Transgender Causation in Layman’s Terms

| Nov 2, 2020
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My friend and sometimes luncheon partner said she did not understand the scientific explanations for transgender causation that I give her. She wants it in layman’s terms. So, I am writing this for her. If you are a scientist, please excuse me if I cut some corners or am not precise in the explanation. It is all for clarity. Psychologists tell us that the best way to get information across is to tell a story, so I am going to tell a story in the first person. Maybe someday I will write the story of gender non-conforming and other people but not now.

Two Months After Conception

Here I am in my mommy’s belly. It is dark and pretty quiet too, except when they turn on that darn loud ultrasound machine. My parents got together a few months ago and combined their cells. Not just any cells but ones manufactured in their sex organs. There was a big one from my mom and a smaller one from my dad. They merged to start my development. The merged cell started to divide and those cells divided and those cells divided, and so forth within a few days and that is how I grew. Inside the merged cell there was a long molecule that contained the starter “blueprint” for me. It has a corkscrew shape and about 100,000 slots which contain information to build my body and brain. The chemical contents of these slots are called genes. I will find out later in middle school that this corkscrew molecule is called DNA for deoxyribonucleic acid. This molecule sends the information to about 1000 chemicals, called RNAs (ribonucleic acid) that form proteins which go out into my body to instruct each cell what to do to form and operate my body. I will someday learn that a lot of research has gone into understanding the genes in the DNA. I will know that genes work in networks and many are involved in forming particular body parts, including how the brain is set up to work.

But there are other chemicals in our cells which come from my parents and chemicals in the womb, here. Some came from my parents and some my mom gave me from her body. They can change the DNA or they can silence some genes and prevent them from being expressed and not be used to form my body. These chemicals are called epigenetic agents and the “epi” part means “additional to” or “on top of”. In this case “in addition” to genes. By the time I am in middle school we should know a lot more about epigenetics than we do now.


I am not alone here in the womb. I have a “wombmate”. I have a twin who started out with the same DNA, making us “identical” twins. If we came from different merged cells, then we would be “fraternal” twins. Our bodies are pretty much growing according to our DNA pattern, most significantly some of the organs that are between our legs might be involved in baby making someday. What these organs look like will be important once we get out of here and will affect our lives.

We started with a network of genes that are involved in our emotional response to seeing and learning about special behaviors, called “gender behaviors”. Each culture identifies its own gender behaviors and categories. Some have more than two categories but in Western culture, where I am, there are only two. I have no control over the culture that my parents chose or how the behaviors and categories shift over time.

There are epigenetic chemicals in here that interfere with expression of the genes. Some will make my nose longer and my body a little fatter. Some will make my “wombmate” a little taller than me. We will probably not look exactly the same when we get out of here even though we are “identical”. But my twin will encounter epigenetic chemicals that change their emotional response to seeing and learning about gender behavior. They will have less effect on me, so my genes will have more effect on forming brain mechanisms.


Okay we are now out of the womb! It was hard for my mom to get us out but the doctors and nurses were there to help her. I came out after my twin.

Ouch! The doctor just spanked me on the behind. That hurt! I am going to scream but also breath. Now he is looking between my legs at my body organs there and they are very similar to my sibling. We are both assigned at birth as a male for my sex. And because we are male in this culture, we are expected to behave like boys and men. If we had been assigned as female, then we would be expected to grow up as girls and women. We have no control over this because our culture is created by humans, not by our biology.

One and a Half Years Old

We are now a year and a half later! My twin brother and I still can’t talk but we have begun to categorize people based on their looks and behavior into cultural gender categories—masculine and feminine. And we have lots of help from our parents, family and community who continually show us and tell us about gender. They make it easy for us by color-coding. We know that blue is for boys and pink is for girls. We see what girls and women wear, as opposed to us boys. We won’t know that these are purely arbitrary and these things are based on culture until much later.

Three Years Old

My twin and I can now talk. We both have a good understanding of gender and are not confused about gender behavior categories. But I start to notice that I feel better about some of the girl behaviors over the boy behaviors but my brother does not. I don’t realize that I have a particular genetic gender predisposition which my brother lost to the “epigenetic” agents. I keep this to myself because I want to be a “good” boy and please my parents. But I am beginning to recognize that the girl/woman gender behavior category fits me better. This feeling gets stronger over the next two years.

Four Years Old

I realize now that something is terribly wrong. The gender behavior category that fits me best is not what it should be according to most people I meet. My sex and gender predisposition are not aligned as everyone says they should be. When I am alone in the house, I try on some of my mom’s clothing and makeup and find that it feels different; it feels nice. I ask a few people if it is possible for me to follow the girl/woman category and get some strange looks. They think I am mixed up and too young to know about things. But I am not, at least about gender.

Nine Years Old

I found out that I will be going through puberty soon and I am afraid. I will lose my soprano voice, grow a beard and grow my male sex organs. I know that I am a girl and not a boy. My body is out of control! My brother is looking forward to it but I am not. I can continue to hide what my congruent gender really is or to get help. Hiding makes me feel bad and is getting increasingly difficult. I can’t talk about crossdressing in private or how I feel with my friends so I have to lie all the time. Lying is exhausting!

I have discovered that I have three choices.

1. Affirmative Therapy

I have started to read about this thing called “transgender” and that it can now be treated before puberty begins, although some don’t deal with it until they are older. My parents do not understand about being transgender, so I have to go on the Internet to meet other transgender people to find out information. But time is running out because puberty may already have begun for me and it will get worse in another year. I need more time to deal with being transgender! They can stop puberty until I am 16 but then I have to commit to adult transitioning or letting nature take its course with male puberty. But first they will make me come out socially as a girl and live that way for a year or so. And that means I will be embarrassed and possibly bullied

2. Put off Treatment

I am pretty busy with school, athletics and just beginning to learn about sex, so I may delay dealing with being transgender until my teens or adulthood. If I get treatment now, I probably will not be able to do athletics. But when I am an adult in will be more complicated because everyone expects me to marry and have children. And transitioning would be much more difficult after male puberty. So, I will be putting off my transgender behavior into the future. I can occupy myself with work, family, athletics and other activities to take my mind off transgender behavior. They say that the military is a good place to go because they keep you busy defending the country and helping people in times of need. Just keep putting it off. Sometimes I will hardly be able to stand it.

3. Crossdress

Or I could confine my transgender behavior to the privacy of my home or perform it publicly only in restricted spaces like support groups and LGBT bars. I will be content with that throughout my lifetime.

What To Do? So, you see my problem. What would you do or what did you do?

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul


About the Author ()

Dana Jennett Bevan holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University and a Bachelors degree from Dartmouth College both in experimental psychology. She is the author of The Transsexual Scientist which combines biology with autobiography as she came to learn about transgenderism throughout her life. Her second book The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism is a comprehensive analysis of TSTG research and was published in 2014 by Praeger under the pen name Thomas E. Bevan. Her third book Being Transgender was released by Praeger in November 2016. She can be reached at

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