Transsexualism is a medical diagnosis that’s made if an individual identifies with a gender that is different from their biological sex and reaches a point of causing the individual to experience impaired social and occupational functioning or distress as a result of that gender identification. Transgenderism is an umbrella term covering non identification with the sex and gender roles assigned at birth and subsequent rearing. For the purpose of clarity, we shall use the term transgender in place of transsexual unless where specifics dictate otherwise.
The transgender concept is a fascinating topic. Sadly, its normally conflated with three phenomena: intersexuality, homosexual and mental illness. First, intersexuality refers to an array of conditions whereby their biological sex cannot be classified as clearly male or female. The term replaced hermaphroditism and is known as Disorders of Sex Development (DSD). Transgender people are born with typical male or female genitalia. However, we shall discuss the limits of the terms male and female genitalia.
Secondly, its commonly confused with homosexuality which is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior among members of the same sex/gender. Gays/MSMs (men who have sex with other men) are people who are sexually attracted to people of the same sex. Being transgender/transsexual concerns the gender one identifies with not who one goes around sleeping with. In a nutshell, transgender people are not homosexuals/gays.
Medical and Legal Transition Processes
The medical processes that a transgender individual undergo include:
- Psychotherapy- For a diagnosis to me made and to rule out other mental disorders such as schizophrenia
- Hormone therapy- Oestrogen therapy for transgender women and testosterone therapy for transgender men.
These sex hormones result in bodily changes such as growth of facial hair, redistribution of body fats to such
places as hips, development of breasts etc
- Gender reassignment surgery- This is done to remove testicles and create a vagina (for transgender women) and
to remove ovaries and uterus, closure of the vagina, and creation of a penis out of the clitoris and tissues from
other body parts.
Before receiving the sex reassignment therapy, an individual might have to under a real life test which is basically living as the gender of identification for at least one year.
Various tests such as a liver test are done for the physician to assess the efficacy of the hormone therapy and whether there are side effects that need attention.
Psychotherapy is done through out the individual life for the management of any mental disorders that might arise. This is due to the fact that transgender individuals do experience a plethora of hardships in their society.Not all transgender people choose to undergo three medical processes. Also, there are others such as electrolysis (to remove unwanted body hair) and breast enlargement surgeries.
The legal bit involves changes of names (through a deed poll) to one preferred by the individual in his/her identification and academic documents and change of sex using a doctor’s report.