Thursday, 28 January 2016

Theory Predicts....

Something that I think will stretch everyone's boundaries.

"Brain Sex" theory says the following -
1. The human brain is not homogenous
2. Some bits are sexually dimorphic - though they may also conform to neither stereotype
3. Some of the sexual dimorphism is due to current hormone levels
4. Some of the sexual dimorphism is set before birth, and will develop within narrow bounds later
5. Sexual dimorphism is anything but binary
6. Certain parts of the brain determine gender identity (by organisation-activation)
7. Certain parts of the brain determine body map, in particular, appropriate genitalia
8. Certain parts of the brain determine sexual orientation - gynephillic, androphillic, both, neither.
9. Certain parts of the brain determine sense of smell,  dichotic hearing etc
10. Certain parts of the brain determine play patterns as children
11. Certain parts of the brain determine interests and talents as adults

Now for some crucial bits

13. If some sexually dimorphic parts of the body are masculinised, usually most other bits are too to some degree. This applies to the body as a whole, but also the different parts of the brain. But, and this cannot be emphasised too highly, there are degrees, correlation is statistical not absolute, it's usual for some parts to be closer to a male rather than female stereotype, and other parts the reverse. There's no such thing as a "male brain" or "female brain". "Male" and "Female" don't refer to Platonic Ideals, just patterns found more commonly in one sex or the other.

What this means - some predictions.

Lots of men where everything lines up - male gender identity, male genitalia, gynephilia, male play patterns when young, "typically masculine interests" as adults, typically male senses of smell and hearing, and so on, with female equivalents.

Non-op trans women.

Girls with CAH who show male-typical play patterns and later often gynephillia (but female gender identity)

Boys who show female-typical play patterns and later often androphilia (but male gender identity)

And men like this. Male gender identity, usually androphilia, and non-masculine genital body map. "Nullos".


Anonymous said...

I wonder if you're familiar with Sex beyond the genitalia: The human brain mosaic.

"...we should shift from thinking of brains as falling into two classes, one typical of males and the other typical of females, to appreciating the variability of the human brain mosaic. Scientifically, this paradigm shift entails replacing the currently dominant practice of looking for and listing sex/gender differences with analysis methods that take into account the huge variability in the human brain (rather than treat it as noise), as well as individual differences in the specific composition of the brain mosaic."

- Zimbel

Sophie said...

Personally disagree with 5 and violently so with 6. The political compromise notion of gender identity as a reified thing rather than the end of a process of identification of self within a gendered taxonomy really shouldn't be a part of any respectable brain sex theory.If 7 is a nod to Ramachandran then it sucks.11 seems weirdly worded. 6,8,9,and 10 believe inaccurate in that would see an underlying process for all of them as a clearer model.Also 9 is far too limited - surely there's enough evidence to include sight as well as other sense/perceptual interfaces.
13 makes sense if you're looking at some neural structures rather than processes. Otherwise not. My experience is of going from a primarily male pattern brain to a female one. I wouldn't necessarily talk about male and female brains but would view certain neuro-hormonal architectures as profoundly dimorphic.

Zoe Brain said...

Sophie - care to elaborate? I feel that the non-binary view of sex and gender is unimpeachable, so would be intensely interested in your contrary view.

For the reasonaing behind 6), I refer you to:

Biased-Interaction Theory of Psychosexual Development: “How Does One Know if One is Male or Female?” M.Diamond Sex Roles (2006) 55:589–600

Which you'll find via the "Transsexual and Intersex Gender Identity"" link.

Hoping to hear from you again on this. It's only by examining views I disagree with that I learn something.

Sophie said...

It seems to me that Diamond is looking at gender as a whole rather than from a 'brain sex' point of view.
For me gender identity, in the innate brain sex way of thinking, is firmly based on neuro-hormonal dimorphism. Add in narratives of masculinity and femininity and social expression in general and I'd agree that gender is a wide spectrum, though I'd postulate that trans , rather than queer, identities normally start from that base of neural dimorphism. Also I get a bit tired of gender identity viewed in terms relating only to individual iteration. At it's early base such an identity surely rests on a perception of commonality, of membership in a group with social rules, be they ever so limited as in play patterns.
Does that make more sense ?