NewSci on gender identity and the effects of media

This week’s New Scientist has two articles of interest to mind and brain enthusiasts: one on gender identity disorder in adolescents, and the other on the psychological effects of modern media.

Unfortunately, neither are open access articles, so you’ll need to track down a copy at the newsagent or library if you want to have a look.

The article on gender identity disorder (GID) in children is particularly interesting, as transexuals often report that they felt from an early age that they were the ‘wrong sex’.

Gender identity disorder is where a person feels themselves to be male when they are bodily male, or male when they are bodily female.

There is some evidence that the ‘felt sex’ is reflected in brain structure, with male-to-female transsexuals having structures that are more female-like.

In adult life, some people choose to have hormone treatment and gender reassignment surgery to change from male to female or female to male.

Some clinics are now treating children as young as 12, more often with hormone therapy, causing significant controversy.

It’s probably worth noting that not everyone in the transgender community appreciates that their wish to be another sex is classified as a disorder in itself, even if they do accept it can create a significant amount of psychological distress.

Furthermore, some people don’t see gender as a one-or-the-other classification and might consider themselves to be neither or both.

The article on the psychological effects of media examines how television and computer games might be altering our cognitive abilities.

In a nutshell, the research suggests that increased television viewing correlates with attentional problems, but computer game players tend to have better attentional skills.

The article also gives advice for parents on managing TV viewing to reduce the negative impact on children.

As a complete aside, the ‘leet among you might be interested to know that this week’s edition of NewSci is issue number 2600. j0!

Link to contents for this week’s NewSci.

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