Saturday, April 4, 2009

Transition Counseling

So I went to the Trans 101 workshop at the Queer Texas Conference facilitated by Shane and Eedann. We discussed the complicated procedure of transitioning between sexes: counseling and letters from therapists and of course it is VERY expensive. Since Gender Identity Disorder is considered a mental illness to the American Psychiatric Association, it often adds a lot more negative attitude to being a transsexual. Many people oppose this idea, though some transsexuals are ok with it being referred to as a mental disorder because in some countries gender reassignment surgery is covered under insurance if they are classified as mentally ill. Because of this classification, for a person to transition they have to go through a series of counseling steps and receive letters from therapists before a person can be given hormones or go through gender reassignment surgery. A lot of the opinions I've heard have been that these procedure are a little ridiculous and unnecessary. I am not so sure that I completely agree with that opinion.

While I do not think in anyway that being trans is a mental disorder, I do think there should be counseling steps in place before going through with hormones or surgery. I do not think it should be as extensive as it is currently and should not cost nearly as much but the truth is that it is a major change to your body and needs some in depth thought. I know that the normal argument is that gender reassignment surgery is normally done by plastic surgeons and other forms of plastic surgery do not require this kind of counseling, my argument is that I think some of these other elective procedures should have a form of counseling. Similar to gender reassignment surgery, surgeries such as major facial reconstruction is permanent on often nearly impossible to reverse. There can be very adverse reactions to a surgery that is irreversible, imagine waking up every morning and not only not liking who you look at in the mirror (because I know people pre-operational for gender reassignment surgery feel like this) but knowing that there is no way to get back who you were because of the changes you have already made. Not all aspects of gender reassignment are irreversible and these kind of procedures should be way more lax on restrictions. I am also not saying that that people just change there mind and want to go back to the way they were, factors in life can effect those kind of decisions and counseling can check to make sure that if something major happens in the persons life they won't regret their decision.

While I know this is not the normal opinion shared by many people and I know that the medical community has not been very friendly to the transgenderd community, I really think that some minor counseling should be done before someone goes through ANY form of serious body altering process. The counseling should be affordable and I'll even go as far as to say it should be free, but still needed.

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