A body behind Barrs

I think in terms of science. I think I even feel in terms of science. Usually I have trouble making connections to humans, but connecting to an idea, theory, thought causes me to stop thinking and start feeling. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced love in the romantic sense; this is the closest I know, so sharing this profound experience is like sharing a deep, hidden part of a relationship. I’m gonna talk science, and 99% of you all are probably going to click away, thinking

Last year I had a class called cell biology. Basically, we studied cells – the tiniest reproducing units of life. Thousands and thousands of proteins, lipids (fats), DNA/RNA, organelles float around each one. More than thousands. There has to be at least millions, maybe billions. I’m not really sure. But the point is there are an unreal number of things in each one, but only a few we can see with a light microscope. Maybe you did the ol’ swab your cheek and see the miracle that is life when you were in high school. For some reason I never had.

Anyway, I took a good hearty scrape of the inside of my mouth with a small wooden stick and slapped it on a microscope slide. I added some dye and waited for the magic to happen.

I looked at my worksheet.

Question 4: Pair with a partner of the opposite sex. What structure is visible in female students’ epithelial cells that is not visible in males’?

Cell Male Female

A Barr body is a darker dot on a mostly translucent field of view. It’s the duplicate X chromosome, condensed to a tiny dark dot and silenced because we only need one to carry out functions.

I stared down the microscope at my own cells, each with their own tiny dark blue dot.

You know, I never really listened to the trolls in the comment section of every trans-related article ever, insisting that chromosomes never change, once an XX, always an XX.

Somehow I had convinced myself that, yeah, maybe my body looks like a female, underneath all the patterned shirts and binders and sweatshirts and just loose enough pants and short hair, but I’m really truly a guy. My body might look female, but it doesn’t feel female. I’m really a guy. I’m sure if I just sequenced my genes everyone would see that I’m a guy. XY, all the way. If I just had the money to do a sequence I could collect the paperwork from the doctor’s office and wave it in everyone’s face. See?? I told you. I’m really a guy. No need to call me “she” anymore! It was all just a bit of misunderstanding on my birth certificate. Yeah, I know, crazy, right? How could they mess something so basic up. And I didn’t even notice it was wrong for so long. But I can get it fixed now, see?

Only I don’t need money to get my genes sequenced. With a toothpick, a piece of glass and a drop of water I can see those second Xs. And if I look long enough I think I can even see them waving, saying “we only made you feel like you had bars on your body so you could be like us, forever stuck to the side of a nucleus.”

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9 Comments

Filed under school, trans/lgbt stuff

9 responses to “A body behind Barrs

  1. Crazy how cell bio can trigger gender dysphoria… if you’re looking for proof in the chromosomes, you (and the rest of the medical world) might be fooled into thinking you are female, while your brain knows the truth. At least your brain knows that those second Xs don’t define you.

    I saw this talk at SFN 2014, if you need futher proof that brain sex is not the same thing as chromosomal or genital sex:
    View story at Medium.com
    Tell that to the trolls.

  2. (((hugs))) my answer is similar to PlainT’s. Chromosomes only go so far and hormones make a huge difference on a fetuses developing brain. I was reading a study recently where they studied the brains of cis men and women and trans men and women. There was a part of the brain they studied (and I cannot remember what it was called) where the part for cis men and trans men were identical and the part for trans women were between cis men and women. Look at the people with androgen insensitivity syndrome who are biologically male yet look and feel female. Considering you can have cis men with two Xs and cis women with a Y (and two Xs), I’d put more stock in brain structures than chromosomes.

    Last winter someone in a group I frequent did one of those online genetic tests and posted the results. Jeremy asked what I was reading and I read a little bit, only to be surprised by zir excitement when zie heard the poster got told he was male. Jeremy immediately wanted to order a kit. Zie immediately changed zir mind when I said it only shared biological sex and not gender.

  3. This video’s shown up three times in my Facebook newsfeed (so far) this morning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3C4ZJ7HyuE&feature=share

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