Sex Change Surgery
Jul 9, 2007 by Peter Jameson
Sex change surgery which is technically known as sex reassignment surgery is a procedure that changes the genital organs from one gender to another.
Why Is It Performed?
There are two main reasons for performing the operation.
NEWBORNS WITH INTER-SEX DEFORMITIES.
These deformities represent intermediate stages between the primordial female genitals and the change into male ones caused by male hormone stimulation and one sex or the other needs to be assigned quite early on.
THE PATIENT DESIRES THE CHANGE
Occasionally, men or women believe that they are physically a different sex to the one that they are mentally and emotionally and this discord is sometimes so profound they wish to be surgically changed.
Technical considerations favour conversion from a male to a female and newborns with ambiguous organs will almost always be changed to the female sex except in the case where the penis is at least one inch long. Regardless of their chromosomes they are much more likely to be become socially well adjusted females even they will not be able to have children that they would be well adjusted males.
Sexual identity is probably the most profound characteristic that humans have and if a change needs to be made then it is highly preferable that it is done as soon as possible after birth.
By the time most adults decide on surgery they have lived for many years with dissonant identities and according to studies the average age is 29 years old. Even after having lived with the said dissonance for such an extended period of time the person may not be fully aware of the implications of changing their sex and in depth psychological counselling should both precede and follow all procedures.
Additionally it is preferable that the patient will have the support of family and friends after the surgery to help him or her to adjust to the new identity.
MALE TO FEMALE
Changing the male to female anatomy requires removal of the penis and some reshaping of the genital tissue in order to make it appear more female and also the structuring of a vagina. A vagina can generally be successfully formed from with either a skin graft or an isolated loop of intestine.
Following the surgery, female hormones (estrogen) are given to reshape the body's contours and to help grow satisfactory breasts.
FEMALE TO MALE
Due to the difficulty of building a functioning penis from the much smaller clitoral tissue available in the female genitals, female to male surgery has been far less successful and penis construction is not attempted until at least a year after the preliminary surgery to remove the female organs.
Studies suggest that around a third of patients would not undergo the surgery again even though they were all pleased with the change of sex. In addition to the genital organs the breasts also need to be surgically altered to give a more masculine appearance and this can be done quite successfully.
An orgasm, or at least a reasonable degree of erogenous sensitivity can be experienced by most patients after the surgery.
What Are The Risks
As with all surgery there are the risks of infection and bleeding and the most common complication following male to female surgery is a narrowing of the new vagina.
As this is an irreversible procedure two letters of therapy clearance are required. One therapist (a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker or sexologist) must have a doctoral degree and one of the two therapists must have known the patient for an extended period of time.