A new study found that transgender adolescents display brain activity similar to the patterns of their desired gender.
Dr Julia Bakker, from the University of Liege in Belgium examined the brain functions of young transgender people. This included girls and boys with gender dysphoria.
The NHS defines gender dysphoria as a:
Condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.
Dr Bakker and her team used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to look at the way in which the brain responds to a pheromone that produces gender-specific activity.
Results found that the pattern of brain activation in transgender teenage boys and girls resembled those of non-transgender boys and girls who are of their desired gender.
Girls who suffered from gender dysmorphia demonstrated male-typical brain patterns during a memory exercise.
Of the research, Dr Bakker writes:
Although more research is needed, we now have evidence that sexual differentiation of the brain differs in young people with GD, as they show functional brain characteristics that are typical of their desired gender.
We will then be better equipped to support these young people, instead of just sending them to a psychiatrist and hoping that their distress will disappear spontaneously.
The research is published in the European Society of Endocrinology.