top of page

The Neurobiological Perspective on Gender Dysphoria

Author: Maria Flores

Editors: Sophia Chen and Emily Yu

Artist: Acey Li

With the increased prevalence of transgender individuals, conservatives have found their latest target for fear-mongering. Law SB 254, sponsored by the Republican Senate in Florida, adds a multitude of barriers to healthcare access by requiring minors to obtain x-rays, bone density scans, and annual mental health assessments. Furthermore, medical professionals who fail to comply with these new guidelines risk having their licenses suspended, which has contributed to a shortage of providers for transgender youth. Senator Clay Yarborough, supporting the bill, framed it as a protective measure against what he deemed “the radical, prurient agenda [...] across most forms of media.” Amidst the controversy surrounding the right to accessible gender-affirming treatment for transgender youth, neurology provides a unique insight into the transgender identity and the crucial importance of gender-affirming care.

Neuroscience provides a nuanced depiction of transgender individuals by explaining their experiences scientifically. Most scientific studies have indicated unity between the structure and function of a transgender individual's chosen gender and that of a cisgender individual. In a study focused on transgender women who did not undergo any gender-affirming treatment, the same trend was observed. Researchers collected a database of brain images and trained an algorithm to distinguish between the two sexes based on similar tissue classifications. With a performance accuracy of 90.2%, the designated predicting index displayed that “transgender women were significantly more female than cisgender men,” yet “significantly less female than cisgender women.” These remarkable differences between transgender women and cisgender men corroborate the existence of a majority of transgendered individuals. While being physically aligned to their assigned gender at birth, individuals may feel an incongruence in their body—not one caused by simple discomfort, but one rooted in a deep disconnection from one’s gender and sex. 

Understanding the neurological makeup of transgender individuals helps society visualize the turmoil of gender dysphoria—an unease created by a discontinuity between their biological sex and their gender identity. Those grappling with this often report higher degrees of depression and anxiety. Gender dysphoria is not a fictitious condition created to indoctrinate children, but a medical condition. The documented pathology of gender incongruence depicts the depth that gender has on individuals. The brain of transgender individuals is in direct biological misalignment with their sexual organs. Therefore, one must question whether sex organs should be the biological determinant of gender. Gender is a complex identity that impacts one’s psychological and sociological perception of society and can influence biological composition. Our brains have a complex relationship with gender, and we, as a developed species, cannot remain rigidly attached to sex as the determinant of gender— especially when it restricts access to life-saving treatment. Youths between the ages of 13 and 20 who initiated gender-affirming hormone therapy or puberty blockers had lower odds of suicidality than those who did not. We must heed the advice of medical professionals and ensure urgent, unrestricted access to gender-affirming treatment—a saving grace for thousands of transgender individuals battling gender dysphoria.

 

Citations:

Kurth, Florian, et al. “Brain Sex in Transgender Women Is Shifted towards Gender Identity.”

Accessed 5 December 2023.

“Gender dysphoria.” NHS, 2020, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gender-dysphoria/.

Accessed 5 December 2023.

Pandolfo, Chris. “Florida Senate passes DeSantis-backed bill banning transgender

treatments for minors.” Fox News, 5 April 2023,

transgender-treatments-minors. Accessed 5 December 2023.

“Senate Bill 254 (2023).” The Florida Senate, 13 March 2023,

Stringer, Kate. “The benefits of gender-affirming care | UW School of Public Health.” UW

School of Public Health, 31 March 2023, https://sph.washington.edu/news-events/sph-

blog/benefits-gender-affirming-care. Accessed 5 December 2023.

Tordoff, Diana M., et al. “Mental Health Outcomes in Transgender and Nonbinary Youths

Receiving Gender-Affirming Care.” YouTube, 16 June 2023,

December 2023.

3 views0 comments
bottom of page