Study Reveals Sex-Change Is a Bad Treatment for Micropenis

In an older post, we have seen that just a few decades ago (1960s until the late 1970s) it was common practice to sexually reassign boys with a micropenis to girls. The main idea behind this was the belief that a man with a micropenis would never be able to form normal relationships (that include sexual intercourse) thus, by changing his sex he would be granted a second chance as a female to experience a relatively normal life, with sex being a part of it.

In this post we will see a study named, "Congenital Micropenis: Long-Term Medical, Surgical, and Psychosexual Follow-Up of Individuals Raised Male or Female" that was published in 2001.

The study was carried out by the Johns Hopkins Centre (the center where the vast majority of these operations were carried out) in collaboration with 3 other institutes. The study revealed that the assumptions under which sex reassignment was carried out were... just wrong.

According to the study, the boys that weren't "treated" with sex reassignment were happier in their adult lives compared to the boys that had their gender reassigned. In the study, a total of  13 men and 5 women, participated, all born initially with a micropenis. The youngest participant was 21 years old and the oldest 54. 

Let's examine some of the study's most important key-findings:
  • All male and female individuals identified strongly with their gender. However only 20 % of the women were pleased with the appearance of their genitalia. On the other hand, 50 % of the men were pleased with their genitalia. It should be noted that many of the males managed to attain a normally sized penis in their adulthood, as a result of testosterone treatment.
  • Of the 12 men examined, six were married whereas out of the 5 women, none was.
  • The study found that the process of feminizing a boy is very difficult and in return he has to undergo extensive cosmetic and hormonal treatments for a satisfactory result to be achieved. These invasive treatments may have a negative psychological influence 
  • The study concluded that - in general - the male adults led a more happy and fulfilling life when compared to the ones raised as females.

Today, sex-reassignment for micropenis is rarely practiced and only in extreme cases were the penis is either very small or absent.

Related articles

Wisniewski AB, Migeon CJ, Gearhart JP, Rock JA, Berkovitz GD, Plotnick LP, Meyer-Bahlburg HF, & Money J. (2001) Congenital micropenis: long-term medical, surgical and psychosexual follow-up of individuals raised male or female. Hormone research, 56(1-2), 3-11. PMID: 11815721

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