[Humorous Graphic added by me- GM]

 

Bailey, J. Michael.

Triea, Kiira.

Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Volume 50, Number 4, Autumn

2007, pp. 521-534 (Article)

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A COMMON UNDERSTANDING OF male-to-female transsexualism is that all

MtF transsexuals are, essentially, women trapped in men’s bodies.The standard

narrative of men who become women goes something like this: “I have

always felt that I was born in the wrong body. I have always been feminine in

my interests and feelings. My desire to change sex is about my gender identity

and not my sexuality.”This narrative, which Dreger (2007) has termed “the feminine

essence narrative,” represents both what most laypeople believe to be true as well as

what transsexuals are likely to say publicly.The narrative has been extended to an

etiological theory, which Lawrence (2007b) has called “the brainsex

theory of transsexualism.” The transsexual advocacy website, transsexual.org,

puts this theory succinctly: “A transsexual is a person in which the sex-related

structures of the brain that define gender identity are exactly opposite the physical

sex organs of the body.”

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    The standard, feminine essence narrative, and the associated brain-sex theory,

are incorrect, in the sense that they do not represent reality, even if they do correspond

with many transsexual individuals’ beliefs and identities. The best scientific

evidence (discussed below) indicates that there are two distinct subtypes of

MtF transsexuals, and that the feminine essence narrative at best approximates

the life history of only one subtype. Paradoxically, this explanation of MtF

transsexualism persists because it is the explanation preferred by the other subtype, to

which it does not apply at all. The popularity of the feminine essence narrative

reflects factors other than the strength of scientific support. Its persistence has

likely had negative consequences for both science and transsexuals themselves.

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