Friday, August 27, 2010

What Causes Transsexualism? by Lynn Conway - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Many causes for transsexualism have been proposed over the years. As discussed earlier in Lynn's TG/TS/IS information, it's long been known from intersex data that the genes do not determine gender identity, and recent follow-ups on intersex infant surgeries show that consistency of "genitals and upbringing" does not determine gender identity.

Instead, current scientific results strongly suggest neurobiological origins for transsexualism: Something appears to happen during the in-utero development of the transsexual child's central nervous system (CNS) so that the child is left with innate, strongly perceived cross-gender body feelings and self-perceptions. We still don't know for sure what causes this neurological development, and more research needs to be done. But the neurobiological direction for these explorations seem clear.

However, even without any scientific evidence to back them up, many psychiatrists and psychologists over the past four decades have simply assumed that transsexualism is a "mental illness". By DEFINING this socially unpopular condition to be a mental illness, these mental health professionals have shaped much of the medical establishment's and society's views of transsexuals as psychopathological "sexual deviants".

This page is an investigative report that describes and contrasts the older "mental illness" concept of transsexualism with more recently emerging scientific evidence of neurobiological bases for innate gender identity in humans.

Lynn Conway
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Part I: Gender Basics & Transgenderism

Sexual Prejudice: Understanding Homophobia and Heterosexism, Biphobia and Transphobia - 
by Kris Coonan, UQ Union, University of Queensland 
Changeling Aspects

Someday, maybe, there will exist a well-informed, well considered and yet fervent public conviction that the most deadly of all possible sins is the mutilation of a child’s spirit.”
Erik Erikson

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