Friday, November 17, 2006

M-F transsexuals: What is the motivation

After an email exchange with Leigh Hopper that led to this post, I got to thinking. For decades, a small group of men have sought out hormones and surgery in order to transform them into women, some with more success than others. The standard line among them is that they are victims of a biological mistake or misstep that left them a woman's brain in a man's body, supposedly due to a developmental quirk during brain development as a fetus. I can accept that may well be true for some of them. But I have to wonder if that motivation is universal, or if some are merely wanting to live out a sexual fantasy. It would appear that medicine may be poised to call their bluff so to speak. A group of doctors in New York plan to perform a uterine transplant. Now mind you, the transplant will be on another woman, and to my knowledge, an ovary is not involved, but it would seem to me that an ovarian transplant is the next logical step, and if so, that opens an intriguing possibility. How would the ability to change a man COMPLETELY into a woman change the dynamic? These transgendered individuals would be forced to come to grips with the same choices and inconvieniences and dangers that biological women must face. Monthly periods, pregnancy (although vaginal birth would probably be out of the question due to the male pelvis being too small.) mood swings, cramps, migraines, the whole shooting match. Much of the sexual freedom that they would have experienced as homosexual men or transsexual women will go out the window. Suddenly they must make choices that they never had to before. Do they want kids. Do they want kids by THIS GUY. What form of birth control do they choose.

There are a number of physical drawbacks and choices that transsexuals do not have to face now, that they may find themselves facing in the future. How will that change the decisionmaking process? When presented with the full meal deal, how many will choose the happy meal instead? And what will that be saying about their motivation?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What makes you think that people born transsexual (not transgenders, not cross dressers, not transvestites) don't want to have children? If the state of the art were there, I would implant ovaries and a uterus in a flash of an eye (and my checkbook).

Lisa Thompson
Transsexual Symposium

November 18, 2006 8:00 AM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

Lisa, if you read carefully I said that for some people that may well be the case. My question was, how many would be willing to take that step and how many would not. I was not questioning that some truly were born with the brain mis-wired in comparison to their physical gender, my question is, how many hangers on are there that were not and are seeking SRS for other reasons.

November 18, 2006 11:33 AM  
Blogger Wolfgang said...

Comprehensive statistics about us TS people are largely nonexistant. We don't even have reliable stats for how many of us live in the US, let alone what percentages of gender variant people undergo sex reassignment.

We're dealing with continuums here though. If our brains developed toward the opposite sex of the rest of our bodies, how much and what parts were affected? It certainly varies from one individual to the next. The BST region of the hypothalamus aside, most areas of the brain don't present easily observable sex differentiation, but we know that differentiation exists.

Science still hasn't even figured out just what exactly makes our minds male or female. And in all the studies that have been done, lots of overlap has been observed. Men tend to think one way and women, the other--that's about as black and white as it gets.

Who's to say that the broader "transgender" population didn't result from the same hormonal disruptions that cause transsexuality? Perhaps they did, only to a lesser degree.

Our motives for transitioning are extremely complex and personal, as are our choices about which medical treatments to pursue. Those choices don't necessarily indicate a person's motive for transitioning. If doctors could give a transwoman a uterus and ovaries, then it would expand her choices, but it wouldn't change the decisionmaking process. Some transwomen would want it, others would not, and many wouldn't be able afford it.

Personally, I'd love to have a functioning pair of testicles, but I would have serious reservations about getting testicles from someone else's body implanted in my own. That says nothing about my motives for undergoing medical transition in the first place.

November 18, 2006 7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(With all respect to those who are men born with female sexual characteristics, this is written from the perspective of a woman.)

I agree somewhat with Lisa and Rorschach. As a woman who was born with transsexualism I would LOVE to be able to carry, and give birth to, my child; complete with all the physical "problems" that would be involved. I also know there are a whole bunch of people out there who, by "transitioning", ARE carrying out a fetishtic fantasy, and call themselves "transsexuals" or "transgenders" (as if ANYONE in their right mind would WANT to be either). I am certain there are people who DO have surgery who are in fact sexual fetishists, a lot of whom regret that decision later on.

Being inside my own brain all of my life, as well as knowing many women just like myself, I can testify to the fact that there ARE women (and I'm sure men in the case of FtM) who were born with a brain that developed differently than their primary sex organs. Once that occurs, secondary sex characteristics such as breasts, hips, etc., are completely under the control of the primary organs via hormonal output, regardless of chromosomal makeup. Can there be such a thing as a brain PARTIALLY developing as a female brain with male primary/secondary sex organs. I guess I wouldn't rule that out. I don't have the all the societal answers but there are a few things I DO know.

There are those people who are born with a female brain and male sexual characteristics; and those who are will stop at nothing to bring their body into congruence with their brain. There are always going to be those that cannot have surgery due to health reasons or have it delayed due to financial reasons. It's not a vagina itself that makes one a woman. It is the "soul-deep" knowledge that you ARE a woman and want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and not see something there that is, at a very base level, the epitome of maleness. But if a person with male sexual organs declares them self a woman and makes a CONCIOUS DECISION to keep their penis; then that is a man with a fetish, not a woman.

Now this is a free country so anyone can but any label on themselves they wish and it’s up to those they come in contact with to decide if they want to recognize them by that label. But there is a troubling trend in this country and others. “Transgender Activists” have been pushing for “Transgender rights” for many years and these “rights” are starting to materialize in different levels of government. What’s troubling about this? It’s in the definition of “Transgender”. They have grouped people born with transsexualism (also known as (HBS – Harry Benjamin Syndrome) in with transvestites, heterosexual cross dressers and anyone else who identifies as “gender queer”. They are fighting to allow this whole group of people to have legal standing as WOMEN, with no separation of those who really ARE women. We can see this in New York right now by allowing ANYONE who comes in and says “I’m a woman” to modify their birth certificates; thereby giving them full legal standing as a woman. Any quasi-intelligent human being can recognize so many negative ramifications in this; it is outright dangerous. Women who were born with the birth “anomaly” of transsexualism have fought for decades to be recognized legally as women. One of the biggest dangers is that this is so absurd that there will be a societal and legal backlash that could wipe out everything we have gained. And for what? So that a few people with a sexual fetish can legitimize their actions.

Happy Homemaker

November 20, 2006 12:52 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

I believe Anon gets my point here. I believe that a good many (NOT ALL, lets be clear on that point.) who seek "transition" of some sort suffer from an entirely different mental disorder (for lack of a better term). One in which they feel the need to modify their bodies, these are the same sort of people who feel the need to get breast implants, piercings, tattoos, etc. Their need to transition is driven not by their desire to be a woman (or a man as the case may be) but their desire/need to alter/control their body in order to be different. You see for them, they WANT to be different. They do not want to be homo sapiens, they want to be something else, something unique. This is a self image thing. They WANT to be "made" as transgendered to draw attention to themselves. I think you all know that there are doctors and psychologists out there that will write a script for hormones or SRS or breast augmentation surgery basically at the drop of a hat without really exploring the person's psychology all that closely. Every TS support group out there knows who in their city/region to seek out for it. I guess the doctors feel like the patient will either get it from them or from some one else so they might as well give in to their demands. Either that or they figure the old adage "If it feels good, do it" is operational. But they do those people a disservice and are acting unethically when they do so.

November 20, 2006 1:28 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

BTW, I feel that that need to control their body is the same psychological underpinning that underlies a number of known psychoses such as anorexia/bulemia, "cutting", compulsive disorders such as drugs, gambling, and sex additions, masochism/sadism, etc.

November 20, 2006 1:37 PM  
Blogger Wolfgang said...

Anonymous and Rorschach, you both bring up some interesting points. I'm sure there are some sexual fetishists calling themselves transsexuals. I wouldn't know how to identify one, but then, I also try not to judge. There are also some definite problems with what the transgender/genderqueer movement is trying to acomplish, I agree. The danger of a backlash is real.

But the Harry Benjamin Syndrome movement poses risks of another kind. That movement's promoters insist that everyone who calls him or herself HBS wants all of the available medical treatments and that everyone else isn't a "real HBS." This elitism will no doubt pressure transsexuals of all stripes into getting genital surgery, including individuals who are unsure of whether they want it and those for whom it may not be appropriate. This would lead to a higher regret rate, lawsuits against doctors, damaged lives, public backlash and refusal of treatment to transsexuals who truly are appropriate candidates but who don't fit a strict profile or don't have the financial means to jump through a long series of hoops.

I think there's got to be a middle ground, and an open dialogue between us and the genderqueer community. That's the only way we can come up with a unified strategy to fight hate violence, employment discrimination and other important issues.

November 20, 2006 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This elitism will no doubt pressure transsexuals of all stripes into getting genital surgery, including individuals who are unsure of whether they want it and those for whom it may not be appropriate."

Then they aren't what used to be called transexuals. They're simply advanced transvestites. It's not about "elitism". It's about being co-opted.

December 13, 2006 1:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"But if a person with male sexual organs declares them self a woman and makes a CONCIOUS DECISION to keep their penis; then that is a man with a fetish, not a woman."

I really agree with that statement. I personally know som persons who "lives as a woman" but they are dismissing any kind of surgery. Because those people identify themself as transexuals, they can spoil a lot of things for us having HBS.
Some politicians will say "look at her, she dont want any surgery, why should you have it then?"
(Here i Denmark, the politicians make the laws, who gives the rights to get the surgery.)

I really hope, the readers of this area can see the problems with all this mixing up between Transvestites and HBS.

It is now the time to say STOP, and try to explain the truth.

Kind regards

Sophie Schroeder (Denmark)

PS: I'm sorry if my English is difficult to understand.

December 30, 2006 8:54 AM  
Blogger sophie said...

Hi All....

I'm the writer who maked the last entry here. Now I got an Google Identity, if anyone would like to ask me about something.


December 30, 2006 10:58 AM  

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