all 14 comments

[–][deleted] 12 insightful - 1 fun12 insightful - 0 fun13 insightful - 1 fun -  (5 children)

If they're so intent on the brain sex thing then clearly the proper way to diagnose trans would be to do a brain scan, would it not? Why are they advocating for self ID and transing children based on children's interests when a brain scan could be used for definitive proof the person is trans?

It's seems a lot like even they don't believe the brain sex thing and just use it as a justification for their ideology.

[–]Greykittymomma 6 insightful - 1 fun6 insightful - 0 fun7 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

They would be so pissed to know they just had man brains. Arrg medicine is so transphobic!!

[–]Kai_Decadence[S] 7 insightful - 6 fun7 insightful - 5 fun8 insightful - 6 fun -  (0 children)

(In Maury voice) "You said that you have the brain of a female and we checked the scans and it turns out that was a lie. YOU ARE NOT FEMALE" lol

[–]Kai_Decadence[S] 5 insightful - 1 fun5 insightful - 0 fun6 insightful - 1 fun -  (2 children)

This is the thing that always plays in my head when I hear the brain sex crap. If these men are so sure that they have "lady brain", why the hell don't they just do the brain scan then to truly shut us up? Wouldn't doing this prove that what they say is true and be a "Hah suck it" kinda thing for them? Because all they have is a "study" done years ago on 6 post-mortem bodies of trans-identified men and that totally doesn't matter because they were chemically altered and dead, there's no telling what their brains looked like before they took the drugs as well as taking into account other factors like mental illness and/or genetic disorders if any.

[–]TheOnyxGoddess 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Hey long time no see :)

They have so much less than they think. Science hasn't exactly even proven what is a "female" or "male" brain, I'm not even sure if they've proven there's an existence of such. At most science can probably say "this is a feminine brain" or "masculine brain" to describe a subject's brain structure based off correlation of what they find when they examine female or male brain structure. To give an example of what I mean, someone might describe my brother's hands as having "girly hands" because his hands are within the statistically common size range of adult female hands, not adult male hands. It's like they decided to define the entire thing based off sociological behaviours exhibited in a dynamic context (e.g. changing of culture). They might as well be saying "you have a male height" when communicating their observations. The study of sociology has no business in the study of human neurology. If these TiMs want to get a brain scan, they might get something that is often exhibited in the female brain, but that does not prove that their brain specifically tells them that they are "women". That's their own idea. Their logic would be very much like measuring a man's height and his wrist diameter and finding his results are within a woman's range, not a man's range and based off that concluding he's a "woman".

Note: I wrote this before reading the actual forum. I read and follow the OP's account and saw this comment and wanted to reply my thoughts. So if this resembles other comment here, that would be why.

[–]endless_assfluff 5 insightful - 1 fun5 insightful - 0 fun6 insightful - 1 fun -  (5 children)

Scientist here; will do a more complete breakdown when I don't have other papers to read but wanted to share some preliminary thoughts. (Also, Kai, I pinged you on Twitter! I wanna be friends!)

You and sneeuweekhoorn nailed that the MTF brain scan is inconclusive and that if there were truth in the matter, brain scans would be used as a diagnostic criterion. And you're right, the conclusions the authors are drawing are far too strong for the data they're presenting. I'll try to keep it short.

  1. The question the authors are considering in this review paper is not "do male and female brains exist?", it's "well DUHHHHH male and female brains exist; can we identify what makes brains male or female?" Right off the bat, if a study assumes a certain hypothesis is true, it cannot prove or disprove that hypothesis. That's like if a paper came out that said "okay, we think children's diets influence what kind of TV they like. We found that kids who ate more bacon preferred cartoons, and kids who ate more bread preferred live-action shows," and then the media picked it up and said "look!! They found a correlation, so that must mean their initial assumption was correct!" Makes no damn sense. In order to convincingly argue that prenatal factors determine---or even influence!---an individual's gender identity, one would have to at least cite a study that actually does rule out the null hypothesis (that is, that they do not). To say nothing of correlation and causation.

  2. The study is disingenuous in the way it pits pre- and postnatal factors against each other. In this and at least another paper, they repeat this sentence: "there is no evidence that one’s postnatal social environment plays a crucial role in gender identity or sexual orientation." A careless reader might interpret that as "alas, many bigoted scientists have tried for years to claim some environmental connection to gender dysphoria, but they have all failed," when what the author really means to say is "due to lack of evidence, we cannot rule out environmental causes as a factor that influences gender identity." Again, gender is a social construct and social constructs aren't introduced in utero, so the first case makes no damn sense whatsoever.

  3. And like---can't something be influenced by both nature and nurture? It's not like they're mutually exclusive. But these authors claim that because they found prenatal factors "that influence gender identity that may result in transsexuality," surely gender identity cannot possibly be affected by any postnatal factors.

  4. Omg, that reference they cited for Table 2 links back to a ANOTHER review paper with almost the same name written two years before by the second author. Dying. Gimme a sec.

  5. The Programmed gender identity is irreversible section; just the whole thing. Putting aside---with some difficulty---that this section consists of a single case study and ends with citations to two papers from this lab, one of which is the aforementioned earlier review paper and the other of which has jack all to do with gender identity, they sure are throwing around words like "irreversible" and "permanent" despite having no evidence that this is the case for gender identity.

  6. This:

In addition, a female INAH3 and BSTc have been found in MtF transsexual persons. The only female-to-male (FtM) transsexual person available to us for study so far had a BSTc and INAH3 with clear male characteristics (Figs 3 and 4).

LMAOOOO. Can't have error bars on a cohort of 1.

7. This is not the original authors' fault, but because I'm guessing this male/female brain theory is being used to justify all sorts of weird stuff, it's worth mentioning that this paper doesn't say anything about how GID should be treated or how the number of CRH-immunoreactive neurons in the PVN makes someone prefer blue over pink, for example. I'm just gonna go out on a limb and guess that people are using this paper to argue in favor of/against things that are not in the paper.

To wrap it up, yes, there are probably some sex differences in the brain and yes, brains are complicated, but there's a HUGE gap between what this paper says and what people want it to say. 'Sex hormones influence brain development prenatally' is such a far cry from socially relevant conclusions this paper didn't draw, such as 'trans people are the gender they say they are' or 'women are idiot dum dums who are bad at math.' But part of this is on the authors for basing part of the review on incredibly strong claims they couldn't substantiate.

Like I said, this is preliminary, but I'm happy to go into more detail if prompted. (Edit: formatting)

[–]SexualityCritical 3 insightful - 1 fun3 insightful - 0 fun4 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Do update when you can! I'm loving this rebuttal!

[–]Kai_Decadence[S] 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (3 children)

Thank you so much for your incite! As I mentioned before, I'm not the most technical person when it comes to science, I'm not particularly skilled and versed in the terminology and I can sometimes get distracted by the wording but that was the thing that was always in my head when it came to the "Brains sex" crap. If it's really true than why don't they ever use it as a mandatory thing for screening during the "Gender therapy"? Surely you'd want this kinda thing to confirm and make sure you're making the right decision to "transition" no? And plus if I remember correctly, the main study they used was the one done on 6 post-mortem trans-identified men and I heard that using 6 people does not count as a experiment. Never mind the fact that these men were dead and who's to say that their brain structures weren't chemically altered? What did their brains look like before they started ingesting hormones and what about the possibility of other things like developmental disorders or mental disorders and whatnot?

And I'll definitely get to your friend request soon! I've been so busy offline that I didn't have much time to check my Twitter this week haha.

[–]endless_assfluff 3 insightful - 1 fun3 insightful - 0 fun4 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

Lol, yep. Dubious correlations pop up all the time with a cohort of 6, especially if the goal is to hunt for similarities rather than to prove those similarities actually mean something. Funny thing, it also goes in the opposite direction if we're talking experiments and not people: one time a bio lab ran 24 trials of an experiment that normally gets repeated only 5 or 6 times, and another lab accused them (BRUTAL nerd drama) of running more and more trials because the initial 6 didn't give them the P-values they wanted.

[–]Kai_Decadence[S] 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

That's insane lol But not surprising unfortunately.

[–]TheOnyxGoddess 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

If it helps, you're doing a good job trying to maintain a strong level of of impartiality and making sure to apply logical and critical analysis. Aside from the morally grey people, there're people who shouldn't be a scientist and scientists in general are also not immune to bias of any type. They are still people, just getting a degree in science means they're less likely to make mistakes when coming up with conclusions (maybe in the older days, I think the bench mark to become a scientist has sank today). This is why no matter if you're a scientist or not, you got to keep questioning. I follow a principle of "don't let people put you in your place just because you're not trained in the field or share the same experience (even life experience) and don't let arrogance cloud your views" and "if people want to be offended, that's on them". I tend to judge people by how they react to basic questions. If they answer, it's great, if they react as if they're arrogant or feel you're attacking them when it's quite clear you're not trying to offend anyone, better remember they're not worthwhile to have intellectual conversations.

[–]Doe_aFemaleDeer 3 insightful - 3 fun3 insightful - 2 fun4 insightful - 3 fun -  (0 children)

University of Southern California News (July 2019): “So far, results from the few existing studies are INCONCLUSIVE, Vanhoecke said. Some evidence [1st group of studies] suggests differences in gender identity could be linked to ways the brain develops in childhood and adolescence, and that the observed patterns correspond to gender identity. OTHER STUDIES [2nd group of studies] have indicated that NEURAL PATTERNS generally MATCH THE SEX a person is assigned at birth. Yet other studies [3rd group of studies] found evidence that doesn’t seem to support either of these, but rather that there are unique neural patterns in transgender people. “It’s a VERY MIXED story,” he said. “It’s NOT always true that your “brain structure” “matches” your “gender identity”, or vice versa. There is NO CLEAR CONSENSUS in the field.”

The Scientist Magazine (February 2018): “Mixed results for studies of the transgender brain. It’s unlikely that gender identity has such a straightforward biological explanation, however, and some studies have identified features of the transgender brain that appear CLOSER to the NATAL SEX, casting DOUBT on the “developmental mismatch” hypothesis. In a 2015 study from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, a comparison of the distribution of gray matter in 93 transgender adolescents with cisgender controls in the same age group found broad similarities in the hypothalami and the cerebellums of the transgender subjects and cisgender participants of the SAME NATAL SEX.”

“A 2013 study that focused on cortical thickness, which tends to be slightly greater in women than in men, also yielded MIXED RESULTS. Led by Antonio Guillamon, a neuroscientist at the National Distance Education University in Spain, researchers analyzed the MRI scans of 94 subjects and found that the total cortical thickness of both transgender women AND [!] men was more similar to that of cis women than that of cis men. But this finding did NOT hold true across the entire brain: in a structure in the forebrain known as the right putamen, which is involved in motor tasks and learning, cortical thickness in transgender men was more similar to that in cisgender men, [but] transgender women showed NO SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES from EITHER cisgender control group.”

Even James Caspian (the psychotherapist with 17 years’ experience in helping patients with Gender Dysphoria, and who is a trustee of the transgender charity The Beaumont Trust) said: “On the one hand, there is a narrative that gender identity is neurobiological – that you can have such a thing as a female brain in a male baby’s body and vice versa. To that end, there are a small number of studies that attempt to show a gendered brain, but there are MANY OTHERS that show that there is not.”

Here is how Prof Derek Hill, Professor of Medical Imaging, UCL explains it: “ “Brain scanning studies” in this area [Gender Dysphoria] tend to be on small numbers of subjects, with poorly standardised methodology for data collection and analysis, and with varying approaches to controlling for other conditions the individuals suffer from such as anxiety and depression, which could impact the results. It is quite possible, therefore, that some of the associations suggested here by the authors between gender dysphoria and brain function are CHANCE RANDOM FINDINGS – the underlying data the authors have looked at is very noisy so the assumptions that underpin their theory are all subject to uncertainty. Further work to test their theory prospectively would be very helpful in determining whether the theory could be helpful in managing and planning treatment of these individuals.”

So the methodology of the study needs to make sure that they are not confusing/conflating one phenomenon for another. For example, in a news article about a genetic study that claimed to link Gender Dysphoria to 'Brain Sex', it problematically seemed to CONFLATE the potential cause for Homosexuality with the potential cause for Gender Dysphoria: “Animal studies have helped identify 4 areas of the brain with pathways leading to development of a “male or female brain”, and the investigators focused on those likely also present in humans. Laboratory studies have indicated that disrupting these brain pathways in males and females during this critical period results in cross sex behavior, like female rodents mounting and thrusting, and males taking on a more traditional female posture when mating.”

See the problem here? The premise that those genetic scientists used is that if a female mouse is humping another female mouse - it’s so-called “evidence” of a so-called “male brain”. But that methodology is questionable - because what they’re observing is potentially Homosexuality, not Gender Dysphoria. So they’re testing for Gender Dysphoria by looking for potential genetic pathways for Homosexuality! Which is a bizarre approach which will lead to confusing/conflating results.

The huge problem of conflation of homosexuals and trans-identifying individuals in studies about Dysphoria was brought up in a 2015 German meta-study of “Trans brain” studies: “It appears the data [of studies] are quite INHOMOGENEOUS, mostly NOT REPLICATED and in many cases available for male-to-female [Ts] only. As the PREVALENCE OF HOMOSEXUALITY is markedly higher among Ts than among the general population, DISENTANGLING correlates of Sexual Orientation and gender identity is a major problem. To resolve such DEFICIENCIES [in studies], the implementation of specific research standards is proposed."

A Belgian co-author scientist in a Belgian/Dutch study admitted this possible confusion in her own study: “Limitations: Since all girls with Gender Dysphoria [who claimed to be ‘T-boys’ in this study] identified as Gynephilic [i.e. attracted to females], their resemblance in spatial cognition with the control boys, who were also Gynephilic [i.e. also attracted to females], may have been related to their shared Sexual Orientation RATHER THAN their shared “gender identity”.

“Brains of [non-Trans] Gay men ALSO structured like those of the opposite-sex [non-Trans] Straight females’, study observed" (New Scientist article about it: So then... since this study suggests that Gay Men and Straight Women have "similar brains" - then, if we adopt TRA "brain sex theory" logic, that would mean that Gay Men (even NON-TRANS ones!) are "Straight Women". See how ridiculous this "brain sex" theory gets? So there’s actually a HUGE ‘elephant-in-the-room’ problem in the speculative “Brain Sex” studies that Trans Activists promote because they often FORGOT to control for Sexual Orientation. That is: the “brain scans”, etc can confuse same-sex orientation for “Gender Dysphoria”.

If they have a test group of e.g. males who are “dysphoric” and claim to be “Trans” (and who are Gay males) - then they need to compare them in a control-study with regular (‘non-Trans’) Gay males, as a control group (not with regular Hetero females). Because if we start comparing a cohort of gay male “Ts” with a cohort of straight female “non-Ts” - then the results of the study might misleadingly show “brain similarities” NOT because of any “Trans” / “Gender Dysphoria” factor - but because of Sexual Orientation.

Finally, the other HUGE (elephant-in-the-room) problem for these "brain sex" studies is this: "There is also evidence that some "brain structures" may show a SIMILAR variation in SCHIZOPHRENIA, with [MALE Schizophrenia patients] showing a “feminized” pattern and [FEMALE Schizophrenia patients] showing a “masculinized” pattern, leading to the proposal that SCHIZOPHRENIA itself may be related to Gender-atypical brain development, perhaps caused by prenatal hormonal imbalances”

And there have been studies that suggest that Schizophrenia, AUTISM, Body Dysmorphia, Gender Dysphoria and even Anorexia - all have potential genetic/neurological causes too.

So basically regular (non-trans) gay males can have (so-called) "feminised brains". Male Schizophrenics & Autism patients can have "feminised brains". Male Gender Dysphoric patients can have "feminised brains". Studies have even shown that even some regular (NON-trans) people have brains more similar to some members of the opposite sex! But none of that is "evidence" that all of these MALES (homosexual men, gender-dysphoric men, body-dysmorphic men, autistic men, schizophrenic men, etc) are "women" / "females". In other words, having gay sexual orientation or a neurological connectivity problem in the brain which lead to self-perception problems (Gender Dysphoria, Autism, Schizophrenia, Autogynephilia) does NOT mean any such person is the "opposite sex" - it simply means they're gay or have a neurological issue. Gay men having (so-called) "feminized brains" does not mean they're "women". Schizophrenic men having "feminized brains" does not mean they're "women". Likewise, Trans patients and autism patients having "feminized brains" does not mean they're "women".

[–]GConly 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

That's bstc study that image is probably referring too is probably the Dick Swaab stuff from the 90s.

It was debunked by Ann Lawrence, who pointed out this area differentiates during puberty (therefore it can't be involved in childhood GD) and that illicit use of female hormones by transwomen (often contraceptive pills) was rampant at the time. So not seeing a history of hormone use on medical records was worthless and that's probably where the observed differences came from.

Having said that, I located three studies that demonstrate that you can tell what sex someone is from an MRI scan with about 95% accuracy even from incomplete data.

The ones you can't ID are gay.

There's a paper by Savic and Burke that corrects for sexual orientation in transgender subjects. What it finds are that if you correct for SO, the difference is only seen in one area reliably and it's not in an area that's sexually differentiated (the IFOF) but is abnormal in a lot of mental health conditions like OCD etc.

Transbians have normally masculinized brains. The intersex brain argument absolutely does not apply to them.

[–]Kai_Decadence[S] 3 insightful - 1 fun3 insightful - 0 fun4 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Oh I didn't know that (that the image came from the 90s) but it makes it all the more dumb for them to even bring it up, especially since it has been debunked as you said. It's like these transbians are grasping for straws.