Hermaphrodite - Research Paper Example

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Hermaphrodites Introduction In biology, a hermaphrodite is defined as any animal or plant that possesses both the female and the male reproductive organs. This means that a human hermaphrodite is a person with both reproductive organs, and has the ability to act as male or female depending on which genitalia is fully developed…
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Download file to see previous pages Although some hermaphrodites have one sex organ being more dominant than the other, some have a combination of both genitalia sharing dominance. Medical practitioners in the U.S. estimate the frequency of hermaphrodite’s births to be 1 in 1500. An extensive review of a medical journal published in 1998 by Dr. Gregory Simpsons provides a glimpse of different sex variations and their probability of occurring. The probability of delivering a child that is not XX or XY is 1 in 1,666 births. Discussion Hermaphrodites are treated differently in different cultures due to their sexual orientation. Asian cultures have classified such individuals as a third gender that blends social roles for centuries. Most societies throughout the globe expect hermaphrodites to identify with one gender role, either male or female (Dreger, 25). There exists no universal tolerance to this biological phenomenon, but the existence of hermaphrodites was known to many ancient cultures. Medical authors for example, introduced the term “true hermaphrodite” to accommodate persons who had both testicular and ovarian tissues during the Victorian era. The terms male pseudo-hermaphrodite, and female pseudo-hermaphrodite were coined later to describe individuals who had one dominant genitalia. However, British medical specialist, Allen Weber, sought to replace the term hermaphrodite with intersex. True Hermaphrodite A true hermaphrodite is an individual with both testicular and ovarian tissues. In addition, the genitalia are often ambiguous since none of the organs is fully developed. So far, there is no known cause of this biological problem that affects thousands throughout different cultures. However, Dr. Kathleen Long postulates that the cause of this problem could be the mutation of the sex-determining gene in addition to the fertilization of an ovum by two sperms (Long, 152). Partly, this could explain why the genitalia have both organs present at the same time. Mostly, ovaries develop underneath each testicle leading to an ovotestis that contains both types of the tissues. However, there is no documented case in which both genitalia function. Some of the katyotypes that have been encountered so far include 46XX/47XXY, 46XX/46XY, and 47ZZY. This condition can be distinguished histologically since it is dissimilar to mixed gonadal dysgenesis. As of May 2008, there have been 11 cases reported of fertility in true hermaphrodite humans. However, a case in which both gonadal tissues function is yet to be documented, as opposed to rumors that true hermaphrodites can impregnate themselves. The degree of external genitalia ambiguity is dependent on the amount of testosterone that is produced by the testicular tissue between the 8th and the 16th week of the gestation period (Long, 180). Medical authors suggest that it is caused by the division of one ovum, followed by fertilization of both haploids before they fuse again early in the fetus development stage. However, few people believe it is caused by the mutations in the SRY gene. Male Pseudo-Hermaphrodite A male pseudo-hermaphrodite has ambiguous female external characteristics, but the male organ is often dominant. In most cases, the testicles are fully developed even though they are attached to an under-developed female genital. Individuals with this biological condition have secondary sexual characteristics such as being less virile and often portray a feminine ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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