Oh Brother Where Art Thou?
The consanguinity of both homosexuality and autogynephilia appears to be very high. So one would not be surprised to find that the consanguinity of transsexuality would also be very high. That is to say, that transsexuality runs in families. But not the same families.
I have to wonder about my own family.
I always wondered why I never met my paternal uncle, until the day, when I was 16 years old, he showed up at our doorstep, unannounced, with his boyfriend/partner. My father desperately, but quietly, tried to shuttle my three siblings and I to our respective bedrooms, but I obstinately refused to understand my father’s not so subtle hint. My uncle gave me a present that day of a beautiful butterfly mounted as though still alive, in a plastic cube. I never saw him again. But I asked my grandmother about him when I was 22. I simply asked if he had ever married. “He’s not gay!” was her vehement reply. “That wasn’t what I asked, but now I know, thanks.”
I also wondered about one of my brothers. One brother was very, very obviously straight. He was always mooning after some girl or other in high school. But, our younger brother? The tall, handsome blond, star athlete? No girlfriends, not even a hint of one. When our mother suggested that an appointment with a girl was a “date”, he testily replied, “Its not a date, Mother! She’s just a friend.” But, as a kid, he used to dress up in mock drag and imitate drag comedians, especially Flip Wilson, “My boyfriend’s name is Killer!”, said in grating falseto. I used to cringe and want to hide when he did that. When he was a ‘tween’, he had a poster of the teen-girls heart-throb of the day, Bobby Sherman, on his door. On one particular occasion, when I was 17 and he was 15, we were driving down a back road behind Stanford University, past a known gay cruising spot, when up ahead we saw a handsome young man with cut-off jeans and his shirt off, bare chested, thumbing a ride. My brother nonchalantly rolled down the passenger side window, stuck out his head as we passed by the obviously gay young man and called out teasingly, “Sorry guy. Not cute enough!” Many of my gay friends over the years said that their gaydar went off when ever he was around… but… perhaps after seeing how our family and most of our social set disowned me as a teenager, he slammed the closet door so shut that even he didn’t recognize it? He’s now married with two children, a very successful cardiologist and hospital administrator.
There have been lots of reports of transsexuals having transsexual or transvestite siblings, fathers, or sons. The press just eats up these stories. But what of the clinical experience?
From Green’s paper on the subject:
Familial cases of gender identity disorder were reviewed by Freund (1985)
and categorized as concordant or discordant for sexual orientation. No instances of
a mixed heterosexual and homosexual pattern in the same family were found. The
interpretation was that the two groups of gender-identity disorder have different
etiologies. In the 10 family series reported here, only Case Five contains a mixed
heterosexual/homosexual family pair.
Green’s ten cases came from a pool of only 1,500. This would suggest that one in one hundred fifty transsexuals has a transsexual or transvestite sibling, but not of the other type? Is this random chance? Not likely.
Richard Green, M.D., “Family Cooccurrence of “Gender Dysphoria”:Ten Sibling or Parent–Child Pairs”
Esther Go´mez-Gil et al. “Familiality of Gender Identity Disorder in Non-Twin Siblings”
Robert J. Stoller and Howard J. Baker, “Two male transsexuals in one family”