Trans people are born trans, a new study has suggested.

The research from the University of São Paolo Medical School compared the brains of cis and trans people, finding significant differences, Pink News has reported.

The study found the region of the brain known as the insula, which is associated with body image and self-awareness, has a different volume in cis and trans people.

Lead study author Giancarlo Spizzirri said the results suggested that people are trans from before they are born.

“We found that trans people have characteristics that bring them closer to the gender with which they identify and their brains have particularities, suggesting that the differences begin to occur during gestation,” said Spizzirri.

Principle investigator Carmita Abdo said the results suggest being trans is an inherent trait rather than a result of society.

“We observed specificities in the brains of trans individuals, an important finding in light of the idea of gender ideology,” she said.

“The evidence is building that it’s not a matter of ideology. Our own research based on MRI scans points to a detectable structural basis.”

Professor Geraldo Busatto, head of the university’s Psychiatric Neuroimaging Laboratory, said that drawing a direct link with brain structure and being trans would be “simplistic”, but that “the detection of a difference in the insula is relevant”.

“Trans people have many issues relating to their perception of their own body, because they don’t identify with the sex assigned at birth, and in addition, they unfortunately suffer discrimination and persecution,” he said.

The number of people who are trans is difficult to determine, though the last Australian census recorded more than 1,000 sex and/or gender diverse people—a figure that is considered a significant under-representation.

Community groups will host events later this month for Trans Day of Visibility, which falls annually on March 31.

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