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silverangel's avatar

Is being a tomboy related to the level of testosterone in blood?

Asked by silverangel (936points) December 23rd, 2011

I found an old Biology book of mine by coincidence when I was arranging my old books, and I remembered that my friend once asked me that strange question…
So the question was if a girl is tomboyish, does that mean that she has a high level of testosterone?
Edited: Just got the idea, is having like thick hair on her legs and a bit of a mustache and a beard also related to the level of testosterone being high or not?

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24 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Not at all. It’s about inclination not chemistry.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Physical characteristics may have something to do with hormone levels, but being a “tomboy” has more to do with environment, upbringing and interests.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Tangent warning

I’ve been wondering lately if the difference in hormones between men and women isn’t naturally as dramatic as we think. Prior to the agricultural “revolution”, and in foraging societies since then, men and women were closer in size. It’s attributed largely to more similar diets and activity levels/types. With the imposition of monocrop agriculture, which goes along with patriarchy and more defined gender roles, we see the drop in height and loss in bone mass in populations is more pronounced in women. Different types of activities can cause the body to produce more testosterone, and many of them are the ones women are culturally encouraged not to do.

Ron_C's avatar

I have two daughters, one was a Tom boy adventurer the other was extra girly.

It is strictly attitude and your built in likes and dislikes.

TheIntern55's avatar

Not at all. I’m a tomboy, and my testosterone levels are just fine, thank you.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@incendiary_dan It’s not dramatic. You might be interested in reading Rebecca Jordan Young’s book Brainstorm where she debunks ‘sex differences due to hormones’ bunk.

Sunny2's avatar

I preferred wrestling, and climbing trees to playing with dolls. I think it probably had more to do with being hyper-active than hormones. I also always preferred the company of boys and men to girls and women. That may be due to hormones.

HungryGuy's avatar

I doubt it. I think it has more to do with one’s interests and likes. If a girl happens to like sports and whatnot, and likes to dress casually and comfortably, she’s labeled a “tomboy.”

Also, it’s easier for girls to deviate from gender norms that it is for boys.

ucme's avatar

“It’s only a paper moon.”

MilkyWay's avatar

I don’t think so.

nikipedia's avatar

Can you define “tomboy” more specifically? It’s hard to do a scientific study on an ambiguous descriptor like that instead of specific, quantifiable traits and behavior.

That said, testosterone is associated with higher masculinity scores on sex role inventories. These inventories ask people whether or not they identify with traits that are generally associated with masculinity or femininity.

Testosterone is also associated with higher scores on a dominance inventory in women, which may be considered a masculine trait, and is associated with more violent crime in women (relevant because the vast majority of violent crimes are committed by men). Also, testosterone correlates negatively with maternal drive.

Some, but not all women with excessive body hair have elevated levels of androgens, including testosterone.

Keep in mind, though, if you’re talking about children, their circulating levels of all sex hormones are quite low. The differences I described above likely do not emerge until puberty (all of the linked studies were on adults).

That does not rule out the possibility that testosterone and other sex hormones in utero contributed to differences in brain development, which can contribute to differences in behavior.

downtide's avatar

Not necessarily. That said, I was a tomboy (to the extreme) and I did have abnormally high testosterone (as an adult – was never tested as a child).

Very few people have their hormone levels checked unless there’s particular concern, so most people wouldn’t know if their hormone levels are out of balance.

6rant6's avatar

Isn’t testosterone associated with risk taking? I know there is still some discussion about whether testosterone induces risk taking or vice versa, but if testosterone in fact precipitates risky behavior, couldn’t that explain at least some of the preference for higher risk, boyish activities? And the mode of attire for ramp jumping is different than that required for haunting the mall, for practical reasons.

blueberry_kid's avatar

Isn’t being a tomboy just a choice?

downtide's avatar

@6rant6 testosterone is one of several different things that can affect risk-taking. It can also be a feature of the manic phase of bipolar disorder too, and may also be related to adrenaline addiction. So just because someone takes risks doesn’t necessarily mean they have high testosterone.

It hasn’t caused me to increase my risk taking behaviour either.

mattbrowne's avatar

There’s some evidence that it’s related to prenatal testosterone levels when the brain is being structured. The issue is controversial.

6rant6's avatar

@downtide I wasn’t saying one thing led to one thing. I wrote it “could that explain some of the preference for higher risk taking..” Why do you have to reduce my contribution to something inane?

downtide's avatar

huh? What do you mean? You asked if testosterone was associated with risk taking. I basically said “yes but so are these other things…”

6rant6's avatar

@downtide Omigod what did I read? Obviously not what you wrote. Humble apologies.

blueberry_kid's avatar

Well then this brings up another question. Does being a tomgirl relate to the level of estrogen in the body?

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