Theory in a Digital Age: A Project of English 483 Students, Coastal Carolina University

Real Life Tests

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health is an international organization that focused on healthcare standards specifically for transgendered people. Although some consider the standards to be too strict and in some ways prohibitory, many laud it as a means of maintaining a necessary standard of care. They mandate that before any surgical procedures can take place candidates for gender reassignment surgery are required to go through what’s known as a Real-Life test in which they must live for at least a year as the gender to which they aspire to become°.

    To complete this year-long trial, individuals must change their name, and attend whatever they normally would (whether that’s school, work, volunteering, etc.) as their preferred gender. The goal is to show people other than a therapist (like loved ones and a surgeon) that they can live successfully in this way. This trial run functions not only on a personal and psychological level but also on a social level for the individuals. This is strikingly similar to the claims made by Cardenas suggesting that the virtual world functions in a similar way, allowing the user to “prototype” their new gender in many ways°.


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