How much should sex matter?
Miss Universe competitor Jenna Talackova (right), shown here in 2010, underwent sexual reassignment surgery four years ago.
April 16th, 2012
10:30 AM ET

How much should sex matter?

Editor's Note: Peter Singer is professor of bioethics at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. Agata Sagan is an independent researcher living in Warsaw. For more , visit Project Syndicate's new website, or check it out on Facebook and Twitter

By Peter Singer and Agata Sagan, Project Syndicate

Jenna Talackova reached the finals of Miss Universe Canada last month, before being disqualified because she was not a “natural born” female. The tall, beautiful blonde told the media that she had considered herself a female since she was four years old, had begun hormone treatment at 14, and had sex reassignment surgery at 19. Her disqualification raises the question of what it really means to be a “Miss.”

A question of broader significance was raised by the case of an eight-year-old Los Angeles child who is anatomically female, but dresses as, and wants to be considered, a boy. His mother tried unsuccessfully to enroll him in a private school as a boy. Is it really essential that every human being be labeled “male” or “female” in accordance with his or her biological sex? FULL POST

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Topics: Sex