the conclusion

As a footnote to my profile on Doris yesterday, it's interesting to note that despite her history of eroticism with dressing, Benjamin continued to prescribe hormone therapy and to offer a possible surgical solution for her. This is in keeping with his thinking that the eroticism was a symptom of the dysphoria and not the cause of the feelings in the first place. Benjamin was a believer in a biological source and, as I have posted here recently in a quote of his, he proposed that transvestism and transsexualism likely had a common etiology.

If you are interested in reading the entire document, it is available online as a PDF and is called "Harry Benjamin's first ten cases (1938-1953): a clinical historical note by Leah Cahan Schaefer and Connie Christine Wheeler (1995)

Its conclusion is wonderful in its simplicity, inclusiveness and illustrates in another of his quotes the compassion that was an inherent part of Benjamin himself. It reads as follows:

“How representative these first 10 patients were of every combination and complexity known to the gender-concerned world today: the true cross-dresser, as Otto; the male-to-female; the female-to-male; a gender-changed couple, as Carol and Christian; the true transsexual who does not require genital reassignment surgery, as were Frank, Harold, and Doris; those with carefully planned surgeries and the desperate self-mutilators; the very young, such as Sally, and the very old, such as Inez, both seeking surgeries and both successful; the very public, as Christine, and the very private, as were most of the rest; from sympathetic and from rejecting families; those who maintained original spouses, and those who were ostracized and abandoned; those whose transsexual conditions existed in addition to, or as part of, borderline psychotic conditions.

The mere contemplation of gender and its conflicts, for most, shakes the very foundations of human personality. Benjamin wrote, "Instead of treating the patient, might it not be wiser and more sensible to treat society educationally so that logic, understanding and compassion might prevail" (Benjamin, 1953a; Wheeler and Schaefer, 1984a).

This journey into the lives of 10 remarkable people, whose stories help document the initial history of this medical specialty, will inspire us all to find a way to diminish the paralyzing guilt and the negativity with which these conditions of cross-gender identity and dysphoria are viewed (Green, 1992, 1993). At birth, identification of genital configuration causes a lifetime scripting. Such scripting creates feelings of incongruity and confusion for people with gender identity conditions and disorders (DSM IV, 1994, pp. 530-538).

Perhaps we can consider that there is one other answer to the question, "Is it a boy or a girl?" Perhaps on rare occasions, the answer might more accurately be neither, but instead, a rare and beautiful combination of boy and girl - another color on the gender rainbow (Francoeur, 1991, p. 524; Wheeler and Schaefer, 1984b). Listening to these early historical voices that inspired the development of a discipline in modern medical science, broadens and expands our considerations of the most basic aspect of the human personality : gender. Compassion and acceptance in creative conjecture of gender mosaics can reward us with enriched understanding and expanded life-choices”


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