On the Science of Changing Sex

Fraternizing with the…

Posted in Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on June 18, 2017

critical-thinking… Allies  Or, The Fraternal Birth Order Effect: Early Onset Transwomen vs. Gay Men

In a very recently published meta-study conducted by Ray Blanchard further exploring the Fraternal Birth Order Effect (FBOE), in which he had earlier noted that androphilic males tend to have more older brothers than sisters, he deals with several concerns and new research questions.  First, there had been some concerns with how best to handle the potential effects of family size.  But what really interests me is that here, for the first time, he carefully considers the effect of transgender (feminine presentation / identity) vs. non-trans androphilic men (masculine presentation / identity i.e. conventional gay men).  The results are striking!

“The pooled Older Brothers Odds Ratio for the feminine groups was 1.85, and the value for the non-feminine groups was 1.27. The corresponding risk ratios were 1.52 and 1.19.  The differences between groups were highly significant.  To sum up the results so far in common language:  Feminine homosexual males have more older brothers than non-feminine homosexual males, and non-feminine homosexual males, in turn, have more older brothers than heterosexual males.”

These results weren’t just “statistically significant”, the effect was very great with the 95% Confidence Levels not even overlapping!

But we should introduce a note of caution here.  The feminine androphilic data was very heterogeneous as can be seen in this plot of the data.  This may be caused by the differences between cultures sampled from all over the world.  Some of this data is from Samoan Fa’afafine, some from Western gender dysphoria clinics in the US, UK, and Spain, some from non-Western cultures like Brazil and Korea.  Blanchard also noted this issue and suggested exploration of this might interest some future researcher as more data becomes available.  But in any case, we are shown some very intriguing data that strongly suggests that we may be seeing a difference in etiology between feminine and masculine androphilic males.

Blanchard discusses possible conclusions regarding this,

“A … possibility is that the neurodevelopmental pathway triggered by older brothers is inherently more feminizing than path ways triggered by other etiologic factors (e.g., ‘‘gay’’ genes or prenatal hormone exposure). Thus, a group of homosexual males selected for generalized femininity is likely to contain a higher proportion of individuals who acquired their sexual orientation via the older brother pathway. Other hypotheses, equally speculative, are also possible. … Blanchard and Bogaert (1996) proposed that the FBOE reflects the progressive immunization of some mothers to male-specific (i.e., Y-linked) antigens by each succeeding male fetus and the concomitantly increasing effects of anti-male antibodies on sexual differentiation of the brain in each succeeding male fetus. According to this maternal immune hypothesis, cells (or cell fragments) from male fetuses enter the maternal circulation during childbirth or perhaps earlier in pregnancy. These cells include substances that occur only on the surfaces of male cells, primarily male brain cells. The mother’s immune system recognizes these male-specific molecules as foreign and produces antibodies to them.  When the mother later becomes pregnant with another male fetus, her antibodies cross the placental barrier and enter the fetal brain. Once in the brain, these antibodies bind to male-specific molecules on the surface of neurons.  This prevents these neurons from ‘‘wiring-up’’ in the male-typical pattern, so that the individual will later be attracted to men rather than women.”

Something not discussed, indeed I’m not sure how it can even be explored – unless the curve in the data shown for the odds of an older brother per other sibling is evidence for the effect of first born males experiencing self-induced maternal immunity creating the same etiological pathway.  I would also expect that some first born males may have this etiology due to previous maternal miscarriages and abortions of male fetuses since they too would be expected to have Y-linked antigen challenges to the maternal immune system.

Still, and all, very exciting paper well worth reading.

Reference:

Blanchard, R., “Fraternal Birth Order, Family Size, and Male Homosexuality: Meta-Analysis of Studies Spanning 25 Years”, Archives of Sexual Behavior, (2017),
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-017-1007-4

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Raising Children is a Sacred Trust…

Posted in Editorial, Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on December 8, 2015

Kay BrownParental Attitudes Towards Transgender Children

Every now and then, I check the stats on this site.  I am gratified by the growing number of readers over the past six years.  I also check the search strings that are used to find this site.  I am happy that parents of transkids find my site and this much needed information.  But I am usually saddened by the search strings.  These are the most common, in order of frequency:

“How to cope with transgender children”

“How to deal with a transgender child”

“How to manage a transgender kid”

“My child is transgender”

Do you see the problem?  The terms ‘cope’, ‘deal’, and ‘manage’ indicate that these parents see their child as a dissappointent, a burden, a problem.  One ‘copes’ with emotional loss and dissappointment.  One ‘deals’ with a burden.  One ‘manages’ a problem.

I’ve known dozens of other transkids (and former transkids / adults who were transkids).  Nearly every one of them spoke of how their parents had been dissappointed by them.  Even those whose parents eventually came to support them went through a period where their parents tried to deny that they were transkids.  Many were disowned by their parents.

But every now and then, but not nearly as often as I would like, I see this search string:

“How to help a transgender child”

Today, among several like the first three, I saw this gem:

“How to protect a transgender child”

Several years ago, my husband and I hosted a lovely young couple and their two children.  Their children were around three years old, fraternal twins.  One was ‘all boy’.  He wore his favorite T-shirt sporting an image of a bulldozer that read, “I like dirt”.  The other child was a sweet natured, feminine girl wearing a yellow flowered sundress.  She gave us an impromptu ballet recital in our front parlor.  Can you see where this is going?  That sweet mannered girl is male.

This young couple loved and celebrated their children.  Both of them.  They told me that they didn’t like attending support groups for parents of gender atypical / transgender children because the other parents saw their children as dissappointments, problem children, burdens.  The other parents would spend most of the time trying to convince everyone, including themselves, that they had done everything they could to cope, deal, and manage their children.  They were apolegetic about their child’s behavior and even of their own eventual acceptance of their child’s atypicality, having done everything they could to prevent it.

Which brings me back to the search string that I never see, but would dearly love to:

“How to celebrate my transgender child”

(Addendum 2/4/2016:  Banner Day!  Today someone used this search string, “loving your transgender child”)

(3/26/2016:  UGLY DAY!  Today someone used this search string, “things to say to comfort parents of a transgender”, as though having a trans-child were a terrible tragedy.

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