Fun and interesting things LGBT+ science taught us in 2018
Among various topics worth intellectual consideration, LGBT+ science and research in 2018 gave us a better understanding of gender identity, sexual desire and same-sex reproduction.
In the field of medicine, there have been continuing signs of effective HIV treatment via daily antiretroviral therapy (ART), while an experimental vaccine for the virus, so far only trialled on small animals, is due to begin testing on humans next year.
This year also marked the first international celebration of LGBTSTEM Day, an initiative organised by a group of associations working to support LGBT+ rights in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). LGBTSTEM Day aims to bring visibility to LGBT+ scientists, more than 40 percent of whom remain closeted at work.
Thanks to the tireless work of straight and LGBT+ scientists and researchers, these are five things we learnt in 2018.
Transgender people are born that way
A growing body of scientific evidence is indicating that being transgender is a matter of a person’s biology.
Researchers at the University of São Paulo’s Medical School examined the brains of transgender and cisgender—those who identify with the gender assigned at birth—people. Their findings indicated that transgender people’s brains display characteristics similar with the gender they identify with.
A subsequent study presented in May, titled “Brain structure and function in gender dysphoria,” appeared to back those findings. It indicated that brain scan results corroborated subjects who reported having gender dysphoria.
According to another study, there is a link between someone’s gender and their genes. The study, published in the peer-reviewed The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in September, indicated that trans people’s sex hormone genes tend to look different to those of cisgender people and produce different physiological results.
While these findings help contrast anti-trans activists who argue that transgender identities are a “trend,” the LGBT+ community should be cautious in using scientific findings to justify their identities.
As trans journalist Alex Barasch explained in The Washington Post, flawed research and a twisted interpretation of these studies may lead to the creation of arbitrary standards reinforcing gender policing and the impression that being LGBT+ is an “anomaly.”
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