The medical term for this condition is ” Gender Dysphoria “. It is a condition which, despite all of the information and talk shows on it, is still very misunderstood. There are many myths surrounding the subject of transsexualism. Myths which are presented falsely as facts, and blindly accepted by a public which seems more interested in finding reasons (however invalid) to support their own personal prejudices. This article will present the facts and the fiction surrounding transsexuals, and attempt to give you a better understanding of what it’s all about.
MYTH: Transsexualism is not a medical problem. Sex changes are all done on a purely elective basis, since it is just cosmetic surgery anyway.
FACT: Transsexualism is a genetic defect, and has been called a disease by more than one expert. Sex changes are NOT simple cosmetic surgery which anyone can elect to have. The term “cosmetic surgery” is a lie invented by doctors who were more concerned with their reputations than with their patients. Sexual reassignment is NOT strictly a simple matter of “electing” to have it. While the ultimate decision is the patients, the fact remains that the patient must first obtain approval for this operation from not less than three professionals: the surgeon who performs it, and two professionals in the mental health field. If the surgery were truly an “elective cosmetic” surgery, none of these requirements would be necessary.
Surgery is not an option with transsexuals. It is a necessity required to live.
MYTH: All Transsexuals are gay.
FACT: Saying that all transsexuals are gay is no different than saying all men are homosexuals, or that all women are lesbians. And the emotional impact of calling them that is no different than the emotional impact of calling anyone else gay.
MYTH: Transsexual means the same thing as Transvestite.
FACT: A transvestite is a person who enjoys dressing as the opposite sex, but doesn’t want to BE the opposite sex. A transsexual is a person who wishes surgical reconstructive surgery (SRS) …. or , as it is more commonly called, a sex change operation.
While a transvestite (cross dresser) may go so far as to have seek minor surgery to take on more of the secondary sexual characteristics of the opposite sex, they are quite happy with their genetalia, and do not wish to get rid of their genetalia, as transsexuals do.
Transvestites who seek minor surgery to take on more of the secondary sexual characteristics of the opposite sex, while retaining their own genetalia are called transgenderists. And, at one point during their transition, transsexuals and transgenderists appear to be no different from each other. But the key, and most important difference is that the transsexual will continue until they have rid themselves of the genetalia they were born with, and taken on ALL of the sexual characteristics of their percieved gender.
MYTH: Male to Female pre-operative transsexuals do not really have a female mentality because they don’t look or act like real females. Female to Male pre-operative transsexuals do not really have a male mentality because they don’t look or act like real males.
FACT: How a person looks or acts is the result of a great many things. LOOKING masculine or feminine is a matter of TRAINING. ACTING masculine or feminine is the result of experiences, social training, upbringing and a host of other factors which come into play over the first 20 years of life. Pre-operative transsexuals have to learn how to look and act like men and women in an average of 1-2 years as opposed to the 20 years which non-transsexuals have in which to develop their social skills.
MYTH: Transsexuals should not be allowed to change the way God made their bodies. They will go to hell for it.
FACT: Do you say think same thing of someone who needs any other operation because of a birth defect?
MYTH: Male to Female transsexuals are not real women aftersurgery, because they can’t have babies. And Female to Male transsexuals are not real males after surgery because they can’t make real women pregnant.
FACT: Are genetic males who have had a vasectomy still real males? Of course they are. Are genetic females who have had a hysterectomy still real women? Absolutely.
MYTH: Transsexualism (Gender Dysphoria) is not really a medical problem. Transsexuals choose to be transsexuals,so transsexualism is a matter of orientation.
FACT: Medical Research currently being done appears to support the theory that transsexualism is a genetic birth defect. Scientists have determined that the SRY gene, a portion of the XX or XY chromosome, is responsible for gender, and believe that it is a small portion of the SRY gene which
determines gender identity. While the actual portion of the SRY gene which controls these factors has not yet been found, science is very close to discovering it.
Gender Dysphoria is a condition which, for the past 40 years, has successfully been treated only through a combination of psychological and physical therapy. All attempts to treat it via denial that physical therapy is necessary have been proven to be futile. And recent studies have shown that, when physical therapy is withheld, patients suffer from additional neuroses which then need to be dealt with in addition to the condition of gender dysphoria which does not go away. It is for these reasons that transsexualism can hardly be refered to as anything OTHER than a medical problem.
MYTH: Transsexuals who are interested in children are only interested because they are pedophiles. Children who are exposed to transsexuals, or who have parents who are transsexuals will suffer emotional and psychological damage, and may grow up as gay or transsexuals themselves.
FACT: Numerous studies have been done in this area to attempt to determine if that statement is valid or not. All of the studies which have been conducted over the past 50 years have proven that, firstly, transsexuals are NOT pedophiles! Also, those studies have proven that children suffer absolutely no emotional or psychological damage as a result of being living with, exposed to, or hearing about transsexuals.
MYTH: Transsexualism is so new that no one has had a chance to pass any laws to cover the legal aspects of it.
FACT: Gender Dysphoria is a phenomenon which has been well documented for over 400 years. The first successful operation was performed in the 1950’s. And it was then the condition (and it’s treatment) was defined by the medical community. So the legal system in our country has had many years to cope with this subject. Instead of helping, several regions of this country passed laws which, in effect, made it a crime for people in treatment to continue with their treatment. For example: the state of Illinois made it a crime punishable by a jail term for an individual to dress or present themselves as anything other than the gender stated on their birth cirtificate. Since doing this is part of the therapy required of transsexuals seeking surgical sexual reassignment, the law resulted in more than one transsexual being arrested and jailed. Other states, counties and regions have passed similar laws.
MYTH: Transsexuals have the same opportunities and rights as anyone else.
FACT: The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 (34 years after Gender dysphoria was first defined as a treatable medical disease) does not include any equal opportunity provisions for transsexuals, and Gender Dysphoria (despite it’s being a well documented medical problem) is still not legally recognized AS a medical problem. Prejudice, a lack of understanding and unsubstantiated myths have served to support numerous discriminatory laws, attitudes and policies. Transsexuals who gain equal rights have had to undergo the expensive and lengthy process of law suits. Paying high fees for the right to have rights which they should already have.
There is only one way for you to have an idea of what it means to be a transsexual. Be honest with yourself when you consider this scenario:
Imagine waking up tomorrow morning in a body which is of a gender opposite your own. Imagine further that everyone insists that you stay as that gender regardless of how you feel. Now imagine that when you try to do something to get into the proper gender, you are ostracized by society. Your family and friends all turn their backs on you. People that you don’t even know look at you as if you carried the plague, and treat you as if you had leprosy.
Your boss fires you because you are trying to seek medical attention for your problem, and you have to file a lawsuit which takes two years to complete. It takes you a year to find another job, and then it is a job where you are forced to take a substantial reduction from your previous salary. Then imagine that your landlord evicts you for the same reason, and this time, you have no legal recourse Your savings are stripped away by medical bills, legal bills and living expenses at the rate of $2-3,000 a month in an area where your one room apartment is renting for a tenth of that. You receive no help from the government. They refuse to help. And again, you have no legal recourse. Your medical insurance company refuses to cover your medical bills… and there is still nothing you can do about it. You lose your court case because you found another job, and to top it all off, when you dress as the gender which you know you are, you are arrested and put in jail. Sound incredible? Well believe it or not, everything I’ve just described has, and continues to happen everyday.
If you can imagine that all of that is just the tip of the iceberg of horrors faced by a transsexual, then you can also imagine how awful it is to live in that condition day after day, month after month and year after year.
Transsexuals are the only group of people which can be legally discriminated against. That’s because, despite all medical proof, gender dysphoria is a condition which is not considered to be a medical problem by our government. So there are few, if any laws which provide equal protection under the law for transsexuals.
How should you treat, and teach your children to teach transsexuals? Simple. If you see someone, treat them as you would any other person who is dressed as the gender which they are dressed as. A person who is dressed as a female should be addressed and treated as a female. A person who is dressed as a male should be addressed and treated as a male. With the same caring and understanding that you give to anyone else.
There is no known cause. There is no known cure. The only hope is rehabilitation through a combination of extensive and expensive psychological and physical therapy. Those are the facts about transsexualism. As for my own opinions regarding transsexualism and treatment, they are rather biased because I am a transsexual myself. I have therefore avoided making any statements which can not be backed up by other sources.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION: “There are very few, if any, other attorneys in this community who would have undertaken this unusual representation . . . ” Supre, supra, Note 13; “Few, if any, attorneys will accept transsexual cases . . . .” Letter from Paul Hoffman, Legal Director, ACLU Foundation of Southern California, dated March,
1985. Money, J. and Erhardt, A., Man and Woman, Boy and Girl, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press (1971); “From animal work it is evident that at least in some species there exists a period of behavioral sexual differentiation in response to male hormone exposure, well as a period of genital differentiation, and that these two critical time periods may be separate.” Green, R., Sexual Identity Conflict in Children and Adults (1972) at 36 (Citing Whalen, Peck, and LoPiccolo, 1966). “Any discussion of the treatment of transsexualism and the current status of the change of sex operation must begin with one simple fact. Psychotherapy has not proved helpful in allowing the transsexual to accept that gender identity which is consistent with his genital anatomy.” Pauly, I. , “The Current Status of the Change of Sex Operation,” 147 Jn. Nervous & Mental Disease 460, 465 (1968) (Citing 19 sources for the statement); This conclusion was recently confirmed by two psychiatrists who suggest, however, that conscientious psychotherapy may benefit the gender dysphoric who is not a true transsexual. Kirkpatrick & Friedmann, “Treatment of Requests for Sexchange Surgery with Psychotherapy,” 133 Am. Jn.Psychiatry 1194 (1976). 1) “Gender dysphoria syndrome is a descriptive term, encompassing selective clinical situations or a set of psychosocial symptoms and/or behaviors that have been reported by a group of deeply troubled often desperate patients seeking gender reorientation including surgical sex conversion.” Fisk, N. “Gender Dysphoria Syndrome: The How, What and Why of a Disease,” Proceedings of the Second Interdisciplinary Symposium on Gender Dysphoria Syndrome, at 7 (1972). “From all available evidence in the field of psychology as well as physiology, I feel that no one is justified at this time in saying categorically that transsexuals are made, not born. The opposite may also be true. More than one cause can bring onsayconvulsions, and more than one cause is probably responsible for the transsexual syndrome.” Benjamin, H., “Should Surgery Be Performed On Transsexuals?” 25 Am. J. Psychotherapy 74, 76 (1971). Pauly, I., “Outcome of Sex Reassignment Surgery for Transsexuals,” 15(1) Aust. NZ Jn. of Psychiatry 4551 (1981); Pauly I., “The Current Status of the Change of Sex Operation,” 147 Jn. Nervous & Mental Disease 460 (1968). “While there are few people suffering with transsexualism, regular psychotherapy is not effective, and these patients are often hurt by other people . . .” Hynie, J. “Treatment of Transsexualism,” Vol. 44, Abstract No. 16739: DIALOG 4416739; “Sex Change Surgery: The Great Debate,” 3(11) Sexual Medicine Today 18, 19 (11/1979) is perhaps most descriptive and on pointi.e. Dr. H. Ben by Jennifer E. McIntosh