An Overview Of Transsexuality Essay

2774 words - 12 pages

What is gender? It seems like a simple question. Most people would agree that there are two genders, male and female, and your gender is chosen by your genitals at birth. Unfortunately, this definition has little to do with true gender.Gender can be more properly defined as "a societally constructed status to which one is assigned (boy or girl, woman or man)". Unlike sex, which refers specifically to one's anatomy, gender reflects attitudes, behaviors and characteristics that are associated with sex. A person who speaks quietly, wears dresses, and tends to cry during romantic movies is displaying the traits associated with the female gender, while a loud, boisterous sports player is more ...view middle of the document...

Sexual orientation refers to one's choice of sexual partners, while gender identity hinges on how one person identifies their own gender. Post-operative transsexuals may identify as straight, gay, or bisexual within their new gender. Most often, though, pre-operative transsexuals tend to avoid matters of sexual orientation, focusing instead on issues of their own gender and gender roles in society.There are approximately 7,000 people in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria and undergone sexual reassignment surgery. There are an additional 30,000 to 60,000 people who consider themselves candidates for surgery. Male-to-female surgeries (MTFs) outnumber female-to-male surgeries (FTMs) three to one.Only about one in every 60,000 will be diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder. This makes it unlikely for most general practitioners to see cases of gender dysphoria within their practice, and even in instances when they do, gender identity disorders are beyond the realm of general medicine. Doctors who treat gender dysphoria are hard to find: most practitioners are based out of metropolitan areas while more rural areas are without qualified doctors. The net result is that it is difficult for transgendered people to find adequate treatment close to home: most seeking treatment must migrate to larger cities in order to gain access to therapy.The primary characteristic of gender dysphoria sufferers is a persistent feeling that they were born as the wrong gender, a split between their biological and psychological sex. Note in particular the use of the word "persistent": it is a primary part of the diagnosis that the patient feels a constant identification with the opposite gender, as opposed to vacillating between the two sexes indefinitely.Another aspect of diagnosis is that diagnosis of gender dysphoria rarely coincides with other major psychiatric conditions. This stands as one of the hallmark identifications of a truly transgendered person: the cross-gender identification occurs independent of - NOT BECAUSE OF- other psychiatric conditions. Other than the patient's identification with the opposite gender, there is usually no abnormality of personality.The DSM-IV, the standard diagnostic reference for mental illnesses, also points out that true gender dysphoria is accompanied by impairment to the individual in social, occupational, and other areas of functioning.After diagnosis, the patient is faced with decisions. The main decision is whether to bring one's physical gender into congruence with their psychological gender. If the patient decides to take this step, the Real Life Test is begun.The Real Life Test is probably the most significant part of treatment, and a necessary step between therapy and reassignment surgery. The RLT can last from one to two years. During this time, the patient must present as the desired sex full-time, twenty-four hours a day. This means obtaining a new wardrobe, adopting a new name, and adapting to the...

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