Gender Bending Chemicals And The Long Term Effects

Are there chemicals out there that confuse our sexual orientations?

Going down the rabbit hole.

When you think of the term gender bender, what comes to mind? Our natural first thoughts would be a person who dabbles in the styles or mannerisms of the opposite sex, or does not truly identify or subscribe to labels. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of a Gender Bender is "a person who dresses and behaves like a member of the opposite sex".  As I pondered this definition, I wondered how this had any correlation with chemicals. I allowed my curiosity to take me down a rabbit hole. With so much information to be digested, the one thing that stood out to me was another word, phthalates. 

What is a Phthalate?

Do not let the "PH" fool you, it is pronounced \'tha-lat'\. In it's truest definition, phthalate is: any of various salts or esters of phthalic acid used especially as plasticizers and in solvents." If I can be honest, after that definition, I was still not satisfied. I think more than anything, I was confused. Dictionary definition's although thorough, often times leave us scratching our heads. So, I searched for a definition I could not only wrap my head around, but understand. In simpler terms, these are the chemicals found in our everyday plastic products which make them more pliable in many of our cosmetics, toys, paints, and baby-feeding bottles. These chemicals are harmful because they can leak both into our food and our water supply. 

We have often times heard of our water supply being tainted and the ramifications that can cause our society, but what are the long term effects of the gender bending chemicals phthalate and why have they been flying under the radar for so long? The reason it is called "gender bending chemicals" is because research shows they are mimicking the female hormone estrogen. This can disrupt the development of baby boys. Previous studies suggest these chemicals harshly reduce the influence of the male hormone testosterone in developing male children.

The study continues.

This first became an issue that was vocalized after a study done where 85 baby boys born to women were exposed everyday to different levels of phthalates during the duration of their pregnancies. This study was carried out by Shanna Swan from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, New York, and her colleagues. She started this case study in the hopes of taking a deeper look in to the impact of the environmental chemicals and their effect on human sexuality and the reproductive systems. In this study, Shanna measured the "anogenital distance" or AGD between the anus and to the base of the penis. In earlier studies, it is shown that the AGD is twice as spaced out in boys than it is in a female child.

This is because the hormone testosterone extends the length of the perineum separating the anus from the testicles. Swan believes that the higher the exposure to these chemicals the less likely the boys within the experiment will experience trouble later down the line. In her book, "Count Down" it explores how industrial chemicals in everyday products can cause birth defects. One of these includes an alarming and increasing number of babies born with smaller penises; higher rates of erectile dysfunction, and declining fertility just to name a few.

We need a resolutions FAST!

After going down the rabbit hole even further, I became filled with not only information regarding these harmful chemicals, but so many questions I asked myself as well. We hear on a daily basis that we should think about what we are putting in our bodies and the implications that can have on us in the long run, but I never thought about the effects it can have on our children. The undeniably radical facts, plastic is everywhere. Between the utensils, packaging, and everyday products in our house, it seems as if plastic products are taking over the world. Instead of harping on this I decided to seek out solutions. I became more introspective and asks myself how I have contributed to the influx of plastic in our world. As I looked for resolutions, I wanted to find practical ways every day I could reduce the amount of plastic not only in my life, but the lives of the people around me. According to, these are the 10 ways you can reduce your use of plastic waste and cut back on the harmful chemicals disrupting the natural progression of infant hormones. Please visit the following website to find practical ways you yourself can help to reduce your own plastic use:  

Practical steps start daily habits.

Some ways I have started to lessen my use has been switching out plastic straws for reusable and biodegradable options like bamboo or metal straws. I have also started using glass food storage container and the STASHER silicone sandwich and snack bags instead of the plastic ones I would usually buy. When it comes to making healthier changes for the environment, it is important to remember that we can not change the world overnight. What we can change and control is ourselves and our actions. As long as we are taking steps in the right direction to reduce these harmful chemicals, we will start to make a dent in the overall problem. Here are some resources to parents regarding ways they can also reduce their use of products that have these harmful phthalates so that you can continue to keep your children healthy and safe. 

The amazing thing about social media is we have every resource imaginable at the touch of our fingertips. Let us all continue to do our part in making sure we continue to keep ourselves safe, our children loved, and our world a better place for the next generations to come. Continue to educate yourself and others so that we do not have to perpetuate these horrible cycles. With knowledge comes great responsibility. Become a catalyst for change.

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