What we can learn from fruit flies



One of my college courses was in the study of genetics. Besides course work the class was required to breed fruit flies that manifested genetically induced differences in wing structure, and eye and body coloring, among other characteristics. The appearance of the fruit fly was determined by dominance of the genes responsible for a particular characteristic.

The sex of a person is also determined by genetics. We learn two X chromosomes spells a human with female characteristics and the XY combination defines a male. Human genetics are also responsible for other characteristics and conditions in the human body. Medical research is investigating alterations in the genetic codes as a method of early detection or potential treatments of certain diseases.

Natural occurring abnormalities in chromosomes, especially the X and Y chromosomes, are very rare. Ambiguity of the sex of an individual is based on disorders of sexual development, which are likewise extremely rare. Genetic testing helps in these conditions to aid in forming a diagnosis.

Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States, in its decision in the Bostock case, defined the sex of a human being in terms that ignore biology and objective reality. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. This meant, for example, that a woman could not be denied employment or removed from a job solely on the basis of being a woman.

The present argument maintains that the underlying concern of a man and woman with gender identity issues is the “sex” of the person. Thus a situation of discrimination toward a man wanting to present as a woman would fall under the Civil Rights Act. This ruling expands the definition of sex discrimination. This has important implications, especially in the workplace.

Individuals struggling with their sexual identity should not find employment challenging. The Church strongly supports the notion of work as a necessary right of any person. However, problems present because the employment will invariably involve individuals wishing to enter traditionally separated male and female areas. Also consider the potential tensions in the workplace needing to adjust the use of pronouns or to enact policies favoring transgender ideology.

Does accommodation of – or failure to accommodate – employees or potential employees translate into a hostile work environment? More importantly, what does this accommodation say about our society as a whole? A falsehood is started; example – man presenting as woman. Lying becomes a condition of employment for employers and employees.

Lying is a denial of reality. This is why it is wrong and in violation of the Eighth Commandment. We fool ourselves into believing a man identifying as a woman has the same awareness of being a woman as a woman who naturally identifies as herself. The same inconsistencies can be said of a woman identifying as a man.

How often do we make the statement, “I know exactly how you feel?” Can a person feel exactly how another person feels? No. Take into account medical problems. People handle the same disease state differently. Divergence of feelings becomes even more apparent in persons struggling with gender identity. For instance, a man would never be able to experience the physical or emotional conditions associated with ovarian cancer or simple menses.

A point is reached where male and female characteristics are not interchangeable no matter how strong the urge to change, the substitute hormone medications or the number of physically altering surgeries one may undergo. Yet in God’s creation of male and female there is equality of personhood because we are made in His image and likeness. It was never intended for humans to believe one sex is better than the other.

This sense of equality has been grossly misplaced by present day societal norms. The influence of single parent homes, objectification of women (as in pornography), and “radical” feminism (loss of the feminine) are only a few factors contributing to this sense of inequality.

Add to this societal confusion, perpetrated by its laws and actions, the innate desire within human beings for happiness and community. Sadly, some are willing to go to extreme lengths hoping to obtain these desires. We should remember that only God, through His mercy and graces, gives lasting joy and peace.

I don’t know how to describe, compassionately and with understanding, a state of mind that ignores what is dictated by human chromosomes and biological determinations at birth. Words like “illness” or “disease” seem too harsh and uninviting.

In the recent book, “Christus Vincit,” by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, gender ideology is described as “a rebellion against the wisdom and majesty of God the Creator.” We have a responsibility as Catholic Christians to correct this blasphemy, which unfortunately is easier said than done. How should we approach these situations?

We are all invited to be sympathetic to the struggles of individuals with gender identity issues by accompanying them on their journeys; by offering prayers and other forms of support. This is essential. Ultimately, it becomes necessary to point out the truth, not continue a falsehood.

This can be incredibly challenging, yet so necessary. We need to lovingly and with humility bring forth the truth. At the same time we need to stand firm against present day laws and rulings, and societal influences. Attempts at correction and normalcy truly are loving acts.

Yes, God created human beings and fruit flies. And just as humans are created male and female with distinctive physical and genetic characteristics, so, too, are fruit flies. Perhaps we can take a lesson from our tiny friends that accept what is God-given.