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Sex determination in living and dead

Sex: May have to be determined in the living or in the dead or only from portions of the
body. In the living it is fairly easy.
Evidence of sex is divided into
1. The most certain
2. The highly probable.
3. The presumptive.

Most certain:
Female- ovaries(menstruation after puberty)
Male - testes(seminal emission after puberty)
Before this period in doubtful cases nuclear sexing and study of sex chromosomes will
Highly probable: External sexual structures like developed breasts, female distribution
of hair, appropriate muscular development, distribution of subcutaneous fat and the
vagina in the female.

Absence of breast tissue, male distribution of hair, appropriate physical development and
penis in the male.

Presumptive evidence: Outward appearance of the person, the features, general contours
of the face, moustache and beard, evidence of shaving, length of head hair, clothes,
figure, habits and voice etc.
In doubtful cases, true sex can be determined from
1. External examination
2. Internal examination
3. Gonadal biopsy
4. Nuclear sexing(Presence of sex chromatin)
5. Study of sex chromosomes

In the dead, determination of sex is by demonstration of the specific sex organs. Highly
probable and presumptive evidence is useful in
1. Highly decomposed bodies where the sex organs
have disappeared
2. Grossly mutilated bodies
3. Portions of the body
4. Deliberate destruction of the sex organs.

Nuclear sexing: Useful in doubtful cases, mutilated bodies and fragmentary remains.
Based on the nuclear chromatin pattern in the two sexes.
In the females, in the non-dividing cells, a minute condensation of the nuclear membrane
known as Barr body is present and these cells are called chromatin positive. In the
female Barr bodies will be present in 40% or more of her cells (chromatin positive) while
in the male in 10% or less only (chromatin negative).
Skin, buccal scrapings, smooth muscle and cartilage are useful.
WBCs show as their feminine trait a thin stalked drumstick like projection of the
polymorph nucleus-Davidson Body.
In the dividing cells, a chromosome count is needed to identify the sex chromosomes(XX
or XY). The Y-chromosome is fluorescent to quinacrine. Hair root cells can be sexed.
1. They resist autolysis, so even in unfixed human
remains sex can be determined
2. Hair is sectioned & stained without fixation,
processing or paraffin embedding. So, less lab
3. Scalpel sectioning can be made. So, no microtome
4. Both Barr body and Y-chromosome can be
demonstrated in hair cells.
ML aspects: Inheritance, marriage, divorce, liability for military service, sexual offences
& identification.
Variations from normal sex: Caused in early foetal life by defective development
resulting in the presence of both male and female characteristics in the same individual or
imperfect differentiation of external genitals. These are called intersex states resulting in
wrong diagnosis from external examination.

Intersex: Both male and female characteristics coexist. E.g.: Gonads, physical form and
sexual behavior. They are divided into four groups:
1. Gonadal agenesis 2. Gonadal dysgenesis
3. True hermaphrodite 4. Pseudo-hermaphrodite
Gonadal agenesis: Testes or ovaries have never developed. Nuclear sexing is negative.

Gonadal dysgenesis: External sexual characters are present but testes or ovaries fail to
develop at puberty. E.g.: Kline Felter syndrome and Turner’s syndrome

Kline Felter syndrome: Boy’s growth is normal upto puberty. Then one or more of the 3
classical features become prominent.
1. Testicles remain small and firm
2. Gynaecomastia
3. Signs of eunuchoidism like long arms and legs,
scanty pubic hair, poor or no beard growth
Examination shows aspermia and small or hyalinised testes. Buccal smear shows
chromatin positivity(female). Sex chromosome pattern is XXY. Synthetic male. Sterile
and cannot procreate.

Turner’s Syndrome: Features-1. Sexual infantilism

2. Short stature 3.Congenital anomalies

Sexual infantilism: Features- Primary amenorrhoea, sterility, lack of breast development

with widely spaced nipples and grossly hypoplastic areola; scanty pubic hair, infantile
external genitalia, uterus and tubes; streak ovaries containing no ovarian follicles, urinary
gonadotrophin levels are raised. Chromatin negative (male). Sex chromosome XO.
Synthetic female.
True hermaphroditism: External genitalia may be of both sexes and the internal
genitalia may consist of both ovaries and testes or ovotestes. Known as double sex.
Nuclear sex usually female, may be male.
Pseudo hermaphroditism: Here no clear cut differentiation of the external genitalia
while the internal genitalia are isosexual. They are called male or female according to
presence of testes or ovaries independent of the external genitalia.
ML aspects of hermaphroditism: Marriage, inheritance and civil rights.
Concealed sex: Criminals conceal their sex by change of dress or other methods to
escape detection. Eunuchs do so for social reasons.