Transgender goats and genetic manipulation

Intersex ‘goys’ created in New Zealand lab

Today I saw a headline online that immediately caught my attention: “Scientists create lady goats trapped in male bodies”.

My first question was, how do the scientists know the goats are trans? (The writer uses the term “transgender” in describing them.) How could the goats tell them?

I never claimed to be an expert on terminology involving gender variance and have recently discovered that I actually know far less than I thought did. But still, doesn’t being trans involve having a physical gender that does not match up with the individual’s mental, emotional and/or spiritual gender? And if that is at all accurate, how would a scientist know what a goat is thinking or feeling and be able to determine the animal is trans?

Then I read the article and realized that what they are really talking about are goats that have been genetically manipulated to be intersex. They have male genitalia, but are sterile and are otherwise female. The whole point to this scientific exercise, taking place at a genetic research institute in New Zealand, is to see if the genetically altered goats, called “goys,” are able to produce milk closer in makeup to human breast milk.

After reading the article — which is more of an opinion piece, by Stephen Messenger at TreeHugger.com, than a news story — I have to say I share some of Mr. Messenger’s concerns over this kind of “toying with nature.” I do understand the nature of science and experimentation and the need for new discoveries and inventions. But these “goys” are living, breathing, feeling creatures, and I don’t think that we have the right to manipulate their very beings that way.

(I had a bit of a problem with some of Mr. Messenger’s language, too. I wasn’t sure if he was horrified that these goats had been genetically altered for science, or if he was horrified at the thought of them being transgender/intersex.)

But I was interested in the questions this experiment raises in terms of the “nature or nurture” argument. It isn’t the same exact thing, of course, because these goats are intersex and trans (not gay or bi). Still, it is an example, once again, that gender isn’t as simple as some people want to believe it is.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Anti-gay La. pastor arrested for masturbating at park; new hope for AIDS cure

Grant Sands

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Rev. Grant Storms, an anti-gay pastor known for protesting the Southern Decadence gay festival in New Orleans, was arrested Friday for masturbating at a public playground. Two women observed Storms masturbating in a van while looking at children near the carousel.

2. Speaker John Boehner said in an interview Monday with the Christian Broadcast Network that the House is likely to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court now that President Barack Obama’s administration has announced that it will no longer do so. Boehner called Obama’s decision not to defend the law “raw politics” and said he expects a decision on the House’s next step by the end of this week.

3. Scientists used genetic engineering to develop blood cells resistant to HIV in a new approach they say could lead to a cure for the virus that causes AIDS.

—  John Wright