Term for a hypothetic opposite-gendered self?
February 4, 2007 9:58 PM   Subscribe

Is there a term for a male's relationship to the baby that would've been born had he been endowed with two X chromosomes, or vice versa?
posted by greatgefilte to Grab Bag (35 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
*confused* You're asking for the term for a male's relationship with his potential offspring (birthed by him/her), were the male a female?
posted by Phire at 10:04 PM on February 4, 2007


Imaginary uncle?
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:06 PM on February 4, 2007


Monozygotic twin?

On extremely rare occasions, an original XXY zygote may form monozygotic boy/girl twins by dropping the Y chromosome for one twin and the extra X chromosome for the other.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:07 PM on February 4, 2007


Not his potential offspring, but his parents' potential offspring. That is, if his parents had had a girl instead of a boy, what would the actual boy's relationship be to the hypothetical girl?

Though now that you mention it, is there a term for what you're describing?
posted by greatgefilte at 10:08 PM on February 4, 2007


You're talking about two possible worlds?

1. (the real world) Aaron is born.
2. Betsy is born.

Aaron and Betsy have the same parents, were conceived on the same day, developed in the same way and have the same genetic material except for the switching of the X and Y chromosome?

I haven't heard of discussion of this sort of thing at all, but I thought I might help clarify things.
posted by demiurge at 10:09 PM on February 4, 2007


If they are genetically identical, then a hypothetical identical twin. If not genetically identically, then a hypothetical fraternal twin. Or am I misunderstanding your question?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:10 PM on February 4, 2007


demiurge, that's exactly it, thanks for clarifying!
posted by greatgefilte at 10:10 PM on February 4, 2007


I guess I'm not misunderstanding the question.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:13 PM on February 4, 2007


there is an expression isn't there? something to do with potential progeny, perhaps?
posted by de at 10:23 PM on February 4, 2007


His "feminine side?"

(Ok, I have to ask why. Just because you used the "dontaskwhy" tag. It's just... well... ASKING for it.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:26 PM on February 4, 2007


"Hypothetical female counterpart" might work, but I just made it up.
posted by demiurge at 10:41 PM on February 4, 2007


I can't imagine any term existing for this situation, because it's not special enough to warrant a term. Here's why:

Thanks to crossing over and such, the odds of any other sperm being produced with the exact same genome are almost nil. The odds of being the same, save for swapping an X for Y are also pretty much nil. So, if in an alternate universe, a different sperm had gotten to the egg first, the resulting child would not be YOU.

But for the sake of argument, lets say that it did happen. 45 exact chromosomal copies, and 1 X/Y switch. The influence of the genetic differences on that 1 X chromosome (not to mention the environmental influences of being a girl) would make that child very different indeed.

So, it's not like you would have parallel developmental paths or parallel lives. In most every respect, the other child wouldn't really be much more similar to you than any brother or sister. Thus, no term is really needed other than maybe "the girl my parents never had".
posted by chrisamiller at 10:43 PM on February 4, 2007


freemartin?
posted by bruce at 11:21 PM on February 4, 2007


I can't help but be reminded of Isaac Asimov's famous parodic song on this very subject...
posted by Asparagirl at 12:19 AM on February 5, 2007


How about "cross-sex clone"?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:34 AM on February 5, 2007


Seems this may have been answered, but attempting to come up with a solution is so much fun I can't resist. Female analog? Opposite sex avatar? Imaginary twin sister? Anima?
posted by Coaticass at 3:04 AM on February 5, 2007


Because there are genes on the Y-chromosome that are not expressed on the X-chromosome, they cannot be considered genetically identical, even when hypothetical.

In a nutshell, there's no such thing as identical twins that are of opposite sexes.

The closest equivalent to what you're asking about is what we see with inbred strains of animals (particularly mice). A female C57/BL6 mouse that has been mated to a male C57/BL6 mouse will give birth to boys that are identical to the father, and girls that are identical to the mother. But the boys are still a bit different to the girls, because they express some genes that the girls don't.

We call these siblings inbred littermates, so I guess that's the closest term that you will get - although the answer, simply, is no, there is no such term.
posted by kisch mokusch at 4:38 AM on February 5, 2007


Coaticass is speeder than I am, so I second 'anima'.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 5:17 AM on February 5, 2007


Herself.
posted by flabdablet at 5:48 AM on February 5, 2007


Schroedinger's sister?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:39 AM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


grapefruitmoon, it's not all that interesting. I was on the phone with a friend last night, and she wished me a happy birthday, and mentioned that she was grateful that on that particular day and time, a little boy was born. Being the great humourist that I am, I replied, "Indeed, otherwise you'd be talking to my sister right now." And I realized that 'sister' didn't really capture the notion of "had I been born a girl." Call it sheer curiousity.
posted by greatgefilte at 7:03 AM on February 5, 2007


And thanks for all the responses so far, folks! To my fellow biologists: I realize that it's virtually impossible to be genetically identical and of the opposite sex; this is a mere gedanken. :)
posted by greatgefilte at 7:05 AM on February 5, 2007


See also Weird Al Yankovic, "I Think I'm a Clone Now."
posted by Saucy Intruder at 7:12 AM on February 5, 2007


Wouldn't it be possible to clone a male, but delete the Y and add another X chromosome? (thus creating a female version of a male)
posted by dcjd at 7:13 AM on February 5, 2007


For anyone who watched Sliders - it's like the relationship between Logan St. Claire and Quinn Mallory, except for the whole parallel universe thing.
posted by langeNU at 7:18 AM on February 5, 2007


On Red Dwarf, they referred to a similar concept as "sperms-in-law". In that case it was two men, but the idea was that a nearly omnipotent time-traveler goes around deciding if people are fit to have existed, and if not, erases them from history completely, leaving the egg that produced him or her to be fertilized by another sperm, resulting in a slightly different but generally quite similar person. Of course, since it's a comedy, when it happens to our protagonist, he finds a way to not get erased, meets his "sperm-in-law", and ultimately defeats the nearly omnipotent time-traveler. Natch.
posted by Shoeburyness at 8:18 AM on February 5, 2007


I think a good term should be a play on the word "doppelganger" but I can't think of any good ones.

I posting though, because some people might be interested in this entry of the SEP titled Transworld Identity which deals with some of these issues.
posted by chndrcks at 8:31 AM on February 5, 2007


As long as we're bringing up SciFi versions of this question, there's the obvious Time Enough For Love by Heinlein. The (virtually immortal) main character eventually has himself cloned, and has the clone genetically altered to be female. And that's only one of many very weird sexual themes in the book.
posted by Plutor at 9:09 AM on February 5, 2007


"And I realized that 'sister' didn't really capture the notion of 'had I been born a girl.'"

I think it does, though.

1) As mentioned above, a female born of the same sperm/egg union, which is really what we're talking about, here, would not be an identical twin, as she wouldn't have the same genes. In other words - you wouldn't have been you. i.e You couldn't have been born a girl and still defined as you, anymore than you could have been born a stoat and still defined as you. In your hypothetical, there would have been no you, only a her.
2) Given that you also have to exist in order to make the reference, even though it's a hypothetical one, to this genetic twin who isn't you, you would be related to this twin as a brother.
3) Since your twin is a female, and not you due to different genes, she is therefore your sister, even if you had never been born and she was an only child.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:23 AM on February 5, 2007


dcjd: If you deleted the Y chromosome and added a second copy of the X chromosome you get problems with imprinting, where the maternal and paternal copies of a gene are expressed at different levels. If you have two X chromosomes from the same parent, I don't think you get a viable embryo.
posted by penguinliz at 4:31 PM on February 5, 2007


In your hypothetical, there would have been no you, only a her.

Precisely. Hence, "herself".

I can't see how you justify your second premise, IRFH. Either the guy exists, in which case the girl doesn't, in which case he is simply "himself"; or he doesn't exist because the girl does instead, in which case she is simply "herself".

Her hypothetical status is quite perplexing enough on its own, without us multiplying the needless entities by postulating a ghostly hypothetical brother who wants to know how to refer to her :-)
posted by flabdablet at 4:34 PM on February 5, 2007


"Either the guy exists, in which case the girl doesn't, in which case he is simply "himself"; or he doesn't exist because the girl does instead, in which case she is simply "herself"."

True enough in the absence of this AskMe, but... The existence of this AskMe question justifies premise 2. The question was what's the relationship between the two. A relationship requires considering both parties simultaneously. If both parties are different versions of the same individual, then at any given time (in the absence of a postulated multiverse) exactly one of them has to be real and one of them has to be hypothetical. Hence, for greatgefilte, the sister is hypothetical. But for notgreatgefilte, greatgefilte is hypothetical. Point being that a female born of the same sperm/egg combination as greatgefilte would be his (twin) sister if he were also born, and the sister of hypothetical greatgefilte, if he were not. But the genetic relationship wouldn't be substantively different in the theoretical case.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:53 PM on February 5, 2007


Meant to say, "would be his (hypothetical twin) sister if he were also born, and the sister of hypothetical greatgefilte, if he were not."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:03 PM on February 5, 2007


Doppelgender springs to mind.

(And, oh, man, those lyrics by Asimov linked to by Asparagirl are so creepy)
posted by Kattullus at 7:43 PM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Hittable".
posted by meehawl at 10:25 AM on September 23, 2007


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