An international study carried out by researchers at Prince Henry’s Institute, Monash Gender Dysphoria Unit, Monash University, Melbourne University and the University of California published this press release at 00.01am Monday 27 October (AEDT):
Genetic link to gender identity
In the largest ever genetic study of male to female transsexuals, Australian researchers have found a significant genetic link between gender identity and a gene involved in testosterone action.
From an early age people develop an inner sense of being male or female – their gender identity. Transsexuals however, identify with a physical sex opposite to their perceived biological sex.
DNA samples were collected from 112 male to female transsexuals and researchers compared genetic differences with non transsexuals. The results are published in the high impact journal Biological Psychiatry.
The researchers discovered that male to female transsexuals were more likely to have a longer version of a gene which is known to modify the action of the sex hormone testosterone.
“We think that these genetic differences might reduce testosterone action and under masculinise the brain during foetal development”, said researcher Lauren Hare.
For decades, there has been debate over the causes of transexuality. Early theories included psychosocial factors such as childhood trauma. More recent studies have indicated that family history and genetic aspects are linked to the development of gender identity.
“There is a social stigma that transsexualism is simply a lifestyle choice, however our findings support a biological basis of how gender identity develops”, said study leader Associate Professor Vincent Harley, Head of Molecular Genetics at Prince Henry’s Institute.
“As with all genetic association studies it will be important to replicate these findings in other populations? said Associate Professor Vincent Harley.
Researchers are now planning even larger genetic studies and are investigating a wider range of genes that may be related to gender identity.
Androgen Receptor (AR) Repeat Length Polymorphism Associated with Male-to-female Transsexualism. Authors: Lauren Hare, Pascal Bernard, Francisco J. Sanchez, Paul N. Baird, Eric Vilain, Trudy Kennedy and Vincent R. Harley. The research will published in the Jan 2009 edition of Biological Psychiatry.
I have such mixed feelings about this kind of research into possible biological causes of transsexualism.
Yes, I want to know why this has happened to me, for ‘closure’ as much as anything – but I think pinning down a solely genetic cause would give a lot of ammunition to those who would rather trans people simply didn’t exist at all; or at the very least they would rather force us to be ‘square pegs’ in their beloved ’round holes’.
For sure, the eugenicists are going to love this – as are certain radfems of my acquaintance ;)
[…] I do not care whether I was ‘born this way’ or ‘became this way’. The question of the ‘gay gene’ or the ‘tranny brain’ is a potentially frightening route to another eugenics programme to destroy the brilliance of difference in the world, and the sooner we reject these projects the better. Whatever made me, I am, and I can no longer say who the `I’ is […]
I’m not saying I don’t want to know about a possible genetic cause, I’m just concerned about what happens should scientific empirical evidence/proof be found. There will always be some do-gooder who decides s/he can then “cure” us – and that search for a cure will be funded by – whom, exactly? Not trans people like me, that’s for sure. And I can’t see those oh-so-knowledgeable do-gooders deigning to discuss things with those of us who, you know, actually live with the condition.
Also – and this is probably the most important thing of all for me – I don’t know if I would want to be “cured”. I’m well on the way to coming to terms with being trans – it’s an ongoing process, I believe – and if I can’t be ‘female-assigned-at-birth’ (which I can’t, obviously) – then I’m quite happy to be the trans woman I am.
Whoever she is…