On the Science of Changing Sex

Transkids.us Update

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on February 23, 2013

CloudyNow that I have taken on the responsibility of maintaining the Transkids.us website (with my husband’s dutiful help, as I’m not all that good with web stuff, it not being my field, but was his before he retired) we’ve moved the site to a new host and begun to clean-up typos and other issues, including dead links.  We’re not done yet, but it is improving.

In cleaning up some of the typos and silly grammatical errors (it’s amazing what a misplaced comma does to a sentence), I’m once again marveling at the insight of the original authors, especially “Alex Parkinson” (not her real name) in her essay on how GID as a theory obscures the real nature of transsexuality.  If you have never read it, you really should take the time to do so now.  Read it very slowly, as though the words were being spoken aloud by an erudite lecturer.  The essay is amazing for such a young author.

Although the original authors have moved on… which is as it should be for young people to do, I have been wondering where this should go next.  I have come to the conclusion that additional voices, additional essays, would be welcome.  If you are a transkid (transgender youth), who is clearly such, and have insights into the issues being explored at the transkids.us website and/or here on my blog, I would welcome a dialog.  Its been ten years since the original authors took note of the controversy surrounding the publication of Prof. Bailey’s book, The Man Who Would Be Queen, and it is time for a new perspective.

You may reach me at formertranskid@gmail.com

Addendum 3/6/2013:

The edits are pretty much complete.  If you find dead links or serious typos, please let me know?

I’ve been rereading the posts as I edit them.  I was once again struck by how well many of the issues were addressed.  I would strongly recommend that any and all gender therapists and physicians read the recommendations regarding treatment of MTF transkids.  I find it difficult to add much to them, save perhaps to amplify by example.  IF you are a health care provider working with transgendered children or teens, and would care to discuss more explicit and detailed recommendations with me, I would be very interested in working with you.  There are things that I would not wish to discuss in an open forum.

Addendum 4/2/2013:

You may wish to read my earlier comment on why I have inherited the transkids.us website:

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Better the Second Time Around

Posted in Confirming Two Type Taxonomy by Kay Brown on February 19, 2013

female_scientistI mentioned this in passing before, that Anne Lawrence had shown in 2010 that there was a very strong correlation with the Hofstede Individualism Index of a country and the percentage of “non-homosexual” (AGP) transsexuals vs. “homosexual”.   Using seven new studies, she has shown that the correlation continues to hold in a paper published just this month.  Now, you may be thinking, “ho hum, wasn’t this shown earlier”.  Well, yes.  But science is all about repeatability.  It could have been that the first study she did was just a fluke, that she had found a coincidence.  But when later data becomes available with exactly the same correlation, it shows it wasn’t a fluke.

But what does it mean?  I believe that she has expressed it fairly well,

As I suggested previously, the observed relationship between IDV and %NHS probably reflects the combined operation of at least two distinct factors.  First, non-homosexual persons probably constitute larger apparent percentages of MtF transsexuals and gender gender dysphoric persons in more individualist societies because these societies place a higher value on individual self-expression (including cross-gender expression), despite the possible socially disruptive consequences of gender transition in men who are typically middle-aged, are often married, and have usually pursued traditionally masculine occupations.  Second, homosexual persons probably constitute larger apparent percentages of MtF transsexuals and gender dysphoric persons in less individualistic (or collectivistic) societies because these societies place a higher value on inclusion and often provide socially approved transgender roles for pervasively feminine, androphilic gender dysphoric men.

I couldn’t resist playing with the numbers a little.  Combining both papers’ data, the correlation between the Hofstede Individualism Index and the percentage non-homosexual orientation is r=0.866 which is very high.  (For those that don’t love statistics and math, a perfect correlation would be 1.000 and no correlation at all would be 0.000 or “zero”.)  It would be very surprising if the correlation were perfect, since nothing in real life is, but this is really quite high.

I got curious about the scatter plot shown in the second paper… and my intuitive mathematical sense tells me that the function between the Index and %NHS is not linear.  So I graphed what I think the function is, reproduced here:


Individualism vs. Percentage Non-Homosexual

There is one outlier if we use my suggested non-linear relationship, the one dead center in the graph.  This represents Japan with an IDV of 46 and 60% non-homosexual orientation among MTF transwomen.  How do I explain this?  I believe that we need to look at the Hofstede Center’s own description of this index score and note that it may not reflect exactly what societal characteristic is usually captured by the IDV,

Japan scores 46 on the Individualism dimension. Certainly Japanese society shows many of the characteristics of a collectivistic society: such as putting harmony of group above the expression of individual opinions and people have a strong sense of shame for losing face. However, it is not as collectivistic as most of her Asian neighbours. The most popular explanation for this is that Japanese society does not have extended family system which forms a base of more collectivistic societies such as China and Korea. Japan has been a paternalistic society and the family name and asset was inherited from father to the eldest son. The younger siblings had to leave home and make their own living with their core families.

Thus, while Japan is more collectivist, that collectivism differs from other Eastern societies as being focused on non-family groups, e.g. companies and schools,

One seemingly paradoxical example is that Japanese are famous for their loyalty to their companies, while Chinese seem to job hop more easily. However, company loyalty is something which people have chosen for themselves, which is an individualistic thing to do. You could say that the Japanese in-group is situational. While in more collectivistic culture, people are loyal to their inner group by birth, such as their extended family and their local community. Japanese are experienced as collectivistic by Western standards and experienced as individualistic by Asian standards. They are more private and reserved than most other Asians.

My hypothesis is that it is from the impact on family structures that this high correlation stems.


Anne A. Lawrence (2010), “Societal Individualism Predicts Prevalence of Nonhomosexual Orientation in Male-to-Female Transsexualism”

Anne A. Lawrence (2013), “More Evidence that Societal Individualism Predicts Prevalence of Nonhomosexual Orientation in Male-to-Female Transsexualism”

The Hofstede Centre


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Curiouser and Curiouser…

Posted in Female-to-Male, Science Criticism by Kay Brown on February 18, 2013

… said Alice.

critical-thinkingIn a recent paper exploring the sibling sex ratio and birth order of transkids, several interesting new biodemographic findings were disclosed.  First, the already known surplus of older brothers of MTF transkids was observed, along with the fraternal birth order effect of having more older brothers than sisters.  But, curiously, these transkids also had more younger brothers than sisters!  The reason this is so startling is that we have no plausible conjectures on how this could come about, as we do the fraternal birth order effect.

Another curious item is that FtM transkids are more likely to be only children than one would expect by chance.  Blanchard does offer a possible conjecture that this may be an immune response, leaving the mother unable to conceive again.

This new finding in MTF transkids is further evidence that there may be more than one biological mechanism at play.

But to me, the most curious thing to note in this paper is the actual paper, who wrote it, and how it was edited.  It has the feel of having had sections written by different authors, who habitually use different terms for the same phenomena and populations.  As I had written in an earlier essay, those in North America preferred the term “homosexual transsexual” and those in the Netherlands preferred “Early Onset” transsexual.  This paper was co-written by Ray Blanchard, from North America, while the rest were from the Netherlands.  It would appear that both formulations were used in this paper, starting with “early onset” in the title then using “homosexual” in the abstract:

Several sibship-related variables have been studied extensively in sexual orientation research, especially in men.  Sibling sex ratio refers to the ratio of brothers to sisters in the aggregate sibships of a group of probands. Birth order refers to the probands’ position (e.g., first-born, middle-born, last-born) within their sibships. Fraternal birth order refers to their position among male siblings only. Such research was extended in this study to a large group of early-onset gender dysphoric adolescents.  The probands comprised 94 male-to-female and 95 female-to-male gender dysphoric adolescents. The overwhelming majority of these were homosexual or probably prehomosexual.  The control group consisted of 875 boys and 914 girls from the TRAILS study. The sibling sex ratio of the gender dysphoric boys was very high (241 brothers per 100 sisters) compared with the expected ratio (106:100). The excess of brothers was more extreme among the probands’ older siblings (300:100) than among their younger siblings (195:100). Between groups comparisons showed that the gender dysphoric boys had significantly more older brothers, and significantly fewer older sisters and younger sisters, than did the control boys. In contrast, the only notable finding for the female groups was that the gender dysphoric girls had significantly fewer total siblings than did the control girls. The results for the male probands were consistent with prior speculations that a high fraternal birth order (i.e., an excess of older brothers) is found in all homosexual male groups, but an elevated sibling sex ratio (usually caused by an additional, smaller excess of younger brothers) is characteristic of gender dysphoric homosexual males.  The mechanisms underlying these phenomena remain unknown.

The use of the term “homosexual” has often bothered many transsexuals, both autogynephilic and non-autogynephilic alike… but apparently it bothered at least one of authors of the paper as well,

(instead of ‘‘homosexual’’ transsexuals, we will refer to male-to-female transsexuals sexually attracted to men as androphilic MtFs, and to female-to-male transsexuals sexually attracted to women as gynephilic FtMs)

While I applaud the sentiment of using language that is more sensitive to the sensibilities and personal identities of transsexual people, the effort here loses its intended effect since all such males are still called “boys”, and such females are called “girls”, largely defeating the purpose.  Further, the authors simply did not maintain the usage of “androphilic” in preference to “homosexual” as later in the paper they write,

It was reasonable to assume that all or nearly all of the early-onset gender dysphoric boys in this study were, or would be, homosexual, and that nearly all of the control boys were, or would be, heterosexual;

So, it would appear that the final editor failed to clean up the language of the paper to make it consistent with a ‘politically correct’ terminology.  But this failure also allows us to unite the terms, making this paper a ‘Rosetta Stone” of research papers:

Homosexual = Androphilic (or Gynephilic for FtM) = Early Onset

Thus, this paper helps spell out, in an unambiguous manner, that the researchers are indeed talking about the same populations, and that there is now universal agreement that the Freund/Blanchard typology is correct.


Sebastian E. E. Schagen, Henriette A. Delemarre-van de Waal, Ray Blanchard, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, (2012) “Sibling Sex Ratio and Birth Order in Early-Onset Gender Dysphoric Adolescents”


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Etiological Conjectures, Part 3

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on February 14, 2013

androgynous faceAs I related in Part 1 and Part 2 of my discussion regarding etiological conjectures, there are still more questions than answers about how early onset gender atypicality and dysphoria develops.  However, there are some very intriguing clues from the biodemographics of transkids.  As I discussed in an earlier essay on how MTF transkids may be a subset population of the larger exclusively androphilic, gender atypical, but not gender dysphoric children who grow up to be conventional gay men, the biodemographics of MTF transkids seems to be very similar, if not identical, to that of at least some gay men.

Simply put, MTF transkids have more brothers than sisters, far more than one would expect comparing them to the general population.  They tend to have more older brothers than would be expected, showing that for each older brother, the likelihood that a given male would be an MTF transkid is increased by 40%.  Note that the absolute likelihood of being an MTF transkid is still very, very tiny, but the more older brothers that one’s mother had given birth to, the more likely this tiny chance is increased.  This effect is also found in conventional gay men, but only those who were feminine as children.

From this statistical anomaly, Blanchard suggested that at least some gay men and MTF transkids have an etiological cause that is effected by their mother’s prior pregnancy experiences.  His conjecture is that prior male pregnancies challenged their mother’s immune system such that they developed anti-bodies to “maleness” in some, as yet to be discovered, fashion.

I would offer a different conjecture.  It is fairly well established that placentas from each fetus a women bears releases cells that migrate to all parts of her body.  In effect, she becomes a genetic chimera, carrying the DNA of each of her children (including those who miscarried).  This means that she also carries cells in her body which are genetically “male”, that have a Y chromosome and have supposedly been epigenetically tagged as being “male” during gestastion, prior to escaping via the placenta and migrating into her own body.  I conjecture that the mother’s own epigenetic gene regulation mechanisms are invoked to bring these “male” cells in line with her female body.  If these mechanisms become especially strong, they may tag her own germ cell line prior to oogenesis with epigenetic tags that push the later born male children toward neurological femininity.

Perhaps someday, we will see which, if either, of us guessed right.


Sebastian E. E. Schagen, Henriette A. Delemarre-van de Waal, Ray Blanchard, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, (2012) “Sibling Sex Ratio and Birth Order in Early-Onset Gender Dysphoric Adolescents”

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.

Johannes Bohacek, Katharina Gapp, Bechara J. Saab, Isabelle M. Mansuy, “Transgenerational Epigenetic Effects on Brain Functions”

Miranda P. Dierselhuis, Els Goulmy, “We are all born as microchimera”


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