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Transsexuality: You should know that!

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 454 views

Transsexuality means that a person cannot identify with their original gender – they live in the wrong body. In most cases, there is a strong desire for gender reassignment. Read more about transsexuality here.

What is transsexuality?

The term transsexuality (also transidentity or transsexualism) is defined as the psychological identification of a person with the gender opposite to their own physical gender. This is often accompanied by a desire for physical, social and legal gender reassignment.

Transsexuality is not a recent phenomenon: in all cultures and epochs there have been people who have defied the boundaries of their biological sex – either temporarily or permanently.

Some of these people were admired by their fellow human beings because of their gender change. Other trans people have been persecuted and punished for not accepting and complying with societal norms and rules. To this day, transgender people experience discrimination.

There are no precise statistics on transsexuality. According to the German Society for Transidentity and Intersexuality (dgti), the proportion of transsexual people in Germany is around 0.35 percent. However, this is only an approximate estimate. The dgti assumes a higher number.

Gender identity disorder and transsexuality

For most people, the biological birth sex is consistent with their identity and gender role. If this is not the case, this is referred to as gender incongruity or gender mismatch. If a significant level of suffering is added and affects the mental health of those affected, a so-called gender identity disorder (gender dysphoria) is present.

Those affected often struggle with anxiety, depression and irritability.

difference in sexual orientation

Transsexuality says nothing about sexual orientation: there are heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual transsexuals.

The term transsexuality is also not felt to be appropriate by all those affected: the term often gives the wrong impression that it refers to sexual behavior. Terms such as transgender or transidentity are preferred.

Transsexuality: characteristics

Those affected experience it as a compulsion to be trapped in the wrong body and to have to live in a role that is perceived as alien and that only corresponds to the body and is required by society.

Trans identity is not a disease. However, many of those affected suffer greatly from the inner turmoil of being in the wrong body. This often has a negative impact on health.

Already in childhood, certain characteristics can speak for a transsexuality. This includes:

  • the desire to have one or another sex.
  • to dress like the opposite sex. Girls can develop a strong resistance to wearing skirts and dresses.
  • the urge to participate in stereotypical games and activities of the opposite sex.
  • a strong dislike of sex-specific toys, games, and activities.
  • a strong dislike of one’s anatomy, such as the genitals.
  • the desire for the sex characteristics that match the felt gender identity.

Although the first characteristics of most trans people start in early childhood, some people only come to terms with them in adolescence or even adulthood. Professional, social and other areas of life are often severely impaired. Then these signs point to a transsexuality:

  • the desire to get rid of the primary and secondary sex characteristics. Young adults also want to prevent or delay development during puberty.
  • a strong desire for the primary and secondary sexual characteristics of the perceived sex.
  • the desire to belong to the perceived gender and to be treated accordingly.
  • the belief that one has typical feelings and reactions of the opposite sex.

How does transsexuality arise?

Transsexuality is a scientifically recognized phenomenon that can have many causes. No one decides to undergo gender reassignment on a whim.

It is still largely unclear how gender identity disorders develop. There are theories that the fetus in the womb is influenced by opposite sex hormones. Changes in brain structure are also possible triggers. Furthermore, social or psychodynamic factors cannot be excluded.

gender reassignment

Transsexual people have a strong desire for medical gender reassignment. Various medical procedures are available for those affected.

Since 1987, health insurance companies have covered the treatment costs for medical gender reassignment surgery.

Therapeutic care as a prerequisite

Before doctors begin hormone treatment as the first step in gender reassignment, examiners must diagnose “transsexuality.”

The prerequisite for the diagnosis is that the transsexuals have already lived in the opposite gender role for some time. It is also important that a psychotherapist has continuously accompanied the transsexual for at least a year.

Hormone treatment

The transgender is treated with opposite-sex hormones to achieve the desired physical changes.

In biologically male persons, the intake of the female hormone estrogen leads to growth of the mammary glands, reduced hair growth on the face and body. It also shrinks the male genitalia and leads to erectile dysfunction.

Biologically female individuals take the male hormone testosterone. A beard growth, a deepening of the voice, a changed body odor and the redistribution of body fat and muscles are achieved.

Hormone therapy already has a positive effect on the psyche for both gender identities . At this point, the transgenders already feel more comfortable in their own skin.

Gender reassignment surgery

Surgical intervention occurs when the trans person is coping with hormonal medication, since post-surgery, they will be dependent on taking hormones for life.

Surgical reassignment to the opposite sex is a complicated, laborious procedure that entails risks and is subject to medical limitations. In addition, sex reassignment surgery is no longer reversible.

Prerequisites for the procedure are that the transgender take suitable sex hormones (estrogen or testosterone) and act out the role of the opposite sex for at least a year.

In biologically male individuals, the penis and testicles are removed. An artificial vagina is then created. The remaining part of the penis then functions as the clitoris – it is sexually sensitive and allows for orgasms.

In addition, cosmetic surgeries complete a more feminine appearance. These include breast augmentation, nose surgery, reduction of the Adam’s apple and jaw, lasering of facial hair and vocal cord surgery.

In biologically female persons, the breasts are removed (mastectomy). The removal of the internal reproductive organs (uterus and ovaries) is also possible. To replicate a male genitalia, the vagina is closed and an artificial penis and scrotum are created. However, appearance and function are not as satisfying as in the male to female conversion.

Non-Medical Alignment

Since 1981 there has been the “Law on Changing First Names and Determining Gender in Special Cases”, also known as the Transsexual Law.

According to this law, those affected can compensate for part of their identity disorder by changing their first name, for example from Michael to Michaela or vice versa. At work, transsexuals can live in their new gender role, they can enter into a partnership or get married.

In addition, transsexual people have the opportunity to have a so-called supplementary ID issued by the German Society for Transidentity and Intersexuality.

This is a standardized form of identification paper that documents all the personal data you have chosen yourself and shows a current passport photo. It is accepted by all interior ministries, police, many authorities, banks, universities, insurance companies and other places.

Support trans people

To be respectful towards trans* people, you should primarily use the name and pronoun that the person chooses for themselves. Also, respect their privacy: Do not ask unsolicited for the name or photos “from before”. Questions about the body or sexuality may also be uncomfortable for transsexual people.

If you want to campaign for the equal treatment of transsexual people, you can act as a so-called “ally”. This is a supporter, advocate, or ally. She is not part of the marginalized group, but actively works to end intolerance and educates others.

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