Sex Change Operation Ignites Controversy

ByABC News
July 27, 2001, 12:23 PM

— -- When David Warfield, a Sacramento, Calif. teacher, told his boss about his summer plans, the school asked him not to come back in the fall.

The school's action was a response to David's announcement that he would return as a woman. David, now Dana Rivers, is a transsexual and from childhood she believed she was born a woman in a man's body a condition known as gender identity dysphoria.

Dana had finally decided to take the steps to transform her body into the gender she feels she was born with. Like others who seek such surgery, she was required by her doctor to first live in the role of a woman for a year prior to the operation. She also had to take female hormones and obtain a psychological evaluation.

Mountain Man

Growing up, Dana hid her anguish of living in a male body by acting as manly as possible. Her macho, daredevil spirit earned her the nickname "Mountain Man." But beneath the façade, she was suffering. "I lived a lifetime full of depression," she says. "I was suicidal. My life had been a train wreck."

In spite of her personal turmoil, she had professional success as an acclaimed high-school teacher. But her plans to have a sex change operation ignited a national controversy. Some parents worried about the children being prematurely exposed to transgender issues.

20/20 first reported on Dana's story when she was suing the school district to get her job back. She had not had the surgery yet, but she had shed her identity as David and was living full-time as a woman. The controversy ended with a settlement, and Dana received $150,000 from the school district in exchange for her resignation. Ironically, the settlement ended up paying for the $50,000 surgery.

Though Dana was eager to have the operation, she says that it doesn't make her more of a woman. "I've always been a woman," she says. "I've always felt like a woman. A penis does not make a man. A vagina does not make a woman, at all."

Penile Inversion