Today I stumbled across this lovely article on BuzzFeed titled “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Transgender People But Were Afraid To Ask.” It’s a good article, but certainly nowhere near “everything” I’ve always wanted to know.
I recently had an amazing chance to ask potentially stupid or unintentionally insulting questions about transgender issues: Kink hosted a “transgender awareness day,” and had speakers from the SF-based Transgender Law Center give us a presentation followed by an open invitation to ask them questions.
One of the speakers was a delightful chubby bear transman. He had a big bushy beard and charming round glasses and body hair absolutely everywhere, except on top of his head.
(this isn’t him. This is Buck Angel, arguably the most famous transman, and also quite bald.)
My question was: If you’re genetically female, how did you go bald?
This was based on two basic facts that made up my understanding of genetic baldness:
- Women don’t go bald.
- The baldness gene is passed through the mother, so if you want a hint at your potential baldness look at your maternal grandfather.
Well, it turns out that scientifically these really boil down to:
- The baldness gene is carried on the X chromosome.
- The baldness gene gets activated by testosterone.
#2 gets italics because that was the big “ah-hah!” moment for me. People born genetically female don’t lose all their hair even if they carry the baldness gene, because their bodies don’t produce enough testosterone to trigger it. But a transman who undergoes hormone treatments gets a giant spike in their bodies’ testosterone levels, which is easily enough to activate the gene.
Actually, what this means is that transmen are more likely than biological men to go bald! Since they have two X chromosomes, they’ve got twice the chance of carrying the gene in the first place.
Now you know. :)
I’ll end with a nekkid picture of Buck Angel because a.) he’s awesome, and b.) I need to test my SFW RSS filter again. :p