Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

Religiosity, Childhood Abuse, and Other Risk Factors Correlated with Voluntary Genital Ablation

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

Religiosity, Childhood Abuse, and Other Risk Factors Correlated with Voluntary Genital Ablation

Article excerpt

We explored the personal history of men who voluntarily seek genital ablation for reasons other than male-to-female transitioning. We focused on three groups: (a) men who have had voluntary genital ablation; (b) men who desire genital ablation and fantasize about it (self-described "wannabes"); and (c) those who claim to be merely interested in the subject of castration. An online survey was posted at that asked about religiosity, childhood abuse, sexual orientation, parental threats of castration, and whether the respondents had witnessed animal castrations in their youth. Data were collected on 301 men who had obtained genital ablations (mean age 45.4 years old), 1,385 wannabes (44.3 years old), and 1,242 individuals who were reportedly "just interested" in castration (41.8 years old). We have confirmed that; (a) having witnessed animal castrations during childhood, (b) having been threatened with castration as a child for behaviours deemed inappropriate by a parent figure, and (c) being homosexual or bisexual, are all common among individuals with extreme castration ideations. In addition, the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse among men who had genital ablations and wannabes was 1.4 times greater than among "just interested" individuals. For men who had obtained genital ablations, "very devout" parental religiosity was 1.8 times more common than it was for wannabes and 1.3 times more common than it was for "just interested" individuals. Individuals who were raised by "very devout" parents and who were also sexually abused had significantly greater odds and likelihood of reporting being voluntarily castrated and/or penectomized than respondents without those risk factors. Our study may aid clinicians in identifying and distinguishing individuals who are at risk of genital ablation through self-surgery or by nonprofessionals.

Keywords: castration, sexual abuse, risk factors, religiosity, sexual orientation

Some men desire to be castrated, yet do not wish to be female. Some may have a gender identity disorder [a "Gender Identity Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (GIDNOS)" in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 4th edition text revised] (American Psychiatric Association, 2000; Johnson & Wassersug, 2010; Vale et al., 2010). Other men may have a Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) directed toward their genitals, which is not associated with a gender identity disorder (Johnson, Wassersug, Roberts, Sutherland, & First, 2010; Swindell & St. Lawrence, 2009).

An individual with a GIDNOS may seek castration in order to reduce his libido, or to become an emasculated male; that is, a "eunuch" or an "other gendered" individual who identifies with a gender outside of the male/female dichotomy. "Eunuch" is here defined as a natal male whose testicles have been removed or destroyed through such means as crushing of the spermatic cord or injection of toxic substances such as ethyl alcohol. An individual with a BIID may seek, and possibly obtain, castration and/or penectomy to relieve the distress associated with the physical presence of his external genitalia (Johnson et al., 2010). We are interested in factors correlated with the actualization of the desire to be castrated and/or penectomized in order to understand how early life experiences can lead to voluntary genital ablation (i.e., penectomy, orchiectomy, or both-referred to within the surveyed community as "nullification").

Disturbingly, the majority of the population we have studied, who obtained castration, performed self-surgery or were "treated" by nonmedical professionals because they were unable to find certified surgeons willing to perform their castration (St. Peter, Trinidad, & Irwig, 2012). We sought to identify which risk factors were correlated with an increased likelihood that men with castration ideations would seek voluntary genital ablations.

Previously Johnson, Brett, Roberts, and Wassersug (2007) posted a survey on eunuch. …

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