"My flabber was completely gasted." - Rating Pending
Question #91677 posted on 10/01/2018 10:38 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

There have been many truly helpful, enlightening, posts regarding people who are transgender (and there are tons more board posts, I only linked those that had the more relevant questions and answers of someone trying to understand the subject).

I think this shows there is a genuine interest in the subject of the transgender community, at least in the readership of the board. In all of these questions and answers however, there is an aspect that I don't believe has been discussed that I would like to: the science behind it.

These articles, which are worth reading and have proper citing to scientific studies, suggest that the transgender brain is actually more similar to the gender it identifies with, rather than the biological sex of the individual--even prior to any kind of hormone therapy. These more recent discoveries were talked about in my pre-nursing physiology and fetal anatomy courses several years ago, and really helped me to understand this is a very real phenomenon, and not at all the fantasy "pretending" that some people claim it to be (you can google Ben Shapiro and Michelle Cretella yourself, I have no heart to link them). So my questions are these, and they are posed to the readers as much as the writers (so please feel free to leave a "correction"):

Did you know about this? If you didn't already believe people about being transgender, does this scientific understanding change that? How does it affect your approach to the transgender subject, even if you did already accept transgender people for who they feel they are?

Why has this science not been discussed more? Do many people who are transgender prefer not to lead out with explanations with this science*? If so, how come? When asked about transgender, as a cis person, how would you, as trans (can we get Van Goff back for a day?), like me to respond, and with what information?

-Corsica S., who is quite ok with these answers taking more than 100 hours

*I realize it's only the latest hypothesis, and much more research is needed, but the evidence is growing!


Dear Corsica,

I forwarded your question to Van Goff (by the way thanks for asking a question that made me reach out to him; I'm really bad at maintaining connections, and Van Goff is a super cool guy I'm glad to keep up with), and here are his thoughts on the matter:

These are all good questions! I appreciate the time spent studying the research behind the trans identities. It's been comfort over the past few years to see the evidence for a biological basis behind transgender identities. As a religious trans person, it gives me hope that my gender identity is more than just a "trial" from God but an inherent part of who I am and something to be embraced and understood rather than suppressed. A few of my other trans friends have also used similar research to help them explain to loved ones or strangers the logic behind their identities, and it seems to help validate their identities to people who have less knowledge on the subject.
Personally, I can think of a few times I've used evidence about the science behind transgender identities to explain my identity. It's a mixed bag. Sometimes it helps, but sometimes people (including myself) only accept research that fits with their worldview already. It seems to help best when there's an open, rather than argumentative, environment. One of the best experiences I ever had was when my grandpa, a retired BYU physiology professor who I'd distanced myself from since coming out, told my parents out of the blue that thanks to an article similar to the one you linked, he finally understood that what I had was something similar to the intersex disorders he studied and taught about rather than a mental illness. It was humbling to me that someone from a generation where trans people were more misunderstood would open himself to new research and genuinely trying to understand.
This is neither here nor there, but now that I've graduated and have enough years of hormone therapy under my belt that I pass as male, I find myself being less and less interested in bringing up my trans identity and explaining it in casual settings unless I have to. Not because I'm not comfortable with who I am, but sometimes I feel like people don't take the scientific evidence into account and see being trans as something not quite male/female or (worse) a choice. Most of the time, I don't want to be seen as that "trans guy," I want to be seen as a guy and have that element of my identity mostly be the business of myself, my doctor, and my partner. Maybe that's bad, I don't know. I guess what I'm saying is that I wish that being trans was seen more as an intersex disorder treated by transitioning, based on the scientific evidence, rather than an identity or lifestyle exactly.
To answer your last question, I think it is really admirable that you are seeking to understand more about trans identities and the science behind them. I'm trying to understand what you're asking: are you asking how I would like a cis person to explain the evidence in arguments? It sounds like you are doing an amazing job in educating yourself and incorporating that research in the way you understand gender identity. Overall, I think exposing yourself to the trans community (scientific research and just the trans experience in general) could help you know what evidence to bring up in an argument. Going to LGBTQ lectures or meetings on transgender identities or discussing the issue with other trans people could give you a more nuanced view of the subject so you have a variety of points to bring up, depending on the questions the other person has. For specifically LDS-related arguments, Affirmation (https://affirmation.org/) also has some excellent personal essays written by trans members.
Hopefully that answered your question or at least gave another perspective on it! I think familiarizing yourself with the trans community and watching/reading content by trans people or talking with people who identify with trans could help you find talking points in discussions. Otherwise, though, I think you have great points all on your own! Maybe it's because I have skin in the game, but I agree with you: the scientific research being done on gender identity is fascinating and gives more weight that being trans will be seen more and more as a medical condition rather than a mental illness. It's a beautiful, hopeful thing.
~Anathema (but really Van Goff)

Dear Corsica,

I really, really wish I knew about those scientific studies last week. We were talking about LGBTQ+ individuals in my class, and my classmate implied that people who did not have a cisgender identity and sexual orientation should be committed to a mental asylum. Thankfully half the class raised their hands to refute that (myself included), and while I knew of the studies to back up why homosexuals were attracted to members of their own sex, I didn't know any about transgenders. That is absolutely fantastic to hear that those studies exist. It doesn't really impact my personal approach to the transgender subject, but it will definitely change my approach when I bring it up with others.

I'll probably just leave my answer there (since we're trying to get Van Goff back for this question). But thank you for sharing those articles! I'll definitely be sharing them with others.

-guppy of doom

posted on 10/01/2018 11:24 p.m.
Hi all,

It is definitely not preferable to refer to trans people as "transgenders."

- The Black Sheep