Transgender, Asexuality and SSRIs

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November 7, 2016 | 12 Comments

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  1. Last week RxISK picked up a new FDA warning on testosterone supplements. It addressed withdrawal effects from stopping testosterone, from fatigue and depression to irritability and muscle pain. It was directed mainly at adult males – both athletes and bodybuilders “abusing” black-market hormones, and those prescribed testosterone by doctors. (Many of the latter, especially older men, take it for a rather dubious “Low-T” syndrome said to be responsible for lowered energy/libido/mood … )

    We passed this along on Twitter – and immediately got inquiries about “why no warning for females”? Seemed like a good question. I initially thought this was about doctors prescribing testosterone to women for low sex drive (another fairly dubious practice that was medically trendy a few years ago). But in fact they were concerned about girls and young women seeking a female-to-male transition.

    It’s a hot question in the US as well as the UK – especially for young kids like Ben/Amy, whose ultimate medical decisions will be made by their parents. Some feel this will avoid real suffering for kids who are truly “trapped in the wrong body.” Others feel the kids are being locked in to a risky medical choice they don’t yet understand. Some worry they are under the influence of parents who have been too quick to endorse and advocate for a child’s possibly-transitory identification with the other gender.

    Finally, some critics are opposed to any notion of transgender, and think all this is the work of male “perverts” who are trying to legitimize their own kinky choices by portraying them as something kids are born with. Some also spread fear that trans women (or cross-dressing men) will enter women’s restrooms to embarrass or even molest “real” females. It’s mainly to avoid identifying with that group – which seems simply bigoted – that I have steered clear of asking questions.

    I think you’re right: the people best placed to work this stuff out are those undergoing the experience. Hopefully we can identify drug effects that may be overpowering some people’s natural tendencies, without de-legitimizing those who might actually be expressing their true natures for the first time.

  2. I would hazard a guess that whatever is going on, howevermuch SSRIs are to account – wholly or partially – for the changes, are changes that happen, somewhere within the brain, without the patient having any control whatsoever over what is going on. Having seen a quiet, pleasant, happy young man change to what I can only describe as a raging bull, hell-bent on destruction of anything in his way, within a few days of taking an SSRI dose I can well believe that they can also change a person’s sexual orientation. Once medicines start meddling with our brain – all hell can be let loose. I wonder if working in an environment where SSRIs are manufactured could have the same effect? Now, there’s a thought – let’s falsify evidence that this is so and watch the workers scurrying away from the pharma companies………in our dreams at least!

    • M

      There probably is a case that all of us are imbibing a little SSRI in our drinking water as is. And there can be some taken simply by physical contact. In the ordinary course of events these are minor amounts but DDT in the ordinary course of events was harmless too – it was only when it traveled down unforeseen routes that it became an issue

      D

  3. When I went to my Doctor and told him I thought I was Napoleon, he never offered me trans-Napoleon treatment, he just said I was mad. Just sayin….

    • @PCNG

      A sane comment in an insane world! Although I HAVE heard SSRI can have a strange effect on “FEMALE Perverts” looking to get into the MEN’s Bathroom!

  4. A couple of observations: gender confusion/blurring seems to have burst into the public domain fairly recently. Maybe it’s always been there, just easier to talk about now – although as Johanna says there are some vociferous and unpleasant voices out there. Maybe exploring different sexual identities is now part of adolescence? In young children though… there are many accounts by older people who came out as lesbian/gay of having always felt trapped in the wrong body. This seems different somehow. And the notion that parents have control over a child’s gender is quite scary.

    A friend told me recently that ‘all the students are on antidepressants, they hand them out like sweets’: this of Oxbridge, where her son is studying. The academic pressure these youngsters are under is enormous so no wonder anxiety is rife – but that means a generation of 18 year olds is on SSRIs. A stark contrast to my uni days in the 1970s when we were far more interested in sex’n (illegal) drugs’n rock and roll than passing exams.

    • I think that in the UK today, children as young as four are put under pressure in the name of education. To me, ‘education’ means ‘discovery’. A teacher’s place is to create an environment where ‘discovery’ can take place. This takes place through play and experimentation – young children gather information like a sponge soaks up water and, generally, hang on to it for use in later years. If we are testing them at all levels then the pleasure of learning soon disappears. The pleasure is replaced by tension. The best ‘teacher’ any child can have is another child who plays alongside him/her. With ‘testing’ however, you are putting each child in turn on the spot and are refusing to allow the natural urge to help one another.
      By the age of eleven, the majority of children feel a sense of failure that has come their way at some point or other. With this comes low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. By the age of eighteen many of the brightest pupils are struggling to cope with the expectations of their schools and/or parents. If lucky, they move on to colleges with the prospect of leaving there with a massive debt.
      When we consider all of this, is it any wonder that they are all popping pills right, left and centre?
      The resulting catastrophe is yet to be seen, I feel.

  5. We learn on BBC News today that the Court of Appeal has decided that NHS England should be asked to consider covering the cost of prescribing the new AIDS prevention daily pill, PrEP which costs £355 per month for a pack of 30 tablets, I think. This means, we calculate, a cost of £4,260 per person per year. Whilst wondering whether SSRIs do influence change in one’s sexual orientation, here is yet another Pharma ‘solution’ on the health agenda, for people to ‘Choose’. Availability will be provided through sexual health clinics. It is felt that this pill will be more cost effective, as it is preventative of AIDS, than current treating of those who get it.

  6. There was an interesting ‘Horizon’ documentary last night on BBC 4 ‘Is Your Brain Male or Female?’

    Generally, it seemed from scans and illustrations that male brains do function differently, in two separate halves, passing messages back and forward in each side, whereas with women the messages cross over, back and forth, between the two halves ( left and right brain).

    Testosterone levels before birth seemed to define gender initially. Even small babies seemed programmed naturally to reach for toys like dolls for the girls, trucks for the boys, even when dressed as babies of their opposite sex and offered toys by a researcher who thought the girls were boys and vice versa. Even monkeys in a Safari park did the same. Male monkeys went straight to trucks to spin wheels or sit on them, females showed no interest in trucks but picked up baby dolls. Toys had been scattered in equal numbers across a large grassland area.

    At no time were medications discussed, sadly. Sexual orientation seemed mainly defined by hormone levels pre-birth, but environment, nurturing etc were said to influence later too. We do get a lot of hormones in our drinking water, recycled from rivers where we know fish have been affected by gender change due to estrogens (from the Pill), and if so many millions of us take SSRIs, and if these drugs affect sexual function and hormones ( the acne drug RoAccutane/isotretinoin we know changes hormones and DNA) – then could it be that they are indeed causing a lot of the trans gender results we see today. The film showed how incredibly important hormones are.

    One other interesting comment on the programme – women do not recover so well from stroke generally as men do. We wondered whether this could be because men’s brains seem to function in separate halves, whereas there is so much cross over in messages between the women’s left and right brains?

  7. More on this subject today, 1.12.16 on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Show. A little girl/turning into boy aged 10 told us about his feelings of always having known she was really a boy. It started when he was 4. His puberty which started early, aged 9, has been put on hold. A medical expert explained that if this hadn’t been done now, the physical surgery required later would be more invasive, removing breasts etc. But by the time he is 13, final decision making will have to take place, and the steps taken then will be irreversible.

    Also discussed was the complex situation where some people consider themselves to be of neither sex exclusively. Was this always so but no one talked about it, or is this a new phenomenon, caused by some external agent, like SSRIs?

    The 10 year old on the VD Show spoke well and convincingly about how he felt, and his mother was doing her best for him, despite outside criticism. It was all very thought-provoking.

  8. We should just let children be.
    When I was young, I played with dolls, pushed my brothers small miniature cars around in the dirt, played marbles on the sand field with the boys, played a lot of boys sports and wore so many shorts and t-shirts.
    Mmmmm, that was until I attended an all girls school – yuk!
    So what if I was considered a tomboy back then! ~ I had fun.
    Irrespective of how an individual perceives themselves, everyone needs support to work out where and how they fit in.
    Mary speaks with common sense.
    Let children be children.
    Generally, people have an idea of who they want to be, when they reach a level of maturity. Sometimes, whatever, the outcome, things are out of our control.
    People, just want to be loved and through role playing, children learn a lot about themselves.
    We can learn so much from watching children play.

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