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A congenital disorder

Calie over at T-Central featured an entry today from a blog where the writer promoted the idea of transsexualism being a congenital birth disorder. While it is hard to argue with the premise that it is indeed a type of biological condition (a notion I actively promote in this blog), you will note that many of the entries in the rest of the blog take great pains to make the distinction between those suffering from a true medical condition and those she refers to as the gender variant or transgender.

There is only one thing wrong with her premise however: it is entirely unproven.

You will find no medical journal, authoritative book or scientific research which makes any sort of clear dividing line. Even Harry Benjamin, who arguably had the greatest exposure to this condition given his long and extensive patient history, had trouble making clear cut distinctions between patients. The best he could do is fashion an approximate categorization based on the intensity of the dysphoria they experienced. He also never made any value judgements about any of them.

Most of the members of the group I refer to, were people who transitioned in the 1960’s and 70’s and tried their best to disappear into the woodwork of society. They did so with good reason because the world was far from ready to receive them. Even with today’s level of education we still get the most enormously ignorant comments from people as any perfunctory look at the comments section of an article on transgender issues will illustrate.

The vast majority of these early transitions were by androphilic transsexuals who proceeded as privately and as quickly as they could and tried to make new lives for themselves in stealth. Many married and in some cases their own husbands did not even know about their past.

As this group ages and disappears you don’t see any new recruits taking their place. This is because society is slowly changing and there isn’t the same battle lines drawn between androphilic and gynephilic transsexuals. The biggest focus in fact became the work of Ray Blanchard who began writing on this topic in the late 1980’s and saw the condition strictly as a sexual deviation.

By all current evidence, gender dysphoria appears to be a graded phenomenon rather than an all or nothing proposition like some of these early activists believed. No one chooses it but rather it chooses you and you must deal with it in whatever manner allows you to live in balanced and healthy way.

For some that solution may be transition but certainly not for all.

The blog (which appears not to be updated any longer) can be found here


  1. Great concept..."gender dysphoria appears to be a graded phenomenon rahter than an all or nothing proposition..." We all seem to seek somewhat differenent ways and means of dealing with our trans* issues.

  2. It is fascinating to see how some desperately need to keep up a strict and clean binary, while the world around us continuously tells us that this is not so. There is a close to complete overlap between men and women as regards abilities and temperament. There is also much overlap as regards interests, and the differences that are there can easily be explained by culture. And I think most sensible people agree that the old dichotomy men are sexy hungry predators and women are demure and passive emotional comforters is bogus.

    In other words: The world around us constantly remind us that there is diversity and continuums along all dimensions.

    This does not mean that there is no biological component of gender identity. I am convinced that there is. But even such a dichotomy cannot be based on an absolute gender divide. The genderqueer and the nonbinary can attest to that.

    The people you are talking about try to solve this "problem" by categorizing everyone who is not following the binary script as "the other", most likely pathologizing them in the process.

    I can understand why they do so. This is what the health provision gate keepers told them they had to believe to get access to hormones and surgery, and it is also probably the kind of beliefs they internalized as young.

    Still, this is the year 2015. We have come a long way since then, and this way of thinking is no longer supporters by recent research or the leading medical experts.


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