Outsiders in London

 

TRANSSEXUALITY

A transsexual person (not to be confused with a transvestite or ‘cross-dresser’) is someone whose assigned sex at birth is in conflict with their psychological gender.   Accordingly, transsexuals often describe themselves as “having been born in the wrong body”.


Although there is anthropological evidence that transsexuals were recognised and even well-integrated in some native American tribes and cultures, where they were regarded as ‘two-spirit’ individuals and often held in high regard, they have nonetheless been stigmatised in many cultures and societies, often for religious reasons.   However, the sexual revolution in the western world has led to greater understanding of transsexuals and there has been increasing pressure upon mental health professionals no longer to treat transsexualism as a ‘disease’.   And advances in both sex reassignment therapy and surgery have allowed many individuals to achieve ‘transition’ to what they believe is their ‘correct’ gender.   Of course, negative attitudes, misunderstandings and discrimination continue. 


Transsexuals may refer to themselves as ‘trans-men’ or ‘trans-women’ and some pursue sex reassignment therapy (involving hormone replacement and various surgical procedures) as part of the process of expressing their ‘true’ gender.   Some transsexuals lead heterosexual lifestyles and adopt ‘normal’ gender roles - they marry and have children - while others identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual.   Many trans-men identify with lesbians and are part of the lesbian community despite their having male sexual identity.   Indeed, some lesbians may become sexually and romantically involved with trans-men when they would rarely consider dating a heterosexual man.   Likewise, some gay men are willing to do the same with trans-women. 


In the English-speaking world, probably the most famous book to be published about a transsexual’s journey through the ‘transition’ was Jan Morris’s Conundrum (1974) chosen by The Times as one of the '100 Key Books of Our Time'.


The Beaumont Society is a national self-help body run by and for those who cross-dress or are transsexual. They can be contacted on the Web at:


www.beaumontsociety.org.uk


GIRES - Gender Identity Research and Education Centre  -


www.gires.org.uk



Page updated 7th June 2014


       


The purpose of these notes is, in the spirit of education, to provide the reader with some additional information about specific topics covered in the sitters’ interviews and to draw together statistical, sociological and other relevant data which could not easily be incorporated into the records of the interviews themselves.


The notes are largely constructed from widely-available published materials on the topic in question and every effort has been made to exclude material which could be seen as spurious or contentious.   Of course, though care has been taken to draw only from bona fide sources, it cannot be claimed that these notes are authoritative;  for those who are already expert or who wish to delve further into a specific subject, cross-referencing with other reliable references is recommended.


While no material has been consciously included that might be deemed sexist, racist or offensive in some other way to a particular minority group or to individuals adhering to a particular religious creed or moral code, it is hardly to be expected that everyone will agree with every observation and conclusion.