TikTok: Which Gender Does the Trans Brain Resemble?
The brain reflects lived experience, and it lights up according to gender identity, not sex at birth.
By Ben Rein
Overview of average regional sex differences in grey matter volume. Areas of larger volumes in women are in red and areas of larger volume in men are in blue. Credit: Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Do you think that the transgender brain looks more like the gender they were assigned at birth, or the gender they identify with?
Check out our TikTok to learn more:
@dr.brein Which gender does the trans brain resemble? ______ This video was supported by the Pulitzer Center through the Truth Decay Grant Initiative in collaboration with OpenMind Magazine. To read more about this topic, check out the accompanying article on OpenMind’s website, which you can find linked in my bio. #neuroscience #transgender #brain ♬ original sound - Dr. Ben Rein
In 2020, Swedish neuroscientists put 30 trans and 30 cis research subjects into a brain scanner and showed them pictures of their own body. Then they showed them images where their body had been morphed to look more masculine, or more feminine, while recording brain activity: When the cisgender group saw gender affirming images – for example, when women viewed these images their brains lit up in all these different areas.
And amazingly, the trans group showed the same thing, but when viewing their body morphed in the opposite direction, toward their gender identity. On the other hand, when the cis group saw their body morphed away from their sex assigned at birth, their brains looked like this – much less activity – and this same activity was seen in the trans group when seeing their body shifted toward their sex assigned at birth.
The takeaway here seems clear to me: the brains of trans people behaved just like the gender that they identify with. And there’s plenty more evidence for this too: for example, another study showed that trans men – who transitioned from female to male - showed less brain activity in response to breast stimulation than cis women. We’re not looking here at psychology or surveys, we’re looking at biology: data directly from the brain, and those data seem to tell a very clear story.
Take that however you will, but I will ask that you please take it in peace and in kindness. I appreciate your interest– please follow for more neuroscience.
#neuroscience #trans #lgbtq #brain #science #scicomm #biology #neurology #scientist #transgender
This video is part of a series of OpenMind essays, podcasts, and videos supported by a generous grant from the Pulitzer Center's Truth Decay initiative.
November 13, 2023
OpenMind is thrilled to feature our first TikTok, created by neuroscientist and science communicator Ben Rein, on gender expression in the brain. Be sure to check out the accompanying essay, "Anti-Trans Myths," by neuroscientist Simón(e) Sun and law scholar and bioethicist Florence Ashley who deftly lay out the latest research and dismantle the many falsehoods to which trans people are prey. Their piece also traces the harmful influence of scientific misinformation on laws and public policy. Coming soon: an OpenMind podcast with Sun and Ashley, in which they expand on their discussion of trans science myths and misinformation. It's all part of OpenMind's new 6-part series of stories, TikToks and podcasts on misinformation in brain and behavioral science, supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center's Truth Decay initiative.
— Pamela Weintraub and Corey S. Powell, co-editors, OpenMind