Quote of the day

If there are no unbending gender markers, what does it really mean to be female?

Published August 4, 2008 5:40PM (EDT)

We've written before about the many problems with subjecting Olympic athletes to blood tests to determine their "true" sex -- namely, that sex determination isn't always as simple as looking for a Y chromosome. But in a must-read New York Times Op-Ed, Jennifer Finney Boylan, a professor of English at Colby College, puts the issue in philosophical terms:

For every supposedly unmovable gender marker, there is an exception. There are women with androgen insensitivity, who have Y chromosomes. There are women who have had hysterectomies, women who cannot become pregnant, women who hate makeup, women whose object of affection is other women.

So what makes someone female then? If it's not chromosomes, or a uterus, or the ability to get pregnant, or femininity, or being attracted to men, then what is it, and how can you possibly test for it?

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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