I’m always a little wary of research that seeks to locate a unique cause for any kind of human phenomenon. People are complex and, as a social scientist myself, I see that most of what we do has multiple causes. Therefore, while I’m not entirely opposed to research that looks for biological components of sexual identity, I’m always worried about the tendancy for reductionism.
Once in a while, though, there appear to be researchers that acknowledge that what they have found might only be a fragment of a possible truth. This article is an example. The researcher here focus on FTM transsexuality and a possible genetic component while being careful to mention that this gene would probably be only an indicator of predisposition, not a definite cause, and that one’s culture has a lot of influence as well. I’ll have to re-read it a couple of times and maybe try to get my hands on the more scientific version since the articles written for the lay public are always over-simplified. But my immediate reaction to it is NOT to be angry, which is my usual reaction to these types of articles.
In addition to the acknowledgement by the researcher of the partiality of the results, what I like about this research is that FTMs are not only acknowledged but we are a focus of study. Too often in scientific research, transsexual actually means MTF. The articles often start by indicating that research was done on transsexuals in an attempt to locate a genetic component of transsexualism. Later in the articles, the reader all too often finds out that most of the data was gathered among MTFs. The scientific powers that be seem much more interested in what XY folks are up to than on what XX folks are up to. Nothing new there in a patriarchal society.
Anyway, I encourage anyone who is interested in this kind of stuff to have a read. It’s not perfect but it’s not as bad as some of the other stuff out there that tries to investigate this “mental illness” that us trans folks supposedly have. I’ll try to re-read it a couple of times and would love to discuss it with anyone who has thoughts.