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endocrine disrupting chemicals?

I was born in 1962 and certainly was exposed to EDC’s but is there something to this? Thanks to AQV for the heads up…

Transsexualism: An Unacknowledged Endpoint of Developmental Endocrine Disruption by Christine Johnson (her abstract to her thesis) states:

“In recent years, evidence has accumulated demonstrating that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have the potential to alter sexual development at the organizational and functional level in many species, including humans, indicating that this class of chemicals may play a role in the etiology of transsexualism.

Although transsexualism has historically been attributed to social or psychological causes, little data exists to support these claims, thus requiring a closer examination of the evidence regarding changes in sexual development due to EDCs. Toward that end, this thesis considers data from studies examining hormonal signaling mechanisms and changes in sexual development observed in wildlife, laboratory animals, and humans exposed to EDCs, all providing a consistent picture that sex hormones and their receptors are highly conserved evolutionarily, finding similar effects of disruption in many species.

In order to place the data in context, a number of historical threads are examined, including: the use of chemicals in agriculture, the use of the pesticide DDT and the pharmaceutical drug diethylstilbestrol (DES), the intertwined relationship between chemical manufacturers and the military, and the history of transsexualism since 1950. The operation and function of the endocrine system is reviewed in order to provide the background to properly interpret findings from endocrine disruptor studies, focusing particularly on the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. Recent physiological data regarding the vomeronasal organ (VNO) is reviewed, demonstrating that the VNO is the organ responsible for detecting pheromones, or sexually-relevant chemically-based cues, and that exposure of the VNO to extremely low levels of putative sex hormones causes numerous autonomic system responses, including alterations in endocrine function in males. It is therefore suggested that the VNO plays a central role in the circuitry involving sexual development, and a hypothetical framework for testing this concept is provided.

Using this framework, a mechanism for the development of gender identity is proposed, suggesting that gender identity is determined via pheromones by comparing the self with others at an unconscious level. One consequence of this mechanism is that messages conveyed by pheromones can be regarded as signals that can be in contradiction from messages from society, leading to a paradoxical double bind, or a logical contradiction between messages that exist on different logical levels.

Another consequence is that there may exist a class of chemicals, pheromone disruptors that could interfere with pheromones in a manner analogous to endocrine disruptors. Further research must be performed to test this hypothesis since little data exists on pheromones in humans, but early data suggests chemicals may be found that interfere with normal pheromone function.

The prevalence of transsexualism is examined, finding that prevalence differences reported in various countries are not well explained by social factors. Also, it is observed
that existing studies have reported the prevalence of transsexuals seeking treatment over a specific time period, but this reporting method is not a measure of the number of transsexuals for each country, which is what the term implies to most people. Several recent epidemiological studies that address sexual changes from endocrine disruption are critiqued, finding that they are plagued with methodological weaknesses and contain a number of errors in interpretation. It is argued that instead of using epidemiological techniques, a more useful approach would be to perform demographic studies that map the birthplace of transsexuals in space and time to determine any patterns that may be related to environmental conditions. The lack of detailed data on transsexual demographics, especially in the United States where such data are completely lacking, has left a void where a lack of data has been interpreted incorrectly as a lack of effect.
The fundamental assumptions used in risk analysis and toxicology are reviewed in the context of recent findings that the effects of a chemical may be larger at low doses than at high doses and that thresholds for the endocrine system must be determined empirically, rather than by assumption of a dose-response curve and extrapolation from an observed toxicological endpoint. The use of invalid techniques by toxicologists has thus invalidated claims of chemical safety, and indicates that public policy based on these techniques are insufficiently protective of public health. Because few things are more important to the continuity of cultures than sexuality and social relations, a number of areas requiring further research are identified, and the need for education of the public is emphasized. I conclude that the existing evidence points towards chemical causes of transsexuality rather than social or psychological causes, requiring a shift in research priorities away from psychosocial studies towards physiological studies of transsexuals”

She concludes her paper by saying:

“Therefore, this thesis concludes that the single most important thing that can be done by advocates is to undermine these unexamined epistemological premises by educating the public of the evidence demonstrating a relationship between EDCs and transsexualism. When presented with evidence, contradiction in epistemologies can force a new perspective, enabling people to question the logic of what are ultimately self-destructive cultural beliefs. As the title of this thesis alludes, transsexualism is an unacknowledged endpoint of endocrine disruption, and all that is required to change this situation is simply acknowledgement. Then this knowledge becomes part of our cultural heritage and better decisions may result from this fuller knowledge of the facts. From this, beliefs can change; different beliefs lead to a different set of actions, and it is in the domain of action where this must ultimately be addressed. But before that can be achieved, habituated beliefs must be made visible."

From another source:

“Is it a coincidence that since the introduction of the chlorinated pesticides around 1935-1940 that the rate of transsexualism has been climbing steadily?
The first generation born after the introduction of pesticides was also the first generation to have significant numbers of transsexuals. The condition is virtually absent from the US historical record prior to 1952, when Christine Jorgensen made headlines. Every generation since has had higher and higher rates. Clearly researchers knew that sexual developmental changes were observed with DDT in animals as early as 1950, yet this information was ignored, deliberately or not. Fifty years later, large numbers and quantities of EDCs are being distributed around the globe without adequate consideration of the consequences”

Certainly food for thought but then why is only a tiny sliver of the population affected and not the rest? As the oldest of six children and the only gender disphoric it makes me wonder. I know I was not breast fed and my mother (like many of that time) used plastic bottles….

“Some researchers are investigating the health risks to children of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC’s) Bisphenol A, until 2010 a common component in the plastic used to manufacture plastic baby bottles, has been banned in most countries. In 2010, despite strong industry opposition, Canada was the first to ban BPA's use in baby bottles. Australia and the European Union followed in 2011. Several states in the United States had banned its use by 2011, and in 2012 a nation-wide ban was put in place


  1. " I conclude that the existing evidence points towards chemical causes of transsexuality rather than social or psychological causes, requiring a shift in research priorities away from psychosocial studies towards physiological studies of transsexuals”

    Uhuh. Certainly food for thought.

  2. EDC's may be a piece of the puzzle. But transsexuals were around long before EDC's. We also don't know the number of transsexuals before EDC's were introduced compared to after. And EDC's are suspected for causing a lot of other problems. It seems more likely that the increasing numbers of transsexuals is more related to society in general becoming more accepting of transsexualism.

    But it still seems plausible that environmental variables are partially responsible, be they EDC's or other man made or naturally occurring substances. The safe thing to say that we still really don't know.

  3. Oh, I'm not trying to be dismissive of the studies. I think they're really good. I just think that there needs to be more research done to try to nail it down.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Uhuh. Quite the critique. Very erudite and enlightening. Yes, indeed. And just where exactly do you think Ms. or should I say, Doctor Johnson's study needs more research?

    Try reading the study and attempt to engage brain before releasing your mouth. Just a thought.

  6. I don't think any of my comments can be taken as criticism of the research. I actually thought I was supporting it. I just don't think it negates any of the studies identifying other factors.

    Does your criticism of my comment mean that you think that EDC's are the sole cause of transsexualism? Interesting. As I said, transsexuals were around long before EDC's. It's possible that EDC's are an additional trigger but they definitely aren't the only one.

    As I said of the studies (and you seem to have ignored) "I think they're really good". But I refuse to dismiss other factors. I'm keeping an open mind.

  7. You mean cross transvestites have been around a long time. That is a historical fact. This study represents empirical fact. Your unsubstantiated statements are self exculpatory wishful thinking.

    They offer nothing to he discussion. All you are saying is after 60 years of "researching" this YOU cannot the simplest explanation that external insults to the developing fetus could be te cause and that we should look at that rather than some "gender spectrum".

    There is no question that variations exist in how people "express" or experience their gender. Personally, I am all over the "spectrum" depending on the circumstances or my mood, pretty much like most people. To assert that this normal human variance is what causes transsexualism amounts to utterly simplistic nonsense.

    I guess, according to you we should "study" birth order or how nice or not nice our moms or dads were.....some "other factors". Like what for instance?

  8. Well actually before Lily Elbe we really don't know how many transsexuals were in the general population since there was no such thing as SRS or would be so interesting to know however how much impact the EDC exposure is truly responsible for...

  9. Read the research. The truth is out there.

  10. Lily Eble is an interesting example. What little we know tells us she was sufficiently feminine, even as an adult, to easily integrate in society, much as you do.

    She represents the first recorded attempt to surgically alter her physiogamy to match her psych. Sadly, and not surprisingly, those efforts resulted in her early demise.

    She is also representative of the intensity of the need to fully transition. For a Type V or VI there really is no price to high. Often we pay with our lives.

  11. Yes she was a pioneer and payed with her life...

  12. I do agree that EDC's represent just one of many potential insults to a developing fetus. Other insults include a wide variety of stresses on the mother during pregnancy including, but certainly not limited to wars, famine and disease. Plenty of that going around.

    Also one of the most significant EDC's was DES, (diethylstilbestrol), given to pregnant moms starting in the early '40's and thankfully banned in the mid to late '70's.

  13. It's hard to say that before SRS was developed that there were only crossdressers, some TG/TS may have been too afraid to do it and either learned to cope or killed themselves. I think the simplest explanation as that a certain, very small percentage of humans has always been born transsexual. Maybe some were due to environmental stresses but it's hard to say for sure now. And modern humans sure have introduced a lot more artificial stresses. The only way to know for sure is to eliminate the chemical stresses and see if the rate goes down. The sad thing is that it will never happen, at least not in our lifetime.

    My whole conscious life I've known I'm a woman and it would be really nice to know that I was born that way. But in all honesty I don't remember the first 2 years of my life so personally I can't eliminate the possibility that it was societal or psychological factors.

  14. "it would be really nice to know that I was born that way"

    And what difference would that make in your life now? "It would be really nice..."?

    How nice.

  15. Hi, I'm the author of this thesis and to address the question about trans folks in history, there are a number of things that have been around forever: heavy metals, plants with hormonal properties, maternal stress, and genetic/epigenetic factors.

    But when you look at other less "controversial" endpoints also believed to be due to endocrine disruption, there is a clear and unmistakable increase in incidence, e.g. testicular cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, hypospadias, intersex outcomes, etc. These less "controversial" endpoints are described in a recent WHO report on EDCs, available here: Note the maps of northern Europe on page 59 showing an increase in testicular cancer along with its geographical distribution.

    Thanks for posting the abstract, Joanna. I've tried to get this idea out there but as you might imagine, there are strong forces intent on framing gender identity as a social construct, in some cases for wildly different reasons.

    BTW, I also have some other papers archived at

  16. Christine thank you for commenting on my blog and for your important work. I have certainly always suspected that there is more to gender disphoria than just social and psychological factors and although this may not be the only piece of the puzzle, it appears too big to ignore! Thank you again!

  17. I have wondered about the pre-natal exposure to chemicals and whether my own gender issues can be traced to a chemical cause. My mother had three miscarriages before I was born. During her pregnancy with me she had bed rest and treatment with estrogen, most likely DES or a similar product. Physically I am rather un-hairy, never have to shave my legs, arms, back or chest and I can go a few days between facial shaves (unless I am dressing). I see my experience as anecdotal but there could be some connection. I am not transexual but I consider myself a crossdresser.


  18. You never know pat. Perhaps you were exposed to a lower dosage than others but still affected to some degree

  19. These chemicals is really harmful to our health and considered to be one of the causes of testosterone levels decline.

  20. Catherine there is no question that these chemicals are aiding in the reduction of testosterone and in birth of males wherever the concentrations are significant enough.


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