Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2018 May;16(2):136-143. 10.9758/cpn.2018.16.2.136.

Transsexualism: A Different Viewpoint to Brain Changes

  • 1Psychiatry & Psychology Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.


Transsexualism refers to a condition or belief which results in gender dysphoria in individuals and makes them insist that their biological gender is different from their psychological and experienced gender. Although the etiology of gender dysphoria (or transsexualism) is still unknown, different neuroimaging studies show that structural and functional changes of the brain result from this sexual incongruence. The question here is whether these reported changes form part of the etiology of transsexualism or themselves result from transsexualism culture, behaviors and lifestyle. Responding to this question can be more precise by consideration of cultural neuroscience concepts, particularly the culture–behavior–brain (CBB) loop model and the interactions between behavior, culture and brain. In this article, we first review the studies on the brain of transgender people and then we will discuss the validity of this claim based on the CBB loop model. In summary, transgender individuals experience change in lifestyle, context of beliefs and concepts and, as a result, their culture and behaviors. Given the close relationship and interaction between culture, behavior and brain, the individual's brain adapts itself to the new condition (culture) and concepts and starts to alter its function and structure.


Transsexualism; Gender dysphoria; Gender identity; Cultural neuroscience; Human brain; Behavior
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