chapter  8
20 Pages

THE SOCIO-MEDICAL CONSTRUCTION OF TRANSSEXUALISM: AN INTERPRETATION AND CRITIQUE

Dwight B.Billings and Thomas Urban
WithAn interpretation and critique*

We show that transsexualism is a socially constructed reality which only exists in and through medical practice. The problem of transsexual patients does not lie ‘in their minds,’ as sex-change proponent John Money (1972:201) puts it. Money’s statement typifies medicine’s reification of transsexualism as a psychological entity. In contrast, we believe transsexualism is a relational process sustained in medical practice and marketed in public testimony such as Money’s (1972:201) description of the ‘warm glow’ of sexual fulfilment

available through surgery. The legitimisation, rationalisation, and commodification of sex-change operations have produced an identity category-transsexualfor a diverse group of sexual deviants and victims of severe gender-role distress.