Is it worth the trouble to change one's sex?
Is it worth it? Does life improve afterwards? I cannot answer for anyone else; this is definitely something you have to figure out for yourself. I can, however, mention a few different things I and other transmen have discussed over the years. Let me go through some of the problems and joys of sex change.
Most transmen eventually get their parent's support for going through with the sex change, but many parents have difficulties to accept their child's choice at the beginning, despite the fact that they are usually the only persons who have really had the chance to understand the problem under a long period of time, and who have known already since the transman was three to four years old, that their child is no ordinary girl.
Another problem is that parents often suffer from feelings of guilt and ask themselves if they have done anything to cause your problem. It can be difficult to show understanding, when you yourself are over-joyous from finally having found your true self, und your parents are sad wondering what they did wrong. By "done wrong" I mean that some believe that they could have stopped their child from becoming transsexual if they had raised him differently. Alternatively, they can feel guilt for causing their child pain as they have tried to force him into a gender role he could not accept as his. I can only recommend you to talk a lot to your parents about your choice. Do not wait for the questions, but tell them what you think they need to know, comfort them and make them at ease about what is happening. Explain that you have no hard feelings about what has been occurring earlier, but rather just see the positive in that you are now finally feeling fine. You have just emerged from your crisis, done your coming-out and see the Light " for your parents the crisis just started, and they will also need their time to cope with the news.
Almost no transman I have talked to claims to have lost a friend due to his sex change. How my friends would take it, was definitely the one thing that worried me the most beforehand. Many friends were surprised; more friends were not surprised at all. Some were a bit doubtful; many were overwhelmingly positive. Nobody broke contact with me. Real friends see the person under your skin. Many have never imagined that someone they know could be a transsexual, but when one tells them they are not in the least surprised, because one usually has been dropping lots of hints for years.
Also in the case of colleagues transmen tell stories of success. Colleagues take the news well, and after a short period of confusion they accept the new name and the new looks. This is not really a surprise as you are there to do a job, and looks and names are of little importance. Finding a new job could be more difficult. Lots of people are uncertain what a sex change really means, and are therefore reluctant to employ transsexuals. However, most transman I know have a profession and a career, very few live on "social welfare".
At my work (app. 200 employees), everyone took the news just fine. The men and all the foreigners had no problem whatsoever with my name change, but it is obviously more difficult for the women. I had expected the opposite to be true, but one never stops learning.
I cannot say that I have access to official statistics, but my general impression from talking to other transmen is that, irrespectively of whether his partner is a man or a woman, about half of the relationships will survive his sex change.
There is, of course, much to be said on this topic, but I will restrict myself to a few aspects.
The second thing is purely technical. If you let the surgeons construct a full size phallus, what can you do with it? In Sweden no surgeon will implant any stiffening device. Penetration can only be achieved with a supporting rubber condom. Unfortunately, I have never met anyone who has tested this and can tell me what it feels like. Personally I cannot really understand the difference between a thick rubber condom and a dildo"but, I digress. For homosexual transmen who have had silicone or pump implants to achieve an erection, it sometimes come as a disappointment when they realize that medical science can not provide them with a phallus that does not break at anal intercourse. Indeed, the tenacity is not that great for vaginal intercourse either, as a transman once told me, but at least vaginal intercourse should be possible. In any case I imagine a silicone staff breaking through the skin at intercourse as both painful and as a definite turn-off.
Then there is the matter of surgical results. (Link list????) Whoever feels discouraged is excused. I have gone through several surgeries and have more ahead of me. The Swedish surgical methods are not the best (but not the worst either) and the surgeries never fulfill your dreams, they are merely necessary steps to make your life as "normal" as is possible.
Maybe I should add that most transmen I know have found partners, so there is no need to despair.
Was it worth it for me?
Oooh, yes! Life after a sex change is not "Paradise on Earth". You will not loose your bad habits, work is just as tough as ever " in fact, most things stay the way they are, but it is an enormous RELIEF. No more need to constantly play a part you are not comfortable with, and no more well-meaning parents, relatives, friends, and colleagues who try to push you into a typical female gender role. I also think that the people around me felt a similar relief. They have always known that something was wrong with me, now they know what was wrong and how to handle it.
The reactions of a partner was not a trouble for me, as I had none. I had not succeeded in finding any bed companions before I started hormones, so I had nothing to loose there either. I am definitely more out-going and less of a coward than I used to be. Life is really much, much easier. I am still a pathological pessimist, but the autumn depressions that used to torment me, all those thoughts of a near ending of my life, they are all completely gone.
Copyright: Dr. Olof, Sweden.
Last change: 2004-08-11