A new study shows that trans people’s brains reflect their true genders

It seems that, slowly but surely, awareness of the issues facing the transgender community has started to improve. Nevertheless, many continue to challenge the validity of the trans existence, among them President Donald Trump, who has attempted to ban trans soldiers from serving in the military. But now, a new study has provided evidence that trans people’s brains reflect their true genders rather than the genders they were assigned at birth.

Researchers at University of Liege in Belgium examined MRI scans of brain activity in about 160 teenagers, some of whom were trans. Prior to the scan, participants were exposed to a steroid that triggers gender-specific reactions. The researchers found that trans teens’ brains reacted similarly to those of cisgender teens: trans boys’ brains behaved similarly to cis boys’ brains, and the same was true for cis and trans girls.

The findings were presented at the European Society of Endocrinology’s annual meeting in Barcelona. Dr. James Barrett, the lead clinician at the Gender Identity Clinic and president of the British Association of Gender Identity Specialists, helped review the study and told Newsweek that this evidence points to a link between the structure of the brain and transgender identity.

"It used to be held long ago that all of this was psychological, and over the years the pendulum of 'Is it nature or nurture?' has swung rather more toward the nature side of it, with increasing peculiar pieces of biological evidence suggesting there may be something innate in the pre-uterine environment," he told the magazine.


Julie Bakker, professor of neuroendocrinology at Belgium’s University of Liege and one of the study’s authors, told Inverse that she hopes this study can help people with gender dysphoria by allowing them to begin a medical transition sooner.

"Often they [transgender adolescents] have to wait a long time, and they develop the secondary sex characteristics of their biological sex," she told the science magazine. "This is of course very difficult for them psychologically speaking."

The results reached by Bakker’s team suggest that being transgender is not a choice but rather an innate component of one’s identity. That said, even if it were a choice, that wouldn’t negate transgender people’s existence. We need to support the LGBTQ community no matter what, and hopefully, this study helps do just that.

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