Sex change surgery, more appropriately known as sex reassignment surgery (SRS) or gender reassignment surgery (GRS), is the final stage in the physical transitioning of a transsexual or transgendered male-to-female or female-to-male. The procedure meets with high rates of success when performed by responsible and experienced surgeons, particularly for male-to-female procedures. Surgery of this type has beenperformed for 50 or more years and, while the number is much lower than in the 1970s, more than 25 male-to-female SRSs are performed each week in North America alone. When done by experts, orgasm, or at least «a reasonable degree of erogenous sensitivity,» can be experienced by individuals who have undergone SRS.
In both cases, technical considerations favor successful conversion to a female rather than a male. Newborns with ambiguous organs will almost always be assigned to the female gender, unless the penis is at least an inch long. Whatever their chromosomes, they are much more likely to be socially well adjusted as females, even if they cannot have children. It is impacted by a complex set of biological factors. Therefore, in cases where a sex must be assigned to an infant, it is important the assignment take place immediately after birth, both for the child’s and the parents’ emotional comfort.
Changing sexual identity as an adult may be the most significant change one can experience. It therefore should be done with every care and caution. By the time most adults decide to undergo surgery, they have lived for many yearswith dissonant identity. The average in one study was 29 years. Nevertheless,even then, the candidate may not be fully aware of the implications of becoming the other sex.
To help the transgendered individual cope with the multitude of psychophysiological issues involved with their gender identity, experts recommend the support of a broad range of skilled professionals well versed in gender identityissues. Ideally, these professionals-which could include a general practitioner, surgeon, psychiatrist, psychologist, and endocrinologist–would work independently as well as cooperatively to provide the client and his or her family members with a fully-informed support network to help them through the manydifferent stages and phases of adjustment. The psychosocial as well as physiological adaptation process may take several years, even after SRS is successfully completed.
Apart from the surgery itself, changing gender identity requires unique social, legal, and hormonal involvement. The entire process is often referred to as «sexual transitioning,» as it truly does require a transition over time. Social reassignment, which is often highly recommended before the individual commits to SRS, entails living and working for perhaps two years as if the individual were already a member of the opposite sex. This often gives some indication of the possible success-emotionally and psychologically-of SRS.