“Neural Plasticity” is the usual reply to the evidence that transsexual women have the same neuroanatomy and brain function as other women – and they don’t have the brain anatomy & function characteristic of men. Disbelievers say that brain anatomy doesn’t cause gender. Instead, gender is a social construct, which arbitrarily labels some people as “men” and others as “women.” That label forces an individual to think and behave a certain way. Gender-specific thinking and behaving make physical changes in brain anatomy.
The concept of brain plasticity goes back to the late 1990’s, when research showed that brain structure adapted to the external environment. For example, if a person becomes blind in one eye, the brain’s neural connections to that eye wither and are replaced by connections to the good eye. The same process occurs after limb amputation, deafness, strokes, and other physical changes caused by disease, trauma or surgery.
In addition, the more often any neural connection is used, the stronger it becomes. For example, intensive study of a language leads to enlargement of the brain’s language centers and their inter-connections. Learning to play the piano increases dexterity and the audio centers. Studying for an exam enlarges memory storage areas. …And so on.
In fact, the brain is constantly growing and changing. In the thinking part of the brain – the neural cortex – nerve cells (neurons) are shaped like trees: A single cell body (the “trunk” of the tree) connects to thousands of small branches known as “dendrites”. The "twigs" of those branches link to -- and communicate with -- the surrounding nerve cells through their branches ("dendrites").
Put simply, any specific thought, memory or mental image has a physical form in the brain through the configuration of these dendrites, interlinking hundreds of neurons in a certain pattern. it’s been shown that dendrite growth & pruning occurs extensively during youth (especially adolescence). And it even occurs at night in everyone. The dendrite changes are based on use: the "branches" that aren’t being used are trimmed back ("pruning"), while highly active neurons grow & flourish.
From a functional perspective, creating a memory or mental image involves growing the necessary pattern of dendrites in a group of nerve cells. Forgetting or distorting a memory results from pruning those same dendrites.
Brain plasticity certainly occurs -- constantly. But many people misunderstand the data and believe that the entire brain can be reprogrammed at will. ...Including gender (the anatomic equivalent of "blank slate"). Put simply, some psychologists believe that if a child says, “I’m a man” often enough, the brain will adopt male neuroanatomy and function (supposedly due to “brain plasticity”). But if that same child were to say, “I’m a woman” instead, then the brain would become feminized – resulting in a trans child. (Horrors!)
And there are some (like Dr Zucker of Toronto) who believe that forcing that feminizing child to say “I’m a man” often enough will reverse the process. The brain structure will return to the male mode.
“Neural plasticity” applies only to the neural cortex and its connections. Already existing brain nodes can enlarge or shrink, but core brain structures can’t be created or destroyed.
In fact, the brain gender research shows that male vs female structure can only be determined within a narrow time frame during fetal life. Testosterone during the susceptible time always results in a male brain structure (regardless of genital appearance). Testosterone given any other time doesn’t change the brain structure.
(Exposing a female mouse brain to trucks & guns also doesn’t result in a male brain, either. Sorry, Dr Zucker.)
BPsychiatric Diagnosis: Normal vs Abnormal Chemical changes in the brain. Mental processes.
ut if the evidence is so overwhelming, why hasn’t anyone important mentioned it? Why isn't it in books & advocacy websites?
There are two basic reasons:
REASON #1: Institutional Psychiatry & Psychology are completely invested in the mental illness paradigm. Shifting to a biologic paradigm would require starting over from the beginning. Just think of the many lifetimes of research that have been wasted. “Experts” would lose their fame, power and income.
Instead of discarding mythology & obsolete data, "experts" continue to base their research, writing and policies on the mental illness approach, even though everyone is quite aware that transsexuality isn’t mental. In fact, much of the literature warns against the harm done by the insanity myth, while going on to support those same insane policies.
...Hypocrisy is a safe face-saving approach for professors locked in their ivory towers. -- Even though it’s catastrophic for the trans population and their families.
REASON #2: Mental health professionals don’t have sufficient background in the health sciences (such as micro-neuroanatomy, cellular biochemistry and genetics). A discussion of a topic like cytokine modification of the androgen receptor binding site is incomprehensible for the average psychologist. ...As it is for most of the trans population. So both groups rely on the big-university "experts" to screen the data and interpret what it says. See Reason #1.
REASON #3: Even in the absence of word from the American Psychiatric Association or Johns Hopkins, popular science magazines occasionally provide articles about the biologic basis of gender. In response, mental health apologists with little basic science background dream up excuses for their devoted adherence to the insane mythology. Here is a sample of the more common “explanations”, and why they’re wrong:
If someone admits that transsexuality has a biologic origin, then...
1. DEFINITE DIAGNOSIS: An individual either has the underlying biologic trait or they don't. (Or the trait may be only partially present.)
2. OBJECTIVE TESTING: It's possible to develop objective tests that can identify individuals with the trait, those who don't have it, and "how much" of the trait an individual has (how active it is in their specific physiology).
3. TREATMENT GOALS: Should treatment attempt to prevent, eliminate or minimize the trait's effects? (Ie, prevent transsexuals from being born? ...Through abortion, manipulation of fetal brain development, elimination of environmental causes, etc.)
Or should treatment focus on achieving the best quality of life for anyone identified to possess the trait? ("As God wills it.")
4. ELIMINATE INEFFECTIVE TREATMENT: Acknowledging a biologic cause allows rejection of treatment strategies that are currently popular -- such as psychotherapy to indoctrinate "gender conformity," reversion or aversion approaches, shock therapy, etc.
The New Gender Paradigm
The proof is finally here! The feminists were right all the time! The January 2015 issue of American Psychologist included a review of the gender data for over 12 million research subjects (Zell, et al). That review proved what feminists have been saying for over 50 years: There are no differences between men and women. It’s the last nail in the coffin of the Binary Theory. Gender is an outdated social construct. There’s no such thing as a “man” or a “woman”. Everybody’s simply neuter – androgynous.
Even now, mandatory unisex bathrooms are being ordered for every building. The Denver Broncos and other big sports teams are in the process of drafting female – I mean, vagina-endowed – linebackers. The boy scouts and girl scouts have merged. Department stores have only one large unisex clothing department. Trucks have vanity mirrors only on the driver's side -- and they never come in pink or blue. Barbie Dolls have butch haircuts and always carry guns.
Not only that, a committee is already working on a correction to the DSM: The mental disorder known as “Gender Dysphoria” is being expanded to include everyone with a “repeatedly stated insistence" that they are a man or a woman”, “a preference for" wearing stereotypical male or female attire instead of androgynous attire, intentional use of male- or female-specific pronouns instead of ze & zem, or "an intense desire" to play with trucks, guns or dolls – instead of the typical toys/games played by normal androgynous people.
A world-famous sexologist from the Northern Territories has discovered that people claim to be either male or female only so they can engage in disgusting & abnormal sex acts – that is, Androgyny Dysphoria is a sexual perversion. Identifying as a man or a woman also leads to homosexuality (since “gay” refers to a romantic relationship between two men, and “lesbian” refers to a relationship between two women. Without "men" or "women", homosexuality couldn't exist.)
One highly-connected professor was quoted in the international news: “Every prostitute I know is either a 'man' or a 'woman'".
BOTTOM LINE: "Men" & "women" don’t conform to the androgyny assigned by the gender police.
...They need help.
Of course, there’s an alternative explanation of the no-difference research outcome: Every 5-year old is acutely aware of the difference between a boy & a girl. Those 12 million research subjects were grouped according to their genital appearance. What the data actually shows is that there's no correlation between behavior (gender) and genital anatomy.
If being a male or female is unrelated to genital appearance, then each study category (penis-owners and vagina-owners) will be merely a random collection of people. It's expected that there are no significant behavioral differences between the two groups. The same no-difference outcome would result, say, from categorizing everyone born January thru June as a “Man” and everyone born July through December as a “Woman.”
This vast collection of data could be used to show the fallacy of using sexual biology to define gender. But it won’t be, because researchers want to show that gender is merely a social construct.