The ‘Shit Cis People Say’ Alphabet: X is for “XX or XY”

Welcome to another episode of the Shit Cis People Say Alphabet! Today:

X is for “XX or XY”

One of the ways transphobic cis people try to invalidate trans people is by insisting that our gender is determined by our chromosomes, that everyone is either XX or XY, all people with XX chromosomes have vaginas, and are women, and all people with XY chromosomes have penises and are men, and that’s that. Cis folks like to think they’re being rational and scientific by appealing to biology in this way, but the truth is that these claims are incorrect on literally every level – there are other chromosomal arrangements, even the binary XX/XY system doesn’t have a 1-to-1 correspondence with genital development (and of course, genitals don’t have a 1-to-1 correspondence with gender), most people don’t even know their chromosomes in the first place, and that’s definitely not how we gender babies, among other things.

If you’re making a claim to chromosomes to justify your transphobia, I honestly don’t think you’re even trying to understand what you’re talking about, and so my motivation to write rebuttals for this is minimal, and I find myself bored before I even start. So, in lieu of rewriting all the explanations for why ‘but *chromosomes*!!!!’ isn’t a refutation of trans people’s identities, here’s a couple of recommended reads instead:

Transgender People and ‘Biological Sex’ Myths | Julia Serano

Chromosomes: cis expectations vs. trans reality | Zinnia Jones, Gender Analysis

Happy reading!

Check out the rest of the “Shit Cis People Say” alphabet!


  1. In college, one of my best classes was “Psychology of Sexuality.” There was something humorously incongruous about listening to a dowdily dressed, middle aged French woman as she completely blew our minds about the complex genetics and physiology of gender, and the psychological (and social) implications of that complexity. I get frustrating imaging how much better these conversations–and this world–would be if all high school students had to take such a course. And I love this series, though I need to do some catching up!

  2. random fun fact: in Japan, one is required to undergo a chromosomal test to first rule out a person possibly being intersex before one can “”officially”” be considered trans (ie. be diagnosed as suffering from Gender Identity Disorder). because, you know. if it turns out that one is actually intersex, then one can’t possibly be trans because the “”correct”” diagnosis then would be Disorder of Sexual Development and someone “”with DSD”” couldn’t possibly “”have GID on top of that.””

    some kinda dyadist, cissexist logic being passed off as actual science, that is.

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