You Aren’t Who they Say


DNA Analysis.


Who are you?  Who am I?  Who determines that?  Why am I asking?


The modern era is just amazing.  I remember when DNA was mapped.  I have seen Dolly, ok, not literally, but the time she was announced.  My father has had his DNA read to know his history, and thus PART of mine (we’ll return to this)and we have entered the era of Genetic programming our children, determining to a degree who they are even before they are born.


We also live in the era of and the not so modern idea of knowing where we came from.  This comes in handy when determining if we should wear a kilt or lederhosen to the next family dinner.


Ads for DNA analysis have taken broad liberty in using words and placing ideas.

Ethnicity is not genetic.  It is not DNA.  Ethnicity is about culture and socialization.  Neither exist in DNA.


Nationality and tradition also don’t exist in DNA.

Sorry about the horrible quality …

Was she planning to marry a specific DNA type or was she seeking tradition and physical traits?  Cause the physical traits she can see, and the traditions are not DNA.  This ad is miss leading and as the poster implies, racist.  But racist is in these days so maybe I am the one that’s off on that one.


Who we are has little to do with our DNA.  DNA does have to do with how we look to a degree though, so the commercial about Italians and Eastern Europeans, which BTW share many of the same genes, is more about the woman not knowing what an Italian looks like, except …. they don’t all look the same do they?


Who we are is alot to do with how we grew up and under what traditions.  If I grew up doing many German traditional things then I am ethnically more German than many Germans who emulate American tradition.  (we’ll also come back to this)

This is misleading.  Kilts and lederhosen are cultural, not genetic.  Lets take a more rational look at genes and DNA.


Testing will determine what area of the world our genetic ancestors were most focused in a looooong time ago and how they got the genetic mix we still carry with us today enough to determine were part of that DNA profile.  These genes are not specific. They are focused yes but not specific.  They are also not current.


As I mentioned, my father had his DNA run. $100 from National Geographic.  His DNA gave a certain profile, but that is not me. That is only half of me.  Ok, that’s half of the genetic pool I am dipped from.  But the point here is that our DNA is wildly varied.  If I came from four grandparents say … from Samoa, India, Central Africa and Native American, who am I?


After getting DNA done what if they determine the one from India emigrated from Scotland?  Am I now Scottish instead of Indian?  If I have a pie chart like in the ads that show I am 27% Native American, 24% Scottish (Indian), 25% Samoan and 24% Central African, does that mean I am Native American and should start living in those cultural identities?


Ok, so I have determined I am more Native American than anything else but I grew up in Japan and have lived in their culture my whole life.   I buy a new cell phone every 3 months, drive on the right side, live in a tiny cramped apartment and have learned ALL of the social protocols that come with Japanese culture.  Who am I now?  Am I still Native American or am I Japanese.


DNA is not who we are.  The best DNA can do is tell us where our very distant ancestors came from and where in the world they are still more clustered than anywhere else.  In the example above, I am culturally Japanese.  My genes have NOTHING to do with that.  In the above example my DNA is too split to determine who I am, genetically.  Does that mean I am genetically no one?


In Psychology we explore how people identify themselves.  We never label or expect someone to fall into a type based on things you can measure.  I have worked with a tall, broad shouldered, very muscular and deep voiced cross dressing genetic man who identified as a woman.  Her DNA/genes say man.  She wasn’t.  Her DNA profile would not tell her who she is, she knows who she is.


What if I had CAIS?  Who would I be?  Don’t know what that is?  It is a huge secret that would blow many people’s minds.  Sit down children, I’ll tell you a true story…


When a baby is developing in mommies tummy, there is not a sex determined until a while in.  The baby is already forming and making parts that can go either way and both share.  This is why men have nipples, cause they are formed before it is known what sex the baby will become!  So, when the baby needs to determine which sex parts to make, it sends out a chemical into the body called androgen.  Androgen reacts to testosterone.  Both boys and girls have testosterone but at different levels.  The amount of reaction the androgen has, determines if a boy or girl is made.


If there is little reaction in the androgen, then that would indicate low testosterone and a girl is made.  A big reaction from the androgen would indicate higher levels of testosterone and a boy is made.  Simple.  But what if the androgen is broken and no reaction takes place at all?  Then a girl is made.  What if that broken androgen is present in a baby with high testosterone and would have been a boy if the androgen was not broken?  Then girl sex parts, mostly, are built on a genetically male body.


She would not be transgender, not a cross dresser, not bisexual.  This is CAIS.  Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. Women like her in this example are women in almost every way.  They have breasts and vaginas and can be very feminine.  These women can also be very athletic.  They are often tall for women, broad shouldered, more muscular and have small breasts.


Depending on proportions, I just identified two types of women rather well.  Women who would be good in basketball and super models.  They are women. But they cannot become pregnant because they do not have ovaries.  In this example she has X and Y chromosomes. Genetically, she is male.  But she and others look like women and can in rare cases, be the vary definition of female beauty.


So tell me, if we cannot even be that right, know women from men, how can DNA identify our cultural identity?  It cannot.


Ethnicity is a combination of how we are raised, how we identify ourselves and some of our genes.  I can see myself as another gender but I cannot see myself as taller nearly as easily.  There are limits.


I see myself in a way that does not entirely reflect my sisters extensive work in our ancestry.  She has traced our family tree back hundreds of years.  We were present in Colorado for generations and on two of my four lines, predate presence in Colorado before Colorado was a state.


One of our lines was present in the country when the western frontier was what we call today, Tennessee.  Ohio and New York and Georgia play prominently in my ancestry as well.  My genes don’t say any of that.


My ten god children get a product of my ancestry and my culture.

Who am I?  I am a Colorado Boy who is highly educated and romantic.  I grew up in the DC area and know politics better than most until recently and spent my best years strapped into a welding mask or a five point harness.  I can sing John Denver and Guns and Roses and I am as good with a pen (metaphorically since I write with a keyboard obviously) as I am with a steering wheel.  I have a spirit animal and I don’t fear death nearly as much as I fear water.  I largely raised myself from 14 and have loved passionately.


My genes do not reflect any of that.  My genes would show England, Scotland and Germany.  I’m none of those.  My ancestors who helped shape me were American.  I have no Native American genes in me so I cannot claim Native American, but trust me, I wear my Stetson well.


Who are you is the question.  Don’t look to DNA or genes to find who you are.  You are who you were raised as combined with who you chose to be.  You reflect how you were raised and by who but mostly, you are who you chose to become, in spite of your DNA.






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