Friday, December 2, 2011

Got DES?

2011-12-02_des Mom had a miscarriage in 1950.

From about 1940 to 1970, Diethylstilbestrol (DES) was given to pregnant women in the mistaken belief it would reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and losses. - from Wikipedia

I was born in 1951.

Recent research on DES sons [males who were prenatally exposed to DES] has explored the hypothesis that the range of effects of prenatal exposure to DES in males might include behavioral or neurological change, and also intersexuality.

Dr. Scott Kerlin of the DES Sons International Research Network has documented for the past 15 years "the high prevalence of individuals with confirmed or strongly suspected prenatal DES exposure who self-identify as male-to-female transsexual, transgender, and intersexed, and many individuals who have reported experiencing difficulties with gender dysphoria.

Various neurological changes occur after prenatal exposure of embryonic males to DES and other estrogenic endocrine disrupters. Animals that exhibited these structural neurological changes were also shown to demonstrate various gender-related behavioral changes (so called "feminisation of males").

Several published studies in the medical literature on psycho-neuro-endocrinology have examined the hypothesis that prenatal exposure to estrogens (including DES) may cause significant developmental impact on sexual differentiation of the brain, and on subsequent behavioral and gender identity development in exposed males and females.There is significant evidence linking prenatal hormonal influences on gender identity and transsexual development. - from Wikipedia

I don't know if Mom ever took DES. My parents and Mom's doctor are deceased, so I can't ask them.

For your consideration:

Prenatal Exposure to Diethylstilbestrol (DES) in Males and Gender-Related Disorders: Results from a 5-Year Study


  1. I was born in 1969. My mom and her doctor are deceased and I'm not out to my father. She had two miscarriages between the births of my older brother and I.

    This may be one of those things I'll never know the truth about.

  2. I was born in 1952 and I know that I am a DES baby. My mother had 3 early term miscarriages before I came along and I know that she took this medication since she told me so.

    As for the two conclusions in the study I may qualify for both. Physically I have a big rear and I am virtually hairless. I shave only my chin and under my nose. I have never had a reason to shave my arms and I only shave my legs every few years and that is mostly for fun.

    Psychologically there is no question that I have gender issues.


  3. I know your frustration. When you can ask anymore it's sad. I'm sure you had a great relationship with your mom and dad and I did for sure. Both my parents are gone as well. My Mother had leukemia for 12 years and always was able to get bak into remission. One time we talked and she said it felt different this time. She was unable to get back in remission and passed away. I ssked the doctor about her comment that she felt different and he said she had a different cancer and did not elaborate. Since she died in 1982 and received many blood transfusions I often wondered if she might have receive HIV tainted blood. I'll never know and it bugs me. It won't bring her back of course but there are just so many things I'd like to know. I had a great relationship with both my mom and dads and I asked lots of questions before they died but I wish I knew more. I think I know how you feel. I always tell younger kids to ask lots of questions of their mom and dads while you have the chance.


  4. What would be interesting to me is to find out whether the % of people with gender related incidents is higher in the DES group versus general population. My theory is that, every generation has a certain percentage of babies born with gender issues, just as there is a certain percentage of babies who will end up with a particular disease in their adult life. These percentages do not change significantly over generations- IMHO. It would be nice to know why we feel that way we feel but I say just enjoy the ride because finding out the reason is not going to change us at all!

  5. I think it would be interesting to find out the percentage of babies with gender challenges in the DES group versus those in the general population. My theory is that every generation has a certain percentage of babies born with gender challenges and those percentages do not vary significantly between generations. Of course, I don't have any scientific proof of the theory- just my opinion.

    I have thought about what caused me to be TG but then again, finding out the reason is not going to change a thing about me- I will still be the same so why not just enjoy the ride? :)

  6. My mother took it.

    And here's what I don't like:

    ...many individuals who have reported experiencing difficulties with gender dysphoria...

    I have difficulties only with people around me and their reaction to my gender differences. "Dysphoria"? HA!

  7. Ashley asked me to post her comment:

    I don't know if I'm a DES baby. When I came out to my mom in the mid 1980s I asked her and she denied taking anything during the pregnancy. But I know that she had two miscarries prior to my older brother being born, so I don't know. She may have forgotten if she did take anything or maybe thought I was trying to transfer the blame. (I Wasn't). It doesn't really bother me as I'm fairly well balanced now that I've transitioned. But there are markers like digit ratio (index/ring), etc. But I knew I was trans. Of course this was in the late 1950s and I wouldn't have dared to say anything.

  8. I have commented on this a few times in my blog, Stana. My mother was of the opinion that if one pill was good, two were better. She had more than miscarriage and she also had me...such as I am. She took far too much DES. I credit her for my gender issues now and that's probably why I just don't feel close to her at this point in her life...when she really needs me.

  9. When I was born in the mid 60's, I had cryptorchidism. My testicles didn't descend until I was 12 at the urging of hormone treatments. Then there was the dysphoria. Recently I learned my birth mother had a previous pregnancy that didn't come to term. A woman with previous problems who was giving her child up for adoption would have been a prime candidate for DES.

    Reva and Jess, I've wondered that as well. I guess our "acid test" would be a decline in diagnosis and surgeries as time goes on. I like the ride I'm on now I'm used to the rocking. But knowing a genesis to the "condition" I believe is helpful and explanatory.

    Meg, it's like insanity. We don't suffer from it, we enjoy every minute of it.

    Calie, I don't imagine your mother really did anything to you in malice. It would peobably do the both of you some good if you were able to mend fences. Just sayin'.


  10. I was born in the late 60's, months premature, and Mom experienced lots of difficulty all through the pregnancy. She'd had a previous miscarriage.
    As I came to try to understand myself better, I'd suspected DES, and ordered medical records from the hospital where I was born.
    When they arrived a few days later, they were heavily redacted.
    I immediately made a second request, specifically asking about DES, and was told "those records were destroyed in accordance with our records retention policy".
    Go figure....

  11. Wow! I didnt know!!! My mother is gone now but some things she had told me, and had a miscarriage. I was born in 1949 it makes sense. Read the piece about males and gender related disorders. It fits. I didnt fit the general build or pattern of any of the other males in my extended family.

  12. I was born in 1950 and my mom passed long ago, I had no idea DES existed. I also have no idea if she took DES or not while carrying me.

    I do know I've had sexual issues my entire life, which were mainly overwhelming thoughts of being confused about my sex (back in those days we simply called it being a queer) As I grew up a few boys "let" me act upon my feelings but demanded I dress like a girl, I easily got hooked on that aspect of my being!

    To use words I've seen on here; enjoy the ride, for knowing the reason is not going to change you one bit! I blame no one and no thing for how I turned out.

    While it IS interesting it is also history! I'm with Meg on this one.

  13. elizabethamyDecember 07, 2011

    My mom told me of her taking DES when she thought I might be sterile (I'm not). That was long before I began to crossdress and think gender-unusual thoughts.

    Scott Kerlin's study ( is a great site) showed that one-third of DES sons self identified as having gender issues. (Stana links to it in her post)

    I'm in that club with the rest of you! It's a curse and a gift at the same time...

  14. This might be an old blog entry but I though I'd comment on it anyway.

    After coming to the realisation that I have a nonstandard (bigendered) gender identity, I spent a considerable amount of time last year looking into how sexual development takes place in the unborn child, in an attempt to figure out what went wrong in my case. My mother passed away a couple of years ago so I'll never know for certain what happened, but I think she took an overdose of something (probably birth control pills) partway through the second trimester of her pregnancy with me. It wasn't enough to kill me, but it severely disrupted my endocrine system so that for a few weeks my testicles stopped producing testosterone. The result is that part of my brain developed as female instead of male. My hormones have been out of whack all my life and I have what appears to be a female pattern of arousal and orgasm (its way different from normal male anyway), both of which point to my hypothalamus being female. I think quite a bit more of my brain than that is affected though, and that probably most if not all the more primitive parts developed as female and its only the most evolutionarily advanced part (the cerebrum) that developed as male. It's left me with a gender identity that isn't entirely male or female, but rather a mixture of the two.

    While looking into all this I couldn't help noticing that there is a "wall of silence" surrounding what artificial hormones can do to the unborn child. When these drugs were first discovered, testing of medicines was far less rigorous than it is now (and often seems to have consisted of just trying them out on unsuspecting patients to see what happened). Probably due to the shame and secrecy that surrounds intersex conditions, doctors don't seem to have realised until the mid-1970s that a lot of babies were being born with intersex conditions and other deformities as a result of being exposed to these drugs during the first trimester of pregnancy. In the US it was mainly because of DES, in Europe DES too but also "hormone pregnancy tests". The disaster was so huge that everyone involved would have known they'd be bankrupted by lawsuits if word ever got out, so the whole thing was covered up instead. That's what I think happened anyway. They were probably in a bit of a panic at the time and failed to properly understand the problem. Instead of banning the use of hormonal medicines on pregnant women outright, they just changed the prescribing guidelines to ensure they were no longer used during the first trimester (when the reproductive organs are forming). There were and are no restrictions on using them during the second and third trimester, the time when the brain is undergoing its sexually dimorphic development. The result, I think, is that a vast number of people have been born with a brain that is either intersexed or completely opposite-sexed to the body containing it.

    The use of artificial hormones is so widespread in medicine that many millions of people must have been inadvertently exposed to these drugs in the womb, and I think it's the real reason why transgenderism and transsexualism have become so commonplace in recent years.

  15. (Continued)
    I've been a member of Scott's DES sons network for a little over a year now, and I'm satisfied that DES has caused varying degrees of female brain development in most if not all the DES sons who were exposed to it in the womb. Although some have realised they're not properly male, I think far more are living in a state of deep denial about their condition (as I was until a couple of years ago).

    As to how many have been affected by artificial hormones other than DES, I don't know but the numbers must be large, well into the millions.

    I've been trying to raise awareness of the problem and drum up support among the DES action groups and the transgendered community, so far without success. No one seems to want to know, even among those who you'd expect to be interested in finding out what caused their condition. I'm not sure why this is. The problem definitely exists as far as I can see, but everyone seems to be trying very hard to look the other way. Why?


  16. OMG! I just discovered this post, recently! I was born in 1956 and my mother had a history of miscarriages! I wonder if she was given this? it would explain a lot. I've always joked around that either enough went right or wrong to make it possible for me to exist. Now I really wonder did nature finally straighten out or was it chemically helped?

  17. I founded the DES Sons' network almost 17 years ago, and I have been contacted by hundreds of persons who confirm a history of DES exposure (prenatal) and gender-related effects. We have a very strong support network on our Yahoo group for transgender and transsexual DES-exposed persons, and you are welcome to join if you are interested. Contact in care of Scott.