Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Why Dudes Become Ladies

Deirdre McCloskey is a wonderful economist, focusing on rhetoric (something we do need work on). Most interested in economics know that much. Slightly fewer people know that Deirdre was born Donald and underwent a sex change operation in the 1990s.

I was talking about this to a friend of mine yesterday who did not know this fascinating piece of economic trivia and we stumbled upon the question of what factors (besides the obvious) determine if a person engages in this expensive and life-altering surgery.

Donald, I pointed out, used to be a burly Scotish man. The last person you would except to become a woman. (And to my surprise, the transition went very well: pictures here).

But I remember watching TLC once and they had a thing about sex changes--some turn out to be very bad (person looks like a man in a woman's body) while others were so great the girl became a stripper.

I naturally starting thinking about what physical attributes might make the man-to-woman transition easier and see if it's a predictor. Height would be a big factor. Bone structure, too (but that's harder to measure). I'm not really familar enough with the procedure to guess beyond those.

So if we assume that the deep urge/feeling to become a woman is randomly distributed among the population we could check if the average height of transformed women is lower than the average height of men (though there may be a confounding factor there). We could also see if there's a correlation between the average height of a country and the percent of the men that undergo the procedure (though again there are confounding factors).

Hmmmm. Maybe I'll change my dissertation plans.

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