Australian researchers have debunked the myth that gender identity is a matter of choice, finding a genetic basis for it.
The findings, published in journal Biological Psychiatry, revealed a significant link between gender identity and a gene involved in testosterone action.
In one of the largest ever genetic studies of male-to-female transsexuals (in both Australia and the US), researchers found that an inner sense of gender is developed from an early age.
DNA samples were collected from 112 male-to-female transsexuals and compared with non-transsexuals.
It was discovered that male-to-female transsexuals were more likely to have a longer version of a gene which is known to modify the action of testosterone.
-œWe think that these genetic differences might reduce testosterone action and under-masculinise the brain during foetal development, researcher Lauren Hare said.
Transgender Victoria has welcomed the evidence that genetics plays a large role in transsexuality saying it is a -œhighly useful step in uprooting inaccurate perceptions regarding people experiencing gender identity issues.
-œThe overwhelming evidence is that people experiencing gender identity issues simply become aware of their innate nature as their lives progress. Trying to fight that innate biology is impossible and no amount of misguided ideas such as conversion therapy can counter this, spokeswoman Sally Goldner said.
-œFurther, denying our existence by claiming we make a -˜choice’ or -˜lifestyle choice’ is often the first tactic used by such people to block medical, social and legal reform assisting our health, our wellbeing.
Researchers said there has been much confusion over transsexuality with only recent studies indicating family history and genetics are linked to gender identity development.
-œThere is a social stigma that transsexualism is simply a lifestyle choice; however our findings support a biological basis of how gender identity develops, head of molecular genetics, Associate Professor Vincent Harley said.