Monday, 6 December 2010

A Change of Chromosomes

One argument often put to delegitimise trans people is that nothing changes their chromosomes.

Now one can argue that chromosomes aren't definitive; that both XX males and XY females exist. But the thing is... the argument that chromosomes can't be changed is just plain wrong. Chromosomes can be changed, and are changed, as the result of various medical therapies.

From Transplanted human bone marrow cells generate new brain cells by Crain BJ, Tran SD, Mezey E. in J Neurol Sci. 2005 Jun 15;233(1-2):121-3 :
Multiple studies have reported that adult cells of bone marrow origin can differentiate into muscle, skin, liver, lung, epithelial cells, and neurons. To determine whether such cells might produce neurons and other cells in the human brain, we examined paraffin sections from female patients who had received bone marrow transplants from male donors. Y-chromosomes were labeled using autoradiography and fluorescent in situ hybridization. Neurons and astrocytes were identified histologically and immunohistochemically in neocortex, hippocampus, striatum, and cerebellum. However, most labeled cells in both gray and white matter appeared to be glia. Others have suggested that such Y-labeling represents fusion between host and donor cells, rather than true transdifferentiation. The possibilities of fusion and microchimerism were therefore examined using buccal epithelial cells as a model system. The female patients in this study had received either bone marrow or stem cell (CD34+ enriched) transplants from their brothers. Double labeling for X- and Y-chromosomes showed that Y-labeled buccal cells could not be explained by fusion. Genotyping studies of one patient, her brother, and her son ruled out the possibility of microchimerism. Whether, and under what circumstances, some form of bone marrow transplantation might provide adequate number of cells capable of replacing lost brain cells or enhancing their function will require additional studies.
And then there's this : Bone marrow-derived cells from male donors can compose endometrial glands in female transplant recipients by Ikoma et al in Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Dec;201(6):608.e1-8 :
RESULTS: All recipients had donor-derived Y chromosome-positive endometrial cells, accounting for 0.6-8.4% of glandular epithelial cells and 8.2-9.8% of stromal cells. Most of the endometrial glands were chimeric, consisting of both donor-derived and recipient cells.

CONCLUSION: Donor-derived cells are capable of composing endometrium in recipients, even those of the opposite sex.
M.Italiano even gives several methods where something like this can be accomplished deliberately, rather than observed as a surprising side-effect.

Our lives are like theatres, our bodies like long-running plays. Every day, each performance is just slightly different. The cast will change over time. Cells are replaced. We're each of us, just slightly different people when we wake up in the morning than the person who went to bed. If not, growth would be impossible, learning and memory likewise.

Many people, I think, would consider this idea threatening to their identity. They see themselves as static portraits, rather than performance art.


Anonymous said...

Australian universities are bracing for a significant drop in new international students next year as they struggle to confront multiple challenges, from a stronger Australian dollar to tough visa requirements and increasing competition for students.


Anonymous said...

Don't you think that it is rebelliousness to change something so fundamental as our true sex, our sex chromosomes? And now you found a doctor who is probably eccentric enough to do this.

Mr. R.

Anonymous said...

This is very radical stuff and is medical abuse. Now we have people who will want reproductive organ transplants, change some stem cells in a lab
and then request bone marrow transplants so it repopulates their new reproductive organs with their own dna.... or maybe Zoe will just have these new eccentrics just clone
new reproductive organs with XX cells to this not
medical abuse? Why not just change the outside cosmetics? Why change someone's true reproductive sex?

Mr. R.

Janis said...

hey Mr. R, what bothers you? Does it bother you that people with transplants become chimeric? or does it bother you that it is theoretically possible to get rid of the Y chromosomes from your cells and have a second X in your cells without a donor's DNA??

Janis said...

hey mr. R, I don't think they will need to clone. They found now that women produce eggs into adulthood.
So if they give you some of your own bone marrow cells won't they
find their way to a transplanted ovary?

Human eggs can develop from surface cells in vitro. Science Daily May 16, 2005

Zoe Brain said...

Mr R - you state that this is medical abuse.


You may be right, but we'd need reasons for your assertion.

Sarah Wilson said...


This seems to challenge the "common knowledge" on the subject. The theory of unchanging chromosomes is one of those that "looks good on paper", only if some aspects are ignored. This is either by intentionally ignoring the evidence to make the theory fit, or more likely due to not thoroughly thinking things through. I have been guilty of the latter. Often.

I love learning this stuff!!


Anonymous said...

Zoe we shouldn't be able to have a ture change of someone's reproductive sex and certainly not by using bone marrow and changing chromosomes in a lab.

Mr. R

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Janis how do you think that woman likes it that her uterus sheds male chromosomes now????????
but Dr. Italiano's proposition is apalling. To change the fundamental
building block sex chromosomes of a person to get the Y's out and put in second X's is certainly
disturbing. Besides transsexuals don't want to be reproductive functioning biologic females.
They are gay men or straight men with a problem. The cosmetic operation is supposed to help their is about an image/appearance thing.

Mr. R.

Anonymous said...

Sarah it has been on paper for a long time. Now Zoe comes up with some crazy stuff. She talks about males who are XX and females who are XY, she has spoken about people who are fertile as both sexes, people who undergo spontaneous feminization, and now about people who get both types of sex chromosomes from bone marrow. That's not enough so she brings in a hypothetical paper by one cellular therapist from India who is into cloning and stem cells.
We've gone from A to Z-from aphrodisiacs to Zoe with someone who advertises as a cellular therapist. Do we need to re-qrite textbooks now with changing a person's sex chromosomes simply because they can do it?????

Mr. R said...

This stuff that Zoe put up about changing a person's sex chromosomes is the most disturbing stuff that I've seen on Zoe's site.

Mr. R.

Kathrin said...

Besides transsexuals don't want to be reproductive functioning biologic females.

Mr. R:

I am going to go against my natural instincts here and attribute the statement you made to ignorance, rather than malice.

There is a lot more to transsexual than simply a "image/appearance" thing. Dysphoria (opposite of euphoria) with one's gender takes many shapes and sizes.

For some, it is principally about appearance.

For many, it is about the social role - human interaction. Men interact differently with women than men, and the reverse is true too.

For some, it is about emotional drives at odds with biological impossible. What does one do when one has feminine urges to find a male mate, bear children, and raise them as her own - while occupying a male body?

In my personals experience, individuals who were limited to body issues were in the minority. I personally know a number of people who would gladly take periods, cramps, bloating, bleeding, tampons and pads - and everything else that goes with having a functional reproductive system - in a heartbeat. A very good friend of mine used to have tremendous emotional stress due to her inability to conceive, something often seen in infertile women.

So please, don't paint an entire community with a broad brush like that.

Zoe Brain said...

Besides transsexuals don't want to be reproductive functioning biologic females.

You know this how? I mean, you're going against what most of them say - how do you know they're lying about their feelings?

The cosmetic operation is supposed to help their is about an image/appearance thing.

From the WPATH SOC (Standards of Care):
"Sex Reassignment is Effective and Medically Indicated in Severe GID. In persons diagnosed with transsexualism or profound GID, sex reassignment surgery, along with hormone therapy and real-life experience, is a treatment that has proven to be effective. Such a therapeutic regimen, when prescribed or recommended by qualified practitioners, is medically indicated and medically necessary. Sex reassignment is not "experimental," "investigational," "elective," "cosmetic," or optional in any meaningful sense.

Given this evidence, please give us evidence to support your assertions.

It's quite OK to assert the Moon is made of Green Cheese - as is your right - but if you're to convince anyone else of that, you'd need some proof that is more plausible than the Apollo moon rocks.

Zoe Brain said...

Now Zoe comes up with some crazy stuff. She talks about males who are XX and females who are XY, she has spoken about people who are fertile as both sexes, people who undergo spontaneous feminization, and now about people who get both types of sex chromosomes from bone marrow.

Yes, and the world is round not flat, and photons behave like both particles and waves, and nothing can go faster than 3x10e8 m/sec - and if it goes very near that speed, it will out-mass the rest of the Universe!

Crazy stuff. But it's Reality. A lot of people can't handle that.

As to whether something should be done just because it can be done - a different matter. I'm still waiting to hear a coherent explanation about that, even if it's only "Because the Flying Spaghetti Monster wouldn't like it".

Zoe Brain said...

On a personal note - and I can only speak for myself - had fertility not been compromised, I would have requested sex reassignment at age 13, if not before.

I wanted to be a mother more than I wanted to be female. But with motherhood impossible, fatherhood was as close as I could get. It seemed a particularly mean trick of the Universe when I was told in 1985 that I was Intersexed, and although not sterile, the odds of having children were not good.

I survived on hope, hopeless hope despite the odds.

And I won. I have a son.

When in 2005 the endo told me my condition had sterilised me... what was the point of pretending any longer? My body was changing anyway, I'd have had to take heroic measures to "pass" as male.

I couldn't do it - though did consider it for the benefit of my family. But it was so far beyond my powers, I couldn't take the first step, the FtoM magazines I'd ordered remain unread to this day.

Zimbel said...

This sounds like an interesting theory. I wonder how feasible it is.

For example, this is basically doubling the donor's X chromosomes in some of their cells. While I can't think of any, are there perhaps diseases that could be activated or progressed by doing this?

More generally, it seems that this is a mechanism for changing part of a human's genes. Would something like this be useful therapy for Down's syndrome or other genetic diseases and syndromes (for example, for genetic diseases such as Sickle Cell Anemia where there's one copy of the "defective" gene, and the problems are ongoing)?

Mr. R said...

Zoe if it wasn't cosmetic but was actually necessary, than there would be evidence that the insurance companies would need. Insurance companies don't cover something unless there is ample evidence that there is a medical necessity for it. The SOC you mentioned from is a little biased, don't you think?

Now your statement and Kathrin's seem to conflict even each others.
Kathrin states-
---In my personals experience, individuals who were limited to body issues were in the minority.--

You state
---I mean, you're going against what most of them say - how do you know they're lying about their feelings?---

Now Zoe which is it? Is the body issue in a minority or do most of them state that? and where is that evidence?

Mr. R

M Italiano, MBBS (AM) said...

Dear Zimbel, the bone marrow transplant with the stem cells doesn't double the donor's X chromosome. It gives the recipient two types of cells. One cell type is what they had. The other cell type is that of the donor and in the case of a donor who is XY and a recipient who is an XX individual the other cell type would be an acquired XY cell type. I don't think that this would bother a woman to have half of her endometrium
be XY anymore than it would for an XY female. One was just donated. That is all. They may not even know.
In the second example that was mentioned, whereby someone's chromosomal sex was actually changed from XY to XX, it is not the donor's X chromosome that is doubled. It is the recipient's. After the Y chromosome gets knocked out by one of the three methods that I mentioned, a second X chromosome gets created and isolated by a procedure known as somatic cell hybridization. This cell can then be
replicated many times by putting it into an egg that has been enucleated.
This then causes the cell to back into its non-specialized type- a re-birth of the cell and is known as de-differentiation.
Then when introduced into the bone marrow it replicates even further and re-populates the tissues in the body.
When the cells find various tissue types and colonize them, they then undergo a process of transdifferentiation which is based upon the cellular environment that the cell finds itself in. If it gets into the skin it become skin cells. If it gets into the brain it becomes brain cells. if it gets in the liver it becomes liver cells and so on. Thus De and Trans differentiation are both part of a process that is sometimes called Re-differentiation. Since the recipient
who is a transsexual presumably does not have ovaries, it is only their chromosomal sex that gets changed and they can be said to be an XX phenoytpic male who needs sex reassignment since it wouldn't give them female organs-it would just make their male organs now be chromosomally XX or as some say chromosomally female. Janis is correct that if the XX cells colonized a donated ovary, that it could then have an egg cell with the recipient's DNA.
It may affect conditions such as trisomy X such as you mentioned. This is controversial. A Dr. Schmid who was a pioneer in cellular therapy found changes in IQ in individuals who received this. Others have not replicated his work. Indeed as Janis says, if one wants to change not only the chromosomes but also organogenesis
and genetic diseases,
one needs to try tissue or organ cloning. This does not necessarily require the destruction of zygotes, as other options such as the use of parthenotes, adult stem cells, amniotic stem cells, fetal cells and induced pluripotent stem cells may substitute for embryonic stem cells.

M Italiano, MBBS (AM)

wreckage said...

If you hit someone hard enough with a piece of wood, they simply cease to be. (I believe in an afterlife, but as far as the measurable world is concerned...) All of their thoughts and feelings cease. Those who loved them are suddenly faced with a black and terrible hole in their universe, a hurt that will never heal, only eventually be partially forgotten.

Call me crazy, but I think that's a lot more disturbing than the fact that viable donor cells can survive in a host's body- which really, we already basically knew.

Just some perspective.

Anonymous said...

Abual Jamai
Just to let you know, Your friend Graeme Stephen Tucker, has called a Transsexual on Youtuber by the name of Joancollins2009 a Bigot. Joancollins2009 is a transsexual from the UK and Graeme Stephen Tucker has called her a BIGOT. He was having a spat with Joancollins2009 over caroline cossey and as a result of the spat, Graeme stephen Tucker called this Transsexual from the UK a BIOGT. He seems to have a huge spat over the issue of caroline cossey and by fighting with a transsexual named Joancollins2009, he has called her a Bigot. He has contradicted himself by saying he fights bigots who hate transsexual people, but then goes around and fights a transsexual person and then calls them a BIGOT.

Zoe Brain said...

Hello Nicki. Merry Christmas.

Please seek professional help.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it matters whether or not you can change your chromosomes.

The most common intersex phenomenon are the result of hormones that don't match the chromosomes. When that happens, we tend to go by the observed phenotype that the hormones create, not the genes we can't see.

For example, an XY individual with complete androgen insensitivity will develop a female appearance and be raised as a girl. She will be infertile. However, if she discovers that she has XY chromosomes, she won't decide that she's a boy.

Anonymous Me