To add to my earlier post (Hard-wired), I’ve just spotted an interesting article in the New Scientist (link here) which reports on another piece of research which appears to add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that transsexuality may (at least in part) have a biological origin:
A gene variant has been identified that appears to be associated with female-to-male transsexuality – the feeling some women have that they belong to the opposite sex.
While such complex behaviour is likely the result of multiple genes, environmental and cultural factors, the researchers say the discovery suggests that transsexuality does have a genetic component.
It must be noted that there are, I think, genuine concerns that – when a neurological basis for transsexuality is finally confirmed (as I believe it will be, eventually) – this may encourage research to try to find a “cure”. I have to say that the potential for some or all of the very scary concepts of eugenics to re-emerge as a result of such a search is really rather frightening.
As Janett Scott, former president of the Beaumont Society, says in the article: “Nature may have made us the way that we are, but nurture is what gives us a problem”.
However, Clemens Tempfer (of the Medical University of Vienna, who discovered the gene variant) strongly denies any such motive for his research: “That is completely out of the question,” he says.
Nonetheless, he says, if other gene variants with a stronger association to transsexuality are identified, establishing a diagnosis might become easier. This might allow gender reassignment surgery or hormone therapy to start earlier in life.
Which is actually not an unreasonable stance, or at least it would appear so. But it’s interesting that he assumes such decisions about the aims and intentions of the research are his to make and enforce, particularly in the medium to long term.
©2008 Helen G