Master of Social Work
School for Social Work
A clinical survey of eight clinicians, drawing from their experiences with thirteen cases, was conducted to explore familial influences on the formation or maintenance of gender dysphoria in females so as to result in transsexualism. In preparation for disclosing and discussing these findings three areas are reviewed: (1) historical references to transsexualism from ancient and modern cultures; (2) differential definitions of transvestism, homosexuality, and transsexualism; and (3) theoretical perspectives on the etiology and phenomenology of female transsexualism.
The clinical survey did not provide sufficient multi-generational family material to effectively assess the influence of the family beyond the nuclear family. Some interesting associations at that level have been noted in the findings. This in itself underlines the need for further exploration of transsexualism in females along family lines. The researcher and most others in the field (Stoller, in particular) stress the notion that "you are what your parents think you are."
Contributions from other areas—biochemical, endocrinological, neurological—are not denied by this stance, but the family is seen as the primary factor. Further research will require the combined efforts and/or skills of clinicians in the areas of both gender identity and family systems.
© 1977 Teresa Louise Buck
Buck, Teresa Louise, "Familial Factors Influencing Female Transsexualism" (1977). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.