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Risky sex change surgery ends nightmares

By Wang Ru (China Daily)

09:01, July 05, 2012

Tony has experienced physical and emotional changes since taking testosterone injections 20 days ago.

The 24-year-old from Shandong's provincial capital Jinan, who refuses to give his Chinese name, says the pitch of his voice is now unstable. Facial stubble has started growing above his upper lip. And he's irritable.

But, despite feeling grumpier than usual because of the hormones, he's delighted with the changes.

"This is the first step to restore my true gender," Tony says.

"I'm not a tomboy, a transvestite or a lesbian. I'm a man born in a woman's body."

Tony's only social activity is chatting online with about 200 people, who face the same issue, from all over the country. He spends his leisure time chatting with the female-to-male online community on Baidu, a Chinese search engine - an avenue where "brothers" share their life experiences.

A recent post about the dangers of sex reassignment surgery received more than 800 replies. It's the online community's hot topic.

The surgery is a long procedure. It requires injections, the removal and reconstruction of breasts, removal of the uterus, and the construction of a new urethra and penis.

"Every step entails suffering and danger," Tony explains.

"Most results are unsatisfactory. The recovery time is long. It hurts. And it's expensive, costing about 150,000 yuan ($24,000)."

Tony says one of his "brothers" from the online community died because of internal bleeding after taking testosterone injections for three years.

Another underwent five sex reassignment surgeries in Thailand but all failed, he says.

"It is a risky procedure which might disable us," Tony says. "But, it is a chance to wake up from our nightmare."

Tony says from childhood, he never acted like a girl. He dressed like a boy and played with boys.

His first crush was on his middle school history teacher - a married woman in her 30s.

"My classmates sneered and called me a lesbian," Tony recalls.

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