Scientific research on gender identity

US proposal for defining gender has no basis in science

scientific research on gender identity

The Radical Truths of Transgender Studies - Levi Hord - TEDxWesternU

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A cloud of controversy hovers over scientific research on transgender identity, but not necessarily because of the research itself. Ideologues threatened and unsettled by gender fluidity question research they don't like, while activists on the opposite side do the same. Bias is antithetical to properly assessing scientific findings, so slanted discussions often don't get anywhere. Today, I'll turn to the scientific literature to tackle three controversial questions about transgender identity. Can gender dysphoria, in which a person's gender identity does not match their gender assigned at birth, be affected by social factors? Upon the study's release some called for it to be censored and retracted , while others hailed it as a "very important, peer reviewed study" of an "awful epidemic.

The Trump administration purportedly is considering defining gender as determined by sex organs at birth, which if adopted could deny certain civil rights protections to an estimated 1. But variation in gender identity is a normal part of human diversity, the American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP, stresses in a new policy that outlines how to provide supportive medical care for transgender youth. Gender identity is more an inner sense of being male, female or somewhere in between regardless of physical anatomy, he explained. Sometimes that happens at a young age, while for others it may be adolescence or beyond. A: Transgender people of all ages are more likely to be bullied and stigmatized, which can spur anxiety and depression and put them at increased risk for suicide attempts.

Last week, The New York Times ran an op-ed by Anne Fausto-Sterling, a professor of biology and gender studies at Brown University, arguing that biological sex is not binary. Biological sex refers to whether we are female or male, based on our anatomy and reproductive functions. The concept of sex is, by definition, binary. Certainly, research has shown that as many as 1 percent of the population is intersex, a medical condition denoting that an individual possesses anatomy characteristic of both sexes, such as a combination of vulvar and testicular tissue. Statistically speaking, however, this means that the vast majority of us fall into one category of sex or the other.

Think of your most noticeable feature. But whatever it is, for better or worse, it is probably not your most salient feature to the world around you. Gender identity haunts every aspect of our lives, dictating the outcomes of our conversations, our workplaces, our relationships even our bath products. Before most infants are named, they are assigned a sex based on the appearance of their external genitalia by a third party. These decisions are dolled out in a typically binary fashion, with no expectations for ambiguity. This is the norm but has this simplicity led us astray? In March of this year, Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina signed into law the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, banning individuals from public restrooms that do not correspond to their assigned biological sex.

Society's expectations about gender roles alter the human brain at the cellular level, according to a paper published by a group of neuroscience researchers at Georgia State University. Though the terms 'sex' and 'gender' are often used interchangeably by the average person, for neuroscientists, they mean different things, Forger said. These behaviors and expectations around gender identity can be seen in "epigenetic marks" in the brain, which drive biological functions and features as diverse as memory, development and disease susceptibility. Forger explained that epigenetic marks help determine which genes are expressed and are sometimes passed on from cell to cell as they divide. They also can be passed down from one generation to the next, she said. It would be strange if this were not the case, because all environmental influences of any importance can epigenetically change the brain. Forger, with doctoral student Laura Cortes and post-doctoral researcher Carla Daniela Cisternas, reviewed previous studies of epigenetics and sexual differentiation in rodents, along with new studies in which gendered experiences among humans have also been associated with changes in the brain.

Gender identity leaves imprint on human brains

Science Shows Sex Is Binary, Not a Spectrum

Joshua D. Safer said. As far as we in the mainstream biological-medical community understand it in , it is hard-wired, it is biological, it is not entirely hormonal, and we do not have identified genes, so we cannot specifically say it is genetic. Genetics does play a role, though. In studies of twins, if one is transgender, the other is far more likely to also be transgender if they are identical, rather than fraternal twins.

According to a draft memo leaked to The New York Times , the US Department of Health and Human Services HHS proposes to establish a legal definition of whether someone is male or female based solely and immutably on the genitals they are born with. Genetic testing, it says, could be used to resolve any ambiguity about external appearance. The move would make it easier for institutions receiving federal funds, such as universities and health programmes, to discriminate against people on the basis of their gender identity. The proposal on which HHS officials have refused to comment is a terrible idea that should be killed off. It has no foundation in science and would undo decades of progress on understanding sex a classification based on internal and external bodily characteristics and gender, a social construct related to biological differences but also rooted in culture, societal norms and individual behaviour. Worse, it would undermine efforts to reduce discrimination against transgender people and those who do not fall into the binary categories of male or female. Furthermore, biology is not as straightforward as the proposal suggests.




  1. Jamie M. says:

    A study tracked 14 genetically male children given female genitalia; Some evidence suggests that transgender identity has genetic or.

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