Dr Sean Saunders
ASTU 150 (922)
July 18, 2011
Over the past few decades, many legal barriers to the modification of sexed bodies have been removed in several countries and regions, which has led to the trend in transgender individuals undergoing surgery or taking hormone replacement therapies (Mackie 2008). Some scholars find that sex reassignment surgery (SRS) will benefit people, while others argue that transgender people are dissatisfied of their SRS, some possible disappointments arise from the experience of immense discrimination from society (Dewey 2008). Recent studies have shown many effects of taking medical treatments regarding changing sex on biological parts of the body (Goh 1995, Kanhai 2000), but such scholars lack investigation on the long term psychological and emotional effect on the transgender person after taking these treatments.
From a blog written by a transgender man, Walt Heyer, we learn that he felt excited changing into a woman at first but eventually regretted his decision and most of his life was spent in sorrow and disappointment. My paper will investigate the reasons of Walt's regret of undergoing special treatments. What factors are related to the long term satisfaction of transsexual people undergoing SRS? What traits of Walt led to his regret?
I started this research project by identifying my topic. Initially, I was interested in the effect of hormones on transgender patients but because of my lack of knowledge in biology, I found it difficult to find any conclusions that I could understand thoroughly related directly to the effect of hormones. Later on, I read about Walt Heyer and his experience on the internet and was inspired by his letter to the Massachusetts Judiciary Committee, where he explained his regret in undergoing SRS. Eventually I decided on researching the psychological effect of transgender treatments as well as the preoperative factors related to it and the satisfaction of the patients. I found the majority of my research articles using Academic Complete and Google Scholar. After reading approximately 20 related articles, I chose 4 to be my main focus. Of them, Anne Lawrence's “Factors Associated With Satisfaction or Regret Following Male-to-Female Sex Reassignment Surgery” is the most relevant to my research topic.
People who have the desire to change sex early on in their life have a greater chance of being satisfied with their transsexual medical treatments. In Anne Lawrence's (2002) article “Factors Associated With Satisfaction or Regret Following Male-to-Female Sex Reassignment Surgery”, she says that many researchers agree that there are two types of MTF transsexuals. One is those people who transition at an early age, and the other is people who typically transition at an older age. She points out that there is a moderate positive correlation between absence of regret and greater childhood femininity. Also the younger the age of first wish to change sex, the more satisfied the person will be after he/she undergoes transsexual treatments, which means the less likely that he/she will regret. The more younger people are when they first desire to change sex, the more likely that they are natural transgenders, and they do not suffer from temporary psychological problems.
In general, the transgender people who are satisfied with their treatments experience greater success in life and feel less emotionally depressed compared to before undergoing the treatments. Zoran Rakic et al (1996) have concluded that in most transsexuals, the quality of life is improved in aspects of their relationships with other people, attitude towards their own body, sexual activities, and occupational functioning. He...