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Home » tvChix Articles » Introduction to the Transgender & Gender Dysphoria Test

Transgender Tests

Many tests geared towards transgender people lack scientific evidence for their validity. In spite of this, they're still regularly used and in demand. A large part of this is that with no alternatives, even potentially faulty tests are tempting to use.

One test that is favored in the field of medicine is the Real-Life Experience test, which is a requirement for sex reassignment surgery in the United Kingdom. Some other countries no longer require it at all, while in the United States, the requirement may differ state by state or even physician by physician.

The Combined Gender Identity And Transsexuality Inventory (COGIATI Test)

Commonly called the COGIATI, this test is one that is meant to help identify a male-to-female individual. The scores are ranked in five categories, ranging from "standard male" to "transsexual." While some questions are geared specifically toward gender identity and dysphoria, others are based on stereotypically gendered behavior such as attitudes towards math and hugging or the ability to read faces. Gender differences such as these are most likely the result of cultural conditioning and so are unlikely to aid someone in determining whether or not she is truly transsexual. Female identified people who are disinterested in socializing and enjoy math are no less women.

The COGIATI is based on an older test, called the Moir-Jessel Brain Sex Test. That test had been designed to identify where on a "brain sex" continuum participants fell. However, the test has never been validated using male and female sample groups to determine how closely they fall into the categories it aims to identify. There is currently no scientific evidence to support the use of either the Moir-Jessel Brain Sex Test or the derivative COGIATI.

The Bem Sex Role Inventory

Also called the BSRI, this test also relies on culturally created gender stereotypes. The test is largely dependent on how deeply a person has absorbed cultural definitions of gender, which will not necessarily reflect identity or the presence of gender dysphoria. This is also an older test, based on research that began in the early 1970s, and so may not even apply to current attitudes towards gender.

Additionally, self-reporting on behavior and attitudes is very likely to be swayed by what the test taker is hoping the results will be. Someone who does not want to be told they're transsexual may alter their answers subconsciously, while someone seeking validation may exaggerate certain gendered behaviors.

The Real-Life Experience Test

Often called "the real life test" or simply RLE, this famous hurdle in the path of a transitioning transsexual relies on interacting with the world as a member of one's identified gender. This is typically for a set amount of time, which ranges from one to two years. In some places in the US, a transsexual will need to pass the RLE test before even having access to hormones. The lack of hormones may make presenting difficult as well as more stressful.

Real-life experience is expected of both trans women and trans men. Remaining gainfully employed or enrolled as a student during the test may be a condition of passing, as well as going by a gender appropriate name. Adhering closely to gender stereotypes is not a condition, however a biased therapist or physician may expect it. In such a case, the transgendered patient may be best served by finding a new therapist or physician.

Unlike other tests meant for transgendered people, RLE does not rely entirely on self-reporting. The observations of a licensed therapist or physician are ultimately what the test is based on. This could have drawbacks if the therapist or physician is biased, but if someone who is reasonable and understanding, with whom the patient feels comfortable, is found it should be no issue.

Other Tests

There are a number of other gender tests available, particularly on the Internet. The majority of these share the same drawbacks as the COGIATI and the BSRI. Self-reporting gendered behavior is always going to be prone to inaccuracy and has not been proven as a valid method of identifying transgendered individuals.

There have been advances with various methods of brain scans that have identified differences between some male-to-female transsexuals and the brains of cisgendered males. This has not reached a diagnostic level yet, however. Additionally, it's hobbled by the fact that many of the differences between male and female brains are incredibly subjective and difficult to consistently identify. This may change in coming years as scanning methods become more sophisticated. It could also be that these neurological differences are as nebulous as they currently appear.

The lack of simple, accurate tests and easy answers can be frustrating. Introspection and self-analysis remain the best tools, however, and these are available to all people with questions regarding their identities.



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29/Mar 17:56:07