Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Monday, October 27, 2008

    Skeptical of Transsexual Gene

    We've seen many articles similar to this, where social engineers try to convince the public that there is a genetic excuse for wickedness.

    A recent "scientific study" is making its rounds on the internet in an effort to sway public opinion in favor of wicked, perverted bahavior. The shameless headline reads, "Gene linked to transsexuality identified". But the further one reads into the actual article, we see that the study backtracks from the absolute conclusion stated in the headline.

    "In the largest genetic study involving transsexuals to date, researchers in Australia said they found that transexuality may be linked to the androgen receptor (AR) gene - which is known to modify the effect of the male sex hormone testosterone."

    Such a statement is quite a backtrack from the conclusiveness of the headline, and the reason for the backtracking becomes clearer when the data collected in the study is examined.

    "The longer AR gene was found in 55.4 percent of people in the transsexual group and 47.6 percent of the non-transsexual men, they wrote in an article published in Biological Psychiatry."

    Taking a good look at these percentages, one has to do a doubletake when reading the headline again. This data provokes several questions.

    Is the "transsexual gene" dominant or recessive? Why is there only 7.8% difference in the number of transsexuals vs. non-transsexuals who have this gene? How come 44.6 percent of transsexuals do not have the transsexual gene? If the headline of this story would be remotely accurate, I would expect 100 percent of the transsexual group to have the gene, or at least in the high 90s.

    The biggest question of all, why even publish a study that is as inconclusive as this one? Perhaps the answer lies in this statement.

    "There is a social stigma that transsexualism is simply a lifestyle choice, however our findings support a biological basis of how gender identity develops," said lead researcher Vincent Harley of Monash University's Prince Henry's Institute of Medical Research.

    What link have these scientists discovered between genetics and transsexuality? None. Just another example of social engineers trying to use "science" to indoctrinate as opposed to educate.

    17 comments:

    swordbearer said...

    Right on the mark! Thanks for pointing this out.

    SA-ET said...

    This just one study of many that lends credence to the fact that transsexuality is in essence intersexuality.

    MgS said...

    While a degree of skepticism is appropriate here, I should point out that cross-gender identification occurs across a wide spectrum of degrees.

    What has been identified in this study is likely but one vector that impacts the development of gender identity in the brain.

    Whether the gene is dominant or recessive is immaterial - sort of like it is with left handedness. The dominance or recessiveness of the trait tells us little about those who have the trait itself.

    Puritan Lad said...

    "What has been identified in this study is likely but one vector that impacts the development of gender identity in the brain."

    On what basis will you draw this conclusion? What evidence is there that the androgen receptor gene has any link whatsover to sexual orientation? There certainly isn't any evidence from the above study.

    MgS said...

    On what basis will you draw this conclusion?

    The evidence itself. The fact the findings are far from conclusive in themselves leads me to suspect that there is more to the development of gender identity than one single biological vector.

    What evidence is there that the androgen receptor gene has any link whatsover to sexual orientation?

    Transsexualism is about gender identity, not sexual orientation. We should not confuse the two.

    We know that sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen in particular) play powerful roles in the body and the brain. Precisely how this plays into psychological gender remains to be established, but a male body that responds atypically to androgens may well be an important factor in transsexuals.

    Puritan Lad said...

    "psychological gender"???

    Oh my.

    No wonder we are such confused in our postmodern world...

    MgS said...

    No wonder we are such confused in our postmodern world...

    What's so confusing about accepting that the mind may differ from the body? (It's not like there's a lack of evidence out there)

    It wasn't all that long ago that people believed that being left handed "could be corrected" too.

    Puritan Lad said...

    What is confusing is that attempt to appeal to the false religion of "psychology" (a proven failure) in order to try and blur the definitive differences between men and women. The whole "woman trapped in a man's body" nonsense has no scientific merit, despite the desperate attempt by this study to establish one.

    Besides, in a naturalistic worldview, how does one approach the mind as separate from the body? The aforementioned study certainly doesn't help in that regard.

    MgS said...

    false religion of "psychology" (a proven failure)

    (1) Psychology is not a religion, it is the study of the human psyche.

    (2) While it is far from a precise science, you can hardly call it a failure. The discipline itself has gone a huge distance in helping us understand mental conditions such as schizophrenia as something other than "possession".

    The whole "woman trapped in a man's body" nonsense has no scientific merit, despite the desperate attempt by this study to establish one.

    Really? So, you would declare utterly invalid the narrative of so many? On the basis of what evidence? How would you explain, for example, the astonishing persistence of cross-gender identity in transsexuals, or the early awareness of it - sometimes before the awareness of social or physical gender differentiation would be established?

    If you are going to criticize the attempt to establish, you are essentially claiming that there is no reason to inquire about anything in our world.

    Besides, in a naturalistic worldview, how does one approach the mind as separate from the body? The aforementioned study certainly doesn't help in that regard.

    Funny, coming from someone whose very belief system claims that the soul is distinct from our body, what's the problem?

    As for the study itself, drawing causal links between things leaves the philosophical implications of such links for the philosophers to figure out.

    Puritan Lad said...

    "(1) Psychology is not a religion, it is the study of the human psyche.

    (2) While it is far from a precise science, you can hardly call it a failure. The discipline itself has gone a huge distance in helping us understand mental conditions such as schizophrenia as something other than "possession"."


    Well, at least we agree that it is not a precise "science". I don't believe it to be a "science" at all. The religious thread runs way too deep in the establishment of this study. The failures of this particular "science" have been documented more than once, but that is another debate. They study here claims to be genetic (physical), not psychological.

    "Really? So, you would declare utterly invalid the narrative of so many? On the basis of what evidence? How would you explain, for example, the astonishing persistence of cross-gender identity in transsexuals, or the early awareness of it - sometimes before the awareness of social or physical gender differentiation would be established?"

    Can you give me some of this evidence? If the study cited above is an example of this evidence, I rest my case.

    "If you are going to criticize the attempt to establish, you are essentially claiming that there is no reason to inquire about anything in our world."

    I'm not criticizing an attempt to understand anything, just attempts indoctrinate based on false claims (like the headline of the aforementioned article) and questionable methods (like psychology). Even you have the admit that the headline is blatantly false.

    "Funny, coming from someone whose very belief system claims that the soul is distinct from our body, what's the problem?"

    I'm not disagree with the separation of mind and body. The problem is that you want to borrow from my worldview in order to argue against it. Sorry, but there are no philosophical freebies. If you are going to appeal to the Christian worldview in order to establish that the soul and body are distinct from each other, then you cannot reject the sinfulness of sexual perversion. We call it a "reprobate mind" (Romans 1:28-32).

    If you insist, however, on a naturalistic worldview to explain such things, then you first have to establish how the mind, made of of an accident conglomeration of biocarbons, can be separate from the body.

    "As for the study itself, drawing causal links between things leaves the philosophical implications of such links for the philosophers to figure out."

    That's assuming that the study does draw a causal link. The headline seems to say so, but the study itself does not.

    MgS said...

    The religious thread runs way too deep in the establishment of this study.

    First off, the study your are criticizing was not conducted by psychologists.

    Can you give me some of this evidence? If the study cited above is an example of this evidence, I rest my case.

    Go spend some time in the clinical literature on transsexuals. There's plenty of evidence for persistence, and a consistent amount of evidence against various repression or aversion type therapeutic techniques that are often successful with other superficially similar conditions.

    The problem is that you want to borrow from my worldview in order to argue against it. Sorry, but there are no philosophical freebies.

    Wrong. On one hand, you reject outright the oft-quoted transsexual narrative of being "in the wrong body" (which is actually a gross oversimplification of the situation indeed), and yet based on your faith's espoused worldview, you claim body and soul are distinct? Sorry, but the logic doesn't parse.

    If you are going to appeal to the Christian worldview in order to establish that the soul and body are distinct from each other, then you cannot reject the sinfulness of sexual perversion.

    I didn't make any such rejection. But then again, it isn't me claiming that transsexualism has anything to do with sexual identity - that's an error you have made in your original parsing of the condition. Gender identity is quite distinct from sexual identity.

    As I stated a couple of comments ago, the two are quite distinct. (e.g. you would be quite incorrect to assume that a transsexual is simply a form of homosexual - there is a vast difference - that would be like calling a snake a form of fish)

    Puritan Lad said...

    "First off, the study your are criticizing was not conducted by psychologists."

    I never said that it was. It was you who introduced the subject of "psychological gender" in this thread, and expected me to act as if this had any merit other than a reprobate mind.

    "Go spend some time in the clinical literature on transsexuals."

    No thanks. I have better things to read. As I stated before, I reject psychology as a valid science. It is a philosophy based on some rather strange metaphyical beliefs.

    MgS said...

    No thanks. I have better things to read.

    If you won't even read the evidence that's out there, then you are doomed to err out of ignorance.

    MgS said...

    One last thought for you - a bit of a thinking experiment:

    Try to define gender - in a way that doesn't exclude significant groups of people that turn out to be exceptions in one dimension or another.

    Chloe said...

    I agree. One needs to be a bit skeptical of this particular study. However, I believe transexualism is in actuality, a neurological form of intersexism. They may not have found a "transexual gene" per se, but there are plenty of neurological studies on transexual subjects.

    Here is a link to one such study:

    http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/full/85/5/2034

    I realize most will probably still be skeptical about transexualism being a neuro-biological condition, even after reading the contents at the preceding link. I understand your skepticism.

    However, I am transexual. I've prayed that God would relieve me of this burden over and over again since I was a child. I believed so strongly that God would take this burden away from me, or at the very least, allow me the strength to bear it. (I Corinthians 10:13)

    But just like many transexual men and women, it never went away. It persisted. It got to the point where I began suffering tremendous anxiety attacks and a crippling depression. I began to contemplate suicide because the amount of psychological, emotional, and physical pain became so powerful that I could no longer bear it.

    So I came to a crossroad: Continue to live in misery and pain until I end up taking my own life, or transition from male to female in order to relieve myself of a long period of anxiety and depression.

    I have been on hormones for a year and a half, and guess what... no more depression. No more anxiety attacks. So maybe my "lifestyle" may seem "depraved", or "perverted" to some people, but if I had not sought treatment for Gender Identity Disorder (DSM-IV code 302.5), I would not be typing this comment right now.

    It's completely acceptable to be skeptical about something you aren't personally going through. But before you take an erroneously, oversimplified ideology, such as "trapped in the wrong body", and use it to call transexuals "perverted", I'll tell you exactly how it feels to BE transexual:

    Male body. Female brain.

    Once you can wrap your head around that concept, set aside your prejudices and misconceptions, and put yourself in a transexual's shoes, you might grasp a small, simple tidbit of a complexity it took me 30 years to figure out.

    And just FYI: Gender Identity Disorder/Gender Dysphoria is a widely recognized medical condition. Google the AMA resolution on Gender Identity Disorder, and you'll get an idea of just how serious this truly is.

    MgS said...

    Chloe - Well Said!

    julieevd said...

    As a transsexual woman, I really don't need a scientific study to convince me that my internal sense of gender differed from my physical one. It was quite clear to me. As for equating my condition to wickedness, you assume that I changed gender for prurient reasons. Frankly, aside from a few attempts to be intimate with women since my transition (I'm sexually attracted to women, not men), I've for now decided to be celebate. I'm happy with that. Transition wasn't about sex. It was about being.

    To deny that possiblity, is to deny God's plan. God's plan (if you take a moment to study the process of conception and fetal development) is a process steeped in variation and diversity. Transsexuality, and homosexuality for that matter, are simply part of the physicial variation that are in God's plan. Perhaps that's why Jesus never condemned homosexuals.

    Remember though, he did condemn those who would seek to judge others. Think about it.