If you had a chance to read my last post, What is PCOS and How Can it Affect Your Fertility, you make have seen some surprising info about PCOS:
It’s way more common in queer people!
Yes, that’s right - in a 2004 study in Fertility and Sterility, queer-identified cis women were more than twice as likely to have PCOS vs straight-identified cis women. PCOS is even more prominent in individuals with ovaries that identify as non-binary or transgender - in several studies, an average of 30-60% of nonbinary / transgender people with ovaries had PCOS (compared to 7-12% in the general population).
There’s been a lot of debate about this. Many queer folks are uncomfortable with the idea of scientists finding out a “cause” of being gay, or with the implications that higher androgen levels (which are a part of the overall PCOS picture) would make someone who is assigned female “more like a man” and therefore queer or trans.
First of all, f*** that.
Scientists that see queerness or trans-ness as “abnormal” are always going to look at our sex hormones, sexual desires / behaviors, and sexual characteristics as part of their scientific spectrum of pathology, rather than as part of the incredible, beautiful diversity of this queer world. They are going to do that with whatever information they get about our bodies and our lives - that shouldn’t hold us back from having access to studies and the information they give.
Second of all, so what?
So what if PCOS is masculinizing to some people’s bodies, and for some people that informs their sexual or gender identity (and to be clear, there are TONS of people with PCOS who are femme, cis-identified...just saying)...? To borrow language from adrienne maree brown, our sexualities and our gender identities are emergent properties of our overall emergent beings. We are the sum of our complexities and we spill over from there.
I myself am a nonbinary / trans-masculine / queer person with PCOS. I see my extra androgens as a lucky blessing. They both enhance and, yes, inform my own queerness. So be it.
And lastly, when it comes to our fertility, we need the information. We need to know about our odds of having hormonal variations that respond well to specific types of dietary changes and herbs. Variations that can affect how much we respond to hormones in IVF, or change our risk for things like ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.
If PCOS really is more common in our community, we need to put the effort and research into knowing how to respond, so that we have the best odds of starting our families.