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Issues of Trangenderism Dr Robin S Bradbeer Department of Electronic Engineering City University of Hong Kong

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Issues of Trangenderism Dr Robin S Bradbeer Department of Electronic Engineering City University of Hong Kong. What this lecture IS NOT about. Sexual deviance. What this lecture IS about. Dispelling misunderstanding, ignorance and prejudice. Outline.

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Issues of Trangenderism

Dr Robin S Bradbeer

Department of Electronic Engineering

City University of Hong Kong

what this lecture is not about
What this lecture IS NOT about
  • Sexual deviance

What this lecture IS about

Dispelling misunderstanding, ignorance and



PerceptionsDefinitionsSex GenderTransgenderismTransvestitesDrag queens TranssexualsAetiologyTranssexualismDiscriminationReferences

  • Before embarking on a detailed discussion of
  • transgenderism, it is important to define some
  • terms;
  • Sex and Gender are two important and
  • different concepts that are frequentlyconfused.
  • Sex refers to someone's anatomical sex --- in
  • other words, which type of genitals they
  • possess. Except in very rare cases of
  • hermaphroditism, anatomical sex is well-
  • defined andeasy to interpret.
  • Gender refers to theperson's own self-identity as a male, female or something else. The overwhelming majority of the population have a gender thataccords with theiranatomical sex. Gender isless clearly defined than anatomical sex, and doesnot necessarilyrepresent a simple binary choice: some people have a gender identity that isneitherclearly female nor clearly male. (Gender is a spectrum)
Gender identity and gender role
  • Gender consists of two related aspects:
  • Gender Identity, which is the person's internal
  • perception and experience of their gender, and
  • Gender Role, which is the way that theperson
  • livesin society andinteracts with others, based on their gender identity.

A 'transgendered' person is someone whose gender identity differs from conventional expectations of masculinity or femininity. Their gender identity differs from theirphysical sex as assigned at birth. Transgendered people are born this way and have no choice in who they are.They are generally referred to as ‘gender dysphoric’.

Who are Transgendered People?

Transgendered persons include:

pre-operative and post-operative transsexuals;

a minority of transvestites;

"mannish" or "passing" women.

Who are Transgendered People?

Trangendered persons can be female-to-male (transsexual or transgendered men) as well asmale-to-female (transsexual or transgendered women).

Are Transgendered People Gay?

Most transgendered persons identify themselves asheterosexual. Their intrinsic difference is their genderidentity, not their sexual orientation: these are twodifferentthings altogether. However, transgenderedpeople are perceived by most people as homosexuals,and thus are discriminated against in similar ways.


The largest subgroup of transgendered persons are

crossdressers who are mainly heterosexualmen,although there are also women who crossdress.

Mostcrossdressers are married and many

have children, so they have much to lose from their

transgendered state being revealed. They also wish

to remain in the sex theywere born, unlike


Homosexuality and Bisexuality.

This has little or no connection at all with

transgenderism --- gay men and lesbians are

generally totally happy with their anatomical sex,

and theirgender identity is in accordance with it.

They are merely attracted to persons of their own

anatomical sex, or to both sexes in the case of

bisexuals. However, some gay men and lesbians

may exhibit gender dysphoria.

What about the Transsexuals?

Transsexual persons differ from the majority of others who exhibit gender dysphoria in that they come to feel they can no longer continue to live their lives inthe gender associated with the sex theywere assigned at birth.

Why do they feel that way?

The overall psychological term is called gender dysphoria, an intense feeling of pain, anguish, and anxiety from the mis-assignment of a transgendered person's sex atbirth. All transgendered people suffer from it, but the feeling becomes more acute for transsexuals, usually in the middle of their lives. Thesefeelings lead many transgendered people into depression, anxiety, chemical dependencies, divorces and other family problems, even


Gender dysphoria

It is now accepted by all reputable

professionals in the field that gender

dysphoria stems from a physiological cause,

and is in no way a mental illness, perversion

or 'lifestyle choice'. Theconsensus of opinion

is thatgender identity is determined before

birth and is unchangeable thereafter.


All human foetuses start off in a female

configuration, and in the absence of

biochemical instructions to the contrary, will

develop into baby girls --- irrespective of their

chromosomal sex . This 'female by default'

development is overridden in normal male

foetuses by a complex sequence of hormonal



Some weeks later, the primitive testes start

working, and secrete a large dose of

testosterone (the principal male hormone),

which causes the foetal brain to differentiate

intothe male pattern.


At this point the brain structure responsible

for gender identity, as well as all the other

well-known (and measurable) brain

differences between men andwomen, is

laid down.


Gender dysphoria is caused by that second

burst of hormones failing to happen, or only

happening very weakly (many male-to-female

transsexuals do exhibit some masculine mental

tendencies, but retain the feminine gender

identity, suggesting that the masculinisation of

the brain went part of the way and then failed).


A transsexual is someone who experiences a

deep and long-lasting discomfort with their

anatomical (genital) sex, and wishes to change

their physical characteristics,including

genitals, to the opposite of those usually

associated with their anatomical sex, and to

live permanently in the gender role opposite to

that normally associatedwith their anatomical



Transsexualism is a fairly rare condition.

About one person per thousand is gender

dysphoric to some extent, although around one

person per 25,000 (some research indicate 1 in

10,000) is a transsexual.

After genital reassignment surgery (sex-change)

most, but by no means all, transsexuals are

heterosexual, although the usual spectrum of

human sexuality can be found.

Social and cultural differences

In ‘the West’ ratio of FtM:MtF having SRS is 1:10

In Hong Kong it is 60:40

In China it is 10:1


How are Transgendered People

Discriminated Against?

Transgendered peopleface employment and housing discrimination.

They are alsopotential targets for hate crimes: verbal harassment,hatemail, harassing telephone calls and acts of violencecommitted by the same persons who hate homosexuals andbisexuals.

How are Transgendered People

Discriminated Against?

Unlike gay men, lesbians andbisexuals,transgenderedpeople are much more likely to fallvictim todiscrimination and hate crimes, becausemost of thempossess physical or behaviouralcharacteristics that readilyidentify them as transgendered.

What about their Privacy?

Themajority of transgendered persons strongly desire tokeep their transgendered states secret.

Transgenderedpeople are vulnerable to their sexual minoritystatus being revealedagainst their will, i.e., being "outed".

What about Hong Kong?

Post-op transsexuals cannot marry ‘opposite sex’, (e.g. domestic violence debate – see SCMP articles, BA complaint etc.)

Passport and HKID can be reissued with new name and sex,

New sex recognised for identity reasons but still ‘legally’ pre-op sex. (TS women could theoretically be put in men’s prisons!)

Birth certificate cannot be changed.

Hospital Authority has closed Gender Identity Clinic at Queen Mary Hospital.No more Specialist Clinic with Gender Identity Team consisting of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, surgeons, lawyers etc.Sex reassignment surgery carried out at public hospitals at low cost, but may be cut in future.

What about Hong Kong?


Sunday Morning Post 30.5.99

South China Morning Post 25.1.03

Article article.html

Editorial editorial.html

Letter from Prof Ng, QMH

And others on web site login page

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