April 7th, 2004


I haven't posted a whole lot here about gender stuff since we got back from Thailand. But Io recently stumbled on another reminder of the number of people in this culture who are totally destroying their lives very slowly because of gender dysphoria that they aren't dealing with because of a couple of fears.

Fear 1: The fear of being lonely and losing someone you love.

It is my experience that people who deny themselves to avoid being lonely become a form of non-human leech over enough time. They begin to live vicariously through the people they love because they have too little of their own self worth or happiness to support themselves emotionally. The people around them get tired of having the personality for both of them, thinking for both of them, making decissions for both of them. They get fed up with the cowed and petrified person that you become when you are busy trying not to be the person you need to be. Sometimes they will stay with you just because of inertia or enough religious guilt in their lives or your salary or for the sake of the kids or something, but the years go by and eventually you realize that you are just as lost and alone as you would have been if you had been who you needed to be and the person you love had freaked out and run away. And at least if you had had the balls to say "this is who I need to be. I love you and hope you can understand it and stay, but will understand if you can't" then you wouldn't have subjected them to the slow drawn out death of your relationship that was the natural result of the death of yourself. They would have had a chance to be happy, at least, whether or not you believe you would have. Don't you see that trying to compromise on the very fundamentals of yourself ends up being selfish and cruel in the end? They never get the fair chance to say that they need something different from life until they are sucked dry of energy to go find it because you were afraid of being alone.

We all spend parts of our lives alone. This isn't the end of the world and at least you will be able to find more peace with yourself that you didn't spend your life as a fake who taught your children to fear their own needs and deny themselves happiness just as you have. You are being cruel not only to yourself, as you imagine, but also to everyone who is learning from your example that trans and intersexuality are shameful, embarassing and should be hidden at all costs. You are teaching everyone around you that it is more important to be liked than to like yourself. You are teaching your children to cling to "love" for fear of its absence and fear of its knowledge of who you really are. If they are lucky they won't follow your example. But most people aren't that lucky. They will grow up to have the same fear ladden hollow lives that you did because that is what you taught them was the right thing to do. Are you really that selfish? Do you ever think about the 14 year old kid who is about to kill himself because people like you are so scared to be who you are that he imagines he is alone and shameful because his mother was stressed out while she carried him and his brain is female no matter what his body is, just as yours is? Do you know that he was supposed to grow up and solve global warming or become president, or win a nobel peace prize, but he doesn't know that he is normal and he doesn't have roll models to help him struggle through the hard times. Do you think about the years of your spouses life you are potentially wasting if you cannot say with 100% certainty that you will not one day go snick and have to transition, if they are not okay with that possibility and you haven't been honest about your real identity and needs with them?

Fear 2: I would make an ugly and unconvincing woman.

My experience is that in almost all cases of this reasoning, you are busy making an ugly and unconvincing man right now, so why is that possibility so very much worse? Very very few of us grow up to be Brittney Spears. I don't know any woman who doesn't wish something was different about the way she looks. In most cases what they would like to look like is absolutely impossible to them. We all have to come to terms with our appearance at some point. Why are you different? Are you willing to say to my face that it is so much worse to be an ugly woman than an ugly man? That's the only thing I can come up with that might be even remotely sound reasoning on the subject. Most of the gender dysphoric people I know are busy trying very hard to live a dual life in which they get to enjoy as much feminizing reality as possible and this almost always impinges on your ability to still pull off male. When you're walking around with a woman's hair style, earrings, makeup, nail polish, half mens and half womens clothing, who are you really kidding that you would look worse as a woman? You stand out MORE trying to be both than you would just being the woman you really want to be. People are already looking at you and thinking "FREAK" and you manage to make it through your day without that being the end of the world. Who cares if they still think that when you have transitioned?

So what, you have too much facial hair. So do I. My great grandmother had a full beard by the time she died. Who cares. Deal with it. So you don't have boobs or enough hips. Who cares? Get liposuction from your stomach added to your hips and breast implants. Just stop whining that you don't look like you wish you could in your mind's eye. None of us do. That's not an excuse to wear a potato sack on your head for the rest of your life, nor is it one to pretend to be someone you are not.

You have all met that woman who is in her 50s who is still dying her hair platinum blonde and trying to wear hot pants, big hair and way too much makeup. You have all met her and know that she is losing the battle with age, that she is in denial about how bad she really looks now, that her breasts are sagging and her husband is having an affair while she is living in a state of bizzare bimbo denial. I am going to stand up right now and say to you what you all have wished you could say to that woman. No amount of makeup, hot pants and hairspray are going to make her young and beautiful again, and no amount of denial, marriages, alcohol, 3 piece suits and pretending, etc are going to make you seem like a successful man. You're just as ridiculous to anyone the least bit observant. Take a deep breath, throw out the painfully silly facade and MOVE ON. The same people who would descriminate against you for being a woman with an adams apple and stubble are the ones already discriminating against you for being effiminate, dumpy, weirdly made up, strangely attired, etc. Usually they are reacting either to their own prejudice which there isn't a damn thing you can do to prevent in the semblance of either gender, or they are reacting to their perception of your unhappiness with yourself and who you are. The latter you can fix if you stop pretending you can't.

Yes, what I have said here is harsh, possibly. No, I have not transitioned myself. But many other labels do fit me other than TS and I live with each of them out in the open. I am fat, bi, poly, dyslexic, have ADD, frizzy hair and a shit load of emotional abuse issues. But you know what? I have two spouses who love me. I am doing what I want to with my life. I am not alone or miserable even though there are a lot of people who would have me branded "FREAK" and expelled from the playground too. One of those two spouses is TS and I can tell you that the little shit doesn't matter. J and I love her reguardless of her having a genital upgrade. We don't care that she is still working to be able to take J's dick because he's rather large. We don't care that it cost 12k to get the plumbing right. We don't care that she sometimes has too much facial hair, just like they don't care that my clothes cost more because they're larger or that I break down into tears because people accidentally trip land mines set by years of abuse. We were all sure that we could never be in a successful relationship at some point in our lives, but now we are in one. We're all a work in progress and you have to look at the overall package instead of any single detail that you fear, no matter how strong the fear.

I want to tell you about two people I met in Thailand. While we were in Thailand, we spent a fair amount of time with the other english speaking TS patients in the same hotel we were in. They came in all shapes and sizes, all levels of convincing and all ages from around the world. There were two women I want you to know about, especially, among the many we met who were delightful people. There was one TS who had died her hair platinum blonde and who was about 5'10" who was sort of pudgy around the middle in ways that are somewhat more common for men than for women. She was in her 40s or 50s. She had a delightful sense of humor, cared a great deal about all the folks there and visited them in the hospital whenever she could. She lightened every room she entered even though she looked basically like a sort of strange looking man in a very silly hair-do. And what I want you to know about her, besides that I thought she was delightful and would love to count her as a friend, is that she was Israeli. That's right. While all of you are busy worrying about being laughed at, this woman was returning home with a new snatch to a country where women are often second class citizens, to a government job where she had to have surgery before anyone would even consider reffering to her as a woman, letting her use the women's rest room, changing any of her records to reflect that gender. Where her job might not be waiting for her at the other end because you just do not want to be a woman in a culture like that. She was taking on more than any of you will ever imagine, with bravery and humor and she was probably the happiest woman I have stumbled upon in years, even so. Her only regret was that it took her that long.

And one other. Her name is Joan. She spent her life in Texas. She was 6'7" or so, big nose, broad sholders. She was, to many, a man in a woman's tank top and fake nails. Joan was also in her 50s. She had finally woken up one day from an alcoholic haze which had cost her a marriage among many other things, and she realized that she was alone and she had spent years telling her children to be who they needed to be no matter what anyone else says and that she had been living the greatest of hypocracies in failing to do so herself. While all of you are busy trying to camoflage your identity, this exceptionally tall woman showed up in Thailand in a red tank top, bright red nails and made light of the fact that her legs literally hung off the end of the hospital beds. She had wanted a whole list of surgeries, but the doctor talked her out of tring to do all of it at once because of her age and the destruction to her system that the alcohol had caused. She didn't hide in a corner or try to be stealth. She used her humor and her happiness at finally doing what she had needed to do for years to get her through. She was happy and the healthiest she had been in years both physically and emotionally. And she was going home to Texas, where people are not very forgiving of the not very macho, with her head held high. Her only regret was that it took her so long and so much self destruction to get to that point. If you told her that you thought she was brave, she would correct you and say that there comes a point where it is simply cowardice of suicide as your only other viable choice that decides for you, whereupon you realize that going forward with who you need ot be is really all there is, and so you make it happen. She does not consider that bravery, perhaps, but I do. Bravery in facing yourself honestly and with candor, aknowledging your fears and doing what you have to do to go on.

So I don't want to hear about how you will not be convincing as a woman. I don't care what you look like, you cannot compete with those two women in what they face every day to be who they are. And each of them are positive it is absolutely worth it. And I also want you to know that it only has to be this way in this country for as long as we all keep helping it be this way. In Thailand trans and intersexuality are just another birth defect like every other and solved without comment. TS people are accepted as perfectly normal people who just didn't luck out at birth. I stumbled across quite a few of them while in Thailand. And they were happy and healthy and normal to everyone around them. We could have that too, in this country, but it will take people willing to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.