Monday, May 16, 2005


I have posted a couple of articles on human protandry and interested readers should probably read the earlier stuff first. The phenomenon is a marvellous natural experiment proving that "gender" is NOT a "social construct" -- as the academic feminists would have it. The academic feminists themselves are not interested in evidence, of course, but those who have to cope with them may be. I must say I was amused, though, to see that a lesbian site had one account of the phenomenon posted. Apparently, the idea of girls turning into boys sounds pretty reasonable from a lesbian perspective!

Anyway, below is an excerpt from a medical source which explains how human protandry happens:

"De Vaal (1955) reported 3 brothers who were thought for a time to be girls. The parents and grandparents on one side were first cousins, and the great-grandparents were also related. Simpson et al. (1971) described a family with 3 affected brothers whose parents were double first cousins. Each of the affected sibs had an XY karyotype and ambiguous genitalia, leading to rearing as females. No breast development or menstruation occurred at puberty, and instead typical masculinization was observed.

PPSH can be difficult to distinguish from the incomplete testicular feminization syndrome (ITFS; 300068), especially in the young child. The distinction is obviously important since PPSH is a male-limited autosomal recessive with a recurrence risk of 1 in 8, whereas ITFS is probably X-linked recessive (or autosomal dominant male-limited) as is the complete syndrome. Wilson et al. (1974) chose to refer to PPSH as type 2 familial incomplete male pseudohermaphroditism, type 1 being the Reifenstein syndrome (312300). PPSH resembles the most severe form of type I incomplete male pseudohermaphroditism, but differs from it by the lack of breasts and by its autosomal inheritance. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) formation is defective in this condition. Testosterone and estrogen levels are normal, hence the lack of gynecomastia. Other evidence as well suggests that DHT is important to external virilization.

In a village in the Dominican Republic, Imperato-McGinley et al. (1974) studied 12 families with 22 male pseudohermaphrodites. The affected males were born with ambiguous genitalia and masculinized at puberty without breast development. The testes were normal histologically. The patients had no mullerian structures, complete wolffian differentiation, small phallus, bifid scrotum, urogenital sinus with perineal hypospadias and blind vaginal pouch. At puberty, they showed male habitus with excellent muscular development, voice change, enlargement of phallus and production of semen, but small prostate and scanty beard. Plasma testosterone was normal; plasma 5-alpha-dihydrotestosterone was low. An abnormally small amount of radioactive testosterone was converted to dihydrotestosterone. One woman studied showed the same biochemical defect.

The disorder has been found in blacks, whites, American Indians, and Latin Americans, as well as in families from Malta, Jordan, and Pakistan. Imperato-McGinley et al. (1991) described a cluster of male pseudohermaphrodites in the Simbari Anga linguistic group in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Their studies revealed a phenotypic and biochemical profile similar to that in patients studied in the Dominican Republic, except for a greater abundance of facial and body hair. DHT is responsible for masculinization of the external genitalia of the fetus and for masculinization at puberty. The virilization at puberty in PPSH may be related to the facts that the reductase is not completely absent and that low levels of DHT are found in plasma".

Price et al. (1984) presented evidence that high dose androgen therapy may improve virilization, self-image, and sexual performance in patients with alpha-reductase deficiency who have male-gender behavior and in those patients with Reifenstein syndrome (312100) who have normal amounts of a qualitatively abnormal androgen receptor.

A number of male pseudohermaphrodites have married and expressed a desire to father a child. However, a deficiency in dihydrotestosterone production not only impairs differentiation of male external genitalia but also affects the development and secretory function of the prostate and seminal vesicles. Consequently, affected adults have a rudimentary prostate and underdeveloped seminal vesicles, resulting in a highly viscous semen and an extremely low volume of ejaculate, although sperm counts may be normal. Katz et al. (1997) described the use of intrauterine insemination with sperm from a man with this disorder and a history of infertility. The first pregnancy gave rise to a normal son; the second pregnancy produced fraternal twins. All 3 children were heterozygous for the father's C-to-T mutation in exon 5 of the SRD5A2 gene".

There is a more general discussion of the hormonal phenomena involved here


A few excerpts from a submission (PDF) to an official Australian government report on behalf of "The association of women educators". The hormonal messes concerned think that the only problem is that boys are not de-masculinized enough. The submission just drips hatred of males and masculinity generally.

While school performance can be measured and influences such as social class can be factored into the results, it is undisputed that some boys dominate the statistics in issues such as: High incidence of punishment in school; Dangerous and destructive behaviour; Abuse and assault of females and other males; Homophobia; Drug Abuse; Suicide; Road deaths; Dominance of teachers' time; Dominance of linguistic and physical space in the classroom and playground; Dominance in the use of sports facilities and resources; Dominance in the use of computers and technology; and School suspension and expulsion. These examples reflect the worst aspects of hegemonic or dominant masculinity and provide the reason that schools need to take action in order to provide alternatives to the currently held narrow view of what it is to be masculine and the restrictions associated with that view in terms of educational opportunities, life chances and quality of life.

As well as creating many problems for some boys, dominant masculinities powerfully impacts on the school experiences of girls and perpetuates imbalances of cultural and economic power between the sexes, resulting in the abuse of women. Schools and teachers need to provide both boys and girls with a positive, flexible and equitable sense of being male or female to which they can aspire. Teachers have a key role to assist young people to examine alternative constructions of masculinity and femininities and to affirm a range of identities. All teachers have a responsibility in making schools supportive learning environments for all students and especially those practising marginalised masculinities and femininities. [All students except normal males, apparently]

AWE notes with concern the failure of the present "what about the boys" debate to address ssues related to boys' sexual behaviour and sexual responsibility. In addition to the well-documented dominance of young men in crimes of sexual violence, and the alarming prevalence among them of attitudes which pre-dispose young men to violence against women and girls, recent research both in Australia and Great Britain reveals that many young men fail to accept responsibility for their sexual behaviour. Evidence strongly suggests low levels of responsibility in regard to using contraception and practicing safe sexual behaviour, and to supporting children they may father. Meanwhile, young mothers are left not only to raise a child/children single-handed, but also to suffer the continuing social stigma attached to teenage pregnancy and parenthood.

The AWE believes that the curriculum promotes narrow portrayals of masculinities and that narrow subject selection by boys is not effectively addressed by secondary schools. While much of the curriculum continues to be dominated by stories of masculine achievement, many boys are observers only and some boys, most notably indigenous boys, boys from non-English speaking background, working-class and homosexual boys see little representation of their experiences in the curriculum. Dominant images of masculinity and a narrow focus on employment opportunities predispose many boys to chose maths and science whether they have an interest or aptitude in these areas or not. Many boys whose talents lie in the arts, literature or humanities can lose out by choosing subjects from a limited range. Changing employment patterns, such as the rise in the service and financial sectors, mean that career options may be better served by other subject choices.

There has been, in recent times, an increasing awareness that it is the construction of gender in society and in schools which disadvantages girls and also creates problems for boys. While the curriculum in schools often presents a world view seen through the eyes of males, such a views also frequently constructs a masculinity which can be dysfunctional for many boys and young men. Dr Cherry Collins' research on harassment and bullying published by ACER in 1996 also highlighted the gendered nature of schooling and problems created by narrow definitions of masculinity for both boys and girls in the classroom and in the playground.

The notion that "its is now the boy's turn" is totally rejected. Instead policies and strategies arising out of this inquiry should be underpinned by a commitment to social justice and educational equity. A broad brush approach which aims at solving the problems experienced by some boys is not the answer. Likewise not all girls have succeeded as a result of policies and practice of the 1970's and 80's...

One popular theory suggests that it is the feminisation of the teaching profession which is to blame for the poor performance of some boys in schools. AWE totally rejects this notion. Although over 70% of teachers are women the vast majority of administration position in schools and systems are held by males. It is at this policy making level that decisions are made in relation to curriculum content and structures in schools. A simplistic approach which deducts [I guess the harpies mean "deduces" here. Some educators they are!] that male teachers produce high achieving motivated boys must be rejected outright. Both male and female teachers must be made aware during pre-service and later in-service courses of the vital role they play in providing a classroom environment in which a variety of teaching and learning styles are evident and that their styles need to extend into a general acceptance of ways gender is constructed. [It's a mere assertion, and a demonstrably untrue one, that "gender" is "constructed" rather than inborn but these bigots see no need to support their assertions with any attempt at evidence]

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