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Taboo and Genetics eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 159 pages of information about Taboo and Genetics.

It should be remembered that sex in higher mammals is of the whole body, and depends upon all the secretions.  Hence an accident to one of the other glands may upset the balance as well as one to the sex glands themselves.  For example, 15% of Neugebauer’s[22] cases of female tubular partial hermaphroditism had abnormal growths in the suprarenals.

Thus in the human species, it is possible for one type of sex glands to exist in the opposite type of body, as we saw it to be in cattle—­though it apparently could not occur unless compensated for in some way by the other secretions.  This is a very great departure from birds, rats and guinea pigs, whose bodies change over their sex type when the gonads are transplanted.  Birds take on the male appearance when the sex glands are removed (or retain it, if they are males).  This is not true of man.  The chemical life processes of the two sexes after puberty in the human species are quite characteristic.  The male and female types are both very different from the infantile.  When it becomes necessary to desex men, the resulting condition is infantile, not female.[23]

The desexed man is of course the eunuch of ancient literature.  If desexed near maturity, he might look like a normal man in many respects; but if the operation were performed before puberty, his development is simply arrested and remains infantile—­incomplete.  Only in 1878 was the practice of desexing boys to get the famous adult male soprano voices for the Sistine Choir discontinued.

Removal of the ovaries in women likewise produces an infantile condition, which is pronounced only in case the operation takes place very young. [24] From his clinical experience, Dr Bell [2, p.160] concludes that no very definite modifications can be produced in an adult woman by withdrawal of the ovarian secretion alone.  “There must be,” he says, “some gross change in those parts of the endocritic system, especially apart from the genital glands, which normally produce masculinity—­potentiality that appears to be concentrated in the suprarenals, the pituitary and probably in the pineal.”

What, then, do we mean by “male” and “female” in man?  Take Dr Russell Andrews’ patient:  photographs[2, plate opposite p.243] show a rounded bodily outline, hairless face, well-developed mammae—­the female sex characteristics in every respect which the ordinary person could detect.  Yet an operation proved that the sex glands themselves were male.

Presumably extreme cases like the above are rare.  Obviously operations cannot be performed on all those with female-type bodies who do not bear children, to determine the primary sex, and conversely with men.  This does, however, point the obvious question:  Are not some we classify as men more male or masculine than others—­some we classify as women more feminine than others?  Bearing in mind the fact that the genetic basis for both sexes exists in each individual, are not some women more masculine than others, some men more feminine than others?  However much we may object to stating it just that way, the biological fact remains thus.  The Greeks called these intermediate types urnings—­modern biology knows them as “intersexes.”

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