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Castration in Non-Transsexual Males

Become informed about chemical and surgical options

© 1998 Gianna E. Israel
Article appeared in Polare magazine: April 2000 Last Update: October 2013 Last Reviewed: September 2015

Gianna E. Israel - As a community counsellor and co-author of medical recommendations, I have come in contact with a significant number of non-transsexual men seeking castration.

... generally speaking non-transgender men frequently seek castration for reasons other than gender issues. They also have a unique history of their own.

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 criticised me for identifying transgenderists. Those who did believed that such an identification would somehow distract from cross-dresser 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 cross-dressing 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 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 counsellor 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 cross-dress. 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 becomes so severely handicapped by obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviours 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 nine 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 neighbours or friends. Nonetheless I do not advocate anyone seeking chemical or surgical castration without experienced counselling 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 behaviour 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 counselling 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.

Gianna E. Israel

From Susan's Place: External Link Gianna E. Israel was a therapist and author of many online articles regarding transsexuals and gender transition as well as the 1997 book Transgender Care: Recommended Guidelines, Practical Information, and Personal Accounts.

She also published numerous articles on transgender issues, including a regular column in the magazine, Transgender Tapestry, and a series of gender articles which are published on Usenet and in C.D.S. Publication's TG Forum. Her writings on gender issues had a significant impact on the field and had an enormous impact on many people's lives. She spent nearly 20 years providing gender-specialized counselling, evaluations, medical recommendations, and mental health services across the United States. She even offered appointments by telephone for individuals without local support or who found office visits difficult. She was a member of H.B.I.G.D.A. and worked with thousands of transpersons in all stages of transition. She passed away on 21 February 2006 after a long illness and is a sorely missed supporter of the trans community.

A full list of her essays on the "Differently Gendered" External Link website

Transgender Care: Recommended Guidelines, Practical Information, and Personal Accounts
Author: Gianna E. Israel, Donald E. Tarver and Diane Shaffer
Publisher: Temple University Press (1998)
I.S.B.N.-13 978-1566398527.

From Amazon Books: External Link By empowering clients to be well-informed medical consumers and by delivering care providers from the straitjacket of inadequate diagnostic standards and stereotypes, this book sets out to transform the nature of transgender care. In an accessible style, the authors discuss the key mental health issues, with much attention to the vexed relationship between professionals and clients. They propose a new professional role; that of "Gender Specialist". Chapters 3, 4, and 5 provide definitive information (in the context of consulting health professionals) on hormone administration, aesthetic surgery, and genital reassignment surgery. Chapter 6 takes up the little-examined issue of H.I.V. and AIDS among transgender people. There is also a chapter devoted to issues of transgender people of colour, as well as a chapter on transgender adolescents. The book contains a wealth of practical information and accounts of people's experiences about coming-out to one's employer or to one's friends or spouse. Several essays spell out the legal rights of transgender people with regard to insurance, work, marriage, and the use of rest rooms. The second part of the book consists of thirteen essays on a range of controversial topics.

Polare Magazine is published quarterly in Australia by The Gender Centre Inc. which is funded by the Department of Family & Community Services under the S.A.A.P. program and supported by the N.S.W. Health Department through the AIDS and Infectious Diseases Branch. Polare provides a forum for discussion and debate on gender issues. Unsolicited contributions are welcome, the editor reserves the right to edit such contributions without notification. Any submission which appears in Polare may be published on our internet site. Opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the Editor, The Gender Centre Inc., the Department of Family & Community Services or the N.S.W. Department of Health.

The Gender Centre is committed to developing and providing services and activities, which enhance the ability of people with gender issues to make informed choices. We offer a wide range of services to people with gender issues, their partners, family members and friends in New South Wales. We are an accommodation service and also act as an education, support, training and referral resource centre to other organisations and service providers. The Gender Centre is committed to educating the public and service providers about the needs of people with gender issues. We specifically aim to provide a high quality service, which acknowledges human rights and ensures respect and confidentiality.

Over 55yo Support Group

This monthly group provides lively discussion and the opportunity to socialize over tea and coffee. For up-to-date details, check the Gender Centre's Facebook page, phone the Gender Centre on (02) 9519 7599 or email Laurel to be added to contact list.

All transgender and gender questioning people over the age of 55 are invited to come and be part of these groups.

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