Category Archives: Transgender Research

Being Transgender in a Binary World 

By:  Loree Cook?Daniels – Director, FORGE Transgender Aging Network, USA

Abstract: This essay discusses ways in which people attempt to reconcile or resolve their own cognitive dissonance engendered by transgender people in a society in which gender is perceived as both binary (male OR female) and immutable (an unalterable state or condition).  The author suggests these cognitive dissonance reduction methods may be utilized in other situations where an adult is exposed to information that “doesn’t fit” what they already know.  Much, if not most, of the time we seek to teach someone something new, they already have the cognitive scaffolding for it. It’s possible to teach someone a new recipe because they’ve followed recipes before; this is a simple add?on, a logical expansion, to what they already know. Or take a new software program: if someone has already used a computer keyboard and function keys or pull?down menus, it isn’t too hard to learn additional ways those can be used.  What’s much harder to do is teach someone something that seems to contradict what they already know. When your organization is courting an age discrimination suit because one of your managers is certain that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” how do you budge that certainty to make room for other possibilities?

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How Gender Reassignment affects the mind

This is a very interesting article on how gender reassignment affects the mind.

Rewire Me has run dozens of articles on people’s conscious journeys toward healthier, deeper, more spiritually attuned ways of living. I’ve written about religious experiences that are so powerful they seem to spontaneously rewire the whole person, transforming him or her into not just a better person but a completely new one. Such rebirths, I’ve noted, are often marked with name changes: from Jacob to Israel or Saul to Paul. But religious conversion isn’t the only reason people change their names. Some of the best-known name changes of our era have involved changes in gender, from George Jorgensen to Christine Jorgensen, from Tracy Langondino to Thomas Beatie (who gained tabloid attention a few years ago when he became the world’s first pregnant man). What happens in the brain and the mind when gender presentation is aligned with how a person has always felt?

The animal kingdom is one place to look for insight into this question. For some species, sex changes are part of the ordinary cycle of life. Justin Rhodes, Ph.D., a neuroscientist and professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, has been conducting a long-term study of clownfish (also called anemonefish), the colorful fish that live in symbiotic partnerships with sea anemones in the warm shallows of the Indian and Pacific oceans. (Nemo of Pixar fame was an Ocellaris Clownfish, or Amphiprion ocellaris. Some 30 other species have been identified.)

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