Claims that gender dysphoria is the result of some sort of imbalance in sex hormone levels have long plagued transgender people looking for acceptance of who they are by suggesting that being transgender is an ailment that can be fixed, rather simply an intrinsic part of one's identity.
Scientific support for such claims has always been lacking, and now, a new study provides solid evidence that hormonal imbalances are not what the transgender experience is about. The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, examined the sex hormone levels of 101 transyouth patients at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and found that they did not differ significantly from those typical for the gender they were assigned at birth.
"It is not uncommon for parents to ask me if their transgender children or adolescents should have chromosomal or hormone level testing to 'explain' their transgender experience," lead author Dr. Johanna Olson of the Children's Hospital Los Angeles told Tech Times. "I hope that this report of normal hormone levels among transgender youth will dissuade parents, caregivers and healthcare providers from believing that transgender experience comes from hormone imbalances, or that gender identity can be changed by administering additional hormones of a young person's endogenous puberty."
Almost exactly half of the transyouth who participated in the study were assigned the male gender at birth but identify as transfeminine, and the other half were assigned the female gender at birth but identify as transmasculine. They ranged from 12 to 24 in age and reported that they first began to notice that their preferences did not align with their gender assignment around the age of eight. Despite this early recognition, however, they reported that they did not come out as transgender to their families until they were 17 years old on average.
Keeping their true identity a secret for such a long time can cause enormous distress among transgender people. As the staggering rate of transgender suicide reflects, transgender people often experience a crushing level of discrimination.
By identifying the biological and psychological factors that truly do influence the experience of transyouth, the researchers hope to dispel misconceptions and promote practices that make living a transgender life easier.
"Throughout history, transgender individuals have been routinely invalidated and stigmatized. Medical and mental health professionals have historically contributed to the marginalization of transgender people by pathologizing transgender experiences," Olson said. "It is exciting to be witnessing a cultural shift around transgender lives in this country that can potentially be supported by science."
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