Monday, June 10, 2019

The transgendered brain

I recently saw this on Facebook:

The brains of trans people more strongly resemble the brains of the opposite/desired sex than their own sex. Their gender dysphoria is grounded in biology. My own knowledge of gender psychobiology (evolutionary psychology was my interest at university) is against the recent societal shift to de-pathologise trans people (for example, removing gender dysphoria as a requirement to access treatment), although I understand the desire to push for acceptance. This article acknowledge that trans people are marginalised. They have the highest suicide rates of any subgroup and yet the Church seems so focused on justifying why we believe what we believe. I’m not sure that’s the important conversation here. Jesus has the answers for trans people. We need to show them that.

Some research regarding the brains of trans people behaving more like the brains of the desired sex:

1. How many of the children included in these studies have come from families with gender dysphoria? If enough, that could significantly skew the results to say the least. For example, if nothing else, that can be seen in the power of suggestion adults have on children.

2. The studies are based on MRIs. What can MRIs tell us about fundamental human psychology? For example, an assumption in these studies is certain brain activities could be gendered.

a. On the one hand, it's true there's sexual dimorphism in areas of the brain associated with language production and/or reception (e.g. Broca, Wernicke). On the other hand, we know this because we can correlate language-associated areas of the brain with language production and/or reception between males and females (e.g. compare average spoken words per minute in males vs. females).

b. However, when it comes to human psychology, especially if the assumption is human psychology isn't necessarily correlated with human biology, then what's the static or non-moving standard by which we can correlate the two?

3. Indeed, interpretations of these MRIs are based on stereotypes about what a male brain should do/not do and what a female brain should do/not do. However, if male and female psychology aren't necessarily associated with male and female biology in the ways and/or to the extent transgender proponents argue, then is there a certain way a male and/or female brain should and/or should not function?

4. If (as these studies argue) it's possible for a brain scan to diagnose people with gender dysphoria or transgendered individuals, then physicians can use brain scans to detect people with gender dysphoria or transgendered persons. In fact, in theory, it's possible physicians can detect transgendered persons before they themselves are aware. It'd sort of be like detecting cancer before cancer becomes clinically detectable (e.g. weight loss, palpable lump). In that case, physicians could be required to inform the transgendered persons and (debatably) intervene for their benefit.

However, this would come into tension if not conflict with the goal among some or many trans proponents to delegitimize gender dysphoria as a bona fide medical or psychiatric diagnosis.

5. All this seems to exclude a class of transgendered persons, i.e., transgendered persons who don't have the requisite differences in brain structure and/or function. I'm referring to non-dysphoric transgendered persons, non-binaries, fetishistic cross-dressers, and so on.

6. Interestingly, here is another study published in Nature which shows that the MRI scans of people with gender dysphoria and people with homosexuality were not significantly dissimilar. Minimally this would seem to suggest there's no detectable difference between (say) transgendered persons and homosexuals. In that case, how are they different? In that case, aren't these brain scans really detecting homosexuality? That's what the homosexual community argues.


  1. --if nothing else, that can be seen in the power of suggestion adults have on children.--

    Or put bluntly, is the cause and effect backwards? Is it gender dysphoria that is learned from the environment that is making their brains turn out this way?

  2. While I have heard this trotted out, I have also heard that the idea of a female vs male brain has been debunked as broadly/commonly understood.

  3. Some comments I left on the same thread:

    i) Personal narratives are sometimes informative and sometimes unreliable. Narratives can easily be conformed to social expectations. One indication would be if narratives use stereotypical language. That's reflects coaching.

    I think it's safe to say that many adolescents, especially girls, are highly impressionable, highly susceptible to peer pressure. That's why gender dysphoria has become a social contagion. The transgender lobby picks on the most insecure, vulnerable adolescent boys and girls and conditions them to believe their dysphoria is permanent, necessitating irreversibly damaging puberty blockers and surgery.

    ii) If transgender brains are different, why do so many adolescents who experience gender dysphoria outgrow it?

    iii) Likewise, if transgender brains are different, why the disparity in the ratio of boys and girls to experience gender dysphoria?

  4. Also, if transgender brains are different, then what happens to the argument that gender is a social construct? And why scrutinize the science of brain topology but ignore the science of x and y chromosomes?

  5. One wonders if the person who brings out this supposed evidence would be willing to say that any person (especially a child) who supposedly "identifies" as the opposite sex whose brain scan does *not* come out as "the opposite sex" should be told, "You aren't really trans; you just have a confusion" and refused transition-affirming medical interventions. Also denied special accommodations such as bathrooms, protections of special group laws, etc. Somehow, I doubt it.

    1. That's a good point.

      By the way, I think this person is a medical student. Nothing wrong with being a medical student, of course, but the problem is this person acts like they know better than others and that includes knowing the "science" is settled (e.g. brain imaging scans show transgendered brains are different which therefore means this and that). However, the very point at issue is whether or not, or to what degree, the science is settled, whether or not the science supports their claims, and so on. At the same time, they can't assume the science is settled when it supports their argument, but then assume it's not settled when it doesn't support their argument. They're trying to have it both ways. Or so it seems to me.

  6. I think you are dead on with your line of questioning, "What does a normal male brain really look like?"

    There are a lot of other elephants in the room. Studies have show that gender dysphoria clusters with other more well defined problems like autism. Gender dysphoria occurs at a much higher rate among girl with autism that those without. As someone who is a high functioning autistic, I know all too well the feeling of being mentally and emotionally out of sync with your peers. You know something is wrong with you, and it becomes very easy to fall into the belief that it is your gender that is wrong. This is exactly what happened to me, and I am watching my daughter go through the same process. Once my peers and I transitioned into adulthood and became more mentally and emotionally stable, I was able to get more in sync with my peers, and that is basically how I outgrew my gender dysphoria.

    So what if the bran scans are showing indicators of autism or some other anomaly that can have a side effect of gender dysphoria?

    1. Thanks, SomeRandomGuy! And what you say, especially your own personal experience with all this, is in itself valuable evidence. It'd be great if you could write a post about all this if you ever get a chance. That'd be something I'd certainly be interested in reading. Thanks again!