A new study recently came out suggesting that differences in global DNA methylation patterns may contribute to gender incongruence.

However, once again, there are many issues and wild claims made from the data supplied.
DNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanism that results in the silencing of genes. A chemical methyl group is covalently transferred to cytosine residues in the promoter region of genes that inhibit the ability of the gene transcription machinery to activate that specific gene.
The authors compared samples of peripheral blood cell DNA methylation in 16 transgender individuals and 16 “cis-gendered” controls.

A principle component analysis “revealed” significant differences in global DNA methylation between the two groups.
However, using blood samples to measure DNA methylation and use it as a proxy for brain DNA methylation is incredibly unreliable. It’s been found that only 7.9% of blood DNA methylation corresponds with brain methylation
Here’s a good review of the inconsistency in using blood samples as a proxy for brain DNA methylation patterns.
DNA methylation is also very spatial, temporal, and dynamically regulated across many tissues. Meaning it fluctuates under many circumstances. So it seems unlikely to be a reliable method for detecting differences in the brains of transgender individuals.
In addition, the small sample size (n=16) will allow for higher false positives. The inter-individual variation will likely be far higher than the between group difference.
Whilst this study tried to outline if epigenetic regulation contributed to gender incongruence, the data itself seems far reached from the conclusions.
More research is needed, especially considering that epigenetic mechanisms (such as DNA methylation) are implemented in various psychological conditions
Trans individuals are at a higher susceptibility to psychological conditions. So could this be what’s implemented in the global changes in the DNA methylsome? Only time will tell. But for now, the conclusions of the original study are far reached from the data they gave.

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More from @SammySammyStagg

7 Oct
This study is commonly cited by gender activists as “proof” that one is literally born in the “wrong body”.

These claims are are far fetched from the data this study provides. Let’s take a look!
So this study implemented whole exome sequencing in 30 transgender individuals with GD (13 transmen & 17 transwomen) to identify genetic variants and compared them to an in-house control group.

Each participant had DNA extracted via blood samples and analysed for variations.
After a hefty filtering process, 21 variants were identified within 19 genes.

Read 9 tweets
3 Oct
How does stress-induced anxiety affect the brains of men and women?

This study looked into the differential neural activity via fMRI in 96 (41 women & 55 men) individuals with similar trait-anxiety levels.
Both men and women showed activation in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), thalamus, caudate, and ventromedial PFC within a stress-induced condition. Image
After whole-brain voxel-based fMRI analysis, sex-specific differences were observed in the dorsomedial PFC, precuneus/IPL, cerebellum, and temporal regions. Image
Read 8 tweets
1 Oct
Are there differences within the brains of transgender persons?

One of the first observed differences in trans people was in the sexually dimorphic central sub-division of the Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis (BNSTc). This nucleus is 2x as large in males than females.
Many people hypothesized that this difference underlined transgenderism and was present at birth. However, it has been shown that this nucleus doesn't become sexually dimorphic until adulthood (post-puberty), far beyond the onset of gender dysphoria (GD).
In addition, the BNSTc is primarily involved with anxiety and depression-related neural circuitry. So the difference observed in transgender individuals may be a correlation with co-morbidity with various psychiatric conditions.
Read 13 tweets
19 Sep
What are the main predictors of gender dysphoria (GD) persistence in transgender individuals? and do current GD treatments improve psychosocial functioning?
In one follow-up study, 139 boys were diagnosed with GD and only 17 boys (12%) persisted with GD past adolescence. The main contributors were sexuality (androphilic), low socioeconomic status, one-parent households, and a later age of diagnosis.
One major treatment is social transitioning. It has been shown that psychosocial well-being is similar in socially transitioned gender-variant people as "cis-gender variant people". In other words, social transition doesn't improve psychosocial functioning
Read 11 tweets
17 Sep
What's the biggest psychological difference between men and women?

It seems that the sexes differ most in their interests. Men, on average, are interested in "things" whereas females, on average, are interested in "people"
It has been proposed that these different interests are what causes the disparity in the number of people from each sex participating in certain sub-disciplines within the STEM fields
Are these differences in interests a product of socialization or biological influence?

Realistically, it's both. However, there is strong evidence for biological influence (not determinism).
Read 8 tweets
4 Sep
This study is becoming more and more represented by the media and is completely misleading.

SARS-CoV-2 does NOT incorporate into the human genome.
The authors of the study tried to explain why COVID-19 patients still tested positive by PCR for SARS-CoV-2 even after they fully recovered. They suggested this was due to SARS-CoV-2 integration into the genome.

To test this hypothesis, they infected human cells with SARS-CoV-2 and over-expressed a type of retro-transposon, called LINE1s.

LINE1s are segments of DNA that encode an enzyme called reverse transcriptase which “copies and pastes” LINE1s into new positions in the genome
Read 14 tweets

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