This post is a continuation of yesterday's THOUGHT FOR THE DAY and the response to it, especially the comments of JCF and Tracie.
Gender and sexual identity is a mental thing. Therefore, you cannot change your sex. If it was possible to do so then it would be possible to "cure" gay people.
Reassignment surgery is cosmetic. It is no different to the removal of a birthmark from a person's face. It is, of course, beneficial to psychological health in the same way as the removal of a disfigurement. But, just as the person who has had the birthmark removed is the same person after surgery, so too is the transgender person after reassignment surgery.
This is not just semantics. If we are to remove prejudice and bigotry, based on a person's gender orientation, from our lives, we need to separate the words "man" and "woman" from the words "male" and "female," and add the word "androgyny" to the mix. "Man" and "woman" should be used only to describe the physical gender of a person at birth. Those who are born with the physical attributes of both man and woman are physically androgynous, as are those who, to whatever extent, alter their appearance in respect of gender, surgically, chemically, cosmetically and / or prosthetically.
This would leave us free to describe our gender identity using the words "male" and "female," not as nouns but as adjectives. By using them as such we would be allowed to choose the emphasis towards one or the other that suits us as individuals. But, bear in mind, this is about gender identification and not about sexual orientation. That is something different but, I believe, it would be beneficial to our psychological health in respect to our sexual lives, if we were to rid ourselves of the tyrannous limitation of the English words we use at present when describing gender differences.
Above all, this linguistic change would, when and if it is accepted by the transgender community, do wonders for the psychological health of trans folk. By relegating physical appearance to the accidental and of no relevance to "real" gender identification (a decision that must be removed from the medical profession and returned to the individual concerned), transgender people will be free to alter their physical appearance to whatever extent they personally wish without any outside pressure to conform to physical stereotypes.
There are many people who regard themselves as transgender who have no desire to undergo surgery or hormonal treatment. There are many transgender people who do not want to do so because they are sexually attracted to people of the "opposite sex," and so find their physical sexual organs very useful, in deed. At the moment there is a rather nasty tendency among those transgender folk, who have undergone reassignment surgery, to exclude those who haven't from the umbrella term "transgender," and in a belittling way. This bigotry is particularly aimed at those trans folk who have no intention of changing their bodily appearance and, especially, those who are comfortable with their bodily appearance. These uber-transgender militants are behaving in exactly the same way as the the gay militants, who wish to divorce the gay movement from the transgender movement. Such irony, such stupidity.