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Microscope

WHAT THE SCIENCE SAYS

It's Not A Mental Illness

Don't let anyone fool you into thinking you are less than or ill because you are transgender or gay.

I'm not about to claim that I know the exact cause of transgenderism or homosexuality (or bi-, pan-, asexuality). But as someone who is trans and pansexual, I CAN assure you that it is indeed not a choice. No one would choose to be perceived as hatefully as many people perceive us. I can also assure you, thanks to the DSM V of the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization, that homosexuality is not considered a mental illness any longer.

Likewise, according to the American Psychological Association, the DSM V of the Psychiatric Association, the Endocrine Society, the World Health Organization, and Harvard University, being transgender is no longer considered a mental illness, but rather an endocrinological diagnosis or sexual health condition (depending on the source) thought to be caused by the hormonal bath in utero (along with a few other less common medical causes). The only scientifically recognized treatment or “cure” is determined by the Endocrinology Society which deems medical intervention in the form of gender reassignment medically necessary. Psychological assistance is only warranted if the individual experiences excess anxiety and depression as a result of the financial and societal difficulties they face during their transition or significant physical dysphoria.


Male and female brains tend to be different in several structures. Transgender individuals, however, have structures more like that of the opposite sex from birth. The bed nucleus of the stria terminalus (BSTc) is most common between trans women and cis men suggesting that their brain structure is true to their gender identity, according to Harvard. The sexually dimorphic nucleus remains an indicator of perceived gender regardless of whether hormone therapies have begun or not. Several experiments have lended additional evidence that there is a genetic or biological basis for being transgender. For example, identical twins are more likely to both be trans than fraternal twins. FTMs are often exposed to high rates of androgens in utero, while MTFs are likely to have androgen insensitivity syndrome.


There may be many other reasons why I am trans. My mom had Cushing's. This would have increased the androgen levels in utero. Having PCOS is another possibility. 1 in 10 women have this disease. But among trans men the rate is 1 in 2. Older anticonvulsants have also been linked to transgenderism and my mom was having seizures while I was being born. Or it could just be chance.

As far as the cause of homosexuality, there are a lot of theories, but most of them look to biological causes or a combination of genetic and environmental causes. There are actually some ethical problems that could present themselves if it came down to just identifying a set of "gay"genes, but I'll address that in a later blog post.

Here are a few links to further information and my sources:

Endocrine Society


Harvard University


American Psychological Association

Scientific American - Transgender

Scientific American - Homosexuality

Transas City

Science Daily

Science Magazine

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