I am Zoe Brain, Sex and Gender Education Australia, Part …

Comment on Birth registrations Bill: How many genders are there? by Zoe Brain.

I am Zoe Brain, Sex and Gender Education Australia, Part of the Ad Hoc Advisory Panel from the Australian National University on law reform in the ACT in this area.
Such children face all sorts of medical and social issues. They shouldn’t have to face completely un-necessary legal ones too. The NT legislation is an attempt to get rid of the existing legal problems they face. By all means, if anyone has a better solution, state it – but a lot of people, lawyers, doctors, legislators, administrators and intersex people themselves, have given a lot of thought to the issue, and this is a compromise that seems to work well in the other states and territories where it has been adopted.
Intersex people exist. As can be seen by the comments, many people don’t realise this.
Maybe this might help explain the kinds of things legislators have to consider when figuring out laws that won’t contradict reality and lead to injustice.

[Most men have 46 chromosomes, including an X and a Y one. The Medical term is 46,XY – often referred to as “genetic males”, even though some women are 46,XY, and 1 in 300 men are not. Most women have 46 chromosomes, including two X chromosomes – 46,XX. ]

A 46,XY mother who developed as a normal woman underwent spontaneous puberty, reached menarche, menstruated regularly, experienced two unassisted pregnancies, and gave birth to a 46,XY daughter with complete gonadal dysgenesis.
• J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Jan; 93(1):182-9

In an isolated village of the southwestern Dominican Republic, 2% of the live births were in the 1970s, guevedoces … These children appeared to be girls at birth, but at puberty these ‘girls’ sprout muscles, testes, and a penis. For the rest of their lives they are men in nearly all respects. Their underlying pathology was found to be a deficiency of the enzyme, 5-alpha Reductase.
• Science 1974 Dec 27; 186 (4170): 1213-5

The fetal brain develops during the intrauterine period in the male direction through a direct action of testosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hormone surge.
In this way, our gender identity (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and sexual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb.
However, since sexual differentiation of the genitals takes place in the first two months of pregnancy and sexual differentiation of the brain starts in the second half of pregnancy, these two processes can be influenced independently, which may result in extreme cases in trans-sexuality.
This also means that in the event of ambiguous sex at birth, the degree of masculinization of the genitals may not reflect the degree of masculinization of the brain. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender identity or sexual orientation.
Endocr Dev. 2010;17:22-35

RESULTS Eight of the 14 subjects assigned to female sex declared themselves male during the course of this study, whereas the two raised as males remained male. Subjects could be grouped according to their stated sexual identity.
Five subjects were living as females; three were living with unclear sexual identity, although two of the three had declared themselves male; and eight were living as males, six of whom had reassigned themselves to male sex. All 16 subjects had moderate-to-marked interests and attitudes that were considered typical of males. Follow-up ranged from 34 to 98 months.

CONCLUSIONS Routine neonatal assignment of genetic males to female sex because of severe phallic inadequacy can result in unpredictable sexual identification. Clinical interventions in such children should be reexamined in the light of these findings.
• N Engl J Med. 2004 January 22; 350(4): 333–341.

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