Transsexualism 101

“Transsexualism is the unshakeable feeling you belong to the other sex. You have a body, intellectually you recognise that, but you don’t feel it’s yours.

You feel it’s a mistake; your feeling is to belong to the other sex, and in that way you cannot be corrected. No-one can convince you it should be otherwise. There’s no way out for transsexuals then to adapt the body to the mind.” — Prof. Louis Gooren, 2000

A male with the physical condition of TS

  • has usually been assigned the sex of ‘female’ at birth
  • has a very strong personal persistent discomfort of ‘being in’ the ‘wrong body’
  • has an unchanging core male gender
  • never ‘changes gender’
  • strongly feels his body did not develop the way “it was supposed to”
  • requires medical treatment to correct his physical appearance and resolve his physical discomfort
  • seeks correction of his legal-sex to male in recognition of his true sex (core gender identity)
  • is fundamentally and irrevocably male
  • is not described by terms such as an ‘FTM’, ‘transman’ or ‘transgender’
    (compare Transgender 101).

Affirmation Treatment

Men who have the physical condition of TS have a physical appearance that is oppositeto their core gender. Medical treatment can amend a man’s physical appearance to achieve harmony with his core brain-sex (male). Once his physical appearance matches his core gender, his intense discomfort with his physical appearance is largely reduced or disappears after treatment.

“Transsexuals, who I believe are intersexed, have the body and genitals of one sex and the brain of the other making reconciliation of their sexual and gender identities problematic. They solve their problems of reconciling, their disparate sexual identity and gender identity, by saying, in essence, “Don’t change my mind; change my body.”” — Prof. Milton Diamond, 2000

TS cannot be overcome by contrary socialisation nor psychological or psychiatric treatments (Green, 1999). It is a natural variation in human physical development. The only successful treatment that has ever been found for males affected by TS is to affirm their innate sex.

Sex affirmation treatment (also called sex reassignment) is not an overnight fix. Treatment is a long, sometimes expensive process and often includes hormones and some surgery. The final result is something of a compromise for many men, as genital surgeries are relatively non-functional at this point in time. However, sex affirmation treatment offers them a vastly improved and fulfilling life.


Opinions vary on the incidence of people who experience TS throughout the world. Current Australian estimates (2000) put the figure at approx. one in every 11,000. Various world literature give an incidence of one person per 50,000. Netherlands (Gooren et al. 1992) and Singapore (Tsoi, 1988) studies cite approx. 1 in every 2,900.  Wallbank (2004) cites 5,000-10,000 men and women with TS in Australia.

It’s difficult to ascertain the incidence, because men and women living with the condition identify as ordinary men or women. They live the life of the ordinary man or woman they know themselves to be.

Current legal situation for males with ts in Australia

After treatment, Australian males with TS can have their legal-sex on their birth certificate corrected to male. After this, they have all the same rights and responsibilities as any other Australian men, including the right to marry.

In 2002, in the Family Federal Court, a man of transsexual background “Kevin” was granted the right to marry “Jennifer”, his female partner, based on recent understanding of the underlying biological cause to the condition.

This landmark case signifies greater community understanding and acceptance of Australian men and women who have experienced this natural variation in physical formation.

Further Reading