Dialogue With Jennifer
Letters Volume Twenty-Seven

This is Volume Twenty-Seven 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 Twenty-Seventh set of letters

Easy Reference Topic Index
Relative ONLY to this volume:
For the complete list see main letters page.

My Femininity is Questioned
For the potential boyfriend of a TS, just how good is the surgery, anyway?
I am 19 and I am scared about many things



...I am 19 years old, and I have very supportive parents, except that we don't have so much money that their helping me will be easy. I have isolated myself from society, with the exception of a few friends. I have never cross dressed, in feminine clothing, although I always wear jeans & t shirts, and I do feel that I wear clothing similiar to that of my female contemporaries. It's a great thing for me to be able to read other's stories on your website, yet I still feel so lost and so alone. I've discussed my affliction with many people, and I have a counselor who seems to think that somehow all of these feelings will magically melt away.

If you are transsexual, that will not happen. It only gets worse with age. The question always is, are you actually transsexual. Problem is, although there can be indicative elements, such as whether your demand to be female began before puberty, whther crossdressing is a primary issue (clearly it is not) and such, the real diagnosis can only be made by one expert:

The patient themselves. 

Transsexuality is singular in that. It is common practice for any counselor to try to dissuade a potential transsexual, because, let's face it, the road is about as easy as a goat path in the Chilean Andes. A goat path that takes a mysterious pathway though a portal to Dante's version of hell in fact, before returning to the main road. It's not easy for anyone. Compassion demands trying to push any person away from the horror of transition.

However, some transsexuals really, really know who they are. They knew something was wrong from a very early age. They are not big on crossdressing for it's own sake, if they do it at all, it is just to 'feel normal'. They are in a kind of existential horror and misery about their situation. It all just gets worse as the years pass. For any transsexual, the kindest thing would be to help them transition as early in life as possible. However this same thing would destroy, would be a catastrophe if the person really is not transsexual.

Makes for a problem... if it turns out that the person is not transsexual after all, then their life is utterly destroyed. If they actually are transsexual, the more years that pass, the more awful the whole correction process will be. It is very weighty stuff.

However, be aware that counselors are not created equal, and some, even many, have their own issues. Some of those issues are openly hostile to the very existence of transsexuality. Some counselors will not accept the condition as being real. It conflicts with their ideals, with their world view, with their religions. If your counselor is one of these, get a new, -neutral- counselor. It is OK to out and ask a counselor anything...including what their personal position is on matters Queer, including being genderqueer. They are there only to serve you. Remember that. You are paying them -or your parents are- and you are the customer. They are a service provider. Be sure you are getting the service you deserve.

I'm scared. Reading things like, "The 50-50 Rule" scare me beyond words. I am between 5'11"-6'0", and I have a large frame. I always have. And I was always overweight, although recently I've been getting to a weight where I actually have a shape. My biggest concern is that I read in a book written in 1990 that you must dress as the female version of yourself for an entire year before they'll even administer hormones. I have a heavy beard, and I just feel hopless... I never want to be "that guy in the dress".

Some of your information is completely incorrect. 

The 50-50 rule is real, but since most transsexuals end up dead under this statistic ultimately because they had no support, no love, and lots of bigotry and hate, my guess is that -from your words- you are on the 'up' side of things. It is incalculably rare to have supportive parents. That alone tilts the percentage very, very far from being 50-50. As long as you can manage to believe in, and love yourself, and you have someone, anyone, who gives a damn about you -as you are-, then you can pretty much not fuss over the 50% rule. Self-loathing, hopelessness, total familial rejection, and the violence of the intolerant are what croak transsexuals. So believe in your own worth, maintain hope, thank your parents for not trying to shoot you in the head (like mine tried to do), and stay away from scary fag-bashing men and dangerous places. The folks who are on the down side of the 50% rule are the transsexual who was violently attacked by their parents, forced to run away to survive, end up on the street without income, turn to prostitution to survive and make enough money to transition, get beaten and abused all the time, and finally end up without any hope, self respect, or belief that they are anything but damned to hell for being evil. Thank you mom, dad, apple pie, and Jesus.

I do not think that applies to you, from what you said, so relax a bit, OK?

Next, the stuff about having to live for a year before hormones is out and out feces. It's a falsehood.

You can get hormones one week from today, even though you are 17, as long as your parents truly are supportive. Just go to a doctor...any doctor, so long as they are not a bigot, or have issues (just like counselors, doctors are people too). A general practice, family doctor will do, that is what I went to. You do not need a specialist.

After a basic check up of your overall physical health (to make sure no heart, liver, kidney, or such aliments exist), you can get a prescription for estrogen. In my case, I went with premarin, a natural estrogen derived from mare urine (hence the name! PREgnant MAre uRINe...that is actually how drugs are named! Side note: this may seem weird...I mean -mare urine? but this very process was used 3200 years ago (!) by Chinese apothecaries to distill hormones for treating patients. Yes, some of those patients where transsexuals. No misprint, three thousand, two hundred years ago, give or take a decade. In rural areas they still do this the old fashioned way. However, for Premarin, the process is large scale and modern.

If you do not like the ancient path, their are artificial hormones too, and they do the job as well. Just avoid progesterone. It is the hormone that causes PMS, and while some doctors think it helps breast development, all I found it did was make me crazy. That's my advice, estrogen works quite well by itself.

There is one other thing they can give you, and that is a testosterone blocker. Helpful, because it can block further masculinization, and make the estrogen free to do it's job better.

Now, with your parents permission, you can insist on, and get, hormones. You can begin transition as soon as your first pill. Everything is reversible -by the way- for the first 6 to 8 months. After that time, changes start to become gradually permanent... although you will have to take estrogen your whole life if you do transition. Hormones can teach you a lot. The chemical difference can help tell you whether being female 'fits', or whether it 'feels wrong''. I think it is a useful test, in fact. Once you are 21 of course, you won't need parental permission, and a doctor can just prescribe hormones. No big deal.

And that is the point, hormones do 90% of transition....well hormones and time. They redistribute fat, grow breasts, change the skin,  change perceptions, change almost everything except four things: they cannot change your voice (see a voice therapist), they cannot change your bones (if you are 5' 11" like me, you will stay 5' 11"), they cannot change beard hair that has already developed (see an electrologist for hair removal), they cannot change your genitals (that's why surgery exists).

Time, is just unlearning being male, and just being yourself. That's the point, by the way, to be yourself. Transition isn't 'trying to be female'. If you are transsexual, you are female, inside, in your brain wiring, already. That will come out and show as you relax and just be you, your way, without all the fighting to seem 'normal'.

Now the bit about living full time is the requirement for SURGERY. It is called the "real life test", and NO reputable doctor would ever, EVER expect anyone to do it unless they had already been on hormones for over a year, passed pretty darn well, was accepted pretty much as a female because of this already, and otherwise was ready to do it. The point of the real life test is to see if the patient really will be happy living the rest of their life as their preferred sex, and if they can survive and support themselves doing so. Since surgery is irreversible, it is a rational test. Surgery is the icing on the cake, the final step, and they just want to make sure you will live a happy life.

ANY doctor who EVER demanded that a patent live for a year as a woman before hormones were given, before time to adjust and be themselves, and train their voice, and get used to things...is an EVIL doctor. A BASTARD. There is NO medical basis for this, it is destructive and vile. Such things are done (I have heard of a few cases) by very bigoted doctors who are playing god, trying to shame their patients into repenting. Fundamentalist Christian doctors. I met one, in fact. So I know this evil very well indeed.

Once again, doctors are people too, and many people are very mean. Always remember that. Authority is only as good as the ordinary human pretending to be an authority. That goes for me, too, so question what I have to say as well. In short, think for yourself!

So, in summary:

You are almost certainly not doomed by the 50% statistic, because you have access to information, loving parents, and reason to hope.

The real life test is ONLY as a qualification for surgery, and by that time, you will have been on hormones for a year or two, and already basically living as a woman already anyway. It is just a formality. Any other situation is just ignorant destruction. The proper path is hormones, electrolysis (if needed) and voice training (if needed), living and learning to be yourself, then, finally, after those roughly two years, comes the Real Life Test to qualify for surgery (if desired!).

My parents agree that once I lose a certain amount of weight, perhaps my body can be ambiguous enough to pass for either sex. But, don't things like the size of hands & feet and frame give away your history? And if it is better for you to at least start hormones younger, I want to begin ASAP. But, what if I don't pass...? I'm so confused. Please help me.

The soft tissues of the body cover the bones, and change EVERYTHING. I was told I was hopeless, that I would never pass, that my hands and feet were too large, that my Adam's apple was huge, that anyone that sand base clef was beyond hope.

Hormones changed my body, gave me hips and breasts, and covered that Adam's apple (which women have too, only -guess what- flesh covers it...duh!) and two weeks of work with a speech therapist taught me to retrain my voice. I am 5' 11". the exact height as my mother, who was tall. I have the same breast size she had, that's genetics. I have been told I look like her when she was the age I am. I pass perfectly. No person questions me. I am accepted for what I am, what I always was inside all along, a woman.

The 'Ugly Duckling' story? It's is a real story. It survives the ages because it contains truth. I started transition at 21. I would have been even better if I had started at 19. I...think, that unless you already could work as Arnold Schwartzenegger's body double, you have a good shot at success. That without even seeing your image. Weight does not matter. What matters is hormones, and the body rebuilding itself. It will, you know.

So....if you are serious about this, then go find a doctor and get on some hormones. Try them on, see how they feel. You should have a clue in about three months as to whether you feel good....or whether estrogen makes you feel 'wrong'. 'Wrong' is different, by the way, from just feeling depressed or sad. Estrogen tends to make emotions surface, expect that. No, 'Wrong' would be feeling like your sexual identity has been compromised. That is what you are testing for, taking hormones. As long as you quit them before 6 to 8 months are up (watch your body), the effects can be reversed easily. After that point the effects require more work to reverse. The main issue is breast growth. Once breasts grow to a certain size, you are stuck with them unless you get them removed. If you get them removed, they are gone forever. So be sure about your decisions.

I hope I have been helpful. I am impressed that your parents care about you. I wish I had such good fortune.