Sexuality
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
269 Amazing Sex GamesA History of MarriageA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyActionAll the WayAmerica UnzippedAmerica UnzippedAmerica's Sexual TransformationAmerican EugenicsAmerican GirlsAmerican HookupAn Interpretation of DesireAnarchism & SexualityAnatomy of a BoyfriendAnatomy of LoveAnthony GoicoleaAnticlimaxArt and HomosexualityArt/PornAssuming a BodyAutoportraitBachelors and BunniesBecoming OrgasmicBehind the Red DoorBest Sex Writing 2005Better Sex Through YogaBetter Sex Through YogaBetter Than EverBetween Mom and JoBeyond Diversity DayBeyond SexualityBeyond ToleranceBig Porn IncBill HensonBodies in DoubtBody ImagesBonkBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBrothelBuying SexCase Studies in Communication about SexCase Studies in Sexual DevianceCaught in the WebCelibaciesChildren and SexualityChildren and the Politics of SexualityChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChristy ReportClay's WayClinical Manual of Women's Mental HealthClose toYouClumsyCold HitCollege SexComing of Age in AmericaConfessions of the Other MotherCybersexCyborgasmDare... to Make Love with 2, 3, 4... or MoreDare... to Try BisexualityDating: Philosophy for EveryoneDeadly ButterflyDebating Same-Sex MarriageDeep GossipDeparting from DevianceDesire, Love, and IdentityDigital DiariesDilemmas of DesireDirty MindsDirty StoriesDisorders Of DesireDisorders of Sex Development:Doing ItDoing ItDoing It Down UnderDown and Dirty Sex SecretsDude, You're a FagEarly Embraces IIIEmerald City BluesEmotionally InvolvedEnjoying Guilty PleasuresErotic CapitalErotic InnocenceErotic PassionsEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEveryday PornographyEvolution and Human Sexual BehaviorExploring TranssexualismFade to BlackFagbugFaking ItFamilies Like MineFast GirlsFinal JeopardyFinding H. F.Fire on the Mountain DVDFor Lesbian ParentsFor The Bible Tells Me SoForbiddenFrictionFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Shame to SinFuckologyGay, Straight, and the Reason WhyGender in the MirrorGender OutlawsGeography ClubGetting RealGetting the Love You WantGirls & SexGirls Gone MildGirls Gone SkankGLBTQGoddess WorshipGoing DownGood GirlsGood PornGood Sex IllustratedGreat Answers to Difficult Questions About SexGuide To Getting It OnHandbook New Sexuality StudiesHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHard to GetHardcore from the HeartHear Us Out!HeterosyncraciesHit & MissHomosexualitiesHookedHooking UpHow Sex Became a Civil LibertyHow Sex ChangedHow Sex WorksHow To Be GayHow to Do Things with Pornography How to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Have Magnificent SexHow to Make Great Love to a ManHow to Make Great Love to a WomanHow to Make Love Like a Porn StarHow to Think More About SexHypnography for MenHypnography for WomenHysterical MenI'd Rather Eat ChocolateI'll Be Your MirrorIf Men Could TalkImpotenceIn a Queer VoiceIn Praise of the WhipIn the Mood, AgainInsatiable WivesIntense Games DVDInvestigating Young People's Sexual CulturesIt's Perfectly NormalIt's Perfectly NormalItís Your HourJane Sexes It UpJock SturgesJust Between UsKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Gone WildLegalizing ProstitutionLegalizing ProstitutionLet's Get This StraightLets Talk about SexLetters to Penthouse Vol. 50Likely to DieLittle ChicagoLoose GirlLosing Matt ShepardLoveLove and DesireLove and SexLove JunkieLove Lust DesireLove SickLustMad for FoucaultMagical ThinkingMaking American BoysMaking Babies the Hard WayMaking Chastity SexyMaking Peace with PornMaking ScenesMale SexualityMalefemaleMaster BreastsMating in CaptivityMedicalized MasculinitiesMelancholia and MoralismMenMental Health Issues in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities MiddlesexMoney ShotMoral Panics, Sex PanicsMy Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me UpMy HeartbeatMy Horizontal LifeName All the AnimalsNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew Sex Now DVDNightswimmingNone of the AboveNormalNormalNot GayNot The Marrying KindNot Under My RoofNothing PinkOedipus WreckedOn Being RapedOne Hot SecondOne Hour in ParisOpenOrgasmOrgasm Inc.OrgasmologyOrgasmsOver 100 Truly Astonishing Sex TipsOverexposedPeekPeriod PiecesPervPhilosophizing About Sex Philosophy of Love, Sex, and MarriagePin-up GrrrlsPINSPlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPolicing SexualityPolyamory in the 21st CenturyPornPorn NationPorn StudiesPorn UniversityPornifiedPornlandPornographyPornographyPornography, Sex, and FeminismPosition Of The Day PlaybookPray the Gay AwayPredatorsPremarital Sex in AmericaPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProblem GirlsPrudePsychopathia SexualisQueer PhilosophyRapeRape Is RapeRated X - A Journey Through PornRazmatazRecruiting Young LoveRedefining GirlyRedefining RapeRegulating SexRethinking Gender and Sexuality in ChildhoodRethinking RapeRunning with ScissorsSatan's Sex BookScreening SexSelling Sex ShortSexSex & Single GirlsSex (Ed)Sex and SpiritSex and the American TeenagerSex and the SoulSex and the Soul, Updated EditionSex and WarSex at DawnSex by NumbersSex DetoxSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex in CrisisSex ObjectSex OffendersSex on the BrainSex PositionsSex Q & ASex, Family, and the Culture WarsSex, or the UnbearableSex, Therapy, and KidsSex, Time and PowerSextasySexting and Young PeopleSexual ArtSexual Boundary ViolationsSexual DevianceSexual DisordersSexual EcstasySexual EthicsSexual FluiditySexual IntelligenceSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySexual Orientation and School PolicySexual PleasureSexual PredatorsSexual Teens, Sexual MediaSexuality in AdolescenceSexuationSexyBookShameShamelessShy GirlSlutWalkSmall FavorsSmutSocial Control of Sex OffendersSome Assembly RequiredSplit ScreenStir-FryStraight to JesusStrange BedfellowsStripped BareSurviving Sexual ViolenceSymptoms of Being HumanTalkTalk to Me FirstTechniques of PleasureTestosterone RexThe Anthropology of SexThe BabiesThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Birth of the PillThe Blue Moon Erotic Reader IIIThe BodyThe Breast BookThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe Busy Couple's Guide to Great SexThe Case of the Female OrgasmThe Chemistry Between UsThe Clitoral TruthThe Education of SophieThe Emergence of SexualityThe End Of AliceThe End of SexThe Erotic EdgeThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Essential KamasutraThe Fate of GenderThe First Man-Made ManThe First TimeThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Happy Hook-UpThe Hite ReportThe Humble Little CondomThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Illustrated Story of OThe Love CureThe Madness of WomenThe Men They Will BecomeThe Mirror of LoveThe Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Moral Panics of SexualityThe Naked Truth About SexThe Nature of Sexual DesireThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Only Girl in the CarThe Order of the Poison OakThe Origins of SexThe Other HollywoodThe Other PlaceThe Other Side of DesireThe Perils of MasculinityThe Perversion of YouthThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary ReadingsThe Pleasure's All MineThe Politics Of LustThe Porn TrapThe Pornographer's GriefThe Pornography IndustryThe Praeger Handbook of TranssexualityThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Purity MythThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Sex MythThe Shared HeartThe Sleep of ReasonThe Smart Girl's Guide to PornThe State of AffairsThe Story of SexThe SurrenderThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Tenth CircleThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Trauma MythThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Vagina MonologuesThe ValleyThe Violence of CareThe Virgin BlueThe Virginity ClubThings Tom LikesThinking KinkThinking XXXToo Hot to HandleTransTransTransgender Children and YouthUltimate JudgementUltimate SexUndoing GenderUnlikelyUntangling the WebVirginVirgin NationVirgin Sex for GirlsVirgin Sex for GuysVirginity LostWhat Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?What's Wrong with Homosexuality?When Jeff Comes HomeWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen the Piano StopsWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Who Has What?Who's Been Sleeping in Your HeadWilhelm ReichWired for IntimacyWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWomen and MadnessWritten in the FleshZen Sex

Related Topics
Exploring TranssexualismReview - Exploring Transsexualism
by Colette Chiland
Karnac Books, 2005
Review by Aagie Ieven, M.A.
Aug 27th 2005 (Volume 9, Issue 34)

Exploring Transsexualism is a title well-chosen for Colette Chiland's most recent book on the subject of gender identity disorder. The author, a psychoanalyst who has worked with transsexuals prior to and following their hormonal and surgical sex reassignment, aims to familiarize psychotherapists with various aspects of transsexualism, should they be confronted with it. Therefore, her work contains neither thorough insights nor lengthy arguments on causes, symptoms and treatments. Instead it offers a glance at the different problems related to transsexualism and an account of the author's personal experiences with them.

For Chiland, the main question of concern is whether psychotherapy can be fulfill a purpose in the 'treatment' of transsexuals in times where sex reassignment operations have become the norm. Eventually, her answer will be a positive one. Despite the many difficulties that will have to be overcome, Chiland believes psychotherapy can be a place where transsexuals can speak freely about themselves and their condition without having to live up to certain patterns of behavior and thought.

This feeling of having to live up to a certain pattern is a major complicating factor in therapist's conversations with transsexual 'patients', though. Chiland explains that prior to any sex reassignment operation the transsexual's desire to obtain such an operation at all costs will induce the transsexual to lie about his or her past and true feelings. She claims that clients will obscure their feelings of ambiguity, their doubt and conflicting fantasies in order to produce a personal history consistent with the pattern of a primary transsexual (i.e. a transsexual 'from birth') and to obtain surgery. This hinders the therapeutic process that depends upon the ability to speak truthfully and on the ability to question oneself.

Moreover, the many problems transsexuals are confronted with after a sex reassignment operation (such as the inability to change their civil status, to marry a person of the now opposite sex or to adopt a child) are all consequent to the decision to operate. On the one hand, the author sharply (and, in my opinion, rightly) condemns the prevailing ambiguous societal attitude that approves and promotes surgical treatment for transsexuals but subsequently leaves them in a no mans land between male and female. She does not hesitate to call this a violation of transsexuals' right to life. On the other hand, Chiland argues that this complex problematic sharpens the need for alternative forms of treatment, for example psychotherapy.

While remaining at the surface on the best option to take in this therapeutic dilemma, Chiland embarks on the quest of defining the causes of transsexuality. She contends that a certain group or transsexuals might like to hear that transsexuality, like intersexuality, is attributable to biological factors (genetic or other). Chiland explains that this desire is caused by the belief that transsexuals would no longer be blamed for their condition if biological causation could be proved. According to the author there is no conclusive evidence for this position. Moreover, she criticizes the societal attitude that casts a slur on people for their psychologically caused condition. If transsexuality, like homosexuality, has psychological causes tracing back to the child's interaction with its parents in very early childhood, should it be blamed for this -- Chiland asks -- when it is no more responsible for these early interactions than it is for its biological heritage? In any case, the author claims that the causes for transsexualism are not social ones. Unlike feminism, transsexualism is not caused by a discomfort with the social roles attributed to the sexes. To the contrary, transsexuals will try to conform to the social roles attributed to their desired sex, exactly because they long for social recognition of this sexual identity.

Chiland therefore emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between one's biological sex (male/female), one's core gender identity (which is formed in the early years of childhood) and one's social gender (masculine/feminine). As she thinks the biological argument is debatable, it seems that 'core gender identity' is where the (primary) transsexual differs from 'normal' people, whose core gender identity coincides with their biological sex and social gender. Despite all this, the author recognizes that an operation is often the only viable solution for transsexuals, but emphasizes that it is not a cure, but merely 'care': an operation cannot change males into females, but only bring relief to males who feel they are and want to live as females. The argument for sex reassignment operations as a treatment for transsexualism, in Chiland's view, is one of compassion.

†Throughout the book, the author stresses the importance of the 'compass of sex', her term for the biological fact of sex difference. Even though she seems to plead for a third social gender in some places -- which would certainly accommodate intersexuals and possibly some transsexuals- her general message seems to be to confront transsexuals with the biological reality that their sex can never be changed completely. Chiland's main advice to psychotherapists dealing with transsexuals is to be aware of the many complexities it involves, to avoid judgment, not to take sex change operations for granted as the best treatment and to keep confronting clients with 'the compass of sex' -- whether before or after an operation. She is realistic about the effects of psychotherapy -- which her experience proves to be limited -- but maintains that psychotherapy can be useful before as well as after a sex reassignment operation, as long as it is a place where transsexuals can speak truthfully. Exactly how that truthfulness can be secured, she does not clarify.

Exploring Transsexualism takes a look at gender identity disorder from a variety of perspectives and with sufficient complexity; although in its complexity the discussion is not very profound. Readers expecting the experimental method and an inductive argumentative structure will be disappointed by this book and should resort to one of the many works of reference or one of Chiland's earlier books. Nevertheless, this book provides a highly informative and balanced overview of the issues raised by this controversial disorder, accessible to anyone interested in transsexualism. Moreover, the text is indeed as 'challenging' as was promised by the jacket blurb: Chiland's questions are highly relevant and call for deep reflection about the way health care workers and society handle transsexualism and about how transsexuals think of themselves.

 

© 2005 Aagie Ieven

 

Aagje Ieven received a BA in Medical Science and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Leuven, Belgium. She is currently working there as a teaching assistant in the field of legal and political philosophy and is in the process of obtaining a PhD.:


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7900 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716