March 17th, 2005

Interesting NYTimes article

March 17, 2005
Study Reveals New Difference Between Sexes

How the functioning of X chromosomes differs in women and men may help to explain biological differences between the sexes, according to a new study by researchers from Duke and Pennsylvania State Universities.

The researchers, writing today in the journal Nature, said the results implied that women make higher doses of certain proteins than men, which could result in differences in both normal life and disease. A second paper presented an analysis of the X chromosome's DNA, in which an international team of scientists found 1,098 genes.

Together, the two papers may explain some of the behavioral and biological differences among women, and perhaps between women and men, according to an article in Nature about the study.

Women carry two copies of the X chromosome, one inherited from each parent, and men have one X and one Y chromosome.

Women turn off one copy of their X chromosome in each cell, so that, like men, they operate with just one copy functioning. But scientists had long known that the inactivation was not complete.

The study found that 15 percent of the genes on the inactivated copy continued to function, sending out chemical orders for the cell to manufacture specific proteins. Dr. Huntington Willard of Duke, the study's lead author, said that more surprising was what researchers found about another 10 percent of the genes, in which the activity level varied widely by woman, from zero in some to varying levels in others. That contrasted with the more consistent activity levels in X chromosomes from men, or in other chromosomes in either sex, Dr. Willard said.

When the study compared the inactivated X chromosomes of 40 women, each showed a different pattern of gene activity.

Dr. Jeannie T. Lee of the Harvard Medical School, who studies X chromosome inactivation, said the study provided a better estimate of how many genes escaped inactivation.

The variability among women was a surprise, Dr. Lee said.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Gender fluidity & butch/femme redux

I am interested in the discussion that’s been going on about gender and sexual attention. I didn’t respond directly to the posts because this started getting long…

I flow the spectrum, go through phases sometimes, though mostly I'm just kinda butch, I guess.

Anyway, a couple of months ago I started performing as a drag king and suddenly I was having more sexual attention than I probably ever had in my life. It was so weird. like, as a boy all of the sudden I was hot to people. but it was also overwhelming. And I started to wonder what was _wrong_ with how I generally am that the same people never noticed me before. It was also weird because people expected me to just start hooking up. One person thought I was being “indirect.” It was like particular behaviors were expected to follow in my regular life from my drag persona (which isn’t overly sexual – just _maybe_ sexual in a high school dorky unrequited crush way). Or somehow I was bringing that energy (I don’t know what) into my daily interactions.

It really made me wonder if masculinity itself is just considered hotter. And queersolitude’s post raised that question for me again. I mean I had to reflect on myself and my own interests – basically androgynous or butch or masculine (well, queer masculinities). Is this preference cultural (meaning a product of queer culture)? But then I find that folks who are butch and who are older than say mid-30s don’t even look twice at me when I’m butch or a boy.

And I also find that it’s hard to find people who are attracted to me when I do shift across the spectrum, like that freaks people out.
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