Mosquitoes are the bane of the tropical world. They bite, they itch, they spread countless diseases among the human and animal populations. The builders of the Panama Canal around the turn of the 20th century found that massive amounts of DDT temporarily solved the annoying pestilence, but dumping untold volumes of poison in the environment is hardly a long-term solution. Like any smart assemblage of genetic material, the mosquito knows that if it just keeps breeding, even in the worst of times, eventually one or a billion of its offspring will find a way around mankind’s chemical solutions. Right alongside the ever-burgeoning mosquito population rides a tidal wave of evolving bacteria, viruses, and parasites, each becoming more and more resistant to our anti-biotic warfare. One such is dengue fever, which admittedly has never blinked an eye at the lackluster attempts at controlling it medically, a disease with no treatment, prophylactic, or cure save avoiding the buzzing bloodsuckers that carry it. Now Oxford scientists have developed a genetically modified male mosquito, which born in captivity to be dependent on tetracycline to survive, once released into the wild can breed with normal females and pass this trait on to unwitting offspring. Since there are few mosquito-sized pharmacy windows in the deep bush of Africa and Southeast Asia, the now genetically doomed children of these captivity-born males are fated to a short and painful life, if they are ever born at all. Since the female that spawns them only mates once then dies, this ultimately means that each essentially sterile male released into the population serves at a genetic endpoint for the female as well. Of course, you could ask the question: what happens when one of these offspring develops a suppressing trait for this genetic handicap?
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I’m pretty sure, at least according millions of years of evolution, there are two viable sexualities allowed by the human genome. This is generally considered the provenience of the curious combination of two grossly mismatched DNA polymers affectionately known as the X and Y chromosomes. One particular segment of the Y chromosome, known as the SRY gene, is responsible for starting the cascade of developmental changes, resulting in the expression of other Y genes that radiate from the testes. Lack of this gene ultimately results in a lack of male sexual development, a decidedly feminine body-type, and other problems, and is relatively rare. Translocation of the SRY gene onto a female X results in male-like development, albeit with considerable variance, and sterility as a result of non-existent reproductive genes, and occurs in less than 1 in 20,000 individuals.
These real medical conditions, among other relatively rare genetic disorders that can result in unusual sexual development, are not to be confused with the situation of most of the so-called “trans-gender” community, generally physiologically normal people who have felt some mental trauma in regards to their biologically assigned sex and have decided to take medicinal, therapeutic, and sometimes surgical means to change this assignment. CNN.com recently ran an article describing the lives of a handful of American transgenders and describing their disorder in terms of a life decision, one that we should even accept and embrace as an inclusive, free society.
I say no. As stated above, there are real, genetic disorders that result in confused biological development. These are unfortunate, however considerably uncommon, and the questions of how one of these individuals can fit into a two-sex society are difficult to answer. Surgery, hormones, therapy, none of these will ever make a square peg fit in a round hole. But at what point does the “genetic destiny” line become fuzzy to the point of nonsense? And why should I accept someone into my society who decides, without any real medical evidence to support it, to mutilate their bodies and deceive the society around them? I can’t come up with a good reason to suggest that these people are even sane. I wouldn’t consider someone who cut off their own healthy arm or leg to be sane, nor would I consider someone who dyed their skin to resemble another race to be sane. Without going on, I am apt to criticize CNN for encouraging the clinically insane to pursue their insanity in such a way.