50 shades of gay

We're all gay now

I wanted to be brief. I wanted to be simple. 50 may not be enough.

My definition of gay is the entire spectrum between the extremes of male and female.

Each axis in the spectrum will be descriptions of the physical, mental, emotional and psychological aspect.

Along the way we will pass through some naming conventions.

In the LGBTQ spectrum of classifications the assumption by society is that this constitutes about 10% of the human population. Each letter represents an attitude of self-identity. The prefixes Homo and Hetero refer to the sameness or opposite characteristics of attraction.

Homo means same, such as two males or two females attracted to each other.

Hetero means opposite, such as male and female attraction.

Anti-or just the letter a is a prefix that means "not". Examples in the English language would be antisocial and asexual.

Bi is a prefix indicating two, indicating a person might demonstrate characteristics of the two main features. A person might feel attraction to either sex or gender.

Mono is a prefix for one and only one. partner you would be connected to either by marriage or emotional agreement. Example: monogamous, meaning only one partner.

Poly is a prefix meaning two or more. Example: polygamous or poly amorous.

Phobe or phobic is the syllable that denotes fear, hate or uneasy association. Examples homophobic.

Lesbo refers to the mythical island in the Mediterranean known for women who love women. Hence a lesbian is generally associated with other women but are sometimes accepted as bisexual if they also enjoy relationships with men.

A siren was a fictional female creature that could seduce men by their melodious singing. They were thought to be irresistible therefore sailors crashed the boats against the rocks trying to draw close.

Amazon is the term used to describe warrior type women. In ancient days they removed one of their breasts in order to be more proficient with a bow and arrow. In modern days a woman might be called Amazon if she were powerful and aggressive.

Q is for questioning. This starts in early childhood and can extend the lifespan of an individual. It is the most perplexing during puberty and at those times in a person's milestones when rethinking your purpose in life may be in question.

Trans is for transitional. It is the most complex to comprehend as it defies definition. I did meet a classic transsexual in my life who was able to articulate all the possibilities and wrote a very interesting paper to her physician and counselor. She has expressed to me that she does not like the transsexual community because they are intent and trying to make her conform to a sameness that she rejects. In order to give you an example of how she names the phases of her identity, she was born in Moscow Russia, came to the US as a child, established herself as a musician under the name Victor which conform to her external genitals. Her pronoun was he but as she developed she became she whose name was Victoria. When she clashed with society she was imprisoned by the state and received some counseling which may or may not have been to her benefit. Some parts of the medical complex consider the states that we have talked about to be illnesses which can be cured with chemicals or consultations. Religious minded leaders in our community believe that you can be saved by embracing the beliefs of people more of it different orientation. Some monsters in the medical community have used electroshock therapy to try to fix people. Others have used hypnosis and/or aversion therapy to frighten the patient into submission. Many of the victims have come to the conclusion that "I was born that way", and they may be more right than most of the experts. Some attempt to surgically modified their organs to satisfy others and themselves that they can successfully pass as the gender they wish to be. Of course breast augmentation is practiced by both sexes to give the appearance of being a female.


What's in a name?

In many societies getting a new name fixes a lot of stuff. A female can take the last name of her husband. Children may add the suffix to their name indicating their age in the community. Examples are John versus Johnny, Tom or Thomas versus Thomasito or Tommy. The whole spectrum of nicknames can be self-induced or foisted upon by friends or enemies. When my trans friend begin to identify herself as a Jew, she requested the name "Shosha", which has a Hebrew meaning. She was a Russian, American, male/female transitioning Jew who only had to cut her hair in an androgynous fashion to be properly acceptable to anybody in any community. I think she pulled it off in a grand fashion. She can sit or stand it any crowd and nobody comes up as high as her shoulders. Her external clues for gender are by the way she walks and talks and sings. Her smile is her best calling card.


In order to go further with going to have to get physical.


The following clip is from this link: http://www.ingender.com/gender-info/conception2.aspx


Chromosomes: Your Genetic Blueprint

The main event of conception is the uniting of the mother and father's chromosomes to form a new, unique human being. Let's delve into the fascinating world of your chromosomes.


All of your body's cells contain chromosomes, which are packages of DNA strands; DNA holds the map of your genes. If you're a human, 46 is the magic number: we have 46 chromosomes, in 23 matched pairs. One chromosome in each pair was contributed by your father, and one by your mother. Every cell in your body contains your complete genetic blueprint, or your genome, in the 46 chromosomes in its nucleus.

A sex cell (egg or sperm), however, is an exception. Rather than a complete set of 23 pairs of chromosomes, an egg or sperm has only 23 single chromosomes. When the two unite, the chromosomes combine, giving the new cell the proper number of 46 chromosomes.


Normal Cell

Normal Cell
23 Chromosome Pairs

Take a look at the 46 chromosomes in one of your normal cells (not an egg or sperm). What a chromosome actually "looks like" is a complicated question, but we can represent them kind of like this:

Some chromosomes are larger than others, because they contain more DNA. All chromosomes are part of a matched pair, one from your mother, and one from your father (which I illustrated here by coloring them pink and blue). The pair is "matched" because they contain the same genes -- for example, both of your parents contributed a gene for eye color, and of the color of your eyes depends on which gene is dominant.

The Sex Chromosome: XX or XY

The last chromosome is different. It's called the sex chromosome, and it determines whether you are female or male. If you're female, we call this chromosome XX, and as you can see, it is a nicely matched pair like the rest of the chromosomes.

If you're male, the last pair of chromosomes is called XY, and they're not a matched pair. The X chromosome, contributed by the mother, matches up with a much smaller Y chromosome contributed by the father. For reasons that aren't fully understood, the X chromosome contains far more genetic material than the Y, and thus it is larger in size. In 2003, the Y chromosome made headlines around the world when it was mapped by the Human Genome Project.


Chromosomes in the Egg


23 Single Chromosomes

Now take a look at the chromosomes in an egg. We see only half of the usual number of chromosomes. Why didn't I color these chromosomes pink, since they all come from the mother? The answer is that the mother doesn't just pass along a copy of the chromosomes she received from her mother, but new, unique chromosomes that contain a mixture of the genes from both of her parents, ensuring that each oocyte, and each child, is genetically unique.

Notice that the last chromosome, #23, is the big X chromosome. Because the mother's own 23rd chromosome is XX, the egg's 23rd chromosome must always also be an X, because the mother only has X's to contribute. So any egg can become a baby boy or a baby girl, depending on whether the father's sperm contributes an X or a Y to pair with the mother's X.

Chromosomes in the Sperm

23 Single Chromosomes

Here are our friends the chromosomes again, this time from a sperm. And again, these chromosomes aren't a copy of any of the man's original chromosomes, but a unique mixture derived from each pair, bestowing traits from both of his parents to each sperm, and thus to each child.

Notice that the last chromosome, the sex chromosome, is either an X or a Y in a sperm cell. This is possible because a man has an XY pair as his own 23rd chromosome, so a choice is possible when a sperm cell is formed.

Technically, I should call the two types of sperm "X-chromosome-bearing spermatazoa" and "Y-chromosome-bearing spermatazoa", but I always just say X-sperm and Y-sperm.

If all this talk has put you into a chromosomal coma, wake up! This next part will be on the quiz.

Spermatogenesis: Equal X's and Y's For All!

It seems reasonable to think that if some men only have sons, they may only have Y sperm, or that fathers with all girls might have only X sperm. But in fact, years of testing have shown that virtually all men have a nearly equal number of X and Y sperm -- even men who have fathered only boys or girls.

The explanation for this is that the process by which sperm are formed -- spermatogenesis -- guarantees that an equal number of X and Y-sperm are produced. This is because X-sperm and Y-sperm aren't manufactured separately, but result from the division of an XY parent cell.

Normal cells in your body are reproducing all the time, by a process called mitosis: the cell's DNA replicates (makes an exact copy of itself), then divides down the middle, resulting in two cells that are identical to the original cell. Remember seeing cells divide in biology class?

This process of mitosis won't work for creating sperm cells,though, because sperm cells are special in two ways. First, they have only half the usual number of chromosomes. And second, they're each genetically unique, not exact copies like normal cells. (If sperm and egg cells were just identical copies, all of a couple's offspring would be clones of each other.)

The answer is a specialized form of cell division called meiosis, used only in the formation of sperm cells (spermatogenesis) and oocytes (oogenesis).

In the testes, sperm is produced by cells called spermatagonium. These cells reproduce themselves in the usual way, by mitosis, so that a man doesn't run out of them; after all, he'll be producing sperm his entire life, starting from puberty.

But some spermatagonia will undergo meiosis, in which a single spermatagonium divides into not two, but four sperm cells. Here's an overview of what happens (this is the good part):


At first, the cell has the normal 46 chromosomes, scattered around the cell nucleus. (Pretend that the 6 chromosomes I've shown here are actually all 46. Pink chromosomes come from mom, blue from dad.)

The chromosome's DNA replicates itself (shown by the 2 black lines inside each blob in the picture). The cell still has the normal number of 46 chromosomes, but twice the DNA. So far, this is just like what happens during normal mitosis, but something new is about to happen.

The chromosomes next match themselves up in corresponding pairs, the only occasion they do so. Because this is a man, of course chromosome pair #23 is XY. (Again, you can pretend that pairs 3 through 22 are also shown here.)

Chromosome pairs exchange sections of DNA between themselves, in a process called crossover, thus mixing up genes from both parents. We now have new, unique chromosomes.

The cell divides! The new cells have 23 chromosomes each, and the genetic code is further shuffled by mixing and matching chromosomes into the new cells. One cell must get the X, and the other the Y, from the 23rd chromosome of the parent cell.

The new cells have the right number of chromosomes for a sperm cell, but still twice the DNA (from the replication at the beginning). So...

Each cell divides yet again, yeilding two X's and two Y's. Called spermatids, these little round cells will develop a midpiece and flagellum on their way to becoming mature sperm cells: 2 X-sperms, and 2 Y-sperms.

This whole process takes about 74 days, but don't worry that there won't be any sperm ready on the big day -- thousands of sperm mature every second.


The birds, bees and mules


Horses and asses have a different chromosome count. Crossbreeding the two animals produces a mule, completely different from either one of those that made up the mixture.

A mule gets 32 horse chromosomes from mom and 31 donkey chromosomes from dad for a total of 63 chromosomes. (A horse has 64 chromosomes and a donkey has 62).A horse and a donkey can have kids. A male horse and a female donkey have a hinny. A female horse and a male donkey have a mule.

But, to understand why this is a problem, we need to understand how sperm and eggs are made. And to understand that, we need to go into a bit more detail about chromosomes.

Remember, we have two copies of each of our chromosomes -- one from mom and one from dad. This means we have two copies of chromosome 1, two copies of chromosome 2, etc. However, this isn't entirely true for the mules.

The mule has a set of horse chromosomes from its mom. And a set of donkey ones from its dad.

These chromosomes aren't really matched sets like in a horse, a donkey, or a person. In these cases, a chromosome 1 is very similar to another chromosome 1. It looks pretty much the same and has nearly the same set of A's, G's, T's and C's. For example, two human chromosome 1's differ only every 1000 letters or so.

But a donkey chromosome doesn't necessarily look like a horse one. And the poor mule even has an unmatched horse chromosome just sitting there.

To make a sperm or an egg, cells need to do something called meiosis. The idea behind meiosis is to get one copy of each chromosome into the sperm or egg.

For example, let's focus on chromosome 1. Like I said, we have one from mom and one from dad. At the end of meiosis, the sperm or egg has either mom's or dad's chromosome 1. Not both.

This process requires two things. First, the chromosomes have to look pretty similar, meaning they are about the same size and have the same information. This will have to do with how well they match up during meiosis.

And second, at a later critical stage, there has to be four of each kind of chromosome. Neither of these can happen completely with a mule.

Let's take a closer look at meiosis to see why this is. The first step in meiosis is that all of the chromosomes make copies of themselves. No problem here...a mule cell can pull this off just fine.

So now we have a cell with 63 doubled chromosomes. It is the next step that causes the real problem.

In the next step, all the same chromosomes need to match up in a very particular way. So, the four chromosome 1's all need to line up together. But this can't happen in a mule very well.

Like I said, a donkey and a horse chromosome aren't necessarily similar enough to match up. Add to this the unmatched chromosome and you have a real problem. The chromosomes can't find their partners and this causes the sperm and eggs not to get made.

So this is a big reason for a mule being sterile. But how is the silly thing alive at all?

Well, there are a couple of reasons. First, having an odd number of chromosomes doesn't matter for every day life. A mule's cells can divide and make new cells just fine. Which is important considering a mule went from 1 cell to trillions of them!

Chromosomes sort differently in regular cells than they do in sperm and eggs. Regular cells (called somatic cells) use a process called mitosis.

Mitosis is like the first step of meiosis. The chromosomes all make copies of themselves. But instead of matching up, they just sort into two new cells. So for the mule, each cell ends up with 63 chromosomes. No matching needs to happen. And our lone horse chromosome is fine.

The other reason a mule is alive is that nothing on the extra or missing chromosome causes it any harm. This seems obvious at first except that usually having extra DNA causes severe problems. In people, extra chromosomes usually result in miscarriages. Sometimes though, a child can survive with an extra chromosome.

For example, people with an extra chromosome 21 have Down syndrome. Having all of the extra genes on that extra copy of chromosome 21 cause the symptoms associated with Down syndrome.

So having extra chromosomes often leads to real problems. But the mule is by and large OK.

The extra genes must not be that big a deal for the mule. In other words, the extra genes on the horse chromosome do not cause problems for the every day life of a mule.

So mules are sterile because horse and donkey chromosomes are just too different. But they are alive because horse and donkey chromosomes are similar enough to mate.