On the Science of Changing Sex

Exploring The Science of Transgender

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on July 16, 2018

Through Knowledge, Justice…

27867072_1811649452220144_4426664495691531655_nThis blog is on the science of transsexuality and transgender sexuality, including aspects of sexual orientation.  The blog also explores socio-political themes where appropriate.  There are many myths and misunderstandings about transsexuality and transgender people.  Our scientific understanding of the transsexual phenomena has increased and dramatically improved over the past fifty years, yet much of what is available in popular literature is misinformation and disinformation.  Much of what the public, including transsexuals and transgender people themselves, believe about the etiology and epidemiology of transsexuality is based on wishful thinking on one hand and deliberate distortions on the other.  Worse, many cherry-pick among the scientific papers, choosing those that, in isolation, appear to support a given thesis.  Many people have read misinformation and disinformation regarding the science, denying, decrying, and even weaponizing the science, often in emotionally inflammatory language (including vicious attacks on the characters of scientists and educators), that makes its rounds in the echo chamber of the web and social media.  Indeed, there are fora that will instantly ban any who discuss this science in any truthful way.  This blog is an attempt to correct this situation.

Learning an unpleasant truth is better than believing a comforting lie – Don’t let the “tribe” tell you what to think – Trust only evidence, not vehemence

All information found in this blog is supported by peer reviewed science and referenced (cited) in essay posts covering a given topic found on this site.  Many topics are interwoven with other topics, as they are interlocking issues.  Please explore the entire site for a full explanation of each topic.

I recommend that one read the first several entries in the FAQ as an introduction and jumping off point via the links provided.  One can find a bibliography for this blog if you wish to quickly find papers of interest.  You may wish to review the Glossary if a word is unfamiliar.

Remember as you read this site;  Transsexuals and transgendered people are good people, worthy of our respect, and even of our admiration.  Nothing in this material is meant to imply otherwise.  If you are a transsexual or transgendered person:  You have value as a human being.  You have the right to be respected, valued, and even celebrated as the gender to which you identify and aspire regardless of etiology.

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The Silent Transsexual

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on September 14, 2020

When I started writing on the topic of the science of changing sex, it was after having been doxxed as the author of The Invisible Transsexual about ten years ago. The issue then was that those in denial of the two type taxonomy, autogynephilic vs. homosexual, of male-to-female transsexuality were deliberately working to conflate and confuse the two types, insisting that there was only one type. Being doxxed, rather than forcing me to remain silent, roused an indignant anger such that I rose to defend reality, fact, and scientific knowledge.

Historically, autogynephilic gender dysphoric people were not considered “true transsexuals” by medical and scientific opinion. Only the naturally feminine homosexual transsexuals were considered thus. However, both taxons were found to be equally gender dysphoric and aided by medical interventions. Indeed the very term “gender dysphoria” was coined by Dr. Norman Fisk in the early ’70s to enable autogynephilic candidates to avail themselves of medical interventions. This later led to the unfortunate conflation and confusion of the two different taxons in the public mind, driven in part by the autogynephilic transsexual community themselves.

Today, one can see that many transsexuals have come to understand and acknowledge the reality of the two type taxonomy. A growing number of brave autogynephilic transsexuals have come forth to acknowledge both the taxonomy and their own autogynephilic sexuality. A growing number of homosexual transsexuals have raised their voices to talk about the differences, their own unique experiences, become more visible as a separate population, with very different social and therapeutic needs. This has been a very heartening development.

However, a new and unforseen development has also occurred. Even as transsexuals acknowledge the two very different types, transsexual voices are being shouted down. Even as transsexual kids are being acknowledged and finding greater support in their communities, from their parents, and from more enlightened medical care givers, their voices are being shouted down by an ever growing chorus of people who are NOT transsexual.

I speak of course to the unfortunate social circumstance of having been subsumed in a larger identity of “transgender”.

The term “transgender” was originally coined in the ’60s by Dr. Virginia Prince, a male bodied lifestyle crossdresser, an autogynephile who neither desired nor sought medical interventions to change his body. He coined the term to describe himself, and to differentiate himself, from transsexuals. Yes, the term originally EXCLUDED transsexuals. He also coined the term to differentiate himself from secretive crossdressers, common transvestites, autogynephiles who only occasionally crossdressed, often only partially in women’s lingerie, for sexual gratification and emotional comfort.

But, over the decades, the term was expanded, first to include transvestites, then in the early ’90s, it began to be used to cover autogynephilic transsexuals, who had followed a transvestite, to transgenderist (the term used then), to transsexual, career arc. In a way, it made sense that autogynephilic transsexuals could and should be covered by such an umbrella term, given their histories and shared autogynephilic etiology. But sadly, because of the conflation of the two types, this also dragged homosexual transsexuals under the umbrella, unwillingly and to their detriment, conflating and confusing them with heterosexual transvestites!

But sometime in the last ten to fifteen years, a new phenomena grew. People who were neither homosexual nor autogynephilic… indeed not even gender dysphoric, began to see that transsexuals were fighting for our social, legal, civil rights. We became, in some socially liberal circles, “cool”. And because we’re “cool”, many who felt like “outsiders” took on the superficial trappings and identity of being “trans”, even though they were in no sense gender dysphoric, nor even gender atypical.

This was sometimes accepted by autogynephilic males since most of those who claimed to be “transgender” were also such non gender dysphoric / non-gender atypical “trans” (secretive transvestites).

But, among those who weren’t gender dysphoric nor gender atypical were large numbers of female bodied young people who wanted also to join the “cool kids club”. And as they did so, they diluted the voices of actual transsexual transmen. These transmen began to openly question why these non-transsexual, non-gender dysphoric, non-gender atypical, very often heterosexual girls, should claim to be like them. Thus began a war of words and of ugly epithets as actual transsexuals began to be pushed away from the ‘cool kids lunch table’ by self-identified ‘transgender’ people, vilified with such terms as “trans-medicalist” and “truscum”.

But this wasn’t the end. Now we have entered a new phase where actual transsexual people are being silenced and marginalized by this ever expanding “transgender” community evidenced in the past couple years by the stunningly counter intuitive development in which they are now claiming that the very term that started it all, “transsexual” is a pejoritive!

That term is NOT a pejoritive to actual transsexuals!!!!

The goal of those who are “transgender” who make this astounding claim is clear: To silence transsexuals.

If our voices can be shouted down by claiming that there is no difference between those who merely self-proclaim their identity as “trans” and actual transsexuals, then they can lay claim to all the “coolness” and social acceptance that transsexuals have worked so hard over decades to earn.

As a transsexual, I will NOT be silenced.

Further Reading:

Lost In The Crowd

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Sex Chromosomes Expression Associated With Brain Sex?

Posted in Brain Sex by Kay Brown on July 27, 2020

Teenage-brainThere has been a long term assumption that sexually dimorphic brain features developed solely from hormonal difference, both organizational and activational.  Some have long suspected that at least some of the sexually dimorphic features were from differential expression of the sex chromosomes themselves.  An association between such features and differential expression has now been found in a recent study.

There is a great essay at Wired that I would recommend you read before continuing to read my essay here.  (Link)

A few comments are warranted here.

First, the hormonal hypothesis is not negated, only modified.  There remain several possibilities, first that the hormonal influence simply triggers which genes are expressed in the brain at and that it is only coincidental that some are on the sex chromosomes; second, that hormonal influence works independently from the sex chromosome expression control.  Of course, it could even be some combination of the two (and my bet is on this third possibility).  Remember, many of the genes differentially expressed are NOT on the sex chromosomes, and even those on the X chromosome, available to both sexes, are differentially expressed.

Please note:  Genes on the X chromosome are NOT all automatically expressed in women nor are they automatically repressed in men.  Further, not all of the genes found on the X chromosome relate to sexually dimorphic development (e.g. color vision receptor).

Second, we don’t know what the FUNCTIONAL differences the sex chromosomes mediate vs. the autosomal chromosomes.  We don’t know how different the behaviors would really be with such differential expression.  These difference could be related not to behaviors but to immune responses for example.  When one is confronted with ignorance, it is important to recognize it and not make conclusions that the data doesn’t support.

Third, a reminder that these differences can NOT be directly associated with important cognitive mechanisms, else females would be at an extreme disadvantage not able to express genes that lie only on the Y chromosome.  We know this because men and women have shown only tiny differences in cognitive performance of specific tasks and that general cognitive ability (IQ – g factor) do not differ between the sexes.  (Male chauvinists be damned!)

Fourth, speculating on what effect this might have on gender atypicality and the degree to which such atypical individuals may resemble the opposite sex in brain sexual dimorphism is inescapable.  Most of it will likely be found wrong later.

One can imagine certain transphobic groups using this material to show that gender atypical transsexuals (HSTS) aren’t “really” a man or a woman… cause… “biology” (essentialism based on karyotype).  But that is not the germain issue as we KNOW that other mechanisms are also involved.

Further Reading:

Essay on hormonal effects on sexually dimorphic brain development

Essay on gene control of sexually dimorphic behaviors

Further External Reading:

Wired Article


Liu, et Al.,”Integrative structural, functional, and transcriptomic analyses of sex-biased brain organization in humans”, PNAS (2020)

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Transkids Transition Because They ARE Transkids!

Posted in Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on July 8, 2020

female_scientistA classic lie that anti-trans propagandists try to push is that transkids who socially transition are being pushed into it.  The roughly ten thousand of us who were such kids in the United States (yes, that’s how few of us there are) know better.

A paper that came out last year demonstrates the reality.  It’s not behind a paywall, so you can read it for yourself, but here’s the money quote,

“Children from our longitudinal cohort who would later transition were highly similar to transgender children (children who had already socially transitioned) and to control children of the gender to which they would eventually transition. Gender-nonconforming children who would not go on to transition were different from these groups. These results suggest that (a) social transitions may be predictable from gender identification and preferences and (b) gender identification and preferences may not meaningfully differ before and after social transitions.”

What this basically demonstrates is that transkids really are just that.  That one CAN tell the difference between persistors and desistors and that social transition follows gender identity, not the other way around as anti-trans propagandists argue.

Further Reading:

Difference between Desistors and Persistors


Rae, et al., “Predicting Early-Childhood Gender Transitions”, Psychological Science, 2019

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JK Rowling and the Transphobic Big Lie Machine

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on July 6, 2020

Kay BrownShe didn’t create these lies.  JK Rowling has gotten them from transphobic propaganda generated by various groups whose vitriol has swirled around the bowl for decades.  She has spent several years immersing herself in this poison.  But because of her fame and now the recent media kerfluffle, it is reaching new audiences.

A long time friend, a woman I’ve known for decades, a guest at my wedding, had never heard these lies before.  She was confused, as they didn’t match what she knew of my life, my personality, my… well… everything.  So she wrote a note to me via social media asking what it was all about.  What was Rowling ranting about?

Fortunately, I was in a position to send her links to several essays I’ve written over the years.  I was able to share with her that the culture war she was just now seeing had begun in the early 1970s, at the dawn of the modern Gay Rights Movement just after Stonewall.

For instance, Rowling has voiced the lie that transsexuals transition because of homophobia, that they want to escape the label “homosexual”.  I first encountered that lie in print in a history book written by a gay man in the ’70s, as he systematically ‘erased’ transfolk from our joint history by redefining transfolk as self-hating homosexuals.

The lie that transsexual medical services are a “new” form of “gay conversion therapy”, turning homosexual people into straight by changing their sex, was central to Janice Raymond’s hateful book, The Transsexual Empire, published in 1979.  We’ve seen this lie more recently morph into the false agit-prop story line that gays and lesbians are forced to undergo unwanted sex changes in Iran.

Rowling repeated the lie that has been used recently about the purported danger of allowing transwomen to use women’s bathrooms, falsely claiming that invites sexual assault.  She used her own history of abuse and assault to attempt to increase that fear and to garner sympathy.  Well… young transwomen are just as likely to be assaulted, both sexually and violently.

Rowling uses the classic defense of her bigotry by attempting to claim that she supports transfolk and even uses the classic lie, “…some of my best friends are {fill-in-the-blank}”, all the while spreading vicious, hurtful lies.

Rowling joining the ranks of the openly transphobic will re-energize them.  There will be a renewal of the culture war against transfolk, especially centered on transkids, as they are the easiest to speak over, drowning out their voices.  It is more important than ever that those who seek the truth over lies know how the propaganda works and what the truth is.  So, I am putting together here links to my own essays, both historical and recent.

The Big Lie Machine

Lying about other people is ancient, so ancient that a prohibition against it was included in the basic Ten Commandments of the Book of Genesis, “Thou shall not bear false witness.”  Generating and spreading false propaganda about other groups is just as old.  The people who do so professionally have studied the art and science of lying for thousands of years.  So, it should be no surprise that they’ve gotten pretty good at it.  One of the techniques is the Big Lie:  Tell a lie so outrageous that no one could believe that the teller could have made up such an outrageous lie, so it must be true.  Or if not fully true, then some part of it, or some lesser shade of it must be true.  It fits the informal logical fallacy that ‘the truth lies in the middle’ or ‘two sides to every story’.  So, the bigger the whopper, the more effective it is as propaganda.

But the middle ground between a lie and the truth is still a lie.  The compromise between injustice and justice is still injustice.  This is where transfolk find themselves.  (Oh don’t mistake me, there are several propaganda lies being pushed by subsets of transfolk… as this blog has covered extensively… they just aren’t the lies that the transphobes care about for the most part… or they weaponize those lies as well.)

Transfolk like me have spent decades debunking the worst to the silliest of these lies.  But one lie has been the bane for decades.

That one agit-prop lie is being pushed right now and has gained traction lately.  It too is an echo of an earlier one.  One can see it emblazoned on twitter feeds and other social media as a photo-icon or plain text: “Biological Reality”.  Like many powerful propaganda lies this one consists of a Motte & Bailey Fallacy combined with a Strawman Fallacy.

Let’s carefully unpack it, deconstruct it, and examine its history and current usage.

Back in the early 1950s, as the Western public first became aware of transsexuality, most notably through press coverage of Christine Jorgensen in the U.S. and Roberta Cowell in the U.K., many were quick to note that “there is no such thing as a sex change”, as though that proved something profoundly debunking.  Well, this is both a true and yet misleading statement.  It is true in that no surgery, then or now, can take a fertile individual of one sex and result in a fertile member of the other sex.  What is misleading is that the goal of surgery was never fertility, but palliative.  It is to allow individuals who suffer, and suffer greatly, from somatic gender dysphoria to inhabit a body that approximates that of the opposite sex to a close enough degree that it alleviates their dysphoria.  Although many transfolk would love to be fertile in their new gender, they are willing to accept this trade-off to enable a good enough life.  The short hand for this process was “sex change”.

Part of that good enough life is social acceptance as full members of the opposite sex.  Thus the need for documentation that agrees and enables that acceptance, lest it interfere with that good enough life at every turn.

But here is where those anti-trans propagandists enter the picture.  It is their primary goal, whether they admit it publicly or not, to deny that social acceptance, to make it as difficult as possible.  While individuals may have varying levels of animosity and animus, as a group, their goal is to make life difficult to impossible for transsexuals to reach that goal of social acceptance as full member of the opposite sex.  Their weapon of choice?  “Biological Reality”.

The Motte of “Biological Reality” is one that every reasonable person can agree with and can’t directly refute.  Transsexuals have a biological reality of having (for most of them) been fertile (or potentially fertile if allowed to go through an unwanted puberty) in one sex, but now living as the other socially.  The Bailey defenders scream “No such thing as a sex change” and “Biological Reality” (…but their chromosomes… !!!) by definition precludes social acceptance as the opposite sex.  And when critics point out that this is not strictly true, rush back to the Motte.

Why can’t the Bailey be defended?  Let’s look at some “biological reality”?

Consider individuals with Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome.  These are “biological males” with XY chromosomes, healthy testicles producing male hormones, etc.  But their bodies do not recognize nor respond to male hormones, so their bodies instead remain feminine.  That is their biological reality; They are biologically “male”.  Yet, if you were to meet one, you would read them as conventionally female.  They have completely feminine bodies and minds, personalities, from birth.  Most are exclusively androphilic (attracted to men).  They can have conventional heterosexual coitus with men.  It would be both nonsensical and cruel to deny them complete social acceptance as women, as fully “female”.  Biological reality be damned, these are women in every social sense that matters.  This is what is meant by SOCIAL GENDER.

Many people, far more than there are transfolk, no matter how that is defined, are born with Disorders of Sexual Development that preclude fertility, or even having conventional heterosexual coitus.  Yet, their “Biological Reality” is accommodated and they are socially accepted as men and women without garnering a hateful lobby to dispossess them of that acceptance.

When transfolk say, “transwomen are women” and “transmen are men”.  They (we) are speaking in this very same SOCIAL sense, as both aspirational and accomplished, both petitioning for and demanding as a human right, this basic recognition as both reasonable and kind, in the same sense that people with DSDs are accepted.

But, as transfolk do so, the anti-trans forces scream out from behind the Bailey walls, “NO!  Cause there’s no such thing as a sex change, no exceptions, no acceptance!”

And when transfolk point out that is both cruel and hateful; That it is wrong to use “biological reality” as a polemic weapon and as a legal tool to deny us social acceptance, the anti-trans propagandists rush back to the Motte and say, “See how crazy and unreasonable these Trans Rights Activists (TRAs) are, pushing their evil, twisted ‘transgender ideology’?  They are ‘erasing’ women!  They are denying Biological Reality !!!  We are only defending Biological Reality !!!  They are pushing to have us ‘canceled’, calling us ‘transphobic’ merely for defending Biological Reality.”

There it is, another Big Lie… the lie, the strawman, the Aunt Sally, that TRAs are crazy, irrational, and want to redefine the biological meaning of sex, that we don’t understand science.  They argue against an imaginary position that they literally put into our mouths.

No, they (we) are defending and depending upon the SOCIAL meaning of GENDER.  We ask only for reasonable and kind medical, social, and legal acceptance and assistance, to live our “good enough” life.

Further Reading:

Yet More Big Lies:  Transphobic Propaganda Targeting Parents of Transkids

Historic Transphobia in the Gay and Lesbian Community

Invisible Transgender People – Stolen History

Misplaced Moralizing: Transwomen & Sexual Assault

Further External Reading:

Examples of Transphobes using Rowlings public support include outspoken transphobe Helen Lewis at the Atlantic dissing “millennials” for supporting transfolk and being disappointed in Rowling, ruining their love for Harry Potter and the Wizarding World:  https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2020/07/why-millennial-harry-potter-fans-reject-jk-rowling/613870/

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Sorry Virginia, The Two Type Trans Typology Has NOT Been Disproven

Posted in Confirming Two Type Taxonomy by Kay Brown on June 2, 2020

critical-thinkingA new study out of Europe is being touted by some autogynephilic autogynephilia denialists as proving that there aren’t two types.  In this case, they want to show that autogynephilia is just as common in exclusively androphilic transwomen as it is in exclusively gynephilic and bisexual transwomen.  Sorry Virginia, the two type taxonomy has NOT been disproven.  The actual DATA, not the text of the study, clearly supports the taxonomy.

First, recall that there is much noise in any study, much of it because of Social Desirability Bias.  There is a strong tendency for transwomen to mis-report their sexuality.  A number of gynephilic/bisexual transwoman falsely claim to be exclusively androphilic, often ignoring their own sexuality (e.g. ignoring years of sexual experience with women, including having been married to women).

First, lets look at their three categories and their age of HRT onset.

Sexuality:        Gynephilic                Bisexual                 Androphilic

N=                          15                              26                              17

Age of HRT           37.8                          31.8                            30.0

(SD) years             8.3                             8.4                             8.7

Do those numbers make any sense given nearly every other study we’ve ever seen?  Consider that in the Nuttbrock study, half of the androphilic transwomen had begun HRT before the age of 20 years old while less than 10% of the bisexual had.  Another issue is the range (Standard Deviation) in years of the age of starting HRT where it is similar to the other two, but slightly wider.  Can this be a hint that some of the putatively androphilic were years younger when they started HRT, but a fair number of older transwomen pulled the age up?  As in an older, non-exclusively androphilic transwoman?  As though to confirm this, we note that in the demographics table, two of the putatively androphilic transwomen were married, one now divorced.  Ummmm… so that’s at least two out of the 17 we know are mis-reporting their sexuality.  Two more are cohabitating, but the study doesn’t let us know if it is with men or with women.  So here is a Bayesian style statistical prior:  I’m betting that at least four of the 17 transwomen are not exclusively androphilic and that the data regarding how many report being autogynephilic will reflect that.  In fact, I’m betting that nearly all of those in this study, save two or three, are in fact BISEXUAL, given their age of HRT onset.  Because of that, I’m betting that we will see data that will look very much like what we see in other studies, that gynephilic transwomen will report around 80% to 85% AGP arousal to cross-dressing while the bisexual group will report a bit less.

But I’m also betting that in spite of that, because at least some of the androphilic group are truly androphilic, they will report less autogynephilia.  But because of the larger number of bisexual mis-reporting to be androphilic, the number will be close to that of the bisexual group, but slightly lower.  My guess, from the very slight age difference is only two to four of the seventeen are actually androphilic.  Remember, ANY difference will support the two type taxonomy as it points to the latent taxons; It just won’t be a very strong signal because of the false signal from the large percentage of bisexuals:

Sexuality:        Gynephilic                Bisexual                 Androphilic

N=                          15                              26                              17

AGP N=                  12                            14                                 7

%                            86%                         54%                            41%

Yep… this fits.  Most of those claiming to be androphilic are actually bisexual.  The researchers fell for the issue of mis-reported sexuality that is common in these studies, especially those from Europe.  The mistake is to trust self-reported attraction instead of classifying them based on actual behavior.  It is sad, because in other studies from Europe, they demonstrated just how unreliable and unidirectional the mis-reporting bias is.

Because of this, the rest of the study is nearly useless save for looking at the difference between bisexual and exclusively gynephilic transwomen’s sexual behavior.

Conclusion:  This study supports, rather than refutes, the two type taxonomy.  It shows the same pattern of autogynephilia to be found in non-exclusively androphilic transwomen.  Shows the same pattern of reduced self-report of autogynephilia in bisexually identified transwomen seen in previous studies.  And shows the same pattern of mis-reporting of sexual orientation seen in previous studies.  Yet despite that, the weak signal of exclusively androphilic transwomen NOT being autogynephilic is still detectable.  Note that even with the known mis-reporting of sexual orientation, the gynephilic transwomen are still twice as likely to report autogynephilic arousal as the self-reported androphilic.

Further Reading:

Essay exploring the Nutbrock study.


Laube et al., “Sexual Behavior, Desire, and Psychosexual Experience in Gynephilic and Androphilic Trans Women: A Cross-Sectional Multicenter Study”
March 2020 Journal of Sexual Medicine

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COVID-19 Deja Vu

Posted in Autobiographical, Editorial by Kay Brown on March 13, 2020

Kay BrownI’m feeling a sense of deja vu these days.  It feels a tiny bit like the early ’80s as HIV/AIDS was spreading in the gay male (and androphilic only) trans communities.  Then, it was a mix of dread and denial.  For me, as it became clear who was most at risk and why, I was in deep dread that I might already have a ticking time bomb lurking in my body.  I had been sexually active with men as an obligate bottom during the ’70s and early ’80s before my SRS.

Until the HIV/AIDS epidemic, I had had completely unprotected sex.  I had never even seen a condom until I attended a “safe sex” education party held at one of my Stanford classmate’s house.  I mean, why should I have?  It wasn’t like there was ever any chance of pregnancy, right?  Seriously, that’s the only reason we knew for using a condom back then.  If one got an STD, one took a course of antibiotics, no muss, no fuss.  How wrong we were.

When testing became available, there was an option to have it done anonymously.  I didn’t want to do it even then, dreading the possible result.  But my friends, Joy Shaffer, M.D. (a gynephilic transwoman) and her lover, Patricia quite literally shanghaied me to take me to the clinic.  They also got tested, but c’mon… it was only done as a show of emotional support for me, so that it wouldn’t be so obvious that I was the only one who was actually at risk.  Fortunately, the test result was negative.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic grew and we learned about it being an STD and a nearly universal death sentence, some of us dramatically changed our behavior.  I know I certainly did.  I dramatically reduced my sexual activity and kept condoms with me at all times.  I had quite the “dry spell” for while, unwilling to risk even protected sex unless I knew that the man I was with was a very low risk.  (The fact that I dated almost exclusively straight men helped reduce that risk… but even then… better safe sex right?)

But some gay men and HSTS continued to contract HIV because of denial and ignorance.  And President Reagan refused to even acknowledge that we have a serious epidemic killing us.

So, here we are today, with a global pandemic illness and a President in denial, failing to respond appropriately, and some people in total denial as though it won’t affect them.  Deja vu.

Yes, it can.

So, please, stop going clubbing or to concerts.  Work from home if you can.  Wash your hands often.  Listen to health authorities and ignore bad advice on social media.


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2D:4D Evidence Supports Transexual Taxonomy

Posted in Brain Sex, Confirming Two Type Taxonomy, Female-to-Male by Kay Brown on January 30, 2020

handA new paper provided both new direct evidence and a meta-analysis of measurements of 2D:4D finger ratios in transsexuals, both FtM and MTF.  Such measurements are interesting because it is known to be influenced by testosterone levels in utero and thus an indirect measure of testosterone exposure that might influence brain sexual dimorphism.

What is doubly exciting about this paper is that the authors fully comprehend the overwhelming evidence for the two type taxonomy and of the (mild) scientific controversy regarding sexual orientation vs. age of onset as the best clinical markers for the two taxons.  The study is open access so I highly recommend following the link to it and reading it for yourself.  The study is also interesting because of where it was conducted; Iran.

Iran is a Muslim country which while being extremely homophobic, both culturally and legally, treats transsexuals fairly well, at least legally and medically.  Make no mistake, culturally, it is far from truly accepting.  Further, Iran is considered a “Collectivist Society” according to the Hofstede Individualism vs. Collectivism Index.  Lawrence has shown that this index highly correlates with the percentage of non-androphilic (and thus likely autogynephilic / late onset) transwomen transitioning in a given culture.  Thus, we would expect that there were fewer such transwomen in the study and the reported data bear this out.

Let’s look at the new data they provide:

Table 1

Means (and SD) for 2D:4D in the left and right hand for transmen, transwomen, control women, and control men


Control women


Control men

Left 2D:4D

0.991 (0.034)

0.991 (0.032)

0.981 (0.033)

0.974 (0.029)

n = 104

n = 53

n = 88

n = 56

Right 2D:4D

0.981 (0.030)

0.983 (0.033)

0.972 (0.029)

0.959 (0.033)

n = 104

n = 53

n = 89

n = 56

Table 2

Means (and SD) for 2D:4D in transsexuals’ left and right hand as a function of early or late onset of gender dysphoria



Early onset

Late onset

Early onset

Late onset

Left 2D:4D

0.982 (0.034)

0.975 (0.022)

0.988 (0.033)

1.009 (0.031)

n = 80

n = 8

n = 92

n = 12

Right 2D:4D

0.973 (0.029)

0.963 (0.026)

0.977 (0.028)

1.007 (0.027)

n = 81

n = 8

n = 92

n = 12

Before the analysis of transfolk, it would be a good idea to scale the effect by looking at the effect size between the controls.  The difference between control women and men is d= 0.56 for the left hand and d= 0.76 for the right. This is only a moderate effect size.

Although the number of late onset is small, and thus must be viewed with caution, the analysis is still very interesting and would seem to confirm (agree) with the two type hypothesis.  Consider that the two MTF types have a small but distinct difference of d= 0.24 for the left hand and d= 0.22 for the right.  When we compare early onset type to the male controls we get d= 0.25 and d= 0.45 for the right.   When we compare early onset to female controls we get d= -0.27 for the left and d= -0.32 on the right.  This shows that early onset transwomen are roughly halfway between the controls, and if anything a bit closer to the female controls.

But even more intriguing, and the reason for trusting this interpretation is that when we compare the late onset population to the male controls we see that it exactly agrees with the hypothesis that the late onset type is essentially like the majority heterosexual male population and not at all feminized, with effect sizes that are, statistically speaking, non-existent at d= 0.04 and d= 0.12 for the left and right hands respectively.

This shows that early onset MTF type has notably hypomasculine (feminized) hands while the late onset MTF type does not, and thus in agreement with other data that supports the two type MTF taxonomy.

But what about the FtM transmen?  Here we see an even more intriguing set of data.

The two FtM types have a moderate to substantial, very notable, difference of d= -0.66 for the left hand and d = -1.07 for the right, indicating that early onset transmen are far more masculine than late onset.  When we compare the early onset FtM to female controls we find effect sizes of d= -0.09 for the left hand and d= -0.20 for the right indicating a non-existent to small masculinization signal.

However when we compare the late onset FtM to female controls we see a very different pattern with effect sizes of d= 0.57 for the left and d= 0.80 for the right.  The positive sign indicates that late onset transmen have a more feminine 2D:4D ratio than control women (!!).  And the effect size difference between early and late onset transmen is far greater than the difference between control men and women (!!!).

This, if replicated, is very big news.  It would support the notion that transmen also exhibit two taxons as has long been suspected, one that is masculinized in both behavior, sexual orientation, and very mildly in appearance, the other that is very feminine, androphilic, and autoandrophilic, the mirror image of late onset transwomen.

Further Reading:

Essay on 2D:4D History

Essay on Cultural Difference in Percentage of HSTS vs. AGP Transwomen

Essay on Androphilic Transmen


Sadr, M., Khorashad, B.S., Talaei, A. et al. “2D:4D Suggests a Role of Prenatal Testosterone in Gender Dysphoria” Archives of Sexual Behavior (2020)

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Transkids Really Are Alright

Posted in Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on December 14, 2019

female_scientistWith pre-adolescent gender atypical and gender dysphoric children we have seen dramatic changes in attitudes during the past fifty years.  We have gone from extremely negative, indeed, punitive treatments to extinquish gender atypicality and demand gender typical behaviors, under the misguided belief that doing so will preclude youth from becoming transsexual and/or homosexual to accepting natural gendered behavior.  Recently, some parents and clinicians have become affirming, rather than denying, that the most gender dysphoric of these youth may benefit from early social transitions, knowing as we now do, that some of these youth will persist being gender dysphoric and will demand to social transition as teens or adults regardless of how they are treated as pre-adolescents.

This change has not gone unchallenged.  There is still a current of homophobic and transphobic feelings found in both the public and in some medical circles that cling to the old model of demanding that these youth should be “encouraged to accept their natal sex” / “encouraged to be more gender conforming”.  The question of how one goes about “encouraging” youth who are overwhelmingly both gender atypical and gender dysphoric without adding to their distress is almost never addressed.  If history is our guide, concern for that distress is largely absent, indeed, the goal of such “encouragement” is often to increase that distress in an effort to make the social cost of being gender atypical sufficiently high that the child’s natural expressions will be suppressed.  We have seen the resulting psychic damage such treatment, clinical or simply social (by family, neighbors, teachers, and bullying peers) has wrought on millions of LGBT people.

When making clinical decisions and recommendations, nothing is more important than scientific evidence.   So it is a happy day when researchers step up to examine transkids experiencing this new, kinder, gentler, and yes, affirming, approach to easing childhood gender dysphoria.  One such group is led by Professor Kristina Olson at the University of Washington Social Cognitive Development Lab and their TransYouth Project.

graphsIn their studies they are following a large number of transkids, now in the hundreds, many of whom have socially transitioned before puberty.  One recent study allowed them to compare transkids to age matched non-transkid controls.  The results did NOT surprise me personally, but may either surprise or dismay virulent transphobes and religious bigots, in that these kids are doing quite well.  Further, the findings show that as a population, one would be hard put to find any differences in psychological make-up, views, attitudes and self-concepts with non-transkids of the opposite natal sex as shown in the histograms shown here. (Note that “Transgender Girl”= MTF Transkids, etc.)  However, transkids and their siblings were more open minded about gender atypical people in general, as one would expect.

Another important finding is that this similarity does NOT change with time post-social-transition, neither increasing nor decreasing with age.  This should put to rest those concerns (if indeed they were genuine concerns and not merely ‘concern trolling’) that social transition either causes persistence or makes it more difficult for desistors to detransition.  The data shows that for pre-adolescent gender dysphoric youth, social transitions occur only in the persisting population, either because desisters abandon the social transition experiment (“Real Life Test”) or simply never even try.

If I have any complaint about this work, it is that the authors of these papers use the term ‘gender typical’ for non-trans-controls but ‘gender non-conforming’ instead of ‘gender atypical’, as though they could be conforming if they just chose to, instead of being naturally gender atypical (and actually quite typical when being compared to the opposite natal sex).  That is say, they didn’t describe the controls as “gender conforming” because that would silly.  Old habits and biased thinking die hard.

Further Reading:

Transkids Transition Because They Are Transsexual !

Child’s Play; Essay on Transkids Self-Concept

Because Boys Must Be Boys; Essay on why “Gender Non-Conforming” label is problematic

Further External Reading:

TransYouth Project


Gülgöz, S., Glazier, J. J., Enright, E. A., Alonso, D. J., Durwood, L. J., Fast, A. A., Lowe, R., Ji, C., Heer, J., Martin, C. M., & Olson, K. R. (2019). Similarity in Transgender and Cisgender Children’s Gender Development. PNAS. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1909367116  Link to pdf

Olson, K.R., & Gülgöz, S. (2018). Early Findings from the TransYouth Project: Gender Development in Transgender Children. Child Development Perspectives, 12(2), 93-97.  Link to pdf


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Critique of Gliske’s Gender Dysphoria Conjecture

Posted in Editorial, Science Criticism by Kay Brown on December 3, 2019

phrenologyWhen a radically new conjecture is put forward regarding the etiology of a phenomena that purports to be a new explanitory theory it must explain all of the previous observations, evidence, and data in a better, more compact way to be accepted as a theory, displacing or augmenting a previous one.  Stephen V. Gliske claims to have a new explication of the mechanism leading to a unitary theory of gender dysphoria, displacing our current two type taxonomy with its two separate and distinct etiologies, namely extreme gender atypicality vs. Erotic Target Identity Inversion caused by an Erotic Target Location Error.

However, as one digs into Gliske’s recent paper published in eNeuro, one very quickly notes several serious defects.  First, he relies on neuro-anatomical studies that have been shown to be purely effects of hormonal treatments.  He attempts to recruit xenomelia as a point of argument for his thesis but fails to note that such evidence supports the two type as that phenomena is also highly correlated with apotemnophilia and thus another example of an Erotic Target Location Error.  He cites a study which showed reduced activation of part of the brain to sensory touch of transmen’s breasts as evidence that this is a cause of gender dysphoria, rather than an effect of gender dysphoria (attentional suppression of emotionally distasteful experience).  Finally, he fails to explain or even directly acknowledge the overwhelming evidence for the role of autogynephilia in the development of gender dysphoria in one of the two types including the studies that concluded that the two types have different brain structural shifts.

inah3Gliske leans very heavily on post-mortem studies of MTF transsexual brains by Swaab’s group in the Netherlands.  For a while so did many other researchers and especially the transgender population.  Sadly for Gliske’s argument, this effect on areas of the BNST (BSTc & INAH3) was shown to be purely an artifact of these patients being treated for gender dysphoria using female hormones for years.  These changes are activational effects of hormones.  Perhaps Gliske can be forgiven for not knowing this, given that even Swaab’s group continues to publish papers referencing this earlier work as though it hadn’t been shown to be meaningless as evidence for any etiological arguments.

Gliske proposes a mechanism of gender dysphoria that arises out of a disturbance of sensory networks in the brain.  This idea is not new.  It was proposed by Ramachandran some years ago but with a different twist.  The earlier work suggested it as supporting the sexually dimorphorphic brain hypothesis.  That earlier work was shown to be statistically weak and inconclusive.  Later work using fMRI scans of transmen while their breasts were touched were interpreted as evidence of an intrinsic neurological difference in the sensory networks involving the breast of transmen.  However, as I have argued in the past, this ignores the ability of the attentional networks of the brain to both highlight and suppress sensory experience awareness at multiple levels.

{My reader can test this ability for themselves.  While reading the above, were you keenly aware of the exact position of your left foot?  Are you now aware of it?  Now imagine you hate your left foot and concentrate on your right hand.}

Ramachandran and Case also attempted to cite the example of xenomelia and observes that this may be similar to transgender, but ascribes it to somatic mapping issues while failing to note that we have another name for xenomelia, “apotemnophilia”, the erotic desire to be an amputee and how that desire arises out of an Erotic Target Location Error (ETLE) for the primary erotic target of amputees.  The authors thus sweep the well documented erotic motivations of both amputation “wannabees” and of autogynephilic transwomen under the rug in order to further their thesis of transgender as a brain mapping issue alone.  Gliske commits the same academic sin.

Gliske doesn’t completely ignore the two type taxonomy, but makes a sweeping statement that he does not back up with compelling evidence, that the two types are better characterized by age of onset than sexual orientation, failing to note that once false self reporting for both characteristics are taken into account, the two are in fact merely labels for the same taxons that focus on one or the other of the two very highly correlated items.  However, as has been shown repeatedly, sorting for the two taxons on sexual history to determine likely sexual orientation leads to significantly higher statistical signals.

Finally, Gliske ignores that the very studies he cites as evidence for his thesis more properly supports the two type taxonomy, as Guillamon, et al., concluded in a meta-review of the papers.

“The review of the available data seems to support two existing hypotheses: (1) a brain-restricted intersexuality in homosexual MtFs and FtMs and (2) Blanchard’s insight on the existence of two brain phenotypes that differentiate “homosexual” and “nonhomosexual” MtFs”

Gliske ends his paper with a classic Bad Science Journalism(tm) move by suggesting that his work will lead to better therapies for treating gender dysphoria without the slightest evidence or hint of how that might be.

Gliske calls this a “new theory”, but in fact, it is poorly warmed over previous conjecture with very little evidence to support it, certainly not enough to displace the Two Type Taxonomy and Erotic Target Identity Inversion.

Addendum 4/30/2020:  Gliske’s paper has been retracted.  I guess I’m not the only one who noted that this paper fails to meet basic standards:


Further Reading:

Essay on Swaab’s research on BSTc & INAH3

Essay on Ramachandran’s paper on phantom pain after SRS

Essay on Case & Ramachandran’s paper on Transmen’s responses to breast touch

Essay on Apotemnophilia arising from an Erotic Target Location Error

Essay on Age of Onset vs. Sexual Orientation

Further External Reading:


Essay on Bad Science Journalism(tm)


Stephen V. Gliske, “A new theory of gender dysphoria incorporating the distress, social behavioral, and body-ownership networks” eNeuro 2 December 2019, ENEURO.0183-19.2019; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0183-19.2019

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Kincade Fire in Sonoma County

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on October 26, 2019

For my friends and readers, Jeff and I are OK.  Our house is NOT in any of the evacuation zones at this time, though they are near by.

(Addendum 10-5-19:  The fire is out.  We are fine.  Though I grieve for friends who lost their home on Chalk Hill.)

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