So somewhere earlier in this thread, the hoary old argument of the gendered or sexed brain (i.e. that there are “male brains” and “female brains” and that people have one or the other; a theory frequently cited by transgender activists) came up and which I asserted had been debunked… The articles I dug up at the time didn’t really answer the question. but I have now located the proper study (and critical collary) which deal with this matter.
The principal paper is Sex beyond the genitalia: The human brain mosaic PDF by D. Joel, et. al.
The conclusions are worth noting:
The lack of internal consistency in human brain and gender
characteristics undermines the dimorphic view of human brain and
behavior and calls for a shift in our conceptualization of the
relations between sex and the brain. Specifically, we should shift
from thinking of brains as falling into two classes, one typical
of males and the other typical of females, to appreciating the
variability of the human brain mosaic. Scientifically, this
paradigm shift entails replacing the currently dominant practice
of looking for and listing sex/gender differences with analysis
methods that take into account the huge variability in the human
brain (rather than treat it as noise), as well as individual
differences in the specific composition of the brain mosaic. At
the social level, adopting a view that acknowledges human
variability and diversity has important implications for social
debates on longstanding issues such as the desirability of
single-sex education and the meaning of sex/gender as a social
Now with such an emphatic conclusion, which went against literally
decades or possibly centuries of belief that men thought one way and
women another (which is why certain amongst you just assumed it was
right, “it’s always been that way” - until science came along), it was
inevitable that there’d be some peer revue wanting to disprove it.
This comes in the form of a letter rather than a full article:
Patterns in the human brainmosaic discriminate males from females PDF by A. M. Chekroud, et. al.
It’s not very long and it basically confirms the methodology and
results of the original paper:
Based on these criteria, the authors convincingly establish that
there is little evidence for this strict sexually dimorphic view
of human brains, counter to the popular lay conception of a “male”
and “female” brain. This finding has broad implications not only
for the ontology of gender, but also for the statistical treatment
of sex in morphometric analyses.
In fact the best they can do to salvage the old theory is this:
Despite the absence of dimorphic differences and lack of internal
consistency observed by Joel et. al., multivariate analyses of
whole-brain patterns in brain morphometry can reliably
discriminate sex. These two results are not mutually
inconsistent. We wholly agree that a strict dichotomy between
male/female brains does not exist, but this does not diminish or
negate the importance of considering statistical differences
between the sexes (e.g., including sex as a covariate in
Which is basically saying that statistical analysis of a broad range
of candidates ought to be able to provide some degree of consistency
in correctly identifying the sex. Such a whole brain analysis and
statistical approach would, by its very nature be assessing traits in
much the same context as I proposed in my own answer: that it would be
a combination of genotypical factors, phenotypical factors,
developmental factors and environmental or experienced factors.
By the way, most of the transgender activists I’ve seen online citing
the gendered brain theory to support their position cite the letter
used as the rebuttal and only quote that final paragraph with the
statistical approach. They prefer not to mention the rest of the
letter or Joel’s paper with its very conclusive proof to the contrary.
Anyway, this topic was bound to rise up again at some point in the
future and I figured I’d leave this here in anticipation of that.
Mainly so I didn’t forget about it.