Gender Identity and DES Exposure

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

Gender identity and Diethylstilbestrol DES exposure image
There is a possible connection between DES exposure and gender variance

In 1999, Dr. Scott Kerlin (founder of the DES Sons International Network) began researching the effects of Di-Ethyl Stilbestrol® on the health of genetic males who had been exposed prenatally. A substantial amount of research had been done on women who had been exposed but relatively little had been done on men and DES sons. When it became apparent that a significant portion of his research group were either transsexual, transgendered or intersexed, he began to explore the possibility of a connection between prenatal DES exposure and gender variance. Dr. Kerlin is not the first researcher to note a correlation between DES exposure and feminized behaviour in genetic males; studies go back as far as 1973. However, Dr. Kerlin has delved much deeper than those who came before.

Radio Interview: DES Exposure and Gender Variance

Listen to KWMR Radio Interview with Dr. Dana Beyer on the side effects of Diethylstilbestrol and its influence on gender identity

Dr. Dana Beyer is the medical advisor and web manager of the DES Sons International Network, on the effects of endocrine disrupting compounds such as Diethylstilbestrol, DDT, phthalates and bisphenol A, on human sexuality and reproduction, as well as providing personal support and mentoring. In 2005 she presented a breakthrough paper, with her colleagues Dr. Scott Kerlin and Dr. Milton Diamond, to the International Behavioural Development Symposium, delineating the impact Di-Ethyl Stilbestrol® has had in causing intersex and gender variations in human beings.

I understand this is a sensitive and controversial matter but I feel it is important to bring this issue to light and break the wall of silence around what is still nowadays considered as “taboo”. I would like to invite all DES exposed individuals who have a knowledge of DES exposure and gender identity either through research or personal experience to share their comments and stories.

Sources: DES Sons International Network,

Find More DES Studies specific to Males


32 Replies to “Gender Identity and DES Exposure”

  1. Thank you for this very important article, Domino. Here in Australia, the Chameleon Society (WA) is conducting an Australia-wide survey about the extent of DES exposure/usage among those affected by gender issues. This survey for Australians is found at Chameleons WA Discussion Forum.
    Hopefully, as more Australians view your blog, your highlighting this topic will encourage participation in the “survey with regard to Diethylstilboestrol”. Good on you, Domino.
    Carol Devine, DES Exposure Australia

  2. Thank you so very much for your contributions to helping raise further awareness regarding DES Sons. We are always grateful to others who wish to further understand the full range of effects of DES exposure. Interested individuals are encouraged to join our network discussion forum

    With regards,
    Scott Kerlin, Ph.D.
    DES Sons International Network (U.S./Canada)

    1. Dr. Kerlin et al,

      Thank you for bringing this issue to light. I am a DES son whose recent health problems match some of what your study found. I have tried to join the DES Sons International group but can’t seem to find out how to apply to join. Thanks for any help you can offer.

      1. Hi, Michael (and others who share interest in this discussion topic):

        You are welcome to join our DES Sons Group, which has nearly 300 subscribers at the present time. I apologize for the complications with the “join” feature on the group, as Yahoo has now made the group private. To join, just send an email to and as soon as I receive it, I will submit your name to the subscriber list.

        Thanks so much for writing!

  3. My own opinion is that DES caused intersexed development in the DES sons by blocking testicular testosterone production. DES is a potent chemical castration agent that for many years the treatment of choice for hormone-sensitive prostate cancer. Just 3mg of DES per day is enough to fully chemically castrate an adult man; the starting dose as a miscarriage treatment was 5mg per day (and often went much higher during the later stages of the pregnancy). It’s a not widely appreciated fact, but male development isn’t driven directly by genes, but instead by hormones (primarily testosterone) produced in the testicles of a male fetus. Given the ability DES has to block testosterone production, it’s no surprise that many DES sons are physically and/or psychologically intersexed. The surprising thing is that there’s so little public awareness of it!

    If the problem is just one of testosterone production being suppressed during the critical time sexual development was taking place, then I don’t see any reason for there to be any long term genetic effect or 3rd generation effects. However, one thought that’s occured to me is that DES daughters often have a great deal of difficulty getting pregnant and carrying the pregnancy to term, which puts them at vastly increased risk of medical intervention – and potentially being given hormonal medication during the pregnancy. If one of these hormonal treatments for miscarriage (DES) can cause problems with intersexed development, then the likelihood is that others can too. There’s one drug in particular called hydroxyprogesterone caproate, which is in widespread current use to prevent miscarriages and premature births, and is being given in doses which I’m sure would have some serious gender-bending effects if you were to give the same dose to an adult man.

    In short, although DES was phased out 40 years ago, there’s plenty of other sex hormone derivatives still finding their way inside pregnant women and potentially causing many of the same problems. That’s why I’ve been trying so hard to get people to take me seriously, and see whether there’s a link between exposure to these drugs before birth and endocrine and intersex-related problems later in life!

    1. This is fascinating and so worrying! Thank you for your comment and the work that you do raise awareness of these issues. So much is still unknown and yet it sounds so obvious …

  4. OMFSM
    I have searched for some kind of validation for my GD. I have most of the symptoms for Klienfelders but-nada on the XX
    I even did an ultrasound to confirm what I “knew” since I was in grammar school – That I had female organs in me, but another negative.
    I do know my mother took DES. I do have one small testicle and had a big varicocele that was removed.

    1. You are not alone ever since I was about 5-7 years old I knew something was different.Pretty things where more to my liking but I was teased by my brothers and had to take to more boy type pursuits they were 7 and 8 years older than I.
      Prior to my being born in 1950 my mother had several miscarriages I don’t know for sure if she took DES or not I do know she had a lot of female problems in the years after I was born.As I am the last one left of the old family there is nobody left to ask who might know.The symptoms I have are classic a very large testicle which started developing in my late teens and an overwhelming feeling of being female.I have never even been really able to get turned on like a normal man but if I was treated more like a female slowly and from top to bottom it would set me on fire and my nipples were killers.
      So now after living 63 years as a man I get to go through puberty again and start over as a female.Actually I am looking forward to it after living a lie all those years I need some relief.My wife is very supportive and that is a comfort to me as I don’t know what I would do without her.She never knew but always suspected something when I told her she like 99.9% of the population had no clue that your brain could be female and your body male looking.Oh well ,at least we can go shopping in the women sections and pick out pretty things for me for a change!
      Just for info 6’3″ medium build little fat 175-180lbs full head thick brown hair
      people think I am in my forty’s just wish they thought I was a girl in my forty’s.
      Life is a journey you might as well enjoy it. Peter

  5. The symbols above are there in Indian Zodiac signs, the ” + “carrying ‘ O ‘ is Venus the lord of Taurus the Bull power and Libra the symbol for justice. The power and justice can only made justice, Venus is the sperm in spermatozoon, feminine in nature, the queen of the king, who is in the min of the Gemini the best spouses, the sex between them is the output after the friction between the bodies of the spouses, its creation is the satisfaction, after the happiness in the sex. It is the desire, pleasure, artistry, beauty, assets, money and wife hidden in husband.

    The symbol the arrow pulling the ‘ O ‘ up towards the right is the fire, the energy, aggressiveness, machinery, power, injuries and the brother in the female, the male Jupiter in the female, who is the OVA, ” O ” means it sounds calling, ‘VA’ means come in, totally it means welcoming the guest the newly born life, the destiny maker. Ova is natural, and the male in female.

  6. hi, I’m kind of relieved but freaked out by this info. I identify as transgender, that is, I have always felt that deep down in my soul I was female… DES may be a reason why…i also have other indicators of exposure. It may be the case that my female partner was exposed too. We have one darling son….could there be any effects I need to be aware of for him??
    When will this all become common knowledge? the fact that it isn’t implies litigious potentiality perhaps?…..oh …sad now…:(

  7. Hello everyone, I just want to know…… How does one reverse the damage?
    What if someone doesn’t want to be this way and just wants to be their assigned birth?
    Phthalates, or what ever someone needs to fix this problem. How do you get it out of your body?

    1. We wish it was that simple. DES is not an illness it can’t be cured. DES Daughters and DES sons live with it. Some damages can be fixed some can’t. Thanks for contributing to the blog by leaving a comment. We hope DES exposed individuals (mothers, sons and daughters) will use our website to share their views, how DES affects them and how they’re coping.

    1. I organized the DES Sons’ support network almost 20 years ago and a substantial number of members of the network identified as transgender. We still have a discussion group called “DES-Trans” that you would be welcome to join. Just send me your preferred email contact and I can add you to our members list.

      My email is

      1. Thank you Scott. We revived the blog last year and found it easier to focus on one “category” at a time, and then re-list those blog posts on their “dedicated page” – such as here for psychological health.
        It is now time to pay tribute to your fantastic work that will be listed on the DIETHYLSTILBESTROL DES AND GENDER IDENTITY studies page, still in development. We’ll check all the references you kindly emailed us, thank you, so it will take few months to complete.
        Best regards,

  8. I’m son of mother who took this. I have fought this gender issue as far back I can remember.

  9. Hi, Jack: I have managed the international research network for DES sons for more than 20 years and I can absolutely assure you that you are not alone. You may write to me at and I will provide you support if you need further assistance. My research blogsite contains a summary of my ongoing research on this subject. Just go to part (8) toward the bottom portion of this website:

    With regards,

    Scott Kerlin, Ph.D.
    DES Sons Research Network

  10. Not sure if my mother took DES, but my body(Bone development) stopped at age 9-10. My arms, legs etc are same size as they were before I hit puberty. I am now 68YO and have never discussed this with anyone. It has had a devistating affect on my life to say the least, Have there been other cases similar that you have known about?

  11. I appreciate your work here. I am a DES Son; now 68 years old.

    My mother didn’t tell me that she took DES during her pregnancy with me until I was an older adult. Unfortunately, if I had known the problems associated with that exposure, I would have taken a much different path in life.

    I have had three corrective abdominal surgeries to date (two of them when I was out of warranty), and I still need to have another surgery, as the scrotal pain and swelling is increasing.

    Both of my wives liked my kind manner when we were first married, but soon grew to despise the fact that I did/do not act like the man they thought they married. They concluded that I act like a woman, and I have to agree with them. Over the years I have found that, although I am very analytical, when push comes to shove, I treat situations the way most women would. That psychological birth defect has caused more distress than the abdominal and scrotal birth defects I have had to deal with. I live in a world between two genders; not all male, and not all female. It is a Neverland that most doctors, much less the general public, know nothing about. And, it seems, they don’t want to know about it. Even my urologist and GP seem to be in the dark about DES. It is as though the powers that be don’t want anyone to know how messed up modern medicine has made, and is making, our society.

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