There are some men who choose to have their penises and testicles removed, not because they identify as transgender or female, but because they experience a form of gender dysphoria that causes them not to identify with their genitals. Some of these men still feel male and still use masculine pronouns, but they find it difficult to locate doctors willing to conduct elective penectomies.
These guys sometimes refer to themselves as “nullos,” “smoothies” or “eunuchs,” a word for castrated men that have performed a wide range of social functions as far back as 21st century BC. The Game of Thrones character Lord Varys, for example, is a eunuch, though his castration occurred involuntarily, as did that of other eunuchs throughout history. Some male singers known as castrati also used to have their genitals removed before puberty as a way to keep their vocal ranges high, though that doesn’t apply to the men discussed in this article.
It’s unclear how many modern men desire or have undergone voluntary castration, although some discuss their curiosities and journeys on various web forums. Others even self-castrate, destroying their own testicles or injecting their genitals with toxic chemicals if they can’t access a doctor who’ll perform a full penectomy.
One doctor, Dr. Curtis Crane, conducts such surgeries. He says that more surgeons should be open to doing the procedure since it’s “well accepted” among gender reassignment surgeons to remove the breasts of people assigned female at birth, even if those patients have no desire to undergo further hormone replacement therapy or fullytransition to a male identity.
Crane considers penectomies as medically necessary for men suffering from gender dysphoria. He will conduct the surgery if patients provide letters from two approving psychiatric specialists. The surgery re-routes the patient’s urethra out of their perineum. Afterwards, Crane advises patients to take hormone replacement therapy to help avoid depression and osteoporosis.
A 2014 study on these men said that only 30% reveal their castration to their families and only 11% to their friends. Also, less than a third continue to identify as male after castration; most consider themselves to be gender neutral or agender (that is, having no gender at all) and a few eventually self-identify as female.
Featured image by yanyong via iStock