Transgender / Gender Identity
The issue of gender identity is a deeply personal and very painful situation for both the individual struggling, and the people who love them. Many former transgendered people communicate that they experienced feelings of failure in their biological sex. Like same-sex attraction, gender identity disorders stem from a combination of biological, psychological, and sociological factors.
“In 1997… I had irreversible sex reassignment surgery… My outward physical body was supposed to align with my true inner self… The net result of my gender transition was a sad, middle-aged, early retired, lonely, self-loathing person – at times without hope – and contemplating an end to my misery. People are being seriously deceived and being taught – almost word for word – the same deceptions, storylines, and scripts once believed by myself and many others… allowing self-gender proclamation purports to make life easier. However, my personal experience has shown that those struggling with gender identity… rather than having my struggles alleviated they seemed to be enhanced. Gender is more than a psychological construct.”
– Ex-transgender John Wenman
Are there people genuinely confused about whether they are male or female?
Yes, some people are confused about their sexual identity. In its Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association states that people who feel their gender identity conflicts with their birth sex or with the gender role associated with that sex have gender dysphoria, a mental disorder resulting in abnormal depression and discontent about their gender. A psychological condition is considered a mental disorder if it causes distress or disability.
No, it is not possible to change a person’s sex. Each cell of a person’s body contains chromosomes which identify that individual as either male or female.
It is not simply a question of different genitals. Surgery and hormone treatments can create the appearance of a male or female body, but it cannot change the underlying biological reality. Men who undergo sex reassignment surgery still remain men – they cannot conceive children or menstruate and must undergo a continuous regiment of hormone pills to overcome their inborn masculinity.
No. When Dr. Paul McHugh became the psychiatrist in- chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, he studied the outcomes of such surgeries. His study found that while most clients said they were happy with the outcome, the psychological problems that accompanied the feeling that they were the other sex did not change. They still had the same troubles with relationships, work and emotions. Dr. McHugh concluded, “…to provide a surgical alteration to the body of these unfortunate people was to collaborate with a mental disorder rather than to treat it.”1
Hormone therapy has serious side effects including increased propensity to blood clotting, infertility, depression, and liver tumors and disease.2 “When young people halt their puberty before their bodies have developed, and then take cross-hormones for a few years, they’ll probably be infertile.”3
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV of the American Psychiatric Association defines Gender Identity Disorder (GID) in children as a strong persistent cross-gender identification, a discomfort with one’s own sex, and a preference for cross-sex roles in play or in fantasies.
According to Drs. Kenneth Zucker and Susan Bradley, “It has been our experience that a sizable number of children and their families achieve a great deal of change. In these cases, the GID resolves fully, and nothing in the children’s behavior or fantasy suggests that gender-identity issues remain problematic … All things considered, we take the position that in such cases a clinician should be optimistic, not nihilistic, about the possibility of helping the children to become more secure in their gender identity.”4
Yes. With self-determination, therapy, medication, and support from their loved ones, a person can overcome this disorder and live a life of their birth sex. Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) raises funds for reversal surgeries and breast explants of former transgenders.5
“Transgender” includes people seeking to change their appearance to the opposite of their birth gender, either with clothing (transvestites) or surgically altering their bodies (transsexuals). All mainstream medical professionals classify this behavior as a Gender Identity Disorder (GID).6
Sex is determined by chromosomes; chromosome testing is used to determine sex. Gender is either male or female.
Sexual orientation refers to one’s sexual attraction to men, women, both, or neither, whereas gender identity refers to one’s sense of self as male or female.
The great majority of cross-dressers (transvestites) are biological males; most are sexually attracted to women. The American Psychological Association stated, “Usually people who are attracted to women prior to transition continue to be attracted to women after transition, and people who are attracted to men prior to transition continue to be attracted to men after transition.”7 This can make public bathrooms and dressing rooms unsafe for women and children.
Intersex is a rare phenomenon associated with physical birth abnormalities and cannot be compared with the psychiatric conditions known as Gender Identity Disorder nor transgenderism. “…True intersexuals only account for .0018% of the population.”8
1 Paul McHugh, “Surgical Sex,” First Things, http://www.firstthings.com/article/2009/02/surgical-sex 35 (November 2004). Also in: Paul R. McHugh M.D., The Mind Has Mountains: Refl ections on Society and Psychiatry (The John Hopkins University Press, 2005)
2 “Part Three – The Full Text of the Standards of Care: IX. Hormone Therapy for Adults,” The International Journal of Transgenderism, Volume 2, Number 2, April-June 1998, http://www.symposion.com/ijt/ijtc0405l.htm
3 “Q&A with Norman Spack,” The Boston Globe, March 30, 2008
4 Kenneth Zucker Ph.D. and Susan Bradley M.D., Gender Identity Disorder and Psychosexual Problems in Children and Adolescents (The Guilford Press, 1995)
5 See Former Transgender Tells His Story, http://pfox.org/Former_Transgender_Tells_His_Story.html
6 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fourth Edition, Text Revision (Washington: American Psychiatric Association, 2000).
7 Answers to Your Questions About Transgender Individuals and Gender Identity. (Washington: American Psychiatric Association, 2006), p. 2.
8 Staver, Mathew. Transsexualism and the Binary Divide: Determining Sex Using Objective Criteria, http://law.bepress. com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=8309&context=expresso (Liberty University School of Law, 2006), p. 40.