Biological sex is determined by chromosomes with females having XX and males having XY. But, androgen insensitivity syndrome and other factors can cause people to have chromosomes that do not fit into those guidelines. Many definitions of sex have been deemed too limiting by scientific and nonscientific communities.
For decades, scientists have been trying to define biological sex and determine what causes embryos to develop into males or females. Researchers studied the genes in the Y chromosome to understand why it caused the development of male genitalia.
SRY is the gene on the Y chromosome that determines male development, but researchers are still studying how it does so. The path to male or female development is incredibly complicated and involves numerous factors.
Babies are deemed intersexual when a doctor cannot determine their biological sex. Studying such cases made researchers realize the limitation of the theory that the SRY gene determined male development.
The theory that gender was formed by environmental factors was first challenged in the medical community in the 1970s. It was realized gender identity is much more complicated and could have biological and chemical roots.
Credits: Biology of Sex and Gender
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Several genes help determine what makes a human embryo develop female or male sexual anatomies. This session examines recent findings which have challenged previous beliefs about the roles of anatomy, environment, and genetics in the determination of gender, and the evolution of sexual determination.
Length: 29 minutes
Copyright date: ©2003
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