Sunday 29 March 2015

New evidence for a biological basis of innate gender identity and more

Heya everybody,

I finally managed to go through all the studies I have collected over the past few weeks. I added 21 studies in total, the summaries of the most relevant ones ares below. They include more evidence for a biological basis of transsexualism, support the belief by transsexuals that they have a different gender identity and give more facts about discrimination and abuse. Have a read!

  • A new study by Staphorsius, Kreukels, et al. (Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2015) provides additional evidence that brains of gender-dysphoric children function differently. In excecutive functioning tasks, gender-dysphoric children showed intermediate brain activation compared to two control groups. One of the conclusions is that pubertal hormones may induce sex-atypical brain activations in gender-dysphoric adolescents. In addition, the study found that hormone blockers (to stop puberty in transsexual youth) do not affect executive functioning.
  • Munson, Crocker et al. reviewed the speech of transsexual boys (5 to 13 years) in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 2015. Their result was that gender-dysphoric boys were rated as less boy-like than the cisgender boys in the control group. This provides further evidence that gender-dysphoric people are psychologically different from their natal sex, even though it’s not clear yet how the variant speech is acquired.
  • In Endocrine Practice, 2015, Saraswat, Weinand and Safer review the literature for evidence supporting the biologic nature of gender identity and come to the conclusion that there is strong support […] for a biologic basis of gender identity. The conclusion is reached on the neuroanatomical differences associated with gender identity and the connection with disorders of sex development.
  • In a study (Psychological Science, 2015) that found some media attention, Olson, Key and Eaton discovered in a small group of transgender children (ages 5 to 12) that they are statistically indistinguishable from cisgender children of the same gender identity. In other words, gender-dysphoric children are not confused about their gender identity, they express and view themselves just like cisgender children of the same gender identity – transsexual children seem to know who they are, and their behaviour provides independent evidence for their self-chosen gender identity (unless you are willing to believe that they intentionally fake their response patterns to mislead adults). I will write a little more about this study when I find time.
  • Prolific researcher Melissa Hines (along with Constantinescu and Spencer in Biology of Sex Differences, 2015) discusses the distinction between the pre-natal and post-natal surge of testoersterone in male infants. Individuals exposed to atypical concentrations of testosterone or other androgenic hormones prenatally […] have been consistently found to show increased male-typical juvenile play behavior, alterations in sexual orientation and gender identity (the sense of self as male or female), and increased tendencies to engage in physically aggressive behavior.
  • A study by Gibbs and Goldbach (Archives of Suicide Research, 2015) finds that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth growing up in religious households are at higher risks for suicidial thoughts and suicide attempts, thus further underlining the detrimental effects of religious upbringing.
  • Tate, Bettergarcia and Brent find (in Sex roles, 2015) that gender typicality increases self esteem and well-being. They tested homosexual versus heterosexual control groups, however it’s very plausible that the same effect holds true for gender-variant versus gender-conforming people.
  • Along the same lines, Titia Beek finds in her master thesis from the Netherlands that gender-queer people report lower levels of well-being. In addition, she points out that some people do not fit within the dual male/female categories of traditional transsexualism.
  • Shires and Jaffee publish their findings in Health & Social Work, 2015, about how 41.8 % of transsexual men have experienced verbal harassment, physical assault, or denial of equal treatment in a doctor's office or hospital. Among other factors, living full-time as non-birth gender, using hormones or surgery for medical transition, and having identification documents that list one's preferred gender were associated with increased reporting of health care discrimination experiences. In other words, the more you do to try to resolve your gender dysphoria, the more you are discriminated against.
  • In Pediatrics (2012), Roberts, Rosario, et al. find that gender non-conformity increases the risk of abuse (physical, psychological and sexual!) and post-traumatic stress disorder in children.
  • The International Journal of Endocrinology, 2015, publishes a study by Rolston, Gardner, et al. finding that disorders of sex development cause stigmatisation.
  • Another study finds that hormone treatment has little or no negative effects on health. In Endocrinología y Nutrición (2015), Quirós, Patrascioiu, et al find that there is no detectable increase of cardivascular risk factors for female transsexuals. In male transsexuals, they find a a slight worsening in lipid profile […], though within normal limits.
  • In a literature review by Weinand and Safer (Journal of Clinical and Translational Endocrinology, 2015) an increased risk of hormone treatment for thrombosis (transsexual women) and polycythemia (transsexual men) is found. However, cancer and overall mortality does not increase.
  • In a study published by Fertility and Sterility in 2015, Caanen, Soleman, et al. find that levels of antimüllerian hormone are being decreased by hormone treatment for transsexual men. That’s probably a good thing, since high antimüllerian hormone levels are a risk factor for polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Marchand, Pelladeau and Pommier discuss in L’évolution psychiatrique, 2015, the medical categorisation of transsexualism in catalogues such as the ICD or the DSM. They argue for a distinction between transgenderism and transsexualism[1], and the inclusion of subtypes of transsexualism.
  • Schalkwyk, Klingensmith and Volkmar discuss the relationship between autism spectrum disorders and gender dysphoria (in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 2015) and argue that autistic people should enjoy equal rights with regard to treatment for gender dysphoria.
  • The journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice (2015) is publishing a long series of articles about the treatment of gender-non-conforming people by professional psychologists in its 46th volume. Included is an interesting article by Shpigel, Belsky and Diamond about how to work with non-accepting parents of sexual minority children.

Phew, that was a lot … I’m glad I got that done! I haven’t uploaded the abstracts yet, but hope to do that shortly.

Have a good Sunday! Peace and light ✨

[1] Well, duh! In a way, it’s scary to me that this needs discussing at all. The differences betweeen a crossdresser, who is content to sometimes wear clothing of the opposite sex, an androgynous person, and a person who is so distraught by the mismatch of her gender identity, physical sex and gender role that she can’t function normally, should be self-evident.

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