Sex affirmation or gender affirming care, the medical term for which is a gender therapy, refers to the psychological treatment of a trans-identification disorder. Gender therapy involves both mental and physical processes of transforming one’s gender identity and expression. This process often involves the use of psychological and medical treatments in addition to hormone therapy.
Sex reassignment surgery, sometimes called gender affirming surgery and other names, is an invasive surgical procedure whereby a trans-identifying person’s external physical appearance and distinctive anatomical make-up are changed so that the person appears to be like the corresponding sex. This procedure has the aim of changing one’s perception of his or her gender identity as well as one’s identification as a male or female. In many ways, gender affirming care can be considered the ultimate step in altering the gender identity; however, in most cases, this process of gender affirmation takes place only on a small part of the body and on a trial basis.
When gender affirming care is used to treat people who do not accept their genetically assigned gender, the desired effect is often the same as using surgical techniques to alter parts of the body that do not respond to hormonal treatments with regard to the desired gender. If you are interested in exploring this option, your primary care physician should be able to provide you with information about local clinics that offer gender treatment. If your primary care doctor is not aware of any such organizations or facilities, you can ask him or her for help. Many health insurance plans now cover the cost of gender affirming procedures, and you may be able to find financing options through your health insurance provider.
Before undergoing gender affirming care, it is important to understand what you will be experiencing and to have realistic expectations about what is involved. If you are a young person just undergoing hormonal therapy, for example, you may be given a general anesthetic and asked not to eat or drink for several hours before the procedure. As with any medical procedure, gender patients are always asked to refrain from sexual activity for at least 24 hours before gender affirmation surgery.
The most common gender affirming care procedure is a procedure known as transgendermatic breast augmentation. This procedure involves the implantation of an estrogen-like substance into locations on the female breast that already have natural estrogen levels, thus altering the breast’s shape and size to approximate a more typical male breast. It is not uncommon to find women who have undergone gender affirming treatment to report that they are now physically attracted to men as well.
There are other, more minor gender affirming treatments available. Some people choose to undergo hormone therapy in order to induce puberty. Others opt for photocoagulation or skin creams. Still others undergo chromotherapy which uses light rays to promote skin coloring or to treat acne. Whichever gender affirming care is chosen, it is important to realize that there are some risks involved and to learn all you can about gender altering procedures and about your own healthcare professional so that you can make an informed decision about whether it is right for you.