I just had cause to have to type this yet again for someone else, so I thought I’d place this answer here, where it can be easily referenced and seen. I’ve used the image in this reference before but it’s good to have the full reference too.
Gender is not solely a social construct. It is, in fact, partly biological. If I can show you just one image that demonstrates this (and there are dozens of scientific studies about this now), will you believe me?
This link contains pictures of actual brain scan results done during autopsies. Please note the image partway down the page. That image is a stained cross sectional slice of the central section of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis in the hypothalamus (BSTc) in the brain.
Please note that the upper left image is the BSTc of a heterosexual adult male. Then lower left image is the BSTc of a homosexual adult male. They are almost identical, aren’t they?
The upper right image is the BSTc of an adult heterosexual female. It is very different from that of the males, isn’t it? And the lower right image is the BSTc of a male-to-female transsexual. Her BSTc is very similar to the adult heterosexual female BSTc. It is also nothing like the male BSTc, is it?
This is just one of nearly a dozen different physical brain differences between transsexual individuals and the rest of the population. I, we as transsexual women, literally have a female brain inside a male body.
Most people do not realize that there is this duality inside them. They don’t realize it because their brain and their bodies match. So to them it seems like one uniform whole.
But to those of us born this way, it is a constant clawing pain inside. It’s horror as your body becomes something that your brain isn’t intended to work with.
And we don’t know how to fix the brain. These brain structures form and set between the 8th and 16th week of pregnancy. Once set, they can never be changed. No amount of testosterone will change my brain into male. In fact, more testosterone usually makes us more depressed.
So no, gender is not solely a social construct. That is a myth promulgated by Dr. Money and Dr. McHugh (who recently wrote a pile of crap in the Wall Street Journal) back in the 1960s at Johns Hopkins. And their assumptions have all been disproved. Gender really does have a partial biological component and when that component is mismatched to person’s body, significant psychological trauma can occur. This is why we take hormones and undergo surgery – to align our body with our brains, because we have no idea how to do the reverse.
For more information on how hormonal levels in the womb impact individuals, please review this 2011 AMA Webcast. It is about an hour long but contains important medical information that relates to how transsexual brains come to be the way they are.