by Jillian Page
I was thinking tonight about all the people who are criticizing Chaz Bono, and saying things like this: “Each cell of a person’s body contains chromosomes which identify that individual as either male or female. XX chromosomes mean you are female, and you can’t change that.”
Hmm. Maybe so, maybe not. But it seems everyone is assuming Chaz has XX chromosomes. How do they know for sure? Maybe there are abnormalities? Or maybe Chaz has had XY chromosomes all along? Quite honestly, though, is it any of their business? Chaz did what was best for him, in his mind, and that’s all that counts.
That can be said about everyone, trans or not. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for the condition of your chromosomes. Keeping that in mind, I have never divulged my personal chromosome information in this blog. But what might happen if I did? Would all the naysayers suddenly accept me if I told them tests have shown that I was a female all along, chromosomally speaking? Would they apologize for the discrimination and bigotry directed at me?
Meanwhile, tonight I was doing a wee bit of research on chromosomes when I came across an article about In-Womb Development of the Transsexual Brain, by Tamara Sheehan, and the term “hormonal washes.” Here’s a lengthy excerpt. To read it all, you can click on the link provided:
In 1994, Dr. David Crews, Ph.D. published a paper with his findings regarding animal sexuality. He suggested that Transgender Behavior is shaped by embryotic sex hormones. In animals, they caused the brain to sexually develop a gender identity opposite that of the body. He suggested they could also influence the “Gender Identity” in humans.
In 1995, a team of brain researchers in the Netherlands (J.M. Zhou, M.A. Hofman, L.J. Gooren and D.F. Swaab) dissected and compared the autopsied brains of a number of transsexual, homosexual and heterosexual men and women. They found major differences between the Transsexual and non-Transsexual brains. … and that the male to female Transsexual brain was vastly different than the normal male brain and very much like the normal female brain. They suggested that this may be part of the reason why MtF transsexuals often describe themselves as a woman trapped in a men’s bodies.
Then in 1996 Arthur Arnold, a UCLA brain researcher confirmed the hormonal influences on human brain development. These findings corroborated the prior research done by Dr. Milton Diamond and Gunter Dorner in Germany and by Carl W. Bushong, Ph.D.
Normal Brain Developments
How does the brain develop in a normal male fetus?
All males start out as female embryos. However, somewhere between the 8thweek and the 24th week, a change in males occur if the chromosomes are ‘XY’. They ‘XY’ chromosomes cause Testosterone to be produced and released by the body in the fetus body. In the fetal brain this testosterone is converted into a type of estrogen which masculinizes the male brain. The hormonal wash must be very precisely timed for this process to be successful.
How does the brain develop in a normal female fetus?
All female fetuses start out as female embryos. The ‘XX’ chromosomes order no hormonal wash to occur. The fetus, not touched by testosterone, remains female, both in body and brain.
Transsexual Brain Development
How does the MtF Transsexual?
Like the normal male embryo, the male to female Transsexual brain starts out female. Then between the 8th and 24th weeks, the ‘XY’ chromosomes introduce testosterone hormonal changes, but the hormonal washes are faulty. They are either insufficient or ill timed. When this happens, the fetus develops a male body. However, some of the default (original) female brain processes remain intact. Thus, the brain’s gender identity remain intact. The brain’s gender identity remains female. This means that Transsexual males whose process of brain masculinization was incomplete and their default female brains still function. The degree of arrested development can vary. The original brain circuitry that was missed in the masculinizing process provides a continuing feminine influence. This explains why many Transsexual biological males know from as early as 3 years old that they are actually members of the opposite sex.
How does the FtM Transsexual brain develop?
Like the normal female embryo, the female to male Transsexual fetus starts out as a normal female. Then a problem occurs somewhere between the 8thand 24th week. Even though the ‘XX’ chromosomes have ordered no hormonal washes to take place, testosterone is still introduced. For example: An errant fetal adrenal glad causes testosterone to be produced in great quantities. The fetus is washed with testosterone, against chromosomal orders. The fetal body remains female. However, if the errant wash is strong enough, the female fetus brain is re-wired to think as male. This explains why many Transsexuals, biological males know, from as early as 3 years old, that they are actually members of the opposite sex.
What is the job of the ‘XX’ and ‘XY’ chromosomes?
It seems that one of the jobs of the ‘XX’ and ‘XY’ chromosomes is to govern the introduction of testosterone into the womb. However, chromosomal influence is limited by the many glitches that can happen during the fetal growth process. This is why each human being possesses a unique mixture of male and female traits. Some of these mixes (eg: Transsexualism) make the individuals who have them significantly different from society’s expectations. This causes these people much confusion and suffering. Indeed, there are, in our world, many males who have ‘XX’ chromosomes and many females who have ‘XY’ chromosomes.
End of excerpt, and back to me:
Clearly, there is much more to transsexualism than meets the naked eye, yes?
I realize the above excerpt is not the most scholarly of articles on the subject (but you do get the point) — and there are plenty of scholarly studies available for those who are interested, including the ones cited by Tamara Sheehan. Just google “chromosome research on transsexuals”, and click on the scholarly articles link.
Personally, it all makes my blonde head swim.