THE BLOG

Chromosomes? Who Gives a XX?

23/10/2014 10:48 BST | Updated 22/12/2014 10:59 GMT

I am not an expert. That's the disclaimer that prefaces all my blogs. I'm not an expert in anything really, and, please believe me that frustrates me more than anything at my age. I know little bits about lots of stuff and quite a bit about some things, which makes me a good dinner companion, but not, it seems, employable any more.

Anyway, I digress. I watched Professor Brian Cox's new series the other night about the human universe; it lost me after the bit about cricket laws being more complicated than those governing the universe. He had well and truly bowled me a googly (curved ball if you are reading this in the US). Well, I understand cricket, I can talk at length about the LBW law or how many other ways you can be given out- but can't quite grasp the fact that there was "nothing" before the Big Bang- which he explained using a series of mathematical constants on a cricket scorecard.The whole thing makes me glaze over- all that "Pi" and "e". All I know is that, in my world of words and not numbers, joining those two together spells something very stodgy, calorific and sometimes indigestible- best left alone in favour of a lighter bite.

That's the problem with science, all facts and irrefutable proof- therefore putting people like me, who prefer feelings, emotions and opinions, on particularly shaky ground, especially so as I am talking sex chromosomes. I can almost feel myself breaking out in a cold sweat as I begin- but that would be hormonal rather than chromosomal wouldn't it?

Chromosomes; these are the things that determine our sex. XX for women and XY for men. Lots of stuff that even I can understand on the internet. So far so straightforward then?

The problem is that, like so many facts, the irrefutability of them is only reinforced when it becomes clear that there are exceptions. So, it is with chromosomes. You see, not all women are xx and all men xy- period/fullstop/end of.

Now, I don't really give a flying xx about my chromosomal make up (and even less of an xy); neither, it seems, does the medical profession when determining whether a person is transgendered or not. That;s good enough for me, but not, it seems, for the legions of part-time cyber- geneticists out there who gleefully use their possession of a "fact" to reinforce their prejudice.

So it was last week. I was reading an article about a Transgendered woman in a national newspaper. I don't usually scroll down to the comments, as there is usually something particularly nasty and ignorant lurking there. On this occasion I did and, among some heartwarmingly supportive comments, there it was; he had been positively bursting to demonstrate his possession of the fact that (and I paraphrase due to not wanting to go back and read it again) "..when they dig you up in 500 years, they will test your chromosomes and say " that was a man". That's because you are...". Brilliant. You could almost see him relax back into his La-Z-Boy confident he had struck a fatal blow to these trans-fantasists.

I felt like saying to him that not everything is revealed by this sort of test. For example mate, you can rest easy, safe in the knowledge that, if they dig you up they won't be able to further discern that you were once an ignorant, narrow-minded prat.

Fortunately, his hubris had only lasted about 5 seconds before someone calmly pointed out that "not all men are xy.." etc.

It came up again the other day, in a radio interview with the Yorkshire DJ, Stephanie Hirst. If we disregard my shock at the venerable John Humphries using the hackneyed, tabloid-esque phrase "sex change", it was a good interview, and, if I ever appear on the radio, I would want it to be on the Today programme. Stephanie also referred to the myth of chromosomes. Good for her, and I wish her all the best.

There it is then, all you need to know about sex chromosomes- well, all I want to know. I will tell you about it at a dinner party if you like, along with my tips on how to bowl googlies, doosras and chinamen? Not difficult, and always nice to be able to snap in half yet another stick that the ignorant like to use to beat us with.

All in all, I am very happy that my Genes fit me very well- and, let's face it, that's all any woman wants really-whatever their colour.