Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Functional MagnetoResonanceTomography... and Transsexuality

In German, yet, from ArzteZeitung (Doctor's Journal)

Ok, here's a partial free translation:
An Examination of the use of fMRT for diagnosing Transsexuality

The brains of anatomically male transsexuals, who identify as female, did not react as typical males do to visual erotic stimuli. In a study using functional MagnetoResonanceTomography(MRT) the reaction was instead typically female.

This work was performed by the University of Essen. 36 subjects were shown visually erotic films, while fMRT was used to study the reactions inside the brain. The study was performed co-operatively with the Klinik für Psychosomatik, and attempted to answer the question of whether fMRT could be used to diagnose Transsexuality, and especially to help in the decision to permit Sex Reassignment Surgery.

Twelve heterosexual men and twelve heterosexual women were examined, along with twelve anatomical males who identify as women. As Dr. Elke Gizewski stressed at the Röntgenkongreß in Berlin, it was already well-known from preliminary investigations of other groups that differences between men and women appear in fMRT when they are presented with erotic stimuli.

In men, the limbic system and upper regions of the hypothalamus, the amygdalae and the insular cortex were activated substantially more strongly. “We confirmed this finding in the comparison between the heterosexual men and women of our Cohort”, said Gizewski.

This specifically male activation of the limbic system was not found in the transsexual sample. Under fMRT, the pictures corresponded rather accurately to those of the female sample.

Radiologists can now confirm what transsexuals report - that they feel “trapped in the wrong body” - on the basis of the activation of the brain when presented with erotic stimuli. There is obviously a biological correlation with the subjective feelings.

I'm not sure that's wholly proven. I'd need comparison tests between Gay men, Lesbian women, and Gay, Straight and Lesbian Transsexuals (both FtoM and MtoF) too. It may be that the sample of transsexual women were all Hetero, none Lesbian. If so, it may only prove a biological basis for sexual preference, rather than gender as such.

But that in itself would be even more unacceptable to those who persecute us, and call us "mentally ill".


Anonymous said...

I read a study where the brains of male to female transsexual cadavers were compared to those of genetic men and genetic women and certain areas of the transsexual brain was much more similar to that of the genetic female than male. I think these studies are worthwhile as they do give us transwomen something to point to when being drilled by our friends and relatives who think we are just perverts and freaks. Although I gave up worrying about why I am the way I am and I gave up the shame and self loathing I lived with for so many years it would be nice to know why I'm different than my four brothers. Why was I the one who although genetically male I so much wanted to be female and I felt I was cheated. At the young age of 50 I began transition. I've been living as a woman since May and I'm so much happier about who I am now.

Zoe Brain said...

Congrats on finally doing something about your terrible situation.

Yes, the papers
Zhou J.-N, Hofman M.A, Gooren L.J, Swaab D.F (1997)
A Sex Difference in the Human Brain and its Relation to Transsexuality. PDF
Kruijver F.P.M, Zhou J.-N, Pool C.W., Swaab D.F. (2000)
Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus PDF

should be better known than they are.

Like you, I'm interested - not quite obsessed in my case, but it comes close - with finding out just What The HECK is going on here.

But I'm also interested in helping others. Anything I can do for you, just e-mail me. Even if it's only when you need a chance to vent, and there's no-one else to vent to.

Anonymous said...

This German study is all very well but did these scientists even know that a considerable percentage of women born with transsexualism and other intersex conditions are attracted to the same sex, in other words are lesbians, or are bisexual?

Did they know about women like me and my beloved and filter us out altogether? Are we considered an inconvenience?

I agree, Zoe, that this study has far more to do with sexual attraction than the sex of one's brain. But I would love it if people like us were studied further in other ways.

I too want to know why I was born with all this... crap.