Tuesday 3 January 2017

Transsexualism as an Intersex Condition

Transsexualism as an Intersex Condition, M.Diamond. Transsexuality in Theology and Neuroscience: Findings, Controversies and Perspectives), ed. by Gerhard Schreiber, Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter 2016.
While more conclusive experimental data in support of the thesis presented is desirable, two recent publications have appeared that amplify and review much of the material discussed above, a paper entitled “Evidence Supporting the Biologic Nature of Gender Identity” and Bevan’s book with the title “The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism” (Bevan, 2015; Saraswat, Weinand, & Safer, 2015). To this investigator there seems evidence enough to consider trans persons as individuals intersexed in their brains and scant evidence to think their gender transition is a simple and unwarranted social choice.


Chris Phoenix said...

I'm a bit confused by this - I totally agree, from everything I've read and trans people I've known, that it's nothing to do with social choice - but it's the "intersexed in their brains" phrase that's confusing me.

A quick google says that "intersex" is about physical sexual or gender characteristics that don't fit the standard male/female definitions. It seems a strange description for e.g. a kid with a girl's body and chromosomes who says from age 4 to 24 "I'm a boy" - in kind of the same way that it would be strange to call Kinsey-6 gay people "bisexual in their brain." I'd think that kid is male in his brain, not "intersexed."

Or am I overthinking this?

Zimbel said...

I think that "intersexed in their brains" is suggesting that the neuroanatomy, organization, structure and cerebral activation patterns all point to the sexual differentiation of the brains varying from the gonads in some individuals.

Also note that the author is dealing with a broader group than your example : "A strict dichotomy between male and female may not occur; the shift between the sexes/genders may be partial and the individual left with feeling somewhat both male and female. This same individual might also feel female or male under different circumstances or at different times." (See the referenced work)

Zoe Brain said...

Chris Phoenix: See

Male–to–female transsexuals have female neuron numbers in a limbic nucleus. Kruiver et al J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2000) 85:2034–2041

The present findings of somatostatin neuronal sex differences in the BSTc and its sex reversal in the transsexual brain clearly support the paradigm that in transsexuals sexual differentiation of the brain and genitals may go into opposite directions

Chris Phoenix said...

I guess I'd have described that as "intersexed between brain and gonads" rather than "intersexed in their brains." The latter phrase sounds to me like it's saying every transsexual person is in-between (as Zoe points out some are).

I guess I didn't like the description because I worried that it might strengthen the (harmful, invalid, all-too-common) it's-a-choice argument.