Categories: Science!/ TransSci

magnus_pyke_scienceOne of my better qualities, IMO, is that I am a skeptic. I like science, I trust the scientific method, and I require claims to be backed up by good science before I will accept them.

So I have been trying to sort out the science of transgender/transsexual recently. And my conclusion is: there’s no real conclusions. Lots of small studies, lots of varying theories, lots of uncertain results. There haven’t been a lot of good, large studies of, for example, the effects of hormones on the MtF transsexual. It’s not just like they can line up 100 volunteers for a blind trial — “Okay, you may be getting the placebo, or you may be getting tits!”

And very recently, I stumbled upon a very anti-transgender site run by a very angry man who has detransitioned from his MtF status and who seems to hold a grudge against the trans community. He seems to think, in essence  that there’s a transsexual agenda much in the same way that they used to think there was a gay agenda — that if something isn’t done, “soon they will take babies from their cribs and inject them with hormone blockers.” Seriously, I didn’t make that quote up.

One of the things that got me to the site in the first place was a scientific study he was strongly promoting, what he refers to as “the Rome study.” He is a strong advocate against the idea that being trans is anything other than a psychological disorder, and so he’s almost gleefully promoting every study he can find that supports the idea that transsexuals are not physically different from regular males, thus supporting his contention that being transgender is only a psychological disorder. The Rome study specifically is looking at certain mutations that were alleged to exist in MtF transsexuals; the study concluded that there was no significant evidence to support the hypothesis.

I don’t point out this man’s website so that I can debate him or anything, That would be a futile effort. But it did strike me that it would be interesting to dig into the ol’ PubMed and see what other studies are out there — and which have flaws that might discredit their findings.

And if I’m going to read this stuff, I think it might be worthwhile to blog about it. I’m going to keep an eye on PubMed from here on out for interesting articles that present trans* research. If I find some good ones, I’ll bring them here for discussion and comments.



pi314chron says:

Is there no end to embittered old crackpots…and a world all too readt to believe everything they say? JEEEZ-us Kryst! 🙂

Ali says:

The world has an endless supply of cranky old men. As soon as the old ones die off, we make new ones.

Everything will be okay if we just keep off their lawns!

pi314chron says:

And why should we? They’re GRAZING on ours! 😛

I am in a class right now which focuses on Nanomedicine. One of my assignments is to write an NIH proposal. I have been thinking I wanted to propose a trans related study, but I am in a group with three other students who I am not out to yet (They still think of me as a female). That’s slightly unrelated to the topic of your post, but I’m interested in hearing what you find out. I will eventually look into it myself, time permitting. Hopefully, I can find a way to present my topic to my classmates without any eyebrow raising for now.

Ali says:

Nanomedicine? Very cool but very over my head. I’m not sure how tiny machines could be used in trans-related medicine. Maybe as an estrogen / androgen delivery system?

Yeah, I was thinking something like that. Or finding a way to increase the circulation time.

I really have no problem with transsexuality being thought of as a psychological disorder. I know there is a huge segment of the community that wants to do away with the “evil” labels and mental disorder stigma, but I’m unsure as to how one gets treatment (hormones, therapy, etc.) to transition if there’s nothing wrong. Sure, people can hope that it’s really a physical problem and not mental, but since there isn’t enough evidence to draw that conclusion, I feel like that it’s rather premature.

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