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not so fast

That documentary on transgender kids that I wrote about yesterday had a sequence in which a brain researcher stated that the male and female brain are not gendered. She stated that they become so over time through socialization.

Of course, we know there are brain differences between men and women but they have more to do with things like multi-tasking and spatial recognition and some men will fall more into the female spectrum and vice versa.

So, the question remains: why is 1% of the population consistently not fitting adequately into their birth sex and the gender role set out for them?

As tempting as it might be for some to dismiss this as mental illness the truth is that transgender people are as high functioning as anyone else and only suffer stigma through persecution so there is something going on that we do not comprehend yet.

It makes sense that socialization does play a role but I will point to the case of David Reimer as one which greatly negates its importance. If David (who was raised as a girl from birth) was so sure he was a boy, what was it that made him think that? No other historical case that we know of has ever given us such a clear picture that gender identity cannot be strictly about social rearing and it proved John Money wrong in his ideas. Hence to dismiss outright the idea that the brain has no gender is being a little disingenuous.

The aforementioned film leans in the direction of dismissing the idea of a gendered brain but I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

How convenient then for the producers that this pivotal case was left out of the documentary.


Comments

  1. Heh, the idea that the mind has no gender is a philosophical stance promoted avidly by many seeking to undermine oppressive societal roles. Its adherents are almost religious in their fervor, and are unlikely to let go of it, especially when their opposition is just as likely to use the gendered brain concept to turn back the proverbial clock. As trans people, we throw a wrench into just about everyone's understanding of the topic. (I kinda like that.) Anyway, that documentary sounds like one of those propaganda flicks produced by intelligent design proponents.
    -Caryn Bare

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  2. Minor typo, Joanna: where you wrote “special recognition” I think you meant “spatial recognition.”

    More importantly, the David Reimer case is a singularity and, I imagine, the people who argue against us toss it out as an outlier. What convinced me that we are born this way are the many, including me, who always knew it from their earliest memories.

    Regardless, doesn’t this mean that there must be some brain difference? I look forward to the day when there is an objective test.

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  3. Good catch Emma that annoying auto correct!

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    1. The Reimer case cannot be tossed out due to the detail follow up by Money himself. He was floored when he was finally proven wrong. People like Blanchard who believe in the sexual perversion side of things don't like that case either because it negates his flawed model. All those academic years just to wind up being wrong. At that point it becomes hubris most especially when we have come out with guns blazing which only promotes be coming entrenched in your position.

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  4. Beyond my desire to receive special recognition for my spacial recognition, or for anything else I have done that may be deemed worthy, the idea that trans people may have a special ability to recognize the differences rather appeals to me. It may take a real trans person to do proper research on the subject of a gendered brain. Most all of us were subjected to a socialization that did not resonate or stick, but I highly doubt it went that way because we may be outright contrarians or sexually frustrated individuals. I've never been able to explain, completely, to a cis person the way I think about my gender. It's for sure, though, that I have thought about my gender far more than a cis person has thought about theirs,

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    Replies
    1. we have spent many more years thinking about our gender than a cis person has; absolutely right.

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