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NHS gender reassignment surgery rates triple

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  1. I am sure once all those who have a historical need for GRS surgery have been treated the numbers will start to fall back significantly.

    Why not spent the money sending us to Thailand to the best GRS surgeons in the world for GRS. A significant cost saving could be achieved along with other savings, the surgical outcomes would be a significant improvement on what’s currently offered by the NHS and it could save around £3,000 per operation.

    Its also worth saying someone with serious sports injury could have the entire GRS budget for a year spent on them for something that was a lifestyle choice. Yet being a transsexual is something your born with and you have no choice over!

  2. If only we lived in a world which did not make effeminate men and masculine women feel awkward and out of place, then all this bodily mutilation wouldn’t be needed. People would be allowed to feel happy and completely accepted just as they are.

  3. Tim, its not mutilation its how we are born. Gender is not a black and white male and female issue as it might seem plenty of people live in the grey areas of gender. Some people like Julie Bindel second wave feminists who say gender is just a social concept. However this can be disproved by the experiences of many intersexed people. Who’s bodies have been assigned a gender by the surgeons knife and forced to grow up in that gender yet still decided to have their gender re-confirmed by GRS in latter life.

    Sex is your physical body but gender is part of your brains innate structure and you can never escape that.

    Some people are born with the wrong body and brain combination and others have bodies that not male or female sex assigned but somewhere in-between.

    However one thing is always true your gender how you physically think an feel about your gender is always correct!

    Mutilation is what the NHS has done to intersexed children for 45 years!

  4. How can the concept of a wrong brain/body combination make sense, not considering social upbringing?
    A person who is born with the body of a man can only want to have the body of a woman after seeing a woman’s body. If that person is raised in an all-male environment, without ever seeing or interact with women, perhaps they would feel bad somehow, but would they imagine a woman’s body? Or would they simply keep their body – the only kind of body they knew – and simply behave differently from average men?

  5. Pumpkin Pie 22 Apr 2010, 12:05am

    Andy: would a straight male brought up never seeing women be attracted to men? I think not.

    The point made about the effect of societal pressure on all of this is an interesting one, though. There are people out there who are merely confused. People who think they’re the other gender when in reality they’re just androgynous types who have been conditioned by society to think that they have to stick to one rigid stereotype. But then there are actual transsexuals. And there are people who know how to tell the difference between them, which is why psychological counselling is always a necessary step in transitioning (even if it is a little on the severe side in this country).

    Also, the brain/body disconnect doesn’t seem that far-fetched to me. I believe one of the leading theories is something as simple as hormone production being all topsy-turvy or somesuch. When you bear in mind that it’s a physical issue, not a mental one, there’s plenty of other conditions which sound similar. Why, people who are intersexed have similar experiences and their condition is easily verified.

    I’m no expert, but I’ve never really seen a reason to doubt the amount of testimony we have.

    Mutilation is what the NHS has done to intersexed children for 45 years!

    This is so very true.

  6. So what is gender?

    I’ve got the body of male. My body isn’t the Hollywood macho muscled male stereotype though. On the other hand, no one looking at me would ever think my body was feminine or that I should have been a female.

    So here I am, I’ve got an average male body, but I find that it’s guys that turn me on.

    So, please tell me, what’s my correct gender?

    If I’m versatile in bed, does that make me female?

    If I camp it up and enjoy playing the queen, does that make me female?

    Why shouldn’t I go the whole hog, take the treatment, have the op, dress like a woman, and behave like a woman for the rest of my life?

    Isn’t gender just the role we choose to play on a permanent basis?

  7. It has bee found in at least three different studies in the Netherlands, Australia and the USA, that:

    The preoptic nucleus of the hypothalamus is twice as large in males as in females. In studies of transsexual brains male to female transsexuals have a preoptic nucleus the same size as in female brains. While female to male transsexual have a preoptic nucleus in the much larger male size.

    Unrelated studies into the hypothalamus also show this area of the brain also plays a role in determining a persons sexuality too.

    This area of your brain determines your gender (your inner feeling of self and sex). It is not a concious decision on the transsexuals part to change their assigned sex (body parts). Being born with a different preoptic nucleus to that of your sex causes gender dysphoria and the need to change sex.

    We see a similar situation happen when the surgeons knife alters an intersexed child without any consideration for the child’s gender. Although the child will of always been socialised in that constructed sex. Those children whose gender and sex do not match will experience gender dysphoria and may opt for realignment.

    Now some of will say, your gender is about the environmental factors your brought up with. The whole blue for boys, pink for girls guns and dolls thing.

    If this was true, then the famous case of a Canadian baby boy who had is penis accidentally cut off during his circumcision would of had a very different outcome. He was reassigned as female and was strictly socialised as female all his adolescent life. If gender was a social construct, this boy would of lived his whole life as female not knowing any better and been happy being a her not a he. This is not the case though. He chose to be re-assigned in latter life.

    This case was the cause of many intersexed children’s mutilations by medical professionals. It was adopted as best practice world wide for treating a child born intersexed despite the subject not being intersexed himself.

    The fact the operation was a failure and he transitioned back was hidden for many years.

  8. Jean-Paul Bentham 22 Apr 2010, 7:38am

    Trans-sexuality really does challenge us gays.

    I can’t claim to understand it; I don’t.

    I have read more than the average person about it, and I’m always open to listen to articulate people like Abi1975 and Pumpkin Pie, so I do believe there is an authentic human experience at work here.

    It escapes me, but I don’t feel threatened by it. In fact, I think Trans are the most vulnerable on the sexual spectrum vis-à-vis homophobic persons, religions and/or politics.

    Paul A. has an honest question, and I can understand him perfectly well.

    What has gone right over my head, though, is why have the reassignment surgeries tripled since 2000.

  9. A large number of the extra cases are what I would call historical ie those people put off from having surgery because employment and other legal protections have not been in place until recently.

    Once these historical cases get treatment then a true figure for GRS should become apparent.

    I hope that answers your question Jean-Paul :)

  10. Send Abi to the other side of the world – now that would be value for money for the taxpayer!

  11. OrtharRrith 22 Apr 2010, 2:09pm

    why have the reassignment surgeries tripled since 2000?

    Simply because the provision is now there to protect those of us who have been through/ are going through gender reassignment. With legal protection in place, transpeople now feel safer seeking it out.
    It’s certainly not mutilation, more corrective surgury; and nor did society force me to uncounciously adopt a female role because I was efemminate – I wasn’t, as like many transpeople I tried to fight it, this in my case meant I was very masculine in the way I did things – I was accepted into the Royal Marines, I played Rugby and learned Martial Arts, all in an attempt to fight the feelings that I wasn’t actually male. I knew I was this way from a very early age, society had nothing to do with it.
    Hope that helps those of you struggling to understand a little.

    As Abi says, a more realistic view on the the actual costs and numbers seeking reassignment surgury, will occure over the 5 to 10 years, when the numbers have settled down, due to the innitial “rush” having past.

  12. I have noticed that many times when a transsexual article appears on pink news, a lot of the comments are involved with debating whether or not transsexuality exists. It does surprise me a little this being a LGBT news site n’ all. Thanks Abi (7) for clearing that up with some facts.

    If transsexuals were really just masculine women and effeminate men you would never find camp, gay FtMs and MtF butch lesbians. And trust me they exist.

  13. “If this was true, then the famous case of a Canadian baby boy who had is penis accidentally cut off during his circumcision would of had a very different outcome. He was reassigned as female and was strictly socialised as female all his adolescent life. If gender was a social construct, this boy would of lived his whole life as female not knowing any better and been happy being a her not a he. This is not the case though. He chose to be re-assigned in latter life.”

    Abi1975, are you talking about the case of David Reimer, the boy that had his penis accidently destroyed during a circumcision, was raised by his parents as a female called Brenda and when learned the truth not only re-changed his gender to male but also committed suicide ? Because that’s a really sad case that should never have happened. John Money, the psychologist responsible for this microcephalous idea should have been arrested for the indirect death of David Reimer. Forcing the change of gender of a non-transgender person is so criminal and disgusting as forbidding a real transgender person from changing his gender. And believe me, this happens more often than you may think, specially in the world of child prostitution.

  14. Abi, thanks very much for your reply.

    I am really intrigued by your reference to the preoptic nucleus of the hypothalamus being twice as large in males as in females. That’s fascinating.

    I am also intrigued by OrtharRrith’s statement about how masculine he was in appearance and behaviour before he changed to female.

    This suggests to me that really everyone who does not feel completely male or female (regardless of how they may look or behave) should have their preoptic nucleus measured for size!

    I have to admit though that the thought of going along to my GP and broaching the whole business of wanting to have my preoptic nucleus measured rather terrifies me! I mean, the doctor is definitely going to ask WHY, isn’t he, and then, to be frank, I’ld feel rather foolish sitting there and announcing that if the test proves I have a female-sized preoptic nucleus that I feel I should maybe consider becoming a woman! (My GP knows me well and is used to dealing with Paul the man! It would be rather a shock to him! And what if the test shows my preoptic is the size of a male’s? Then I would really have egg on my face.)

    But if I could have my preoptic nucleus measured tomorrow and they told me that it’s the size of a woman’s, would that mean that I SHOULD undergo the whole gender transition thing? Would I be a happier person?

    (I’m in my 40s and have been muddling quite happily as a male so far.)

  15. I did not know Reimer had died.

    Psychologist John Money has a lot to answer for. Its not just Reimer, that is the victim of Money the bastard has many thousands of other intersexed victims too!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reimer

  16. Paul A, if you don’t mind having your brain removed and sliced into slivers, then I would say go ahead with it. I doubt it will make much of a difference for you.

  17. Pumpkin Pie: I also don’t know whether sexual orientation is determined at birth. But I was wondering if the desire to change the body is inborn, apart from transexuality itself. Perhaps I am being confusing… I mean: I can imagine that a person is born with the “brain” usually associated with the opposite self. And I can imagine that in that case they feel they are different from the people belonging to the gender they were assigned.
    I can also imagine that feeling goes way beyond stereotypical behaviors. It doesn’t confuse me at all to see a FTM effeminate man. The sensation of being a man, or of being in the presence of a man, has to do with subtler clues, in my opinion (hormones, pheromones, whatever…).

    Now, if a person feels like an average woman, and has the brain of an average woman, it is easier in this society to just change the body to become like an average woman, conforming to the majority pattern. But I don’t see how the desire to change the body can be inborn.

    Being raised in an all-male environment, an inborn transexual would feel different, but would the body itself would be the problem? Why can’t there be different kinds of brains in the same body? Is the desire to change the body simply a desire to look like an average woman, or is it an intrinsic desire? Like if the body of women were really meant to be matched with the brain of women, and not work properly otherwise?

    If the population of transexuals was bigger than the population of non-transexuals, wouldn’t non-transexuals be the ones changing their body?

  18. Being a bi trans women it never ever fails to amaze me the amount of transphobia within the gay community. I spend the vast majority of my life round cis hetrosexuals and i never have any problems and im completely accepted yet 90% of transphopbic incidents ive recieved have come from gay people.Most of the comments on here show how little is understood on the subject, i knew if i didnt transition my life would have taken the route of someone unemployed, in a psychatrict hospital on loads of anti depressants, instead of a young female who supports herself is happy,and functions in society and ultimately is a much happier person, so i dont see that as mutilation at all, i see the nhs as treating me right and letting me get on with my life successful rather than wasting lots and lots of money on mental health care for my whole life which ultimately i dont need.

  19. John (ragingly effeminate homosexual transman) 23 Apr 2010, 12:53pm

    “853 trans women and 12 trans men had state-funded surgery to change sex.”

    Lies! More than 12 transmen have had gender reassignment surgery on the NHS in the last decade. Heads up pinknews, gender reassignment is NOT JUST ABOUT COCK-v-FANNY! It would be interesting to see what the stats are on chest surgery in transmen, as there’s about an equal ftm/mtf split in the transsexual community, and I suspect far more transmen have top surgery than transwomen have vaginoplastys.

    Why have they tripled? So many reasons, ‘historical’ cases to be sure, and then increased awareness leads to increased ‘coming outs’, better access to information lets people make easier choices, increased protection lets people feel that transitioning will be safer, and I suspect the average age of transition is falling. Not to mention the transitioning on the NHS is gradually becoming less of a suicide-inducing burocratical survival-of-the-fittest nightmare that seems designed to forces just about anyone that can possibly afford it onto the private track and cull the rest. [/rant]

    Andy: Being raised in an all-male environment, an inborn transexual would feel different, but would the body itself would be the problem? Why can’t there be different kinds of brains in the same body? Is the desire to change the body simply a desire to look like an average woman, or is it an intrinsic desire? Like if the body of women were really meant to be matched with the brain of women, and not work properly otherwise?

    I suspect the problem would persist. Think of it like this:
    The human brain is wired up to ‘expect’ certain things, such as ‘trigger this nerve hear and the hart beats faster’ and ‘this nerve makes the lungs work’ (as demonstrated by the fact that babies live). It’s also got a certain amount of ‘expectation’ as to the body it’s situated in, such as eye’s in the head pointing the right way up, legs, fingers, ect (though of cause the brain is adaptable to differences).
    You may have heard of the ‘phantom limb’, where someone missing a limb or body part still feels sensation from it, as the brain expects it to be there and interprets neurological signals as such. This demonstrates that there can be disparity between what the brain ‘expects’ and what it actually has.

    There’s no work that I’m aware of studying this concept as applied to transsexuality, so now I’m extrapolating.
    I don’t think it’s a particularly large leep in logic to presume that established neurological differences between the sexes mean that the brain also had certain ‘expectations’ with regards to the physical sex of it’s body. A brain in a female body should ‘expect’ a female body, and vice-versa.
    Except sometimes a brain in a female body expects a male body (and again vice-versa), and the disparity between expectation and reality manifests it’s self as ‘gender dysphoria’ (the medical way of saying ‘transpeople have issues with their bodies’). There’s a phenomenon in transmen sometimes referred to as the ‘phantom penis’ (which has nothing to do with haunted porn), where a transman may sometimes feel some level of sensation in a penis that they have never had. I don’t know if there’s a corresponding situation for transwomen.
    I’d also suspect that this applies to sex-hormone levels in transsexual people. Regardless of the ‘usual’ psychological and emotional effects of administering large and continuous doses of the ‘opposite’ sex hormone or hormone blockers to non-transgender people, there’s a remarkably consistent response in both ftm and mtf people that hormone therapy is ‘calming’, ‘grounding’, makes them significantly more emotionally stable, and alleviates mental health conditions (to varying degrees). Sort of the opposite to what I’d expect when administered to non-trans people, actually.

  20. OrtharRrith 23 Apr 2010, 3:05pm

    “I am also intrigued by OrtharRrith’s statement about how masculine he was in appearance and behaviour before he changed to female.”

    She. I am female. At this point in time I’ll assume that you ment nothing malicious or offensive by refuring to me as male but please do me the decencey of refuring to me as female.

    I understand that transsexualism is something you find hard to grasp and understand and that doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. How could you understand when you’ve always felt comfortable in your own body, known who and what you were all your life. I’m sure that being gay gives you some insight into part of it but you’ve still been completely comfortable with what gender you are, and no one has tried to tell you that you aren’t the gender you KNOW you are. Transsexual people have to live with that.

    I’d rather not go into more of my own personal circumstances except to say that only one person wasn’t surprised when I transitioned at the age of 18.

  21. Abi and Orthar, I am totally confused and shocked by your reactions to my genuine questions – questions which I have never dared to ask anyone ever before.

    Orthar, I am sorry I used the pronoun “he” when referring to how you were. I was only referring to your history. You were a he and now you are a she. I don’t have any problem with that. I can’t say she became a woman, can I, because that doesn’t make sense! You can’t erase from history the fact that you were a he for part of your life.

    In spite of the way that Abi reacted to my question, I’m still intrigued by the matter of the preoptic nucleus of the hypothalamus.

    Today I got some awful BNP literature through the post, re. the election, and it made me stop and think what that preoptic nucleus information could mean if bigots or fascists ever got into power, or even just people who felt that they had medical grounds for arguing for transexualism. I know it’s not likely to happen, but if the preoptic nucleus findings are sound then it is not beyond the realms of possibility that in future it could be decided that at age 18 – or whenever the hypothalamus becomes fully developed – people should have their preoptic nucleus measured to verify what their TRUE gender is – IF true gender is indicated by the preoptic nucleus. That information could then be stored and used and the possibilities are fascinating and frightening.

    My question though still remains as to what gender is and whether gays and lesbians, even straights, should consider having the size of their preoptic nucleus measured. I mean, if changing sex has made Abi and OrtharRrith and others so much happier, then surely changing sex is something that everybody ought to consider.

    PLEASE don’t slap the word transphobic at me, Lyndz. (Hopefully you weren’t referring to me.) I’m only asking genuine questions and just because trans people have undergone the transition they don’t have the right to stop other people asking questions about transexuality.

    OK?

  22. OrtharRrith 23 Apr 2010, 5:35pm

    @Paul A – I’m genuine when I say I assumed you didn’t mean anything by refuring to me in the masculine, nor do I have any problems answering questions, after all how else can we hope for people to learn to accept us if we avoid or refuse to answer questions.

    I am simply not comfortable with being refured to as male, even in the past tense. Your reply didn’t use the past tense and as such I wasn’t happy about it. I think we both crossed swords without need – I am happy to answer your questions to the best of my ability.

  23. My take on this is that reassignment surgeries should be free on the NHS for all people who were wrongly “assigned” at birth, i.e. by the surgery immediately after birth. But reassignment surgeries should not be free on the NHS for adults who decide they wish to change sex. I’m for aiming for a society that’s free of stereotypes and full of diversity, where feminine men and masculine women can happily get on with their lives. But if adults want to change sex, then fine. Only that’s a creative luxury which they should have to pay for and take full responsibility for.

  24. OrtharRrith 24 Apr 2010, 9:59pm

    “that’s a creative luxury”

    Where do you get that idea from? Being a transsexual isn’t a choice, or a luxury.

  25. Ah, well, there’s the rub! I say when a person trots along to doctors and hospitals in order to change gender it’s the result of a decision . . . and a decision involves choice. And, indeed, that’s why counsellors and doctors always say to people who wish to change gender, “This is your choice. Are you sure about doing this?”

  26. OrtharRrith 25 Apr 2010, 1:05pm

    That’s where you are wrong. There is no choice. When a person goes along to a doctor and informs then that they are transsexual, they do so because there is no choice, they have no other options. A transsexual person does not wake up and think “oh.. today I choose to be the oposite gender”
    Transpeople fight abainst it, they; we, try to deny it. When we go to see someone about it, whether we are 18 or 42 or 65; it is because we can’t deny it any longer, we can’t live the lie of being the gender we appear to have been at birth. It’s NOT a choice.

  27. OrtharRrith 25 Apr 2010, 1:09pm

    The only choice involved is: Continue fighting and denying it until I commit suicide (and I very nearly did) or accept it, seek Gender Reassignment, live and be happy.

    Not really a choice at all.

  28. The “I’ld commit suicide!” tactic.

    End of discussion then.

  29. Chris, it’s not a tactic, it’s the honest to god truth. Transgender people have one of (if not the) highest suicide rates going. Pre-transition transpeople have a *ridiculously* high level of mental health issues. These issues can be resistant to medication and therapy for years, only do alleviate in a matter of months following transition.

    Technically, yes, a person decides ‘ok then, I’ll transition’, but then technically *every* patient who consents to medical treatment (be it chiropody, x-rays, or even chemotherapy) makes a choice over whether or not they accept treatment or continue to suffer. In many cases, transpeople transition because they have exhausted every other option, and the only alternative is death (I would probably have drunk myself to the grave by now). Fortunately increasing social acceptance means that more people are transitioning before they reach the transition-or-die stage; but don’t delude yourself that in a massive number of cases it isn’t absolutely necessary for survival.

  30. John, please point me towards an authoritative source for the figures for transexual suicides. Thank you.

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