Cracking the Genetic Code of Identity

Everything about us as a person is predetermined before birth, encoded in our genes. These genes provide codes for structures and their functions from the molecular level right up to the macroscopic level that is our body.

Some people might argue that genes, with their specific sequencing and expression, are formulated codes for our own identity. This notion seems simple enough, but the concept of identity itself is a complex one. The biological nature of our genetic makeup is overwhelmingly confusing, so identity, it seems, is determined by perspective.

From what could be a phenotypic representation of who you are,opinions differ according to a range of psychological and environmental factors. These factors can be analysed in real life situations such as in cases where the genetic coding has been mutated and become erroneous, resulting in a defect in the genetic sequence resulting in structural and functional abnormalities.

There are some genetic disorders where gender identity can be particularly difficult to live with, as gender is not simply just black and white; in terms of biology, gender is more of a spectrum.

To put this into perspective, I would like you to consider Klinefelter syndrome. “Normal” humans generally have one of two of the following sets of sex-determination chromosomes: either XX for females, or XY for males. But for those affected by Klinefelter syndrome, their sex-determination chromosomes exist in a set of three: XXY.

This is due to the failure of homologous chromosomes to separate during the first round of meiosis when sex cells divide. This can be difficult when these people try to identify themselves to the gender binaries of modern day society. The Y chromosome is present, so technically speaking masculine characteristics can be visually present, but due to the extra X chromosome feminine characteristics can also prevail as well. This can disrupt and alter the amounts of gender specific hormones in the body. Thus, alterations from the “norm” occur.

These people are neither stereotypically male or female. Gender lines blur, so these people generally identify with what they feel is appropriate or who they feel they are. This generally speaking could be male, female, intersex or gender neutral.

Environmental factors can also influence the identities of persons with near identical genetic makeup – such as in twins.

Genetics does not solely make up our sense of identity. Outside sources and factors such as differences in environment have been shown to heavily influence differences between people and is key to creating the differentiation between twins as they age as they cannot be subjected to identical environments, or be brought up in exactly the same way.

Perspective is key and identity is subjective. Identity cannot be isolated or confined to specific forms and the sooner we realise this, the better.