• A place where ideas TRANScend GENDER.
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Introduction

Hi. Recently I was invited to post on TRANScend GENDER and I thought it made sense to introduce myself first. Firstly I’m a cisgender female, so my perspective is not that of a person experiencing GID or transition. This makes me a little nervous, but I hope I can still make some contribution.

There are two things I’m likely to post about. The first is gender in general: gender roles, stereotypes, fluidity of gender, etc. The second, which is perhaps the reason for my invitation in the first place, is my developing understanding of transgender issues and how this process has impacted on my life. This has been a year of transition for me…just not the kind of transition that is usually discussed here. 🙂 I have, for most of my life, been a member of the Mormon church – a church that has pretty conservative doctrines and policies when it comes to gender, gender roles, and related issues such as gender reassignment and sexual orientation. Over the last year or so, I’ve rejected many of the beliefs I once held, and I plan to resign membership in that church by the end of the year.

Several months ago I came across riftgirl’s blog and through that I have also found several other blogs written by people who are transgender. This exposure to transgender people and issues has been very helpful to me. I feel awkward and lacking in life experience because there are so many things I don’t know or have no experience with and losing my faith, which right or wrong has been a big part of my life and identity, has been easier to process in the face of so much evidence that the teachings of the Church are inadequate in dealing with real people in real situations that do not fit neatly into pre-defined boxes.

I make no claim to understand what it feels like to be transgender, but I don’t think I need to understand that completely in order to accept that GID is real, to consider the issues it creates, or to be supportive of transgender people.

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BBC – Transsexual gene link identified

Australian researchers have identified a significant link between a gene involved in testosterone action and male-to-female transsexualism.

DNA analysis from 112 male-to-female transsexual volunteers showed they were more likely to have a longer version of the androgen receptor gene.

The genetic difference may cause weaker testosterone signals, the team reported in Biological Psychiatry (abstract available here).

However, other genes are also likely to play a part, they stressed.

Increasingly, biological factors are being implicated in gender identity.

There is a social stigma that transsexualism is simply a lifestyle choice, however our findings support a biological basis of how gender identity develops

Professor Vincent Harley, researcher

Read the rest: BBC – Transsexual gene link identified

Sex drive and transition

Hello to all the fine readers out there!

My question today is about sex drive and transition.  For those of you taking HRT, how does transition affect your sex drive?  I have to wonder if your existing sex drive before transition has very much to do with how it reacts to the change in hormone balance, from testosterone to estrogen for the MTFs, or from estrogen to testosterone for the FTMs .

My personal story starts with a fairly low sex drive from before I started HRT.  I wasn’t really too much into sex, although I did have my urges, just not nearly enough for my ex!  🙂   I don’t know, maybe my age and the depression were contributing factors to the lack of sex drive.  Anyway, after about 3 months or so on spiro, I really had a serious loss of sex drive, coupled with a lack of erectile function.  At this point, a year and three quarters into HRT, I have zero sex drive.   About 6-7 months ago, I noticed an increase in my sex drive and guessed that my T level was increasing.  A blood test showed that I was right, my level had gone back up to about 550 at that point and I had to change my dosage levels to bring it back down.  I’m guessing that the T level is back down because, as I said, I have zero sex drive at this point.   To be honest, I don’t miss it.  For me, it was distracting and uncontrollable.  I’m much more comfortable with myself now, although, if I was ever able to get GRS, I’d want to know what sex would feel like from the other perspective.

So, if you care to discuss it, what is your perspective on the subject of sex drive and transition?

Fluid Gender

I recently read a blog posted by an online friend which included another post-op trans woman’s regrets of transitioning and having GRS.  She had described how her feelings to transition and being a woman were more sexually motivated, and that after surgery she could not have that satisfaction.  She mentioned that she misunderstood the drop-off of sexual desire due to hormones as a sign that she was doing the right thing.

My first reaction and thought was how it was a good example of why the real life test or real life experience is important.  I assume the person lived as the gender she wanted to be before having the surgery, based on the comment of her “following the rules”.  If she had, then I wondered if she truly did the necessary soul searching — the second-guessing and what-ifs playing in her mind over and over.  When it comes down to it, the physical aspects of transition are not as important as the emotional aspects.  Being emotionally ready for the changes is very critical to anyone’s successful transition.

I started my transition almost two years ago, and if I had had the money, was single, and could have had the operation sooner, I probably would have jumped in head first and had GRS.  But with my therapist’s guidance, I slowed down, following her suggestions to explore my femininity and get out in society presenting as a female.  I also wanted to do the changes in steps, where I could evaluate each step to see if it was enough for me.  First, I had facial and body hair removal, as it was one thing that always seemed to bother me (and guys have it done, so no harm there).  Then I attended several transgender conferences to “live” as a woman 24×7 for one full week.  I went out to public places in the daylight, such as a shopping mall and busy restaurants.  I wanted to get a feel for how I would be treated and how any negative reactions would make me feel.  Would I feel more like a “man in a dress”, or would I feel like a woman, regardless of how people treated me?  These exercises are very important, as they can let us know that if we are uncomfortable as a part-time woman, then we’re not ready to be full-time.

My soul searching has been going on now for quite awhile.  There are days when I think I just need to stop stalling and move forward with it all.  But I am very cautious, as there is much at risk.  I question myself over and over about what is right.  Am I that uncomfortable living as a man?  Can I just keep hiding this for the rest of my life?  Would cross-dressing periodically be enough, especially since my wife would be accepting of it (as long as I do it discretely)?  Would being on hormones but continuing to live as a man with no surgery be good enough?  Twenty years from now, would I be happier living as an older man or as an older woman?  These are just some of the questions I have asked myself over and over.  For me, I need to be as sure as I can that the distress and discomfort I experience is impacting my life enough to move forward with transition to full-time and eventual surgeries.

In my honest opinion, I think that gender is fluid and NOT binary.  I think there are many who are on one end of the spectrum, where the difference between body sex and gender identity are so polar that they absolutely know that they are “in the wrong body”.  Then there are others who are somewhere close to the middle, with just enough feminine-mindedness that they experience some discomfort and have a notion that something is out of whack, but can otherwise function in society as a man.  There are days when I think I fall into that category.  I had an acquaintance recently tell me that you should know you are a woman inside if you are truly transsexual.  I have to disagree with that, as that may be true with some but not all.  I think we all have within us, both natal male and female, a degree of masculine and feminine nature (and when I say nature, I mean born with it and not learned).  Those balances are different in each of us, and could even change based on how much we suppress or allow those natural tendencies.  It comes down to really understanding ourselves, to find the “true self”.  Once that is done, then the surgeries and other aspects become window dressing.

I hope we all take the time to fully understand ourselves, as that is the true journey.

Tiana 🙂

To My Family and friends

Dear Family,

I wanted to take a few minutes and fill you in on some important information about some changes that will be made in the near future. I will change in some ways, but I will always be the same person. These steps I’m taking are very important for me. I do wish there was an easier way to move forward, but I have not found a better way. I have come to terms with this after careful research, analysis and professional guidance. I don’t take this lightly, I’m more informed then I ever was, and feel stronger than ever that I’m going in the right direction.

If you’re wondering what this is all about. I have Gender Dysphoria (DSM IV code is 302.85 or GID) I am a transsexual. In short. Since I was 5 years old, I have known that I was special and that there was something different about me. I always felt I was a girl, but my body did not match what I felt.

Because of the sex marker on my birth certificate I had to behave a certain way, feel a certain way, be a certain way. Since I was little I always was mindful of the mundane thing we all take for granted. How I stood. How I sat. What I wear. I’ve always been mindful of my interactions with others, and that I was not to femm. I just wanted to blend in to society. Which I did! GID has been crippling at times and I needed to stop fighting this and take action.

What does all this mean?

Well first off it will mean a lot of changes down the road for me and some adjustments at home. I’m working with therapist on the GID issues and have been in a semi-active transition the last 10 years. My first major goal is to live fulltime as a women. I have been making some advancement in that area and expect to start living fulltime within the next 2 years. I have been on hormones for over a year now and have had changes that are becoming noticeable (In the website links, I list a few sites that cover many of the changes you can expect). Some of the changes I make in the future may seen drastic, but I’m taking all this very serious and am under professional supervision. Eventually I will also change my name to Michelle. This will involve a lot of legal paperwork to change the drivers license, birth certificate, exc.. But it will be a necessary thing for me to do to live fulltime.

You may ask why I am doing this now. Well I guess I didn’t have the courage and understanding I have now to face this head on. As a child I never knew that there was anything that would ever help. I thought maybe there was something wrong with me, but I lived with it. I dealt with it daily. Until I was about 30 I thought there was not much I could do about all this. I always thought that all this would go away. But what I found as I got older it became more of a burden in my life. 10 years ago I started to learn about the research studies and finding many transgender friends I began to see a rainbow lighting the sky for my future. But still, I didn’t have the courage then to go fulltime. I do now! I know that this will never go away and I know what I need to do to be the best person I can be to my family and I. Transition!

I know that to some of you, this may have be a shock. But rest assured, I given this VERY careful thought. I have also talked with Vicky and the kids a lot the last few years about it and I currently have their support. I’m sure that you may questions for me. I will answer any question that you may have, so feel free to ask.

In closing, I’d just like to I’d like to quote a good friend of mine: Abigail Jensen

“In my experience, sacrifice of my own truth only leads to pain for everyone … not just me, but everyone. There is unquestionably much pain that comes with transitioning, but it is the pain of stripping away the illusion of who we are not, to find the truth of who we are. Painful as that might be, finding and living our truth (whether that includes transitioning only you can decide) offers the only chance that we and those we love can grow to know the truth about ourselves. And only by knowing ourselves can we, and they, find the peace, love and joy we all deserve and desire.

Websites

Here are a few sites that will provide plenty of information.
Dr. Anne Lawrence’s resource website
Understanding gender Dysphoria
International Foundation for Gender Education
Gender Identity Research and Education Society
Crissy Wild’s Medical Links

The UK NHS Postcode Lottery

I am Stephanie Butterfield, and I am transitioning on the UK PCT-led NHS system. Whilst i feel fortunate to have had my trachea shave/vocal cord surgery and facial hair removal already, with my GRS also guaranteed when the time comes, I do however feel very frustrated at the UK postcode lottery, not just for me, but for others too.

The PCT’s (Primary Care Trusts), often treat transsexual procedures as unnecessary, or simply cosmetic, not thinking beyond their small mindedness and thinking about the TS patients’ quality of life.

The postcode lottery works like this – one PCT will fund a girl’s breast augmentation and facial hair removal, whereas another PCT will not. How, you may ask?  If it is the NHS (National Health Service), we should get even and equal access to funded treatments and operations available on the NHS.

However, each PCT has the right to decide funding at a local level; it’s this which allows the postcode lottery to thrive, leaving many transgirls and transguys frustrated at the unfairness of it all.

Another irritating feature of the NHS transition route is the waiting one has to do, from GP (general practitioner) to GIC (gender identity center), from 1st opinion to 2nd opinion, from 2nd opinion to the operation itself.

I am currently at the waiting for my 2nd opinion stage, an 8 and a half month wait as I write, and my latest frustration is being blocked from seeing an endocrinologist.

Stephanie

“A Boy’s Life” in The Atlantic

The November 2008 issue of The Atlantic magazine contains an article called “A Boy’s Life.”  It’s a comprehensive exploration of the topic of transgender children:  where it comes from, the struggles that parents and children experience as they strive to find ways to deal with it, and the difficult choices they must make in that process.

I’m not sure how I feel about this article.  Much of it is troubling, since I wish the whole topic of the origins of being transgender and how best to treat it to be neat and simple, but it just isn’t.  In the end, I believe that children should be allowed to make their own decisions to the extent that’s feasible.  (Obviously, that’s a huge loophole, but, for the moment, I have neither the time nor the inclination to try to define my position any further.)  If a child typed as a boy at birth wants to live as a girl, she should be allowed to do that with her parents’ support.  At the same time, her parents need to make clear that either choice is OK.  If she later decides that she wants to live as a boy, that too should be allowed.  Will it be more difficult then?  Yes, of course.  Every choice we make has consequences and, as much as we might like to, we cannot insulate our children from the consequences of their choices any more than we can avoid the consequences of our own.  But I believe that the challenges of returning to life as a boy, after living as a girl for weeks or months or years, will be less traumatic than growing up never having had the chance to have that experience and to make a more informed decision about her future.

Eventually, she will be faced with decisions that will have permanent, physical consequences — whether to begin cross-sex hormones, whether to have SRS.  That is where the use of hormone blockers has the greatest benefit, since they delay the onset of changes that will make living in her affirmed gender infinitely harder until she has the maturity and the information she needs to make that momentous decision, while retaining the option of allowing her puberty to proceed as it would without intervention.  In the end, however, it must be her decision, not her parents’, not her doctor’s.  None of can know what is truly best for another person, even our children.  All we can do is ask Spirit to guide our choices and the choices of our children and then trust that She will respond to our calls.

(Crossposted from my personal blog.)