“Pregnant Man” – Who Should Care?

Note: this blog was in part inspired by Helen G’s blog Pregnant man is pregnant which I did reply to. I did use that reply as a basis for this post. But as usual I had more to say. 🙂

I watched the 20/20 episode on Thomas Beatie tonight (thank goodness for DVR) and I have to comment on some of the things that were discussed. First off, I’m glad that the baby does have parents that love and care for this child. I am disturbed by the lack of caring and hatred shown in some of the messages sent to Thomas and his family, wishing death to him and his family. HOW DARE THEY? Why do people insist on judging what they themselves do not understand? At least do your research before you dare to put any judgment on ANYONE. Continue reading

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From the NY Times: The Sea Horse, Our Family Mascot

I just came across this article, which struck me both for the personal connection between writer and subject (as twins) and for the complete open-mindedness and lack of judgement in it.

My twin brother, Eli, is jealous of sea horses. They are the only animal species in which the male gives birth to the offspring. Male sea horses have brood pouches where the female deposits her eggs. The eggs then hatch in the father’s pouch, where the young continue to live until they are expelled into the ocean after strenuous labor that can last several days.

Eli is a transgender man, and lived the first 20 years of our lives as my fraternal twin sister. I have plenty of memories of my twin as a little girl, as Emma, not Eli. More often, though, my memories adjust to represent Eli as I know him now, as my brother.

I am fascinated to read of how the desire for biological children is quite uncoupled from gender identity. I hope that one day Eli will find happiness as a parent.

Read the full article here.

My Wife, Bob

My Wife, Bob

I often wonder sometimes how I would have reacted if the shoe was on the other foot – that being, that, if one night, my wife would have come to bed, got under the sheets and surprised me wearing Men’s Briefs and genitalia to compliment them. Could I be ok with that, if it were me?

Lets take it a step further and add in Male hormones, a boy hair cut, facial hair and she would now like YOU to address her, as “him” – a “man” named Bob.

I have talked with hundreds of M2F cross dressers and transsexuals, and one of the things that I find that most (but not all) have overwhelmingly in common, is that they identify as heterosexual, or Trans-Lesbian. I wonder how any of these people (or anyone, for that matter) would feel if their wife came home and said, “I think I am man”.

If you’re Transgendered, try to imagine for one second that your not. Now imagine your beautiful wife that you fell in love with – and all her femininity that balances your masculinity, is now being offset by her’s. Think about your first company picnic, where you bring your wife and all your co-workers and even your boss is first exposed to your “spouse”, Bob. Could you deal with having to be forced to appear as a homosexual Gay man?
Continue reading

Transgender Access to Health Care

I want to start off by just apologizing for being a little haphazard in my posting here. I am hoping to get on a more regular posting schedule. I have had a lot of different things going on, and I have had a lot that I have wanted to write about but little time to do it. I do appreciate those who have stopped by to see what is going on here, and I look forward to writing more and engaging in some discussions of the topics and issues.

I just got off the Town-Hall conference call with Donna Rose, Jamison Green, and Becky Allison. I thought it was a good start, and I hope there can be more opportunities for our community to come together like this. I think one of the major benefits of calls like this is the breaking down of economic barriers. Today’s topic was essentially health care, and underlying the need for coverage is the need to break down economic barriers. Far too many in our community are unemployed or underemployed. For many, making the journey to a conference may not be possible for economic reasons. Calls such as this will help those members of the community to be able to reach out and interact with the Transgender community at large. I think this will also be of value to those who may live where there is no trans community to speak of. 

Now on to the topic. I think most of us have heard about the AMA resolution in June and the WPATH statement in July. These were both significant statements. I would like to start with the AMA statement, which was actually three statements related to removing barriers to care, removing insurance barriers, and removing financial barriers. The one thing that struck me was the repeated use of GID throughout the statements. They did, however, reference GID as a medical condition, and referenced not only the DSM but also the ICD. Now, I was not familiar with the ICD until this evening. I would appreciate information about it if anyone knows a little more about it, and how GID is treated in the ICD. I think that it is positive that the AMA referred to GID as a medical condition as opposed to a mental disorder. I am curious about how this statement in conjunction with the WPATH statement and other papers could serve to help legitimize our need for treatment if GID were removed from the DSM.

I am behind Kelley Winters’ efforts, my only concern being that we have another avenue by which can can continue to gain the medical treatments necessary to transition. I know some have argued that they do not want to be medicalized. To those I would argue, how can one justify medical treatment in the absence of a medical condition. I want to be medicalized, I just don’t want to be pathologized. I believe that part of our process towards equal health coverage is strengthening the medical need and the recognition of GID in the medical community as a medical condition.

I rather liked the fact the the WPATH statement included things such as chest reconstruction and FFS. As Jamison mentioned, chest reconstruction is the only surgery that many FTM’s want at this time, and for many of them, this surgery is very validating for their gender presentation. The WPATH statement acknowledges that the path to transition is about more than GRS. There are other surgeries and procedures, which some consider cosmetic, that go a long way towards helping to affirm ones gender identity and help make a transition more successful and less emotionally painful (I think anyone who has been through laser or electrolysis knows these don’t reduce physical pain!). 

I think one of the most powerful things in this statement was the AMA’s statement of dispelling the myth that treatments, procedures, and surgeries for trans people are cosmetic or experimental. For us, these procedures are necessary for us to be able to live a life that is more genuine and more true to who we really are. These procedures reduce the emotional stress that can cause so many other health problems. When it comes to insurance companies arguing about cost, I have a few examples of my own situation. Prior to coming out and beginning transition, I smoked almost a pack of cigarettes a day and I was borderline high cholesterol. Within days of coming out, I quit smoking. I stopped cold turkey, now that I was on the road to being me, I didn’t need that crutch. I also changed my eating habits and reduced my stress levels significantly. I was no longer eating the bad foods we eat when we stress eat, fast food, high fat foods, high cholesterol food, you know that stuff that tastes so good but is horrible for you. Since then, my cholesterol is half of what it was before. Not smoking and reduced stress are also significant. Essentially, I likely saved my insurance company easily hundreds of thousands of dollars by transitioning. I greatly reduced my risk of heart attack and stroke, reduced my need for cholesterol and blood pressure reducing medications, slashed my cancer risk each year that goes by, and greatly reduced the potential costs if depression were to lead to suicide or suicide attempts and the related hospitalizations. You tell me, which is better. I think I would take the road of paying for therapy for a few years, GRS and a few other procedures, and HRT. Over my lifetime I bet that it will cost them a lot less then the bypasses and other procedures I was headed towards! 

Another thing I did take away from this was the need for education. Educating our employers, the insurance companies, and the insurance brokers that our companies deal with. There were several stories of brokers discouraging Trans benefits, or pricing them too high to be affordable. I worked in the insurance industry for a brief period of time, and when you are a smaller company, you have little or no ground to negotiate when it comes to benefits. It all comes down to what can I and my employees afford, and what do we have to give up this year. The education has to start with the insurance companies and the larger companies that have the negotiating power. If every company listed in the Fortune 500 index said we want full coverage for out trans employees, I am sure that the insurance companies would take notice.

I find it interesting that many insurance companies offer full benefits to their trans employees, and yet make it difficult and expensive for other companies to provide the same benefits. I wonder about the concept of creating an index that would measure and rate insurance companies not only on the benefits they provide their own employees, but also on how they make the same benefits available to subscribers. Imagine being self employed and having to shop for health insurance with trans benefits, I am sure that is impossible, and if possible prohibitively expensive. 

We need insurance companies to recognize trans benefits as a fundamental part of any group or individual plan. Spread over a sizable group, the costs are negligible. I believe one study showed that it was pennies per premium. I will find that presentation and post it later, I think it was from an Out & Equal conference. If this is part of every policy, cost would not be an issue, and we would finally have equal access to health insurance and the procedures that we need. 

I look forward to future calls, and the discussions and actions that they will generate. There are a few things out there that are dividing some of us, we need to concentrate on many of the things that bring us together. We will always have differing opinions on how to tackle a particular issue, but I think we need to respect the diversity of opinions in this community. We are an educated community, and we need to realize that there is more than one way to approach an issue. Good night to everyone, and hope to talk about some of this more.

Review: “My Secret Female Body” on BBC America

Having reviewed “Transvestite Wives” earlier, I felt it was only fair to give a similar treatment to “My Secret Female Body”, another in the ‘Reveals’ series that premiered on BBC America on June 22, 2008.

This documentary focused on a twenty two year old transman, Danny. From the BBC America web site:

Born as Katie, Danny has been living as a man for four years and has had male hormone injections every two weeks for a year. Now, at 22, Danny undergoes a dramatic surgical transformation, which physically changes his body from female to male. This documentary sees Danny embark on the first stage of this irreversible procedure – a double mastectomy, followed by complicated penis surgery.

Like “Transvestite Wives”, Danny has an amazingly supportive girlfriend who loves him in his pre-op body, and is fully behind him in his decision to undergo SRS. We also get to hear from Danny’s mother (“I had a wonderful daughter, and now I have a wonderful and happier son”), sister and best friend who talk frankly about their initial misgivings and current acceptance. There’s very little discussion of social intolerance – just a couple of anecdotes about altercations “down the pub”.

Much of the focus is on the physical transformation. We see Danny’s doctor administering his testosterone shot, and discussing the bodily changes these have already brought about. We’re also there for Danny’s first consultation with the plastic surgeon who will be doing his top surgery. A note to sensitive viewers – although BBC America did blur out some visuals, probably to bring the show into line with American censorship guidelines, there’s still plenty of detail to the scenes in the operating theater and the descriptions used by the doctor made me squirm just a little.

When the surgical results are not as perfect as they could have been, the viewer is spared none of Danny’s anguish and emotional turmoil. At the end of the hour, we are left with the impression that there is no fairytale ending for Danny and his girlfriend – and yet Danny’s life is clearly a happier one even though he faces more procedures in the future. Just from watching his face as he listens to his friend discuss how his new phallus was fashioned from forearm grafts, we can tell what’s on the horizon for Danny…

This documentary is highly recommended for any FtM pre-op transsexual who is considering the next step. It doesn’t sugar-coat anything, but still manages to convery a message of hope.

For those of you with access to BBC America, this will be shown again as follows:

Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM
Thursday, July 3, 2008 at 1:00 AM
Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 5:00 PM

“Transvestite Wives” will also be shown again on Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 6:00 PM, if you missed it the first time around.

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.

An Oasis from a Failed Three Six Oh

“For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals.  Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination…we learned to talk.”  Stephen Hawking

Thanks for stopping by.  If you were directed here by my 360 link, let me tell you a little bit about my intentions.

It seems as if our wonderful group of online friends have been scattered to the wind over a long period of time.  I met many wonderful people on yahoo360’s social networking service.  The only problem is that failed promises from yahoo in fixing it or creating something “bigger and better” continue to disappoint.   I hate seeing so many people being scattered to the wind.

This is, however, a blessing in disguise.  I ended up throwing my own blog on WordPress to cross post from the marginally operational yahoo360 site that I began with over a year ago.  What’s been happening since then has surprised me.

I’m making new friends, and many of them are not even within the small community of yahoo360.  In fact, many of them aren’t even transgendered.  Kinda cool.

I have invited some of these new people to join us here in this corporate blog.  Hence the name TRANScend GENDER.  It’s not just about being trans that makes us who we are, nor should it rule supreme in our thoughts and lives.  There is more to life than just life transgender.  And that’s why I want significant others or other non-trans friends to pipe in and share their ideas with me and with us.

And I don’t want any of us to lose sight in getting the support each and every one of us needs to get from here…to there, wherever that may be.

I just want people to find a place to come together and post what’s on their mind. A place where people can come to throw their thoughts into a blog where we can all view, review, and post comments. It’s also a place where we can share our own thoughts, and all of this without having to search or bookmark each other in 300 different places. Cross post from your own blog, 360 site, Myspace, or wherever. Contribute whenever you like. Comment whenever also. Do your thing, just do it with us!

Is that such a hard thing to do? we’ll see.

Lori D.