Because it's Alan Turing's birthday we should all celebrate our genders. And please, nobody worry about your chromosomes. There are a finite number of the sex chromosome combinations, true, and the most common are XY and XX, widely called male and female (respectively). But androgen and estrogen are added to our mothers' fetuses continuously, and they also determine our sexual orientations (genders).
So, we're born into a world of infinitely variable gender possibilities, determined by infinitely small, not discrete, biological differences, and this despite the two choices which most human societies throughout history have seemed compelled to prefer.
But who was Alan Turing, other than a man named Alan who was born on June 23?
Turing was one of the 20th century's greatest mathematicians, a scientist recognized as his peer by Albert Einstein, a predecessor of John Von Neumann's who did seminal early work on computers.
He also headed up the Bletchley Park code-breaking group that cracked Enigma before the end of 1940. Enigma was the coding machine the Germans used to send orders to their military units in the field, and throughout the whole of World War II, they never tumbled to the fact that the Allies had broken it. Consequently, it is simply incalculable how many Allied lives Turing and his group saved during World War II.
Turing was born on June 23, 1912.
And he killed himself on June 7, 1954 because he feared being "outed" as a homosexual.
Alan Turing (Undated), by Wikipedia
See the excellent entry at Wikipedia about Turing. All three of the pictures herein are courtesy of Wikipedia, and are located in the Wiki article at "Turing."Twenty years ago, I read a couple of books about the man, and the Wiki article tells a different story from theirs about how Turing's gender orientation came to the attention of the English authorities. But the stories converge about the fact that the authorities gave Turing the choice of being "treated" with female hormones or going to jail and being publicly exposed. Turing chose the treatment, and subsequently died after ingesting cyanide, in 1954.
Forty-four long years later, in 1998 a simple plaque was put up honoring Turing in Wilmslow, Cheshire, England, Turing's birthplace:
Turing's Home Plaque in Wilmslow, Cheshire (1998), by Wikipedia
Three years later, a more pointed plaque was put up honoring Turing in Sackville Park, Manchester, England's seventh-largest city:
Turing's Sackville Park Plaque in Manchester (2001), by Wikipedia
in 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown released
a statement by the English government apologizing and describing Turing's
treatment as "appalling":
of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition
of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law
of the time and we can't put the clock back, his treatment was of course
utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I
and we all are for what happened to him ... So on behalf of the British
government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan's work I am very proud
to say: we're sorry, you deserved so much better.