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
Reference Topic Index
Relative ONLY to this volume:
For the complete list see main letters page.
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
Having read your
web site, or at least a lot of it, I have to ask the
question: Would a natural woman be capable of all this and even more to the
point, how many natural women sound like University Professors who have
forgotten lunch and opted for a diet of dictionaries instead? Why is it that
transsexuals stand out separate from normal women by their astounding
drive, and an ego that would make God feel inferior in their presence? I
respectfully suggest that you are creating the set of conditions which would
cause anyone with half a brain to seriously doubt whether you are a woman or
Naturally, my apologies to all those high achieving women who don't have egos
to shame the creator into thinking she's a he.
Clearly you are....being impolite to me....but I would like to address your letter even so.
The attitude you express, that of femininity being questioned should a person dare to sound literate, thoughtful, or capable of expressing strong opinions, is a very disturbing one.
I would ask you to turn your attention to the Victorian personage of Countess Ada of Lovelace, the relative of Charles Babbage, who despite the -in the opinion and attitude of her time- limitation of having been born to the 'Lesser Sex', nonetheless managed to be the world's first computer programmer. She literally invented programming, whilst simultaneously being noted as authority on mathematics. She wrote according to the standards of her time, which would make current university professors of the male sex appear dim by comparison.
I could go on, of course, from Alice B. Toklas to the ancient and murdered Hypatia, the chief librarian of Alexandra, or any of a thousand strong, educated, opinionated, powerful women, but I fear doing so would be a wasted effort.
It has been my experience that any woman who would judge the female gender equivalent to passive and feeble mind and will has most likely themselves lost any connection with authenticity, and has settled for a socially approved performance of femininity.
I speak and think and act with power, wisdom and will precisely because I have no desire to ever perform some act of womanhood; I simply would be whatever I am. I have no use for the passive voice of prissy girlishness, but my heart sings with the music of powerful, willful women, women who learn, and know and create.
I leave simpering passivity and giggling ineffectuality to those talented drag queens that can manage to perform such a difficult artificiality. My skills are not in batting eyelashes, but in battling oppression, and I did not endure the horrors of transition to wear frills and ribbons. I am a feminist, a lesbian, and I have no time for the theatre of femininity. I have only time for powerful women with keen and educated intellects, and the will to topple patriarchal foolishness.
If you find that being so makes me less a woman, If you consider me less of a woman for being a feminist, then you do indeed leave me finally speechless. I simply do not know what to say to such an opinion.
I hope you get well soon.
Love and tender kisses,
A side note:
I should explain, I think, why this exchange is included in my letters column proper, and not in my "Special Letters" section that covers abusive correspondences. The reason is that it has come to my attention that far too many Male-To-Female transsexuals, early in their transition, fall into the same traps that young girls do, growing up under patriarchy. The desire to conform, the need for acceptance and approval, the fear of failing to truly 'be' female after all, lead some MTF transsexuals to a kind of 'hyper-femininity', which is simply an artificial performance of gender roles.
There is a universe of difference between a performance of gender and the natural expression of gender, and I have found that the best answer in every case is simply to be one's honest self. If one truly is male or female of gender, if not sex, then that truth needs no embellishment to be true. I do not deny that full acceptance in society requires some degree of theatre by people or that learning the rules of gender does not confer benefit. Performing gender well can save one's very life at times.
However, I ask my readers to consider that transsexual or not, the point of all of this business of transition is not to fill some role, or to become trapped in yet another simplistic definition. Being a "girl" is as much a trap as being a "boy".
Gender is natural, it is identity. Identity simply is. Please consider what kind of person you intend to be, when transition is done, and life goes on.
I truly think that you will find far more happiness in authenticity, than in any performance of gender, howsoever finely crafted. To survive both transition and patriarchy, one must have some degree of inner power. Why should that end when one gains soft skin, and a female name?
The answer is, it should not.
I belong to one of
the many Internet web sites for singles to browse for other
I have dated women I met through these sites and have had generally a good experience.
I came across a VERY attractive woman that I'm interested in contacting. She stated that she is a "post op transsexual (100% female now)".
I've read through your letters to find something that went into a bit more detail of the post-op female genitalia, however I did not find any. How normal is it (what is normal, tho anyway?) If I did not know she was post-op, is it something that I could detect? (I understand that there are many factors that go into an answer. I would guess that it could be likened to breast surgery, there are good, bad and great outcomes, Trans sex I guess would be no different?)
Part of me thinks: "If it swims like a duck, quakes like a duck and looks like a duck, it's a duck."
I want to be open minded, and I am aware of the person inside, and I don't want to sound single minded on the woman's anatomy, but it is important to me. I wish to know more information before I go to the next step and introducing myself to her. I wanted to get insight as to what I may find.
heterosexual and enjoy my relationships with women. At this
point in my life, I'm not interested in children, so that is not a
problem. Besides, if that were to change, adoption is an option.
An interesting question, I can understand your need to know. It's only fair...I mean be it a new car, or a new girlfriend, you deserve to know what you are getting into.
SRS, sexual reassignment surgery, has become quite advanced for the MTF transsexual. It is not so good for the other direction, the Female-To-Male, which is sad for the transsexual man....but transsexual women turn out, on average astoundingly well.
My own surgery was done some 18 years ago, and I benefited from being a bit of a guinea pig at the time, actually. I was one of the first group of patients to have more modern techniques used. I have all the expected external sexual apparatus....a clitoris, labia (I actually asked for larger labia), and so forth. Interestingly, I was even given a pseudo-cervix inside my vagina, which has amazed more than one gynecologist. Overall, the work done on me, 18 years ago, is sufficient to fail to alert even experienced physicians who have examined me. My lovers certainly can find no difference from the organs of a nontranssexual woman.
There are, however, in all honesty, some differences -whether or not anyone other than I -and certain specially trained doctors- might know about them.
One issue is lubrication. The vaginas of most transsexual women do not naturally lubricate as well as that of nontranssexual women. Though the flesh does it's very best to reconstruct and alter under hormones and location (cells will attempt to fit, to various degrees, the function that the local chemistry tells them to fulfill... so that skin used to create the transsexual's vagina will try to become mucous membrane as it should be. However this transformation takes time -years- and sometimes is never entirely completed. Still, it is a biological miracle that such changes even are possible!) is seldom equals the full function of tissue that has had the benefit of a lifetime of development. Transsexual women generally must supplement lubrication.
Secondly, the large scale reconstruction will sadly leave many transsexual women with various degrees of nerve damage. This damage may gradually repair over the years -for instance my own has improved greatly- but there is no guarantee. Some transsexual women never entirely regain full sensation, and thus have dimmed pleasure. It cannot be helped, it is the price of survival.
Transsexual women may not always have a well padded pubis mons. The pubis mons is a cushion of fat that covers the pubic bone, protecting and armoring it. This is not a problem, generally, I just note it in the interest of full disclosure.
Very rarely -anymore- the odd doctor, usually from a more third world country, will use a SRS procedure that has been discarded in the west, where a portion of intestine is used to create the vagina. The reasoning for this originally was that intestines naturally lubricate, and thus the resultant vagina would self-lubricate efficiently. Problem with this is that such tissue never STOPS lubricating, and what is worse, the lubrication smells simply awful. Ecch. Fortunately, this is a very rare thing anymore, but again, I note it to be complete.
One more detail is that many transsexual women may have vaginas shorter than those of nontranssexual women. Just not as deep. This can cause problems if their partner is fairly well endowed, because it can cause the woman quite a bit of discomfort, making sex very unhappy. However, this problem can be dealt with if everyone simply proceeds in a gentle and non-forceful manner.
Overall, it is incredibly unlikely that you would be able to tell that any given set of female organs was the work of SRS or not. Indeed, in your life, you may have encounters same and never knew. Some transsexuals do not tell anyone, and just hide their whole lives, so that they can have a 'normal life'. In my opinion, this does not work, since the fact that one is hiding is always present, and secondly, the terrible, even potentially fatal risk should anyone find out somehow about the deception. I do not like deception.
The fact that your lady friend told you about herself show that she is at least intelligent enough to value honesty.
Hmmm...what else...Ah! Since I am bisexual, and tend to lean towards the lesbian - though not exclusively, I assure you- I have been told by my nontranssexual lesbian female lovers that I taste 'better' than nontranssexual women. Apparently my artificed organs have less 'fishy' odor and flavor than that of nontranssexual women. One nice positive bit, perhaps, to compensate for the horror of getting my body fixed.
That is all I can think of. There are some minor differences, but perhaps they are not that important...that is for you to decide. Overall though, the transsexual woman tends to end up with amazingly well created and functional organs. Of course reproduction is impossible, as you noted, but that can be a positive thing.
Oh...one last detail....not all that many transsexuals have breast surgery...it really is not necessary. Hormones do 90% of the work of transition, such as changing all the soft tissue, growing breasts naturally, and so forth. Surgery is kind of the icing on the cake, the finishing touch to make normal sex possible. I never had breast surgery, for instance, and I grew to fill a 'C' cup. Any bigger, and I would find things uncomfortable. The body, and Nature, really does most of the work. Some transsexual women, though, may get impatient, or they may just naturally develop small breasts -because it runs in their family- and be unsatisfied with their genes. Just thought I would mention that. Most folks seem to assume that all transsexual women have to get 'boob jobs', as they call them. Not so. Genital surgery, though is required, because hormones can only change so much flesh in one lifespan!
I hope this helps.
...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.