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Trans Research Supports Trans Rights Regardless of How Sex and Gender Is Legally Defined

For those of you who would like to understand more about the recent political discussion of trans people, I wanted to share with you my thoughts as a researcher who studies sex and gender.

First, let me state unequivocally that trans people exist! For most of us, it is true that our biological sex (cis-male, cis-female, trans-male, and trans-female) and genetic sex (XX, XY) match our neurological experience of masculinity and femininity -- a construct we describe as "gender." However, in some cases, the development of the brain and genitalia diverge with the brains of transmen adopting characteristics similar to genetically-sexed males, and the brains of transwomen adopting characteristics similar to those of genetically-sexed females. This contradiction between one's internal neurological experiences and their expressed gender leads to a dysphoric state that can cause depression and anxiety.

Currently, the best clinical guidelines for addressing gender dysphoria are to help individuals align their expressed gender with their experienced gender. In many cases, sex reassignment surgery is also needed to align one's biological sex with their experienced gender. Doing so, reduces the negative health consequences of dysphoria.

Yet, myths regarding the pliability of gender-linked neurology, lead some to believe that treatment of gender dysphoria should focus on aligning neurological characteristics with other sex-linked traits such as the manifestation of male or female sex organs. These practices are not widely accepted and the weight of evidence suggests that the neuroplasticity of the brain is insufficient to change the way one experiences or perceives their gender.

While I am a researcher and not a legal scholar, it is my opinion that laws regulating, interfering with or restricting scientifically supported treatments for gender dysphoria (such as changing one's gender expression or undergoing sex reassignment) are unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th amendment. Simply put, trans people have the right to pursue medically necessary treatments without being arbitrarily denied life, liberty, or property -- just like you or me. The administration of justice should not interfere in the decisions between trans patients and their doctors and trans people should be afforded equal protection under the law to live and be recognized according to their experienced gender -- just like you or me.

In summary, gender is a real neurologically-rooted personal experience that should not be subject to the whims of public opinion. Arbitrary and prejudiced beliefs regarding trans-identity should be completely irrelevant to laws and policies regarding trans people. Everybody deserves to be respected and afforded human dignity, regardless of whether their biological and genetic sex is consistent with their expressed and experienced gender.

I hope this helps some of you understand better why the Trump administration's plan to erase trans people by adopting a strict definition of sex is causing so much anger. At the root of this issue is a shared interest in protecting our lives from undue government interference and ensuring that all people have the same opportunities for happiness regardless of what seeming challenges our bodies throw at us.

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