Phew, a big update almost done…
The dishonest article by Paul
McHugh (mentioned in my news post from 2014-06-25) in the Wall Street Journal created
some attention, and many blogs and media outlets have written about it. See the
Transadvocate for a good summary: http://www.transadvocate.com/worlds-experts-condemn-the-mchugh-hoax_n_13924.htm.
I added two great resources to
the links page: One is the guideline booklet of the Endocrine Society for the treatment
of transsexual persons. The guidelines comprehensively run down the current diagnostic
and treatment process, a great manual for both transsexuals and clinicians.
Another one is a nice list of care facilities for transgender children youth
and children in Canada and the USA.
Aaannnd… I added 22 studies,
most of them newly published. Many of them concern discrimination and victimisation
(these words are hard to write!) and their impact on well-being, mental health
and suicide attempts (most of these studies are listed in the other references section). They provide yet more evidence that it’s not gender dysphoria itself that torments transsexuals, it is society’s cruel reaction to
So much unhappiness and tragedy caused by intolerance, by sticking to
cultural norms that evolved in times when we didn’t have the knowledge we have
now… it’s very sad and very stupid… why can’t people just be themselves
(obviously, always provided they cause no harm to others)? Why all this
Leinung et al. wrote in “Endocrine
Practice”, 2013, that gender dysphoria interferes with successful lives. The
study looked at 240 transsexuals and found that starting therapy at an earlier
age may lessen the negative impact on mental health and leads to improved
social outcome. Yay!
study: Sarah M. Burke, together with famous researcher Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis,
et al. published a study in “Frontiers in Endocrinology” (2014) looking at
the brain’s response to smelling the steroid androstadienone. Apparently, it
has been shown that the hypothalamus of the brain reacts differently to this
steroid in men and women. Interestingly, the hypothalamic responses of adolescent transsexual boys
and girls were remarkably similar to their experienced gender; i.e. the brains
of male-to-female transsexual girls showed a similar reaction to that of
cisgender girls, and behaved differently from the brains of cisgender boys. Clearly, evidence
that shows brains of transsexuals have undergone atypical sexual
differentiation is more hard proof for physiological cause of the feelings experienced
In a small study of eighteen
transsexuals published in “The Counseling Psychologist”, 2013, Stephanie Budge
et al. finds that transition lessens emotional hardships and leads to
affirmative emotional experiences.
Radix and Silva state in the
“Pediatric Annals” (2014) that a mounting body of evidence confirms that
medical transition results in improved health outcomes.
In a literature review in the
“Journal of psychosocial nursing and mental health services”, 2014, Nicholson
and McGuiness state that preliminary studies suggest that early medical
interventions improve the quality of life for young transsexuals.
In the same vein, Olson and
Garofalo write in the “Pediatric Annals”, 2014, that puberty suppression drugs seem
to be very helpful in improving behavioural and overall functioning outcomes.
Hank Asscheman is in
the news (see http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/827713#1) with
results of a huge study of more than 2000 patients finding that hormone therapy
is remarkably safe. I don’t think the study has been published yet, but you can
find preliminary results and an abstract of his presentation at the recent congress of the Endocrine Society on my other references page.
Oh, and last but not least,
one of the very rare studies claiming that medical treatment does not help transsexuals. I am on
the lookout for these studies, and I put them up on this website whenever I
find one, but there are hardly any. This is one is by Lithuanian researchers Kristina
Zamarytė et al., published in the Lithuanian “Medicina” in 2012. Strangely, it
is not a clinical study, it was a literature review of the years 1979 to 2011
using search terms that don’t seem wholly adequate (e.g. they used the term
“gender dysphoria” which officially replaced the older “gender identity
disorder” only in 2013). I’ll try to get in contact with the authors and see whether
they actually evaluated the hundred or so studies that do provide evidence for the
benefits of medical treatment… this is a strange one…
Anyway, in summary the picture
that emerges from all these clinical studies becomes clearer and clearer… the
brains of transsexuals have developed sex-atypically; they have similarities to
brains of their experienced gender and differences to brains of their natal
gender. As a result, transsexuals feel they belong to other gender from what
they have been assigned to at birth. Society penalises such feelings and
resulting behaviour and actions, so transsexuals face discrimination, which in
turn causes psychological problems and reduces quality of life. However, the
good news is that there are treatments available: Hormone therapy, transition and
surgery can cure gender dysphoria, peer support, societal tolerance and respect
minimise the negative effects.
Take care, stay healthy and be yourself!