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'Wishful Thinking'



Ms. Brown writes: "... science has known there are more than two sexes for decades ..." (Mailbox, March 5).

However: Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, (1956) defines sex: as: 1) "One of the two divisions of organisms formed on the distinction of male and female; males or females collectively. 2) The sum of the peculiarities of structure and function that distinguish a male from a female organism; the character of being male or female, or of pertaining to the distinctive function of the male or female in reproduction."

These definitions indicate sex is a matter of biology, a science. It stipulates there are only two sexual distinctions available to organisms, male or female. Distinctions of gender exist in social and cultural venues but not biologically.

Ms. Brown goes on to write: "... babies born with ambiguous genitalia that can indicate both male and female sex."

Wikipedia clarifies Ms. Brown's murky adjective "ambiguous:" "True hermaphroditism, clinically known as ovotesticular disorder of sex development, is a medical term for an intersex condition in which an individual is born with ovarian and testicular tissue."

Thus, medicine, another science, finds "ambiguous genitalia" are male and female and, therefore, a confusion of "the distinctive function of the male or female in reproduction." This confusion is evidenced by scientific literature reporting only 11 cases of fertility in true hermaphrodite humans and just one birth. (Again, Wikipedia.)

Simply put: Sex is a matter of biology and science. Gender is a matter of culture and opinion.

Had Ms. Brown used the word gender instead of sex, I would be in full accord with her. But she didn't and that mistake rendered her letter wishful thinking.

Alex Ricca, Blue Lake

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