Letters Volume Thirteen
This is Volume Thirteen 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 thirteenth set of letters
Reference Topic Index
Relative ONLY to this volume:
For the complete list see main letters page.
to define transsexuality in animals
I am 21 and transsexual, I have many questions...
Physically I 'Pass', but yet I often I feel I do not, Help!
From the 'why me' part, "If this theory has value, it would help to explain the existence of transsexualism in non-primate species, such as rats, dogs, wolves, and the like." How do you define transexualism in
nonprimates? I know alternate sexuality exists in animals but I don't understand what you mean by transexualism.
In animals an exact diagnosis of transsexuality is difficult if not impossible -at least until technology improves. At the point that it becomes possible to trace neurological circuits, we shall have ample understanding, but for now, we must rely on observed behavior.
Because the alterations in the brain that lead to gender dischord occur in steps, or 'windows', it becomes possible to effectively grade a degree of transsexualism. Homosexuality in general can be described as a mild, or partial transsexualism of specific centers of the brain (those involved in sexual attraction), and the addition of nurturing behavior is a further step.
In animals, one can observe partial, or complete behavior associated with the opposite physical sex. For example, one might have one male dog which exhibits only a sexual attraction to other male dogs, but a further transsexualizing of the brain produces a dog which also urinates upon itself in a failed attempt to 'squat' like a female dog, as well as clear nurturance behavior towards pups...something that male domesticated dogs lack -indeed they will often attack puppies.
Since we cannot ask animals about their self definitions -with the exception of great apes taught sign language, and as yet there have been no captive transsexual apes, though eventually this is certain to happen as research continues...just a matter of probability- we use grading of the degree of paradoxical gender and sex behavior as observed.
In this way we
can tentatively lable one animal 'homosexual', and another
'transsexual', following the observed degree of behavioral and sexual
expression. Since animals are far more controlled by their 'wiring'
than humans are, there is an argument that this is actually more
precise than the methods used to define human beings as homosexual or
transsexual; humans can override some degree of genetic and
neurological 'programming' by force of conscious will.
I am 21, and I am fairly sure I am transsexual. I have a number of questions for you regarding my situation. I am going to be seeking help about my condition, and I was also utterly inspired by the accounts on some of your pages. And I was informed that after graduation is a good time if I need to change. Besides, I want to maximize the feminization, which negatively correlates with age right?
Yes. The older the more masculine one becomes, and thus the more there is to correct. Also, the ability of the body to respond to hormones is dramatically reduced as well, down to a stable 1/4 of that at age 18, when you reach age 30. Clearly transitioning at an early age is always preferrable in every way, but age does not preclude successful, passable transition. It simple reduces the probability.
..But becoming a
woman would require a sacrifice of almost everything I
hold, my friends and family, the contacts I have, and just generally my life as "Insert Name Here".
I do not wish to offend you, but one additional reason for transitioning young is precisely because all of the possible contacts, connections, and relationships of the 18 to 25 year old, generally amount to -in retrospect- less than nothing. Thus the terrible trauma of losing all that you currently think important, will, for the remaining 3/4th of your life, seem utterly ridiculous to you in very short order.
Of course, right now, it is all you know, so it seems like the world. It did to me at 21, too. I cried my eyes out, and my whole world died. Now, at 39, I shake my head at what I thought was so important: friends who turned out to be so shallow they could not accept my change of staus, family so narrow that love was lost to their bigotry, and acquaintances who I can no longer even fully remember. Now, I know what REAL freiends and family are, but that was won only by accumulated experience.
I speak from your possible future, back in time, to you - as I would to myself back then- and say that everything you currently think is important is not. You simply have not enough years and experience to percieve reality yet. No one does at early adulthood. So, as twisted as it sounds, you would not be losing very much at all...though it will still feel like hell, and hurt for years, make no mistake! Many, many tears are inevitable. Unless your friends and contacts and family are exceptional people, and you are especially lucky to have such quality of people so early in life. But then, if you are surrounded by quality people, then the proof will be in that they will have no problem with you going though transition. Consider it a test of their souls and worth to even be in your company.
I have decided to
consult with the school psychiatrist (it's free) and if
possible begin hormone therapy (not free). I figure that if, as my body
and emotions gradually change, they feel more natural and at peace, I'll
know which way I have to go. I'll also be part of the way there.
True enough. If, as time goes on, you feel worse and worse about your gender, then that is accumulating evidence.
The hormones, I
will probably have to pay for, so if you can suggest
anything that would be great. I've heard conflicting accounts on how long
one can go with the hormones before permanent damage is done (both
medically and mouth)
I have covered this in my primary articles on my site, but in a nutshell, the younger you are the more hormones affect you, so the shorter the 'safe' time that they can be taken. The older, the longer you can take hormones before irreversable changes occur. All of this is only true for Male-To-Female folks, in the FTM direction ANY testosterone will cause some degree of permanent change. Because 'female' is essentially the stock human form, and male a mutation from that form, things follow the reality that mutations are easier to induce than reverse.
At age 21, you could dare only a handful of months before some irreversable changes begin...depending on your unique biochemistry, the time could be around three to five months. At age 25 to age 30, you could -on average, for each person responds uniquely- withstand even 8 to 12 months of hormones. So age, personal genetics, direction of transition, and personal chemistry, are all factors.
I find it highly unlikely, but I do want to compensate for the notion than after my experiment, I could turn out to be male. In which case, I would prefer to have functioning parts.
Permanent sterility takes YEARS to accomplish with hormones, and even then, is not always guaranteed. Even if you were to grow full breasts, and appear altogether female in every other way, you could still possess functioning male genitals. That is what 'trangenderism' is all about.
Also on this age, thang. At 21, do I just need antiandrogens for the trial, or should do I also need estrogens due to my body slowly becoming less reponsive?
Between the ages of 18 and 25 the male body produces the maximum amount of hormones it ever will. On the other hand, the body is still as sensitive to hormones as it can be...though this diminishes quickly over the span of years...and so androgen blockers can be very useful. I did not take such, indeed they were not even mentioned to me in my day, and I turned out fine on a regimen of only 2.5 mg. of Premarine a day during transition. Blocking testosterone can only help, and also reduce the stress on the body from having to metabolize a double serving of sex hormones, both fighting each other.
Generally though, androgen blockers are more often used by transsexuals over the age of 25, because they have become less sensitive to hormones in general, more mutated towards the masculine in general, and hope to make every molecule of estrogen contribute towards their salvation. If I were going through transition all over again (a horrible thought!), I would use androgen blockers -or at least seriously consider them- right away at 21. One way to deal with the situation might be to go on blockers first, then add estrogen as you wish to proceed.
Conversely, I do have a few questions on castration. Firstly, how much does the operation cost? I'm thinking, that if I truly do need to make my soul and body match, that it might be cheaper just to get rid of the pair so I can save on the hormones while saving up for the full surgery.
Castration is often hard to obtain, and hormones will chemically castrate you anyway, so I tend to recommend waiting until you can have the whole job done correctly.
Decent sex reassignment surgery runs about 15,000 to 25,000 dollars, and of course you could pay more. Really dangerous, risky work can be had for as little as 8000 dollars (or less -pass me the knife and that rusty fork!), but, well, eek. If you have any other option you want mainstream surgery, and that means the 15K to 20K range.
Several people have written me about this particular statement with regard to castration, and so this update.
Castration, difficult to obtain only in some locations, generally runs about 1000 dollars. Some surgeons are willing to perform castration, others are not. The thing to avoid is 'back alley', or unsanctioned, unprofessional work, which far too many people have recently been asking me about.
It has been noted to me that there are intermediate surgical proceedures that can be obtained, such as castration, or partial reconstruction, which have varying results and lower cost than full SRS. These might be considered, if one is very poor and likely to remain so. I, however, tend to fall into the camp of getting the job done right the first time, even if it means years of saving up. Still, there are apparently many options short of full SRS, or so I have been informed.
Similarly, once you truly know you need to be a woman and you are low on income, is there any reason *not* to get rid of the 'ole gonads prior to SRS?
The only reason generally to keep gonads once one is sure of what one wants is for reproduction, and it is possible to have sperm stored in cryogenic supension if this is an issue. Castration done by qualified surgeons is fairly inexpensive (about 1000 dollars) and can remove the main source of male hormones in your body.
However, I have recieved many letters with regard to castration performed outside of mainstream medicine, and this is an issue to be addressed. Efforts to self castrate are deadly, and unliscenced work can be destructive to the body and health, often resulting in a loss of tissue from the genitals.
DEFINATELY do NOT want to lose any skin from your genitals! The flesh
from your current genitals is what is used (in most SRS surgery) to
create your future organs...and the more flesh the better. More
material to work with. You see, sex organs are homologous ...male
organs are mutated remains of female organs. The scrotum is labia
fused together -ever notice that funky 'seam' down the middle of the
sac? It is the very same skin as labia, just fused prior to birth
along that seam. So, to have the 'best' in female organs, you are
better off with excess skin in male organs to sculpt from. Again, no do-it-yourself
work, and no back alley surgeons!
Dear Jennifer, I'm at an odd point in my life. I'm due to have SRS in 2 months, and while I have been living as a female for over a year.. I still sometimes have trouble passing. People say I look very feminine... my mannerisms, voice and way of communicating is apparently quite feminine.. so why don't I pass? I don't have any facial hair.. got rid of that. What gives me away? Could it be because I am self-conscious? I am very self-conscious.. particularly around men. What do I do about it?? I know I can pass and I know I can live completely as a woman.. but WHY do I feel self-conscious. I think part of it comes from the fact that I see myself as a second-rate woman.. not as 'good' as genetic women. Please Help.
You have most effectively answered your own question. I went through the very same thing, and on occasion, when my self doubt rises or my self worth weakens, I have moments of it to this day, 16 years post-op.
It is self worth, it is the perception of one's self as not 'really' a woman, it is being far, far too self conscious.
You see, when someone -anyone- acts highly self conscious, they tend to almost 'sneak round', furtively -often unconsciously- looking about just to see if anyone is looking at them. This type of behavior makes folks nervous, not for gender reasons, but because 'something is going on'...a question arises....why is that person acting so scared and shifty?
The damned thing about it all is that the best way to pass is commonly going -if you will pardon the coarse but humorous way I shall put it- "Balls to the Wall". Full on bravado and the image of confidence. I have seen folks that physically could not pass wind much less as female succeed based only on chutzpah. The very concern we have with 'passing' detracts from passing.
So, if you can consciously control your outward appearance of worry, and act as though you have every right to exist -dammit!- then you will find yourself unquestioned. Of course, I hasten to add, one cannot go overboard either...flamboyant displays of bravado fail even faster. The key is to appear confident and secure, even if one is not. In time, one will realize, as I -mostly- have ...that there really was no reason for such insecurity in the first place.
It's all in your head, or more precisely, in the way you express how
you are feeling. If that feeling is afraid, well, animals can smell
fear. That peaks interest. Most often, if you are fairly sure you
pass physically, what folks are reacting to is your fear, and not any
question of your gender.