Index of Contents
3. Sociology of Transsexualism
4.3. Relation to gender roles
4.4. Legal and Social Aspects of Transsexualism
4.5. Employment Issues: Social Issues
Transsexualism is a person's identificationwith a gender different from its biological sex. This term defines a person whose biological birth sex has a conflict with their psychological gender. A medical diagnosis can be made if a person feels discomfort as a result of willing to be a member of the opposite sex. Transsexualism is stigmatized in many parts of the world but has become more widely known in Western culture in the mid to late20th century, concurrently with the sexual revolution and the development of sex reassignment surgery (SRS). Discrimination and negative attitudes towards transsexualism often accompany certain religious beliefs or cultural values. There are cultures that have no difficulty integrating people who change gender roles, often holding them with high regard, such as the traditional role for 'two-spirit'people found among certain Native American tribes.
Psychological and biological causes for transsexualism have been proposed, with evidence of prenatal and genetic causes. Some people think of the condition as a form of intersexuality, and support research into possible causes, believing that it will verify the theory of a biological origin and, thereby, reducesocial stigma by demonstrating that it is not a delusion or a political statement.
Harry Benjamin wrote, "Summarizing my impression, I would like to repeat here what I said in my first lecture on the subject more than 10 years ago: Our genetic and endocrine equipment constitutes either an unresponsive [or] fertile soil on which the wrong conditional and a psychic trauma can grow and develop intosuch a basic conflict that subsequently a deviation like transsexualism can result."
A few studies based on small samples suggest that transsexualism might be associated with a difference in the human brain called the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTc). In one study, the BSTc of male-to-female transsexuals and cisgender women were similar. Those of heterosexual and homosexual men weresimilar to each other and different from those of women (cis- and transgender). Another study suggests that transsexuality may have a genetic component.
The ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems) incorporates transsexualism, dual role transvestism and gender identity disorder of childhood into its gender identity disorder category,and defines transsexualism as "[a] desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by a sense of discomfort with, or inappropriateness of, one's anatomic sex, and a wish to have surgery and hormonal treatment to make one's body as congruent as possible with one's preferred sex." It diagnosis requires four components:
* A desire or insistence that one is ofthe opposite biological sex (that is not due to a perceived advantage of being the other sex)
* Evidence of persistent discomfort with, and perceived inappropriateness of the individual's biological sex
* The individual is not intersex (although a diagnosis of GID Not Otherwise Specified is available, which enables intersex people who reject their sex-assignment to access transsexualtreatments)
* Evidence of clinically significant distress or impairment in work or social life.
The current diagnosis for transsexual people who present themselves for psychological treatment is "gender identity disorder". This diagnostic label is often necessary to obtain sex reassignment therapy with health insurance coverage, and states that the designation of gender identity disorders as...