This study examined the relationship between sex role and gender identity in a Polish transsexual population where, unlike in Western countries, male-to-female (MF) transsexualism is much less common than female-to-male (FM) transsexualism. One hundred and three FM (82 primary, 21 secondary) and 29 MF (16 primary, 13 secondary) transsexuals plus 135 control males (CM) and 303 control females (CF) completed a Sex Role Inventory, which measures sex-role identification, that is, the degree to which one self-identifies with masculine and feminine characteristics. Data obtained from primary transsexuals revealed that, on a femininity scale, MF transsexuals scores exceeded not only CM but also CF. On a masculinity scale, MF transsexuals rated themselves significantly lower than CM, but at a level comparable to CF. The comparison of FM transsexuals and controls showed that, on a masculinity scale, transsexuals scored higher than CF but were not different from CM. On the femininity scale, FM transsexuals rated themselves in between the two control groups: lower than CF but slightly higher than CM. The relations of secondary transsexuals' scores to CF and CM scores, on both masculine and feminine scales, were in the same direction as the primary transsexuals' scores. Secondary transsexuals rated themselves very similarly to their primary counterparts (the exception was a much higher score of MF-primary transsexuals than MF-secondary transsexuals on the femininity scale). Our study revealed that transsexualism does not imply a simple inversion of sex-role patterns: transsexuals differ not only from nontranssexual individuals of the same anatomical sex but also from those of the opposite sex. Moreover, MF transsexualism is not a mirror image of FM transsexualism: it constitutes a more extreme condition in the identification with feminine versus masculine personality traits. These differences seem to be universal for different countries and regions. The diagnostic value of our findings is discussed.
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