Oh jeez, the Western propaganda machine strikes again. Ignoring the obvious fact that sexual dysmorphism is a thing and anyone claiming that men and women's brains are going to be the same obviously has an agenda, let's look at some real research and not this Buzzfeed-esque thing you've linked here. And just for the record, nobody is saying the difference is going to huge. Humans share 99% DNA with chimpanzees, yet we are pretty distinctively different in our intelligence and appearance. If this article was actually scientific, it wouldn't look to support its hypothesis, it would explain how its hypothesis could be right AND WRONG and look at how the study could be biased or flawed and try to account for that. All things that actual research does and I'm going to link below.
Originally Posted by nanashi
And yes, I'm slightly agitated that you posted this because it's bringing back memories of the asshats that want to suggest this is all made up or influenced by society or something. Like my god, I guess I know how gays must have felt when people claimed they could convert them straight with therapy or something. I mean, wow, just wow. People are so quick to discount what other people know about themselves, it's incredible.
Several studies have found a correlation between gender identity and brain structure. A first-of-its-kind study by Zhou et al. (1995) found that in a region of the brain called the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTc), a region which is known for sex and anxiety responses (and which is affected by prenatal androgens), cadavers of six persons who were described as having been male-to-female transsexual or transgender persons in life had female-normal BSTc size, similar to the study's cadavers of cisgender women. While those identified as transsexual had taken hormones, this was accounted for by including cadavers of non-transsexual male and female controls who, for a variety of medical reasons, had experienced hormone reversal. The controls still had sizes typical for their gender. No relationship to sexual orientation was found.
In a follow-up study, Kruijver et al. (2000) looked at the number of neurons in BSTc instead of volumes. They found the same results as Zhou et al. (1995), but with even more dramatic differences. One MtF subject, who had never gone on hormones, was also included and matched up with the female neuron counts nonetheless.
In 2002, a follow-up study by Chung et al. found that significant sexual dimorphism (variation between sexes) in BSTc did not become established until adulthood. Chung et al. theorized that either changes in fetal hormone levels produce changes in BSTc synaptic density, neuronal activity, or neurochemical content which later lead to size and neuron count changes in BSTc, or that the size of BSTc is affected by the generation of a gender identity inconsistent with one's assigned sex.[SUP][/SUP]
It has been suggested that the BSTc differences may be due to the effects of hormone replacement therapy. It has also been suggested that because pedophilic offenders have also been found to have a reduced BSTc, a feminine BSTc may be a marker for paraphilias rather than transsexuality.
In a review of the evidence in 2006, Gooren confirmed the earlier research as supporting the concept of transsexuality as a sexual differentiation disorder of the sex dimorphic brain. Dick Swaab (2004) concurs.
In 2008, a new region with properties similar to that of BSTc in regards to transsexuality was found by Garcia-Falgueras and Swaab: the interstitial nucleus of the anterior hypothalamus (INAH3), part of the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus. The same method of controlling for hormone usage was used as in Zhou et al. (1995) and Kruijver et al. (2000). The differences were even more pronounced than with BSTc; control males averaged 1.9 times the volume and 2.3 times the neurons as control females, yet regardless of hormone exposure, MtF transsexuals were within the female range and the FtM transsexual within the male range.
A 2009 MRI study by Luders et al. of 24 MtF transsexuals not yet treated with cross-sex hormones found that regional gray matter concentrations were more similar to those of cisgender men than to those of cisgender women, but there was a significantly larger volume of gray matter in the right putamen compared to cisgender men. Like earlier studies, it concluded that transsexuality was associated with a distinct cerebral pattern.[SUP][/SUP] (MRI allows easier study of larger brain structures, but independent nuclei are not visible due to lack of contrast between different neurological tissue types, hence other studies on e.g. BSTc were done by dissecting brains post-mortem.)
An additional feature was studied comparing 18 female-to-male transsexuals who had not yet received cross-sex hormones with 24 male and 19 female gynephilic controls, using an MRI technique called diffusion tensor imaging or DTI. DTI is a specialized technique for visualizing white matter of the brain, and white matter structure is one of the differences in neuroanatomy between men and women. The study took into account fractional anisotropy values for white matter in the medial and posterior parts of the right superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), the forceps minor, and the corticospinal tract. Rametti et al. (2010) discovered that, "Compared to control females, FtM showed higher FA values in posterior part of the right SLF, the forceps minor and corticospinal tract. Compared to control males, FtM showed only lower FA values in the corticospinal tract." The white matter pattern in female-to-male transsexuals was found to be shifted in the direction of biological males.
Hulshoff Pol et al. (2006) studied the gross brain volume of 8 male-to-female transsexuals and in six female-to-male transsexuals undergoing hormone treatment. They found that hormones changed the sizes of the hypothalamus in a gender consistent manner: treatment with male hormones shifted the hypothalamus towards the male direction in the same way as in male controls, and treatment with female hormones shifted the hypothalamus towards the female direction in the same way as female controls. They concluded: "The findings suggest that, throughout life, gonadal hormones remain essential for maintaining aspects of sex-specific differences in the human brain."
A 2016 review agreed with the other reviews when considering androphilic trans women and gynephilic trans men. It reported that hormone treatment may have large effects on the brain, and that cortical thickness, which is generally thicker in cisgender women's brains than in cisgender men's brains, may also be thicker in trans women's brains, but is present in a different location to cisgender women's brains. It also stated that for both trans women and trans men, "cross-sex hormone treatment affects the gross morphology as well as the white matter microstructure of the brain. Changes are to be expected when hormones reach the brain in pharmacological doses. Consequently, one cannot take hormone-treated transsexual brain patterns as evidence of the transsexual brain phenotype because the treatment alters brain morphology and obscures the pre-treatment brain pattern."
Androphilic male-to-female transsexuals
(edit: I'm going to stop bolding stuff because if people actually want to read it, they can and I'm pretty much bolding everything at this point to make my point)
Studies have shown that androphilic male-to-female transsexuals show a shift towards the female direction in brain anatomy. In 2009, a German team of radiologists led by Gizewski compared 12 androphilic transsexuals with 12 cisgender males and 12 cisgender females. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), they found that when shown erotica, the cisgender men responded in several brain regions that the cisgender women did not, and that the sample of androphilic transsexuals was shifted towards the female direction in brain responses.
In another study, Rametti and colleagues used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to compare 18 androphilic male-to-female transsexuals with 19 gynephilic males and 19 androphilic cisgender females. The androphilic transsexuals differed from both control groups in multiple brain areas, including the superior longitudinal fasciculus, the right anterior cingulum, the right forceps minor, and the right corticospinal tract. The study authors concluded that androphilic transsexuals were halfway between the patterns exhibited by male and female controls.
A 2016 review reported that early-onset androphilic transgender women have a brain structure similar to cisgender women's and unlike cisgender men's, but that they have their own brain phenotype.
Gynephilic male-to-female transsexuals
Research on gynephilic trans women is considerably limited. While MRI taken on gynephilic male-to-female transsexuals have likewise shown differences in the brain from non-transsexuals, no feminization of the brain's structure have been identified. Neuroscientists Ivanka Savic and Stefan Arver at the Karolinska Institute used MRI to compare 24 gynephilic male-to-female transsexuals with 24 cisgender male and 24 cisgender female controls. None of the study participants were on hormone treatment. The researchers found sex-typical differentiation between the MtF transsexuals and cisgender males, and the cisgender females; but the gynephilic transsexuals "displayed also singular features and differed from both control groups by having reduced thalamus and putamen volumes and elevated GM volumes in the right insular and inferior frontal cortex and an area covering the right angular gyrus".
The researchers concluded that:
Berglund et al. (2008) tested the response of gynephilic MtF transsexuals to two steroids hypothesized to be sex pheromones: the progestin-like 4,16-androstadien-3-one (AND) and the estrogen-like 1,3,5(10),16-tetraen-3-ol (EST). Despite the difference in sexual orientation, the MtFs' hypothalamic networks activated in response to the AND pheromone, like the androphilic female control groups. Both groups experienced amygdala activation in response to EST. Gynephilic male control groups experienced hypothalamic activation in response to EST. However, the MtF subjects also experienced limited hypothalamic activation to EST. The researchers concluded that in terms of pheromone activation, MtFs occupy an intermediate position with predominantly female features. The MtF transsexual subjects had not undergone any hormonal treatment at the time of the study, according to their own declaration beforehand, and confirmed by repeated tests of hormonal levels.
A 2016 review reported that gynephilic trans women differ from both cisgender male and female controls in non-dimorphic brain areas.
Gynephilic female-to-male transsexuals
Fewer studies have been performed on the brain structure of transgender men than on transgender women. A team of neuroscientists, led by Nawata in Japan, used a technique called single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) to compare the regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) of 11 gynephilic FtM transsexuals with that of 9 androphilic cis females. Although the study did not include a sample of biological males so that a conclusion of "male shift" could be made, the study did reveal that the gynephilic FtM transsexuals showed significant decrease in blood flow in the left anterior cingulate cortex and a significant increase in the right insula, two brain regions known to respond during sexual arousal.
A 2016 review reported that the brain structure of early-onset gynephilic trans men generally corresponds to their assigned sex, but that they have their own phenotype with respect to cortical thickness, subcortical structures, and white matter microstructure, especially in the right hemisphere. Morphological increments observed in the brains of trans men might be due to the anabolic effects of testosterone.
Prenatal androgen exposure
Prenatal androgen exposure, the lack thereof, or poor sensitivity to prenatal androgens are commonly cited mechanisms to explain the above discoveries. To test this, studies have examined the differences between transsexuals and cisgender individuals in digit ratio (a generally accepted marker for prenatal androgen exposure). A meta-analysis concluded that the effect sizes for this association were small or nonexistent.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia in persons with XX sex chromosomes results in what is considered to be excess exposure to prenatal androgens, resulting in masculinization of the genitalia and, typically, controversial prenatal hormone treatment and postnatal surgical interventions. Individuals with CAH are usually raised as girls and tend to have similar cognitive abilities to the typical female, including spatial ability, verbal ability, language lateralization, handedness and aggression. Research has shown that people with CAH and XX chromosomes will be more likely to be same sex attracted, and at least 5.2% of these individuals develop serious gender dysphoria.
In males with 5-alpha-reductase deficiency, conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone is disrupted, decreasing the masculinization of genitalia. Individuals with this condition are typically raised as females due to their feminine appearance at a young age. However, more than half of males with this condition raised as females become males later in their life. Scientists speculate that the definition of masculine characteristics during puberty and the increased social status afforded to men are two possible motivations for a female-to-male transition.
Contrary to the primary hypothesis, no sex-atypical features with signs of 'feminization' were detected in the transsexual group ... The present study does not support the dogma that [male-to-female transsexuals] have atypical sex dimorphism in the brain but confirms the previously reported sex differences. The observed differences between MtF-TR and controls raise the question as to whether gender dysphoria may be associated with changes in multiple structures and involve a network (rather than a single nodal area).
So whatever, I said my peace. Everyone can continue to pretend these things don't exist, that's it's just social conditioning or social contracts or some other weird thing people want to wish it away to. I don't care, but that's the actual science for anyone that's interested in a more objective truth about this.