Letters Volume Ten
This is Volume Ten of the collected letters.
Wherein can be found the anonymous texts of actual letters written to me, and my answers in return. They are included because it has been suggested that the discussions are of value. The letters are presented as a rather loose, ongoing continuous dialogue between a hypothetical questioner, and myself.
You can write to me, too!
These are the tenth set of letters
Reference Topic Index
Relative ONLY to this volume:
For the complete list see main letters page.
do I deal with my grandfather about being transsexual?
I am a family man, yet I have gender issues. What should I do?
I know my online friend's TS secret, how do I tell them?
My parents are very religious and I am afraid of them finding out!
What is up with this COGIATI thing, anyway?
I took the COGIATI, and it says that I'm transsexual. which I have no problem with. I knew that already. Though my grandfather does have a problem. I lie to him about it, trying to help him out (he took care of me when i was younger). the big thing is I am just rekindiling my relationship with my mother and father, which is very hard. it took 24 yrs, but at least it's happening. My question is how can I deal with my grandfather as I go into transtion? i've a known past of dressing as a girl. which disturbs him.
Well, that is a very individual sort of thing. There are too many factors to hand out some blithe advice.
However, I do think there is a kind of bottom line, a foundation to the issue.
If your grandfather actually loves YOU, that is to say you as an individual, as a person, then he will eventually accept and embrace you. Cannot be otherwise, as you are always you, regardless of the shape of your skin, or role in society. He may have issues, bigotry, but in the end, bigotry cannot stand up to actually caring about a person for who they are inside. Something has to give, and human bonds are stronger than bigotry, at least over time.
If your grandfather only loves an idealized image of what he wants from you, then -quite frankly- screw 'im! Seriously. Think of the above sentence... if all he can see, all he bothered to care for was an investment in the personal gain of an idealized persona, then he has yet to meet you. 'YOU' never really existed to him. Doesn't matter what he did for you, he did not do it for 'you'. So to hell with that. You are free.
One more thing. You cannot hope to keep everyone happy in life, or even to retain all of your family or friends. People have all sorts of degrees of relationships, some real, some shallow, some based on falsehoods, some based on genuine appreciation of another person. The only way to ever know what any relationship really is, is when an event or change tests it.
Your grandfather is responsible for whether or not his bigotry is more powerful than his capacity for genuine love and affection. You are responsible for your own survival dealing with a particularly nasty and subtle form of birth defect. The only thing any person can really do is be themselves, be honest, be heartfelt, and hope that these gifts are returned.
Sometimes they won't be, even from people we care about. But sometimes, they are returned many fold.
What else can
you do except just to deal with things as honestly as possible, and
hope that your faith, gratitude, and trust in your grandfather is not misguided?
i have just
finished your cogiati test which i have answered
truthfully. At the age of 14 i did bring my sexuality up with my doctor
and he referred me to a specialist. The specialist embarressed me and
told me to just masturbate over magazines. Obviously i left never
to return. The problem is that i now have children and do not want
to hurt them or my wife. I feel i am doomed to live out my existence
stuck in this form. I am now worried as i have scored a high mark with
your cogiati test: 160. What do you recommend me to do?
I cannot say that I am surprised -though I am angry- at the treatment you recieved at 16. Unfortunately, that sort of crap is far too typical. It's a bit better for teens nowadays, but still pretty typical. Bastards.
Now you are an adult. The past is forever gone. So what now, indeed?
160 is on the low side of Class Four, which runs from 130 to 389, but still clearly within the group. The fact that you had the desire to take the test and ask me about it shows that you have an issue with your gender, and that the issue bothers you enough to seek out resources.
You say you feel doomed. That is not a word of casual unhappiness.
Still, the bottom line, the important question here is:
What do you REALLY want?
That determines EVERYTHING.
I can tell you that if you really, really are female inside, that failing to face your gender issues will hurt you and your family, and everyone around you in time. This stuff cannot be hidden or repressed indefinitely, and the longer the worse for everyone.
On the other hand, if you are not absolutely certain that you are female, and you do the whole transition route, the end result can be potentially catastrophic.
If you are certain about your real gender, and you transition, you have a real potential of achieving your true life. The cost may be severe, or it may be light, and there is no sure way to tell in advance. One thing is true: the younger children are, the easier they cope with the transition of a parent. The worst time is adolescence.
Quite simply, you MUST determine what you truly need. You must be sure of what you can, and cannot live with, without, and as.
Once you know what you truly want, then your actions must follow that. Any other course is almost certainly disaster for all concerned. Living a lie is pointless, and will ultimately fail.
If you cannot determine what you want for certain, then determine what you absolutely cannot bear. Sometimes that path is easier, for while we may not always know what we want, we almost always know what we cannot stand to endure.
I can only recommend that you, as speedily as possible, define for yourself what your need to do. However you achieve this self knowlege, it must be as sure as you can make it, as honest and real and true. Then you must act according to that determination in an equally honest and real way.
If you truly are transsexual, putting things off only makes things worse. If you are not transsexual, do not trod the path of one, for it can be a very harsh road.
If you need counseling, get it. If you need help, get it. If you are treated the way you were when you were 16, recognise such pathetic treatment, dump it promptly, and then get help that is decent and competent.
So, my advice
is: figure out what you truly need -one way or the other- then do it.
Waste no time.
I have a friend that I chat with online. She and I have become good friends online, and my family and I love to hear from her. She has told me about her life, but also avoids certain questions. I know her as a mother, wife, and many other things. But I now know this may not be true, and this is a problem. You see, I just had to go and play with a search engine a few days ago. Big mistake on my part I think now. I found an essay she wrote and posted on a transsexual help site. She used her 'real' name, and the experiences she described and the style of writing left no doubt it was my friend. She described her life history and said she has lived as female full time for the last many years. I honestly dont know what to do here. Do you have any suggestions? I love this woman as much as you can ever love anyone as a friend, really. I dont want to mess this up.
OK, if I grasp things correctly, you feel a need to confide to your friend that you know about her for various reasons, such as a desire to comfort, but also because some of the things she writes or chats to you are possible coverups of her past. You want a more honest communication?
At the same time, you do not want to have her 'run away', if you breach the topic, because clearly she is hiding her past deliberately.
I offer three possible options to consider with regard to dealing with this issue.
The first option is to go find that essay again, and see if it has an E-mail address associated with it. If it does, you can write directly to her via that channel and speak your heart with no real problem. Why? Because if she put a contact address with her essay, on a site about gender issues, then she expects that someone will write to her about the essay. There is no way to filter out anyone who might find her essay, for the internet is a wild frontier. So anyone -literally- might come across it. Including you! So, since she left a door deliberately open, you are free to use it.
Of course this all depends on her having provided a contact link.
The second option is careful honesty. I say careful, because there are probably reasons that she has not confided in you already. You could slowly breach the topic and gauge her reaction, possibly reassuring her before describing what you found in your surfing. Ask if that was her, with the addition that it is not an issue for you, other than to have a more honest communication. Assuming that she values you as a friend, there are several reasons that a transsexual would fail to breach her own history, and would cover it up with half truths or full untruths:
SOME REASONS A TRANSSEXUAL MIGHT HIDE EVEN FROM A FRIEND:
She might still be working up the considerable courage needed to be more honest
She might be too relieved having a situation where the issue simply does not exist (it really is one HELL of a burden - I was 'stealth' or living completely hidden for 14 some years before I made my site. There is a great attraction to having such a socially difficult history 'just not be'. Problem always is...as one gets to know someone closely, the hiding becomes increasingly impossible to maintain.)
She might have been 'testing her wings' -trying to practice simply being human -with you and it got out of hand and became friendship. Transsexuals are sometimes killed just for existing, so trying to cram 20+ years of lost socialization into a few months or years is difficult. The internet provides a way to talk, to communicate, to socialize that avoids the messy business of face to face, in the same room, knife through the head reactions that can come from a failure to know every nuance of how to be female in the world. If a transsexual fails the 'passing test' online, then her intestines are not going to be coiling around her ankles for it. If this grew into a friendship, she might feel stuck, and not know what to do...confide, or keep silent, for fear of losing a friend to bigotry.
She might be lacking in the wisdom that hiding -and covering up the past- cannot be maintained forever. It is a seductive foolishness.
The third option is to do nothing, of course, and wait to see if she ever opens up. This can be problematic for two main reasons: it may become annoying to you and affect how you relate, and she may potentially feel paralyzed by the situation as I have described already. Then again, she may feel MUCH more comfortable having even just one friend in the world that she does not have to deal with this crap about. That is the unknown part...what her situation is.
Overall, I would have to say that some degree of asking her about it is probably better than not. While I am staunchly, fiercely opposed to any person being 'Outed' against their will, this is not that situation. You are confiding to a singular person that you may have discovered something that they wrote. So I see no ethical dilemna here, only a need to judge emotional risks.
The bottom line for me, though, is that real friendship cannot long survive large scale secrecy...and one's entire life history is a large scale informational issue.
Adjusted by how fragile she might be at this time, and how much you need to alter the situation to a more straightforward one, my general policy is that honesty is always best. You found what you found.
A last thing: do keep in mind that some of the life details she may have given so far may well be true: I know transsexuals with husbands, children, and utterly ordinary lives. Most, probably, fit this. That's kind of the point, really. Correct a birth defect, get on with life.
It is eccentric
folks like me that construct unique lifestyles and try to imagine
some gained freedom retrieved from the trauma of being transsexual.
Even if I had not been transsexual, I would have been eccentric. Your
friend's life is most likely to actually be close to what she chats
about, only with the details of her history ommited.
I have a serious problem. I am 14 and I am very sure that i am trnassexual. I have know since i was only 6. I stay really hidden of course. lately stuff has been giving me away a little. My parents are really, really religious. We attend a church that is super strict and they belive in confassing sin and having 'a personal relationship with god' and all that other junk. Anyway, within the past about month or so my parents have been gettin worried about me. They think im not close to god any more ( honestly i never was, but I acted the part well) but lately ive had a hard time 'acting' close to god and my parents are afraid that I have lost my relationship with god (which is true because i have had a hard time believing in a god that hates his own creations[ transexuals, gays and the like]) but anyway now my parents get a feeling that Im hiding something from them (which isnt exactly a lie) they say i can tell them anything and they promise not to react harshly or anything like that(i find that hard to belive and i bet they would change that really quick if they found out what i am hiding from them) anyway.. do you have any advice for me? I am afraid they may find out about me before they are ready for the news(if they ever are).
This is a difficult situation. Underage, you are mostly at their mercy. Religion crazed parents can be dangerous.
There are several options for coping. One is to try really hard to fake acting the way they want to get them off your back, but it would seem that this tactic is not working to well, hence your letter.
I wonder what would be the result if you simply told them that you really are not religious, and that you do not share their religion. Since this is America, even as a child you have the absolute right to freedom of your own religious beliefs, or lack there of. You don't want to play. Thank you very much.
That would probably be so horrible to them that the questions would stop about anything else, and all the fuss would focus on that alone. In time, while it would not be ever easy, it might at least settle down.
On the other hand, if that would endanger you, if they would abuse or harm you for such a thing, then the situation is very serious indeed. It might -might- be worthwhile involving the authorities in that case.
One thing I want you to know: there is no excuse under law to be beaten, imprisoned, tortured, cut, burned, or otherwise physically abused. If these things happen to you, go to the police. No parent has the right to do such things, ever. I do not know how religious your parents are, but things like this have happenend to good people I know -or knew- because of religion crazed parents. One friend of mine was nearly killed...Robin from my transition story, in fact.
The bottom line is that you can try to continue to hide, you can deflect the issues to something you can control (crisis in faith instead of being genderqueer), or you can tell the truth. Only you can know what is the best choice, but whatever you decide, understand that your safety and survival is the most important thing.
I tried to tell my mom several times, and she went crazy. It scared me so much I had to tell her I was only joking. I was afraid she would kill me. Then again, your parents might be capable of finding a way to accept you. Or they could try to 'deprogram' you or some equal -or worse- nastiness. Only you can judge your parents.
I would assess the situation, try to determine the best action and do what I felt was the best choice to survive until I was old enough to control my life.
There is never
any shame in survival. Do what you have to do to stay alive, and intact.
Um I was playing
around with my computer and stumbled on to that
transsexual test. I just have a couple of questions, probably they were
written into the text somewhere and I missed it, but who wrote that
thing? What research was done on gender to develop it, or am I just
taking something that was meant as a joke to be serious?
It is meant to be very serious, within limitations, of course. The COGIATI was developed and created by me, and on the pages leading into it is much information about it, how it is scored, and so forth.
It just seems to be replete with gender stereotypes like you wouldn't believe. What the heck went into the thing?
The COGIATI stands for 'Combined Gender Identity And Transsexuality Inventory'. It is based, in part on two very dissimilar tests, both of which are also provided on my pages. One is the BEM test, and the other is the Moir-Jessel Brain Sex test. Both are highly respected. In addition to these two, the latest information about neurological sex differences was added as well.
The BEM primarily tests adherence to and absorption of socially derived sex roles...it is sometimes known as the sex role test. The Brain Sex test identifies some of the earliest discovered neurological differences between male and female brains.
In developing my COGIATI, I followed the precept that neither way of approaching gender identity was adequate unto itself. Gender roles in society vary little from culture to culture, or era to era, and have, in the great extent, remained unchanged since earliest times. Trappings and details may be unique to a culture, but the overall structure of gender roles is the same whether first world technocrat, or ancient, stone age Innuit. Since the discovery of serious differences between male and female brains, it becomes quite reasonable that the cultural expression of gender roles is greatly influenced by those neurological differences, and this is very likely the reason for the homogeneity of said roles throughout human history.
I combined -hence the name- both the cultural indications and the direct neurological indications into one single test. Thus, I attempt to measure not only the neurology of the brain, but also what that brain has chosen to absorb and find important from the culture that surrounds it. Choices, in this view, are partially determined by neurochemistry, innate structure. We are partly clockwork, and partly free will, and I try to observe this honestly, without a bias to either side.
Is my pending SRS a
mistake? Oh my god, most of my female friends if
they played with that test would come up androgynous. It bothers me
that I do that many things that are deemed specifically female in nature. I mean men and women are really only opposites when it comes to
reproduction, other than that we are products of socialisation and to
some extent chemicals.
Actually, the differences between male and female are quite profound, and the brain, as well as the body, has a sex. Transsexuals are literally brains of one gender in a body of an opposing sex, and homosexuality is essentially a partial transsexualization of the brain.
However, what we choose to do and like is only partly our neurochemistry. We are also capable of overriding our genes, our biology, and our 'wiring'. We are plastic automatons, and we can, to some degree, reprogram ourselves. Also, it should be noted that no person is ever completely male or female, even in the brain: gender is a spectrum, not digital.
While gender identity is set in the womb, and cannot be changed, the expression of that gender is probably mostly up to the individual. Neither the view that we are entirely controlled by our chemistry, nor the view that we are utterly free, is true. Both are extremes, and both fail to account for reality. We are both, partly manipulated by our biology, and partly by our culture and our free will.
Your expression of gender has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not you should have SRS, be on hormones, or go through transition. There are masculine women, and feminine men, and everything in between. We are not robots or barbie dolls. The only reason to have surgery, is because you are miserable with how you are constructed, and having a body appropriate to your own definition of yourself would be better.
Trying to fit any mold is just a trap. The point of transition at all is not to be a cookie cutter male or female, but to come closer to being oneself, whatever that may be.
There is much more overlap than difference, but you probably know that yourself. Actually, early in the change or even before, doing this would be an ego boost, but now it just seems well, sexist. I don't mean this to be a nasty email. but I am curious to the rationale for publishing it.
The way people respond to the COGIATI seems to be quite odd. Half of my letters tell me that the COGIATI fails to take into account enough cultural elements, and that it should recognize that culture is part of identity. The other half (roughly) insist that the COGIATI is too culturally biased, and some direction of being sexist. Not all agree on that direction, which itself is very curious.
The COGIATI deliberately tries to evenly test both neurology and the affect of culture, though to be honest, it does have a slight bias towards neurology -because I judge that the more direct way to assess gender identity. Cultural gender expression can only reflect neurology at best, while indications of brain structure cut straight to the source. Still, both are valuable, but I reason, only in combination.
Even then, the
COGIATI is only a tool, and is no proof of what is real. It is a
guidepost, a help to finding direction. Further, it was specifically
designed for the individual who is pre-transition, and has yet to
truly define themselves. Only you can truly define yourself, and what
you need. No test can ever tell you anything with any certainty. All
tests are simply rough indications and vague estimates. You have to
define yourself, regardless of any prevailing 'wisdom', mine included.