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Some thoughts on controversial Transgender theories

With all the talk lately about the people selected to revise the TG section of the DSM-4, I thought I throw my thoughts into the mix also.

Part of the controversial theory proposed by Dr. Ray Blanchard is dividing the trans community by sexual orientation (“homosexual transsexuals” vs. “autogynephilic”). Just the basic concept of dividing the the trans community by sexual orientation seems to be missing the entire point of the trans experience, it’s not about sex, it’s about gender. Gender identity and sexual orientation are two different things entirely.

I believe that there are trans people who could fit into the catagory of “homosexual transsexual”, but that’s only one part of the trans experience and certainly is not an inclusive description of a large part of the community. I also believe that there’s people who fit into the “autogynephilic” catagory, but I don’t think this description fits people who choose to fully transition, or even those who are forced to be, or choose to be “non-op” due to various circumstances. I think autogynephilia would be more appropriate to describe fetish cross-dressers, this is, after all, a sexual description, and not a gender identity model.

It’s my belief that, much like Freud, these “Doctors” can’t seem to separate sex drive from non sexual issues. Being sexually driven males of the species makes it difficult for them to remove sexual background from non sexual logic.

I’ve often wondered if “autogynephilia” is a description that applies to my experience – my gender issues have, in the past, had a strong sexual component to them. My question concerning this is, if my desire to transition is sexually motivated by autogynephilia, then why do I still have so much conviction about continuing my transition when the spiro has removed my sex drive and my ability to get and keep a strong erection. I’m impotent and totally uninterested in sex and sexual relations, and yet, I’m more convinced than ever that I’m doing the right thing for myself. The doubts and fears that I have about transition are about my ability to successfully blend into the general female population. “Passing” is important to me, but not for the purpose of a relationship, I just want to be accepted as a female person. (There’s an entire blog that could be written about the desire to be accepted.)

There’s so much more about being cross-gendered than any sexual issues, but some people, even health professionals, just can’t see past their own sexual biases. There are way too many successful transitions for this to be about sex. However, I have to ask the question, if transition was sexually motivated, is that a problem? If it results in a healthy, happy person who can live a fulfilling life for themself, does it matter what the motivation is? The desired result of any psychological therapy is a well adjusted person who can live a satisfying and fulfilling life, and transition is the only thing that has been proven to solve the issues faced by strongly transgendered people. No other therapy has been shown to be effective.

Personally, for me, no matter what else happens in my life, I don’t intend to ever go back to the testosterone driven life that I suffered with in the past. I’m hoping to make that permanent in the not too distant future, hopefully sometime this year, with a medical procedure known as orchiectomy. Another large stepping stone on the journey.

It’s all over when I go out thinkin’

who am I ?

what am I ?

how am I ?

Explain. Explain. Explain. I sometimes get tired of having to explain everything I do.

I chatted with a guy on line today, and, for the 15 minutes, or, so, we chatted he was nothing but questions. How this. Why that. It was all I could not to be completely honest with him in answering the questions. Luckily, for me, I was in a mood to tell it like it is, and, maybe not so lucky for him he was on the recieving end of my “why must I always have to explain this” rant. If I was his first contact with a trans person, then, I may need to apologize to the trans community for my actions. Not that I was rude, but, I certainly didn’t hold back much.

He asked me if I was born a boy. Yes. Easy enough. He asked if I acted like a girl when I was little. This I said no to for the reason that I acted like a boy, instead. That threw him for a loop. I explained that even though I knew myself to not be a real boy I had to act like one if things were to appear normal. Expressing my feminine desires were not to be tolerated in our house. Christians don’t do that. He asked if I was a total woman. No on this one too. For the reason (explaining) that I haven’t had any surgery that would prove otherwise. I have had an orchiectomy, but, alas, women don’t have penises (do they?). He asked why I would go through all “this” to not have surgery and be complete. Why not just stay a boy? Good fu*^ing question, genius, is what I should have said, but, I simply explained how I didn’t want to kill myself, that I don’t have that kind of cash lying around, and, the last thing I want to do is travel to wherever in hopes of getting MAJOR surgery at a discount price because I didn’t have enough to go to someone more qualified that would give me plumbing that works properly. Not to mention there is a risk with any surgery of that maginitude, period. I freely admit to the fact that SRS scares the complete SHIT out of me. Would I still do it? Yeah, I reckon so.

The whole explaining thing has really been on my mind for the last (ever), because it is such a humongous burden we, as a community, are linked together by. And it isn’t that I have to explain everything I do, but, in certain situations when I have to explain why people shouldn’t touch each other like that, or, why I go through what I do to be comfortable when it possibly risks the comfort of the people surrounding me. There are times when I don’t exactly feel invisible, but, I certainly don’t feel as if I am inconveniencing, or, risking the comfort of, people around me to see me for who I am. If they feel that way, then, those are their feelings. Not mine. There is no relation in my mind.

I am rambling big time at this point…..The other day at work while getting banks ready before the store opened I asked to exchange some bills for some change. A supervisor (not normally in there at this time) chimed in, jokingly, with “yeah, give him some change. he just needs some change (laughing)”. I froze as he handed me the change I asked for. What was probably an innocent pronoun error was maginified as it was heard by 3 other co-workers who surely already know that I am something they may not exactly know the word for. Innocent or not it was an awkward situation, and, I plan on having a talk with the supervisor tomorrow at work just to explain how he may want to work on his pronoun usage in the future, and, if he could that would be just super!

Not to be outdone a similar situation happened the next day as we were having a plant sale outside on a day it was raining for most of the day. (Rain + wind + fine hair= disaster..FYI). As I asked a woman if she was next in line she replied with a “sir, can you please help me with something out in the yard?”. “Me?”, I said. “yes, sir. can you tell me about blah blah”. She went to repeat a few times to her sister that “this gentleman” is going to help me with the hanger, as we were walking away. She managed to squeeze in a few more he’s by the time we were done with her order, and, I can honestly say she could not have left soon enough. My sour mood of late can be directly related to the two times in which I, looking back, allowed people to not see the real me somehow. That troubles me in a way I am still working towards putting my finger on. ( am I not proud enough of who I am to correct someone the first time so as not to let it happen again? )

Thankfully, later on during the plant sale two women approached the table with a warm friendly glow about them. It was the happy feeling a daughter has at a plant sale with mom, I guess. The daughter looked me in the eye and told me she was 6’1″, and, she wanted to know how tall I was. We instantly started talking about getting clothes that fit when her mom jumped in and told me that she has heard all the women in Germany were apparently very tall, because that is where to get clothes for tall women. In a matter of an hour I had gone to questioning my existence to feeling the warmth that life has to offer when who I am is just that. I am just as I am. And there is no damn explaining anything.

I try not to think about things like all this too much, but, it is often impossible, for me, not to think about who you are, and, how it is people see you. To fall into the trap, if even for an instance, of judging your worth to other people to that of your own worth can, and, often does, get me into trouble. Funny, in controlled environments I am open to talk about who I am and reveal personal information without a problem, but, put me out in public where I live my life and I clam up like I don’t know what to say, or, worse yet, feel as though what I have to say isn’t worth saying.

This is what I get for being in such a good mood last week, I supose.

Good night. And, good luck.

Karen

Another Humorous Moment in the Life of a Transsexual

I don’t know about you but I always smile to myself when people are surprised to learn that I am a transsexual. One of those moments happened this morning.

To keep my doctor (actually, she’s a nurse practitioner, but who’s quibbling?) happy, so she’ll continue to prescribe hormones for me, I needed to go to the local medical lab to have blood drawn to check my estrogen level. (I know, I know, there is no research to support the use of hormone levels to determine the optimum hormone regimen for a MTF transsexual (like me), but my insurance covers the cost of the tests and it keeps Carol, my NP, happy, so what the heck, I do them.) Also, when I saw her last month, she also did a complete physical exam. As part of that process, she also wanted to check my PSA (prostate specific antigen, a marker for prostate problems and, thus, a male only test). So, the order she wrote for my blood tests listed only 2 items: estradiol and PSA.

I knew before I went into the lab, which is mostly staffed by women, that there might be some questions about why I would need my PSA checked, especially when the only other test I needed was to check my estrogen levels, which, of course, is normally only done for females. I am fortunate that, in most situations, I am perceived as a woman, and not trans, so there was little chance that the people at the lab would figure out on their own how someone could possibly need both tests.

So, I dressed in my normal feminine way, grabbed my purse and headed to the lab. When my name was called, I handed the woman behind the desk my lab ID card and the test order. She looked at the order and kind of muttered, “Is this right?”

I said, “Yes, it is.”

She looked very confused and said something about having never seen “this” before, obviously referring to the odd combination of tests. She then picked up the phone, said, “I need to check this,” and began to dial.

At that point, I decided to relieve us both of any more confusion and said to her, “I’m a transsexual.”

Her only response was to say, “Oh,” and hang up the phone.

Hoping to be helpful, I then added, “So, I still have a prostate that needs to be checked.” I also agreed with her that the order asked for a pretty unusual set of tests. To her credit, she didn’t seem embarassed or disturbed by my revelation. Instead, she simply directed me back to the first open booth, and, since this is a small lab, came back and drew my blood with no further comment, other than to admire my bracelet.

It’s always interesting to see how people react when their assumptions about who I am are shattered by the news that I’m trans. Thankfully, in my experience, most people are simply surprised, and not disturbed, by that news, so it simply becomes one of those humorous moments in life when we get to see that things aren’t always what they seem to be. And, since I am trans, it also becomes a brief education in the fact that transsexuals exist and aren’t really any different from anyone else.

(Reposted from my personal blog.)

Advocate won’t examine own responsibility for “pregnant man” story

My friend Peter points to a piece in the Advocate which asks:

As the media world buzzed about the “pregnant man,” trans activists stayed relatively mum. Now we’re asking: Has Thomas Beatie’s public exposure hurt the transgender movement?

When Oregon trans man Thomas Beatie first told the world that he was pregnant in The Advocate in March, readers learned that he transitioned about 10 years ago, underwent a double mastectomy, and began testosterone injections. He and his wife, Nancy, decided to have a child, but because of a hysterectomy years ago, Nancy couldn’t carry the baby. So Beatie stopped his hormone injections, underwent artificial insemination, and, after several doctors refused to treat him, finally found an obstetrician who would. His pregnancy, he wrote, was “free of complications.” Health complications, maybe, but it would not be without other difficulties.

For all the personal trials Thomas Beatie has endured, his decision to go public may cause even broader political and cultural implications for the transgender population as a whole. And some trans people worry that the sensational—and occasionally nasty—media coverage that’s appeared since the article was published is only the beginning.

[…]

Beatie, however, did have one complaint that might have been lost in all the baby news. He said he reached out to transgender organizations before he went public. Half never called back; most of the others discouraged him from the exposure. Ultimately, they said, they were worried.

[…]

“We may hear all kinds of noise in terms of morality and ethics, but to me it’s just that,” adds [transgender activist Donna] Rose, who says she has no problem with Beatie speaking out. “We heard the same noise when people first started talking about test-tube babies. But then the discussion faded.” Rose is wary of spelling out all the things that could go wrong with the trans man’s pregnancy, saying, “I don’t want to give our enemies a road map on how to hurt us.”

Which may point to why, for the most part, LGBT and trans groups have stayed relatively quiet about this story. Though some have issued press releases condemning the sensationalized press coverage, none of the national organizations The Advocate contacted would say what plans, if any, they have to counter possible backlash—like Oregon laws becoming more restrictive toward trans people.

One thing that doesn’t seem to be mentioned is that he wasn’t actually the first transman to become pregnant.

But the second thing, the more important thing is this:

The Advocate is an LGB(t) news source, and they were the first ones to break the story by printing Beatie’s account of it. They ran with the story even after the trans organizations asked him to please be careful about what he doing.

This new article in the Advocate talks about Beatie’s decision. But where is any coverage of their own news sense in running this article? Where is the account of the internal debate about whether they should run “the pregnant man” story? How many transgender organizations did the Advocate speak to before publishing it?

In the linked article, they also ask what the transgender organizations are going to do about countering the backlash.

That’s not what I care about.

The trans orgs are the ones who will have to live with the backlash. But it’s not their job to counter it.

I want to know what the Advocate, an LGB(t) publication, plans to do to counter the backlash from the article they chose to run.

Screw this whole victim-blaming crap of dumping the responsibility on transgender organizations. Trans groups didn’t publish this story — the Advocate did.

News concerning the DSM – V. (a.k.a. “uh-oh.”)

The following was posted on Transadvocate.com website. I’m reposting it because like Mercedes, I see this as a very consequential and momentous event in the psychological and medical treatment of transgendered people. — Lori Davis
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

(crossposted in several places, and people are welcome to forward this on freely to others in the transgender and GLBT communities, as I see this as being very serious — Mercedes)

A short time ago, I’d discussed the movement to have “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID, a.k.a. “Gender Dysphoria”) removed from the DSM-IV or reclassified, and how we needed to work to ensure that any such change was an improvement on the existing model, rather than a scrapping or savaging of it.

Lynn Conway reports that on May 1st, 2008, the American Psychiatric Association named its work group members appointed to revise the Manual for Diagnosis of Mental Disorders in preparation for the DSM-V. Such a revision would include the entry for GID.

On the Task Force, named as Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Chair, we find Dr. Kenneth Zucker, from Toronto’s infamous Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH, formerly the Clarke Institute). Dr. Zucker is infamous for utilizing reparative (i.e. “ex-gay”) therapy to “cure” gender-variant children. Named to his work group, we find Zucker’s mentor, Dr. Ray Blanchard, Head of Clinical Sexology Services at CAMH and creator of the theory of autogynephilia, categorized as a paraphilia and defined as “a man’s paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman.”

Drs. Blanchard, Zucker, J. Michael Bailey (whose work has even gone so far as to touch on eugenics) and a small cadre of others are proponents of dividing the transsexual population by sexual orientation (”homosexual transsexuals” vs. ”autogynephilic”) and have repeatedly run afoul of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH, formerly HBIGDA), and openly defied the Standards of Care that WPATH maintains (modeled after the original SoC developed by Dr. Harry Benjamin) in favor of conversion techniques. Blanchard and Bailey supporters also include Dr. Alice Dreger, who re-stigmatized treatment of intersex, controversial sexologist Dr. Anne Lawrence, and Dr. Paul McHugh, who had set out in the begining of his career to close the Gender Clinic at Johns Hopkins University and has been one of our most vocal detractors.

An additional danger that gay and lesbian communities need to be cognizant of is that if Zucker and company entrench conversion therapy in the DSM-V, then it is a clear, dangerous step toward also legitimizing ex-gay therapy and re-stigmatizing homosexuality.

I am not familiar with others named to the Work Group. It would be worthwhile looking into any history with WPATH that they might have, to know if we have any positive advocates on board, or just more stigmatizing adversarial clinicians. They may be appointed primarily to address other listings categorized as ”Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders,” I don’t know. They are:

* Dr. Irving M. Binik, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
* Dr. Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam
* Dr. Jack Drescher, New York Medical College, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, NY
* Dr. Cynthia Graham, Isis Education Centre, Warneford Hospital, Oxfordshire, UK
* Dr. Richard B. Krueger, NY State Psyciatric Institute and Columbia University, NY
* Dr. Niklas Langstrom, Karolinka Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
* Dr. Heino F.L. Meyer-Bahlburg, Columbia University, NY
* Dr. Robert Taylor Segraves, MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland

The APA press release states that for further information regarding this, to contact Rhondalee Dean-Royce (rroyce@psych.org) and Sharon Reis (sreis@gymr.com), though it’s possible that they may govern the press release only, rather than have any involvement in the decision to appoint Zucker. The APA itself is headquartered at 1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1825, Arlington VA, 22209. Their Annual General Meeting is currently being held (May 3-8, 2008) in Washington, DC.

I’m poorly situated (Western Canada, with no travel budget) to lead the drive for this, which I see as a very serious danger to the transgender community. So I am calling on the various Transgender and GLBT organizations to band together to take action on this, and will assist in whatever way that I and AlbertaTrans.org can.

I am also calling upon our allies and advocates in the medical community and affiliated with WPATH to band together with us and combat this move which could potentially see WPATH stripped of its authority on matters regarding treatment of transsexuals.

– Mercedes Allen, May 5, 2008

A Girls Night out! May 04, 2008

I must say that yesterday was a busy day. One of my girlfriends invited me to join her and another friend of ours out to a local (semi local to me, 1 hour away) LGBT bar in CT called Triangles. It also happened to be on a night that Vicky was working and I had nothing planned for the weekend. It didn’t take me long to realize that it’s been a long time since I’ve been out and about. I was excited about the opportunity to be able to hang out with a good friend.

Well, as I watched the time go by yesterday morning, I tried to get a few things together before I had to take my daughter to a student council picnic where she was to hang out with the incoming freshmen and answer any question they had about the school. I dropped her off at her school and went back home to try and put together what I wanted to take. I couldn’t decide on what to take so I ended up packing several outfits that ended up filling a duffle bag that came to my waist. I packed a couple pair of shoes and a pair of boots that I’ve been waiting for the right time to break them in, along with makeup and a few other little necessities for the evening. I’m just glad that bag had wheels so it made it easier to move around.

We were supposed to meet up at a hotel that most of the girls rent out for the night, this place is TG friendly (specially on the evening of the TG party). When I finally got there, there was several other girls there getting dressed. My friend Brittney and A?? greeted me and we shared a big hug. I proceeded to get ready for the evening and after my personal makeover, I was really starting to get excited about getting out to Triangles. In a way, I was surprised to see so many getting ready at the same time. But it actually turned out to be a nice evening. I met another TS girl, she was very nice and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she was TS/fulltime. We talked a little bit at the changing room, and later in the evening. It was nice to get to know other TS’s in the area.

Brittney and I had a great time talking and catching up on what’s been going on with each other. She even got out on the dance floor, but I stayed to watch the table. As the evening went on there were more guys that would show up, and I was enjoying watching these two guys dance together. They were pretty good as they dipped and spun around. SH*@, I just realized something. Last night was one of the most freeing times I’ve had in a long time. I felt more confident in myself, but still got a bit of self doubt. I felt more comfortable being myself last night then I do in my drab mode (remember duality?). I think maybe I’m feeling a pendulum swinging but it’s starting to lean more towards the person I need to be. Last night I did not want this feeling to go away. Last night I felt, I don’t know how to explain it. As if something in me was just freed, I felt like I never felt before walking around the bar. And being able to spend this time with a great friend was awesome. One other thing that happened last night was a guy asked me to dance. I said to myself, “What the heck should I say.” I blurted out the only thing I could think of, “I’m sorry but we are leaving in a little bit”. I was flattered that someone would ask me to dance, but I think my shyness got in the way. We left shortly after that. Once we got out side we exchanged hugs. On my drive home last night, I looked back on the evening with a great since of freedom. The Freedom to be myself, the freedom to enjoy the evening through, MY EYES! It’s a nice place to be J I hope I can hold on to it for a while longer.

I’d like to talk about something that Suzi talked about in her blog, “Reaching out”. You never know what a difference you could make in someone’s life. Brittney and I have reached out to each other at times to help support each other in what we were about to do. I see a bright and cheery future for her. I think in a way I was trying to reach out last night. I have been feeling shallow lately and was in need of some justification of me! As we talked I felt more at home in my own self than ever before. I hope this is not a fleeting moment. How do I hold on to it? I know with some of the local and online friends I’ve made, there are a few I admire what they have gone through to get to this point. They all reached out at one time or another and it saved many from feeling worse. Their collective knowledge went along way to help others. I hope that we can continue to do the same for others. I Love what Suzi had said YOU SHOULD NEVER BE ALONE. Remember to reach out…please. So when you’re feeling down, really think about what the song SO SMALL by Carrie Underwood is saying. Find that love for yourself and be free.

P.S. Oh hey, Those boots. They were GREAT! I felt great in them all evening.

Why would a saint feel so damn guilty?

I’ve known that my spouse is transsexual for ten years.

I kept this fact a secret at her request and told no one for the first five years of our relationship.

I’ve supported her in her transition for the past five years and still do 100%.

I’ve remained loyal, defended and explained her transition to friends, family, strangers, my uptight narrow-minded ex-husband, and most recently the Automobile Club of America who claimed she was a “different person” now that she’s changed her name and gender and refused to tow her car.

So why the crushing guilt?

I’ve never uttered a word aloud to anyone except my spouse regarding any confusion, fear or doubt I might have about her transition.

I’ve allowed her some wiggle room to explore her new female sexuality, but will not give you any details.

I’ve been called a “saint” by more than one acquaintance for my understanding, support and loyalty towards my spouse and the difficult time she’s gone through.

So why do I feel such crushing guilt?

Because my body is fighting me. It won’t do what I want or be what I want — which is to have the same sexual feelings towards my spouse now that she is a different person that I did previously. (And please don’t even start with that “still the same person” stuff — it works in an intellectual context, but not in terms of how the human body works.)
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