“Why are you crying?” You got what you wanted!” Psychosocial experiences of sex reassignment surgery.

Belinda Chaplin

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (not CDU)


Gender Dysphoria (GD) has been estimated to occur in approximately 1.4% of the world’s population and is problematically recognised as a mental disorder where individuals can possibly experience extreme distress associated with living in their biological gender. Sex reassignment surgery (SRS) is experienced by some people diagnosed with GD as a medically necessary treatment and is recognised as a successful treatment for the majority of trans* people who pursue that option. Despite knowledge of the long term outcomes of the surgery and their mostly positive effects on social functioning, satisfaction and quality of life, little is known about the psychosocial needs of trans* individuals as they make the surgical transition to their preferred gender. This qualitative study explored the lived experiences of 14 Australian trans* men and women, aged between 25 and 78 who had undergone SRS to determine if their needs were met.
Underpinned by a theoretical framework derived from social constructionism, embodiment and narrative, the data were generated through participant produced drawings and unstructured interviews and analysed by employing a ‘narrative border’ framework. Four narrative concepts emerged from the data and are concerned with navigating the personal self, the social self, the medical self and the legal self. The key analytical findings suggest that while the surgery met the personal needs of the participants, there are inconsistencies in the level of care and support provided at the medical level throughout the transition process. While in legal terms, the complex legislative framework does little but increase the psychosocial burden of trans* people in Australia.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Queensland
  • Cox, Leonie, Supervisor, External person
  • Campbell, Christina, Supervisor, External person
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


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