from the world's big
Switched [Sex] at Birth
Gender, like so many things, is occasionally in a gray area. And that's okay.
This article originally appeared on the Newton blog at RealClearScience. You can read the original here.
Male? Female? Neither?
For centuries, society has pigeonholed itself into a traditional, two-dimensional view of gender. Adam and Eve, Jack and Jill, Sonny and Cher, Mork and Mindy: There's always a ying to a yang, a male to a female, never room for a third. Yet biology doesn't give a damn about our idealized views of gender normalcy. Every so often, it throws us for a loop.
About 1 out of every 4,000 babies are born "intersex," with both male and female sexual traits. The prevalence has been estimated to be both higher and lower, but that's a number right in the middle. Intersexuality encompasses a wide variety of conditions, however, it's most often tied to a hormone malfunction. Chromosomal females (XX) exposed to excessive virilizing hormones in the womb will develop overly large penis-like clitorises, and maybe even other typical male features -- facial hair, for example. On the other hand, chromosomal males (XY) that are insensitive to androgens -- male hormones -- may be born with miniscule micropenises or even vaginas.
It was in these ambiguous gender situations that -- for many years -- rigid cultural stereotypes of sexuality seeped into the hospital. Birth certificates demanded a "male" or "female" classification, and doctors desired to deliver. Thus, when a newborn's sex was unclear, physicians would perform gender reassignment surgery. For boys with penises smaller than one-inch when stretched, this meant getting turned into girls. They would be castrated, and have a "vagina" fashioned out of extra skin or colon. On the other hand, girls born with large clitorises would have them trimmed to a less prominent size. In these situations, surgeries were often conducted hastily, with little time for parents to consider the ramifications of such a decision. Needless to say, the young individuals being operated on were never consulted. Moreover, the procedures weren't without physical repercussions. Often, they would render the baby infertile and severely limit sensations of sexual pleasure.
"For a constructed vagina to be considered acceptable by surgeons specializing in intersexuality, it basically just has to be a hole big enough to fit a typical-sized penis. It is not required to be self-lubricating or even to be at all sensitive," Northwestern
University bioethicist Alice Dreger wrote.
Thanks in part to the efforts of Dreger, who's penned three books on the subject, gender reassignment surgery is rarely performed anymore. Instead, intersex babies are allowed to remain in their neutral status so that they may choose their sex for themselves at a later date. This is surely preferable to "cutting first" and asking questions later.
"The well-being of the child and of the future adult has to be fostered," a team of German ethicists concluded in an article published to the European Journal of Pediatrics in summer 2010. "It is important to note that the surgical creation of unambiguous external genitalia is neither necessary nor sufficient criterion for well-being and is sometimes impossible to achieve; bodily integrity and quality of life, particularly with respect to reproductive capability as well as the ability to experience sex, and the free development of the child's personality have also to be taken into account."
Gender, like so many things, is occasionally in a gray area. And that's okay.
(Image: Gender Line via Shutterstock)
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.