Psychological Disorders

Do not expect the surgical removal of body parts to resolve gender issues.

The fact is: surgery will not fix any underlying psychological problems if they exist. A long-term study of 324 sex-reassigned persons in 2003 in Sweden concluded:

Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity [diseased state] than the general population. Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism. (Read the entire study here)

The following study raises the idea that delusional thinking plays a part in sex change regret.

 The Psychopathology of “Sex Reassignment” Surgery Assessing Its Medical, Psychological, and Ethical Appropriateness
Richard P. Fitzgibbons, M.D., Philip M. Sutton, and Dale O’Leary
Spring, 2009

Abstract. Is it ethical to perform a surgery whose purpose is to make a male look like a female or a female to appear male? Is it medically appropriate? Sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) violates basic medical and ethical principles and is therefore not ethically or medically appropriate. 

(1) SRS mutilates a healthy, non-diseased body. To perform surgery on a healthy body involves unnecessary risks; therefore, SRS violates the principle primum non nocere, “first, do no harm.” 

(2) Candidates for SRS may believe that they are trapped in the bodies of the wrong sex and therefore desire or, more accurately, demand SRS; however, this belief is generated by a disordered perception of self. 

Such a fixed, irrational belief is appropriately described as a delusion. 

SRS, therefore, is a “category mistake”—it offers a surgical solution for psychological problems such as a failure to accept the goodness of one’s masculinity or femininity, lack of secure attachment relationships in childhood with same-sex peers or a parent, self-rejection, untreated gender identity disorder, addiction to masturbation and fantasy, poor body image, excessive anger, and severe psychopathology in a parent. 

(3) SRS does not accomplish what it claims to accomplish. It does not change a person’s sex; therefore, it provides no true benefit. 

(4) SRS is a “permanent,” effectively unchangeable, and often unsatisfying surgical attempt to change what may be only a temporary (i.e., psychotherapeutically changeable) psychological/psychiatric condition. 

National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 9.1 (Spring 2009): 97–125.