read the essay titled “The opposite of Sex”…

read the essay titled “The opposite of Sex”…

read the essay titled “The opposite of Sex” (attached) and provide and provide a 7 to 10 page paper(double spaced) including a brief review of the essay and your thoughts about how we have been taught to think about biological sex compared to the reality of biological sex. 

This is for a human disease 100 level class, so only summarize the article and then state an opinion based on the above question.

5. The Opposite of Sex
with Lisa May Stevens
(Excerpted from the book Lousy Sex, by Gerald N. Callahan

The simple declaration of “boy” or “girl” at childbirth directs the rest of 
most children’s lives. And if you asked someone to tell you about his or her self –
or anyone else’s self for that matter – sex always comes up near the beginning. 
But, in spite of what we have been told about human and animal sex, every year,
worldwide, more than 65,000 human babies aren’t boys or girls. 

A couple of months into our electronic relationship, Lisa May Stevens sent me some 
pictures of herself. In one of these photos, she wore a black gown, showed quite a bit of
leg, and looked like a southern belle – strawberry­blonde, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, 
hazel­eyed. For all the world, like a southern belle. She isn’t though. She’s an 
hermaphrodite from Idaho.
And Lisa May Stevens is a friend of mine. 
We met about eighteen months ago, when I sent her an e­mail. At the time, I had
gotten hold of an idea I couldn’t shake, and I needed her input. At the same time, an 
idea had taken hold of Lisa May, an idea that life might not be worth the trouble 
anymore. Our meeting was, serendipitous. 
Ever since, we’ve stayed in touch. 
“Hermaphrodite” sticks in a lot of people’s throats, or it’s pitched by people as a 
taunt, often by children, but not always. 

Though coined by Pliny the Elder to describe humans with characteristics of both
sexes, when speaking of human beings, the term “hermaphrodite” gets a little slippery, 
like an icicle in summer.
Hermaphroditic plants, on the other hand, form a firm group of individuals known 
for their ability to take either or both roles in sexual reproduction. And most 
hermaphroditic animals, though they rarely self­fertilize, can at least perform either 
party’s role in sex and reproduction. No matter what odd thoughts may have slithered 
inside of Gaius Plinius Secundus’ early Roman amygdala , no human has ever been 
capable of such contortions or contributions.  
For all of these reasons, I don’t like calling human beings hermaphrodites. Lisa 
May insists on it, at least when it comes to speaking about her. She made that clear 
from the outset.
Since our first meeting online, Lisa May has twice come to Fort Collins, Colorado 
to visit. In person, Lisa May is a presence. Her face carries the marks of her masculine 
past, so do her hands. But her arms remind me of my mother’s arms, and beneath her 
blouses or dresses, her figure is unmistakably feminine. 
Her genitalia, she tells me, strike her as male and female all at once. That seems
to please her, a great deal. In Lisa May’s story there is a hero and a heroine, and when 
you look at her, you see both.
Every time Lisa May and I have gone anywhere together, people notice that. One
evening at dinner, it seemed like a little tsunami rose from beneath our table and spread

across the room as whispers passed and eyes rose from cups of chai or plates of curry 
to steal glimpses of Lisa May.
You might think people would admire her. And some do, but most do not. Most 
people seem to find Lisa May’s appearance unsettling. Others become angry, as though
Lisa May had committed some sin against humanity. Regardless, everywhere she goes,
people notice her.   

Lisa May
I always seem to ride the first wave. I love being out front and the shock­and­awe
effect. Of course, that fades as most people see me move, gesture, and speak. But 
from some, I seem to sense hostility, or maybe fear. I still haven’t figured that one out. 
They look, then look away, and soon look back. They watch my movements, my laugh, 
my gestures. Then their eyes go from my face down my body. Usually they stop at my 
legs, since I do know how to use those legs to draw attention away from my face. My 
mother had longer legs than I do. She could command a room like a general. I know the
effect legs have on people. Mother taught me well, and in the last two years I have 
returned to her ways. I'd rather people see me as sexy than as a dog dressed up.

Once, taking Lisa May back to her motel, I stopped to pick up a cigar. I asked 
Lisa May if she wanted to come into the store with me. Along with rows of cellophane 

wrapped cigars, cigar stores – almost any time of day – contain a few men, cigar­
smoking men, if you know what I mean. To my surprise, she did. 
Again, Lisa May made waves. She seemed unaware of her effect on these men. 
I certainly was not. Nothing offensive, but looks that could have extinguished a 
thousand cigars sputtered behind those men’s eyes. 
Unmet expectations?  Snips and snails and puppy dog tails; sugar and spice and
everything nice; pink and blue; boys and girls; men and women; black and white – 
expectations born of a certainty about sex that equals our certainty about gravity?  
As early as four years of age, most children understand that everything comes in 
twos, and only in twos – mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, does and bucks, boars 
and sows, hens and cocks, innies and outies. But that doesn’t seem to reflect some 
inborn sense of the permanency of sex as much as it suggests that by age four we have
already heard the idea so many times that, for most of us, it has become fact.  
Later, well­meaning teachers tell us that chromosomes do that – push us into 
one corner or another, then bind us up with iron, and leave us there. Chromosomes are 
final as flint, they say.  Y = male, Y­not = female.
And that provides the rigid grout that cements the scales of our beliefs into place,
firmly and finally. Unless we meet someone like Lisa May. Then, as the plates heave 
against one another, our Earth shifts, and tsunamis are born. 
But, Lisa May’s not the problem. In fact, she’s the solution to the problem. 

Fishy Sex: Defining Nemo
Through shared catastrophe and intractable time, we and fish have grown old 
together – man and alewife. But the whole time, fish have been outdoing us. 
Twenty­five thousand species of fish have been identified and named, but 
everyone who studies fish is certain there are thousands more. In all, at least 10 12 (that’s
a trillion) individuals on this planet call themselves fish.
Humans weigh in at one species and about 6 billion individuals. A pothole in the 
road of life compared to the crevasse that fish have cut. In fact, among the vertebrates, 
nobody outdoes the fish. Ranging in size from the Philippine Island goby (about one­
third of an inch long) to the leopard­spotted leviathan of the whale shark (about fifty feet 
long and weighing several tons), no other vertebrate animals compare to fish – not for 
numbers, not for sheer variety, and not for sexual creativity.
More (perhaps a lot more) than 100 species and twenty families of fish are 
hermaphroditic, and here we begin to stretch the limits of what we mean by 
hermaphroditism, what we mean by male and female, and what we mean by everything 
in between. 
Hermaphroditic fish come in two common forms – simultaneous hermaphrodites 
and sequential hermaphrodites. Simultaneous hermaphrodites have the nifty gift of two 
sets of genitalia at all times. Sequential herms, as Lisa May calls them, like to rattle 
back and forth between the sexes, one morning a vixen, the next a lothario.
Hamlet fish are one­ to two­inch­long, gold­and­yellow fish found mostly in the 
Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. They haunt the rainbow­colored reefs in those warm 

waters, working like little yellow blimps among the sea rods and fire corals searching for
food. When they are not hungry, thoughts of sex often dance like little sugared plums 
inside their tiny heads.
All hamlet fish have both male and female sex organs all the time. That makes 
them simultaneous hermaphrodites and, apparently, more than a little randy.  But these 
fish do not fertilize their own eggs. Nothing so banal would suit them. Instead, hamlet 
fish engage in sexual rituals as varied as the tales of Scheherazade. 
First, hamlet fish trysts involve multiple matings that last for as many as three 
nights. And during all of that time, these fish take turns being the “male” or the “female” 
partner. So, over the course of a single tryst, each fish takes all imaginable roles in the 
sex act. For such small fish, their lust is great, not to mention their endurance and their 
penchant for creativity. And when all the sex finally grinds to a halt, both partners are 
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.”
Black sea bass, one­ to five­pound fish that spawn from Florida to Cape Cod, on 
the other hand, cover the range of hermaphroditism. In fact, some hermaphroditic sea 
bass, do, in effect, mate with themselves, though some intricacy is necessary to 
overcome what seems like an intractable mechanical barrier. 
In the watery light that shivers across the sandy flats of eastern coastal waters, 
some bass spawn as many as twenty times in a single day. Because sea bass have 
both ovaries and testes, these animals are, by definition, simultaneous hermaphrodites. 

By any other standard, these fish defy preconception and sport a given sex as briefly 
and as quickly as the fluttering frames of a rolling movie film.
As they spawn, black sea bass alternate between being egg­laying females and 
sperm­spouting males, a transformation that takes these fish only about thirty seconds. 
That act makes for lots more fry and the rest of us black with envy.
Among other sea bass, sex is a bit more constant, but only a bit. 
With these bass, if two females find themselves in a local sea­fern bar and both 
have sex on their minds, one of the bass simply transforms herself into a male, 
complete with a dramatic color change and a big boost in testicular output of sperm. 
Then the remaining female spawns, and the nascent male covers the eggs with sperm 
newly born from freshly formed testes. Problem solved.
And that’s not the last of the fish tales, not nearly. 
For decades, maybe centuries, people have known that lots of fish changed 
sexes. But, it wasn’t until 1972 that marine biologists began to figure out what motivated
these fish to up and abandon their lives as males or females and sprout the genitalia of 
the opposite sex. 
Not surprisingly, it turns out that the whole motivation thing is complicated. Every 
fish seems to have its own set of rules and reasons for swapping sexes. 
   Beyond black sea bass, wrasse – two­ to four­inch­long fish, striped or saddled 
with black and yellow pigments – flutter in the tepid currents near coral reefs around the 
world. Some wrasse make their livings cleaning parasites and scar tissues from other 
fish. Because of that habit, wrasse also swim in lots of home aquaria around the globe. 

Regardless, in aquaria or in the hollows among glittering corals, most wrasse 
begin their lives as females. But chance graces one or two of these fish with testes. As 
they grow, wrasse develop complex social structures, and by the time these fish reach 
adulthood, they live in harems of female fish controlled by a single dominant male 
wrasse. This “alpha” male, through physical domination and perhaps his chemical 
presence, forces the females to remain females. The force­fed females develop a 
pecking order with the “alpha” female running the show among the girls. That might 
seem job enough for a wrasse, but her greatest moment is yet to come. When the one 
male wrasse dies, over the course of a few days, the alpha female becomes the alpha 
male and takes over the harem for himself. From veiled damsel to a bearded sheik in a 
day or so.
And then, there are the clownfish – Nemo and all his family. Because they look 
like some fanciful child’s idea of how fish should look ­­ thumb­sized and bright orange 
with vertical black and white stripes – these creatures are extremely popular aquarium 
Clownfish spin a similar sexual tale, but one with an opposite twist. Darting 
among yellow sponges and purple anemones, these fish also assemble themselves into
groups made up almost entirely of females. But among clownfish, only the largest 
female in the harem can mate with the single large alpha male. If the large female 
clownfish dies, the big male hands in his testes, conjures himself a set of ovaries and 
becomes a female. After that, the largest of the young females leaves behind her egg­
laying days and acquires a skill with sperm. Among clownfish, the few and the proud 

begin life as females, swap gonads for the grander life of the leader of the pack, and 
then – for the greater good – reclaim their ovaries and lay eggs as sweetly as any 
clownfish that ever graced the sea. A tripartite tryst with a sexual subtext unlike any we 
humans might have imagined. 
No matter how hard we may try to squeeze these fish tales into our human 
stories, sex (to paraphrase J.B.S. Haldane) remains “not only queerer than we imagine, 
but queerer than we can imagine.”

Lisa May is different – given the chance, she will tell you she’s fully aware of that. But 
just how Lisa came to be different is a remarkable tale. Some of Lisa May’s cells have 
two X chromosomes, others have an X and a Y chromosome. Some of Lisa May’s red 
blood cells are AB some O. But, as incredible as that may seem, that isn’t what makes 
Lisa May’s story remarkable. 
What makes Lisa May unique is that Lisa began her life as two people – one a 
boy the other a girl. The doctors call Lisa May a chimera and a true hermaphrodite. With
Lisa, true hermaphrodite means that she has reproductive tissues of both sexes – 
probably beginning with one testis and one ovatestis (a combination of ovarian and 
testicular tissue). 
Human chimeras arise in several different ways, but few begin like Lisa May. 
Inside of her mother’s womb, Lisa May began as two – two zygotes (the single cells that
result from the fusion of egg and sperm). One of the two probably would have become –
since it contained and X and a Y chromosome – a bouncing baby boy. The other held 

two X chromosomes and was destined for girlhood. But before either of their dreams 
became reality, the two zygotes grabbed hold of one another and fused into a single 
living thing – part boy part girl – much like Hermaphroditus (the son of Aphrodite and 
Hermes) and Salmacis ( a fetching nymph) fused by their gods into a single being. 
Scientist call Lisa May’s beginnings a tetragametic fusion – the product of four 
fused gametes – two eggs and two sperm. The rest of us call her amazing. 

Turtle Sex
Even as they lumber up from the sea and carve their way across moonlit 
beaches to lay leathery eggs, sea turtles don’t seem to have sexes. From a distance, or 
up close for that matter, turtle biologists themselves often cannot tell a boy turtle from a 
girl turtle. If you want to know the sex of a turtle, you have to use histology – that 
requires taking a piece of the turtle, which neither turtle nor investigator much care for – 
and subjecting the collected tissue to critical scientific analyses. Only after that, can a 
turtle be pronounced boy or girl. But even then, turtle sex involves a lot of assumptions. 
And if the weather is unusually cool, a newly hatched turtle may have no sex at all.
Turtles don’t even have sex chromosomes, and genes don’t seem to play any 
direct role in deciding whether a turtle will end up as a girl turtle or a boy turtle.
Turtle sex is mysterious.

At the heart of that mystery, lies – like a glowing coal – the temperature of the 
sand and the sea and the air, the temperature of the pond and the forest and the river. 
A shift in the wind, the slippery movements of clouds, a storm front, a warming trend, 
and the sexes of turtles drift – another  male, a few less females – one direction or the 
other, and a turtle’s future looks a little pinker or a little bluer. 
Somehow out of all that ­­ and the turtle itself, of course ­­ the warmth and the 
warp of the sea lay down the course of turtledom like a highway. Turtles can do nothing 
but follow – and that includes sea turtles and tortoises as well as land turtles and 
tortoises – all  marching to a single drummer, the weather.

Lisa May
Lisa May wasn’t born Lisa May. She began life as Steven. But even then, when 
Steven’s father wasn’t around, Lisa’s mother often called the baby “Lisa.”  Something of 
a confusion for her, but only at first. Her mother dressed Lisa May in girl’s clothes and 
talked with her about the ways of women – how much makeup to wear, how to tease, 
how to stop, and how to please her mother. Lisa May soon figured out the rules and 
how to be her mother’s daughter and her father’s son. Reality had little to do with it. 
Practicality ruled Lisa May’s childhood. Her father hated Lisa; her mother could do 
without Steven. Lisa May did what needed doing.
But once Lisa May left home, reality reared its cyclopic head. The easy move 
between sexes just didn’t work so well anymore. Lisa May needed one sex, a fixed, 
hard­and­fast sex. She settled as Lisa May for a while. But after a traumatic rape, she 

reached out to Steven. She took hormones – major doses of testosterone – she bound 
her breasts as tightly as she could, and took a job as an ironworker. Steven worked 
hard and made his way in the world. He met people and made friends. Later, he married
twice – both times to women with bisexual tastes. He divorced, he struggled, he tried 
suicide and failed.     

It's not an easy thing to do, move between sexes. I find I did some of this (opt for Steven
or Lisa) as a habit rather than thinking about it. In the end though (if this really is the 
end) I remembered how I was taught at a very young age and how Lisa is second 
nature for me. I just had to let go of Steve. But to let go of something, even when it 
seems like a ball and chain, is not as easy as one might think. At times, I have fond 
memories of life as Steve, but as Steve my objectives in life were less clear. With Lisa, I
am more focused on things that matter to me, gentler, more accepting of life’s ways. 
But I do have one clear fault as Lisa – I trust people way too much. I will be working on 
this a lot in the near future, a whole lot.

‘Gator Sex
 Between 1948 and 2006, the state of Florida lost nineteen people to alligators. 
That’s nineteen for certain. It seems likely that a few others who stopped showing up for
roasted crawdads and banana fritters at the Lost Hope Crab Shack also ended their 
lives in the arms (and jaws) of a ‘gator. ‘Gators are of mean temperament and 
gluttonous appetite. And they are noisy.

A snout, long and big as a suitcase, filled with saw­blade teeth, those vertical slits
in the center of eyes that pop out of their heads like the headlights on old sports cars. 
And then there is that tail, armored and as full of fight as a python. Alligators do evoke 
something reptilian, something buried inside of humans a long, long time ago. 
Alligators hibernate in the winter, stop eating when the temperature drops below 
73 degrees Fahrenheit, and make sex while the sun shines. Like turtles, alligator sex 
has nothing to do with chromosomes. Sex comes to alligators from their surroundings.
Alligators, crocodiles, and caimans don’t have sex chromosomes, and inside 
these creatures, there is no consistent genetic difference between males and females. 
Instead, the he/she bifurcation fork splits its tines after fertilization. And the road most 
traveled by the zygotes depends mainly on the weather. Male or female is left to the 
vagaries of sunlight, water, and wind.

When the mean ambient temperature is between about 88 and 90 degrees 

Fahrenheit, nearly equal numbers of males and females hatch from American alligator 
clutches. But when the mean temperature falls by as little 2 degrees, American 
alligators stop producing any males. The same thing happens when the mean 
temperature rises about 3 degrees above 90. Crocodiles and caimans appear to have 
similar pacts with the weather.  
In the end, just what makes an alligator or a crocodile or a caiman a he or a she 
isn’t clear. It might be hormones produced by the hypothalamus, it might be something 
else. Whatever it is, it watches the skies and the sands with the eyes of a prophet, 
waiting for just the right push from a star’s light.

Lizard Sex
Lastly, there are lizards – another scale­plated, prehistoric­looking, bug­eyed link 
to our past. Lizard sex is a little easier, and safer, to study than that of alligators and 
crocodiles. So, in studies of temperature­dependent sex determination, lizards have 
been slightly more popular as research subjects.  All three families of geckoes do it. 
Some iguanas do it. So do a lot of other lizards, but not all. Sex as a warm hand on a 
cold body.

Sex in the Sun
For a raft of animals, sunlight and sex are inseparable. Whether many creatures 
on this Earth become males or females is purely a matter of where the mercury falls 
along the length of its glass tube. In the laboratory, the sexes of some frogs will even 
reverse when the temperature is raised or lowered. Whether that happens in the wild 
isn’t clear, but it seems likely. Soil temperature, pond and ocean and river and rock and 
swamp temperatures – driven by the light of a star almost 100 million miles away – 
make turtle and crocodile sex, push lizards onto lifelong paths, flip fish from male to 
female, and make alligators fat with hormones.
Some argue, that ‘gator sex is a prehistoric idea since gone south. But lizards 
evolved much more recently than alligators, and lizards far outnumber big amphibians 

likes ‘gators and crocs. So, the sexual ambiguity of lizards can’t be so easily tossed off 
as some ancient aberration. 

Are we really who we seem to be, or have we been misled by millennia of the 
A turtle’s sex defines nothing. Turtles, all turtles, are just turtles. Sex is a costume
worn to deceive the bloodied eye of time. A sham to make more turtles. 
Fish fake sex simply to entice a lover and ‘gators have no opposing sexes, just 
sex. Lizards wait for a fickle photon to plant their seed; and frogs, regardless of their 
initial bent, find what’s necessary to further frogdom. 
No one of these creatures is first of all a boy or girl, a bull or a cow, Mars or 
Venus, or even last of all. And no one of these creatures would ever imagine 
themselves opposite of or at war with the other sex. Because, half the time they are the 
other sex, or something in between, or might have been if the Sun had simply shown for
another hour or two on the day he or she was born. 
For me, at the gnarled root of that tree lies one tough acorn.   
Teachers and textbooks, clergy and color TV all remind us that sex is as fixed 
and firm as the iron hoop of a human chromosome. Only two possibilities exist, and 
those two are as different from one another as night is from day. But try telling that to a 
turtle or skunked­eyed ‘gator who has seen starlight turn an amorphous chunk of 
protoplasm into a boy or a girl or something else. Try telling that to a sea bass about to 

fertilize her own eggs or a saddle­backed wrasse at that slippery point between egg­
layer and sperm sprayer.
Lisa May

In 2006, Steven and Lisa May parted company once again. Nothing about Steve felt 
right to Lisa anymore. She quit the testosterone and began a well­designed and 
supervised regimen of estrogen. Her breasts swelled, her voiced crept up the scale, her 
mind quieted. Then Lisa May fell in with a group of people whose lives were more like 
hers. None of them, of course, had a past or set of chromosomes that could match Lisa 
May’s, but they thought differently about sex – how you got one and what you might do 
with it – differently from most of the rest of us. And that appealed to Lisa May. One of 
Lisa’s new family had her breasts removed as the first stop on her road to manhood. 
Lisa may admired that too.
Sex change makes some people in this world edgy, others angry – it puts a crack
in the whole sex­as­concrete thing. But it doesn’t bother Lisa. In fact she encouraged 
her friend to treat his sex like he might his mind. If after all these years your thoughts or 
your sex just don’t make any sense any longer, perhaps it’s time to change them.    

I have learned to walk though deep water without losing a step, to flick my hair to one 
side or the other, and of course how to smile the smile that stops traffic. When others 
stare at me, I just look past that and smile at each one. That breaks the ice. I often 
spend way too much time even food shopping. But who cares?

Additional Requirements 

Min Pages: 7 
Max Pages: 10 
Level of Detail: Only answer needed 
Other Requirements: double spaced
an intermediate college level essay
7-10 pages summarizing the article and an opinion as well as answering the question stated