Who discovered the gender

Two genders? Old hat!

Our gender is written in the genes, can be clearly assigned to a person and does not change during our lives. On one side the woman, on the other the man - princess or knight. Between? The moat, maybe. In any case, yawning emptiness, no man's land.

Some people would like it to be that simple. The favorite argument is often science, more precisely biology.

The broad scientific consensus now looks different: Gender is a spectrum. If you want to stick with the picture, men and women are on opposite ends, but there is a lot going on in between.

Clearly ambiguous: the genetics

XX chromosomes = female human, XY chromosomes = male human. This is how gender comes about, we learn at school. People with XX chromosomes usually form a vagina, uterus, and ovaries in the womb. XY creates the penis and testicles.

Of course, the sex chromosomes are important, but gender is not that easily created.

In sex education we learn: penis = boy, vagina = girl. It is not that easy.

For example, there are people who outwardly look like women, but have the "male" sex chromosomes XY in their cells and vice versa. How can that be?

A gene that is located on the short arm of the Y chromosome and is called SRY decides (along with other players) whether or not testes will form in an embryo. If, for example, this gene is not read due to a mutation, i.e. remains silent, so to speak, no testes are formed despite the XY chromosomes.

On the other hand, testes can grow in people with XX chromosomes if the gene (presumably during cell division) jumps to the X chromosome and is read.

So how sensible is it to determine the gender after the birth, as it is currently mostly done, solely by the externally visible gender characteristics?

Nothing is set in stone

Naturally occurring abnormalities in the sex chromosomes are manifold. This can also have an impact on the visible sexual characteristics, i.e. the genitals. Here, too, there are several gradations between the fully developed penis and the externally visible part of the clitoris.

People who cannot be clearly assigned to one of the binary genders refer to themselves as intersexual or inter *. The United Nations estimates that 1.7% of the world's population belong to it. So the number is comparable to that of red-haired people in the world.

Since 2018, these people in Germany can have themselves entered in the birth register as "diverse", or newborns can be entered as "diverse". Another gender affiliation is also recognized in other countries, such as Australia, Bangladesh and India.

The Hijra are a recognized third gender in Bangladesh.

By the way: gender can also change over life, more precisely the sex glands. Chinese researchers found this out in a study on mice.

Responsible for this are the genes DMRT1 and FOXL2, which normally balance the development of the ovaries and testicles in a kind of yin and yang relationship. If there is a change in these genes, the sex glands in adult mammals can still change from one extreme to the other.

The changeable symphony of hormones

Testosterone: the male hormone! Estrogens and Progesterone: The Women's Hormones! It's not that simple here either.

Both men and women and gender-diverse individuals all have these sex hormones in their bodies. Progesterone and estradiol levels (the most effective natural estrogen) in adults hardly differ on average between the two sexes.

If you are looking for a binary in the hormone levels, you should rather differentiate between the two sexes "pregnant" and "not pregnant", according to an overview study of recognized gender characteristics, written by American psychologists. Because only pregnant women are far out of the ordinary when it comes to estradiol and progesterone compared to all other people.

Children cannot be distinguished by gender before puberty by looking at their sex hormones. It is not until puberty that testosterone levels in particular fluctuate, so that on average men have more testosterone than women.

But even this difference has long been overestimated according to more recent findings - due to a failure of research, since testosterone was clichéd only studied in men and estrogens only in women.

Today, specific research is being carried out on the hormonal overlap of the sexes. It was also discovered that the hormone levels depend to a considerable extent on external factors and are not, as previously assumed, purely genetically predetermined.

For example, expectant fathers will have less testosterone over the period of their partner's pregnancy. The supposedly female hormones estradiol and progesterone, on the other hand, are increasingly formed when people compete for dominance - a behavior that is clichéd as male.

What gender is your brain

But women think very differently than men, something must be different in the brain! Right. There are, of course, average differences between the brains of men and women. That of men is bigger on average. Individual brain regions also differ in their average size, the density of connections and the type and number of receptors.

However, researchers cannot do this either the male or the pinpoint female brains. Each brain is quite unique and, in its individual parts, is more like a gender mosaic.

At least that is how researchers from Tel-Aviv University describe it in a study. A quarter to half of the 1400 brains examined showed this sexual patchwork quilt. So it remains complicated in the head as well.

Incidentally, this also applies to the brains of trans people, which are also examined more specifically: If one compares some characteristics such as size, trans women lie between the typical numbers of the binary genders. With regard to individual brain regions, trans people are sometimes closer to their perceived gender, but sometimes also closer to their assigned gender.

We can therefore confidently tick off the search for pure binary sexual characteristics as inconclusive. Any supposedly “biological” argument against it is simply unscientific.

The gender is as complex and varied as the person who wears it, and that's something wonderful.

  • The power of hormones

    In seventh heaven

    Butterflies in your stomach, your body tingles, your blood pressure rises. The diagnosis: we are in love. With such a beautiful experience, endorphins are released. And they make you happy. But this hormone is also activated in emergencies. Then it ensures, for example, that seriously injured people often feel no pain at first.

  • The power of hormones

    Typical man

    It is the sex hormone testosterone that makes a man's beard sprout. Among other things, estrogen regulates the female cycle. Both sex hormones are responsible for the development of typical sexual characteristics; a penis in the male, ovaries in the female embryo. But they also have other tasks: They influence our sexual desire and fertility.

  • The power of hormones

    When children grow up

    It is the hormone somatotropin that helps children grow and mature. The body produces more protein, converts more fat and accelerates the formation of bones. Too much somatotropin in children can turn them into real giants. The hormone is formed in the pituitary gland, the pituitary gland, the center in the brain where hormones are produced.

  • The power of hormones

    Outside insulin

    The hormone insulin is responsible for the sugar metabolism. It stimulates the cells in the muscle to take up glucose from the blood. So it lowers blood sugar levels. Diabetics do not produce enough insulin, so the sugar stays in the blood and this can be life-threatening. You need to inject insulin into the body regularly.

  • The power of hormones

    Hormone for the body clock

    Melatonin regulates our day-night rhythm. The hormone is released in the dark. It makes us tired, the body prepares for sleep. Light, on the other hand, inhibits the production of melatonin. The European Food Safety Authority decided in 2010 that melatonin - taken as a dietary supplement - can help reduce jet lag. But researchers are not so sure.

  • The power of hormones

    Totally stressed

    Cortisol is an important stress hormone. The body produces it at night. So it is available during the day. It affects the metabolism, the psyche and is closely linked to the immune system. It also has anti-inflammatory effects and is a powerful drug. But many associate the substance with side effects such as a puffy face and thin skin. Wrong, my doctor.

  • The power of hormones

    When the adrenaline rises

    An adrenaline rush is guaranteed with bungee jumping. Because the body releases this hormone, for example, when it is anxious, so it can quickly access protected energy reserves. Important in earlier times in order to be able to flee or fight quickly. The blood pressure rises and the heart rate increases. The body is on the alert.

  • The power of hormones

    What makes us happy

    Exercise or eat chocolate. There are two ways to raise serotonin levels. In addition to dopamine, serotonin is considered a happiness hormone. It plays an important role in our mood. Are we in a good mood or are we bad? When there isn't enough of it, we can get depressed. Movement or reaching for the chocolate can help.

    Author: Gudrun Heise