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Hormones and Gender Identity

For a long time, I’ve wondered if there is any connection between my PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that produces excess androgen and thus affects my hormonal balance) and my gender identity.  I would be really curious to see some research into PCOS and gender identity, but I can’t imagine such a thing ever actually happening, because the idea that something like PCOS might affect someone’s gender is such anathema to many people.  When you have a syndrome that affects things like your body hair growth and your period (or lack thereof), doctors are very quick to say “don’t worry!  You’re not any less of a woman!”  Honestly?  I wasn’t worried.

I think it’s a sign of how invested we are in gender that doctors would automatically consider the possibility of hormones affecting gender identity an insult.  Maybe it’s just a value neutral thing that might happen to some people.  I would like to see some research on it, and understand it a little better, while knowing that in the end the labels that apply to me and how I experience gender are my own personal choice and no one else’s.  I’m curious what impact not menstruating, having excess androgen, etc., has on me.

I also find it interesting that when it’s the reverse–hormones going along with the gender everyone assumes you are–those hormones are celebrated and praised.  Whoo hoo, all women menstruate, blood is the tie that binds us, we all understand that monthly “curse,” and other variations that I am oh so sick of.  When I identified as a woman, I found that refrain extremely isolating.  Now, it’s more of a physical confirmation that I’m not female, and I’m okay with it.  But it doesn’t really mean anything, nor should it.  Same deal with hormones, which are the explanation for pretty much everything under the sun when it comes to women.  I don’t think it’s all that simple.

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