Brains of Trans People are Different

Brain scans showed differences in transgender people’s brains

Scientists have found differences between the brains of some  TG/TS people and those of cisgender people.  Like  intersex conditions, I suspect—I predict—that eventually we will learn that virtually all transsexualism has a physical, biological basis; I am already convinced that there is absolutely no psychopathology involved in being trans.  These opinions are not based on any particular scientific studies, just experience, a bit of research, clinical intuition and history.  I believe that “Gender Identity Disorder” and “gender dysphoria” are social/psychological constructs that were created by doctors for the sole purpose of  “explaining away” something they didn’t understand (with the secondary benefit of creating a diagnostic code under which to bill insurance companies for psychotherapy and other medical services), much as homosexuality was historically labeled a “mental disorder” until scientists realized that sexual orientation appears inborn and immutable in most cases  and although not the norm, sexual orientations that are not strictly heterosexual are perfectly normal. 

What causes someone to be TG/TS?  (I intentionally did not use the word “born,” as there is a segment of the TG/TS who report that their awareness of their transsexuality happened later in life; nor did I use the word “become…”)   There could be a myriad of  causes, from all of the causes already currently known for intersex conditions to anomalies in brain structure, differential exposure to hormones, anomalies in brain development either pre- or post-natal…  maybe exposure to some type of toxin or pathogen, genetic mutation, one or more of these things in conjunction with a genetic predisposition or some combination of any of the above.  Perhaps non-intersex transsexuality does not represent a single phenomenon (like intersex conditions, for which specific physical etiologies have been identified), but several medical “disorders” that happen to present in the same or similar way; that would explain the difficulty in arriving at a single cause.

The following article about brain structure was published a year and a half ago, but I thought it was quite interesting and certainly germane to a discussion about the concept of all transsexuality being purely physiological in origin and attributable to a specific anomaly or anomalies in the person’s brain (since that is where  gender identity “lives.”)

Scans show difference in transgender brains

26 January 2011, 1:52pm

A team of scientists has discovered differences in the brains of transgender people.

The researchers, at the National University of Distance Education in Madrid, Spain, believe their technique could help doctors identify transgender people at an early age, giving them more options for treatment, such as delaying the onset of puberty.

According to New Scientist, the study looked at the white matter of the brain and its structural differences in men, women and female-to-male transgender people.

They used MRI scans on the brains of 18 trans men who had not started hormone treatment with 24 men and 19 women.

The results showed that trans men – those born biologically female but living as male – had white matter where it is usually found in male brains.

This is thought to be the first time that scientists have been able to show that trans men’s brains are masculinised.

In another study, they compared the brains of 18 trans women – born male but living as female – with 19 men and 19 women.

The trans women’s brains showed that the structure of the white matter was halfway between a typical male and a typical female brain.

Antonio Guillamon, who led the research, said: “Their brains are not completely masculinised and not completely feminised, but they still feel female.”

The study will be published in Volume 45, Issue 2 of the Journal of Psychiatric Research next month.

The original study Transsexual Differences Caught on Brain Scan was published  in New Scientist on 1-26-2011 by Jessica Hamzelou


Posted on July 19, 2012, in transgender and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’ve always suspected there is a difference somewhere in the brain . . . one tends to see a lot of similarities with trans people, a lot of the same feelings and issues. It’s sort of frightening at times.


  1. Pingback: Yes, I Am a Transsexual Lesbian - Jessica

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