First, from a petition filed in NYC (Berkley v. Farley) that challenges the surgical sex-change requirement for birth certificate revisions:
7. In those forty years, the medical, scientific, legal, and psychological understandings of trans gender persons have progressed substantially. The mainstream view of these communities no longer equates sex with chromosomes or genitalia alone. Rather, it is now accepted that a person’s sex is determined by a host of factors, including
(3) gonads (ovaries or testes),
(5) hormonal secretions,
(1) internal reproductive organs,
(2) external genitalia,
(6) secondary sexual characteristics, and
(7) the brain sex or one’s self-identified sex.
Bold, numbers, and line spacing have been added to show consistency with the 2003 decision of The Court of Appeals in Maryland In re: Heilig (see page 8).
There is a recognized medical viewpoint that gender is not determined by any single criterion, but that the following seven factors may be relevant:
(1) Internal morphologic sex (seminal vesicles/prostate or vagina/uterus/fallopian tubes);
(2) External morphologic sex (genitalia);
(3) Gonadal sex (testes or ovaries);
(4) Chromosomal sex (presence or absence of Y chromosome);
(5) Hormonal sex (predominance of androgens or estrogens);
(6) Phenotypic sex (secondary sex characteristics, e.g. facial hair, breasts, body type); and
(7) Personal sexual identity.
Bold added to the terms medical and gender.
Interestingly, the Berkley petition seeks to prove sex, while Heilig cites gender. Yet sex and gender are different.
Of the seven factors, all but ONE refer to objectively demonstrable physical criteria. Using “gender identity” legislation trans activists argue that the single subjective factor on the list (7) should override the other six. Here is a typical example of a “gender identity” definition:
I repeat, “regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.“
As a female human assigned the girl/woman sex role at birth, I am opposed to the replacement of “sex” with any kind of subjectively asserted identity, appearance, expression, and/or behavior. “Sex” is not an identity or a choice. Sex is a physical reality.
No single factor can or should be dispositive of an individual’s sex. Evidence of secondary sex characteristics (6) is generally accepted as proof of an individual’s “sex” despite the fact that these physical markers can be constructed and/or modified through medical interventions. Factors (2), (5), and (6)–genitals, hormones, and secondary sex characteristics–are also medically malleable. As a result, one or more of them often serve as the only legally necessary proof that a person’s sex has changed from the one assigned to them at birth.
By contrast, chromosomes (4) are immutable. Factors (1) and (3)–internal morphologic sex (seminal vesicles/prostate or vagina/uterus/fallopian tubes) and gonadal sex (testes or ovaries)–are also immutable. They can be removed from the body but medical technology is not able to construct functional facsimiles of them. Either you’re born with them, or you’re not.
The biological purpose of these “sex” organs is clearly human reproduction.
From monthly menstruation to fetal gestation, female bodies bear the primary burden of human reproductive processes. This reality is not under human control. Recognizing this, therefore, humans should use the physical manifestations of female reproductive processes as the lens through which we establish the meaning and substance of “sex.” Female bodies and perspectives should be the default, not males’.
UPDATE: February 2013
I recently tracked this back further. It apparently originates in the work of John Money. Yes, indeed.
- Chromosomal - fertilization and early zygotic proliferation as either a 46/XX female or a 46/XY male, that is a sex chromatin-positive or -negative respectively.
- Gonadal - differentiation of the primitive gonadal ridge into either an ovary or a testis.
- Hormonal - differentiation of hormonal function (a) in the fetus to produce feminine or masculine organizer substances, and (b) at puberty to produce either feminine or masculine secondary sexual characteristics.
- Internal morphological - differentiation of either the mfillerian or the mesonephric (wolffian) duct into the internal accessory organs of reproduction.
- External morphological - differentiation of the external genital anlagen into either female or male sex organs.
- Assignmental - assignment of sex at birth as either female or male, with subsequent experiences of rearing reinforcing this decision.
- Psychosexual - differentiation after birth of a psychosexual identity as either female or male.