In 2016, a controversial bill was signed in Georgia, banning transgender individuals from using restrooms designated for the sex with which they identify. In the wake of this legislation, Between the (Gender) Lines: The Science of Transgender Identity explored what was known at the time about transgender identity, discussing scientific evidence for its biological bases, as well as the social and psychological ramifications of binary gender classifications. Regrettably, both the text and the figures in this article were being abused by those seeking to support their own beliefs. As such, we decided to remove this article in 2021 to prevent its further misappropriation by individuals and groups seeking to oversimplify this complex subject and promote views that lack a scientific basis.

We still believe in the value of rigorous scientific research about transgender identity and encourage you to read the published, peer-reviewed studies that we cited in the original article if you are interested in learning more about this topic (linked below):

  1. Transsexuality among twins: Identity concordance, transition, rearing, and orientation
  2. A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality 
  3. Male-to-female transsexuals have female neuron numbers in a limbic nucleus
  4. A sex difference in the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus: relationship to gender identity 
  5. Changing your sex changes your brain: influence of testosterone and estrogen on adult human brain structure 
  6. Regional gray matter variation in male-to-female transsexualism
  7. White matter microstructure in female to male transsexuals before cross-sex hormone treatment: A diffusion tensor imaging study 
  8. The (CA)n polymorphism of ERβ gene is associated with FtM Transsexualism 
  9. Should transvestic fetishism be classified in DSM 5? Recommendations from the WPATH consensus process for revision of the diagnosis of transvestic fetishism

We also encourage you to explore additional resources on this topic:

  1. For a SITN blog article discussing sex determination, check out “I’m XY and I Know It”: Sex determination systems 101
  2. For a quantitative view of transgenderism in the US, take a look at this analysis from Times Union
  3. For a review of discrimination against transgender persons, see this report from the National Center for Transgender Equality 
  4. For a more complete discussion on queer acronyms, see this description from BBC news
  5. For an in-depth look at how disagreements over restroom usage has shaped policy, check out this Politico article

The SITN editorial team






780 thoughts on “Between the (Gender) Lines: the Science of Transgender Identity

  1. How does orientation factor in?
    “As reported by Dr Julie Bakker, from the University of Liège, Belgium, the research team found evidence that transgender teenagers with gender dysphoria show functional brain characteristics that are typical of their desired gender.”
    For example, is this also true of boys who doubt their masculinity and consider themselves more aligned with girls, yet eventually conclude that it is not they but society which must change to accept alternative ways of being “a man.” My story, my partner’s story, happily in our same-sex relationship for 30yrs.

    Seeing the same potential in our (toddler) grandson but not concluding anything : time will tell, the child will evolve naturally to present as best fits given a generally supportive society.
    However, his parents with recent psych degrees in child development steadfastly deny their sons evident biological sex for fear of being discriminatory, just in case. The child is confused as to whether his male bosy parts can be female, and this is exacerbated as his folks now do not cut his hair and dress him such that he appears more feminine than toddler boys already often do. Their “affirmation” is actually guidance.

    Ultimately, as exploration through science brings more learning, the cases remain individual, real life stories. I fear the maxim: the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In our case, we have not seen our grandchild for years becuase neutrality is not acceptable to his parents. Ripple effects abound.

    1. erm you can be trans and gay btw. sexual orientation has nothing do with gender identity. so nope being trans is not erasing gay people or what not some people think it’s doing. you seem to be implying this. “happily in a same-sex relationship for 30 years”. there is a pervasive idea that people transition to like the same gender. the fact that only 15-19% of transgender people are exclusively heterosexual disputes this claim. i’ve seem several ‘progressive’ people (those who have no issues with gay and lesbian rights) who rally against trans identities due to this reason. obviously, there are conservatives and religious people who disagree for other reasons. that being said, i do apologise if i’ve misconstrued your comment. also, gender identity and gender expression do not correlate necessarily. you seem to be conflating the two. gender identity is your internal sense of self. for example, your partner has a male gender identity but may express feminine traits (expression). a transwoman has a female gender identity. do you see it? a cis can be feminine but it does not make them trans. say a man wearing a skirt. it’s simply a gender expression not identity.

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