data.

For example, if you were plotting the weight of cats and ended up with two modes, it's probably worth noting that your category of cat contains both domestic pets and wild lynx - two distinct populations, each with it's own independent distribution that overlap a bit.
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Old 28th July 2022, 01:58 PM   #173
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Originally Posted by Elaedith View Post
A binary variable is a categorical variable with two categories so it doesn't generate a curve. A categorical variable with more than two categories can technically have two modes but does not generate a meaningful curve if there is no logical order to the categories. Characteristics associated with sex that can be plotted on a continuous distribution will show bimodal characteristics because these characteristics are associated with an underlying variable that is binary.
Exactly. Although with categorical variables with more than two categories, you'll only get something that looks like two modes depending on how you order them to plot.
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Old 28th July 2022, 02:01 PM   #174
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Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Females don't produce an egg a month, we release an egg a month.
Right, but when I said "viable gamete" I meant one that is prepared for the process of fusion with an opposite-sexed gamete. In females, that's a secondary oocyte.

Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
You'd see one curve, and a spike.
I don't think so. We'd see one cluster of data peaking around one gamete per month, and a much more spread out curve peaking somewhere in the billions. You'd need a log scale on the x-axis (average number of gametes per month) to see both curves at the same time.
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Old 28th July 2022, 02:53 PM   #175
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Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Exactly. Although with categorical variables with more than two categories, you'll only get something that looks like two modes depending on how you order them to plot.
I wasn't thinking just about plotting. A mode is just the most frequently occurring value, so technically a categorical variable can have a mode or two modes if two values are much more frequent than the others, but the concept of having two modes doesn't have much use when you are not able to plot a frequency distribution.

For example, Jerry Coyne stated:
'To be a bit more precise, biological sex in humans is bimodal: if you do a frequency plot with “sex” on the X axis and “frequency of individuals conforming to that sex” on the Y axis, you get a huge peak at “male”, another huge peak at “female”, and then a few tiny blips in between that conform to hermaphrodites or intersexes.'

I don't agree with his characterisation of 'hermaphrodites or intersexes' being 'in between'. However, he is saying that sex is essentially binary for practical purposes and treating it as a categorical variable. What Novella and others are plotting is clearly a continuous distribution with two modes, but without specifying what is on the X axis. So even if Coyne was correct it doesn't have anything to do with the ideologically-motivated nonsense Novella is promoting.
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Old 28th July 2022, 03:06 PM   #176
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To me, "in between" connotes a continuum of healthy developmental paths. What we actually get "in between" is an undesirable crossing of characteristics drawn from two binary development paths, neither of which develops properly to fruition. Though one or the other may develop enough to be at least minimally functional.
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Old 28th July 2022, 03:12 PM   #177
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I don't think that's so as regards sex. There is a ridiculous graph in circulation which claims a bimodal distribution, but there is no label on the x-axis. It could easily be height, or weight, or grip strength, or even hair length. But it's being presented as if the axis was in some way "essence of sex".

"Intersex" just doesn't work that way. It's a misnomer. It's a catch-all term for people who are either male or female but have some anomaly in their male or female sex organs. It's not that they have bits of the sex organs of the opposite sex. (Even the rare-as-hen's-teeth ovotestis condition is basically either male or female but with some vestigial developmental material that went down the wrong path.)
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Old 28th July 2022, 03:32 PM   #178
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
To me, "in between" connotes a continuum of healthy developmental paths. What we actually get "in between" is an undesirable crossing of characteristics drawn from two binary development paths, neither of which develops properly to fruition. Though one or the other may develop enough to be at least minimally functional.
The overhwelming majority of DSDs don't have any ambiguity about sex. Even several of the conditions that can result in atypical genital formation aren't ambiguous about sex. 5-ard, for example, frequently presents with a very small penis and divided scrotum at birth, which can result in an incorrect identification of sex in less developed countries. But at puberty, they go through a typical male development, frequently resulting in an elongated penis, and their testes frequently produce sperm.

There are extraordinarily few cases where there really is ambiguity about sex. Those involved ovotestes, where the gamete-producing tissue was interrupted during development. In most cases, there's only one ovotestis, and the other will be recognizably either an ovary or a testicle. In the even more rare cases where both are ovotestes the designation of male or female is made on the basis of the rest of the organs, and whether they are predominantly Mullerian or Wolffian. So, ferinstance, if everything is confused, but there's a prostate - male. If everything is confused, but there is a rudimentary uterus, female.
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Old 30th July 2022, 10:30 PM   #179
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Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Females don't produce an egg a month, we release an egg a month. All of our eggs are produced during fetal development.

Males begin producing sperm with puberty, and have none prior to that.
I wouldn't want to be seen as trying to tell my grandmother how to suck eggs (see the Wikipedia article thereon) ..., but the Wikipedia article on oogenesis emphasizes that XXers are only born with "ootids" that don't mature into ova that can actually be used in reproduction until ovulation - which of course can't take place until after puberty:

Quote:
Oogenesis starts with the process of developing primary oocytes, which occurs via the transformation of oogonia into primary oocytes, a process called oocytogenesis. .... Both polar bodies disintegrate at the end of Meiosis II, leaving only the ootid, which then eventually undergoes maturation into a mature ovum.
Girls are born with 1-2 million of those "primary oocytes", but only some 500 mature into actual ova that can actually be used in reproduction. A woman only PRODUCES (present tense indefinite) some 500 ova from puberty to menopause.
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Old 30th July 2022, 10:47 PM   #180
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Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
... because that person looks female on the outside ....
I wonder what your definition is for "female" and for "male". Whether you would subscribe to the standard biological definitions for both.

More specifically, see the Glossary in an article (Gamete competition, gamete limitation, and the evolution of the two sexes) at the Oxford Journal of Molecular Human Reproduction by biologists Parker and Lehtonen, definitions that are pretty much standard in many dictionaries (Lexico, Google/OED) and encyclopedias (Wikipedia):

Quote:
"Female: Biologically, the female sex is defined as the adult phenotype that produces [present tense indefinite] the larger gametes in anisogamous systems.

Male: Biologically, the male sex is defined as the adult phenotype that produces [present tense indefinite] the smaller gametes in anisogamous systems."

Don't think it's really possible to decide who is in which category, which people are "ambiguous", if we haven't FIRST defined what we mean by the terms. Like hunting the snark otherwise ...
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Old 31st July 2022, 12:17 AM   #181
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I'm not sure what it would take to convince me that sex is a spectrum.
It's really a matter of stipulative definitions, of by definition. From Merriam-Webster:

Quote:
by definition idiom
: because of what something or someone is : according to the definition of a word that is being used to describe someone or something
A volunteer by definition is not paid.
A glider is by definition an aircraft with no engine.
What would it take to "convince" you that gliders are aircraft with no engines?

Same thing with the definition for sex - from Lexico:

Quote:
sex (noun): Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and most other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.
They don't say there, but their definitions for "male" and "female" make it clear that the "reproductive functions" in question are being able to produce, on a regular basis, sperm or ova.

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I've seen the Quigley scaleWP and that convinces me that genital morphology is indeed a spectrum ...
There are probably hundreds if not thousands or even millions of "sexually dimorphic traits" that are "continuous variables" - height is the classic, paradigmatic case, but there are many others. But none of them justify any assertion or claim that sex itself is a spectrum, much less "bimodal" which seems to qualify as a category error.

But we could say that each different human karyotype was a separate sex in which case we could say that sex was a discrete spectrum. But it would be inconsistent with the Lexico definition for "sex" since there are still only two "reproductive functions" - i.e., producing two different types of gametes.

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Since these individuals have to contribute different sex cells (oocytes and spermatozoa in our species) I'd say the process of sexual reproduction is rooted in a binary at the gamete level.
The previously mentioned article on Gamete competition, gamete limitation, and the evolution of the two sexes at the Oxford Journal of Molecular Human Reproduction by biologists Parker and Lehtonen seems the classic work on that topic.
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Old 31st July 2022, 02:44 AM   #182
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
I wonder what your definition is for "female" and for "male". Whether you would subscribe to the standard biological definitions for both.

More specifically, see the Glossary in an article (Gamete competition, gamete limitation, and the evolution of the two sexes) at the Oxford Journal of Molecular Human Reproduction by biologists Parker and Lehtonen, definitions that are pretty much standard in many dictionaries (Lexico, Google/OED) and encyclopedias (Wikipedia):

Don't think it's really possible to decide who is in which category, which people are "ambiguous", if we haven't FIRST defined what we mean by the terms. Like hunting the snark otherwise ...

Also, I think that, while the definition doesn't cover infertile people, presumably in order to remain simple and comprehensible, the more general definition is about whether a particular body is "organised around" the production of sperm or ova. So, for example, a man who has all the normal male parts but who has never produced sperm, is still male.

The tricky one is CAIS, because CAIS women's bodies "should" be male, but for their non-functional androgen receptors. Medical science classifies them as male, but their bodies appear female other than the "smudge" male gonads that aren't doing anything, and they are universally agreed to be women.

They're still not a third sex though. The binary remains binary. This isn't Dreamsnake. Or Don't Bite the Sun.

Definitions of male and female are trivially easy, and the only argument the dissenters seem to have is that some people might not be immediately classifiable without a bit of medical investigation. There isn't a third type of gamete and there aren't any bodies organised around the production of a third type of gamete. Sperm or ova. It's about as binary as it gets. All they can do is pick certain secondary indicators of sex and suggest that some people are somehow in between the two sexes if they don't quite conform to the Platonic ideal in these respects. But these secondary indicators are just that, secondary indicators. Two sexes, and with sufficient diagnostic testing it's possible to discover which one everybody is.

Then they get round to completely re-defining sex. It's a frequent dodge. Change the definition of a key term, win! So suddenly we get behavioural and psychological features taken into account as well as physical. Well, by that metric every single person on earth is "non-binary" in the sense of not conforming to the Platonic ideal of either sex (nobody is either full Barbie or full GI Joe). So what actual use is it?
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Old 31st July 2022, 11:02 AM   #183
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Also, I think that, while the definition doesn't cover infertile people, presumably in order to remain simple and comprehensible, the more general definition is about whether a particular body is "organised around" the production of sperm or ova. So, for example, a man who has all the normal male parts but who has never produced sperm, is still male.
That “organized around” is a rather idiosyncratic and quite unscientific re-definition of the sexes. A definition which, according to a tweet from Emma Hilton (Fond of Beetles), she and two other so-called biologists, Colin Wright and Heather Heying, have had published in a letter to the UK times, hardly a peer-reviewed biological journal:

Quote:
Individuals that have developed anatomies for producing either small or large gametes, regardless of their past, present or future functionality, are referred to as 'males' and 'females', respectively.

I’d include a link to Hilton’s tweet – of December 19, 2019 – of that letter, but I’m not yet allowed to do so. Maybe I can edit this comment later to include it and/or a JPG.

(Seems that I've included a thumbnail though don't know how that happened or how it will display)

But more later.
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Old 31st July 2022, 11:09 AM   #184
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I think it's more a form of words to explain what has always been recognised, that an azoospermic man is still a man, and so on. It hasn't been a particular issue until now, but transactivists are picking apart ordinary definitions at any ambiguity they can find, and this is one of them.
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Old 31st July 2022, 11:37 AM   #185
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post

<snip>

Then they get round to completely re-defining sex. It's a frequent dodge. Change the definition of a key term, win! So suddenly we get behavioural and psychological features taken into account as well as physical. Well, by that metric every single person on earth is "non-binary" in the sense of not conforming to the Platonic ideal of either sex (nobody is either full Barbie or full GI Joe). So what actual use is it?
Amen to that, particularly the "re-defining sex", a popular pastime these days ... I see that there's been some discussion in this neck of the woods about Steven Novella's attempts to do precisely that over in his sadly misnamed "(Junk)Science-Based Medicine". Rather "amused" by this claim of his:

Quote:
The notion that sex is not strictly binary is not even scientifically controversial. Among experts it is a given, an unavoidable conclusion derived from actually understanding the biology of sex. It is more accurate to describe biological sex in humans as bimodal, but not strictly binary.

If it's "not strictly binary" then it's a spectrum. And he should be able to say precisely what uniquely differentiates and defines each of the 3 or more sexes in his spectrum. Maybe he's found some evidence of that mythical third gamete? Big prize of a $million for that, not to mention a Nobel prize ... Hard to believe that he calls himself a biologist - scientism-ist at best.

But as I think I've mentioned here or elsewhere, we could hypothetically, as a tentative hypothesis, assert that each different human karyotype was a separate sex. And then we might get a "joint probability distribution" of sex and heights like the 3D graph below:

And if you were to mentally rotate the image so that you were looking directly at the "box" from the karyotype side then you would see - mirabile dictu - several peaks, several "modes". But there are several smaller or lower peaks off to the side so technically we have "sex" being multimodal.

It's really not the modes and their number that determine whether sex is a binary or a spectrum, but how we define the categories.

Though it's a bit of a murky topic that I'm still trying to get a good handle on - lies, damned lies and statistics.
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Old 31st July 2022, 11:59 AM   #186
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I think it's more a form of words to explain what has always been recognised, that an azoospermic man is still a man, and so on. It hasn't been a particular issue until now, but transactivists are picking apart ordinary definitions at any ambiguity they can find, and this is one of them.
Ooh! New word!

Quite agree with you that the transactivists are "picking apart ordinary definitions" - though that may be a case of it being an ill wind that blows no one some good. There IS some benefit in being precise in our definitions - as I like to quote Voltaire, "if you wish to converse with me, define your terms".

Somewhat apropos of which, Helen Joyce - of "Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality" (indeed) - had a rather brilliant, if somewhat flawed, essay at Quillette on that point, this passage in particular:

Quote:
“The problem is that ‘female’ is not something you can identify as. It’s a word with an objective definition that holds right across all of biology, and hardly any of the things it refers to are capable of identifying as anything. It means: ‘of or denoting the sex class that produces large gametes,’ ….”
The article is titled, "She Who Must Not Be Named" - shades of Voldemort and what not - from June of 2020.

But her point, even if she doesn't quite realize it or want to realize it, is that "produces large gametes" is what is called the "necessary and sufficient condition" for sex category membership. That is, no ova, or no sperm in the case of that poor "azoospermic" fellow, then not members of the female and male sex categories. Fairly succinct and useful summary of that principle in Wikipedia's article on "Extensional and intensional definitions":

Quote:
An intensional definition gives meaning to a term by specifying necessary and sufficient conditions for when the term should be used. In the case of nouns, this is equivalent to specifying the properties that an object needs to have in order to be counted as a referent of the term.
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Old 31st July 2022, 12:22 PM   #187
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That is not how the words have been used for many hundreds of years though. A castrated male is still referred to as male. A freemartin heifer is still referred to as female. For a large part of that time people would often not even have been aware that a man was "firing blanks" (and would probably have blamed the barren marriage on his wife), and they'd have laughed in your face if you suggested that he was literally "not male".
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Old 31st July 2022, 12:54 PM   #188
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
That is not how the words have been used for many hundreds of years though.
So what? "female" used to be "she who suckles":

https://www.etymonline.com/word/fema...monline_v_5841

By which Bruce Jenner and his tribe would have qualified. Even if the milk probably would have been deemed unfit for human consumption.

Word definitions change all the time to reflect new knowledge. The standard biological definitions - endorsed and echoed by any number of dictionaries and encyclopedias - all rely on "produces gametes" - which weren't discovered until the late 1800s.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
A castrated male is still referred to as male. A freemartin heifer is still referred to as female. For a large part of that time people would often not even have been aware that a man was "firing blanks" (and would probably have blamed the barren marriage on his wife), and they'd have laughed in your face if you suggested that he was literally "not male".
"castrated males" are only nominally so, for reference purposes only.

A major stumbling block in the whole transgender ************ is the desperate insistence that everyone has to have a sex, that "sex is immutable (!!11!!)", that there is some "mythic essence" to male and female which has precipitated a "bun-fight" over who gets to claim the "golden apple" "for the fairest' - as feminist "philosopher" Jane Clare Jones once suggested:

Quote:
Because I’m going to say that what’s being concealed is the reality of sex, and the conflation of sex and gender enabled by pretending this horrendous ************ is a bun-fight over some mythic essence of womanhood which confers some kind of privilege we’re all so jealously guarding.
https://janeclarejones.com/2020/01/1...alison-phipps/

But that position is simply untenable; it is flatly contradicted by the standard biological definitions which are foundational to the whole edifice of biology.
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Old 31st July 2022, 01:08 PM   #189
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Ach, I can't really be bothered. Two types of gametes, there isn't a third one. There isn't a third sex.
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Old 31st July 2022, 01:15 PM   #190
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Ach, I can't really be bothered. Two types of gametes, there isn't a third one. There isn't a third sex.
Not disputing that at all. But the devils are in the details; really don't think that the transgender
Edited by jimbob:  do not mask profanity to get past the autocensor
will be resolved without grappling with them.

Famous saying from Francis Bacon which I think succinctly summarizes the whole issue:

Quote:
For men associate through conversation, but words are applied according to the capacity of ordinary people. Therefore shoddy and inept application of words lays siege to the intellect in wondrous ways.
Amen to that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novum_...e_Idols_(Idola)

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Old 31st July 2022, 03:07 PM   #191
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
But the devils are in the details; really don't think that the transgender *************** will be resolved without grappling with them.
What has transgenderism to do with the topic of this thread?

Not being contrarian, sarcastic, or obscurantist, I really want to know what you think the connection is between these that thread and this one.

As I've mentioned here before, even if no one was born with DSDs, we'd still have people diagnosed with dysphoria who really want to be physically modified to look and feel like the opposite sex.
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Old 31st July 2022, 04:43 PM   #192
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
What has transgenderism to do with the topic of this thread?

Not being contrarian, sarcastic, or obscurantist, I really want to know what you think the connection is between these that thread and this one.

As I've mentioned here before, even if no one was born with DSDs, we'd still have people diagnosed with dysphoria who really want to be physically modified to look and feel like the opposite sex.
No problemo; good question.

But what ties the transgenderism and intersex issues together - and many others - is the question of what definitions for the sexes we're going to agree on. We can't possibly resolve any of those if large percentages of those with "skin in the game" have entirely different, contradictory and antithetical definitions for those terms.

Part of the discussion here in this thread has apparently been over placing the intersex in either the male or female categories. But, by the standard biological definitions, many of the intersex simply don't have one, aren't members of either; they're sexless. And, apparently, some of the intersex accept that conclusion:

Quote:
However, there are individuals with DSDs who have assumed the term intersex as an identity and reject the notion that the human body must be dichotomous. These individuals view the term DSD as a negative label that implies that atypical sex anatomy must be corrected with surgical or hormonal interventions.
https://theelectricagora.com/2020/06...nd-philosophy/

Not quite sure exactly what is meant by "dichotomous" there, but a reasonable conclusion seems to be "either male or female".

And much of transgenderism, of course, hinges on claims of various individuals that they can change their sex and/or that sex is a spectrum - a rather profoundly unscientific idea that many have been peddling of late, Steven Novella at the sadly misnamed "Science-Based Medicine" in particular.

Great many issues seem to hang on reaching something of a workable consensus as to exactly what "male" and "female" - as sexes - actually denote and encompass. And their logical consequences. The biological definitions for the sexes aren't perfect - particularly for any sort of social justice warrioring or gatekeeping. But they're kind of essential to pretty much all of biology.

As Paul Griffiths puts it in an excellent article an Aeon - one that should be required reading for anyone who wants to take part in this debate:

Quote:
On the other hand, whatever its shortcomings as an institutional definition, the concept of biological sex remains essential to understand the diversity of life. It shouldn’t be discarded or distorted because of arguments about its use in law, sport or medicine. That would be a tragic mistake.
https://aeon.co/essays/the-existence...uman-diversity
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Old 31st July 2022, 04:47 PM   #193
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I have copied this post from the other thread, because on reflection I think it was off topic there and more appropriate for this one.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
In addition to which, as I think I've argued here or in another thread, the way the definitions are framed, having functional gonads of either of two types is the "necessary and sufficient condition" for sex category membership.

All part of my "thesis" - that the whole sex-gender "debate" is bedeviled by a whole raft of "decidedly unscientific 'arguments', cognitive distortions, misperceptions and outright pigheaded ignorance of those principles". Going to take some effort to separate wheat and chaff - and precise definitions seems the essential starting point.

No, I don't see genitalia as a proxy for membership of a particular sex category. I'll leave you to your murky linguistic points for the moment, but I'll add this bit in here.

In mammals, development of a body along the male pathway is triggered by the presence of a functional SRY gene somewhere in the body. Not necessarily in every cell, but somewhere. You can pretty much divide everything (mammalian - I'm no expert in other things, but we are talking mainly about human beings here) into male and female by the presence or absence of such a gene, and indeed that was done for a while at the Olympics (and the reasons they stopped are complex).

Chimeras and mosaics complicate the issue, but the bottom line here is that either the SRY gene contributed by one part of the genetic makeup is functioning in the body, or it ain't. The result may not be a typical male (although often it is), but bodies go one way or the other on that one. The one genuine difficulty is CAIS, where lack of functioning androgen receptors means that despite the presence of a functioning SRY gene, development along the male pathway cannot proceed. These people, phenotypically and socially, are women, but medically they would be classed as male.

I honestly don't have a problem with categorising CAIS women as male in this context, and some of them understand their condition well enough and are comfortable enough with it to go along with that categorisation, but I'm wary of making that assignment in very public places such as Twitter, because it can really offend some people and I certainly understand why that should be so.

Academically speaking then, I'd go with the simple split of functional SRY gene versus no functional SRY gene. It does the job, and it doesn't do gross violence to the way I have used the words male and female all my professional life, and indeed the way they are normally used in ordinary parlance, where fertility is not something you inquire about before you recognise someone as male or female. (Imagine having to prove that your body produces gametes before you can have M or F on your passport!)

As far as CAIS goes, the medical classification of these people as male isn't really disputed, it's just not talked about so as not to upset people. Phenotypically they are women and to recognise this I wouldn't have a problem with refining the definition of male as anyone who has both a functional SRY gene and functional androgen receptors, and female as anyone who lacks one or other of these.

I have rather defaulted to the "organised around the production of..." form of words as it seems to be gaining traction and I know what they mean, but for me that's another way of saying the above.
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Old 31st July 2022, 04:58 PM   #194
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
But, by the standard biological definitions, many of the intersex simply don't have one, aren't members of either; they're sexless. And, apparently, some of the intersex accept that conclusion.

Well, if they want to "identify" as neither male nor female, good luck to them and far be it from me to tell them they can't, but like everybody else they either have a functional SRY gene or they don't. We're back to your (in my opinion either perverse or misunderstood) choice of "standard definition", which as I pointed out would, in normal life, require us all to prove that we produce gametes in order to get an M or F on our passports. This is simply not how the language operates in everyday use.

Since practically all people with DSD conditions are quite obviously male or female in normal everyday terms, the chances are that these individuals who choose to identify as sexless are doing so as a psychological defence reaction to insensitive, intrusive and unwanted medical interventions, rather than any actual ambiguity in what sex they are. Most DSD conditions are indeed recognised as being sex-specific and are listed in that way. And nobody requires gamete production in order to do that classification.
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Old 31st July 2022, 05:10 PM   #195
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
What has transgenderism to do with the topic of this thread?

Not being contrarian, sarcastic, or obscurantist, I really want to know what you think the connection is between these that thread and this one.

As I've mentioned here before, even if no one was born with DSDs, we'd still have people diagnosed with dysphoria who really want to be physically modified to look and feel like the opposite sex.
Technically, DSDs and 'sex as spectrum/bimodal' should have nothing to do with gender dysphoria or people identifying as trans. However, the attempt to 'deconstruct' sex is part of the same ideological movement that is attempting to replace sex with gender identity in all areas of politics and public life. In that sense, both those with DSDs and people with gender dysphoria are just being exploited for ideological purposes. The surest way to sell pseudoscience and silence critics is to claim that you are acting on behalf of marginalized groups and that those who question your ideas are motivated by bigotry or hatred. This will allow you to promote any nonsense and get away with things you otherwise never would. Note that on the SBM article, near the start they take care to imply that anyone who disagrees is basically motivated by transphobia, thus pre-emptively smearing critics.

Postmodern gender theory or queer theory is all about transgressing category boundaries, based on the idea that these don't reflect any objective knowledge but are simply constructed by those in power to preserve their own privilege. Therefore, the idea that sex is binary reflects the interests of 'cishet' scientists rather than any scientific truth. People with DSDs are ideal for blurring category boundaries, as is the claim that sex is a collection of characteristics that are bimodally distributed, nobody has all these characteristics, and no one can be privileged over any other in determining sex, therefore there is no real way to reliably classify anyone as having a sex.

Coming up with the idea that gender identity and sexual orientation are actually part of one's sex, while ridiculous, is also deviously clever in a way. Essentially it it trying to blur the distinction between 'intersex' and 'trans' by implying that those those gender identity doesn't match the other attributes of their sex do in fact have a type of 'intersex' condition where their actual sex is ambiguous. Moreover, you can then claim that their gender identity or 'feeling of being male or female' is the attribute that should determine their actual sex. Their other sexual characteristics can therefore be regarded as 'wrong' and perhaps needing to be medically corrected.

Ironically, just a few days ago SBM posted this entry referencing postmodernism, with the sub-heading:

'An exploration of how, under the guise of “reason”, doctors, desperate to be different no matter the evidence, have embraced the position that there are no aspects of reality that are objective and that feelings matter more than facts.'
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Old 31st July 2022, 05:12 PM   #196
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I have copied this post from the other thread, because on reflection I think it was off topic there and more appropriate for this one.
Possibly. Maybe the discussion would be better in the "Trans women are not women" thread, but it seems it takes a day to get a comment through there so something of a waste of time.

This thread may indeed give the best bang for the buck.

<snip>

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I have rather defaulted to the "organised around the production of..." form of words as it seems to be gaining traction and I know what they mean, but for me that's another way of saying the above.
I and many others have credibly argued that there are serious problems with that "structure-absent-function" definition, including Paul Griffiths and Marco Del Giudice of the University of New Mexico. A quote from the latter:

Quote:
On a deeper level, the ‘patchwork’ definition of sex used in the social sciences [and by Emma Hilton and Company] is purely descriptive and lacks a functional rationale. This contrasts sharply with how the sexes are defined in biology. From a biological standpoint, what distinguishes the males and females of a species is the size of their gametes: males produce [present tense indefinite] small gametes (e.g., sperm), females produce [present tense indefinite] large gametes (e.g., eggs; Kodric-Brown & Brown, 1987)
https://www.researchgate.net/publica...Sex_and_Gender
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Old 31st July 2022, 05:18 PM   #197
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I think if we're talking about actual DSDs, this is the best place to do it. In practice transwomen are virtually all genetically and phenotypically normal males and the entire "but what about teh intersex!" thing is pure water-muddying.

ETA: The SRY gene is a structure. That's why I prefer that definition.
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Old 31st July 2022, 05:38 PM   #198
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I think if we're talking about actual DSDs, this is the best place to do it. In practice transwomen are virtually all genetically and phenotypically normal males and the entire "but what about teh intersex!" thing is pure water-muddying.
Quite agree on the "water-muddying" - though others might have more pithy phrases, the least "offensive" of which might be "bait-and-switching by frauds and grifters". But - hey!, de gustibus ...

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
ETA: The SRY gene is a structure. That's why I prefer that definition.
Sure, it's a structure. But the standard definitions are all about function.

The thing is that we don't get to make up our own definitions - as we don't get to drive on any side of the road we want whenever we want. There are fundamental principles of logic and science and biology that undergird those biological definitions. If you - and Hilton and Company as progenitors of that idea - want to tout that definition then I think you have to make a better case than "Because I say so", or "Because that's the way grandpappy did it".

I doubt that you or they have given any thought to how that definition of yours would play out if it was rigorously put into practice in various journal articles and research. Rather important to differentiate between the fertile and the infertile, a distinction which that definition sweeps under the carpet if not repudiates.

In addition to which, that "past-present-future functionality" definition basically boils down into a spectrum - three mutually exclusive conditions, each of which qualifies an individual for membership in the male and female categories. Bit "incongruous" to then be throwing stones at Novella and company for doing the same thing.
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Old 31st July 2022, 05:47 PM   #199
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No, we don't get to make up our own definitions. And that includes making up definitions of words which are quite obviously at variance with how they are used by the vast majority of speakers of the language. Even if they're "standard". (I still think there is a misunderstanding there and I think Emma Hilton addressed it, but I don't want to second-guess.)

I didn't mind digging out an old letter from the uni to prove I had been awarded a PhD in order to have the title Dr on my passport, but I'm damned if I'm going to go looking for evidence that I once ovulated in order to be recorded as female on the bloody thing.

Also, have you seen the tables of descriptions of DSD conditions that classify them according to which sex they affect? Since many of these people are probably infertile, how does that square with your pet definition? Most journals and research I'm familiar with are entirely comfortable with the usage of male and female that is essentially based on presence or absence of an SRY gene (whether the authors explicitly recognise that or not). We talk about infertile males and infertile females all the time. We don't suddenly stop calling them male and female. Like freemartins. A female twin of a male calf. (My God, I'm glad that one doesn't occur in human medicine, given the frequency of mixed-sex twinning in our own species.) I simply have no other language to describe the condition.
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Old 31st July 2022, 06:08 PM   #200
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Originally Posted by Elaedith View Post

<snip>

People with DSDs are ideal for blurring category boundaries, as is the claim that sex is a collection of characteristics that are bimodally distributed, nobody has all these characteristics, and no one can be privileged over any other in determining sex, therefore there is no real way to reliably classify anyone as having a sex.
Exactly right.

Originally Posted by Elaedith View Post
Coming up with the idea that gender identity and sexual orientation are actually part of one's sex, while ridiculous, is also deviously clever in a way.
Indeed. Something of a case in point from an essay by UCL Professor Alice Sullivan on the efforts of the UK Office of Statistics to allow "gender-identity" to be used in place of "sex" in the 2021 Census:

Quote:
Counsel for ONS, Sir James Eadie QC, made three central arguments. First, guided by Iain Bell's witness statement, he asserted that sex is not a simple matter, but an ‘umbrella term’. As well as biological sex and legal sex, the term ‘sex’, it was claimed, may also refer to a person's ‘lived sex’ or ‘gender identity’, or to the sex marker on any document issued to them by the state, such as a passport. This entailed the claim, not just that sex is currently ‘an umbrella term’, but that it was intended as such by the 1920 legislation. The judge dismissed this argument as unpersuasive.
"Unpersuasive" - quote/unquote

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/...467-923X.13029

Originally Posted by Elaedith View Post
Ironically, just a few days ago SBM posted this entry referencing postmodernism, with the sub-heading:

'An exploration of how, under the guise of “reason”, doctors, desperate to be different no matter the evidence, have embraced the position that there are no aspects of reality that are objective and that feelings matter more than facts.'
"Ironic", indeed. Surprised that the article made the cut; expect it to be retracted and the author "defenestrated" as with what happened with Harriet Hall and her review of Abigail Shrier's book:

https://www.skeptic.com/reading_room...our-daughters/

Particularly surprising as Hall at one point was peddling the same sex-is-a-spectrum schlock as Novella is now doing:

Quote:
Sex is a spectrum on several axes

Science has not been able to categorically distinguish a male from a female. There’s no one simple test to determine whether an individual is a woman or a man. It’s not an either/or dichotomy, but a multidimensional spectrum on several axes, from the biological to the social to the psychological.
https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/sex...s-complicated/

Somewhat "amused" to see Hall - some 9 years ago - apparently trying to mash entirely subjective traits into the definitions for the sexes.
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