April 29, 1977

Report Outline
New Openness About Sex Change
Cultural and Medical Attitudes
Treatment of Sex-Change Cases

New Openness About Sex Change

Shift in Medical Opinion and Public Attitude

Transsexualism has come out into the open. This strange condition, in which a person is tormented by a feeling of being at odds with his or her sex, is now receiving sympathetic attention from a growing number of specialists. Before this recent growth of interest, those so peculiarly afflicted had to live as best they could with their secret distress. Either they lived unhappily trying to behave in conformity with their hated body formation, or they dressed as and tried to live like a member of the other sex, but always in fear of discovery. Exposure of their secret meant shame, alienation of friends, often loss of job and destruction of family life.

Today there are some 40 so-called “gender identity centers” or similar establishments in the nation where teams of specialists are prepared to hear out the transsexual's case and provide counsel and treatment to help synchronize the inner and the outer person. Among these centers are some, like the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic, which are situated in some of the most prestigious institutions in the country. Their experience with transsexuals has produced a new body of knowledge dealing with the larger mystery of sexual identity as it develops in all individuals.

This new knowledge has helped sort out once-blurred distinctions between various shades of deviation from the norm. The studies range over a wide spectrum of interest involving the skills and insights of geneticists, neurologists, endocrinologists, plastic surgeons, urologists, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, designers of prosthetic devices and rehabilitation workers.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Civil Rights: Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered
Medical Profession and Personnel
Medical Research and Advocacy