Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 1313–1318 | Cite as

Fusion with the Cross-Gender Group Predicts Genital Sex Reassignment Surgery

  • William B. SwannJr.
  • Ángel Gómez
  • Alexandra Vázquez
  • Antonio Guillamón
  • Santiago Segovia
  • Beatriz Carillo
Original Paper


Transsexuals vary in the sacrifices that they make while transitioning to their cross-gender group. We suggest that one influence on the sacrifices they make is identity fusion. When people fuse with a group, a visceral and irrevocable feeling of oneness with the group develops. The personal self (the sense of “I” and “me”) remains potent and combines synergistically with the social self to motivate behavior. We hypothesized that transsexuals who felt fused with the cross-gender group would be especially willing to make sacrifices while transitioning to that group. Our sample included 22 male-to-female (MtF) and 16 female-to-male (FtM) transsexuals. Consistent with expectation, those who were fused with their cross-gender group (1) expressed more willingness to sacrifice close relationships in the process of changing sex than non-fused transsexuals and (2) actually underwent irreversible surgical change of their primary sexual characteristics (vaginoplasty for MtF transsexuals and hysterectomy for FtM transsexuals). These outcomes were not predicted by a measure of “group identification,” which occurs when membership in the group eclipses the personal self (the “I” and “me” is subsumed by the group; in the extreme case, brainwashing occurs). These findings confirm and extend earlier evidence that identity fusion is uniquely effective in tapping a propensity to make substantial sacrifices for the group. We discuss identity fusion as a social psychological determinant of the choices of transsexuals.


Transsexualism Identity fusion Gender dysphoria Gender identity Gender identity disorder 



Research Fund Grants: PSI2012-30921 to Dr. Gómez, PSI2011-24496 to Dr. Guillamón and UNED-PROY to Alexandra Vázquez, National Science Foundation Grant BCS-1124382 to Dr. Swann.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • William B. SwannJr.
    • 1
  • Ángel Gómez
    • 2
  • Alexandra Vázquez
    • 2
  • Antonio Guillamón
    • 3
  • Santiago Segovia
    • 3
  • Beatriz Carillo
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, College of Liberal ArtsUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.Social and Organizational Psychology DepartmentUniversidad Nacional de Educación a DistanciaMadridSpain
  3. 3.Psychobiology DepartmentUniversidad Nacional de Educación a DistanciaMadridSpain

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