The dermatoglyphic characteristics of transsexuals: Is there evidence for an organizing effect of sex hormones

Ditte Slabbekoorn, Stephanie H M Van Goozen, Geoff Sanders, Louis J G Gooren, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


It has been proposed that gender identity and sexual orientation are influenced by the prenatal sex steroid milieu. Human dermatoglyphics and brain asymmetry have also been ascribed to prenatal hormone levels. This study investigated dermatoglyphics (total ridge count and finger ridge asymmetry) in 184 male-to-female transsexuals and 110 female-to-male transsexuals. In a subgroup, the relationship between dermatoglyphic asymmetry and spatial ability was tested. All investigations included controls. For all subjects hand preference and sexual orientation were noted. We hypothesized that the dermatoglyphics of male-to-female transsexuals would show similarities with control women and those of female-to-male transsexuals with control men. Our results showed a trend for a sex difference in total ridge count (P<.1) between genetic males and females, but no difference in directional asymmetry was found. Contrary to our expectations, the total ridge count and finger ridge asymmetry of transsexuals were similar to their genetic sex controls. Additionally, directional asymmetry was neither related to sexual orientation, nor to different aspects of spatial ability. In conclusion, we were unable to demonstrate that our chosen dermatoglyphic variables, total ridge count and finger ridge asymmetry are related to gender identity and sexual orientation in adult transsexuals. Hence, we found no support for a prenatal hormonal influence on these characteristics, at least insofar as dermatoglyphics may be regarded as a biological marker of organizing hormonal effects. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-375
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2000


  • Cognition
  • Dermatoglyphics
  • Organizing effects
  • Sex differences
  • Sex hormones
  • Transsexuals

Cite this