In a new piece for The Atlantic, one student working toward a Ph.D. in biological anthropology argued it’s a “fundamental misunderstanding” to believe human beings are born either male or female.
“Underlying all of this is the perception that no matter the gender a person identifies as, they have an underlying sex they were born with,” Alexandra Kralick wrote. “This represents a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of biological sex.”
“Science keeps showing us that sex also doesn’t fit in a binary, whether it be determined by genitals, chromosomes, hormones, or bones (which are the subject of my research),” she continued.
— Jesse Singal (@jessesingal) November 12, 2018
The crux of Kralick’s argument is that, looking at the skeleton alone, there are times a trained researcher might not be able to guarantee with 100 percent certainty whether the individual was a male or a female.
There are, of course, some skeletal differences, such as the size of the pelvis and overall bone mass, but those variations could give a false impression postmortem.
Nevertheless, to use human beings’ similar skeletal structures to suggest there’s really no binary or sexual differences between us is just nonsensical. To do that, the writer has to dismiss virtually every other aspect of the human body.
Kralick wrote her story not long after President Donald Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services announced its decision to consider restoring the governmental definition of “sex” to its pre-Obama understanding as a biological, unchangeable condition determined by genitalia.
The Ph.D. student explained it’s just “more complicated” than that.
“For generations, the false perception that there are two distinct biological sexes has had many negative indirect effects,” Kralick wrote, later adding that the continued understanding that we are born male or female “will humiliate and unnecessarily scrutinize people.”