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Children often have a sense of whether they are a boy or girl at a young age, irrespective of what their external genitalia are telling them. Some people are born with a mismatch of what they know and what their bodies say. They suffer from gender identity disorder. Common people call this being "transgender". Transgender people want to live life as a different gender from that which they were born. Many want to undergo gender reassignment surgery otherwise known as gender confirmation surgery. These are a series of operations intended to approximate the opposite sex—the sex they want to be.
About one in 11,900 males and one in 30,000 females are transgender. When it comes to having the surgery, only about 1 in 2500 people in the US has actually undergone the male to female transgender surgery. So what are the necessary requirements to have gender reassignment surgery?
When someone who is transgender desires gender reassignment surgery, the process is a long one that takes place long before the actual surgeries take place. There are five steps to the entire process:
The first part is all mental and involves an assessment and psychotherapy. This helps establish the diagnosis and helps doctors and patient truly know that transgender surgery is exactly what the patient wants. The person must be diagnosed with gender identity disorder or gender dysphoria. There are several subtypes, including gender identity disorder of childhood, gender identity disorder of adolescence and gender identity disorder of adulthood. There is also gender identity disorder not otherwise specified. Transsexuals have a strong desire to live as the opposite sex and to have surgery to have the genitals as the opposite sex. The problem must have been listed as present for a minimum of two years,
Patients have transvestitism when they want to live as the opposite sex but have no desire to be physically the opposite sex. Some people are born with ambiguous genitalia and have a preference for one or the other gender. This involves a rare birth defect that hasn’t been corrected since birth.
In male to female surgery, the procedures include breast augmentation and removal of the penis. A rough vagina can be made with penile tissue. Hormones are used for the secondary sexual characteristics, especially after the testes are removed, making it impossible to make normal amounts of male hormone. When men transform into women, sometimes the breast augmentation is done before the real life experience in order to maximize that experience.
Gender reassignment surgery is very expensive. Costs of a male to female gender reassignment surgery are about £25,000 and that of a female to male surgery are often double that of the male to female counterpart. There are facilities outside the UK, such as in Thailand, that are as inexpensive as £10,000.
In order to begin hormone therapy, the patient needs a note from a health professional referring them for hormone therapy and surgery. They must be 18 years of age or older and need to understand the social risks and benefits of hormonal therapy and must have a documented three month real life experience. They must have stable mental health and must demonstrate that they are taking their medications appropriately.
If the surgery goes poorly, it can negatively affect the individual’s mental health indefinitely. Complications can happen when the penis is removed and poorly realigned to make a vagina. All the staff must be convinced that this is the surgery the patient wants or poor mental health can result.
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