Transsexualism

Transsexualism is a rare disorder of sexual identity in which there is a strong wish to change to the opposite sex, with a belief of having been born into the wrong sex, present since early childhood. Most subjects are biologically male. Many are married men with children. Some are homosexual.

Transsexuals usually present for treatment because they want surgical sex reassignment. Such surgery is (in the UK) done only in one or two centres. The subject should have received thorough information and counselling, and successfully lived in the role of the opposite sex for an extended period (perhaps using non-surgical measures the while, such as hormone treatment), and be free of psychiatric disorder. Most subjects who fulfil these criteria are said to be pleased with the results of surgery. The male-to-female operation, involving removal of the penis and scrotum and creation of an artificial vagina, is more satisfactory than the female-to-male version and should enable the subject to experience sexual intercourse as a woman (but not, of course, to bear children as a few naive subjects expect). The operation is combined with breast surgery, hormone treatment to change the secondary sex characteristics, and tuition in behaviour appropriate to the new sex.

In law, the sex has remained the original one as stated on the birth certificate, although there are pressures to amend this.

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