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Friday, 7 July, 2000, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
The traits of transsexuality
Dana International
Transsexual singer Dana International
The pads of the fingers, handwriting and the number of aunts may all offer clues to identifying a transsexual, says an expert.

Professor Richard Green, visiting professor of psychiatry at Imperial College, London, says that recent studies have shown that transsexual men and women tend to be left-handed had distinctive ridged finger prints and lots of maternal aunts.

Professor Green, who was speaking at the Royal College of Psychiatrists annual meeting in Edinburgh, and his colleagues studied 400 males and 100 female transsexuals who attended the Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital, London, over a four year period.

This research goes some way to unravelling the mystery that is the horror of being trapped in the wrong sex body

Professor Richard Green, Imperial College, London

Hand-use preference and fingerprinting are laid down during the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Professor Green also told the conference that many male transsexuals had a profusion of older brothers and with each older brother the odds that a transsexual would be homosexual increased by 40%.

He said that a developing foetus could be affected by how many previous pregnancies the mother had gone through, and by the sex of the previous foetuses that had developed in the womb.

These factors could influence the levels of immune system chemicals circulating in the mother's system, and impact on the development of the foetus.

It is thought that the male sex hormone testosterone plays a particularly significant role.

He said a child who was surrounded by lots of aunts might experience "distorted psychosexual differentiation".

Professor Green said: "Transsexualism has been with us since antiquity.

"This research goes some way to unravelling the mystery that is the horror of being trapped in the wrong sex body."

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