Archives for posts with tag: pathology

After researching sex reassignment surgery, I found the standard of care for gender identity disorder. As mentioned in class and Spade’s article, the medical considerations and standard of care for sex reassignment surgery is much more in depth and complicated than any other elective plastic surgery. For example, a breast augmentation (the most popular procedure) is easy to acquire. There are numerous doctors (and imposters) that are more than willing to perform a breast augmentation. Some plastic surgeons are willing to work out a payment plan! While a breast augmentation is seen as a rather routine procedure, patients still have horror stories about their experience with the “routine” procedure. There are countless woman that regret their decision to have a breast augmentation and many have the implants removed. “Fear” that sex reassignment patients will regret their surgery leads to such extensive medical consideration while breast augmentation does not. Why is it so difficult for individuals who desire a sex change to undergo surgery? The procedure is much more invasive and life-changing than a simple breast enlargement but the reasoning is even more compelling than wanting to “enhance” one’s looks and proportion or land a modeling/acting gig or seem even more feminine and desirable. (I have nothing against wanting to enhance one’s look/appeal to bolster confidence in one’s body.) It seems rather superficial to want to enhance your outward appearance. So why then is it so difficult for those that want to enhance their outward appearance as well as there inward to bolster confidence through sex reassignment surgery?

Another interesting thing about breast augmentations is that the manufacturers of the implants do not undergo rigorous testing to ensure that their product is safe inside a human body. Many implants erupt, leak, and adhere to tissues of the body. This poses many health risks. Women have reported flu-like symptoms, neck and back pain, blurry vision, insomnia, anxiety, dizziness, chronic fatigue, COPD, IBS, connective tissue disease, and the possible symptoms go on.  These patients are not even required to see their plastic surgeon annually or schedule follow up appointments (unless complications occur immediately). The FDA is currently investigating the effectiveness of the protocols surrounding breast implants and procedures. If so much time and effort is put into studying and analyzing date surrounding an elective procedure, why not for sex reassignment surgery?  Breast implants are almost guaranteed to fail within a patient’s lifetime. About 80% of implants fail within 10 years of insertion. The more I looked into a breast augmentation the more I realized that the seemingly routine and low risk surgical procedure posed high risks after all. It even guaranteed failure and required more surgeries every 5 to 10 years to replace the silicone implants. It does not seem fair to require extensive mental and physical examinations for an elective surgery such as gender reassignment when voluntary procedures are done by the thousands daily that present many complications to both mental and physical health too.

FDA panels put silicone breast implants back under microscope:

Standard of Care for GID:

Sex Reassignment Surgery:


One of my fraternity brothers reserved the Collins Cinema this past weekend and we prepped ourselves for a movie marathon, starting with Mean Girls. Unfortunately, the plans went from marathon to just watching Mean Girls because more than half of us started to complain about food. Hunger ravaged my brotherhood, so we decided to ravage the local Steak n Shake. We piled into a few cars, sang with the radio, and soon enough arrived at our greasy destination. Our group of ten gathered inside next to the “please wait to be seated” sign and continued in our giggled conversations as we patiently waited. The mood of one of my brothers made a quick turn for the worse when he noticed a table of guys talking about us. More specifically, they were taking photos of him and debating whether he was a man or a woman. This whole situation was incredibly uncomfortable because they were talking about him as if he was an object, just a material they wanted to decipher. He wasn’t a person to them, and I didn’t want to know how this larger group would treat us had we confronted them.

This situation wasn’t completely new to me. I had experienced homophobia growing up; at one point a group of guys bashed in every window on my car because I was just a fag in their eyes, but I thought we had grown out of that when people went to college. The newness of the situation wasn’t from homophobia, but their reaction was for his androgynous gender. I had never had to deal with people unless they knew I was gay. My brother just stood out where I didn’t.

I started to connect this to other friends and their reaction to androgyny. Even the most open minded gay friends will turn to me, giggling, and ask if I think someone is a man or a woman. Looking back on these seemingly-harmless comments made by my close friends in comparison to the group of guys deciphering my brother, the same type of comments that reduce a person to their gender presentation coming from two very different groups really concerns me. Anxieties related to gender variation are very real and far more common than most would like to think, which tells me that only a small group of people have noticed the consequences these anxieties produce.

The pathologization of gender variance has yet to draw mainstream concern. Unlike past movements related to people of color or the gay and lesbian communities, the transmovement has yet to garner enough attention to concern a majority of problems with gender policing. Even a great deal of gay, lesbian, and bi individuals don’t notice this issue unless they face gender androgyny on a daily basis. This is surprising because you would think queer individuals would be more in tune with this, but somehow this slips under the radar.


-Lucas Zigler

I’ve known since I was in the 5th grade that my dad was a “sex addict.”  This may seem like adult information that perhaps a 10 year-old shouldn’t know about, but my parents weren’t perfect.  My dad didn’t perfectly fulfill his role as monogamous husband, and my mom didn’t perfect keeping secrets from her kids.  Whatever.  It didn’t necessarily scar me for life, nor did it necessarily fuck up my own sex life.  It did, however, help to shape my understanding of “good” sex and “bad” sex.  Learning that my father had a “sex addiction” also informed me that his way of having sex was not the “right” way.  Also, I had a certain understanding that it was not necessarily his fault.  He experienced childhood sex abuse and it in turn “caused” his sex addiction, or so I thought.  I remained under the impression for quite some time that my father’s sexual behavior was deviant; it wasn’t how he was supposed to have sex.  But something went wrong along the way and he developed this pathology.  Had nothing happened to him to cause him to develop this excess sexuality, then his sexuality would have developed “normally” into heterosexual, married, monogamy.   This was the impression I had.

Janice Irvine’s Disorders of Desire really opened my eyes to the historical and cultural construction of “sex addiction.”  In the chapter “Regulated Passions,” Irvine traces the history of how sex addiction came to be seen as a legitimate, medicalized pathology.  Irvine basically says that the labeling of sex addiction was a response to those who do not conform to normative, monogamous sexuality within heterosexual marriage.  If they don’t like to have sex the “normal” way, then something must be wrong with them, and there must be a scientific justification for such behavior.  Irvine argues, “It is not surprising that professionals in the late twentieth century would conceptualize concerns regarding sexual desire as major medical problems, since historically physicians have played a significant role not only in the management of sexual behavior but in defining the existence, appropriateness, and ideal object of sexual desire or passion” (176).  In other words, my father’s sexuality was inappropriate according to normative medical standards, which are always culturally subjective.  There was something “wrong” with him because he didn’t want to have sex with just my mother.

This whole idea of the “sex addict” is a means of further legitimizing heterosexual, monogamous, married sex as the normal and natural sexuality.  There was nothing deviant about my father’s sexuality.  His sexuality was just different from my mother’s sexuality, which fell in accordance with normative societal standards (that is, until she came out as a lesbian, but that story is for another time).  My father did make a mistake, however, by not informing my mother of his different sexuality to make sure she was okay with it, or she could have made the choice not to marry him.  His sex addiction did “hurt the family,” but now I realize that is just because we live in a society where it is expected to.  My dad died when I was 16, so I can’t tell him that I get it now.  I understand that his sexuality was not deviant or wrong, just different.  Sex addiction is a historical and cultural phenomenon, it’s not some medical disease that my dad suffered from.  He just had sex differently than he was “suppose” to according to modern Western ideology.  I can’t fault him for that. -Stephanie Halsted