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Brain activity and structure in transgender adolescents more closely resembles the typical activation patterns of their desired gender, according to findings to be presented in Barcelona, at the European Society of Endocrinology annual meeting, ECE These findings suggest that differences in brain function may occur early in development and that brain imaging may be a useful tool for earlier identification of transgenderism in young people.
Transgenderism is the experience, or identification with, a gender different to the assigned biological sex, whilst gender dysphoria GD is the distress experienced by transgender people, and may be present from a very young age.
Although GD incidence is rare, gender identity is an essential part of psychological health, and if unaddressed can lead to serious psychological issues. Current strategies for addressing GD in younger people involve psychotherapy, or delaying puberty with hormones, so that decisions on transgender therapy can be made at an older age.
Genetics and hormones contribute to sex differences in brain development and function that lead to more male- or female-typical characteristics; however, these processes are not well established. Furthermore, little is known on how early in life, or to what extent, the gender-typical characteristics of transgender people become established.
Earlier diagnosis or better understanding of transgenderism could help to improve quality of life for young transgender people, and help families to make more informed decisions on treatment. In this study, Dr. The study included both adolescent boys and girls with gender dysphoria and used magnetic resonance imaging MRI scans to assess brain activation patterns in response to a pheromone known to produce gender-specific activity. The pattern of brain activation in both transgender adolescent boys and girls more closely resembled that of non-transgender boys and girls of their desired gender.