…Or reanalyzing old data sets
Anne Lawrence revisited the data set from a Netherlands study of the differences between “homosexual” and “non-homosexual” types of transsexuals. She suspected that the self-report of sexual orientation that was used in the study is inadequate at separating the two types of MTF transsexuals. You may wish to spend a moment to read her paper before continuing to read this post:
Note that by resorting those that had reported being attracted to men and having been previously married and/or reporting sexual experience with women to being non-homosexual, she achieved a stronger signal strength in the newly winnowed homosexual group, with respect to sexual arousal while cross-dressed:
Sort: Old New
AGP 18 (31%) 5 (15%)
Not 40 (69%) 29 (85%)
Compare that data to the Berger & Leavitt results for those who had by inclusion in the study had indicated that they too were attracted to men, and who had accidentally been sorted into a group which had no sexual history with women owing to their being separated into a category defined as being “avoidant”, that is of being sexually active with men, but of not using their penis in their relations with men:
AGP 1 (7%)
Not 14 (93%)
Thus, we see a very similar result. I’m not sure if the stronger signal found by using this test is, mathematically speaking, “significant” given the very small sample, but it sure is similar, and perhaps really would be stronger if we got a larger sample to confirm it. Also, in the same vein of confirmation, I was curious if I added all of the data of Berger&Leavitt’s data set together would I get similar results as the Netherlands study, given that they would both then have the same sorting category, of self-reported interest in men:
AGP 29 (36%)
Not 52 (64%)
Amazingly, the two are indeed almost exactly the same, given that we can expect some noise to be present in such small samples. Thus, I believe that we have a confirmation of the hypothesis that self-report alone can not be used to separate genuinely homosexual from non-homosexual transsexuals. We also have further evidence that non-homosexual transsexuals exhibit autogynephilic arousal while homosexual transsexuals do not.
Male-to-female transsexual subtypes: Sexual arousal with cross-dressing and physical measurements
Transsexual subtypes: Clinical and theoretical significance
Yolanda L.S. Smith, Stephanie H.M. van Goozen, A.J. Kuiper, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis
Clinical Patterns Among Male Transsexual Candidates with Erotic Interest in Males
Frank Leavitt, Ph.D., Jack C. Berger, M.D.
Or Scientific Chiromancy.
When I was in a biology class back in college in the mid-70s, we were taught about sex linked, sex determined, sex influenced, and sex limited genetic traits. Two of them struck me personally.
First, it was thought that the relative length of the pointing finger (Digit Two, starting from the thumb, also called 2D) verses the ring finder (Digit Four, or 4D) was a sex influenced trait in which for XY karyotyped (normally male) individuals the 4D Long gene was dominant and the 4D Short gene was recessive, but for XX karyotyped (normally female) individuals, the reverse was true, thus explaining the observation that women usually have noticeably longer pointing finger to ring finger ratios than men. Second, the gene for Hypertrichosis of the Pinea (hairy outer ears) is a Y chromosome linked gene that would only and always express in individuals with a Y chromosome. This second item bothered me, since my father, and his father had both had such hairy ears. As a teenager recently transitioned to living as a woman, I sure as anything didn’t want to have hairy ears!
But, it was the strange thing about my finger length ratio (2D:4D) that had me most concerned. I had much longer pointing fingers than ring fingers! As an exercise, I looked at my parents and my siblings hands and did some family tree analysis, and found a strange paradox. I couldn’t explain the phenotype I expressed, given that from the analysis, I should have been heterozygous for the trait. Thus, as a presumed XY karyotyped individual, I should have had longer ring fingers than pointing fingers! You can forgive me for then entertaining the suspicion that I might have an… umm… “interesting” alternative karyotype. Such things have happened. This also gave me hope that I wouldn’t develop those much to be dreaded, hairy ears!
But, in 1981, I was informed that, though I had not authorized it, the tissue that had been removed during my SRS had been provided to researchers trying to test / duplicate Wolf Eicher’s work on HY antigen in transsexuals. My cells had expressed HY antigen, which, along with many other TS folk, disproved Eicher’s hypothesis that the absence of HY antigen, normally found on the cell surfaces of those cells with a Y chromosome, had led to the development of MTF transsexuality. This also put to rest any hope that I might be the rare XX male! (It does happen, the SRY gene very occasionally crosses from the Y to the X chromosome during meiosis, in spermatogenesis.) But… how to explain the unlikely long pointing finger to ring finger ratio? Could it be that I was XXY? That’s not so rare… occuring in one out of 500 males. However, the usual phenotypical sequelae is for above average height, longish arms and legs, an unattractive appearance, low energy due to hypogonadism, and low IQ, first described by, and named after, Dr. Klinefelter. Well, at 5’7″, several inches shorter than my two brothers, I was considerably below average male height, I was well proportioned and considered reasonably attractive, and at least three standard deviations above normal IQ… but at least I could have the hypogonadism, as I had a distinctly hypomasuline appearance even before starting feminizing HRT at age 18. So… maybe I could just possibly be the lucky XXY karytype individual that doesn’t look like one? But, that still left me with real possibility of developing those much to be dreaded, hairy ears.
But… as I mentioned before, I needn’t have worried, as the text books got it wrong on both counts.
First, the 2D:4D ratio is not sex influenced, merely mildly sexually dimorphic based on the androgen/estrogen ratio during fetal development. Second, hairy ears is an autosomal dominant trait that is sex limited in the same fashion as male pattern baldness. Now that I was taking feminizing HRT, the much to be dreaded hairy ears would simply not develop (and never did). I needn’t worry about unusual karyotypes as well. And now, I have only to explain how it is that I still have significantly higher 2D:4D ratio than most males; in fact, have significantly higher 2D:4D ratio than most females!!!
The conventionally approved method of measuring the 2D:4D ratio is from the middle of the crease between the finger and the palm to the middle of the tip of the finger. When I measure mine, I find that for the left hand, they measure 67mm:62mm giving a 2D:4D ratio of 1.08. For my right hand, I measure 67mm:63mm, giving a 2D:4D ratio of 1.06. When we do this measurement for a large population and graph it as a histogram, we see that the average male hand has a 2D:4D ratio of 0.975, and the average female hand has a 2D:4D ratio of 0.995. One also notices that there is a range, a classic bell curve, of ratios. Note that they are highly overlapping. Thus, for any given individual, the ratio is essentially meaningless. I don’t need to explain my ratio at all, right? Well, maybe. Looking at the data, It would appear that my ratio is at the very edge of the range. But, still… in range. (The graph goes to 1.05, but has not quite gone to zero individuals.) It is only when we look at large numbers, can we average out the noise, the random factors that push the measurement one direction or the other, that we can see a real signal that might give us interesting clues to scientific questions.
Given that the 2D:4D ratio is now known to be sensitive to the ratio of androgens/estrogens in the developing fetus, researchers are looking at our fingers in an attempt to test hypotheses such as does the prenatal and/or neonatal hormonal environment effect behavior? Does it effect sexual orientation? Does it effect gendered behavior or gender identity? There have been many other indications that this is in fact the case, but this ratio seemed to be an ideal probe to further test these hypotheses.
The first studies to test the hypothesis that homosexuality is influenced by the fetal hormonal environment seemed to answer in the positive, that gay men have hypomasculinized 2D:4D ratios. But later studies showed just the opposite! This required re-examination of the data. Interestingly, the problem was not in the variability of the homosexual population, but of the heterosexual controls!
One would think that perhaps the transsexual population would exhibit a stronger signal… In fact, I sure felt that way, given that my own 2D:4D ratio would suggest an extremely hypomasculinized signal should be found in others like me, right? But, we see the same pattern of confusion in the studies, with some studies saying that there is a more female like 2D:4D ratio found in MTF TS and no difference between FtM TS and heterosexual females, while other studies show just the opposite!
Thus, we have a quandary. Although I strongly believe that one day, studies of the 2D:4D ratio will yield useful results, for the moment, the researchers are, like Tantalus, forever reaching for definitive results that slip away, just out of reach. It would seem that for the moment, scientific studies of our hands gives no better results than those found at a carnival palm reader.
On the expression of H-Y antigen in transsexuals
Stephen Wachtel, Richard Green, Neal G. Simon, Alison Reichart, Linda Cahill, John Hall, Dean Nakamura, Gwendolyn Wachtel, Walter Futterweit, Stanley H. Biber, and Charles Ihlenfeld
Transsexualism and the H-Y antigen
Eicher W, Spoljar M, Murken JD, Richter K, Cleve H, Stengel-Rutkowski S.
Molecular evidence for absence of Y-linkage of the Hairy Ears trait
Andrew C Lee, Angamuthu Kamalam, Susan M Adams and Mark A Jobling
Fetal development of the hand, digits and digit ratio (2D:4D)
Mehmet Ali Malasa, Sevkinaz Doganb, E. Hilal Evcila, Kadir Desdicioglu
Sexual Dimorphism in the Prenatal Digit Ratio (2D:4D)
Frietson Galis, Clara M. A. Ten Broek, Stefan Van Dongen, Liliane C. D. Wijnaendts
Finger-length ratios and sexual orientation
Terrance J. Williams, Michelle E. Pepitone, Scott E. Christensen, Bradley M. Cooke, Andrew D. Huberman, Nicholas J. Breedlove, Tessa J. Breedlove, Cynthia L. Jordan,S. Marc Breedlove
A Reanalysis of Five Studies on Sexual Orientation and the Relative Length of the 2nd and 4th Fingers (the 2D:4D Ratio)
Dennis McFadden, Ph.D., John C. Loehlin, Ph.D., S. Marc Breedlove, Ph.D.,
Richard A. Lippa, Ph.D., John T. Manning, Ph.D., and Qazi Rahman, Ph.D.
Typical female 2nd–4th finger length (2D:4D) ratios in male-to-female transsexuals—possible implications for prenatal androgen exposure
Harald J. Schneider, Johanna Pickel, Günter K. Stalla
Finger length ratio (2D:4D) in adults with gender identity disorder.
Kraemer B, Noll T, Delsignore A, Milos G, Schnyder U, Hepp U.
2D:4D finger-length ratios in children and adults with gender identity disorder.
Wallien MS, Zucker KJ, Steensma TD, Cohen-Kettenis PT.
The relationship between second-to-fourth digit ratio and female gender identity.
Hisasue et al., Journal of Sexual Medicine, doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02815.x.
… Into the Fire. Or, how to lose even more friends.
I believe that it has now been convincingly demonstrated that there are two and only two major types of MTF transsexuals, that one type is autogynephilic (AGP) and the other is exclusively androphilic. We’ve mostly been talking about the AGP type. That’s typical of the dialog in the “community” since most transsexuals are AGP and many of them are extremely uncomfortable with the fact. But, I would now like to turn my attention to the non-AGP, the feminine androphilic type.
It has been noted by a number of people, but most clearly, if not flatteringly, portrayed by Michael Bailey, that the feminine androphilic type transsexual is possibly an extremely feminine form of the more conventionally understood homosexual man. This too is not a popular notion, both among AGPs, many of whom would otherwise like to identify as a member of the feminine androphilic type, and even among those who would clearly be understood to be members of this feminine androphilic type. After all, these are people who clearly identify as women, are socially accepted as women, who often marry, and even occasionally adopt and raise children, as women. But, we are not talking about social or personal identities. We are talking about biological etiologies. And there is evidence to support the hypothesis that feminine androphilic transsexuals have the same, or at least similar, etiologies.
First, there is the noted similarity of the obvious behavioral femininity exhibited by the majority of conventional homosexual men before the age of seven and the obvious behavioral femininity seen in feminine androphilic transsexuals at that same age. In fact, one would be hard pressed to separate them at that age. Richard Green, testing the hypothesis that feminine boys grow up to be transsexuals, recruited a cohort of such feminine boys in the late 1960s to follow as they grew up, as a longitudinal study. Of the fifty feminine boys, only one grew up to be transsexual, most grew up to be conventionally homosexual or bisexual. Interestingly, one grew up to be a heterosexual transvestite.
Other studies involving retrospective reports of childhood behavior of homosexual men have shown the same pattern, that the majority were notably behaviorally feminine as small children. Thus, not only do most notably feminine boys grow up to be conventional homosexual men, but most gay men were feminine boys. Similarly, homosexual women have shown the same pattern with respect to behavioral masculinity in early childhood, a trait shared with gynephilic FtM transsexuals, I might add.
So, as young children the two groups, gay men and feminine androphilic transsexuals, are nearly indistinguishable, but by the time they are in puberty, they begin to look quite different in behavior, and often, even physically. Thus, it could be argued that they are not the same, nor even similar in etiology, given the difference in development pattern between seven and adolescence.
However, there are many other phenomena that suggest a similar, if not the same, etiology.
One of these shared phenomena is the Fraternal Birth Order effect. Both conventional homosexual men and feminine androphilic transsexuals, as groups, have more older brothers than random chance. That is to say, that the likelyhood that a male child will be gay or be feminine androphilic transsexual increases by 30% for each older brother that his or her mother has given birth to. This is not a family constellation effect, as studies have shown that older step-brothers do not influence the odds of being either gay or feminine androphilic transsexual.
Interestingly there is the maternal uncle to aunt ratio mismatch that is shared by both gay men and feminine androphilic transsexuals. Both groups have more maternal aunts then uncles compared to straight men, significantly more.
Finally, the chance of having a gay brother, for both gay men and feminine androphilic transsexuals is higher than for straight men.
Thus, there are three distinct similarities in family make-up that both conventionally homosexual men and feminine androphilic transsexuals share.
Another similarity is that both gay men and feminine androphilic transsexuals have female like responses to the introduction and sudden reduction of exogenous estrogens, but gynephilic transsexuals do not! Thus, we have yet more strong evidence for two types of transsexuals, and evidence that the feminine androphilic transsexual is similar to most homosexual men.
The evidence that conventionally homosexual men are neurologically feminized, more like females than straight men, is growing. The most famous is that a certain part of the brain is notably female like in gay men. But this is only available postmortem. Other studies using fMRI have shown that when gay men perform certain cognitive tasks that are known to show sexually dimorphic differences in topical brain activation between men and women, the gay men look more like typical women.
Thus, the preponderance of the evidence suggests that feminine androphilic transsexuals are similar to gay men in that both are neurologically feminized, while the AGP transsexuals are not!
One hypothesis is that gay men show a range of femininity and that feminine androphilic transsexuals are the extreme tail end of a distribution that is mostly centered on only mildly feminized. Indeed, there the are the ranges of femininity exhibited in the gay male population, from unremarkably masculine to feminine, to those who relish joining the ranks of pre-op feminine androphilic transsexuals for short periods, through being drag queens. Indeed this would parallel the range of autogynephilic behavior, from occasional cross-dresser, to full-time, to post-op transsexual.
Another hypothesis is that there is a dissimilar etiology, but one that causes femininization in similar ways in a neonate, that in gay men, the cause of the femininization is no longer operating in later childhood, allowing the child to masculinize from endogenous hormones, while for feminine androphilic transsexuals, the cause of the feminization is still operating. For example, if the conventional gay male is caused by the prenatal environment, but postnatally no further developmental interference occurs, then the brain may be further masculinized by endogenous androgens as puberty and adolescence nears. While for the feminine androphilic transsexual, the effect is from within, perhaps epigenetic inactivation of genes that code for specific androgen receptors in the brain, and possibly elsewhere. This would explain the observation that feminine androphilic transsexuals are more feminine physically, smaller in stature and slimmer for their height than average males.
There are many possible studies that could be conducted that could show the similarity and possibly the difference between feminine androphilic transsexuals and homosexual men, and likely at the same time, show the dissimilarity between AGP transsexuals and feminine androphilic transsexuals, but most studies of “transsexuals” have not rigorously, if at all, differentiated between AGP and feminine exclusively androphilic transsexuals. I for one would like to see such studies, to answer such questions as; Are feminine androphilic transsexuals the same or merely similar to gay men? I would like to see studies that would answer why, in spite of the similarities, we have such extremely divergent life arcs past mid-childhood. After all, gay men become more masculine as they reach adolescence, while feminine androphilic transsexuals get more feminine.
Although feminine androphilic transsexuals may not be comfortable with knowing that they may share the same etiology as gay men, gay men may return the favor, themselves being uncomfortable with the knowledge that they are feminized males, in the same category as feminine androphilic transsexuals.
But science is about discovering the nature of reality, not about how we would like things to be.
Bailey, J. M., “The Man Who Would be Queen” 2003
Green R (January 1979). “Childhood cross-gender behavior and subsequent sexual preference”. Am J Psychiatry 136 (1): 106–8. PMID 758811.
Bailey, J. Michael; Zucker, Kenneth J. “Childhood sex-typed behavior and sexual orientation: A conceptual analysis and quantitative review”
Developmental Psychology. Vol 31(1), Jan 1995, 43-55.
Blanchard, R., & Sheridan, P. M. (1992). Sibship size, sibling sex ratio, birth order, and parental age in homosexual and nonhomosexual gender dysphorics. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, 180, 40–47.
Blanchard, Bogaert, “Homosexuality in men and number of older brothers”
Anthony F. Bogaert, “Biological versus nonbiological older brothers and men’s sexual orientation”
Green, R. (2000). Birth order and ratio of brothers to sisters in transsexuals. Psychological Medicine, 30, 789–795.
Blanchard, R., Zucker, K., Cohen-Kettenis, P., Gooren, L., & Bailey, J. (1996). Birth order and sibling sex ratio in two samples of Dutch gender-dysphoric homosexual males. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 25, 495–514.
Poasa, K. H., Blanchard, R., Zucker, K. J. (2004). Birth order in transgendered males from Polynesia: A quantitative study of Samoan fa’afafine. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 30, 13–23.
Dorner, G., et al., A neuroendocrine predisposition for homosexuality in men
Dorner, G., Neuroendocrine response to estrogen and brain differentiation in heterosexuals, homosexuals, and transsexuals
LeVay S (August 1991). “A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men”. Science (journal) 253 (5023): 1034–7. doi:10.1126/science.1887219. PMID 1887219.
A. Elias, L. Valenta, “Are all males equal? Anatomic and functional basis for sexual orientation in males” Medical Hypotheses, Volume 39, Issue 1, Pages 85-87
… or context is everything.
Context in language is everything. When we compose a message, the context in which it is used must be considered. The goal of communication is to chose symbols that elicit the same meaning in the receiver that they do in the sender. The sender chooses their words, while imagining how the receiver will interpret them, the receiver examines the words and interprets, as best they can, the most likely meaning that they had been intended to connote. But, if context is not considered, this may not occur. Consider the following short dialog:
“Do you like football?”
“Oh, yes, I love football, its a great game.”
So, we can see that there was proper communication? That the sender in each case was understood by the receiver? Perhaps not. Consider that the first speaker was an American, and the second speaker was from the United Kingdom. Does that change what happened? We now see that the first speaker was discussing a game where the ball is kicked only a few times an hour, while the second was discussing a game where the ball is kicked many times a minute. They haven’t communicated anything at all!
OK, I can hear you thinking, of course, that’s because of the different cultural meaning of the word “football”… but that can’t happen in the same culture. Well… context for men and women may be quite different. But lets consider another set of words first; I’ll even provide the context:
A new car owner hears a funny noise in the engine compartment and the car smells funny, so pulls into the dealership where s/he asks the mechanic to look at it. The mechanic opens the hood, fiddles with something and says, “That your problem.”
Has the mechanic:
A) sympathized with the owner and acknowledged which component is at fault.
B) disavowed any responsibility for the problem, noting that the part was misused.
We can’t tell, can we (?), not until we learn yet more of the context, as a question or two… or be very good at detecting perhaps a contextual inflection:
“That’s your problem.”
“That’s your problem.”
Context is everything… and so is asking for clarification as to what is being asked, and what is being answered. Without that:
“What we have here is a failure to communicate”
This is the case with Moser’s recent study of autogynephilia in women. Seriously, can we really expect to get the same meaning in the receiver, in a message whose original intended receiver had a completely different context, namely, that message having been intended for males who were requesting somatic feminization, to be understood in the same way by a group of random women? We can expect even those who weren’t themselves seriously AGP to have at least heard of it, and possibly observed it, in others, in a gender clinic! Can we say the same for a group of random women, who may not know the context in which the original instrument was used?
The test instrument (questionnaire) he devised was cleverly (re-)written to obtain positive answers to ambiguous questions that only superficially resembled questions used in Blanchard’s original instrument that are only valid for gender dysphoric males. For example, one question asked if one fantasized about having a “sexier” body? (One would hardly expect that women would fantasize about having an uglier one!) Another question asked about becoming aroused while preparing for a sexual encounter with a lover. (Such arousal would arise due to anticipation, not the mere fact of getting dressed in womens’ clothing!) The results of the questionnaire point out a difficulty that exists in all such instruments, that of “validity”. Does the instrument measure what we want to measure? One way to find out is to test the validity of the instrument against a known group, use a set of those who we know have the condition for which we would like an easy-to-administer survey, and a control group that do not. The validity of Blanchard’s survey instrument (or was it originally Freund’s?) was developed against a group of known autogynephilic males and a control group of men that was known not to be so. Thus, the validity has only been made for males, in a gender clinic setting. But, this instrument was not thoroughly validated with random women, in a completely different setting.
Does anyone doubt that there is a difference between a man answering, in the affirmative, the question, “I have been aroused by wearing womens’ underwear?” A man who is likely to be thinking of the first time he snuck into his sister’s underwear drawer, slipped into his own bedroom, and posed with panties and bra, observing how he has made his body look more like the girls he daydreams about at school, and ends up masturbating… compared to a woman, likely to be thinking of how she grabbed the stuff to put on this morning, while thinking about how much she is looking forward to that night with her boyfriend?
Now, consider that same question being answered by a male who has never even worn womens’ underwear! Not going to have a false positive with that man! But… we can easily imagine many false positives for women who wear such underwear everyday… after all, even a stray thought might have some erotic meaning and be arousing… but was it *caused* by the mere presence of their own body being female, or of wearing items culturally associated with being female?
We can reverse that, how many men will answer, truthfully, “I have been aroused while wearing mens’ underwear”? Actually, if they have not the contextual clues that they are being asked about possible fetishist use of mens’ underwear, then, yes, they answer, “I’ve gotten aroused while being dressed… and somewhat undressed… I don’t have to be fully nude with my girlfriend before I find myself saluting her.” He may have a completely different interpretation of the sender’s intended meaning.
Context is everything.
(Addendum 10/31/2015: Given that I’ve been seeing this so called study remaining to be popular among autogynephilic transwomen, I thought I should share some factoids about it. First, it was published in the Journal of Homosexuality a journal with such a low impact factor one would have trouble finding one lower. The impact factor is only 1.364. For comparison, the impact factor for Nature is 41.456 and for Science is 33.611. The impact factor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior, where most of the serious papers on transsexuality are published is 2.589, about twice that of the Journal of Homosexuality. Oh… and second, Dr. Charles Moser is on the journal’s editorial board. Now, do you think that might have an effect on whether a really weak paper that he himself wrote could get published there? Can you imagine any scenario where the journal would NOT publish a paper by one of its own editors? Third, where in the study is the validation data? What is the alpha value (test-retest correlation)? Where is the control group? Where is the clinical observations of autogynephilic behavior in women that led to the trial construction of the instrument? In fact, where in all of the voluminous studies of female sexuality has there been ANY hint that women experience sexual arousal to the thought of or contemplation / examination of their own female bodies?)