Review article provides evidence on the biological nature of gender identity

February 13, 2015, Boston University Medical Center

Medical care of transgender patients, including surgical and hormonal treatment, has largely been met with resistance by physicians in favor of psychiatric treatment, owing to misconceptions that gender identity can be changed. According to a review article in Endocrine Practice, there is increasing evidence of a biological basis for gender identity that may change physicians' perspective on transgender medicine and improve health care for these patients.

The article was led by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine.

Disorders of gender identity affect as many as 1 in 100 people. Transgender individuals are those who identify with a gender that differs from their natal sex. Different etiologies have been suggested as the cause of transgender identify however none have been proven definitively.

The researchers conducted a literature search and reviewed articles that showed positive biologic bases for gender identity. These included disorders of sexual development, such as penile agenesis, neuroanatomical differences, such as grey and white matter studies, and steroid hormone genetics, such as genes associated with sex hormone receptors. They conclude that current data suggests a biological etiology for transgender identity.

"This paper represents the first comprehensive review of the scientific evidence that gender identity is a biological phenomenon," explains corresponding author Joshua D. Safer, MD, FACP. "As such it provides one of the most convincing arguments to date for all medical providers to gain the transgender medicine skills necessary to provide good care for these individuals," he added.

According to the researchers the article does have some limitations due to the small numbers of individuals studied and therefore conclusions should be drawn with caution. Safer recommends that further research focus on specific biologic mechanisms for .

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d_micheletti
not rated yet Feb 25, 2015
I am MTF but also intersex to some degree. The question is 19 years ago my right testes became malignant but proved to be an Ovotestes, mostly an ovary. Yes I had Ovarian cancer and was treated for such. In addition I had several extreme teratoma removed.
The other testes was small and a little under developed but normal. Even though I don't wish to fully transition because I am married I would like to take some female hormones at some point in time before I die. Doctors where reluctant to offer me hormones because of the complications they could cause. Are they being too careful or is there some health issues I need to look out for?
What issues could intersex people have related to this?
We live in Northern Minnesota and have limited access to intersex groups or medical care directed to us. Frankly much of my care has been substandard early in my treatment. Even now I find this is often beyond the scope of those who treat me, even though the do their best.

Hannah

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