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The Transsexual Phenomenon

The Transsexual Phenomenon

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Published by Carolyn Samuels
A groundbreaking work by Dr. Benjamin
A groundbreaking work by Dr. Benjamin

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Published by: Carolyn Samuels on Jan 06, 2010
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The Transgender Zone
Harry Benjamin, M.DThe Julian Press, Inc. New York (1966)Transgender Zone[Abstract] Full Text PDF File
Part 1
Preface and Acknowledgements
is a challenge as well as a handicap in writing a book on asubject that is not yet covered in the medical literature.Transsexualism is such a subject.
The handicap lies in the absence of all previous observations to whichto compare one's own, and which would thus allow a more meaningfulappraisal of the entire problem.
The challenge lies in the novelty of these observations and in theattempt to describe clinical pictures and events without preconceivednotions, with no axes to grind, and with no favorites to play.Conclusions, therefore, are "untainted," growing out of directobservance.
As one who is neither surgeon nor psychiatrist - but rather as astudent of sexological problems, and also as a long-time practitioner insexology - I feel myself to be in a good position for the necessaryobjectivity.
There exists a relatively small group of people - men more often thanwomen - who want to "change their sex." This phenomenon has
occasionally been described in its principal symptoms by psychiatristsand psychologists in the past; but a deeper awareness of the problem,and especially its general sexological as well as its therapeuticimplications, was largely neglected, at least in the United States. Ithas been considered only during the last (roughly) thirteen years andthen with much hesitation.
The case of Christine Jorgensen focused attention on the problem asnever before. Without her courage and determination, undoubtedlyspringing from a force deep inside her, transsexualism might be stillunknown - certainly unknown by this term - and might still beconsidered to be something barely on the fringe of medical science. Tothe detriment if not to the desperation of the respective patients, themedical profession would most likely still be ignorant of the subjectand still be ignoring its manifestations. Even at present, any attemptsto treat these patients with some permissiveness in the direction of their wishes - that is to say, "change of sex" - is often met with raisedmedical eyebrows, and sometimes even with arrogant rejection and/orcondemnation.
And so, without Christine Jorgensen and the unsought publicity of her"conversion," this book could hardly have been conceived.
If credit, therefore, goes to her (and to a few other pioneer patientswho made their experiences known in the United States and inEngland), so it must also go to those courageous and compassionateDanish physicians who, for the first time, dared to violate the tabu of asupposedly inviolate sex and gender concept, and who pubilshed theirfindings in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
 Furthermore, being true physicians, they considered the patient’sinterest before they thought of possible criticism by their colleagues.
This criticism was not long in coming. New and rather revolutionarymedical and surgical procedures readily found their opponents,especially since sex was involved. Such a contretemps, however, is nonovelty in the history of medicine.
Conservatism and caution are most commendable traits in governingthe progress of science in general, and of medicine in particular. Onlywhen conservatism becomes unchanging and rigid and when cautiondeteriorates into mere self-interest do they become negative forces,retarding, blocking, and preventing progress, neither to the benefit of science nor to that of the patient. More power, therefore, to thosebrave and true scientists, surgeons, and doctors who let the patient'sinterest and their own conscience be their sole guides.
When I decided to write this book, with the principal objective of describing my own clinical observations of the past decade, I was well
aware that I would meet opposition in various quarters and by nomeans only the medical. Breaking a tabu always stirs quick emotions,although attempts to rationalize may follow. How great this tabu isthat aims to protect man’s sex or gender was for the first time wellemphasized
by Johann Burchard, psychiatrist at the University of Hamburg.
The forces of nature, however, know nothing of this tabu, and factsremain facts. Intersexes exist, in body as well as in mind. I have seentoo many transsexual patients to let their picture and their suffering beobscured by uninformed albeit honest opposition. Furthermore, I feltthat after fifty years in the practice of medicine, and in the evening of life, I need not be too concerned with a disapproval that touches muchmore on morals than on science.
Nevertheless, encouragement was needed. That came, directly orindirectly, from those doctors and friends, here and abroad, whothemselves had observed the transsexual phenomenon in somepatients and had formed
an independent opinion. To these unnamedsupporters go my heartfelt thanks; so also to my collaborators in thisvolume, science writer Dr. G. B. Lal, psychiatrist Dr. Richard Green,and sexologist-writer R. E. L. Masters. And not least to the publisherMr. Arthur Ceppos, president of the Julian Press. Likewise to myassociate Dr. Leo Wollman, surgeon-gynecologist, for his editorialadvice in technical matters. Also to my friend Dr. Wardell Pomeroy forhis frequent valuable assistance, as well as to Mr. Richard D. Levidow,New York attorney-at-law, for checking the accuracy of the chapter onlegal aspects.
My sincere appreciation goes also to Dr. Robert W. Laidlaw and Dr.Johannes Burchard, psychiatrists, and to editor Mr. Brooking Tatum fortheir encouragement and interest in this book.
Indirect encouragement came unexpectedly when Mr. Reed Erickson,chairman of the Erickson Educational Foundation, offered me a grantfor three years to conduct research in transvestism andtranssexualism. This research has been in progress for only a shorttime and is, therefore, not included in the present book; however, ithas given welcome moral support to its writing. My sincere thanks toMr. Erickson for this support, and also to all my collaborators who aretaking an active part in this research. Let us hope their names willsoon appear in coming publications, publications that may well modify,change, supplement, or confirm statements in the chapters that are tofollow.
Can an author ever appreciate sufficiently what a competent secretarycan do in taking care of such matters as extracting essential scientificdata from medical records, tabulating them, and arranging them so

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