ISSN 1470-3947 (print) | ISSN 1479-6848 (online)

Endocrine Abstracts (2019) 63 S8.1 | DOI: 10.1530/endoabs.63.S8.1

Psychoendocrinology of gender dysphoria

Emmanuele A Jannini


Usually, gender identity (GI) and biological sex are physiologically consistent, but this is not the case when individuals have a GI disorder/dysforia (GD) and thus require hormonal and/or surgical feminization/masculinization to reduce the discrepancy between the sense of self and sexual characteristics. The role of the Endocrinologist expert in Sexual Medicine and, in particular, in GD is crucial and pivotal. They (the transgenders), in fact, are a heterogeneous population for age of first referral to a specialist, type and amount of adjustment required, and for clinical situations. The GI is the perception that the subject has of his/her belonging to a gender, regardless of biological sex. Hence, the diagnosis of GD can only be self-reported, and ‘cross-sex’ hormonal treatment (HT) plays a key role in the process of transition: anatomical and psychological changes, when properly prescribed in the above-mentioned cases can significantly improve the psycho-social quality of life and indirectly confirm the diagnosis. HT itself represents, in fact, the confirmation of GI to the subject. Quality of life improvement thanks to HT reduces any psychiatric co-morbidity often associated with GD. By using an open-source morphing program (gtkmorph) based on the X-Morph algorithm we found that Male-to-Female (MtF) GD subjects and heterosexual females showed the same pattern of mating strategies measured as face preferences: a clear preference for less dimorphic (more feminized) faces for both short- and long-term relationships. Conversely, both heterosexual and homosexual men selected significantly much more dimorphic faces, showing a preference for hyperfeminized and hypermasculinized faces, respectively. These data showed that the facial preferences of MtF GD individuals mirror those of the sex congruent with their gender identity, providing a new evidence on the psychoendocrinology of GD.

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