Transsexuality is an interesting, if baffling, subject for most people. It is often confused with transvestitism, even though the two are distinctly different.
Transvestites feel a compulsion to dress in clothing that is considered appropriate to the other sex, while still feeling comfortable with their given sex. Transsexuals, on the other hand, feel a strong dissonance between their sex---their physical selves, and their gender---their identity in society. Basically, they feel as if they are trapped in a body of the wrong sex.
This condition, called gender dysphoria, is not merely a disposition, but an unsuppressable urge. Along with their discomfort with their own bodies, transsexuals must contend with stigma, shame, and sometimes violence, in an unaccepting society. Difficulties that transsexuals face are so great, in fact, that 50 percent of them die before the age of 30---the vast majority from suicide.
Transsexual feelings are strong, in part, because they have a biological basis. They are caused by different factors including a critically timed hormone released by the mother during gestation.
Other confirmation of transsexuality's biological roots are its existence in cultures all over the world throughout time. From Greece to Africa, from India to North America, transsexuals held a sacred place in primitive societies and were allowed to live as the gender of their choosing.
Modern classification and medical treatment of transsexuals began in 1930 with the first sex change operation. Still, for decades afterward, the mainstream medical community saw transsexuality as a mental disorder. After the ‘60s, however, studies supported a biological cause. Scientists also learned that transsexuality is evenly split between males and females, and that transsexuals may be straight, gay, bisexual, or asexual.
A greater understanding of gender dysphoria has led to methods of reassigning transsexuals to a congruent sex. These include hormone treatments, which soften the skin and enlarge the breasts of men and deepen the voice and increase facial hair in women. While these measures help assuage transsexual identity issues, many transsexuals choose to take the next step and have sex reassignment surgery.
Sex reassignment surgery is expensive and may be done with or without modification of the genitals. Female-to-male transsexuals present a greater challenge, as doctors are as yet unable to construct a fully functional penis. However, despite potential problems, sex reassignment surgery has a huge rate of success: 97 percent of female-to-male transsexuals are satisfied with the results, as are 87 percent of males who become females.
It is hoped that these scientific advances, along with a greater understanding of transsexualism, will lead to more fulfilling lives for transsexuals. Perhaps in the future, they will be accepted as just another unique group in society.
1. baffling a. 令人困惑的，难解的
2. dissonance n. 不合
3. disposition n. 倾向
4. stigma n. 污名，耻辱
5. mainstream a. 主流的
6. congruent a. 相合的
7. assuage v. 缓和
8. genitals n. 生殖器