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Examining Dangers Of Gender Re-assignment

Faith Edward

Medical experts observe that in spite of the risks and the cost implication of gender re-assignment –sex change — some people still crave for it for various reasons. Stephanie Adaralegbe, a Nigerian, who was reported to have undergone trans-gender process, insists that “man was chemical and if estrogen therapy could do wonders to the body of man, then medical science could perform more wonders on the body of man.’’

Observers however note that, to some extent, men and women feel that they are physically a different sex than they are mentally and emotionally. According to them, with this mindset, they seek to alter their sex irrespective of cost and the risks involved in the surgery. They, nonetheless, agree that sex re-assignment can only be done on the outer part of the body because it is impossible to alter natural human attributes.

Corroborating this viewpoint, psychologists posit that as much as some people would like to change their sex, their way of reasoning cannot change. “It is just like being a male in a female’s body, you know deep down that you are a male,’’ they observe. Prof. Paul McHugh, the former Head of Department of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University, notes that “people who think that gender re-assignment surgery will solve all their emotional and social problems are likely to be disappointed. “These patients had much the same problems with relationships, work, and emotions as before. “The hope that they would emerge now from their emotional difficulties to flourish psychologically had not been fulfilled,’’ he said. In another dimension, psychologists note that people undergo sex re-assignment surgery to become a centre of attention and live a sexy life.

`The thinking is that this will automatically turn them into the opposite sex when they decide to become a woman or man,’’ they observe. Irrespective of reasons that may be given for undergoing the surgery, Dr Joy Adeyemi, a private medical practitioner in Abuja, warned against it. She said that so far the female to male change or vice versa would undergo hormonal therapy, there were side effects.

“The hormonal therapy and   surgery impair fertility but what some do is that they fix their sperm and eggs before the procedure to have kids later. “The large percentage tends to have social and emotional satisfaction as well but medical side effects are mostly from hormone-change therapy. “Most men and women in this present generation are unsatisfied with their sex and they undergo sex transition not minding its numerous side effects,’’ she said. Allergist and Immunologist Bethany Gibson, Fellow, University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre, said that the therapy could create a situation in   which in girls, it would suppress menses due to lack of estrogen and; in boys, would block the development of fertility due to lack of testosterone.

“Pubertal growth will be inhibited by hormone treatment, while the fusion of the growth plates in long bones will be delayed. This is not a problem for male to female patients because women are approximately 12 centimetre shorter than males on the average. “The therapy may interfere with accumulation of bone mass normally seen during puberty due to sex hormone exposure. “However, studies have demonstrated that these levels increase to normal values during cross-sex hormone treatment and preserve bone mineral density,’’ she observed. She also observed that blood pressure increased slightly, and there was also a slight increase on arterial stiffness.

“Other statistically significant changes that negatively affect cardiovascular health in female to male trans-sexuals are increased cholesterol and decreased insulin sensitivity,   among others. “It should be noted, however, that overall cardiovascular mortality and morbidity in both male to female and female to male trans-sexuals was not elevated,’’ she said, quoting a research work. Also, research by doctors in UK, published in PatientPlus, has shown that although the outcome of gender re-assignment has shown to improve the well-being and quality of life, it has its risks. “Studies have reported higher mortality rates in trans-sexual individuals as well as higher rates of suicide and psychiatric morbidity. “These rates are higher irrespective of whether gender-related surgery has taken place.

“Surgical complications may include necrosis, fistulae, stenosis, urinary problems, anorgasmia and poor cosmetic result. “Side effects of hormonal treatment may be a problem; minimisation of risks requires lifelong monitoring,’’ the research noted. By and large, researchers insist that gender re-assignment patient’s satisfaction should be separated from negative outcomes. They note that this will provide more understanding of sex re-assignment procedures. They, nonetheless, warn that people should be skeptical and refuse to accept emotionally motivated claims to support gender re-assignment. (NANFeatures)

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