Transsexualism is a condition in which a person identifies with a physical sex different from the one with which they were born. Transsexualism is stigmatized in many parts of the world and has become more widely known in Western cultures in the mid to late 20th century, concurrently with the sexual revolution and the development of sexual reassignment surgeries. It remains controversial, however. Discrimination and negative attitudes towards transsexualism accompany certain religious beliefs or cultural values. There are other cultures, however, that have not only held a place for transsexuals but even culturally sanction them, such as the so-called two-spirit people in some native American tribes.
Harry Benjamin, an endocrinologist and one of the first physicians to assist transsexuals obtain sex reassignment, quotes from a letter he received from Dr. Christian Hamburger, the physician who treated Christine Jorgensen:
These many personal letters from almost 500 deeply unhappy persons leave an overwhelming impression. One tragic existence is unfolded after another; they cry for help and understanding. It is depressing to realize how little can be done to come to their aid. One feels it a duty to appeal to the medical profession and to the responsible legislature: do your utmost to ease the existence of these people who are deprived of the possibilities of a harmonious and happy life—through no fault of their own.