Author Topic: Transgender brain scans promised as study shows structural differences in people  (Read 893 times)

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Offline gracefulhat

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This is exciting. Science is starting to catch up with us. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/22/transgender-brain-scans-promised-study-shows-structural-differences/

The Telegragh/ by Henry Bodkin    05/22/2018
« Last Edit: May 30, 2018, 12:53:26 am by stephaniec »
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Offline barbie

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Interesting and sounds plausible.

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Offline emma-f

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Its interesting but it would depend to an extent on the subject group. If the subject group all identified as transgender, and were taking HRT, could the structural difference not be as a result of the HRT, rather than anything existing pre-HRT?

In addition, I'd be concerned about it being used a diagnostic tool. What if somebody exhibits all the signs of being trans, and knows in themselves that they are trans, but the CT scan suggests that they are not, should that person be denied treatment? Made to jump through more hoops before they get treatment.

I accept that anything that is out there to help with our general "I was born this way" is helpful, but isn't society moving in that direction anyway? I'm not sure many people really believe being trans is a choice, and I suspect those that do will probably consider studies like this to be "fake news" designed to peddle a "liberal left agenda"

Offline Michelle_P

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There are a number of studies that controlled for HRT and identified unique sexually dimorphic pinpoint regions of the brain that correlate well with gender identity, and were not impacted by HRT.  A couple of these focused on the ‘bed nucleus of the stria terminalis’, if you need a Google target.  :)  These locations were mapped out and identified post-mortem through stain microscopy of tissue slices, not a practical diagnostic tool!

The larger regions identified by CT and MRI scans correlate well in many cases, but the regions show overlaps between the male and female sexually dimorphic forms that the pinpoint sites do not.  That is, they are a fuzzy sort of indicator at best.

In evaluating the sexually dimorphic REGIONS of the brain, it turns out that only about 6% of the population have a representative set of 10 regions that are all aligned with a particular gender. (This is an interesting clue towards a biological explanation of folks being nonbinary in their identities or orientations, but is really just a clue.  Correlation does not prove causation, and all that.)

A set of scans that can ‘prove’ someone is transgender or act as a reliable diagnostic are not quite here yet.

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Offline Lady Sarah

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Knowing how things go in my life, they would probably say I am perfectly average, and normal. I had two brain scans in the past, and that was what they told me then.

But then it does get interesting when scans and lab work are done, and THEN, they ask me when I had my last period.
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Offline barbie

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What if somebody exhibits all the signs of being trans, and knows in themselves that they are trans, but the CT scan suggests that they are not, should that person be denied treatment?

It is called Type I and II error in modern science. Variation and error is the essence of the nature including human species, and of coure statistics.

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Offline emma-f

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It is called Type I and II error in modern science. Variation and error is the essence of the nature including human species, and of coure statistics.

barbie~~

Exactly. So as interesting as the report is, does it actually take us anywhere?

Offline gracefulhat

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Maybe it doesn't take us far, but any kind of physical evidence that suggests it's not just in our heads I believe is a good thing.
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Offline emma-f

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Maybe it doesn't take us far, but any kind of physical evidence that suggests it's not just in our heads I believe is a good thing.

That I 100% agree with!

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"[N]ot just in our heads imaginations." The report gives credence to the contention that this "gender thing" is in our heads (brains) and not between our legs.

Stevi

Offline emma-f

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"[N]ot just in our heads imaginations." The report gives credence to the contention that this "gender thing" is in our heads (brains) and not between our legs.

Stevi

I don’t know if it’s the fact that it’s not imagination that’s the issue. I think there’s something comforting to many (although frankly I’m not that bothered) if the cause is physiological rather than psychological.

To me I know I’m trans and I don’t really care whether it’s the wiring or not.


Offline Amaki

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In addition, I'd be concerned about it being used a diagnostic tool. What if somebody exhibits all the signs of being trans, and knows in themselves that they are trans, but the CT scan suggests that they are not, should that person be denied treatment? Made to jump through more hoops before they get treatment.


Thats actually always my fear.
If life is too short for what ifs, than way do they always strike at the worse times.

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Offline Lucca

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In addition, I'd be concerned about it being used a diagnostic tool. What if somebody exhibits all the signs of being trans, and knows in themselves that they are trans, but the CT scan suggests that they are not, should that person be denied treatment? Made to jump through more hoops before they get treatment.

To my knowledge, while a lot of mental conditions or illnesses are detectable as something physical on a brain scan, brain scans are usually not used as a diagnostic tool. I have anxiety, but my psychiatrist did not scan me in order to prove it, she just listened to me talk my problems and symptoms and gave me a diagnosis and medication. That's also how diagnosing someone with a need for transgender related treatment works currently, and I don't see why that would change, even if we had a reliable brain scan to detect it. Or at least, I don't see why it should change, controversial conditions or medical procedures sometimes end up working by their own rules, usually for the worse.

Offline gracefulhat

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"Quote
"[N]ot just in our heads imaginations." The report gives credence to the contention that this "gender thing" is in our heads (brains) and not between our legs.

Stevi"

@ Stevi, thank you for correcting me. I thought about what I had written on my way to work this am and had hoped someone would do so. Also, for me personally physical evidence was very important. So much so that I personally spent over $800 for a Karyotyping to prove if I had 47 xxy. My thought at that time was to say hey, this is genetic and it is just who I am. When it came back negative I was crushed. I had placed my hope in that scientific tool to try and justify to those around me why I was transgender before actually coming out. That was then and this is now. I soon came to the relization that the two are worlds apart. Just because you have 47 xxy does not mean that you are transgender and that was just a way of me attempting to hide behind science. I am now glad that it was negative because it forced me to look at myself. I then came out as transgender proudly, not hiding and I owned who I am. So in that sense, science may have been a hinderence.
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Offline samanthabwolfe

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To my knowledge, while a lot of mental conditions or illnesses are detectable as something physical on a brain scan, brain scans are usually not used as a diagnostic tool. I have anxiety, but my psychiatrist did not scan me in order to prove it, she just listened to me talk my problems and symptoms and gave me a diagnosis and medication. That's also how diagnosing someone with a need for transgender related treatment works currently, and I don't see why that would change, even if we had a reliable brain scan to detect it. Or at least, I don't see why it should change, controversial conditions or medical procedures sometimes end up working by their own rules, usually for the worse.

Yeah, but our peoples generally are pretty easy to reject. We're freaks to them, don't ever forget that. They think it even if they don't admit it.

Offline Amaki

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I had a thought about this subject this morning, so let me play devils advocate for a bit.

Ok so lets say this becomes to norm and its 100% used everywhere (hypothetically). ok lets say someone who unlike us is actually happy with the way they where born and actually enjoys their life has some sort of accident or other medical need arise (it usually happens at the worse possible time anyway). They go in for a brain scan and it comes back normal except for the fact their scan comes back they are the wrong gender. But remember they are happy and content it may come up down the road that they do want to transition but they have no desire to do it now. Now the thought occurs yes ultimately the doctor will do what you tell them unless it would kill you, this wont really kill you, but what if it get to the point (especially in children) that its mandatory to transition if the scans come back as such.

I mean all any of us here want is to be happy and healthy even if that means completely transitioning (I know some people dont want to go all the way, and some people can't for health reasons) but the idea of making the norm study used does kind of being up the thought of this what if story.

I dont know just a random thought lol
     
If life is too short for what ifs, than way do they always strike at the worse times.

Most people are worried about burning bridges, but forget about the consistent fire that burns on the roads we walk

In the end we only regret the chances we didnt take. -Lewis Carroll

Feel free to call me Sophia Lee if you want

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Offline gracefulhat

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I had a thought about this subject this morning, so let me play devils advocate for a bit.

Ok so lets say this becomes to norm and its 100% used everywhere (hypothetically). ok lets say someone who unlike us is actually happy with the way they where born and actually enjoys their life has some sort of accident or other medical need arise (it usually happens at the worse possible time anyway). They go in for a brain scan and it comes back normal except for the fact their scan comes back they are the wrong gender. But remember they are happy and content it may come up down the road that they do want to transition but they have no desire to do it now. Now the thought occurs yes ultimately the doctor will do what you tell them unless it would kill you, this wont really kill you, but what if it get to the point (especially in children) that its mandatory to transition if the scans come back as such.

I mean all any of us here want is to be happy and healthy even if that means completely transitioning (I know some people dont want to go all the way, and some people can't for health reasons) but the idea of making the norm study used does kind of being up the thought of this what if story.

I dont know just a random thought lol
     

Hmmm. As someone who works in healthcare  (RN) I would imagine that insurance would never pay for something like this unless it was absolutely necessary. They would probably require a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria 1st.  I could see parents having this done to maybe infants or young children if they had Gender Dysphoria run in the family. For example they have proven that Identical twins have a higher rate of both being transgender than fraternal twins. But I would also think that parents might have to pay out of pocket for the MRI which could eun into the thousands.
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Offline Amaki

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Hmmm. As someone who works in healthcare  (RN) I would imagine that insurance would never pay for something like this unless it was absolutely necessary. They would probably require a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria 1st.  I could see parents having this done to maybe infants or young children if they had Gender Dysphoria run in the family. For example they have proven that Identical twins have a higher rate of both being transgender than fraternal twins. But I would also think that parents might have to pay out of pocket for the MRI which could eun into the thousands.

yeah I guess that scenario does only work if we remove insurance, and I guess when we are truly at the point this becomes the norm, they would have more psychiatrist and other therapist type people come and talk and see where people are. And yeah it makes sense with how they develop in the womb that identical twins would feel that way over fraternal twins. 
If life is too short for what ifs, than way do they always strike at the worse times.

Most people are worried about burning bridges, but forget about the consistent fire that burns on the roads we walk

In the end we only regret the chances we didnt take. -Lewis Carroll

Feel free to call me Sophia Lee if you want

The journey may not be new but its a new journey.

16 Apr 2018 - Start of a new chapter
8 Jun 2018- VA is working with me to move forward
11 Jul 2018 - consultation with Psych doctor
14 Jul 2018 - Dad confronted me...
7 Aug 2018 - Started HRT


Offline HughE

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The thing that causes a person to be transgender has been fairly well nailed down. It's the result of having hormones appropriate to your genetic sex during the first trimester (which is when genital development takes place), but then something going wrong with your hormone production during the later stages of your prenatal development (when the main thing still ongoing is brain development), so that your hormone levels (or more specifically, androgen levels), switch to those more appropriate to the opposite sex from your genetic one during this later stage of development. Most of the things that cause physical intersex conditions can also make this happen, and I think being transgender is best thought of as a form of intersex, except one in which the main effects have been on the brain rather than the genitals.

The early stages of brain development involve very rapid cell division (to build up the enormous numbers of cells needed to produce the human brain), and the migration of those cells from the place where they formed, to where their final place in the brain will be. As a result, although you do have a brain from quite early in embryonic development, for the first 16 weeks after conception, it's continuously being remodelled, and probably because of that, hormone levels during those first 16 weeks don't seem to have any strong effects on the final sex of your brain.

By about 16 weeks, the first cells have reached their final positions in the brain, and then a process of building connections between cells and building the permanent structure of the brain begins (and continues for the remainder of the pregnancy). Hormone levels during that time do make a big difference in the sex of the brain (in fact whether you develop a male or female brain seems to entirely depend on hormones, with X and Y chromosomes playing no significant role at all).

By the time you're born, the critical period when the permanent structure of the brain is built has already largely drawn to a close. Whatever's there by that stage is permanent, and stays with you for the remainder of your life. Gender identity is one of the attributes that's determined by whether you have a male or female brain, and we know that it's already set in stone by the time you're born, because for many years doctors and academics believed the opposite: that people are born "gender neutral", and develop their sense of being a man or a woman from how the people around them treat them during their formative years.

On the basis of that theory, it became standard practice for doctors to operate on baby boys with an abnormal or missing penis, to turn them into a girl (due to the difficulty of surgically constructing a penis). The parents were then told to raise their child as a girl, and all would be well. Then, in 1997, sexologist Dr Milton Diamond heard from David Reimer, the earliest person to have been put through one of these infant gender reassignments, and whose case was supposed to be a resounding success. In fact, it turned out that David had always felt totally out of place as a woman, and ten years earlier had begun taking steps to revert to being male (testosterone injections and surgery).

From Wikipedia:

Quote
This was later expanded into the New York Times best-selling biography As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl (2000), in which Colapinto described how—contrary to Money's reports—when living as Brenda, Reimer did not identify as a girl. He was ostracized and bullied by peers (who dubbed him "cavewoman"), and neither frilly dresses (which he was forced to wear during frigid Winnipeg winters), nor female hormones made him feel female. By the age of 13 years, Reimer was experiencing suicidal depression and he told his parents he would take his own life if they made him see Money again. Finally, on 14 March 1980, Reimer's parents told him the truth about his gender reassignment, following advice from Reimer's endocrinologist and psychiatrist. At 14, having been informed of his past by his father, Reimer decided to assume a male gender identity, calling himself David. By 1987, Reimer had undergone treatment to reverse the reassignment, including testosterone injections, a double mastectomy, and two phalloplasty operations.[citation needed] On 22 September 1990 he married Jane Fontane and would adopt her three children.

Notice how similar that is to what FTM trans people often go through!

Psychologists then did a number of studies following up on other similar cases, and it soon became apparent that the same thing was very commonly happening in other cases as well (in fact, in some of the studies I've seen, it looks like they had a 100 percent failure rate!).

From that experience, we know that a person's gender identity is hardwired into their brain, and is something you're born with. Neither genital appearance, nor sex of rearing, nor hormones during puberty, nor anything else can change it.

There are a couple of reasons why there's so much controversy about something that shouldn't be controversial at all.

Firstly, for a long time it's been trendy among academics to deny that there are any hardwired differences between men's and women's brains, and that the differences in social status etc between men and women are all the result of men's oppression of women. The fact that we (MTF and transfeminine people) exist at all contradicts that theory, and that's why there's a clique of radical feminists ("TERFs") who have long been trying to deny our existence, labelling us as mentally ill, "extreme gay" etc. Of course, whether they like it or not we do exist, and in fact animal studies show that their theory is bunk. There are innate hardwired differences between male and female brains that drive most of the differences between adult male and female social and sexual behaviour, and furthermore, by messing around with hormones during the prenatal period, it's possible to produce male animals with female brains (or vice versa).

Which brings me to the second point. When it first became possible to mass produce hormones in a laboratory and use them as medicines, the pharmaceutical industry had a bright idea. They decided (on the flimsiest of evidence) that miscarriages were caused by low levels of female hormones (estradiol, estriol and progesterone) in the pregnant mother. If you topped up the mother's hormones with artificial female hormones (mainly an estrogen called DES, and any of several members of the progestin class of hormones), she'd be less likely to miscarry. Or so their theory went.  In the decades since, millions of pregnant women have been given these drugs, and the total number of people alive today who were prenatally exposed to one or more of these manmade hormones must be well into the millions.

The way these treatments have typically been prescribed means that most or all of the exposure occurs after genital development has already finished, and during the time sex differences in the brain are thought to arise. Considering how important hormones are in sexual development and in particular, determining the sex of the brain, there's obvious scope for trouble, and in fact many of us MTF/transfeminine people in the over 40s age bracket either know or suspect we were exposed to DES. I've also found a number of case reports showing that two other manmade hormones often given to pregnant women for miscarriage prevention in the 1950s and 60s, ethisterone and norethisterone, turned out to be able to drive male development in female fetuses. I think it's highly likely that there are FTM transgender people who are trans because of being exposed to these two drugs.

DES, ethisterone and norethisterone had all been withdrawn from use during pregnancy by about 1980. However, other artificial female hormones continue to be used. I think the 3 main ones currently used in pregnancy are dydrogesterone, allylestrenol and hydroxyprogesterone caproate, all members of the progestin class of hormones. In adult men, these are feminising hormones, and they can actually be used as part of MTF trans HRT. Whether these currently used hormone treatments are continuing to make people trans is an open question, but I think it's certainly a possibility that should be looked at!

For people interested in further reading about the science of prenatal hormones in determining gender identity, this is a good paper to read (and it's published as Open Access, so the full paper can be viewed or downloaded free of charge):

Sexual differentiation of the human brain in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19403051

Offline JanePlain

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I know this is a late comment to an old thread but I think its good news based on the very simple idea that seeking therapy for gender issues is medical not a fetish or desire to overthrow feminists or whatever "crazy crap" someone has come up with this week.   

What always has confused me is how would anyone think a TS person would be willing to go through all the medical stuff unless they really had to?  Never mind dealing with the haters who seem to speak the loudest when they know the ahhh leastest.  <- assuming that is a word.

Maybe it doesn't take us far, but any kind of physical evidence that suggests it's not just in our heads I believe is a good thing.

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