Tuesday, 23 July 2013

So How Does This Work Then?

A number of things about this (of course):

  • There's a piece of bluish-looking fluff on the right of the picture, so now we know how it happens.
  • I haven't shaved it very well, have i?  I'll try again tomorrow.
  • It looks a bit like an eye.
And so on.

To be honest, it is actually really interesting!  Oh dear.

Enough of this.  So, whereas yesterday's video showed me chickening out of taking a blood sample, i was able to get some white cells together a few minutes later and look at them, and, well, there were the "drumsticks".  Now i could get hung up on wondering whether they were really there, whether i should trust my own judgement, whether i was seeing what i wanted to see or whatever but honestly, i tried my hardest to be neutral and calm about it and honestly, that is almost certainly what i saw.

Should i bother to explain this?  OK.

Biologically female human cells, of course, have a pair of X chromosomes.  However, one of the pair is inactivated in each cell, although sometimes it's the mother's and sometimes the father's.  The cells then replicate and cluster together in little patches consisting of cells with matching active X chromosomes.  Therefore women and girls are mosaics of regions of tissue, except where that tissue is liquid such as blood or lymph, which have either one or the other X chromosome active and the other inactive.  On the other hand, their blood is a mixture of the two because it's liquid and, whereas it may have originated from a mosaic of bone marrow, the cells and corpuscles are mixed together.  The reason one is inactivated is that two active X chromosomes are lethal:  two sets of genes of the kind on the X chromosome produce too much of their proteins to produce a viable cell.  The other X chromosome becomes a Barr body, which can be seen through a light microscope.  It's particularly visible on the white cells known as neutrophils, where it forms a "drumstick" on the nucleus.  Since i haven't found a public domain picture, here's a drawing:

I looked at my neutrophils yesterday and some of them have Barr bodies.  Therefore, those ones are from a female cell line.  One from a male cell line might look like this:

In other words, no drumstick because it needs its only X chromosome.  Same applies to Turner's people, who have one X chromosome and nothing else (apart from all the non-sex chromosomes).  So, in other words, my body contains female cell lines as well as male ones.

This could be trivial.  For instance, presumably a lot of mothers with sons have male cell lines from their boy children, which allegedly causes autoimmune disease (and the daughters, naturally).  I shall now gloss over the thing i'm not going to say.

Right, so suppose for some reason having these XX cell lines makes a difference to me.  They were dead easy to find, incidentally - took me about ten seconds to spot one, so there must be a lot of them.  Hmm, occurs to me now there's a lot i can't say.  Anyway, given that, how the heck am i supposed to intuit that there's something up?  Why would that mean that it's more natural to me to do culturally-determined feminine things than culturally-determined masculine things?  That makes no sense to me.  My brain is presumably in any case masculinised by masses of testosterone even if every cell in it is XX, so it seems not to be connected to that.  However, i do have a weird suggestion (of course):

This reminds me of two things:  organ transplants and somatoparaphrenia.  In a sense, i have possibly had a brain transplant, but in utero, so there are no experiences or personality traits as such carried over because it just is my brain, which had all the experiences i would've had anyway, but transplant organs allegedly, and probably combined with a lot of projection and rationalisation, carry over the personality traits of the donor.  Well, in this case the donor is "someone" i choose to call Amanda, who was never born, so what am i doing?  Living her life for her?  I suppose i might be doing that in a psychoanalytical sort of way, so it needn't be literally supernatural.  Then again, maybe she's living my life.  Maybe she's typing these words, or rather, making my hands type these words.

Which brings me to somatoparaphrenia.  This is something i can very, very slightly relate to as, though it's not important, the left side of my body feels very slightly more like mine than the right even though i'm right-handed, but i wouldn't want to over-emphasise it.  Somatoparaphrenia is the belief that parts of your body don't belong to you.  Apparently most people don't feel that.  The interesting thing about somatoparaphrenia is that it's not psychiatric but neurological but seems to be caused by brain damage.  That may be a subtle distinction.  My point, though, is that maybe there's a discrepancy of some kind between the brain and the rest of the body which is manifested in a similar way, because most gender dysphoric people do report that their entire body doesn't belong to them.  Male gender dysphorics also fail to experience a phantom penis.  I am now tempted to provide you with Too Much Information.

Click to tweet: http://clicktotweet.com/aH543 . This is purely and simply a video about giving up smoking, done as an interview between me and Sarada about how she gave up tobacco.