You are here:   Features > The Operation That Can Ruin Your Life
 

 
A photographic exhibition at the Hammer Museum, University of California Los Angeles, shows a comparative study between teenage girls and adult male-to-female transsexuals 

Last year, I was nominated for the Stonewall Journalist of the Year award. This seemed fair enough since I write prolifically about sexuality and sexual identity. But I guessed that Stonewall would not dare give me the prize, because a powerful lobby affiliated with the lesbian and gay communities had been hounding me for five years. Six weeks later I, along with a police escort, walked past a huge demonstration of transsexuals and their supporters, shouting "Bindel the Bigot". Despite campaigning against gender discrimination, rape, child abuse and domestic violence for 30 years, I have been labelled a bigot because of a column I wrote in 2004 that questioned whether a sex change would make someone a woman or simply a man without a penis. Subsequently, I was "no platformed" by the National Union of Students Women's Campaign, a privilege previously afforded to fascist groups such as the BNP. As a leading feminist writer, I now find that a number of organisations are too frightened to ask me to speak at public events for fear of protests by transsexual lobbyists. 

The 2004 column was about a Canadian male-to-female transsexual who had taken a rape crisis centre to court over its decision not to invite her to be a counsellor for rape victims. Feminists tend to be critical of traditional gender roles because they benefit men and oppress women. Transsexualism, by its nature, promotes the idea that it is "natural" for boys to play with guns and girls to play with Barbie dolls. The idea that gender roles are biologically determined rather than socially constructed is the antithesis of feminism. 

I wrote: "Those who ‘transition' seem to become stereotypical in their appearance — f**k-me shoes and birds' nest hair for the boys; beards, muscles and tattoos for the girls. Think about a world inhabited just by transsexuals. It would look like the set of Grease."

Gender dysphoria (GD) was invented in the 1950s by reactionary male psychiatrists in an era when men were men and women were doormats. It is a term used to describe someone who feels strongly that they should belong to the opposite sex and that they were born in the wrong body. GD has no proven genetic or physiological basis. 

A review for the Guardian in 2005 of more than 100 international medical studies of post-operative transsexuals by the University of Birmingham's Aggressive Research Intelligence Facility found no robust scientific evidence that gender reassignment surgery was clinically effective. It warned that the results of many gender reassignment studies were unsound because researchers lost track of more than half of the participants. 

The past decade has seen an increase in the number of people diagnosed as transsexual. There are now 1,500-1,600 new referrals a year to one of the handful of gender identity clinics in Britain. About 1,200 receive treatment on the NHS with the rest going private, Thailand being the main country of choice. The largest clinic, at Charing Cross Hospital in London, saw 780 new referrals last year. The NHS carried out some 150 operations in the last year (up from about  100 in 2005-2006). Apart from Thailand, the country with the highest number of sex-change operations is Iran where, homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death. When sex-change surgery is performed on gay men, they become, in the eyes of the gender defenders, heterosexual women. Transsexual surgery becomes modern-day aversion therapy for gays and lesbians. 

In the West, however, supporting the diagnosis and availability of surgical intervention is seen as a view right-thinking liberals should adopt. But no oppressed group ever insisted its emotional distress was the sole basis for the establishment of a right. Indeed, transsexuals, along with those seeking IVF and cosmetic surgery, are using the NHS for the pursuit of happiness not health. 

Treatment is brutal and the results far from perfect. Male-to-female surgery involves removal of the penis and scrotum and the construction of a "vagina" using the skin from the phallus, breast implants inserted and the trachea shaved. Painful laser treatment to remove hair in the beard area and elsewhere and cosmetic surgery to "feminise" the face is increasingly common. 

For female-to-male surgery, breasts, womb and ovaries are removed. Testosterone injections, usually prescribed shortly after the initial diagnosis, result in the growth of facial hair and deepening of the voice. 

Recent legislation (the Gender Recognition Act, which allows people to change sex and be issued with a new birth certificate) will have a profoundly negative effect on the human rights of women and children. Since 2004, it has been possible for those diagnosed with GD to be assigned the sex of their choice, providing that the person has lived as the opposite sex for two years, has no plans to change back again and can provide evidence of the above. 

It is not necessary to have undergone hormone treatment or surgery. In other words, a pre-operative man could apply for a job in a women — only rape counselling service and, if refused on grounds of his sex, could take the employer to court on the grounds that "he" is legally a "she". 

A definition of transsexualism used by a number of transsexual rights organisations reads:

Students who are gender non-conforming are those whose gender expression (or outward appearance) does not follow traditional gender roles: "feminine boys," "masculine girls" and students who are androgynous, for example. It can also include students who look the way boys and girls are expected to look but participate in activities that are gender nonconforming, like a boy who does ballet. The term "transgender youth" can be used as an umbrella term for all students whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth and/or whose gender expression is non-stereotypical. 

According to this definition, a girl who plays football is trans-sexual.

A number of transsexuals are beginning to admit that opting for surgery ruined their lives. "I was a messed-up young gay man," says Claudia McClean, a male-to-female transsexual who opted for surgery 20 years ago. "If I had been offered an alternative to a sex change, I would have jumped at the chance." A number of transsexuals I have spoken to tell me how easy it is to be referred for surgery if they trot out a cliche such as, "I felt trapped in the wrong body."

Transsexualism is becoming so normalised that increasing numbers of children are being referred to clinics by their parents. Recently, an 18-month-old baby in Denmark was diagnosed as suffering from GD. Last summer, a primary school headteacher held an assembly to explain that a nine-year-old boy would return as a girl. 

Ten years ago, there were an average of six child and adolescent referrals per year in Britain, but in 2008 numbers had increased six-fold. Although the minimum age for sex-change surgery is 18, puberty-blocking hormones can be prescribed to those as young as 16, and transsexual rights lobbyists want that age to be reduced to 13. 

James Bellringer is a surgeon at Charing Cross Hospital, which has the largest gender identity clinic in the UK. He believes that children should be allowed to self-diagnose as GD. "It is not the doctors saying, ‘You are a transsexual, let's get you on hormones,' it is the children saying, ‘I don't like my breasts, I feel like a girl'." 

There is, however, a dispute within the medical profession about whether puberty-blockers should be prescribed. Some doctors say that children need to experience puberty to know whether they are misplaced in their bodies. I would describe preventing puberty as a modern form of child abuse. Two-thirds of those claiming to be, or diagnosed as, transsexual during childhood become lesbian or gay in later life. "I would be happy living now as a gay man, comfortable in the body I was born with," says McClean. "The prejudice against me for being an effeminate boy who fancied other boys was too much to bear. Changing sex meant I could be normal."

Medical science cannot turn a biological male into a biological female — it can only alter the appearance of body parts. A trans-sexual "woman" will always be a biological male. A male-to-female transsexual serving a prison sentence for manslaughter and rape won the right to be relocated to a women's jail. Her lawyers argued that her rights were being violated by being unable to live in her role as a woman in a men's jail. Large numbers of female prisoners have experienced childhood abuse and rape and will fail to appreciate the reasons behind a biological man living among them, particularly one who still has the penis with which he raped a woman. (Some transsexuals choose to retain their genitals.) 

There is a handful of radicals in the world today who have dared to challenge the diagnosis of transsexualism. Those who do are called "transphobic" and treated with staggering vitriol. There is a form of cultural relativism at play here. Defenders of female genital mutilation or forced marriage often use the argument that such practices can be justified within certain communities (i.e. non-Western cultures), despite the fact that they serve to dehumanise women, because it is the "truth" of that particular community. After I had been shortlisted for the Stonewall award, scores of blogs and message boards filled with a call to arms against me. 

On one, "Genocide and Julie Bindel", a poster wrote, "What would Stonewall's reaction have been had a BME [black and minority ethnic] group nominated Ayatollah Khomeini as Politician of the Year? She is an active oppressor of trans people. I hope she dies an agonising and premature death of cancer in the very near future. It would make the world a better place."

I had some support, some from those who had also experienced a transsexual-led witchhunt. I heard from post-operative trans-sexuals who had been railroaded into surgery and now regretted it. "Do not publish my name," said one, "but if anyone questions the validity of sex-change treatment you are sent to Coventry by the ‘community' elders." 

A police officer who, during the course of his duty, was unfairly accused by transsexuals of "transphobia" was driven to a breakdown by their vicious campaign. An eminent medical ethicist who had dared to defend a fellow professional who had questioned the diagnosis of GD from a scientific point of view almost lost his career and reputation. And several women from feminist organisations have been bullied and vilified for challenging the "right" of male-to-female transsexuals to work in women-only organisations. 

Dr Caillean McMahon, a US-based forensic psychiatrist, defines herself not as a transsexual but as a "woman of operative history. The trans community has an unforgiving global sort of condemnation towards critical outsiders. I have to be suspicious that the insistence of many of those demanding to enter it is not for the purpose of celebrating the spirit and nature of women, but to seek an enforced validation, extracted by force in a legal or political manner." With the normalisation of transsexual surgery comes an acceptance of other forms of surgery to correct a mental disorder. In 2000, Russell Reid, a psychiatrist who has diagnosed hundreds of people with GD, was involved in controversy over the condition known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), where sufferers can experience a desperate urge to rid themselves of a limb. Reid referred two BDD patients to a surgeon for leg amputations. "When I first heard of people wanting amputations, it seemed bizarre in the extreme," he said in a TV documentary. "But then I thought, ‘I see transsexuals and they want healthy parts of their body removed in order to adjust to their idealised body image,' and so I think that was the connection for me. I saw that people wanted to have their limbs off with equally as much degree of obsession and need."

In a world where equality between men and women was reality, transsexualism would not exist. The diagnosis of GD needs to be questioned and challenged. We live in a society that, on the whole, respects the human rights of others. Accepting a situation where the surgeon's knife and lifelong hormonal treatment are replacing the acceptance of difference is a scandal. Sex-change surgery is unnecessary mutilation. Using human rights laws to normalise trans-sexualism has resulted in a backward step in the feminist campaign for gender equality. Perhaps we should give up and become men.

View Full Article
 
Share/Save
 
 
 
 
Anonymous
March 9th, 2016
9:03 AM
I think the whole issue is way out of balance with the usual view of society. It's difficulty to know what's going on and where it will end up. At this point to my perspective it's not worth giving any opinion--not a public one anyway. sign--elderly female.

CMR
February 15th, 2016
12:02 PM
The argument here seems to be - I'm not a Trannsexual so there for no one else is. And the headline is so easy to pull apart. An operation for any condition that the person operated on is not suffering is going to be harmful. But if the person is suffering from that condition, the operation is going to be benefitial. That gay men in Iran are having inappropriate surgery forced on them is NOT a reason for denying appropriate surgery for others. And as a supporter of Trans people who isn't taking path himself, I have lost times of the number of times I've heard people say "I don't see what the fuss is about, I don't have a problem with my gender".. I KNOW THAT means you are NOT Trans. Other people are. Deal with it.

Anonymous
February 14th, 2016
5:02 PM
I'm not saying I completely agree with Julie Bindel, but she does make excellent points. Although some LGBT rights supporters may feel instantly threatened by the points she makes, I would like it for some of you to take a moment and listen to them as they are certainly not discriminating against you in any way. I for one am an enourmous supporter of LGBT rights, but I have never understood why they are grouped together, as the first three initials represent sexual orientation while the last represents gender. They are two completely different things. The only thing that ties them together is the point made in this article. Gender Roles and Society Expectations. It's like one half of lesbians and gay relationships feel the need to portray the image of the opposite sex, as if to make their relationship feel 'normal' in the eyes of society. The same applies with transgender individuals. If you ask them what it is that makes them feel like they were born in the wrong body, in most cases you would find that it is because they want to behave 'like women' or 'like men' and that it rarely has anything to do with their actual genitalia or lack of specific genitalia. Femininity and masculinity are two ever-changing social constructs that are slowly disappearing and the behaviour that is expected from women and the behaviour that is expected from men is slowly becoming meaningless and mushed together. In time, the labels that western society feels it needs to make sense of difference in this world will disappear, and people won't have to identify as lesbian, trans, bisexual, they can just fall in love and behave in anyway they want, without having to endure painful surgery to feel that they can do that.

Nic
January 15th, 2016
7:01 PM
Its all very well agreeing with Julie but people struggle out there. Because of society. You may walk out the door easily but its not possible for all to feel that free and easy Have some compassion. The natrual order of sexulity must be put back in place. Thats all I am saying. Men have alwaya dressed up proof of this going back to stone age. They enjoyed that natrually perfectly well. Gay Bi men dont need this idiotic pressure to be hurt. What does the medical world really get out of this. Who allows the opps what is thier religious social attitude. Who benefits really?. Many people regret the un human opp they have spoken out?

Nic
January 15th, 2016
7:01 PM
In Iran the Gov pay for these divisive operations. Rather than allow sexy and wonderful gay or fem straight or bi men to be as they are. It is natrual that each sex has men or women who are Masculine in the middle and feminine. Both men and women have this natrually. All these groups have plenty of natrual admirers because its part of the natrual system So called turning men to women turns them into things non human. Makes them a target which I think aspects of society want especially religious society. Straight men who so called mutilate themselves may do so because they are scared to be gay or Bisexual or fem Men or Masculine Women. Loving same sex is powerful natrual going back thousands of years and IS mirrored in nature. A way to bond and love. There is no such thing as changing sex then suddenly becoming sexually into men because now you sort of look like a woman. The desire for men was there already. And the image of a woman allowed it to unlock or to feel comfortable. Nature create natrual she_ males born with both parts not a part missing Men are amazing as they are if you are effeminate go with it use it with flare. It is art and beautiful. In the past effeminate Men were regarded as high art and the thing of the day. Now you get Gym Handsome Gay Guys and nothing else seems to count. We need to grow the lgbt community to all natrual types. I used to be more feminine but it changed as I got older. I am happy as a gentle Gay man who works out I develop both sides. I like strong body n soft emotions as I am. I am hyper sensitive but thats ok Having the opp turns men into sexual fantasies operated on by those exact people. Who are the Surgions? What do they truly think about open sexuality? I think that is wrong. Men have a G spot men are already the third sex natrually. Men can be dominated or dominate already be with Men or Women. A mans ass is powerfully totally sexual zone. The opp maybe religious society pushing men to fit in yet mock. Even if you think you are a woman what is difference between liking men as a gay man? Or Bi Man. Gay men can mix with both sides and enjoy both sides as they are by dressing up sometimes. Same with Fem Straight or Bi men Men are an alternative to Women. And Women are to men. Its always been like this. My theory is in religious books the story of Soddom was an issue with that particular group of people. The system of the day wanted to start controlling people violence was rife. Sexuality was a good excuse no one said stop controlling. I understand some people claim in wrong body . I say you are in right body but you need time to get used to it and work play with it. Society shows little support so one feels alone or isolated in thier own category alone To me Trans means deep inside expressed outside natrually thru behaviour voice tone and manner and dress style. Be a fem or camp man that is ok. Love the body treat it well.

Nic of light
January 4th, 2016
12:01 PM
2. Relation ships are so varied in reality but religion tried to change this religion is not spiritual it is social control. if your a straight guy or women. I suggest developing your self as you are. Attend assertiveness courses, try NLP, healing work shops and mediation. SGI Buddhism is accepting of who ever you are. I know that many straight women truly love feminine men and wish they had a partner who was more gentle loving and caring. For Masculine women ; I know many men look for a strong partner and some straight men want a pal not a feminine women so a Masculine women helps keep him in check. Gay men want men and again the varying levels of Masculine and Feminine determine the match its all natural Bisexual Trans people are still trans inside and outside without a operation. Human being feel this so a partner will know who you are if they are looking for that you will both know if you like each other. So Nature has it all worked out it is all there already as it is. Feminine or Masculine in the middle its all there for all of us to enjoy what ever you like in the adult world; Love, friendship. its who matches our being as they we are. Please think carefully because levels can change. When I was younger and more feminine, this began to change as I got older as if the Masculine wanted a chance to see the light. What if you already had that operation? its the operation that is not natural not the beautiful people. There are things you can do like wearing some famine things like nail vanish or accessories. some men are so famine everyone can see this without an operation. Someone will like you as you are that is life , there are millions of people on the planet they are not all religious people who are lost. You have a right to find yourself even if those other people choose to be lost. Dressing up now and then also might help but accepting your self as you are could help in the long term. Never nibs what society thinks please just be yourself in pre religious time Adult sexuality was left to be what it was and this should return.

Nic of light
January 4th, 2016
11:01 AM
Are you a woman in a mans body or an Effeminate man? I am not meaning any offence I am adding a new Holistic view to special people waiting to play your role as you are . Be special you are special already, please see this I thought a lot about this. I wonder if this issue might be about being happy to be an effeminate Man or Masculine Women. In society the effeminate man tends to find it difficult but does not have to. It is sexy and brilliant to be an effeminate man. Men are attracted to this it is part of the order of sexuality and natures choice. Gay and Bi men even straight men find this very erotic and charming. centuries ago this was very sought after seen as High art and intelligence which it is as well as just being normal i think there is a old school attitude that gay men or effeminate men should then be women. This is wrong. nN one should ever mutilate themselves for this issue. I wonder if the operation should be banned? I have a strong fem side as a gay man and I work with it and enjoy it. I wear my skinny jeans and allow the Masculine side to work with the feminine side. People often say to me I have a good balance of both. I like mens clothes fashion and style and elegance and sex appeal I truly believe as a Buddhist and Holistic Man that you are meant to be a Masculine women if you are a women or a Feminine man if you are a man. This is what you naturally are. The gay scene can be a bit off with very fem men your either the Gym bade , straight acting or don't count. But this is men desperately trying to fit in also. the true gay behaviour and act on the more camp side if ok and is brilliant and has it natural admirers sexy and a breath of fresh air and fun and honest. Be your self and chance things; all minorities have had to fight so fight with true identity introduce this and be your self as you are it is beautiful. Yes it can make you a target because you act differently to the other men so what!. You are the art of men. if you have that horrible operation people can always tell and your become a sexual fantasy and more of a target. If you want to be a sex worker that is fine i guess that some people just want to live and be happy. All men have a g spot and men are very easily able to have sex naturally with a partner who is male via anal sex . it is all there to enjoy already In some countries they pay for these horrible operations rather than allow a gay man to be gay. This says it all. Leave the country and live in peace somewhere like Uk or USA Or Parts of Asia. I work out and develope that power but I am also very emotional and have very gentle emotions which I love and is a gift

Anonymous
December 8th, 2015
11:12 AM
I agree with Julie Bindel. Why is society so gender obsessed? I am me. I do not feel 'masculine' or 'feminine'; I feel like a person. Wear what you like, do what you like, love whom you want, be you. Surgery is not necessary for this. Male and female fashions in clothes and behaviour have changed countless times over the years. Develop your own and have the courage to withstand anyone who jeers at your choice.

Anonymous
November 16th, 2015
3:11 PM
My question is why? The operation is incomplete, and disphoria itself is the human condition. We all feel bad about something about our bodies. So you get the treatment, but afterwards, you find that your gender disphoria is replaced by some other kind of craving or dissatisfaction. This is the first time I've heard of body disphoria - the craving for amputations. At first, I thougth it was parody. In the case of body disphoria, amputation of a limb is clearly mutilation. But one is tarred as a bigot and witch hunted if it is pointed out that gender reassignment surgery is only that - superficial surgery, and maybe the whole industry needs to be questioned - not because it seeks to change gender, but because it may be a false promise when the change is incomplete. Everybody would probably experiment with sex change if the change were 100% complete (and reversible) down to the molecular level. Do some kind of futuristic genetic operation and change the chromosomes, natural production of appropriate sex hormones, geneticals that form by themselves after the treatment, self lubricating private parts, changed brain structures, etc.

LucyTtttt
November 10th, 2015
3:11 AM
Someone said: " Transfemales do not need to be assimulated into the cisfemale world. This is their world...their creation. The transfemale world is different and this needs to be well understood and communicated." I don't agree. I am MTF and : 1. I want to live among females like a female and be accepted by them. 2. My body changes are a part of myself. I know it is dangerous, I know the science can not make me cis woman, I know I can die from it and I know that I don't want to look like many TS with tatoos and freaky staff. as this is not normal for cis woman, I just want to look like as close as possible to cis woman and have a peace of my inner self. 3. I want to be normal and accepted. 4. I know who I am and I know my sould is female even if my genetics and body is not, and never will. Mayby one day will meet the maked and beg him for mercy to have a chance to reborn as a cis female. If had a chance I would go for it 100% percent, as I have also strong feeling towards giving life and having child. Weird, but true even I can not. How do you classify this? 5. I don't like term trans at all. I like to be just accepted like female and called being female. I am not a plant to be named as a trans.

Post your comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.