Wednesday, 16 September 2009

It's not just humans

From the AFP :
The future of a female Australian racing horse was thrown into doubt Tuesday after its trainer revealed it was a hermaphrodite with internal testes and high testosterone levels, reports said.
Trainer Les Kosklin told Fairfax newspapers that officials raided his stables after the race, suspecting doping, and a swab revealed the pacer's testosterone levels were "through the roof".

An examination showed Tuscan Abbe had internal testes which were producing large amounts of the hormone, and she was found to have a male Y chromosome, Kosklin said.

The discovery put her future in question, he added, as it was unlikely she would be allowed to compete in mares and fillies events such as the Ladyship Mile.

"We might have to change that to the Miracle Mile (stallions event) now," Kosklin joked.

Fairfax said the case was not unique with Canada's Arizona Helen found to have male and female features this year, while Australian horse What Am I is also intersex.
I'll quote something I wrote about the other cases of Equine Intersex:
Oh Jeez, they can't even get the sex right for horses. She's a mare. You could pump her full of testosterone and her cells would just ignore it. She has nothing of a stallion's strength, and probably doesn't even match the masculinisation of a gelding.

Ignorance of the biology amongst sporting officials - and too often their medical advisors - is not confined to professional athletics.

But at least we don't have Bible-Thumpers denying the existence of Intersex conditions in animals. We don't have "GOD made you either male or female, end of story" or blaming it on "Man's Fall". We don't have ignorant Irish journalists shedding copious crocodile tears and writing "Sorry, Tuscan, saying you're a girl doesn't make it true". Because contrary to Mr Ed 1, horses can't talk.

1. Played by a gelding, Bamboo Harvester, BTW.


Lloyd Flack said...

The proper answer to anyone who says that she is genetically male is to point out that we all have the genetic information on the autosomes and the X chromosomes to make either a male or a female body. The difference is in which parts of the genome are activated.

If there are two X chromosomes then plan A is activated and the fetus is actively feminized. Current studies reveal that claim about us being female by default aren't quite true, usually active femization happens. Perhaps it would be best to say that the default is supericially female or perhaps it is not meanigful to talk about a default since the X chromosome carries too much information that is essential to both sexes. If there is only one X chromosome there is still enough information to produce a body simar to that whic comes from 2 X chromosomes. But with only one X slighly different genetic iformation is activated and we have Turner's Syndrome.

With XY normally the SRY gene complex on the Y chromosome activates plan B and the fetus is masculinized. With AIS the primary mechanism for switching to plan B is defective and only some of plan B is implemented. What rresults is mixure wich is mostly plan A.

Arguably we are all genetically both male and female. Now to watch some heads explode! Snark!

Nikola Kovacs said...

Yeah, the argument that Semenya is being picked on because she's a winner doesn't really stack up when you look at the racing record of Tuscan Abbe. Just 2 wins from 33 race starts, a maiden for her first 27 starts.

RadarGrrl said...

At least this horse's life isn't going to be turned into a shambles. Caster Semenya, meanwhile, is now on a suicide watch, according to PHB.

Nat said...

When this popped up on my Twitter feed I thought I'd inadvertantly followed The Onion... but it was ABC News. *sigh*

Christine said...

"GOD made you either male or female, end of story"
What amazes me even more is when I hear registered nurses who have worked in Neonatal Intensive Care for almost 3 decades utter such nonsense. Sorry mom, but that's simply not medically true.

As far as Caster Semenya is concerned, she only beat the world record by 2 seconds and her opponents lost to her by considerably more than 2 seconds. What's the big deal? She's better, stronger & faster that's what sports is all about. Deal.

Anonymous said...

Zoe (beautiful name!): I checked your blog because I read your comment on Roflrazzi and got curious because I had never heard of cases like yours (how surprising!), but also because you are articulate and logical, intelligent and able to make an argument using the Bible in a respectful way.

Then I saw that you are a fellow nerd/geek, and I'm slowly back-reading all your blog!

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for being, not only logical, but also so respectful when trying to make an argument using the Abrahamic scriptures, especially seeing as you are not a theist. As a believer, I thank you for that. And as a geek/nerd, I thank you for all the biology/neurology/etc. As a female nerd myself, I know how non P.C. it is to say that men and women's brains are different. Sometimes non-scientific women get all offended when I mention that yes, scientific data points to that. I am a woman engineer, so they get even more offended... Add to that the fact that I am a believer of a somewhat conservative variety and imagine what I get.

What I wanted to say is: the data that points to TS people having a brain of the sex they wish to have in the rest of the body made me reevaluate how transexuality should be considered in the context of my religion. I still fully agree with my religion. It's just that if a person was born with a female brain, I can't say she is not a woman. Her brain is neurologically female, so she IS a woman. (How I wish Thomas Aquinas were living! I suspect he would agree, and make a compelling reasoning for that). Unfortunately, as you know (and as friends of mine who work in neuroscience know even better) it's un-P.C. to do research that highlights the differences between men and women.


(Nerdy Woman Engineer)