[FOUNTAIN] Transsexuals in Our Society

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[FOUNTAIN] Transsexuals in Our Society

In Greek mythology, Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, and Hermes, messenger of the gods, had an affair. They had two sons, Hermaphroditus and Eros. Hermaphroditus, as a beautiful young boy of 15, scorned a lake nymph, Salmacis. Secretly following her beloved to the lake, Salmacis prayed that they might never be separated. When he swam in her lake, she combined with him, uniting male and female characteristics in the single body of Hermaphroditus. Hence, hermaphrodite, an English word meaning an individual who has a double sexual nature, being at the same time both woman and man, originated from this story of Greek mythology.

Gender dysphoria is a general medical term for persons who have confusion or discomfort about their birth gender. The most intense form of the condition is called transsexualism - complete gender reversal. A transsexual is a male or female who has a lifelong feeling of being trapped in the wrong body. For transsexuals, salvation is a sex change operation by which the hermaphrodite can be separated into the original forms of Hermaphroditus or Salmacis. George Jorgensen, an American soldier, traveled to Copenhagen from New York in 1950. After five operations over two years, he was reborn as Christine Jorgensen, becoming the first transsexual who revealed such a procedure to the press. According to medical circles, about 30,000 people suffer from gender dysphoria in our society, and among them 300 are estimated to have undergone sex change operations.

On Friday, all Korean newspapers published articles about a cosmetics model who had been changed from a man to a woman through a sex change operation. Her beauty was definitely eye-catching, even for women readers. Except for the Adam's apple moving noticeably when she swallowed hard, the model was a beautiful woman. "In order to let the public know that transsexuals are having difficulties living in our society, where most people hate them, I determined to make my appearance in the commercial," she said.

Last year, a Thai beauty queen lost her title after it was revealed that she was a transsexual who had undergone a sex change operation. A while ago, a transsexual working at a bar in Korea was charged with violating social norms. In one incident in Korea, the law on sexual molestation, not rape, was applied to a man who had sexually victimized a transsexual woman who had had a sex change.

In a poll of Internet users, 70 percent answered that society should acknowledge altered gender, not birth gender. Sufferers from gender dysphoria - or gender identity disorder - are a sexual minority, like homosexuals. They all have the right to pursue happiness. Now may be the time for our society to strengthen the legal system to protect this group.

by Bae Myung-bok

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