FEELING TRAPPED IN THE WRONG BODY
By: Mbalenhle Sithebe
People harbour negative stereotypes against those who do not look the way they expect them to look- people who are transgender suffer to fit into the society because of those expectations.
Transgendered is defined as symbolising or relating to a person whose self-identity does not conform to notions of male or female gender.
There is a high number of people who will choose to change their sex to the gender that they feel defines their internal feelings better, because for example, one may feel like a woman while looking like a man, and therefore decide to pursue looks of a woman.
South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. The country made history by becoming the fifth country in the world and the first in Africa to legalise same-sex marriage in 2006.
South Africa’s Constitution forbids discrimination on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation, both by the state and by private parties.
According to Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Rights in South Africa (LGBT), The Change of Sex Description and Sex Status Act allows transsexual and intersex people to apply to have their sex status changed in the population registry, and consequently to receive identity documents and passports indicating their new sex. In the case of transsexual people it requires them to have undergone medical or surgical treatment before applying.
Freedom is interpreted in many different ways and if one wishes to change his or her gender, the person is free to do so. As soon as people invade and judge the individuals choices, it violates their right to freedom- a basic human right.
According to the Immersive Medical site, the number one option most people take to change their gender is having sex change operations, commonly known as sex-change or sex reassignment (SRS).
This procedure changes a person’s genital organs from one gender to another.
Gender reassignment is offered to a number of people including new-borns with intersex deformities and adult men and women who have a biologically different sex than they are mentally and emotionally, states the site.
Body procedure from male to female conversions is more common today.
It is understood that a person may find it hard and confusing to understand this part of a person’s identity and may be unsure of how to act around them without offending or hurting their feelings.
Simple communication mistakes like not knowing how to refer to a person “as he or she” may seem or sound offensive.
According to the Immersive medical sex change advertisement this is how the procedures are done.
Sex Change Operation – Male to Female Procedure Plastic surgery for male to female SRS involves the removal of the penis and the reshaping of the remaining genital tissue to appear more female thereby constructing a vagina.
An incision is made into the scrotum, the flap of skin is pulled back and the testis is removed.
The skin is stripped from the penis but is left attached and the urethra is cut and the excess skin is used to create the labia and the vagina. This body procedure is called a vaginoplasty- after the surgery, the patient would need to take in female hormones (oestrogen) to further reshape the body’s contour. This hormone will also stimulate the growth of breasts.
Sex Change Operation – Female to Male Procedure Though more uncommon, there are still several women who opt for female to male gender reassignment. This body procedure has achieved lesser success due to the difficulty of creating a functional penis from the original tissue in the clitoris.
Preliminary surgery to remove the female organs will be needed and the next series of procedures will be done a year after. Aside from the genital organs, the breasts will also need to be altered in order to get a male appearance.
Sex Change Operation – After the Procedure Persons who have undergone male to female SRS will still retain a prostate while those who had female to male body procedure will need to undergo a hysterectomy to remove the uterus and an ophorectomy to remove the ovaries.
Patients who have undergone male to female conversions will also need to take male hormones to stimulate male features to develop and females who have undergone all these sex reassignment procedures will no longer be able to bear children.
Many describe being transgendered as being trapped in the wrong body and feel all these procedures are worth doing if it means looking the way they felt.
It is still going to take society some time to accept these individuals without any discrimination or judgements, but in democratic countries like South Africa, they have the constitution to help protect them.
As many would say, South Africa has the best constitution in the world, to represent diversity and a rainbow nation