Letters Volume Nine
This is Volume Nine 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 ninth set of letters
Reference Topic Index
Relative ONLY to this volume:
For the complete list see main letters page.
am 15 and transsexual. What do I do?
Can I live as a Transgenderist?
What happens to muscles under estrogen?
How do you tell someone you are a transsexual?
I'm 15, a Freshman
in high school, and I'm a M2F transsexual.
I got a 606 on the COGIATI test and I don't know where to go from
there. I've been this way since about 4 or 5. I don't
know what to do next! Please help!
Goodness! You have the honor of having the highest COGIATI score I have ever seen. Even I , Class Five, Post-operative for 17 years, only scored a 460.
You got it bad, girl.
So, if the
COGIATI has any value, and 1300 test cases says it does, you
must be hurting pretty badly. I would imagine that every day you suffer
for your gender in some way, and want better than you have to endure.
Here is my advice, for what it is worth.
First off, learn EVERYTHING you can about what it means to be transsexual. You can start with my site, if you want, and go from there to still more sites, or get books on the topic, or whatever. Just learn. You need to know as much as you can, in order to survive and win to a happy future.
your situation. If your parents and environment is hostile,
or likely to become hostile if you reveal you issues, if you do not feel
that they will support the fact that you are really a girl, then, frankly,
you have to wait.
circumstance, the best advice is to hide your truth until you are
old enough to control your life. At 15, you can have a lot of bad stuff
done to you, because you are still pretty powerless. At 18, you can have legal control over most aspects of your life, though not all. It is unlikely that you could get surgery until 21 for instance. You could definately be able to get hormones at 18, which is 90% of transition right there. At 21, you can do whatever you need to do, and no one can lock you away, or worse. Yes, I know that seems like forever, but it is not. In the meantime, you can try to find friends to confide in, and try to cope and endure. Prepare for the time when you can fix your life.
Even at 15 and 16 there are some options. There are, in major metropolitan cities, especially on the west coast...cities like Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, programs and support organizations for transgendered and gay youth. Such facilities could help you get hormones, and begin transition sooner than otherwise. However, there are always difficulties, and I would not advise running away unless there is no other option, nor would I advise putting yourself in any danger whatsoever. The most important thing is to stay alive, because you can win, you can fix nature's mistake.
There may even be trans-friendly organizations wherever you are, even in some of the otherwise more backward parts of North America. Find them, and see what they can offer you.
Now if your
parents and environment was supportive of your gender issues -very
rare, but possible- then you have opportunity and hope at an early
age that are enviable. It's still a hard road...it always is, but you could
get a very early start.
Most likely it is the first option: bigot parents and no immediate hope.
For that, I say
this: five or six years of putting up with shit is
horrible, but it can be survived -I did it- and after, it is possible to
have a wonderful life. I achieved this, and so have many, many others. Not
a day goes by I am not grateful for my transition...I did mine at age 21,
and I turned out fine, and my life is great. I waited, and won. My parents
would have killed me at 15 for admitting transsexuality.
Consequently, the safest path is to carefully plan and endure. But sometimes this is not possible because it hurts too much. In that case, as I said, there are alternatives, though they are not easy. If you can endure until you have more power, the path will be more sure.
So, when you
get old enough, what to do? If you read up you will know, but in a
nutshell, you find a doctor, just a regular one will do, get on
hormones. Then, you get a psychiatrist to record your progress, so that you can get that all important letter of permission for surgery. Next, you
would do a 'real-life test' which is basically living for one or two full
years as a woman, to prove that you can survive and are serious. Then with the letter in hand, you pick a surgeon, and finish the last 10% of
transition. 90% of it is just hormones and living as a woman long enough to unlearn all the boy crap and be yourself.
It would be the same deal if you had supportive parents, only they help you through the above. It's all standardized. At your age there would be more fussing with psychiatrists and psychologists, though, because everyone would be worried about whether they would be endangered by helping you...so they would want to cover their own careers with endless tests and hurdles to make absolutely, positively, beyond any possibility of being sued, that you are truly a transsexual. Just have to endure that stuff.
Listen, if you
get nothing else out of my writing get this: If you can just
be smart and hang on, in the end you can win. No matter what, if you
persevere, and you are smart about your choices, you can win and get to
live in your own body, in your own life, before the age of 25, certainly. I
accomplished this, and many of my friends and correspondents have too.
judge your situation, and act accordingly, planning for the long
In any event,
you will need to be strong and brave and able to endure. The reward
for such courage can be great, however.
I took your test
and although I understand the circumstances
surrounding it I must tell you it is very very close to the way I
feel. It classifies me
as 3 androgyne.....most likely a trangenderist. My question to you is can I
live my life with being both sexes? I really want to be more femme and want to lose hair on my body and have more curves and shapes like small breasts and hips and that. I do see a therapist and I haven't told her anything about this because I am afraid to ....she may laugh at me or think I'm crazy ...this has been with me since I was 7 years old and I am 33 now and all of a sudden it hits me like a ton of bricks....I don't know what to do
I feel ashamed and guilty because i have children .....and I can't keep a
relationship alive it was a matter of life or death...I live alone and have
womens clothes everywhere....I wash my panties and stuff along with my male clothes .....of course no one knows ...I'm going into my therapist tomorrow and tell her this whole thing and do something about if it kills me to do... oh well!! maybe you can give me some insight on what to do I would greatly appreciate it ...
Actually, it is possible, if more difficult and more dangerous, to live as both sexes. You can do hormones -to a point- and develop an androgynous enough appearance to function moderately well as either sex. You can also become female enough in appearance to live entirely as a woman, and simply not choose to have surgery.
Of cours, living like this has problems, such as if you have to visit the emergency room, or get arrested for anything, or otherwise get found out...but it can also have rewards, like living your dreams and being yourself. What risk for real happiness?
For me, a Class Five terminal-level transsexual, it was worth my life. Your results may vary!
Whatever you therapists may think, you have the option and the right to live as you desire. It is wise, though, to take baby steps, and to be sure of what you want.
Most important is to do something about your situation. Of course, tell your therapist! That is what you are going for! If your therapist rejects you, the person is an unprofessional, undereducated idiot, so dump them pronto. Get a better therapist, preferrably one in the upper grading group in their classes. This stuff is for real, there is no time to waste on bigots, however expensive they may be.
It is your
life, so grab hold and do what you need to do. No years will ever be
refunded. Once lost, time is forever lost.
When estrogen is
taken, it results in muscle loss. I can
understand that. But what I want to know is if it relates to a ratio,
or if there's a decrease that is more or less constant. As in does it
drop to a certain pre-defined level or does it drop
unconditionally? It's just I'm wondering seeing as I've never
exactly built up muscle and I'm wondering if I'll be left like a
matchstick that can barely move or if it'll be to a pre-defined ratio
of muscle (to something else) so that I'll at least be able to do
some stuff for myself.
The loss of muscle tissue is not what you think. Let me explain.
Genes are the biochemical 'programs', the software that determines the plan and function of our body and the cells that make it up. Even if we have XY genes, estrogen causes certain genes to be switched on, and others to be deactivated, quite differently than under the influence of testosterone. This new gene expression is identical to that of an XX female. Increasingly we are finding that sex is only indirectly linked to the whole XX/XY business, rather than wholly dependant, as was previously believed.
Women have not only less muscle mass, on average, than men, they have different muscle distribution as well. Males have more of the thick and bulky fibrous 'power' muscles that are high in strength, but low in agility, while women -on average- have more of the thin and delicate smooth 'dexterity' muscles that provide precise control. When estrogen runs the biochemical means of production, not only fat cell distribution, skin, and neurochemistry is altered, but also the distribution of the type and kind of muscle cells.
Under estrogen smooth muscles begin to dominate, over time, and the total muscle mass shrinks to a level relative to overall body mass and skeletal structure equivalent to that you would have if you had been born female to begin with. For FTM transsexuals the same thing happens in the opposite direction, as you might expect.
The limit is whatever an individuals genes are predisposed to. If you have a genetic heritage of muscular women in your family, you will develop just the same under estrogen, if your family history is all petite flowers, then you will become delicate, but no more so than you would have had you simply been born the appropriate sex.
In short, if you start with a male body, you will both lose, and have altered, muscle structure until you reach whatever 'normal female' means in your family.
For the Female-To-Male side, muscle mass in gained, and altered, to match what would be 'normal male' in the persons genetic background.
you take estrogen, you turn ever closer to being an ordinary girl.
It's a bit like Xeno's paradox, really, ever approaching but never
entirely reaching infinity. In a sense, transition never ends. But,
with every year on estrogen, one is a bit closer to what one would
have been had there been no mistake of nature to begin with.
I've got a question and I hope it's not too personal or anything. Do your friends know you are transsexual? I mean how do you tell your friends and family you are transsexual? My friends will probably expect it but my parents will never understand. How do you go about telling someone about being transsexual?
Not out of line at all. It's a good question.
I have 'layers' of intimacy, which is pretty much common sense I suppose, as everyone does whether they think about it or not.
My closest layer, that of my immediate family -my three spouses in my polyamory- of course all know about my transsexuality. That is an absolute. No use having a lover-partner relationship with anyone if it is founded on lies or secrets! The whole point of a real relationship is to feel safe and to trust. So my spouses all have full knowledge of my life and my history, of all my sorrows and all my joys. They probably know me, by now, better than I know myself.
Telling them was different for each one. Sandra, the first of my spouses to partner with me is very worldly and broad minded so my transsexuality was no big deal at all. Eldenath, the second to join the family fell in love at first sight with me at a store. She would not let me go! Sandi and I went to dinner with her, and well, things got pretty romantic pretty fast. That presented a problem. I was just freshly post-op, and very nervous and insecure about it too! So, before things progressed any further, I got all teary and scared, and told my story to Eldenath.
She had not a clue what I meant! So, I had to explain what all the terms were, and what I was, and what it all meant....she had never heard of transsexuals before. She had no bigotry about it, so she just said to the effect of 'so what's the big deal?'. That was that.
Stephen, the third and last member of my group marriage actually is my oldest friend. He knew me from high school, and we were best pals long before anyone know I was a transsexual. I had lost touch with him for several years when I went to college, and met him by accident again in a video arcade. As I was to find out, he...and all of the people I hung out with in high school simply were not surprised. The general attitude was that it was just the thing they expected. I thought I had done such a good job of hiding, too! I have since learned I am unable to hide anything, and so I just do not try. Stephen and I grew close and eventually he completed our family. Oh...I basically just walked up to him in the arcade, said hi, and introduced myself. He was mildly surprised at first, interested, but OK with it.
The next layer out for me is close to moderately close acquaintances and family friends. Some know...like Eldenath's very nice sister Rain, but not her very mean hyper-Christian sister Donna. Elde's parents do not know. No point in telling my story to folks who I doubt could ever understand, who I barely interact with.
My rule is simple: If someone is close enough to me to be my friend, then I will not worry about what they know. In any case, however, I always answer any question truthfully. If somebody were to ask 'are you a transsexual', I wouldn't try to hide it. But nobody asks. The only way Elde's sister found out was because Elde was proud of my TS site and wanted to have her sister see it, that meant letting her know about me. Rain is nice people, so no problem for me. When I do choose to tell, I tell only because I have decided that the person I am telling is a person I want to be closer to, and not have secrets from.
Stephen's parents know, of course, because they knew me from before. For the longest time I believe that they did not quite approve, but over time they have warmed up. They are very good people on the whole, it just took them a while to realize I was not really scary, and that I was a nice person, despite having an unfortunate -and misunderstood- birth defect.
My partner on Otakuworld.com, Dov, knows, but then he is my partner on the internet. No big deal there, I was very careful to learn what he could deal with and accept before I ever even decided to work with him.
Most everyone else in my immediate world does not know, which is fine with me! I don't need to have the folks at the local software shoppe know, however friendly they are with me. They are not close friends, more acquaintances who are friendly. Same with everybody else in my town.
Obviously I am known by tens of thousands of people around the world though, but this is a very careful kind of fame. Only people who have an issue themselves would find my site. So that screens out who knows and who does not know. This means that I can be 'Sort-of-Out' about being TS. I can live a safe life in my home town, but be a mildly famous resource for transsexuals around the planet: the internet is an amazing thing. This helps me, because I almost went nuts trying to 'hide' all the time. Doing my site lets me feel 'Out', and thus free, without having to suffer having too many people know in my day to day life...with the possible trouble and rejection that might bring.
So, how to actually tell someone?
The way I do it is that I ask to talk with them alone, one on one, and pick a safe place, just in case. Could be a public place, like a restaurant, or could just be at their house - if I know I can easily leave. I have never had a truly violent experience telling a friend, but I am mindful that anything can happen. Better safe than sorry, ne?
Then, I tell the person that I have something delicate and confidential to tell them. I let them know that this is really scary for me, and that I am worried about what they will think. I let them know that I am worried about being rejected, and about being hurt, even about being beaten or killed, because these things do happen to some folks. This are my true feelings, but also they help make the person who I am telling feel at least a little more compassionate and protective of me. That cannot hurt!
Then, I explain that I was the victim of a birth defect, I explain what caused it, and I reveal how it affected my life. I do not just say 'Hey! I am a transsexual! Woo-hoo!' because that can have a lot of bigot-baggage associated with it. I explain a little of the biology behind transsexuality first, and lead into it. I help the person reason their way to the obvious conclusion: I am a woman who was born with the wrong plumbing, and I got it fixed...however, this does make me rare, and has given me a different life than most people. I cannot help it, but I will always be a little unusual, because I have seen, and lived through, unusual things. I remind them that I am still me, the friend they have always known, and that by telling them my 'secret', I am giving them the precious gift of trust.
Because that is what it is, after all.
That is what I do, and what has worked for me. Folks usually have lots of questions, and I try to answer them as best I can. It does help to be sure of what you are and what you plan to do...that makes others feel more at ease and secure too.
If the person rejects me, in my personal experience, in comes in two flavors. One type is the "I will have to think about this, OK? I need time", bit, which usually ends up with the person avoiding me forever. My reaction? Fine, their loss. I am a neat person! Let 'em go!
The other form of rejection is more direct. It is almost always -so far in my experience, anyway- religious in basis, but at least it is not weasel words like the above. It goes: "I don't approve of this sort of thing. I am really Christian, and this is a sin. In my opinion you are just a sick, mutilated boy, and I pity you. I hope you find Christ, though for you it is probably too late. I can no longer be your friend. Goodbye."
I hope it IS too late, actually, because if this 'Christ' fellow somehow makes people act like that, I do not want to find the bastard! What an anus!
Of course, rejection hurts, despite my joking about the issue. It hurts, and it hurts me badly....I can feel sad about one lone rejection for days or weeks. But, there really is no use fussing about a sloping brow, or about a person so sure of 'Truth' that they are capable of mindless hate. The very best thing is to let 'em go, and move on to new things as fast as possible.
So, that is what I can say about telling people, and the kinds of reactions I have personally observed.
I should mention, though, that there are stories of transsexuals who have been beaten for telling folks, killed for it, or had their lives destroyed. I have not seen this, and I do not know what, if anything, they might have done differently from what I do.
In general, males react more poorly, and more dangerously, than females when told, possibly because males -do to testosterone levels- are just more aggressive when faced with things that frighten or disturb them. I understand this...I have felt what testosterone does. So, be a little more careful telling guys than telling gals. Also, anyone who is very religious is almost certainly going to be trouble. My advice is, except in rare cases, don't bother with the religious. This is very understandable, because religion is where 90% of the hatred directed at transsexual and other Queer folk comes from. It does not take much brains to stay away from obvious -and blatant- danger!
The very easiest and safest person to tell? Someone who is intelligent, fairly liberal, compassionate, reasonably well read -or knowledgeable- about the world, and who has absolutely no fanatical beliefs of any kind. Basically a truly open-minded, worldly person who is easy going in attitude.
The very most
dangerous person to tell? A sweaty youngish male, heavily muscled,
conservative NRA member who collects guns and knives, and who
considers themselves either 'Born Again' or 'Seriously Christian',
and who commonly makes jokes about 'Them damn faggots' as the reason
they dropped out of high school.