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Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

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Effects of Sex Change

Q. What are the effects on latency-aged children when a parent (in this case, the father) transitions from male to female (sex change) within an intact family? I have been unsuccessful in finding any information regarding this area.

A. I'm afraid I didn't have much more success than you--even after an extensive literature search. I suspect that the question you are asking has not been studied systematically and published in peer-reviewed journals. After all, how many individuals are there who have (a) undergone a sex change operation and (b) have an intact family that (c) includes children who have (d) been assessed for psychological effects of their parent's operation? Probably not many.

But-here are some leads that you may follow: first, you may want to see the article by Rehman et al, on the outcome of 28 postoperative male-to-female transsexual patients (Archives of Sexual Behavior, Feb. 1999, pp. 71-89). This study did look at social and personal life as one measure of outcome, but children are not mentioned in the abstract. You might want to contact Dr. Rehman or Dr. Lazer at the Department of Urology, Montifiore Medical Center, Bronx NY 10467, to see if any of their subjects did have intact families.

Dr. CT Daskalos, at Arizona State University, Tempe, Dept. of Sociology, has also studied male-to-female transsexuals, and might be able to provide some data on your question. There are also a number of online sites that provide information or support for transgendered individuals. I found one called the Center for Gender Sanity (www.gendersanity.com; 310-670-2222) that looks promising, with respect to your question. One of the site founders, Michele Kammerer, sounds like someone who might have insight into the effects of sexual surgery upon family members. You can contact her at info@gendersanity.com.

There is also another site you may want to check out: http://dmoz.org/society/transgendered/male_to_female. Oh, yes--there is also a book entitled, "The Autobiography of a Female-to-male Transsexual" by Mark Nichols Alban Rees. I haven't seen it, but maybe it would be of interest. Good luck-I hope your search turns up some interesting material.

July 2001

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