1   Introduction

Transsexualism is a complex and little-understood condition. Because it involves very fundamental aspects of human identity, it attracts considerable misunderstanding, fear and prejudice. Sensational and inaccurate stories about 'sex-changes' abound in the popular media, and contribute to the misunderstanding and apprehension that many people feel about the condition.

Put very simply, a transsexual is a person whose gender (psychological sex) is opposite to their physiological sex. Many transsexual women, prior to gender reassignment, do consider themselves to be 'women trapped in male bodies'; others consider this description trite or even inaccurate.

The first part of this booklet aims to explain what transsexualism really is, as well as dispelling the common confusion between transsexualism, transvestism and homosexuality (they are three totally different phenomena). The second part summarises the current medical viewpoint on the causation of the condition. The third part describes how transsexual people deal with the condition, and briefly describes the process of gender reassignment ('sex change'). Finally, the social and legal implications of the condition are discussed.

2 What is Transsexualism?


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