>> The next frontier in the battle for transgender rights could be in the brain, like this one, where some scientists believed the key to a biological origin for transgender identity might be found. The science is not yet settled but neuroscientists are finding leads in brain structure and function.
>> I'm Reuters correspondent, Daniel Trotta in New York City. The latest scientific research indicates that being transgender is largely biological, potentially upsetting the legal battle over transgender rights and upsetting both transgender advocates and their socially conservative rivals. A definitive biological cause would upend the argument of social conservatives, who say that being transgender is largely a result of social factors.
But at the same time, the whole line of inquiry is making transgender advocates squirm.>> The trans community is concerned about the stigma.>> I spoke with Dr. Jack Thresher, a New York psychiatrist who is a leading voice on LGBT issues.>> We don't know, but there's certainly enough evidence that's beginning to emerge that there is some suggestion that at least in some people, there may be a biological component.
>> Other scientists are hesitant to declare a definitive origin to being transgender, mindful of the myriad biological complexities between cause and effect.>> And gender advocates worry that if a cause is found, those opposed to transgender rights could propose a cure, opening the door to so-called reparative therapies, similar to those that attempt to turn gay people straight.
Nevertheless, neurologists have found differences between the brains of transgender and non-transgender people that they believe develop in utero. Studies in research are scant because of small sample sizes of transgender brains. Dr. Vahram Haroutunian runs the Brain Bank, jointly operated by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and the Veterans Administration.
He spent most of his career on the preservation and study of post mortem brain tissue, an enviable resource for researchers.>> We talked about encouraging the transgender community to think about brain donation so that studies can be performed to understand what the biology is that contributes to an individual being transgender.
>> In the meantime, advocates and adversaries are each citing their interpretation of the science in forums as lofty as the top U.S. courts where battles over public bathroom access continue to be fought.