This article by Henry Bodkin makes the seventh instalment in Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s Fifty Years after Stonewall: A Virtual Listening Tour. It appeared originally at The Telegraph on May 22, 2018 as “Transgender Brain Scans Promised as Study Shows Structural Differences in People with Gender Dysphoria.” It serves to highlight all the more the urgent need for science to have a voice in our theological and pastoral discussions of sexual and gender diversity in human nature.
We urge our readers to forward the articles in this series to their diocesan bishops and parish priests. We beg our hierarchy and clergy to listen, attentively, reflectively, and prayerfully.
We ensure complete anonymity if you wish to write for this series between now and the end of June.
People questioning their gender identity could be offered brain scans to determine whether they are transgender, according to a new study.
Breakthrough research has revealed for the first time evidence that the brain activity of people who feel they inhabit the wrong body closely resembles that of the gender they want to embrace.
Analysis of around 160 participants showed that biological males with gender dysphoria—the experience of discomfort or distress due to their biological sex—had a brain structure and neurological patterns similar to biological females, and vice versa.
The analysis revealed that the distinct neurological differences are detectable during childhood.
The findings, presented at the European Society of Endocrinology annual meeting in Barcelona, are likely to provoke controversy among groups who argue gender identity should be matter of personal choice and not medical definition.
However, the scientists behind the new research say their discovery promises doctors a potent new tool with which to offer better advice at an earlier stage.
Currently, children complaining of gender dysphoria typically undergo psychotherapy.
They can also be given hormones which delay puberty so that decisions on further transgender therapy can be made at an older age.
Gender dysphoria affects an estimated one per cent of the population, according to the the Gender Identity Development Service, although rates of diagnosis are increasing due to growing public awareness of the issue.