Abstracted from “A Scientist’s View of Almost Everything” by Mark M Green
In the Science and Technology section of The Economist, February 20, 2021 issue, is an article, which talks about gender dysphoria, described as “the miserable feeling of being at odds with one’s sex.” A statistic follows: America had one pediatric gender clinic in 2007 and now has at least fifty. In England and Wales there is reported to be a single clinic but which has seen a 30-fold increase in referrals in a decade. These clinics often give out puberty blocking drugs, consistent with the title of the article “Arrested Development.”
It is clear that a segment of young people are increasingly expressing discomfort with their biological sex and finding themselves estranged from the world they live in. And that world does not respond well to these young people’s discomfort, sometimes with fatal results, as occurred, for just one example among many in the world, to a murdered soldier rejected recently from the South Korean army. Politicians, especially Democrats have become involved. The Equality Act passed the House of Representatives for the second time on February 25, the first in 2019, with not much chance again to pass the Senate considering the necessity of 60 votes even though the Senate this time is controlled by Democrats. The Senate, happily, just rejected a Republican-offered so-called anti-trans bill offered as an amendment to the 1.9 trillion COVID relief package.
The world is not an easy place for being as odds with one’s sex. However, it’s not unreasonable to see that understanding the “other” is a path to greater acceptance. Understanding comes from science, and biological studies teach us that the physical characteristics of one or the other sex are not always in line with an individual’s perception (gender identity) of being male or female.
Independent of the sex our genes call for, XX for female and XY for male, we arise from a fertilized egg that is structurally sexually undifferentiated, a state we remain in for a considerable time. It takes almost two months after conception for this genetic information to arise from dormancy to begin to call for the changes that will, over time, fully distinguish the physical characteristics that distinguish male from female.
This male/female distinction arises from the Y chromosome, which activates biological mechanisms to produce androgens, that is male hormones such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, which begin the path to the body’s physical changes that distinguish us around the second month after conception and then further along at puberty. The male genitalia in other words arise from an action, the production of a male hormone. Inaction arising from the absence of the Y chromosome leads to the female genitalia
However the brain, in contrast to the physical genitalia, does not receive information from testosterone to take on male characteristics until later months of pregnancy. A brain not receiving this hormonal information because of the absence of the Y chromosome proceeds to female characteristics. The fact that the information about genital characteristics and those of the brain occur at different times in the fetal growth, and can be influenced independently of each other, allows the possibility of gender dysphoria leading to the transgender state.
The description above about testosterone and the Y chromosome describes a person with male genitals but a brain structure corresponding to the female state, so called MtF. The biological details of, on the other hand, FtM, transgender with female genitals and a male brain structure, such as the murdered Korean soldier, although less understood in detail, likewise arises from the fact that sexual differentiation of the brain takes place at a much later stage in development than sexual differentiation of the genitals. These two processes, development of genital sexual characteristics and brain structure can therefore be influenced independently of each other either in an MtF or an FtM transgender person.
Although male or female genitals are obvious, requiring no scientific study of the individual, considerable research in several laboratories was necessary to demonstrate that MtF transgender people have certain characteristics of the female brain structure while FtM have male brain structure therefore giving rise in both situations to gender identity independent of the person’s genitals.
The scientific facts as expressed by the Dutch expert, Dick F. Swaab follow: “There is no evidence that one’s postnatal social environment plays a crucial role in gender identity or sexual orientation… In fact, all current data indicate that gender identity and sexual orientation arise in the womb.” Experts in this field now generally accept that sexual identity is fixed in the womb and is not possible to change.
In summary of a proper attitude toward transgender people one could quote Chas Bono (formerly Chastity): “There’s a gender in your brain and a gender in your body. For 99 percent of people, those things are in alignment. For transgender people, they’re mismatched. That’s all it is. It’s not complicated. It’s not a neurosis.”