The University of California at Los Angeles’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior was preparing a National Institute of Health-backed study to better understand brain structures and responses among people living with gender dysphoria. The study was titled, “Gender identity and own body perception – implications for the neurobiology of gender dysphoria.” Its researchers were seeking transgender participants when LGBT activists demanded the study be shut down.
According to the physicians attempting to conduct the study, “We want to understand the neurobiology of gender dysphoria and the interactions between sex hormone therapy treatment, the brain, and the body phenotype.” However, the executive director of the local activist group Gender Justice LA objected, claiming the study “opens the door for advancing the highly disregarded and dangerous practice of conversion therapy.”
Gender Justice LA claims the study is designed to “trigger” gender dysphoria in those who have not begun treatment and therefore would be psychologically harmful to the participants. They asserted that because the study could be used “for the creation of therapeutics to treat gender dysphoria as one would treat anorexia” it could be used as a method of conversion therapy.
The California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network circulated a letter to local LGBT communities urging transgender and gender-nonconforming people to stay away from the “dangerous” study.