Be warned. Mrs. Choi's column this week is about some infrequent changes in the human body. It is discussed frankly. If you are easily offended, perhaps another section of the paper would be more to your liking. If you are willing to learn; read on and enjoy.- The Editor.

 

The Y chromosome - Santhi Soundararajan, of India , won the silver medal in the women's 800 meter race in the Asian Track and Field Championships in South Korea last year. Some competitors complained that she might be a man due to her masculine appearance so she was checked by a psychiatrist (to check if her mind was a woman), by an endocrinologist (to check for female hormones in her blood), and by a gynecologist (to check for anatomical female parts and to make sure there hadn't been a sex change operation). She passed. This past December she competed in the Asia games in Doha , Qatar . She again took the silver. Complaints arose again. The same tests, plus a chromosome test, were made. She didn't pass the chromosome test and lost her medal. It turns out that she had one too many Y chromosomes, which technically makes her a male.

Each healthy human cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes. Twenty-two of those pairs are matched pairs (X and Y) shared by men and women. The 23 rd is different. In women, the 23 rd pair is made up of two X chromosomes. In men, it's made up of an X chromosome and a Y chromosome. That Y chromosome determines maleness in humans.

During an embryo's development, every time a cell divides, mistakes in genes can creep in. The human race has degenerated since Adam and Eve came from God's hands. Sometimes the 23 rd chromosome may have two X's and a Y or the fetus' chemistry might not produce the necessary agents to kick start the male anatomy or the “mind” and behavioral characteristics that go with that anatomy. When certain genes go awry it creates a hermaphrodite person who is part male and part female and yet not wholly either one. Santhi Soundararajan might have thought she was a female. The gynecologist said her female parts were “ambiguous”, but otherwise there. She probably has a feminine mind and characteristics.

The term “hermaphrodite” derives from Hermaphroditus, the son of Hermes and Aphrodite in Greek mythology, who was fused with a nymph, Salmacis, resulting in one possessing physical traits of both sexes.

Our wonderful, best-dog-in-the-world, Missy, is a hermaphrodite pug. When we picked her from the breeder's litter we were looking for a female so we could offset her cost ($400) by selling her puppies. She looked as female as her sisters. At four months old I took her to the vet because she was bleeding and there was a white bone sticking out of her vagina. I thought she might be in heat but the vet said she was too young for that. The vet took her to the back room to get a second opinion from a colleague and came back with the news that Missy was a hermaphrodite. I asked what I could do for her. The vet said my choices were: (1). Take her back to the breeder and get our money back or exchange her for a new dog (It was too late to do that. I was in love with Missy and the breeder would probably put her to sleep) or, (2). Pay for the necessary surgery to clean her out to stop the pain and bleeding, otherwise it would lead to reoccurring infections throughout her life. The surgery fee was $1,300. As any mother would for her beloved child, I paid for the necessary surgery.

Science shows that male and female embryos start out the same before the Y chromosome and the chemistry kick in to differentiate the body. The ovaries drop down to become testes and produce sperm instead of eggs. The vagina elongates to form the penis and other chemical reactions occur to form the male mind and behavior. When they opened up Missy, they found that her ovaries had started to become testes and her vagina had a penis bone trying to form, which was puncturing her and exposing her flesh to infections. They took out what they could.

So, is she a boy or a girl? Well, hermaphrodites are technically/chromosomally male, but if Missy could talk she'd probably tell you she's a girl. She has a feminine nature and partial female anatomy because of the lack of androgens (natural male sex hormones) when she was in the womb. Still, she has more androgens than a typical female, but not as much as a normal male. She behaves like a girl and for four years she urinated like a female but one day she started raising her leg and started to go like a male. Every once in a blue moon she'll go back to urinating like a girl.

Oprah once had on her show people with mixed genders. One looked as feminine and beautiful as Brooke Shields (without makeup) and had a female mind but claimed she had male genitals. Another looked like Danny DeVito but claimed to be of female mind and genitalia.

In my experiences of reading, befriending and listening to the varieties of “alternative lifestyle” people out there I believe that there is a group of people that are gay because of sin, but there is also another group of mixed genders that are thus because of the degeneration of the human species' genetics (which is also because of sin, but not directly the fault of the sufferers). I'm just thankful that I don't have this condition and I'm learning to not judge others and add to their suffering. Social stigma is one aspect where humans of mixed genders suffer but dogs don't. Missy knows that our family and our friends love her and accept her just as she is.