Transsexualism is characterized by feelings of incongruity between one's natal sex and one's gender identity. It is unclear whether transsexual individuals have a body image that is more congruent with their gender identity than their sex assigned at birth (natal sex) and, if so, whether there are contributions from perceptual dysfunctions. We compared 16 pre-hormone treatment female-to-male transsexual (FtM) individuals to 20 heterosexual female and 20 heterosexual male controls on a visual identification task. Participants viewed photographs of their own body that were morphed by different degrees to bodies of other females or males, and were instructed to rate "To what degree is this picture you?" We also tested global vs. local visual processing using the inverted faces task. FtM differed from both control groups in demonstrating higher self-identification ratings for bodies morphed to the sex congruent with their gender identity, and across a broad range of morph percentages. This difference was more pronounced for longer viewing durations. FtM showed reduced accuracy for upright faces compared with female controls for short duration stimuli, but no advantage for inverted faces. These results suggest different own body identification in FtM, consisting of a relatively diffuse identification with body images congruent with their gender identity. This is more likely accounted for by conscious, cognitive factors than perceptual differences.
Keywords: Body identification; Body image; Gender dysphoria; Gender identity disorder; Inverted faces task; Transsexual.