Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sex Change

Interesting link I got from Nov 16 post on The Agora:

Without any fixed position on what is given in human nature, any manipulation of it can be defended as legitimate. A practice that appears to give people what they want—and what some of them are prepared to clamor for—turns out to be difficult to combat with ordinary professional experience and wisdom. Even controlled trials or careful follow-up studies to ensure that the practice itself is not damaging are often resisted and the results rejected.

I have witnessed a great deal of damage from sex-reassignment. The children transformed from their male constitution into female roles suffered prolonged distress and misery as they sensed their natural attitudes. Their parents usually lived with guilt over their decisions—second-guessing themselves and somewhat ashamed of the fabrication, both surgical and social, they had imposed on their sons. As for the adults who came to us claiming to have discovered their “true” sexual identity and to have heard about sex-change operations, we psychiatrists have been distracted from studying the causes and natures of their mental misdirections by preparing them for surgery and for a life in the other sex. We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it. More.

Paul McHugh is University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University.

Ellen Makkai writing in WorldNetDaily discusses sex-change surgery and looks at continuing disorientation some transsexuals feel post-operation. The attempt to feel the "same on the inside as on the outside" doesn't always end on a happy note. In fact a long-term follow-up report on adult transsexuals treated at Johns Hopkins revealed that none of the post-operatives showed measurable improvement in their lives.

And here's a tragic story of David Reimer who was "a boy, then a girl and then a boy again." Born a boy, David was raised a girl after a botched circumcision at 8 months. After discovering his true identity at 11, he grew up and struggled to live as a man, which ended tragically last year in May 2004. He was 38 years. David's traumatic life story was first told by John Colapinto in a Rolling Stone article, and subsequently in the book, As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl before his suicide.

Natalie James' story about this medical tragedy and David's recollection of life as a girl is found here.

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