School for Social Work
Sex change, Transsexuals, Sexual disorders
This exploratory study was undertaken to test the validity of the current definitions of male transsexualism, add to our understanding of the etiology, and address the controversial treatment implications. The experiences of four self-defined male transsexuals were compared with the clinical and theoretical findings of the two major theories, one proposing a non-conflictual etiology with a female core gender identity as opposed to those who have found conflictual roots with an ambiguous core gender identity. The theorists in both groups present descriptive profiles of male transsexualism, and identify two major sub-divisions called primary and secondary. The profiles address both etiological and treatment issues.
A semi-structured interview format was utilized, exploring early object relations, gender role behavior, crossgender identification, school and peer experiences, gender identity, onset and course of transsexualism, sexual encounters and attitudes regarding expectations and implications of gender.
The major findings indicated there were both similarities and differences between the subjects' experiences as well as between the clinical and theoretical findings reported by the two groups of theorists. According to the current definitions, all subjects presented material which would make them candidates for both the primary transsexual and secondary transsexual groups. The four further differed from one another most profoundly in the onset and intensity of their transsexualism as well as demonstrating differing degrees of ability to reflect on the nature of this phenomenon.
Although the findings from such a small sample cannot be generalized, they humbly remind us of the limited scope of knowledge in this area and the importance and potential richness of interdisciplinary interdependence.
Iannuccillo, Mary E., "Transsexualism: the lifelong paradox : a project based upon an investigation at a correctional facility in a western state" (1982). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.