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Gianna Israel Gender Library

Castration in Non-Transsexual Males

Several summers ago I authored an article titled; Transgenderists: When Self-Identification Challenges Transgender Stereotypes. It introduced transgenderists as those persons who had the need to maintain their original gender identification as well as a build on a new one. Although they are not interested in genital reassignment surgery, they may need and often are interested in hormones and cosmetic enhancing procedures. As a consequence of that article I received a lot of mail. Some people sharply criticized me for identifying transgenderists. Those who did believed that such an identification would somehow distract from crossdresser and transsexual individuals. For the most part however, I received positive commentary on the article, and it was even published in a few foreign languages, which was nice.

In this particular article I am providing information about non-transsexual males who are interested in castration. This would include transgender and non-transgender people. Generally speaking if a person has gender identity or crossdressing issues, his or her purpose for seeking castration most commonly to become more physically congruent with a new or desired gender identity. In other words, if the person was born male, and the desired to become a woman (even part-time), he or she may seek castration as a gender-confirmation surgery. If this is the case, then the person would want to follow up-to-date clinical literature for transgender persons. This would include Recommended Guidelines for Genital Reassignment Surgery or Gonad Removal found in the book Transgender Care (Israel/Tarver - Temple University Press, 1997). However, if a non-transsexual or transgender person wishes castration, many consumers as well as care providers are very poorly informed what treatment options are available.

As a community counselor and co-author of medical recommendations, I have come in contact with a significant number of non-transsexual men seeking castration. Sometimes the lines blur, and a transgenderist may seek castration for similar purposes as non-transgender men. However generally speaking non-transgender men frequently seek castration for reasons other than gender issues. They also have a unique history of their own.

Historically within each culture there has been a small segment of non-transgender men who seek chemical or surgical castration. These include a variety of groups. The Skoptji within Russia are a religious sect, and believe castration is the highest form of spirituality. There are also the famed Castrati who served Catholic Churches as well as Eunuchs who served Mid-Eastern harems. Throughout history there have also been a number of individuals who performed self-castration or sought it for personal purposes. Males today still seek castration for primarily the same reasons males did so in previous cultures.

Reasons for castration are numerous. Some males are happy with their relationships, but have an overly active libido. In other words they feel a sexual compulsion or drive which is so high it interrupts their quality of life. Other males have developed a body dysmorphic condition and feel extremely unhappy with the look and feeling of having testicles. There are also some males who seek castration for spiritual purposes as I previously mentioned.

The preceding information highlights some of the more common reasons males seek castration. However in the world of human diversity there are other reasons as well. Some males believe castration will reduce impulses to crossdress. Others may be lacking in sex education and believe that castration is the answer to problems otherwise resolvable. Occasionally males become obsessive-compulsive regarding castration. This means they constantly think about or self-inflict castration and mutilation. In these situations a person's becomes so severely handicapped by obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors his quality of life becomes considerably interrupted and diminished. Finally, some people seek castration to reduce predatory impulses or because they have a psychotic or delusional disorder.

During my past 9 years of practice I've worked with a number of males seeking castration for non-transgender reasons. People are often surprised when they hear that those that seek castration are often not all that different from one's neighbors or friends. None the less I do not advocate anyone seeking chemical or surgical castration without experienced counseling and a competent mental health evaluation prior to being referred for medical treatment. As well, any competent physician would ordinarily require this.

Toward the goal of assisting clients seeking castration I provide letters of recommendation after providing a competent evaluation. What I have found interesting is the fact that most men seeking castration enjoy being evaluated because it gives them a chance to talk about their needs without fear of being misunderstood. Like other specialized groups, most of these individuals appreciate the validation of their needs. Some are relieved to find that both non-medical as well as medical options actually exist. Whereas transsexuals and persons seeking gender-confirming procedures complete a one-year Real Life Test in order to confirm a surgical request, I advocate the same for men seeking castration. A year of chemical castration in addition to investigating other options provides men seeking castration certainty they are making the right decisions. This also provides validation for surgeons.

In discussing castration there is one specific act that gravely concerns me. This would be the person who takes matters into their own hands. In other words he or she attempts self-castration. I have encountered this with transgender as well as non-transgender persons. Tragedies happen when a person undergoes a surgical procedure without a medically-qualified care provider in attendance. This frequently happens when a person was too ashamed or compulsive to ask for help. Or, a person didn't know that resources existed. Asking for help is a realistic, good thing. Not asking for help is what gets a person diagnosed as stupid, psychotic or dead. Don't let this happen to you. Become informed about chemical and surgical options.

One of the things I enjoy about working with men goes like this. Men have very independent personality traits and characteristics. Men also lead very rich fantasy lives. Some men however play act castration fantasies during masturbation, for example. This can be dangerous. Participants may frequently act on self-castration fantasies by using rubber bands, knives and other devices. My suggestion for this behavior is play safe. Do not allow things to become so tightly wound up you find yourself seeking emergency care. Make a promise to yourself to avoid directly cutting on skin. If you have self-mutilation fantasies that lead to cutting, its time to seek counseling or sex therapy. Finally, always use safe sex precautions if you act out fantasies with a partner. That means no exchange of body fluids, blood, etc.


GENDER ARTICLES. This educational column authored by Gianna E. Israel is regularly featured on the 3rd Monday of each month in Tg-Forum, the Internet's most up-to-date, weekly Transgender Magazine <http://www.tgforum.com/>. Several weeks later each article is forwarded to Usenet and AOL <Keyword TCF>. Each column has been written to inspire contemplation and dialogue. Columns may be reprinted in any medium insofar as each article, its introduction, and the author's contact information remains unaltered.

GIANNA E. ISRAEL provides nationwide telephone consultation, individual & relationship counseling, evaluations and referrals. She is principal author of the Transgender Care (Temple University / in press 1997). She also writes Transgender Tapestry's "Ask Gianna" column; is an AEGIS board member and HBIGDA member.She can be contacted at (415) 558-8058, at P.O. Box 424447 San Francisco, CA 94142, or via e-mail at Gianna@counselsuite.com.


Copyright © 2001 by Diane Wilson. All rights reserved.