The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences


One of the fundamentals of human sociology is the characterization of the people around us based on gender. We tend to think of gender as a strict binary system where the option is clear: boy or girl. Although society usually honors this dichotomy, biology allows more flexibility to the definition of male versus female. Estimates state that one in every 2000 births is one with a disorder of sex development (The Intersex Society of North America 2006). Some of the disorders are visually obvious while others are only discovered later on in life. Regardless of when the disease first becomes obvious, all of these disorders constitute a variation along the standard development of a male or female. Therefore, to understand disorders of sex development, one must first understand what constitutes normal sex development. As in all of embryology, development is controlled by many different genetic codes and the pathways they encode. Therefore, variation along any gene responsible for any part of the sex differentiation mechanism will result in a deviation from the expected.