Delaney King has done several really incredible threads about the science of gender dysphoria, why people are born trans, and why why gender affirming support and medical treatment are the most logical and ethical strategy to address it. These are three separate threads that I’ve gathered here.
Let's talk 'brain in a jar' transgender theory.
Okay, so say you are a cisgender male and you get a bionic arm. You are still male.
Lets keep swapping bits out. Cyber eyes- male.
Cyber legs- still male.
Cyber penis- yep, male.
The fact is, you will see yourself as a cisgender male no matter how much of your body is missing or replaced.
Why is that? Because gender identity exists in your brain.
So if we transplant a brain to a full robotic body, he will identify as a he. Ergo, "brain in a jar" theory.
Now there is a question... is it because the brain learned it was male, or is it intrinsic identity?
Actually we have an answer to that.
At one stage in the horrible history of gender, the leading theory was children learn their gender from experience.
When boys suffered a destroyed penis during a mistake in circumcision, they where given surgery to give them vulvas. The parents where instructed to never...
...tell the children and raise them as girls.
The results where overwhelmingly, amazing positive... until a doctor whose own results contradicted those of the study looked in on the kids.
The results, it turns out, were faked. It had been a disaster.
Look up John Money and Milt Diamond for the full, tragic story.
The kids suffered horrible dysphoria and suicides occurred.
The result is that gender identity is nature, not nurture.
This upholds what was established by psychiatrists before, that gender identity disorder patients could not be 'cured' by psychotherapy. It seemed intrinsic.
Further neuroscience studies concluded that transgender brains more closely matched the gender they...
...identified with when examining parts of the brain such as the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis.
Further studies showed rats gendered behaviours could be flipped by exposure of hormones during fetal development.
Brains do seem to have an innate sense of gender.
So we know that a human brain in a robot body would have a sense of gender identity.
Now, if I introduce you to a robot bodied human, is it human?
Is it the gender it says it is?
So you have a brain set up with a female gender identity, walking around in a robot body... it is female.
Same goes for our meat sack bodies.
You steer the body development (which we CAN change) to match the brain development (which we CANNOT change) and align the individual
So we know that:
A: brains have gender identity
B: Y chromosomes only effect fetal development of gonads, past that they don't appear to do anything.
C: HRT changes the DNA sequence activated so the body shifts to the required gender.
D: trans women are women. Trans men are men.
As for me, an intersex person... I got dealt a shuffled deck. I choose the cards I play. Not you.
My gender identity is female, and there is zero I can do about that, or you can. It is, and that is it.
My body is mine to shape and customise. Be it robot or flesh.
Let transgender people tune their bodies to their brains. It is the only way they can live in harmony.
So, further few comments:
The Y chromosome (usually but not always) triggers differentiation in the gonads in the FIRST trimester of development.
The brain develops mostly in the THIRD trimester...
Both sets of instructions for making 'male' and 'female' tissues are present in our genome (our entire DNA).
Androgens created (usually but not always) by the gonads flip the 'female' default code to 'male'.
So by the third trimester, you should (but not always) get hormones...
...flooding your body that line up all your cells DNA instructions to those of your gonads. So your brain develops cisgender.... ie, matching your gonads.
But... not always...
If the hormone balance shifts between first and third your brain can develop using different instructions to your groin.
Furthermore, in order for hormones to flip the default to male, your hormone receptors have to be shaped to receive them. A variant can mean they ignore it.
You see this in partial and complete androgen insensitivity syndrome ( PAIS or CAIS ).
Children effected by Diethylestilbestrol also show this.
So yes, tissues in the brain and the groin can mismatch, leading to the dissonance experienced which is currently called "gender dysphoria".
But brain plasticity! I hear some bozo at the back cry.
Yes, brains are very good at rewiring. But not everything. No amount of conversion therapy torture, electrodes in the brain and conditioning affects gender identity.
Horrifically, we know this because people did it.
Again, this is nature/nurture. The nurture aspect is super plastic, we can rewire habits, learn to use new nerve paths to operate limbs and so on. We can even retrain left/right/up/down! (We strapped mirror goggles to students for months) brains are cool.
...gender identity appears to be a deep, core thing... which makes sense as evolution of sex goes waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in us.
Can we pinpoint this? Can we rewire it?
This is where you hit an ethical wall. It would require cruel human experimentation.
And for what? You give healthcare to trans people, they transition what they want and their suicide rate returns to closer of that of cisgender folk
I personally would rather live in a world where folk get access to healthcare to deal with their dissonance than have a culture that allows human fetus experimentation for adjusting brain development to align to a false dichotomy.
Call me crazy.
Now, for completions sake, let's cover genderfluid and non-binary identies.
Firstly, these are completely, utterly valid. Gender identities are not binary. It is not a single variable. Brains are far, far more complicated than that.
Because our DNA has instructions that make cells behave in a 'male' or 'female' associated ways (such as secondary sex characteristics in development of fat, muscle and hair) you need to understand that is on a single cell basis. We are made up of tissue, clusters of cells...
...an individual human can have all sorts of tissue developed from hormones shifting or some cells being insensitive to a hormone.
A very clear example of this is in PAIS where people have patches of 'male' typical tissue and 'female' tissue structures in the same body.
A Barr body, such as in humans in XXY klinefelters. You can see this sort of thing visually in a tortoiseshell cat.
So, you see, non-binary amd gender fluid people exist in the same way intersex bodies exist... because a human is made up of many tissues of many cells and is NOT a single binary.
These identities are therefore every bit as valid as binary ones.
The problem is that we don't see funding going into examining non-binary and gender fluidity, studies usually have very small sample sizes and you once again hit that ethics wall.
The lack of scientific data about those identities is more to do with who controls the purse strings.
Humans are complicated. The problem with trying to fit us into neat boxes is that you have to cut off parts, and that is inhumane.
Be kind. Read. Learn. Grow.
'Gender identity' is how your brain is wired up to be comfortable.
'Gender expression' is clothing, hair etc assigned to a gender by your society.
'Gender Roles' are roles assigned to genders by society
The last two are social constructs. The first is neurobiological.
"Gender is a societal construct" foolishly puts the three together.
Gender identity is neurobiological, not psychological. It isn't learned, and children do not adapt well when forced into a gender identity they are not.
A classic example is from botched circumcisions that where given gender reassignment and told to raise them as girls.
I am intersex. I fall somewhere between the arbitrary medical definitions of male and female. So am I a man or a woman?
My body is intersex, but my brain tells me I am a woman. Given any option, I would always chose woman and feel hella uncomfortable in the role of a man.
I would therefore say my "gender identity is woman".
This isn't a choice, and cannot be adjusted by therapy (they have tried for hundreds of years). It's just the fact of things. Like I have mousy brown hair, I am tall, I burn easily in the sun.
My gender identity is female.
It isn't delusional... It's how I am wired up, most likely due to hormone exposure in utero during the development of my brain. It was set to female. And That's that.
So That's gender identity. How does that play into the other two parts?
Well, I express my gender identity through gender expression. I am comfier in clothes my society attributes to women. I look great in makeup, and my hairstyle is attributed as "feminine".
My society uses "she" for feminine, and it feels right to me to use it.
There isn't any sexual gratification to my gender expression. It isn't a kink. I am just expressing my gender, and by extension who I am and how I see myself.
It isn't a trick. It isn't a trap. It is what it is. Expression within a society.
And as for gender roles? Fuck them. I bang my head up against the glass ceiling now, and put up with bullshit because people see me as a woman and assign my place for me. Screw that.
As an intersex person I sit in a gap between a binary society. As someone who was wrongly assigned at birth, I fall into a hated and misunderstood category- transgender.
I cannot stop being either of these things. No amount of pressure or attacking can change these things.
And yet, here we are having "feminists" trying to destroy people like me because they want to uphold society's problematic constructs.
Enforcing gender expression and gender roles serves the patriarchy. That isn't feminism, that's the opposite.
Of the three, Gender identity isn't the problem our society need worry about. Gender roles and expression? Yeah.
Gender identity isn't something that can be rewired or fixed. It just is.
You either roll with it or suffer... often so horribly you can't live for the disjoint.
People who need to transition should be able to, so they can get on and have healthy lives free from gender dysphoria, from suffering. That's it. That's all there is to it.
You either let people suffer and (often) die, or you help them be who they need to be to be happy.
One of these is kind, and fits the medical oath. The other is cruel, and destroys lives.
I chose to be happy within my skin. Now I just need for the assholes who feel somehow threatened by that to let me get on with my life.
There is no trans conspiracy. Noone who has experienced Gender Dysphoria wants to push anyone to live in a gender that grates against their gender identity... that's like saying people with migraines want to give everyone migraines.
There is just a whole chunk of society whose gender causes them great suffering. And we have the means and method to alleviate that.
So why not just care for people?
1) why you can't class humans into two categories by genitals. Some science.
2) a glance between a newborn's legs is a pretty good indicator of their sex. However, it isn't a foolproof method, and here, in simplified terms, is why.
3) you all know the egg and sperm sitch. A sperm gets into the egg and that good old magic happens that results in a future taxpaying voter.
The deal is you get half the dna of your egg and half from the sperm. Switcharoo presto, and you got a new sequence of DNA. Noice.
4) a chromosome is a packet of DNA, and when it comes to sex, you probably where taught that the X and Y chromosome is how we get boys and girls. An X meets an X, you get a pink crib, an X meets a Y and you get a blue one. Right?
5) the sperm either has an x
X or a Y. So daddy picks the sex. (Someone tell Henry VIII)
But the problem is that is where our education usually stops.
6) let's go a bit deeper so you are a bit wiser.
The important part of the Y gene which makes it chocked full of manly goodness is called the SRY region. Infact it appears to be the only important part in deciding sex.
It's basically the order form for a boy. Nothing more.
7) the rest of your DNA contains information to make both a boy you and a girl you. By default, the boy stuff is basically switched off. Like dip switches on a computer.
8) if you have the SRY region, that kicks off a chain reaction the *usually* results in cheaper haircuts and better wages... aka, manhood.
But not always.
9) the important thing to understand is the chain reaction. I need to set some ground work first.
Ovaries and testes both form from the undifferentiated gonad. No SRY? Ovaries. SRY? Usually testes.
Let's say the tested form as usual, they will start making androgens.
10) androgens are hormones such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (which makes you bald btw).
The growing fetus emits two baths of androgens during two stages of its development.
So what does it do?
11) well, here's the thing. As I said, your dnd has both sets of instructions- male and female. Our cells actually don't give a crap which set they use, they just go with the one they have activated.
How is that DNA activated? By hormones. Specifically here, androgens.
13) cells have androgen receptors on the surface. Androgens snap to that shit like a key to a lock. Once that happens the receptor enters the nucleus of the cell and does a sort of tumbler thingy to your DNA, turning some bits on and some off.
14) the cell then does it's thing, eventually dividing and the process continues... bind, activate/deactivate DNA... do whatever the cell does and divide...etc etc.
So you start developing sex characteristics based on whatever hormones you have AT THAT MOMENT
15) so this is where genitals form. Yay. Very handy.
Genitals all start as a bunch of ducts that slowly develop or self destruct depending on what hormones are around.
Are you starting to see what I mean?
16) The Mullerian duct, for example, grows up to be the upper third of the vagina, womb and fallopian tubes. If the hormone AMH is around, it withers away.
(Women who make AMH are missing their wombs.)
17) the clitoris and the penis develop from the same tissue. Take a good look at a clitoris and you will see it is very similar to a teeny penis head. If you get those androgen baths, the clitoris develops into a penis... sometimes big, sometimes very little... and here...
18) comes challenge number one... how big does a clitoris need to be to be classed as a penis? Hmm?
Okay lets aim down a bit.
The labia and the scrotum also start as the same tissue. The labia fold over and fuse, forming the sack... that's why scrotums have that little seam
19) the ovaries stay still or, if if androgens are about, begin being tugged down into the scrotum. Slam dunk. Nothing but net.
Except... you know sometime the labia don't entirely fuse. You get something that kinda sorta is a vulva... but kinda sorta not...
20) challenge two: is it a vulva or an open scrotum? Who gets to decide? And why?
If you want to know where the wee hole can end up in all this, google hypospadias.
21) see, all the way along this chain reaction, from egg meeting sperm, to cell division, to gonad formation to hormone reception that chain reaction can vary. Throw in cell mutation and chemical interference and wow, do you have a lot of variation.
22) humans develop over time, and are ridiculously complex. We are rich in variaton. There is no ideal or pure version of us. Not even twins are truely identical.
Humans do NOT come in male and female only, we are a constant shifting flux of cells and hormones.
23) shifting hormones before the brain develops (late 2nd early 3rd) may lead to a brain that develops towards one sex, wholst the genitals forked off in their own direction months before. Ie. Trans
If we do this to rats, you get male rats behaving as female rats.
24) some of us have androgen receptors that don't accept androgen. This is called CAIS and PAIS (complete and partial androgen insensitivity)
25) CAIS people have XY chromosomes, testes, androgens and end up classed as girls because they are born with vulvas
Their cells cannot lock onto androgen, so they default to using the female dna coding
26) partial androgen insensitivity results in a sort of mix and match as only some of the cells lack the ability to bind androgen.
27) some people classed at birth as women start producing testosterone due to non congenital hyperplasia, where an enzyme difference results in adrenal glands making testosterone
28) guavedoches are people who are assigned female at birth but start developing into male genitalia as puberty hits.
29) this chain reaction I have shown you means that the Trump administration's attempt to erase transgender people causes massive damage to a huge percentage of the population who do not fall neatly into male or female.
30) Science backs intersex, transgender and homosexuality as biological fact.
There is no shame in being born diverse. There is no crime in it.
The administration is ignorant, hateful men with no grasp on biology.
It fascist propaganda and denies the human right to exist
31) and if you are still not convinced, the Olympic committee would love to have a neat way to categorize by two sexes and have offered a LOT of money if you can solve it for them.