Why does gender still exist

Are there more than two genders?

It is a crucial question for many parents-to-be: boy or girl? And here, as we learned earlier, the genetic makeup should actually allow a clear statement: the chromosome combination XX means female, the combination XY male. But it's not that simple.

“Nowadays we know that the chromosomal gender, the typical constellation XX or XY, neither clearly defines the external gender nor the sexual self-perception of a person”, writes Olaf Hiort, the head of the hormone center for children and adolescents at the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein in Lübeck in an article for "Spectrum of Science". "The genes only reflect the potential that is usually exploited in the human blueprint."

So there exist, and that may already be stated here, more than two genders. There is nothing to discuss.

For example, the chromosomes are not always as clear as in a textbook. On the one hand, this has to do with the fact that sometimes there is only one functioning X chromosome in the body's cells, for example. This is called Turner Syndrome. The result is a feminine appearance, but the people in question cannot have children. The frequency is around one in 2500 births. But there are also people with the chromosome combination XXY. This is called Klinefelter syndrome, the outward appearance is male. This occurs in about one to two in 1,000 newborns.

And there is another fact that makes reality a little more complicated than theory. The biological sex is not determined by the chromosomes alone. Several genes also play an important role. For example, they control whether the so-called gonads of a baby in the womb develop testicles or ovaries. Whereby the “or” is not entirely true, because combinations are also possible.

Chromosomes, genes, hormones - everything works together

In addition to genes, hormones also play a decisive role in gender development. The development of sexual predispositions begins in the 6th and 7th week of pregnancy. In boys, the testicles then develop - and they release two hormones: testosterone and the so-called anti-Müllerian hormone. “The highlight: every fetus initially has the ability to develop a uterus. The formation of the uterus is suppressed by the release of the anti-Müllerian hormone from the testicular tissue. If this messenger substance is not available at all or not in sufficient quantity, or if it does not work properly, a uterus can develop in the end, despite otherwise male characteristics, ”says the doctor Hiort.

It is similar with testosterone. If it is not available in a sufficient dose or if it fails to work, the genitals, which look the same in both sexes at the beginning of the embryonic stage, will not turn into a penis. "Then intermediate forms of the sexes arise that do not correspond to a clearly male or female appearance."

Between 80,000 and 160,000 people in Germany could belong to the group of intersex people. But not everyone has had an interest in changing their civil status. In central Germany, for example, the option has hardly been used so far. 13 people in Saxony and six each in Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia have had the relevant entry made.

"Intersex people are first and foremost people"

Anyone who has the appropriate medical characteristics can feel like a man, a woman - or even as intersexual.

“Even though medicine often plays a role in an intersex person's life from the moment they are born, the vast majority of intersex people are not sick or in need of treatment per se,” says the Federal Association of Intersexual People. “Intersex people are first and foremost people.” However, medicine would classify them as “syndromes”. The association sees intersex people "primarily as natural variants of human life".

Intersexuality, to say it again, is fundamentally different from transsexuality. These are people whose self-perception differs from their biological gender. The exact causes are not known. If the suffering is severe, it is possible that doctors can change the genital organs in the direction of the desired body.

The number of inter- and transsexuals in Germany is estimated at a total of up to one million. The conclusion of the medical doctor Hiort: "The biological gender development is extremely multifaceted and so far only roughly understood."