At my first therapy appointment way back when, we finished up and were kind of sitting there, and Martha looked at me and said with a smile, "You have small hands." I sat there with them in my lap, held up my fingers the way one might when she's admiring a ring, smiled, and said, "I know! I'm very lucky." I do have small hands for someone with my genetics. My hands are similar to my sister, who is probably 3 inches shorter than me.

I haven't spent too many brain cycles wondering what caused me to be transsexual. Even if there was a way to know, it wouldn't change anything, and at this point, I wouldn't want to change anything. Various theories abound. One of the theories is a lack of exposure to androgens in the womb, or conversely, more exposure to estrogens in the womb. Two things account for sexually dimorphic characteristics, physical differences between the sexes.  The main one is the presence of an X or Y chromosome.  The second, lesser cause, is the exposure to androgens.

One such characteristic is what's known as the 2D:4D ratio, the ratio of the length of your index finger to the length of your ring finger. The ratio of these finger lengths is said to be established in the womb.  A higher ratio is associated with lower androgen exposure; a lower ratio is associated with more exposure to androgen. There are a few examples of studies backing this association.

Here's a graphic showing the differences in these ratios.  The male hand on the left shows a short index finger.  The female hand on the right shows a longer index finger.  Ratios of 1.0 and above are associated with females.  The higher the ratio, the more feminine.  The lower the ratio (0.96 average for males), the less feminine.

There was a study in Germany recently which examined the 2D:4D ratio of male-to-female transsexuals.  It found that the transsexual women had a higher digit ratio than cisgender males, but similar to transgender females, pointing to a possible link between prenatal androgen exposure and MTF transsexualism.  I suppose it could go something like this: A fetus had an X and a Y chromosome, but less androgen exposure in the womb, and thus developed a female gender identity.

I took a picture of my hand.  When I first looked at it after reading this article about the 2D:4D ratio, and compared it to the picture above, I admit that I gasped.  The relative lengths of my fingers, at least from eyeballing them, look nothing like the male hand.  For kicks, I measured my fingers.  You measure from the tip to the crease where your finger bends.  It turned out that my 2D:4D ratio is 1.03, which according to those studies is very feminine.

So perhaps when I was just a mere trillion or so cells, maybe I was exposed to less androgens than was desirable, and this explains why my brain didn't quite turn out the same as my body did.  Or not.  This might all be a bunch of hooey.  Either way, it wouldn't change anything.  It is kind of interesting and fun, though.  Insofar as learning why I am this way, this doesn't have much value... it's just a factoid.  But in a larger sense, these sorts of studies most definitely have value.  If at some point, someone was able to definitively prove a cause of transsexualism, such as a lack of exposure to androgens, perhaps it would be universally recognized as that which it is, a medical, not a psychological, condition.  Someday.  Probably not in my lifetime, but someday!

9 comments:

Mine is about 0.96. And apparently it does have something to do with androgen exposure in utero. But if you go by me, not with androgen exposure, or response to androgen exposure, of the brain (which happens later in the gestational cycle). :)

Probably just means that you're fortunate in having a somewhat less masculine body than other male-bodied people, given the way your brain turned out.

Fortunately for me, despite my 2D:4D ratio, my hands aren't very big. Even better, my feet are fairly small!

Ariel, I think if you replace "somewhat" with "incrementally" in your comment, that would be accurate. Although I do have small feet as well.

Mine 0.97. My hands are small and delicate. Tall and big feet though.

This comment has been removed by the author.

Okay, I deleted my other comment because my previous measures were not done properly or scientifically enough. I went back with my draft ruler and measured more exactly and, strangely, my hands evened out (don't ask) at .97.

This is why I wait for the coffee to take effect before I operate the table saw...

xoxo

I don't know how much stock to put into silly tests like this, but if it's a correct measurement of gender, then i'm 100% female according to my right hand, and just a tad less female according to my left. Now, since I am right handed, does my right had take precedence over my left, as far as my gender association goes?

It's not a measurement of gender. It is an indication of exposure to androgens in utero. The ranges for men and women overlap, with more women having a higher ratio and more men having a lower ratio.

What Ariel said.

It's not a "test" for anything. It's a little interesting thing that for any one person, means nothing. Other than, in my case, to say, "Well, at least there's one thing on the ol' bod that fits with my brain." :)

Does it matter which hand???

On my right hand they are about 1 to 1... On my left hand I had an op on my hand when I was younger that caused my knuckle to move substantially and my index finger is about 1cm shorter as a result ;)

As to the size my feet and hands... About the same as my wife (womens medium gloves and euro 39/40 feet.

Stace

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