Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Brain Matter and Sex Matters

 

With all the talk this week about the openly homosexual NFL draft pick as well as the Houston City Council voting on optional bathrooms for transgendered, I finally turned off the news today. As your average liberally educated, Pacific Coast grown mom of five, looking for a job and trying to help my young adult kids make good life choices, I don't have the time or the energy to spend fighting The Spirit of the Age.  Sitting in the orthodontist’s waiting room for my twins to have their bands adjusted, I picked up a copy of Scientific American May 2014 edition.  

No it wasn’t the only magazine on the table. The choices were cooking, decorating, and travel magazines but since my life experience consists of plenty of cooking and home decorating and travel – in my family we call it relocating - perhaps physics would be a nice change of pace. I didn’t get any further than page 4 when a small ad for an Alaskan cruise caught my eye. Apparently, great minds of science take vacations together to discuss current theories and discoveries that will illuminate and inform those of us with a lesser brain.  Larry Cahill, Ph.D., Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior, School of Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine would be speaking. Among his work is a paper titled Fundamental sex difference in human brain architecture.* Wait a minute; I don’t want to think about sex differences! Remember I turned off the news. Maybe I should have picked up Bon Appetite instead. It was too late … my mind was racing.
 
Part of the article read, “…Sex Matters… even if it was once scientifically defensible to assume that sex does not matter to brain function, it is no longer. The reason is simple: we now know that sex influences—small to medium to large—are extremely widespread on brain function. The validity of the assumption that the sex of subjects cannot powerfully alter, negate, and even reverse findings (hence, conclusions) has been crushed under the weight of evidence proving that it can and regularly does …” 
 
So, if somebody decided they’re not really a man, that whomever or whatever created them made some cosmic mistake, medical science can now change their physical structure. Fair enough? But given this scientific update, what is there to make their male brain change to a female one?  I know from experience that a male brain trying to tell a female body what to do doesn’t go over too well. Just come to my home any day that female hormones are flying and you’ll see what I mean. Talk about irreconcilable differences.
  
Now this is NOT news to any mother of boys and girls and I didn’t need a Ph.D. to tell me there is a foundational difference. But in the wake of so much controversy, it's great to have some clarity from the scientific community. Looking back on when my children were born and birth certificates were issued, I didn't notice any box where the doctor could check "undecided." When asked, I tell people that I have three boys and two girls. Imagine the panic within the medical community if, years later, parents began notifying obstetricians at the hospital that one of their genders has crossed over to the other side and that the doctor had it all wrong!