The Cutting Edge- September 22, 2012
Barbara F. Anderson, Ph.D., LCSW
The cover article of the Sunday Magazine of the New York Times, August 12, 2012, was entitled, “What’s Wrong with a Boy Who Wears a Dress?” The author, Ruth Padawer describes her article as “a new approach to parenting gender-fluid children.” The accompanying photos by Lindsay Morris were taken at a weekend camp gathering for boys who enjoy expressing their femininity with other like-minded peers as well as their families and siblings. The article features vignettes of families in which there is a “pink boy,” one who occupies that middle space between traditional masculinity and femininity. For an up-to-date approach that has moved beyond stereotyping and corrective therapy, this article fits the bill.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) issued an official position paper on Aug. 16, 2012. They recognize that transgender and gender-variant individuals can benefit from medical and surgical intervention. They advocate for the removal of impediments to care and support health insurance coverage for gender transition treatment. They oppose exclusions of coverage for such medically necessary treatment when prescribed by a physician. The full report can be accessed at: www.psychiatry.org/advocacy
A Transgender Parents’ Support Group meets on the 3rd Saturday of the month (10am-12noon) at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. Their advertising blurb reads: “Are you or your partner a transgender parent? Or thinking of becoming a parent? This is an opportunity to connect with your peers and get mutual support. The first half of the hour is usually spent socializing, with the remaining time dedicated to group discussion. Drop-ins are welcome, but ongoing attendance helps to establish group rapport.” BTW, I asked to attend in order to see if the meeting would be helpful to any of my clients but was refused.
An article on Examiner.com (September 4, 2012) reports “Prisoner’s sex change surgery ruled as the ‘only adequate treatment’ for her.” A convicted murderer, who has been living as a woman in an all-male prison, has been granted the right to have sex reassignment surgery. She has been receiving female sex hormones and will now get surgery under her Eighth Amendment Right to adequate treatment for a “serious medical need.” Influencing the judge’s decision is the fact that the inmate had tried self-castration and attempted suicide while incarcerated. On a somewhat inflammatory note, the article states that “taxpayers will be footing the bill for this medical procedure…. It is not known if the Massachusetts Department of Corrections will be filing an appeal. This is likely to spark an outrage since the people of Massachusetts will be paying for the prisoner’s sex change surgery. The ruling is highly controversial on many levels and will drive further debate over the subject of sexual identity.”
Concerning retaining or restoring fertility in a male-to-female individual taking feminizing hormones, a physician states, “I know of several documented cases where an MTF pre-op, having dropped or diminished estrogen use, was able to [impregnate], sometimes inadvertently…. My best advice for fertility preservation … is to go off hormones for at least 6 months. [In]fertility is most certainly reversible although libido and erectile function may be less so on a long-term basis….”
On a related subject, there has been some buzz about the possibility of a male-to-female individual becoming impregnated and carrying a fetus to term. At this time there is little optimism that this will ever be possible, but who knows? Research on the subject of Transplantation of Female Genital Organs by Brannstrom & Diaz-Garcia in 2011 focuses on transplantation between genetic women. The authors state that “considerable advances have been made in research during the last 25 years…. Uterus transplantation has been proven to be a feasible procedure” in animal models and researchers predict the first successful attempt in humans will occur within 2-3 years. On Sept. 18, 2012, the NYTimes published an article saying doctors in Sweden have performed the first two mother-to-daughter uterine transplants.
Brief notes: Springer has published “Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies: Narratives of Autogynephilic Transsexualism” by A.A. Lawrence. According to the publisher's blurb, this book is the "first to document extensively the feelings and experiences of autogynephilic male-to-female transsexuals in their own words.... [It is also] first to address comprehensively autogynephilic eroticism as motivation during sex reassignment." This rarely covered and controversial subject is a must read for professionals as well as consumers.