The notion that “gender identity” is brain-based and innate has captured the political left. This article explains how to debunk transgender "brain sex" conjecture.
I agree with you that the entire debate boils down to whether people have an innate, unchangeable inner characteristic called “gender” that can be different from their physical sex. If you accept that premise, so many other aspects of gender ideology follow. It’s a very clever tactic that they treat this premise as an implicit fact, generally not stating it or allowing it to be scrutinized, but then building an entire belief system on it.
I have to ask them, do you also have internal versions of other physical characteristics, like height, or skin color? Is it possible that I was meant to be born in a tall body, even though I’m short? If I wear shoe lifts all the time and demand people call me tall and redefine the words tall and short to mean how I feel inside instead of my physical height, and demand big and tall stores carry my size, have I changed anything about the reality of my height? And will I be more or less dissatisfied with my height after doing all that than if I had come to terms with being a short person? And did I make the world worse by removing language that allows people to correctly size clothing, medication, and safety equipment?
How would one even define a male brain other than as a brain that is in a male body? If a brain in a male body has a certain characteristic then by definition it is a valid characteristic for a male brain to have.
If you engage in the brain argument you've already lost. You accepted that there could be a connection between being a male/female and the brain structure. You need to stay on point and remind them that sex is not about the brain but about the roles in reproduction. You are either of the nature to get pregnant or to impregnate. That's it. We might observe differences in brains, height, weight, muscles, hormones, etc. but they are irrelevant when it comes to this classification.
The biology teacher at my former high school pushed the “brain sex” theory on her students. Thanks for this rebuttal. Looking forward to your group project.
Very well done description. I will add another angle on the issue. While sex has a binary distribution, males produce small gametes (sperm) and females produce large gametes (eggs), most secondary sex characteristics do not have a binary distribution. For example, men tend to have greater height than women, 176cm for men vs 163 cm for women, as estimated by WHO. We know that some men stand about 163 cm tall, but we don't conclude they have the body of a woman. Similarly, some women stand about 176cm tall, but we don't conclude they have the body of a man. Evolution produces this natural variation, always searching for an adaptive advantage.
Brain structure also has a non-binary distribution but with differences between men and women structures on average. A woman having a brain structure closer to the average for men does not imply she is a man anymore than having a height closer to the average for men does not imply she is a man. It's interesting to know that gay men have a brain structure closer to that of a woman and it may well be correlated with sexual attraction but it doesn't imply anything about the person's sex.
Just a side note: a model of binary dristibution for brain structure presents a problem for those claiming a non-binary identity.
I can't honestly believe that? How utterly absurd & disingenuous. You are years behind the curve. There are 10's of thousands of kids now claiming to be in the wrong body, 70% of them girls. This indoctrination begins in kindergarten. You need to take a hard look at the current curriculum in all schools in the West.
I could go on & on. Get on YouTube or any other social media & listen to the detransitioners. Look at the lawsuits filed, particularly in the UK & Sweden where this "practice" has now been banned. You speak of "rarity" & are clearly unaware of how many thousands of kids are "transitioning" due to social media, school incitement & egregious mental illness that now proliferates in society. And "neurobiological reality"? Sorry, but that is myth. If you take a hard look you'll see that the LGB community has been co-opted by this train wreck; they do not endorse or support it as can be seen by all the lesbian & gay groups speaking out against grooming. Being same sex attracted is one thing, believing you are born in the wrong body & being nurtured in this madness leads to frankensurgury & permanent sterility & the myth of suicide is what's promoted by this industry, not the kids.
Great piece, thank you!
Another factor is the observed phenomenon that old trans people with dementia/Alzheimers are forgetting they're trans and reverting to their original identity:
The worst part of this is that I 100% believe that this "fact" was taught to this person in school. That's why the Left's cries of "Free Speech!" when it comes to curriculum and library content are so disingenuous.
What's missing from the discussion here is the real engine behind this wave of "trans" kids; this international financial push to disrupt society by disrupting sanity vis a vis "gender ideology". These children are the victims of social contagion & nothing more. From Kindergarten up, kids are indoctrinated to believe they can choose one of many genders, which of course, always funnels down to the opposite gender via surgery & hormones. These children are completely impressionable and, as the pack animals we are, want to fit in & will "identify" with whatever promoted ideology is pushed incl. the insane "critical race" garbage. This is a planned & well financed global initiative to destroy society & sterilize a whole generation of children.
As usual, this is a very interesting and thought-provoking essay. However, as I've commented before, some of it is based on inaccurate ideas about biology and psychology. While I agree with all of your basic points, your arguments would be more convincing if they included some of the subtleties of neurobiology and psychology. For instance, debating about whether or not gender identity or gender dysphoria this "biologically based" makes no sense because it can be nothing else but biologically based (as are all thought processes). This is a misunderstanding of the term "biologically based" entertained by both sides of this debate. Likewise, citing the claim that "there is no biological test for gender identity" makes no sense in the light of the fact that there is no single biological test for Alzheimer's or autism. This, too, is a point misunderstood by people on both sides of this debate.
See, for instance:
There is "Biological Evidence for Gender Identity..." but it’s not what you think
Hallucinating Your Inner Trans-Reptile
Please understand that I'm not saying that any of your argumentation is fundamentally wrong or misguided. I'm just suggesting that your arguments could be made more convincingly.
Thank you again for another wonderful essay. I appreciate your intellectual vigor and commitment to your beliefs. Sincerely, Frederick
My first thought is correlation does not equal causation. Also, what if embracing a trans identity is the cause of brain differences rather than the result of them?
GI can be likened to the concept of the human soul. The soul remains a constant through life. It is not like the GI metronome: Alice starts off female, claims to be male, then after puberty is female again (as you point out).
I was raised a Catholic, attended a Catholic school, and became an atheist in my mid-20s. My Catholicism was very real and important to me, but I recognized that it was indoctrination, well intended, but false. GI Ideology follows the same false indoctrination model.
If a brain is in a male body, it's a male brain. It may vary from other male brains, but it is still male.
So important to push back against WPATH seeking to “depsychopathologize gender incongruence.” It is the root of a lot of the most dangerous nonsense.
So as an actual transexual who transitioned 25 years ago and spent my life studying the subject, let me respond to this.
1. Christina does not disprove anything. She merely points out a lack of a control group and uses that as a way to force her theory. This is a popular criticism of anti-trans activists on all trans studies because control groups are next to impossible to do on trans issues. This is not the same as actually doing a study or doing real research. It's just pointing out a weakness in the diagnosis. It's not debunking anything.
2. This has been studied by multiple countries and multiple people. The structures of the brain exposed to hormone variations in utero have an effect on the masculinization and feminization of the human brain in ways that are irreversible. It's logically surmised that this has an effect on someone's sense of sexual identity. This is not a stretch.
3. People like to point out either brain size or shape as some kind of proof of how male and female brains are different when the part of our brains responsible for our identity is buried deeply and is very tiny. All the evidence is there.
4. While evidence for a biological component isn't so good enough to scan for GD, it is overwhelmingly good enough to say there is a very real biological component going on here.
Like Christina, you can wish for this to be a mental illness so you can reject trans people, but you can't say it's supported by science because an alt-right anti-trans activist wrote a blog about it on Substack. I challenge you to do some objective research. You'll come up with the same conclusions.
I’m not up on all of this brain science (so no science here, just opinion) but always believed that the brain changed with learning, like grew new pathways or something. The addition to hormones in amounts not made for one’s sex/biological body would also seem to be able to make changes in the brain. Not long ago someone was claiming that pedophiles had different brains and so his point was that they weren’t to blame for being attracted to children. My question with that one was, were they always pedophiles or if we’d looked at their brains years earlier would they have been normal? That’s one of my questions for all of this, with all that isn’t what we’d call normal heterosexuals. At some point did something happen that began a change? Could even indoctrination change a brain over time? I don’t know. I do think that some who are studying this have presupposed conclusions and that the science they do will seek these conclusions out and avoid other possibilities. In the end I don’t think it’s about people being different that’s the problem but rather messing with and diagnosing children, changing them in ways that cannot be undone in order to validate themselves. If kids were left alone this would hardly be an issue.
Looking forward to the follow-up. The primary methodological critique that I'm aware of plagues much neuroscience research: the sample sizes are often far too small for the studies to be of much use at all. If I'm not mistaken, some of the cited differences themselves differ from study to study.