Let’s ask a simple question. Obviously, we can have inconsistencies between chromosomal and gonadal sex.
We’ll look at some of those examples. But is it possible that a human could be a full-on hermaphrodite?
I’m going to leave that question with you as you think through this and what hermaphrodite really means.
I’ll come back to answer that question at the end or perhaps you can. Hermaphrodite really means that
the person or the individual can reproduce with itself. You probably have a little insight to the answer already.
But let’s look at where some of these issues can come up with inconsistencies between chromosomal sex
and gonadal sex, so XY females and XX males. It seems like that wouldn’t be possible and it turns out
that it very much is possible. Here, we have a blown up version of the X and Y chromosomes.
We have the pseudoautosomal region where a crossing over could happen. But if crossing over happens
to happen outside of the pseudoautosomal region, that means that all that stuff that’s important
on the Y chromosome for development of male sex and sex characteristics could end up on the X chromosome
which will present some interesting situations. Here, we have a situation in which the SRY gene
has been translocated through a crossing over event to the X chromosome, which means that
the X chromosome now carries the SRY gene and can produce testis determining factor.
We have an X that could end up making XX individual male. Then we could have a 46 XY individual
that comes out female in the corresponding chromosome. We now have a Y chromosome
that does not have an SRY and has some of the genes on it from an X. Those aren’t such a big deal
but the not SRY part is the bigger deal there. Let’s take a look at some of the inconsistencies that come up,
these DSD's, disorders of sexual development. That’s how you’ll see them presented fairly often.
There are clearly multiple opportunities for things to go awry and have a DSD or disorder of sex development.
We can see anything from complete gonadal dysgenesis, meaning you have an XX individual
that actually has developed as an XY individual, right? So full-on male, full reproductive capacity, fertility
and the works but the chromosomes say that they're a female. We’ll give you some insight into like
when do we really call someone male or female. Is it about the X and the X or is it about
the sexual development? Lots of different questions to consider in there. You could also have
mixed gonadal dysgenesis which would mean one of each ovary and testis. Depending on the battle
between hormones and many other factors that would perhaps end up creating one ovary
and one testis, or the ovotestis situation, or we could go as far as having completely ambiguous genitalia.
So, a baby comes out. It has, I don’t know what sex is the baby. That’s a good question. It used to be
that we would reassign, not we because we weren’t around then, but doctors would reassign
ambiguous genitalia always to be a female. That was because well, frankly, I guess it’s easier to make
a functional-looking female that may not actually be functional. Now, we spend a little bit more time
assessing where things may have gone wrong. So, there are lots of different steps along the way
to consider of what sex we might end up wanting to make the individual. Sometimes it gets left a little later
so that parents can have time to decide. So definitely, lots of different steps to consider along the way.