Forget love, biological sex is a battlefield

Gender isn’t a simple thing. A person can be male, female, both, neither, and more—and that identity doesn’t have to have anything to do with the particular genital plumbing they were born with.

But the plumbing itself—the biological sex, rather than gender or socio-cultural sex—is also a lot more complicated (and interesting) than we often give it credit for. Don’t believe me? Then check out “DMRT1 prevents female reprogramming in the postnatal mammalian testis,” a research letter published in September in the journal Nature.

That title is full of typical peer-reviewed paper jargon, but let me break it down for you: There’s a genetic factor, present in male mammals, that is vital to making sure those mammals develop male sex characteristics. But it’s not only important during embryonic development. Oh, no. Turns out, this factor must be active in order for a male’s gonads to stay 100% male. Turn it off, even in an adult male, and the cells in his testes will start to take on more feminine characteristics. Read the rest