Transgender men and women may carry genetic variants that influence their gender identity, a study suggests.
It is the first time researchers have identified a panel of genes, including DNA involved in the development of nerve cells and the manufacture of sex hormones, that could provide a biological basis for gender dysphoria. The findings add to the growing evidence that transgender people have fundamental differences in their brains and biochemistry that may help to explain why they feel at odds with their birth sex…
[Editor’s note: Read Ricki Lewis’ take on the study: Here’s what we really know about transgender genetics—so far]
Trans rights campaigners and their allies have long argued that being transgender is not a lifestyle choice but rather the resolution of a deep-rooted conflict between mind and body.
The new study, led by John Theisen at Augusta University in Georgia, may be the strongest vindication of this argument to date. The scientists sequenced the DNA of 14 female-to-male and 16 male-to-female transgender people and looked for genetic variants that were common in these groups but turned up in fewer than one in 10,000 people in the wider population. They found 30 such variants, nine of which were in genes known to be implicated in the growth of brain cells or the production of sex hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone.
The study, which was presented this month at a meeting of the Society for Reproductive Investigation in San Diego, California, has yet to go through peer review and some of its findings may be down to chance.
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