The neurobiological basis of gender dysphoria

The neurobiological basis of gender dysphoria
A diagram of the multisense theory of gender dysphoria. Credit: Gliske, eNeuro 2019

A new theory of gender dysphoria argues the symptoms of the condition are due to changes in network activity, rather than incorrect brain sex, according to work recently published in eNeuro.

Gender dysphoria is a state of extreme distress caused by the feeling that a person's true gender does not match the gender assigned at birth. The leading theory of the mechanism behind gender dysphoria attributes the condition to people possessing brains regions with the size and shape of the opposite sex, instead of their biological sex. However, recent brain imaging studies don't support that theory.

Stephen Gliske reviewed previous research and has developed a new multisense theory of gender dysphoria focused on function of brain regions, rather than only size and shape. He proposes gender dysphoria is caused by altered activity in three networks—the distress, , and body-ownership networks—affecting distress and one's sense of their own gender. Previous studies support the premise that activity changes in these networks are associated with anatomical changes and feelings of gender dysphoria.

If supported by further research, this could offer ways to treat the distress of patients without relying on invasive and irreversible reassignment surgery.

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More information: A New Theory of Gender Dysphoria Incorporating the Distress, Social Behavioral, and Body-Ownership Networks, eNeuro, DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0183-19.2019
Citation: The neurobiological basis of gender dysphoria (2019, December 2) retrieved 17 January 2022 from
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