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While the answer to this question might seem obvious to many, there are some who are confused on this topic.  Previous generations did not have difficulty with this question, as evidenced by the musical “South Pacific”.  Perhaps the confusion is a yet-to-be-cataloged consequence of the pseudovaccines in widespread use during the recent Covid catastrophe.  Maybe it is a subtle virus of sorts that is being passed around among the densely packed inhabitants confined in large cities, as it does not seem to be common in more rural areas.  It may even be a product of our current miseducation system which seems to be confused about so many topics these days.

Consequently, as part of my civic duty, I offer this brief guide to help those suffering from this confusion.  The condition seems most prevalent among the upper levels of society, sometimes called the “elites”, or “progressives”.  By way of example, at a recent Senate hearing to confirm a candidate for the United States Supreme Court, a self-identified woman candidate was unable to answer the question: “What is a woman?”.  It is a sorry state of affairs when this author knows more about Constitutional law than a candidate for Supreme Court justice appears to know about basic high school biology, but such are the times.

Begin at the beginning


To begin our journey through the thickets of basic biology, we will confine ourselves to human biology without delving into animals such as frogs and fish where things can occasionally get a bit weird.  Hopefully, we all know that we are made up of cells, and that within each cell is something called the nucleus.  Contained within the nucleus are stringy bits of genetic material called chromosomes.  Each chromosome contains information on how to make the various proteins and other materials from which our bodies are built, as well as information on how to put it all together to make bones and teeth and organs and such.  Chromosomes are like the computer software that tells our computers how to do useful things.

Two chromosomes, in particular, determine whether we will be male or female, man or woman.  One of them, when seen under a microscope resembles the letter “X”, and was imaginatively given the name of X chromosome.  This chromosome is found in both men and women.  It is always paired with either another X chromosome, or with another type called a “Y” chromosome, probably by the same creative researcher who named the X chromosome, and for similar reasons.

Dos Equis

All women, and only women, have two X chromosomes.  Yes, there are some who have two X chromosomes who feel they have been “double crossed” in the gene lottery, but most women are quite satisfied to have the X pair, and for good reason as we will see soon.

Among the benefits of two X chromosomes is the information on how to construct an important organ that only women have.  This organ, the uterus, is absolutely essential to human survival – without it, humans would die off in a few short years.

Our friend, the uterus

Of all the differences between men and women, this one organ is probably the most distinguishing.  There is no equivalent to it in male anatomy.  Without it, no pregnancy can be successful.    After an egg is fertilized, it is implanted in the wall of the uterus where it is nurtured and grows into a fetus.  Part of the process involves the development of a placenta.  When the placenta forms, it mates with a corresponding location on the uterus.

Fetal blood circulates through the placenta where it receives food and oxygen from the mother, and where wastes are removed.  The fetal blood never mingles with that of the mother – all exchanges take place at the interface between the placenta and the uterus.  Without this complex and remarkable organ, no pregnancy can be successful in producing an infant human.

Catastrophic errors

There are several things that can go wrong in this complex process.  Sometimes a fertilized egg will not make it all the way to the uterus, and will try to implant in the fallopian tube – the tube that conducts eggs from the ovaries that produce them to the uterus.  On other occasions, a fertilized egg escapes the system entirely and is implanted in the body cavity among the intestines and other squishy organs.

If either of these two rare events happens, the fetus cannot survive, and the life of the mother is at risk.  The body will take steps to eliminate the fetus as it is a very dangerous condition.  Only a fetus properly implanted in a uterus can proceed as a normal pregnancy.

Pregnant men

In related confusion, some people believe that men can get pregnant.  Certainly, a fertilized egg could be implanted in a male belly, but since men do not have uteruses or uterii, or whatever plural you favor,  the man’s body will act to protect itself from the intrusive foreign body.  The result is neither happy nor pretty.  Pictures of men with inflated bellies are more indicative of too much beer, rather than a legitimate pregnancy.

Remember that “Y” chromosome mentioned earlier?  One of its primary functions is to block the formation of a uterus. Without a uterus, no normal male with an XY chromosome pair can get pregnant.  The idea that men can get pregnant is in the same category as the idea that the moon is made of green cheese, or that Socialism can produce a long-term viable society.

Gender is what you make of it.

Sex is genetically determined by the X and Y chromosomes, and is either female or male.  While there are a few odd exceptions, those are the only two versions and which one you get is determined at the moment of conception.  It stays with you all your life and cannot be altered by external circumstances.

Gender, on the other hand, is what you think and feel about your sex.  You may like it or not, be happy about it, or wish it were otherwise.  People generally are happiest when their gender identity aligns with their sexual identity.  There is a lot of confusion today around sex and gender, and the two terms are often used interchangeably, which simply adds to the confusion.

A mature choice

During childhood, and especially adolescence, our bodies are rapidly growing and changing.  It is a very uncomfortable time for most.  It is a time when people are trying to sort out who they are, and the introduction of new sex specific hormones into the mix doesn’t help make things any clearer.  Young males, particularly, experience strong desires to mate with nearly everything in sight – rocks, trees, fish, whatever.  Young women experience their own equivalent urges.  It is often a time of experimentation and discovery.  Usually, by the time they reach their mid-twenties, though, people have gained enough maturity and experience to know with fair certainty who and what they are.

There are some in our society who wish to take advantage of this period of discovery to encourage children to make permanent life choices well before they have the maturity to understand the consequences.  No child should be encouraged to make gender related choices before they can understand what that choice means.  Attempts to impose a gender choice on a child is more reflective of someone’s agenda rather than consideration of what is best for the child, and should probably be considered child abuse.

Some things are permanent

Attempts to match sexual identity with immature gender identity often lead to tragic outcomes when the child grows to maturity and realizes the permanent nature of an ill-considered choice.  Sex is a permanent genetic characteristic and cannot be altered by superficial means – trimming off bits here or adding bits there – no more than a bird can be turned into a dog by cutting off its wings and putting it on a leash.

Put a stamp on it

Hopefully, this brief introduction has helped alleviate a bit of the confusion around sex and gender and perhaps cleared up a few personal questions some may have.  One difficulty that remains is that the principal organ that distinguishes between the sexes is hidden within the female body and is not obvious from outside.

For those who are still uncertain, there are a number of organizations that provide DNA testing. Such tests are definitive.  A small sample and a modest fee, and these organizations will be happy to resolve any questions one might have about what sex they might be.  No blood test needed, and you even get other interesting information to share with friends and relatives.

This message was brought to you as a public service.  The author has no affiliation with any government or academic institution.  No animals were harmed in its production.

By David Robb

David Robb is a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative and a practicing scientist who has been working in industry for over 50 years. One of his specialties is asking awkward questions. A large part of his work over the years has involved making complex scientific issues clear and understandable to non-specialists. Sometimes he even succeeds.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Blue State Conservative. The BSC is not responsible for, and does not verify the accuracy of, any information presented.

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