catching it early

Excuse Me, Your Kid’s Transgender Brain Is Showing

If scientists won’t show us this gene that can tell parents whether or not they’re having a gayby, how about we start putting pre-pubescent children through a brain scan so we can tell whether they’re going to end up trans? Researchers at the National University of Distance Education in Madrid say they’ve discovered the brains of trans people happen to look like the gender they identify with, not born with.

Antonio Guillamon’s team at the National University of Distance Education in Madrid, Spain, think they have found a better way to spot a transsexual brain. In a study due to be published next month, the team ran MRI scans on the brains of 18 female-to-male transsexual people who’d had no treatment and compared them with those of 24 males and 19 females.

They found significant differences between male and female brains in four regions of white matter – and the female-to-male transsexual people had white matter in these regions that resembled a male brain. “It’s the first time it has been shown that the brains of female-to-male transsexual people are masculinised,” Guillamon says.

In a separate study, the team used the same technique to compare white matter in 18 male-to-female transsexual people with that in 19 males and 19 females. Surprisingly, in each transsexual person’s brain the structure of the white matter in the four regions was halfway between that of the males and females (Journal of Psychiatric Research, DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2010.11.007). “Their brains are not completely masculinised and not completely feminised, but they still feel female,” says Guillamon.

The development is big news, since prior to this research these types of brain scans could only be performed on the deceased. And while such research might trigger an initial reaction of fear — Are they eventually going to scan kids’ brains and get rid of all the trans ones? — there is a practical application: If doctors can identify trans brains in kids before puberty, there can be a better informed decision about medically delaying puberty as to help a gender reassignment procedure years down the road. That is, a FTM trans boy could be identified as such before he starts growing breasts, and doctors could halt the process entirely so he wouldn’t have to undergo a double mastectomy later on.

Of course we’re talking about kids and psychology and biology here, so there’s a big grey area. If only things were as clear as all the white matter.

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  • sweetbrandigirl2004

    I for one celebrate this discovery and hope that it leads to more concrete ways of diagnosing who “Really” Suffers from GID and who doesn’t. It will finally put and end to this whole Transsexual vs Transgender debate. With an end to this debate the LGBT-ranssexual movement can finally move ahead in gaining equal rights for people who truly suffer from this legitimate medical condition and separate themselves from the wannabes who are simply playing dress up.

  • Zoe Brain

    Not the first. Just the latest of many.

    See the use of PET or MRI scans in
    Male-to-female transsexuals show sex-atypical hypothalamus activation when smelling odorous steroids. by Berglund et al Cerebral Cortex 2008 18(8):1900-1908;

    Regional cerebral blood flow changes in female to male gender identity disorder. – Tanaka et al, Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2010 Apr 1;64(2):157-61.

    Neuroimaging Differences in Spatial Cognition between Men and Male-to-Female Transsexuals Before and During Hormone Therapy by Scoening et al J Sex Med. 2009 Sep 14.

    Regional gray matter variation in male-to-female transsexualism. by Luders et al Neuroimage. 2009 Jul 15;46(4):904-7.

    Specific Cerebral Activation due to Visual Erotic Stimuli in Male-to-Female Transsexuals Compared with Male and Female Controls: An fMRI Study by Gizewski et al J Sex Med 2009;6:440–448.

    Some of these studies looked at static anatomy: others looked at activation patterns of neurological actovity, blood flow etc.

    All say the same thing – Transsexual people have anatomically cross-sexed brains in certain areas. There’s been plenty of data from autopsies too.

  • sweetbrandigirl2004

    Sorry if my choice of words left confusion. I know there have been many studies that have found evidents of the differences ,but that wasn’t the point I was trying to make. I am more happy that as advancements like this continue it will lead to diagnosis tools that will allow Therapist and counselors to diagnosis who really has GID and who who’s just perving to play dress up. Once we can separate the Individuals who Truly suffer From GID. We then can begin working to gave rights for those are Making the transitional Journey into womanhood.

  • Cynthialee

    Why are you so obbsessed with the panty wankers? Makes me wonder about you…

    How will you react when someone you are certain is not a ‘true transsexual’ waves a diagnosis brain scan under your nose? Or the inverse, someone you are positive is a ‘true transsexual’ gets diagnosed as not having a transsexual brain acording to the scans? I have a pretty strong feeling that your trans radar is not exactly 100% acurate.

    There is a wide diversity of experiance in our comunity. Fighting against that diversity has failed in the past and it will fail in the future.

    Back to your panty wanker obbssession…
    How does it effect you and me or anyone else if some weirdo is getting his kicks in unconventional means? As long as he doesn’t break the law I could care less what he does.

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