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.

Review: ‘Transvestite Wives’ on BBC America

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

Last night, I caught the premiere of BBC America’s “Transvestite Wives” episode in their BBC America Reveals series. From their website:

Transvestite Wives looks at three transvestite relationships, as seen through the eyes of their wives and partners.

In the Scottish Highlands, Sheila discovered seven years into her marriage that her husband Dennis was a transvestite. In Newark, 20-year-old Sam, is embracing her 40-year-old partner Chris’ tranny lifestyle; and in Barnsley, Robyn, who has struggled to be accepted for her weight problem, at last finds happiness with her cross-dresser husband Dean.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised from the title, but none of the relationships had the trans partner in full-time mode. The couples were shown in both same-sex and opposite sex modes, although in the case of Sam and Chris/Rachel, we saw only Rachel for the majority of the episode.
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A Slight Case of Cognitive Dissonance

My long-suffering significant other and I went to see Iron Man a couple of weeks ago. This, in itself, is not out of the ordinary: we’re movie people, so we see a lot of them. About halfway through the movie, though, I suffered a bit of a blow to my basic epistemology.

The set-up: I try to watch movies at the theater in one sitting. Sometimes, this isn’t practical: drinking one of the 55-gallon drums of soda they sell at the concession stand and expecting to make it through Titanic (all that water!) is probably foolhardy. Lately, I’ve had trouble with this because spironolactone is a pretty effective diuretic, so halfway through the movie, I had to relieve myself. I made a bee-line to the restrooms only to be stopped short. I momentarily didn’t know which one to use. Actually, this isn’t quite true; my first instinct was to use the ladies’ room, but I stopped myself from actually bursting into the ladies room. There was a brief and very disorienting sensation of confusion as I had to wrestle my brain into the mindset of my gender presentation.

At this point in time, I’m still pretty manly. I usually have some growth of beard to accommodate my electrolysis schedule, so I was in total “guy” mode when we went to this particular movie. And yet, I felt the planks of my gender presentation fall away beneath my feet. It was profoundly weird. I surmise from this episode that the hormones I’m taking are doing a big number on my brain. I also wonder about the dichotomy this suggests in the old mind/body problem. I’ve always “known” that I was a girl, or rather, that I should have been a girl, but this episode suggests that my neurochemistry DIDN’T “know” that I should have been a girl prior to being told so by hormonal intervention. Is this an example of the ineffability of consciousness divorced from the body? Is gender identity parsed and scattered through different sections of the brain, some more aware of it than others?

Y’know, I don’t know. And some of the implications of these questions trouble me.

Cheers.

The New York Times Covers Married Couples Staying Together Through SRS

A positive news article covering both a success story and the legal implications (but why is it in ‘Fashion and Style’?)

Through Sickness, Health and Sex Change

“We’re one of the few of our friends who are still in our original marriage,” Denise Brunner said.

But it is not exactly the same union, as evidenced by their marriage certificate, which they have enlarged to poster size to make the point. The original, from 1980, listed Donald Brunner as the bridegroom and Frances Gottschalk as the bride. But a sex-change operation in 2005 turned Donald into Denise. Fran stood by her spouse, and the couple secured an amended certificate, putting “Denise” next to “bridegroom” for lack of other options.

Read the full article here

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.