Accounting for transsexualism
This study reports the systematic collection of accounts from 204 transsexual subjects, most of whom attended the Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital (Fulham). A review of the literature covers cross gender behaviour in other societies, recent biological, social and psychological studies on gendered and cross gendered behaviour, a medical history of transsexualism and 'sex reassignment surgery'. Psychological 'frames' for the study of cross gendered careers are derived from attributional theories, and symbolic interactionist approaches to the construction of sexual categories of behaviour and experience. The collection of accounts follows a methodology derived from Harr & and his associates' ethogenic approach to the study of social behaviour, and the principles of generating 'grounded (sociological) theory' propounded by Glaser and Strauss. There is a short statistical section on the population of research subjects as a whole. Transexuals' accounts, some 500 exerpts, are marshalled under nearly 200 headings and subheadings. These cover almost all areas of relevant life experience. The conclusions argue that there is a fundamental weakness in the imposition of psychiatric 'syndromes' on gender dysphoric phenomena. Rather, 'gender dysphoric careers' are proposed as fluctuating enterprises in the construction of meanings, some meanings being more fateful and workable than others. An attributional -'imaginative involvement' model to account for transsexualism is explicated. The implications which can be drawn from this, for the way the management of these unfortunate people could be improved, completes the text.