Which is the medical phenomenon of transsexualism proper,
affecting approximately one in 30,000 males, but only one in 100,000 females.
This desire to assume the opposite sex is distinguished from transvestism and
gender dysphoria in that it is never the result of sexual desire, and it goes
beyond the craving to remove one's own physical sexual characteristics to a
wish to adopt those of the opposite sex.
If this desire remains constant for two years or more and is
not abated by counselling, then the only medical treatment available is 'gender
reassignment surgery' - the sex-change operation (those who have gone through
it are labelled 'post-operative transsexuals'). This operation (or, more
specifically, series of operations and long-term hormonal treatments) was for a
time universally believed to improve the quality of life for those who go
through it, but on the basis of some now controversial research done at Johns
Hopkins University in the USA, there is increasingly a move to reject gender
reassignment as merely a surgical attempt to solve a largely pyschological
Furthermore, the sex-change operation can only alter a
person's physical sexual characteristics, and not their DNA and the chromosomes
which make them biologically male or female; so the process only actually
serves to produce individuals of indeterminate gender.
Theologically, the process is ethically problematical in
that it questions the decision of God to create an individual as male or
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