Recent calculations indicate that male-to-female transsexualism occurs in about 1 out of every 250 to 500 children born as boys, and that about 1 in every 2500 males in the U.S. has already undergone surgical sex reassignment. Transsexualism is thus more than twice as prevalent as multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy or cleft lip/palate conditions. Furthermore, Approximately 30,000 to 40,000 postoperative transsexual women live in the United States, and many thousands more are now in the process of gender transition.
Medical and surgical procedures didn't always exist for transgender & transsexual men and women. This made it frustrating for men and women of the past who identified as the opposite gender. For example, even though Elagabalus (a Roman Emperor from 218 A.D. - 222 A.D. who was born male) identified as a women, he could only enhance his looks with cosmetics since their was no Gender Reassignment surgery in those days. However, it was said that Elagabalus offered vast sums of money to any physician who could equip him with female genitalia.
Transgender medicine has come a long way since the days of Elagabalus though. In modern day medicine, medical and surgical procedures exist for transsexual and some transgender people. Hormone replacement therapy for trans men induces beard growth and masculinises skin, hair, voice and fat distribution. Hormone replacement therapy for trans women feminises fat distribution and breasts. Laser hair removal or electrolysis removes excess hair for trans women. Surgical procedures for trans women feminise the voice, skin, face, adam's apple, breasts, waist, buttocks and genitals. Surgical procedures for trans men masculinise the chest and genitals and remove the womb and ovaries and fallopian tubes. The acronyms "GRS" and "SRS" refer to genital surgery. The term "sex reassignment therapy" (SRT) is used as an umbrella term for physical procedures required for transition. Use of the term "sex change" has been criticized for its emphasis on surgery, and the term "transition" is preferred. Availability of these procedures depends on degree of gender dysphoria, presence or absence of gender identity disorder, and standards of care in the relevant jurisdiction.
Below is a brief timeline outlining some important dates in transgender health & medicine:
In 1913, Henry Havelock Ellis (of the Fabian Society) proposed the term sexo-aesthetic inversion to describe what would later be called transgender phenomenon. Henry Havelock Ellis was a British physician, psychologist, writer, and social reformer who studied human sexuality, as well as publishing works on transgender psychology. Ellis was a supporter of sexual liberation, with interests in human biology. His own personal experiences led him to write his six volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex.
In 1920, Henry Havelock Ellis coined the term “eonism”, just one of many terms for what would eventually be called transgender phenomenon. The term was derived from the name of a historical figure, Chevalier d'Eon.
The “Encyclopeadia of Sexual Knowledge” is published in 1930 by Norman Haire. The book addresses transvestism in detail, as well as illustrating the First Sex-change procedures.
During World War II in 1935, the Nazis used Aversion Therapy on transgender men and women.
The term "Transsexuality" was first used in 1941 in reference to homosexuality and bisexuality.
The world's first sex change of a woman into a man is conducted in 1945 by Sir Harold Gillies, along with his colleague, Ralph Millard. The operation was done on a young aristocrat, Michael Dillon.
In 1949, Dr. Harry Benjamin starts treating transsexuals in the United States with hormones.
On May 15th, 1951, Sir Harold Gillies performs the United Kingdom's first full surgical male-to-female sex change operation on Robert Cowell, who becomes Roberta Cowell.
In 1952 Christine Jorgensen (born in 1926 as George William Jorgensen, Jr.) became the first widely-known person to have sex reassignment surgery. The procedure took place in Denmark.
In 1957 American physician, Harry Benjamin, coined the term “cisgender”.
Transsexual performer, Jacqueline “Coccinelle” Dufresnoy, becomes the first Transsexual woman in France to undergo Sex Reassignment Surgery. The procedure was conducted by Dr. Burou in Casablanca in 1958.
In 1962, Virginia Prince came up with the theory that the binary gender system harmed both men and women by keeping them from their full human potential, and she considered cross-dressing to be one means of fixing this.
Also in 1966, Harry Benjamin publishes “The Transsexual Phenomenon.”
In 1969, Universities start operating on non-inter-sexed transsexuals.
In 1980, transgender people were officially classified by the American Psychiatric Association as having "gender identity disorder."
In 1998, Intersex activist and founder of the Intersex Society of North America, Cheryl Chase, wrote an amicus brief for the Colombian constitutional court, which was then considering a ruling on surgery for a six-year-old boy with a micropenis.
Brain material provided by the Netherlands Brain Bank in 1999 demonstrates transsexualism is a medical condition, not a “state-of-mind.”
In 2000 computer scientist and male-to-female transsexual, Lynn Conway, founded a well-known website providing emotional and medical resources and advice to transgender people. Parts of the website have been translated into most of the world's major languages.
In 2003, The Conservative Judaism's Committee on Jewish Law ruled that sexual reassignment surgery is an acceptable treatment under Jewish law for individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
In 2004, Cheryl Chase and the Intersex Society of North America persuaded the San Francisco Human Rights Commission to hold hearings on medical procedures for intersex infants.
Dr. Stephen Whittle received an OBE in 2005 for his work on gender issues.
The Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association is renamed in 2005 to The World professional Association for Transgender Health.
Thomas Beatie, an American transgender man, made international news in 2008 when he became pregnant. He wrote an article about his experience of pregnancy in The Advocate. The Washington Post blogger Emil Steiner called Beatie the first "legally" pregnant man on record, in reference to certain states' and federal legal recognition of Beatie as a man. On June 29th, 2008, Beatie gave birth to a girl named Susan Juliette Beatie.
Guinness World Records recognizes Thomas Beatie as the world's "First Married Man to Give Birth" in 2010.
Dr. Rebecca Allison was elected Chair of the American Medical Association Advisory Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in 2008. Allison is known for her work advocating on behalf of Transgender people.
In 2011, the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health published the first-ever protocols for transgender primary care.