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Is Sex Assigned at Birth?

What Would You Say?

So you’re having a conversation with someone and they tell you that sex is not a fixed part of a person’s identity, but something that is merely assigned at birth. They go on to say that since sex is assigned at birth, it can be reassigned later if the persons discovers that a mistake was made. What would you say? First, A person’s sex is acknowledged, not assigned. There are many things doctors learn about a baby when it is born like height, weight, and blood type. Those things aren’t assigned, they are acknowledged. Other things are assigned at birth, like a name. Babies are assigned names exclusively on the preferences of the parents. Changing a name before, during, or after birth has no real impact on the person because it is not a biological part of their identity. So if we know that some things are acknowledged and some things are assigned, what category does a baby’s sex fall into? Is it more like getting a name from your parents or more like learning your blood type from the doctor? I think the answer to that is pretty clear. Which leads to the second point. Second, sex is determined by our reproductive system. In most cases, humans are born with two chromosomes, either XX or XY. Those chromosomes lead to the creation of reproductive organs, which create sex hormones, which in turn create genitalia and secondary sex characteristics, like body hair, bone structure, or an Adam’s apple. Within our species, there are only two reproductive systems, male and female. While they clearly matter for reproduction, that’s not the only reason they matter. Men and women differ in how their brains operate, how they solve problems, what diseases they are susceptible to, and so much more. “But some people are intersex!” you say. This is all true. Which leads to the third point. Third, Disorders of sexual development don’t create new categories of sex. Not every person’s reproductive system develops neatly along a male or female path, but that does not mean they are not male or female. Some people are born without limbs, others are born blind. Disorders of sexual development are not evidence of a new sex category any more than disorders of the cardiac or respiratory systems are evidence of new kinds of hearts or lungs. A baby born with ambiguous genitalia is not evidence of a new sex within the human species. How do we know this? Because the disorders of sexual development do not create a new chromosome, a new sex hormone, or a new type of genitalia. They have not replaced the need for male or female nor have they found a new way to reproduce. They are simply evidence that sometimes our bodies don’t develop or function as designed. But let’s be honest, we’re all evidence if that in our own way aren’t we? The truth is, neither science, nor logic support the idea that sex is assigned at birth. So next time someone tells you it is, here are the three things to remember. 1. A person’s sex is acknowledged, not assigned. It’s much more like blood type than a name. 2. Sex is determined by our reproductive system, not our feelings. 3. Disorders of sexual development don’t prove that there are many different sexes. They just prove that we’re imperfect; which we all kind of knew anyway.