The Y Chromosome

Chromosomes carry the genetic code that determines the characteristics of a living thing. They are fascinating due to the varied factors they determine, the sometimes negative effects they can have and their complexity. Equally interesting are the stories of their discoveries. This series will explore the history of specific chromosomes and their impact on science.

Humans typically have 23 pairs of chromosomes. One of these is comprised of our sex-determining chromosomes, X and Y. Taryn Cain continues this series by looking at the Y chromosome.

The first mammals were tiny, shrew-like creatures that were still many millions of years away from being awoken by the melodic sound of an iPhone alarm or travelling to work in a huge piece of metal crammed with other mammals. While they carried on with their “simple” lives of eating and evading being eaten themselves, their DNA was also a fairly simple arrangement. All their chromosomes were autosomes and male/female differentiation was managed by genes on various autosomes rather than specific sex chromosomes.

Then a mutation occurred.

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The Transvengers webcomic

The Transvengers webcomic was created by a group of young trans people aged 13-19 from Gendered Intelligence and is featured in the Institute of Sexology exhibition. Find out more about the project on our website.

Continue to the comic

Condoms: beneath the sheath

The Institute of Sexology opens 20 November 2014. A candid exploration of the most publicly discussed of private acts, it features over 200 objects spanning art, rare archival material, erotica, film and photography. In one last attempt to whet your appetite, Taryn Cain tells us a little about the history of the condom, some examples of which will be on display.

The original condoms, which first showed up over 3,000 years ago, probably weren’t all that good for safe sex. They were more likely to protect you from the elements than from your sexual partner. The first documented use of a condom in Europe was in 1564 by the anatomist Fallopia (who also gave his name to fallopian tubes).

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Dazed sex survey results

From Natsal to the Guardian, large scale sex surveys have been carried out for decades , the results of which offer a fascinating glimpse into our sex lives. One such survey, carried out by Dazed in September 2014, targeted young people, or “generation swipe” as some refer to today’s younger generation. Dazed released the results of their sex survey this morning and we provide a teaser below (words by Charlie Robin Jones).


  • Men are twice as likely to lie about their identity online
  • Overall, 50% of us send naked selfies

Once upon a time, you would have to wait for a partner to drop a white hankie or walk over to you at the local dance hall. Or, for that matter, write you a love letter. Today, however, the phones in our hands have become essentially linked to who we hook up with, and how we express our affection. That gay men use apps to get laid will surprise no-one, but still, the numbers were striking – over 50% primarily use apps to hook up, compared with the hetrosexual 10%.

Continue reading Dazed sex survey results

The Transvengers: Origins

A group of young trans people from Gendered Intelligence worked with an artist to produce The Transvengers: a web comic that will feature in the forthcoming Institute of Sexology exhibition at Wellcome Collection. In this series, Jason Barker, the artist in question, writes about his experience of working with the group. In this post he talks about the process.

In the beginning we drew a lot. We drew self portraits, played drawing games, drew in pairs and we made collaborative drawings on long rolls of paper. We shared jokes, stories, ideas or silence while we drew. These drawings were part of the process of finding out what our comic was about, the characters that would be in it, their backstories and the locations in which events would take place.

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