Researchers are Navigating the Science behind Gender Identity

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Since high school, we learned in biology class that sex chromosomes determine a newborn’s sex. XY means it’s a boy and XX means it’s a girl; however, depending on XX and XY will not reveal the entire story of an individual. A recent post from nbcnews discussed a major research project aimed to unveil the secrets of gender identity. A consortium of research institutions in Europe and United States, including Tennessee’s own Vanderbilt University Medical Center, are using DNA to search for clues about whether being transgender is a genetic trait. The project is awaiting funding to begin testing markers, or variations, and genetic patterns among transgender people. “We can use this information to help train doctors and nurses to provide better care to trans patients and to also develop amicus briefs to support equal rights legislation,” said Leah Davis, assistant professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute and ¬†director of research for Vanderbilt’s gender health clinic.

The quest to advance this project made members of the trans community nervous. If evidence were to find a “cause”, it could potentially open the door to suggesting reparative therapies as a “cure”, similar to those that attempt to turn same gender loving people heterosexual,¬† advocates say. Others mention concerns about the rights of individuals who identify as trans but lack biological “proof”. Davis mentioned that the research study does not seek to produce a genetic test for being transgender, but rather help address the wide health disparities affecting transgender people.

To check out nbcnews to read the full article.

James Mungin

James Mungin

James Mungin is a New York native that has a passion for science and LGBTQ activism. Currently he's a doctoral student at a medical college studying viral diseases in the human host.

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