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Med Hypotheses. 2012 May;78(5):626-31. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.01.041. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

Alternating gender incongruity: a new neuropsychiatric syndrome providing insight into the dynamic plasticity of brain-sex.

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  • 1Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California, McGill Hall, 9500 Gilman Dr. M/C 0109, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92093, USA. lkcase@ucsd.edu

Abstract

Between the two extreme ends of human sexuality - male and female - lie a poorly understood and poorly studied spectrum of ambiguously defined sexual identities that are very much a part of the human condition but defy rigid classification. "Bigender" is a recently formed sub-category of transgenderism, describing individuals who experience a blending or alternation of gender states. While recognized nominally by the APA, no scientific work to our knowledge has addressed this fascinating condition, or proposed any physiological basis for it. In addition, the alternation aspect has not been proposed as a nosological entity distinct from blending. We present descriptive data suggesting that many bigender individuals experience an involuntary switching of gender states without any amnesia for either state. In addition, similar to transsexual individuals, the majority of bigender individuals experience phantom breasts or genitalia corresponding to the non-biologic gender when they are in a trans-gender state. Finally, our survey found decreased lateralization of handedness in the bigender community. These observations suggest a biologic basis of bigenderism and lead us to propose a novel gender condition, "alternating gender incongruity" (AGI). We hypothesize that AGI may be related to an unusual degree or depth of hemispheric switching and corresponding callosal suppression of sex appropriate body maps in parietal cortex- possibly the superior parietal lobule- and its reciprocal connections with the insula and hypothalamus. This is based on two lines of reasoning. First, bigender individuals in our survey sample reported an elevated rate of bipolar disorder, which has been linked to slowed hemispheric switching. We hypothesize that tracking the nasal cycle, rate of binocular rivalry, and other markers of hemispheric switching will reveal a physiological basis for AGI individuals' subjective reports of gender switches. Switching may also trigger hormonal cascades, which we are currently exploring. Second, we base our hypotheses on ancient and modern associations between the left and right hemispheres and the male and female genders. By providing a case of sharp brain-sex shifts within individuals, we believe that the study of AGI could prove illuminating to scientific understanding of gender, body representation, and the nature of self.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22364652
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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