Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

Why are we spending so much time talking about bathrooms and not talking about clean and safe water?

I'm supposed to attend a work conference this summer in North Carolina.  Rather than prepare for the conference, I'm figuring out if I should go and changing my travel plans because the venue changed from a state (university) to a private conference center.

My bullshit detector wonders why the chatter cycle is so focused on bathrooms for transgendered individuals and not on issues that impact a larger swath of society.

I've written before in It's a girl! Maybe about how male/female gene expression is a tricky business. In short, XY=Boy and XX=Girl is sometimes wrong. If the Y gene is very damaged, the child may appear as a female. If the Y gene is slightly damaged, the child may appear outwardly as a male, but with complications.

Erroneous Gender Identification by the Amelogenin Sex Test reported that a common gender test is commonly wrong.
The amelogenin gene, located on the X and Y chromosomes in humans (1), produces a protein important in the development of the tooth enamel matrix (2). Using specific amelogenin PCR primers, different bp fragments are amplifiable from the X and Y chromosomes, respectively (3). Hence, it has been a central system to differentiate males from females especially in forensic casework and prenatal diagnosis
Under electrophoresis, the amelogenin gene originating from X and Y chromosomes are resolvable due to differing weights/sizes. An XY sample should have two bumps (two types/weights), and an XX sample should have one bump.  A male soldier showed one bump, at the place where female versions of the gene usually fall.
The occurrence of this phenomenon has been reported as an 0.018% observed sex test failure rate in the Austrian National DNA database (9), 1.85% observed sex test failure rate in Indian males (10), 0.6% frequency of sex test failure attributable to deletion from 350 specimens from all around the world (11), and 8% (2 out of 24) samples of unrelated Sri Lankan males (11).

With the finding of our first mistyped amelogenin result on a male out of a total of 96 samples, we can report the failure rate of this test as 1.04% in Israel. Moreover, the failure of two different primer sets, to amplify the Y chromosome DNA, suggests that this sample contains a deletion in the relevant area.


What causes this gene deletion? Could it be that different populations evolved differently over time? Or could environmental factors be at play? Do you also notice a correlation between countries with high pollution and high sex-test failures?

What about sperm counts? Industrial chemicals and heavy metals can depress sperm counts.   Sperm counts are holding steady in some countries, and dropping in others. 

It is well-known that Chemicals in Water Alter Gender of Fish and the Pesticide atrazine can turn male frogs into females. Pesticides are a large contributor to the collapse of frog and fish populations around the world. What are their effects in mammals, including humans?  There is a lot that we don't know.  But we won't learn more unless we focus attention to those problems.

Isn't it funny how the North Carolina bathroom controversy has pushed the Flint water crisis (and other stories about aging water infrastructure) and industrial/agricultural water pollution out of the news?

We're allowing ourselves to be distracted by a side show about bathrooms instead of examining the prevalence of poisons in water supplies world-wide and what that is doing to the genetically vulnerable among us.


I'm deeply offended and disappointed by the NIH gender dysphoria web page.
The cause of gender dysphoria is unknown. Hormones in the womb, genes, social and environmental factors (such as parenting) may be involved.
Let's blame the parenting, usually mothers, instead of the hormone disrupting chemicals in our water.

A transgender 9-year-old tells her story in the LA Times.

Last weekend, I saw The Edge Theater Company's production of Casa Valentina. It is a good production of a good play. I highly recommend seeing it this weekend (the closing weekend of the show.)


  1. That's a Norwegian flag.

    1. Thanks, for the correction. I've updated the post.

  2. "We're allowing ourselves to be distracted by a side show about bathrooms ..." We are also allowing the bathroom issue to distract us from other troubling parts of the same law. For instance, it outlaws redress for discriminatory firing (for any reason), prevents cities and municipalities from making their own anti-discrimination laws, and prevents them from setting a minimum wage that is higher than the state minimum. I wonder if the bathroom part of the bill is just a cynical way to slip these other parts past the "rubes" who are afraid of people who are different than themselves.

    1. @Kay Why didn't the national press pick up on the other discriminatory aspects of the law? And the pre-emption of local laws? That's awful.

  3. I'm sorry. This issue gets me so riled up... I should have thanked you for the extremely interesting information on genetic variations and the effects of chemical and hormonal pollution affecting gender. I enjoy reading your blog for your take on these kinds of issues, as well as your sewing.


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