Psychologist Explains Gender Re-Assignment

Jun. 11 2009, Published 1:52 p.m. ET

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For the average person, changing one's gender through surgery seems extreme and inexplicable but an expert in the field explains that the procedure is simply a realization of that person's most natural state and leaning. 

Click here for Chastity/Chaz Bono's personal journey

“In all my 33 years of doing gender assignment therapy, when I ask my patients how long they have wanted to change genders, almost 100 percent of them say, ‘as long as I can remember.’" Dr, Sherman Leis, a Philadelphia-based board certified plastic surgeon who has been doing gender reassignment surgery for 33 years, told

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“Studies have shown that there are certain changes in the hypothalamus part of the brain that indicate gender preference. In other words, if a child is born a female but the hypothalamus gland is shaped like that of a male, she will be genetically programmed to be a male," he explains.

"She can try to dress up like a woman, play with dolls as a child but the drive to be a male will always haunt her. It may take years-even decades for the person to realize his or her trans gender nature but they will be desperately unhappy and confused until they do."

There are many serious requirements one must meet before being cleared for the procedure- and not all of them are physical. "I will not perform gender re-assignment surgery until my therapist determines whether or not the patient is emotionally stable, not psychotic and is willing to accept the changes that will take place," Leis added. "They need to be able to handle the transition and be fully aware of the consequences. They need to fully understand that their gender was like a birth defect and they can go on with their lives.  In this case, successfully as a male."

The process also extends past the operating table: “It usually takes a year of mental therapy, hormone replacement therapy and presenting as a male before I perform the actual surgery. Presenting means that they have to act like a male, dress like a male, change their name to a more masculine one and show that they can live the life of a male before we proceed.”

(Photo: Splash News)


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