Can pharmaceutical hormone exposure make you transgender?

Ever since sex hormones were first isolated in the 1930s, scientists have known that they play an important role during your prenatal development, in determining which sex you develop as. In the years during and immediately after WW2, rapid advances in chemistry suddenly made it possible to produce hormones in bulk for a relatively low cost, and the pharmaceutical industry enthusiastically rushed a wide range of hormone based medicines to market with little in the way of testing. One of the earliest medical uses found for hormones was in women’s medicine, as treatments to reduce the likelihood of a pregnant woman miscarrying, initially with involving a powerful artificial estrogen called diethylstilbestrol (or DES), followed not long afterwards by various members of a class of manmade hormones called progestins, all of which are designed to mimic the action of the naturally occurring hormone progesterone. This was despite animal experiments showing that DES could induce female development in male fetuses, and that it could completely override genetics in fish, and cause newly hatched fish fry exposed to it to all develop as female, irrespective of whether they are genetically female or male.

Other experiments showed that exposure to testosterone and hormones derived from testosterone could drive male development in female fetuses, and it was discovered that two manmade hormones derived from testosterone, ethinyltestosterone (or ethisterone) and methyltestosterone, could, when administered to newly hatched fish fry, induce all the fish to develop as male, irrespective of what their genes said.

DES went on to become a blockbuster drug, and would ultimately be used in somewhere in the region of 10 million human pregnancies worldwide, most of which resulted in live births. Ethisterone, and a slightly tweaked version of it called norethisterone, were widely used as miscarriage preventatives throughout the 1950s and 60s too, although I haven’t been able to find any estimates of the total number of people exposed.

In the late 1950s it was discovered that hormones also play an important role in determining the sex of the brain, and that by appropriately manipulating hormones during prenatal development, you can produce genetic females that behave like males or vice versa. Throughout the animal kingdom, the critical period for brain development seems to generally occur later in prenatal development than the critical period for the genitals, so by deferring the hormone treatment until the later stages of the pregnancy, you can produce animals with a relatively normal physical appearance for their genetic sex, but whose behaviour has been sex-reversed. I’ve found research in which that same thing has been demonstrated in rats, sheep and monkeys.

So, what of the millions of human beings that have been exposed to artificial hormones that can cause intersexed or completely sex-reversed development in many different animal species?

I’ve found several case reports in which female babies exposed to ethisterone or norethisterone were born with masculinized genitals (in one case, to such a degree that no one realised the child was biologically female until, as a teenager, they started menstruating). Nearly all of the affected babies appear to have been operated on shortly after birth to give them normal-looking female genitals. However, from what I’ve read about the effects on females exposed to androgenic hormones in animal research, these people are likely to also have a masculinized endocrine system (which results in polycystic ovarian syndrome), and to have experienced some degree of brain masculinization too.

The official line has always been that the male children who were exposed to DES suffered virtually no ill effects as a result of their exposure, however from chatting online to DES-exposed people, and from my own experiences (I have many of the same symptoms, although I don’t know whether the culprit in my case was DES itself or some other type of artificial female hormone), TPTB are lying, and many of the male children from those pregnancies have been partially feminized. The most striking thing is the astonishingly high rate of transsexuality. I have dozens of facebook friends with a known or suspected history of DES exposure who are transgender, and in the one study of DES and gender that’s ever been conducted, 150 out of 500 DES “sons” participating in the study identified as women rather than men.

The way DES and the other hormones used in these treatments for preventing miscarriages and premature births are generally administered, means that there is usually little or no exposure during the first trimester (which, in human pregnancies, is when the genitals develop), but heavy exposure to the drug during the second half of the pregnancy (when most of the important differences between male and female brains are thought to arise).

Here is an interview with Dr June Reinisch, a psychologist who has devoted much of her career to studying the effects on people’s psychology and behaviour of being prenatally exposed to pharmaceutical hormones.

Within that interview, there’s a link to a paper she coauthored in 1977. It would seem that the world’s top psychologists have known since the 1960s that children who were prenatally exposed to pharmaceutical hormones have measureable, lifelong differences in their personality and behaviour. In the interview, Dr Reinisch describes the differences as subtle, but I can tell you they’re anything but subtle. It’s just that we generally learn from a young age to hide our differences and to imitate the behaviour of people of our assigned sex, because otherwise we get bullied, beaten up, and socially isolated.