NEW YORK: While President Donald Trump has pushed trans people into the conflict between conservative values and liberal values in the United States, geneticists are quietly working on a major research effort to uncover the secrets of gender identity .
A consortium of research institutions in Europe and the United States, including Vanderbilt Medical Center, George Washington University and Boston Children’s Hospital, looks for the genome, the complete DNA set of a person, if trans people are born of that way.
Two decades of research on the brain have provided biological evidence for being transgender, but there are no irrefutable conclusions.
Now the consortium scientists undertook what they call the largest study of its kind, searching for a genetic component in which people with one sex at birth persistently identify another, often from early childhood.
The researchers extracted 10,000 human blood samples from DNA, including 3000 transgender and non-transgender or cisparent remainder. The project expects funding from the grant to begin the next phase: testing about 3 million markers, or variations across the genome for all samples.
Knowing what are the variations in common trans persons, and comparing these models for those individuals who are in the study, researchers can understand the role of the genome in gender identities.
“If the trait is strongly genetic, people who identify as trans will share more of their genome, not because they are related in nuclear families, but because they are more related previously,” said Lea Davis study leader and assistant professor of medicine at The Vanderbilt Institute of Genetics.
Searching for biological foundations takes on new importance as the struggle for transgender rights is played in the political arena of the United States.
One of the first acts of the new Trump government was to overturn the Obama era of guidelines for public schools that allow transgender students to use the restrooms of their choice. Last week, the president announced on Twitter that he intends to ban trans people from serving in the military.
Texas lawmakers debating a bath bill that would force people to use the bathroom indicated on their birth certificate. North Carolina in March to repeal a similar law after a national boycott cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business.
Currently, the only way to determine if people are transsexuals is to identify themselves as such. While civil rights activists argue that this should be enough, the scientists carried out their research in the laboratory.
This search has made some transgender people nervous. If a “cause” is found, a “cure” could be raised, which could open the door to so-called reparative therapies similar to those that try to make homosexuals, advocates say. Others refer to the rights of those who can be identified as Trans but the lack of organic “proof”.