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Transsexuality is officially called "gender dysphoria", something that literally means gender misery. The physical sex and the internal gender of a transsexual do not match up. To use a cliché expression, transsexuals are "trapped in the wrong body". A transsexual might have male genitalia but feel like a woman, or have female genitalia but feel like a man.
Nobody chooses to be transsexual — the amount of emotional pain that accompanies this condition is something anybody would prefer to avoid. Being completely different on the outside than you are on the inside is difficult enough, but societal prejudices and discrimination add a great deal to to the "gender misery" a transsexual experiences. Thankfully, the treatment available to trans people today is more advanced than ever.
Treatment for gender dysphoria exists to help transsexuals live with their condition the way they want and need to — something that frequently means physically transitioning to the gender they identify with.
The transitioning process is lengthy and difficult. However, modern surgical methods mean that the outcome can be absolutely amazing. Not only can transitioned transsexuals achieve excellent external results, but the new genitals that can now be created through surgery can be sensational. No, that's not an exclamation. Post-op transsexuals can have genitals that aren't merely cosmetic, but also functional and feeling.
Adults who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria will benefit from treatment at a specialized gender identity clinic. Besides emotional counseling — which may address current feelings about the condition as well as trauma resulting from societal attitudes towards it — transsexuals could receive speech and behavorial therapy to help them transition.
Other aspects of the treatment may include hair removal treatment and in many cases plastic surgery to attain the features associated with the target sex. This may mean facial reshaping, implants in buttocks, and breast removal or augmentation. Hormone therapy is the one aspect of treatment on which most others are based, however.
Hormone therapy involves taking the hormones of the target gender. For male-to-female trans people, that means estrogen and for female-to-male trans people, that means testosterone.
This hormone therapy begins the process of physical transitioning to the sex the trans person already identifies with. After 18 to 24 months of taking cross-sex hormones, the body will have changed to the point that some trans people are satisfied with their external appearance. Plastic surgery procedures should not be considered before this milestone, as it will be much clearer whether surgery is in fact necessary after the hormones have been doing their job for a good while.
To maintain the benefits of hormone therapy, trans people will have to continue it throughout their lifetimes. Since the hormone therapy will offer the person the chance to have an outward appearance that matches their inner gender much more closely, some trans people are satisfied with finishing their treatment with hormone therapy. Many will, however, greatly benefit from sex reassignment surgery.