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Centering the needs of transgender, non-binary, and gender-diverse populations in neuroendocrine models of gender-affirming hormone therapy

      Abstract

      The majority of studies attempting to address the healthcare needs of the millions of transgender, non-binary, and/or gender diverse (TNG) individuals rely on human subjects, overlooking the benefits of translational research in animal models. Researchers have identified many ways in which gonadal steroid hormones regulate neuronal gene expression, connectivity, activity, and function across the brain to control behavior. However, these discoveries primarily benefit cisgender populations. Research into the effects of exogenous hormones such as estradiol, testosterone, and progesterone has direct translational benefit for TNG individuals on gender affirming hormone therapies (GAHT). Despite this potential, endocrinological healthcare for TNG individuals remains largely unimproved. Here, we outline important areas of translational research that could address the unique healthcare needs of TNG individuals on GAHT. We highlight key biomedical questions regarding GAHT that can be investigated using animal models. We discuss how contemporary research fails to address the needs of GAHT-users and identify equitable practices for cisgender scientists engaging with this work. We conclude that if necessary and important steps are taken to address these issues, translational research on GAHT will greatly benefit the healthcare outcomes of TNG people.

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