Monday, December 14, 2009


By Sophia Siedlberg

How often have I said that genes in the autosomes have the final say when it comes to sex differentiation? Probably about 500 times on record and at least 20 in my writings.

Well, the publication Cell has some nice, hard laboratory evidence of precisely the mechanism I have been describing. My point is that autosomal regulation of sex differentiation was something I had myself understood quite well in terms of computer models. And while Dr. Robin Lovell-Badge of the National Institute of Medical Research in the UK would not have been aware of my computer models, it is certainly true that the good doctor has confirmed what I have known all along. The dogma XY for a boy and XX for a girl is an old idea that is toast.

Let me quote Dr. Robin Lovell-Badge:

“We take it for granted that we maintain the sex we are born with, including whether we have testes or ovaries. But this work shows that the activity of a single gene, FOXL2, is all that prevents adult ovary cells turning into cells found in testes,”

And the response from the Murdoch Press is:

“The research, published today in the journal Cell, challenges a common perception that gender is determined purely by the X-chromosomes and Y-chromosomes. The gene that was switched off, known as FOXL2, lies on a non-sex chromosome that is shared by males and females.”

I am tempted to gloat given that in a previous article I said to a reporter from the Murdoch Press who asked whether I was genetically male or female that “I am genetically me”. But given that the Murdoch press were showing signs of being nice, I am not going to gloat. I am not in a position to because all the research has shown is that the sort of model I have been describing for years was true after all. But I am not the one who published it in a scientific publication (having been marginalized) and the research I did was purely theory. These people were not even testing my own theory. They just proved it correct as a consequence of their research.

However, I believe it was only a matter of time before some research in a lab proved this autosomal sex regulation model to be correct. The truth is when you look at the human genome up close and personal, that is spend the best part of five years gawking at nucleotide sequence data and constructing a polygenic model, you do end up predicting that the number of genes in the human genome is less that 40,000 before the Human Genome Project figured it out and you do know how sex is regulated by genes not in the 23rd pair of chromosomes.

What I am saying is, I am not some idiot (as the textbooks often claim about intersex people). I am saying I knew prior to both the discoveries I mentioned, and it is documented what those discoveries would be, and it was not down to some mystical power but hard work.

I am also not going to reap any benefits because I was not involved in the research on both occasions. But this is a question of personal integrity; you know the textbook description of intersex people being “mentally retarded”.

But the one thing I will benefit from is knowing that because of this latest discovery by Dr. Robin Lovell-Badge’s team I will be regarded as a human being instead of a monster, not because I was aware of the possibility that such research would incidentally prove me correct, but because the unholy dictatorship of “XX or XY” is over. I can call myself “genetically me”. And even that was in the Times a few weeks before Dr. Robin Lovell-Badge’s work was published, and reported on in the self same newspaper.

So I am going to ask just one thing. Can I be allowed to lead my life with some dignity, and not be dismissed as a mentally deficient monster or a pair of chromosomes that say nothing of who or what I am?

It seems the Murdoch press understand this is what intersex people are saying now. And to me this is perhaps far more important, because finally there is a degree of understanding that people who do not fit the classical biological definitions of what is male or female are not “dangerous” or “evil” or a “threat to society” they are just natural variations of the human genome. Genetically we are us.

Just like my namesake in religious mythology, she didn’t get listened to either but wisdom always gets proven right in the end. Let me just get on with my life is all I and those like me ask.

Source quoted: Click here


  1. Hi Sophia,

    Thank you for the fine article. We also reported on the same work and have other references as well. Please let me know if you would like to send them along.


  2. What could cause a gene to be switched off though?
    And how long would such a change take to propogate?

    Yes, I have a very obvious personal reason for asking. It's just barely possible that this might just explain my change of endocrine balance. I'm not sure it would explain the rapid change though, I'd expect such a transformation to happen at normal pubertal rates, over years not months.

    It might also explain why removal of the testes was followed by a rapid decrease in E2 level.

  3. I know I'm late getting back here, but it's about time that something like this was demonstrated. I've never believed that there was any huge gulf between male and female biology.