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

The Advancement of Technology in Gender Reassignment Surgery

Very few demographics of people conceptualize the duality of gender with the depth and intimacy of the transgender community. Individuals who are deemed to be transgender meet several psychologically founded criteria: a persistent and intense desire to be the other sex, a discomfort with their assigned sex stemming from a belief they were born the wrong sex, and a significant distress or problems functioning caused by these feelings°. It seems as though nobody understands the antagonistic duality of gender more intimately than those who seek to overcome it both psychologically and physically. As the transgender community is able to progress with safer transitions, specifically physical ones, we as a society can progress towards a spectral conception of gender as the physical manifestation of it becomes something fluid, changeable, and impermanent.

    Historically, the process of transitioning has been wrought with danger, malpractice, and illegality. People prayed on this and offered cheap, unlicensed, and accessible surgeries for people trying to alleviate their body dysmorphia and as a result, the lives and wellbeing of trans* lives were jeopardized. In the past, trans individuals had two options- to live with their bodies as they were or seek a dangerous and illegitimate surgery. Thought today only about 25-30% of transgendered individuals today have any sort of surgery, at least there are safe, practical, means of doing so if they choose.

    This change in society and medical technology is not only a beacon of hope for those who were most vulnerable to transphobia in the past. It also indicates that as a society, people are growing more accustomed to the idea of transitioning and changing sex and gender. As medical technology becomes more affordable and more accessible trans individuals are able to transition more easily, making gender more and more impermanent.

One example of gender reassignment surgery becoming more accessible is Medicare. It wasn’t until just recently in 2014 that Medicare lifted its 33-year long ban on gender reassignment surgery. Historically those on Medicare couldn’t expect any coverage from Medicare in paying for reassignment surgery. This is substantial because gender reassignment is very expensive. For a male to transition to female, it costs between $40,000 and $50,000 dollars. For a female to transition to male, it cost upwards of $75,000 dollars°. It’s important to note that these surgeries don’t work exclusively with genitalia. Surgeries are also performed for aesthetics. For ftm (female to male) trans individuals, they are masculinized by removing breasts as well as the uterus and ovaries. Mtf (male to female) trans individuals have additional surgeries like plastic surgery to feminize the face and breasts and even to reduce the size of the Adam’s apple°. As these exorbitant costs are being more and more frequently absorbed by insurance, gender reassignment becomes more accessible to trans individuals.

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