February 19, 2020

When does a woman look like a man? What AI can tell us about gender.

Most of the images are generated by an artificial intelligence (Artbreeder).
None of these persons exist in the real world.

The way an AI (artificial intelligence) interprets gender can tell us something about how we humans see gender. It seems there is a very narrow tipping point where we start to reclassify from male to female and vice versa.


Gulliver made me aware of a new artificial intelligence (AI)  based app called Artbreeder over at Crossdream Life. It lets you transform images and photos in a wide variety of ways, including merging photos of two persons and adjust "genes", i.e. variables that defines physical traits.

One such "gene" is gender. You can take a photo of a person, adjust the "gender gene", and watch how feminine traits turn into masculine features.

This software is using machine learning, and it  its calculations are based on  input from a vide variety of photos and pictures. I am not sure how they define feminine and masculine in these algorithms, but keep in mind that the input is culturally defined. AI has a tendency of reproducing contemporary cultural biases.

That being said, what interests me here is not how the AI sees gender, but how I see it, how human beings see it.

February 9, 2020

New research indicates a connection between genes, hormones and gender dysphoria

Newsweek reports of a new study of 30 transgender men and women  diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The researchers found what they described as 21 "rare" variants in 19 genes, in pathways in the brain associated with the sex hormone estrogen.

This may indicate an association between some gene combinations and the development of transgender identities.

There is no single "trans gene"

Every time I see an article like this, I feel a strong need to bring in the wider context. There is no transgender gene, in the same way there is not gay gene. This we know. Sexualities as well as gender identities are the end results of a complex interplay between various factors.

These researchers say the same thing to Newsweek:
The authors stressed in the study that they were not looking for a so-called "transgender gene," which might wrongly suggest that those with this gender identity are ill in some way. 
[J. Graham] Theisen said gender is on a spectrum, in the same way that eye colour is. Rather, they wrote, the aim was to "understand the complexities of gender development through the lens of genetics." 
A person's "gender identity is more likely the result of a complex interplay between multiple genes as well as environmental and societal factors," they said. The team acknowledged that categories like "transgender male" and "transgender female" alone aren't enough to describe individuals who don't identify as cisgender. For instance, others might identify as non-binary, or in numerous other ways. 
"While, in some individuals, a single genetic variant may be sufficient to result in gender dysphoria, it does not follow that that particular variant would be necessary or sufficient to cause gender dysphoria in the population at large," they wrote. 
The researchers are looking to enlarge the study to include more trans people. A sample of 30 is a small one.

The potential danger of such studies

I know that some trans people argue that we should dismiss such studies altogether, as they may be used to invalidate trans people as ill or to distinguish between “real transgender people” and “trenders”. There is always a danger of that.

February 2, 2020

The majority of transgender and gender non-conforming people experience changes in sexual orientation

Over at Mel Magazine Calvin Kasulke writes about trans people who seem to change their sexual orientation after transitioning. Research indicates that more than half of trans and gender non-conforming people become attracted to new kinds of people  throughout their lifetime.

The traditional story in this respect is the one about the trans woman who is attracted to women pre-transitioning, but who become interested in men after transitioning. Kasulke, however, documents that trans men may also experience a change in the way they are attracted to other people.

Trans men who have previously been exclusively attracted to women (and have presented as lesbians) may, for instance,  find themselves attracted to men.
Kai, a 21-year-old student in D.C., used to identify as a lesbian — until they started testosterone. Ever since, Kai has retired their previously held lesbian identity, both because they no longer identify as a woman and because they’re experiencing attraction to men for the first time.

“I think maybe before I wasn’t giving myself the option to be attracted to queer men, but now because I’m more comfortable in myself, [my] gender and gender presentation, I’m allowing myself that possibility,” they write via Twitter DM.

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!