Self-made women: The (re) construction of self following male to female gender reassignment surgery
thesisposted on 11.11.2010, 10:44 by Katie Bohane
Aims and Method: Surgical intervention as a treatment for Gender Identity Disorder is a procedure increasingly well examined from a medical perspective, yet relatively poorly in terms of psychological outcomes. Further to a systematic review of the literature evidencing post-operative outcomes from a psychological perspective, a qualitative study was designed with a view to exploring this comparatively rare and under-examined phenomenon. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was selected as the method of data analysis, for the purpose of capturing the relative novelty of the subject matter and due to its emphasis on process and meaning. Eight participants who had completed male to female surgery were recruited and interviewed by the researcher. Results: Emergent themes in the interview data were clustered into five super-ordinate themes, where participants had communicated the following issues of significance to them: the importance of contextualising surgery; the social dimension of the procedure; the need to distinguish between gender and sex; the notion of having made a difficult but necessary choice; and the sense of living between genders post-operatively. Conclusions: The findings of the current study suggest that from a psychological perspective, surgical gender reassignment has complex implications for both the patient and those around them, such that it is perceived as both life-changing yet ultimately limited as an intervention. Further research is needed to build on these findings, for example through examining the experiences of partners and family members whose are themselves integral to the experience of constructing gender in this way.