Halloween is right around the corner, so... Phantom Genitals!

Guess what my costume is!: Guess!!  (Photo courtesy of goldberg on flickr.com)
Guess what my costume is!: Guess!! (Photo courtesy of goldberg on flickr.com)
That's right, there's a new Halloween costume option out there, because "phantom genitals" are in the news.

The term isn't one I really expected to come across today, but it is the subject of a pretty interesting article on Cosmos Magazine.com. Researchers at the University of California in San Diego interviewed men who had had their penises removed, either as a medical necessity, or through gender reassignment surgery. They found that 60 percent of the men who had it removed for medical reasons still retained some sensation of the missing organ, whereas only 30 percent of the post-op transsexuals had a similar experience. The researchers also interviewed female-to-male transsexuals, and found that 60 percent of this group reported the sensation of "phantom penises" since early childhood.

The San Diego team thinks that this may a breakthrough in understanding the biological basis of gender - that body image could be hardwired into someone's mind even before birth, resulting in the occasional mismatch with their physical gender.

Critics of the theory claim that while the reported feelings of the interviewed transsexuals may be valid, they are not necessarily linked with the hardwiring of the brain.

For anyone who's unfamiliar with the terms:
-A "phantom limb" is the sensation that a missing or amputated limb (or, in this case, penis) is still attached to the body. People who were born without limbs, as well as by those who have had limbs removed, have reported phantom limbs.
-A transsexual is a person who identifies as being of the opposite gender of that which they were born with.

In unrelated news, I am now accepting applications for my brand new band, The Phantom Genitals. If you're at all interested, please reply with your stage name, musical talent (if any), and performance gimmicks. Lead vocals are already taken, as is the name "The Headless Horseman."

The Phantom Genitals are in no way associated with the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

mdr's picture
mdr says:

I just want to know what's under your sheet.

posted on Tue, 10/16/2007 - 6:10pm

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