Sexual/Gender Identity and Agriculture

Through some research and reading I’ve been doing on moral, ethical, and religious thought related to agriculture I have come across a number of discussions on sexual/gender identity…and a language system that is evolving to discuss sex in politics.

From a sexual human rights website:

Sexual orientation

An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.

Gender identity

One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.

Gender expression

External appearance of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.


An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.

Gender dysphoria

Clinically significant distress caused when a person’s assigned birth gender is not the same as the one with which they identify. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the term – which replaces Gender Identity Disorder – “is intended to better characterize the experiences of affected children, adolescents, and adults.”

Citations of the term dysphoria in Google books database.

Dysphoria is a state of unease or general dissatisfaction with life.

I also find that there is an increasing amount of academic writing redefining the meaning of gender. Traditionally, gender has been described as the state of being male or female…in essence a direct link to human sexual biology. Currently, you can find discussions of the definition of gender that are extensive and take the position that gender is a social construct.

I grew up spending a great deal of time in horse country Kentucky. Long before dysphoria came into use folks have been ‘genetically modifying’ horses (and many other animals) to suit their human needs/desires/social constructs.

Agriculture has also genetically modified seeds to an enormous extent to suit their human needs/desires/social constructs.

How do we, as a society and a community, evolve ethically, morally, and religiously given our current willingness to profoundly alter the biological characteristics of plants, animals, and ourselves?

How can we know with any certainty what we are creating?

How do we evaluate the risks we are taking?

Do we know with certainty that we are not creating catastrophic biological conditions for Earth?

I Saw The Sign…

There’s a powerful new weapon in the war on obesity. It’s a technological breakthrough that may help millions of Americans incorporate exercise into their daily lives. It’s … a sign.

In a new study, researchers from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene placed simple green signs that read “Burn Calories, Not Electricity” next to elevators in three buildings: a three-story health clinic, a 10-story affordable housing building, and an eight-story academic building. Then they watched to see if more people chose to take the stairs.

The Article

American Crime Rate Declines

There may also be a medical reason for the decline in crime. For decades, doctors have known that children with lots of lead in their blood are much more likely to be aggressive, violent and delinquent. In 1974, the Environmental Protection Agency required oil companies to stop putting lead in gasoline. At the same time, lead in paint was banned for any new home (though old buildings still have lead paint, which children can absorb).

Tests have shown that the amount of lead in Americans’ blood fell by four-fifths between 1975 and 1991. A 2007 study by the economist Jessica Wolpaw Reyes contended that the reduction in gasoline lead produced more than half of the decline in violent crime during the 1990s in the U.S. and might bring about greater declines in the future. Another economist, Rick Nevin, has made the same argument for other nations.

Maybe the EPA might actually be doing some good!


230 Million…and counting

This morning on National Public Radio I heard a report on worldwide major surgeries…and concern for errors (I guess you might say ‘errors and omissions’ – they forget to do things). There are 230 million major surgeries worldwide each year – one in twenty five people have a ‘major’ operation.

The report went on to say that hospitals are now instituting new procedures called ‘time outs’ before any surgery to go over a checklist. Is this the right patient? What are we doing? Do we have the right tools and materials?…etc. I worked as a surgical technician back in college days and I remember all we ever did is check to make certain we had the right patient. No equipment check, no making certain everyone on the team knows one another, no check to make certain we had the right prosthesis. It was a very well known hospital in a large metropolitan area.

I bring this up because there are many days when I can’t understand why we don’t have better methods broadly in place to analyze environmental impacts – the tools are available, the scientific data exists, the knowledge is precise. Why don’t we do this?

When I heard the NPR report I was shocked. It has been almost forty years since I was a surgical tech….and it’s still possible you might have a major operation without a set protocol to make certain they ‘get it right’.