Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why being Transgender in Thailand - is more common/accepted

Transvestism is a common enough feature of Thai society, but one which is often little considered and less understood. Practically every town in Thailand has at least two or three open transvestites - men who dress as women and assume - or are born with - feminine characteristics. Indeed, so common is the phenomenon that it has assumed a semi-institutionalised status, with transvestites working not just where one might expect - in bars, reviews and theatres - but also in restaurants and post offices, department stores and travel agencies.

Transsexual Women's Successes: Links and Photos by Lynn Conway

Approximately 30,000 to 40,000 postoperative transsexual women live in the United States, and many thousands more are now in the process of gender transition here. These numbers are much larger than commonly assumed by the public because a veil of invisibility hides the true nature and extent of the transsexual condition. Especially hidden are large numbers of highly successful women who have fully transitioned. The reason is that most successful women live in "stealth mode" or are "woodworked". They leave their pasts behind and hide in plain sight in order to avoid social stigmatization and get on with their new lives. Their personal successes insure that they assimilate and blend right into society.
The social invisibility of successful women who have undergone gender corrections supports the notion that male-to-female transsexualism is extremely rare. However, intense transsexualism is not all that uncommon. Recent calculations indicate that the condition occurs in about 1 out of every 250 to 500 children born as boys, and that about 1 in every 2500 males in the U.S. has already undergone surgical sex reassignment*. Transsexualism is thus more than twice as prevalent as multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy or cleft lip/palate conditions.

 The invisibility of these successes supports notions that gender transitions often have rather sad outcomes. At present, the media only spotlights transsexual people on two occasions, namely when "someone well-known changes sex" and when someone is a victim of discrimination, harassment or attack. Media stories about someone's "sex change" are never followed-up to find out what happened years later. Instead stories always focus on pre-transition life and struggles during transition and never on their life afterwards. This lack of balance in exposure shapes society's notion that transition leads to social marginalization or worse, because we "never hear about them again". Only stories of occasional social failures and victims of harassment and attacks remain visible longer term.

 Lacking successful role models, and confronted with deliberately staged, stereotypically-prurient images of "transsexuals" from media like the Jerry Springer Show, young trans girls are often terrified to tell anyone about their condition. Constantly reminded of the violence and discrimination that trans people face, but unaware that large numbers of successful women get beyond such difficulties, many young transsexual girls can't see any way out of their awful predicament. Social stigmatization of transsexualism leads many young people to internalize a lot of undeserved shame, embarrassment and guilt about their condition. As a result, young transsexual girls often waste precious years before they seek help, and many never find a way to correct their gender condition.

 Recently the veil of invisibility has been lifting, as many post-operative women all around the world have begun creating websites to help others. Some of these women are quietly "out" within the TS community. Others share their stories by being "virtually out" (VO) only via the web (while otherwise remaining woodworked or in stealth). We are very fortunate to finally be able to learn about their lives, as they become listed on webpages such as this one. Lynn hopes that more and more successful women will quietly come out, and feel comfortable sharing their stories this way via the web.

 The women listed on these pages are a very diverse group. They are of many different nationalities, races and ethnicities. They come from a wide range of social classes and family backgrounds. They transitioned at many different ages. Some have been postop a long time, others transitioned more recently. Some have been "out" for many years, others are still living stealthily.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Interview with Allison Lenore Annalora

Monika: Hello Allison! It is a pleasure to interview such a remarkable woman as yourself.
Allison: Thank you!

Monika: What do you do for a living these days?
Allison: I work full time as a hairstylist in a Spa at a large resort/casino in Rancho Mirage’, California and sing in a Cabaret Show once a month at Local Restaurant.

Monika: Where did you grow up?
Allison: Seattle, Washington.
As Marilyn in a show in 1978.
Monika: Could you describe your childhood? When did you feel for the first time that you should not be a boy or man?
Allison: My childhood was horrible. From the age of 3 years old, I believed I was a girl. My adoptive parents were not very understanding or tolerant.

Monika: For most of transgender girls, the most traumatic time is the time spent at school, college or university when they had to face lots of discrimination. Was it the same in your case?
Allison: Absolutely. I was the kid everybody picked on. However, I’m going to my class 40th class reunion this summer, everybody knows, everybody is supportive and they asked me to sing at the reunion event!

Monika: At what age did you transition into woman? Was it a difficult process? Did you have any support from your family or friends? Did it have any impact on your job situation?
Allison: The first time I attempted it, was at age of nineteen, but in 1974 I had no support, so I de-transitioned. I successfully started at the age of 54 and completed my transition in one year at the age of 55. My friends, family and co-workers were so supportive that I still feel like the luckiest women in the world!!! No problems, no regrets. This is how much things have changed in 40 years! 

Monika: At that time of your transition did you have any transgender role models that you could follow? What was your knowledge about transgenderism?
Allison: I found out about Christine Jorgensen, Bambi, Coccinelle and April Ashley at 10 years old in a “Police Gazette“ tabloid. They were my role models. After that, I read every book and magazine I could get my hands on. I came out to my adoptive parents as transsexual at age 14. That was 1969. However, that did not go well.

Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Allison: Having the courage to be myself… fully.

Monika: For many years you used to live as a gay man living in the relationship with your male partner. What was his reaction when you told him about your transition into a woman?
Allison: He was very upset, I had expressed my desire to transition to him many times over the years. However, in the end, we broke off our twenty year relationship, but we are now the best of friends!!!! He helps me shop for clothes.

Monika: What did you feel when you were finally a woman?
Allison: Relief and pure joy!!!

Monika: What do you enjoy most in being a woman?
Allison: Small things, like talking with genetic women about girl things, shopping… looking in the mirror and knowing I’m my true self. Loving my very heterosexual boyfriend.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Basic Trans Info; by Lynn Conway

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Emerita
 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan Member,
National Academy of Engineering

My goal for this website is to illuminate and normalize the issues of gender identity and the processes of gender transition. This project began in the year 2000, as I struggled to "come out" about my past to my research colleagues. I wanted to tell in my own words the story of my gender transition from male to female three decades earlier, in 1968, and then of being outed 31 years later in 1999, while living quietly and successfully in "stealth mode".  http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/conway.html

We learned in Lynn's story that she was born and raised as a boy, and later in life was changed into a girl by female sex hormone treatments and major surgical procedures. Because of this past, Lynn is sometimes called a "transsexual" woman. Why did this happen to Lynn, and what is transsexualism anyway?

Knowledge in this area is under rapid development. The taboo on this area has also been broken, so that we can openly discuss these important issues without fear, shame or embarrassment. Much more is known about transsexualism and methods for transsexual transition than just a few short years ago, and those new understandings are very much worth sharing and building upon. Far more people suffer from transsexualism than previously suspected. The key to improving the quality of their lives is better knowledge and more widespread understanding of all this emerging knowledge.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Trans references


Should We Introduce Children to the Concept of Transgender People?

Should we introduce children to the concept of transgender people? The answer is yes according to an article published in theDecember 2010 issue of the peer-reviewedGraduate Journal of Social Science.
The article by Natacha Kennedy and Mark Hellen, entitled "Transgender Children: More Than a Theoretical Challenge," was developed from a paper presented at the November 2009 conference "Transgender Studies & Theories: Building Up the Field in a Nordic Context" held at Linkoping University in Sweden.
Critics will cry that introducing all children to the concept of transgender people will cause children to "become transgender." But the authors found that schooling has little impact on gender identity development in children. In fact, children who develop a transgender identity seem to do so in spite of often unwitting but nevertheless pervasive efforts by schools to enforce gender conformity.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Living a Transgender Childhood

Josie is 9 years old and was born as Joey. This is her incredible story.

"It isn't easy being green", Kermit the Frog; Sesame Street

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Gay Mayor of Vicco, Kentucky, Reacts to the "Best Segment of 'The Colbert Report' Ever"

It's being called the greatest segment The Colbert Report has ever done.
On Wednesday night, the Comedy Central news-satire program aired the latest installment in its "People Who Are Destroying America" series. The segment is on Johnny Cummings, the openly gay mayor—and a part-time hairdresser—of Vicco, Kentucky, a hamlet of about 330 people. Vicco made news earlier this year when it became the smallest town in the United States to pass a ban on discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. (The ordinance passed by a 3-1 city-commission vote. According to Cummings, who introduced the ordinance to the city council, representatives from five other towns told him that they want to be the next ones to pass such a "fairness ordinance.")
"Everything considered, I was remarkably pleased with the way [the Colbert segment] turned out," Cummings tells Mother Jones.
"Russia's not the only place trying to defend its family values," host Stephen Colbert says, referring to the culture war over America's traditional "small-town morals," as he introduces the clip. What follows is a touching, funny, and stereotype-pulverizing look at a tiny Appalachian town and how its residents feel about the anti-discrimination policy and their mayor. Watch it here:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

When a boy is not a boy

When asked what the best thing about being a girl is, Melissa replies "everything."
But the path to preadolescence for this 11-year-old Seacoast resident has been far from easy.
Melissa was born a boy and named Peter by her parents, but she is transgender and says an accident of birth did not change who she was intended to be.
"When I was little, I thought other people were different and then I realized it was me who was different," she said. "At first I was confused and even angry, but now I know a lot about it and I am happy to be who I am supposed to be."
Melissa's friends are mostly, but not all girls and she says they are supportive about who she is. "Sometimes they asked questions, especially at first," she said. "I just explain it and now they don't even ask anymore."
Melissa's parents support her. The decision to let her child be who she is was the right one, her mom Linda said, while admitting it was not easy.
"We had one very unhappy child on our hands," Linda said. "She realized who she was supposed to be, that who she was on the inside did not match her outside body by the time she was 3 or 4. She was miserable. She asked why God made her a boy. She asked when her penis would fall off, or she wanted to cut it off. She said, 'I am a girl.'"

The difficult decision
The choice for Linda and her husband Mark was clear, they said. They could choose a happy, healthydaughter, or they could watch an unhappy boy sink into depression and possibly suicide. The suicide rate among transgender children is high, Linda said.
"Right-wing religious groups have called what we are doing child abuse," Linda said. "They should try being in my shoes. You have to let the kids direct you. They didn't choose this. It's hard enough approaching teenage years without fitting the mold. This is the hardest road I have ever seen. We just want her to be happy, and to be here because we love her."
Francie Mendel is director of mental health services for the Gender Management Services (GeMS) program at Children's Hospital in Boston.
"Self-harm is very high — cutting, mutilation and pills," Mendel said. "I'd say at least 25 percent of the kids who are transgender or exploring it participate in self-harm at one time or another. But very, very few of them change their minds about who they are. If they do, it's usually at puberty. "
Mendel said gender treatment follows strict guidelines.
"To be seen, the child must be at least 10 years old," Mendel said. "We require letters from the parent and the child's therapist. We require ongoing therapy. Hormone treatments must be through an endocrinologist."
Linda said she conducted online research on transgender issues. "At first, I couldn't find much. Now there is a lot," she said. "There are lots of Web sites. The first thing I saw was a TV special with Barbara Walters about Jazz, a transitioned transgender. I showed it to Peter and asked if this was how he felt. We moved forward."
Though rare, Melissa is not alone in dealing with the tumult and struggles of being transgender.
Cooper, an 18-year-old from Dover, was born female. The teen, whose last name is not being included, graduated in June from Dover High School, where he ran on the boys track team. He is now at the University of Vermont studying secondary education.
"I think I always knew," Cooper said. "I was seeing a psychologist for something else and my mom found some writing I did about what I wanted to be. I had mixed emotions and it wasn't easy. I was angry that I thought she was snooping. I was frustrated but we finally came to a place where it was OK. Then it was a sense of relief."
Cooper's mom Julie said he was never a "girlie" girl but she didn't have a name for what he was going through.
"He had boy friends," Julie said. "For Halloween he wanted to be boy characters, Harry Potter and Batman. When he was about 15, I found his blog. I approached him with the information and it was clear he had known what it was about for a long time."
Cooper said he was in high school when he transitioned. He said most of the teachers and some very understanding guidance counselors helped him along the way.
"It was an adjustment," Julie said. "Teens are a tough age anyway. I was afraid of offending him because I didn't know enough about what to say. But Coop is finally happy and outgoing socially. He is comfortable in his own skin. He was moody and withdrawn before so my husband and I are totally on board."

Monday, September 2, 2013

California steps toward transgender student equality

by: Vince Ei is a Spartan Daily staff writer.
Imagine an African-American child or teenager growing up in the 1960s, being discriminated against every day and observing the divide between them and their white peers in every aspect of society, only to come home and ask their parents why they have dark skin.
Now, fast-forward to today and imagine a transgender youth going through similar discrimination and observations, but in the context of gender, coming home asking their parents why they are so different from other kids who look like them.
These identity issues seem appropriate in the categorized eras, but in reality people dealing with the same crises have been going through them at the same times.
Kids today still question their pigmentation and there were kids in the 1960s who were transgender.
Activists for African-American and LGBT civil rights existed back then, but it just seems like society can only deal with one categorization of equality at a time, capable of backing only one group instead of humanity as a whole.
Our generation has finally reached the latter.
California is leading the way for transgender youth to grow up in a more understanding environment by passing a bill creating a statewide law allowing transgender students in K-12 public schools to use the bathrooms, locker rooms and join the sports team of which they associate.
We became the first state to allow this after Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB1266 last Monday, which will take effect on January 1, 2014.
Naturally, a huge opposition of conservatives has emerged, probably raging about the biological fact that girls were not created to use stalls and constitute the sitting versus standing debate.
Sen. Jim Nielsen said, “It's not all about discrimination. Elementary and secondary students of California – our most impressionable, our most vulnerable – now may be subjected to some very difficult situations.”
Yeah, it might be difficult for a straight kid to pee with the paranoia that some other kid is trying to look at his penis, but imagine how difficult it is for the kid who is wondering why he has a penis in the first place. (I can only speak from a man's perspective and cannot relate to a woman's, nor will I try.)
The most impressionable and most vulnerable are those who feel like they don't belong, and California is taking the right steps in looking out for the kids who really need support.
I don't think transgender children and teenagers are trying to make a scene, and they only have a problem if you make it apparent that you have a problem.
Having a transgender male or female in their associated locker rooms might actually be helpful in building foundations for a respectful and enlightened mentality.
Who better to explain the perplexities of the anatomy and sexuality than peers, as opposed to the teachers who they find incredibly difficult to draw parallels with and feel detached from?
The other half of the bill allows girls who identify as boys to play in male sports and vice versa, and some who oppose, like Sen. Steve Knight, believe students will trade sexual identity for a little high school or little league glory.
“There are kids out there that are struggling, that are having difficult times,” Knight said. "But there are also kids that are going to take advantage of the system."
Again, speaking as a man, a defector going into girls' leagues will get a huge amount of crap.
Not only does he have to announce to everybody he knows that he is transgender, but he has to live up to the chagrin of everybody who knows the truth, which is just about as much crap as a heterosexual person can handle.
A kid has to be pretty hopeless if he's trying to peep some adolescent boobs just to brag to his friends.
I doubt lawmakers were reckless enough to allow effortless bathroom and locker room hopping, which kids probably do on basis of callow dares anyway.
It's hard for me to imagine how the situation would pan out for transgender girls. On one hand I think it might be inspiring to see them compete and hold their own in sports, but on the other I think going to the men's bathroom would be overwhelming.
But several school districts in California had already put similar policies in place years ago, and had no reports of misconduct.
I can't really agree that this law empowers transgender kids, and both sides of the argument say this. I think what this does is level the playing field for everyone.
Transgender kids don't have more rights because they can compete in any sports division they want or use any bathroom they feel comfortable in.  The law gives them what they were supposed to have in the first place — equality.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Letter from parents of transgender child

Editor's note: This is a letter sent by the parents of a transgender child before the start of the youth's school year last year. The child's name has been changed to protect her identity.
Aug. 25, 2011
To the parents of the fourth-grade class:
We hope that you all had a wonderful summer and welcome back! For those of you who may not know us, we are Mark and Linda (last name deleted). Today we are writing to update you on some personal changes regarding our child, Peter.
Peter has been diagnosed with gender identity condition. This can be a devastating condition that can turn the life of a child upside down. Many of you have probably read about gender identity condition, also called transgender, or seen this subject discussed on talk shows or news programs. In essence, a person with this condition is born into the body of the opposite gender. Biologically, Peter is a boy. But in every other sense, she is a girl. Obviously this can be incredibly difficult to deal with. It's hard to imagine how heartbreaking it is for a child to realize that they have been born into the wrong body.
We realize that many of you will find this news shocking and confusing. But it wouldn't be fair to say that this diagnosis has caught our family by surprise. Peter has always identified with the female gender from a very early age. Many of Peter's friends and playmates have been girls. He has always preferred playing with dolls and girl things. Whenever we are home, he has usually been dressed up in girls' clothes, shoes, wigs, etc. This is not about dress up or imaginative playtime, this is the reality of Peter living a life that is comfortable and natural.
This summer, Peter has transitioned from living as a boy to living as a girl. Our family and friends now call Peter by the name Melissa. As loving and supporting parents, we have chosen to show our unconditional love for our child by assuring Melissa that she will not be destined to a life of misery. We will do everything possible to make Melissa's life as normal and happy as possible. Today we sadly recall those many nights Melissa couldn't fall asleep at bedtime because she had a lot of worries and was asking “why did God make me a boy, I want to be a girl!” Imagine living the first 10 years of your life pretending to be someone that you are not.
Since Melissa courageously decided be to be the person she truly is, she is a much happier child. She loves to laugh and play, sing and dance! We have the support of family, friends, neighbors, doctors and therapists. Our family is very blessed in that respect. (Our local school) has been very helpful and supportive! It's not easy to be different! God has blessed us with this wonderful little person, but at the same time, God has given our family some unique challenges. After all, of all the challenges a parent might expect to face one day, gender identity probably wouldn't be on the list.
We have worked with the school administration to ensure a smooth transition. Plans are in place to work through normal daily occurrences and activities like bathrooms, gym class, locker rooms, etc…. These practices may be new to town, but are common in many other schools nationwide.
We understand there will inevitably be questions from the students and parents. It's important that everyone keep an open mind to accept that knowledge is power. With this knowledge we can all make sure that our transgender child can successfully integrate into a normal school experience. We ask for your support in this transition. For any of you that may have questions or confusion, please contact us directly or contact the school psychologist. For those of you interested in reading more on this topic, there is a very informative book titled “The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals” by Stephanie A. Brill.
Mark and Linda

Friday, August 2, 2013

Transexual firefighters: Courage and service are common bonds

On the wall at my engine house hangs a large framed photo featuring the silhouette of a firefighter against vivid flames. Underneath is a caption that reads: “Courage comes from a reserve of mind more powerful than outside circumstances.”  As emergency first responders we are often lauded for our courage following some bold public act, yet I believe that the hardest courage is sometimes being brave enough to be honest with yourself.

Coming out as a male to female transsexual on the fire department wasn't easy. Wow, that's an understatement if ever there was one. In fact, for the longest time, not only did I think it would be extremely difficult, I believed it impossible. Having been on female hormones for two years, my physical transformation was well under way. I had recently separated from my wife and our marriage dissolution was pending. I decided that it was time to make my announcement and begin living socially and professionally as a woman, but I was convinced that there was no reality for me where I could be true to myself and also keep my job as a Fire Captain.

Let me add some historical context to explain how I shifted to seeing my on-the-job transition not only as possible, but as something I MUST do...

In December of 2006, after decades of hiding and fighting something coded deep within me, I had reached a tipping point. I was finally ready to take action regarding my struggle with my gender identity and I began taking hormones. My doctor and I were using them as a diagnostic tool. The theory is that if a male bodied person has a female brain, then female hormones will help blend body and mind. Ideally, the hormones' effect on that brain will be complimentary and positive. If, however, the brain is male, then the hormones will clash and a negative effect would be experienced.

After just one month on hormones, I felt as though for the first time in my life the world was making sense. The clouds had parted and the sun was finally shining through. Have you ever been listening to a radio for a very long time that was slightly off station, and then when finally you tune it in clearly, the static goes away, the bass is richer, the highs are clear and the entire listening experience is suddenly more robust?  This is how I explained it to my doctor.  We both agreed that I should continue the hormone therapy.

Over the next 24 months my body slowly changed from male to female.  I underwent hours upon hours of painful and expensive facial hair removal. I spent 3 months in voice therapy so I could train my vocal chords to speak in a higher pitch.  Some of it came naturally, but I had to practice the subtle differences in things such as tone, resonance, and inflection that make a voice sound female rather than male. I grew my hair from a short buzz cut to just above my ears which was the most that I could get away with given our strict hair grooming standards in the fire service.  People were seeing the changes in me, yet were not realizing what was causing them.  I looked odd for a man.  I'm told now, that there were rumors and concern that I might have cancer. The irony is that while my body was finally becoming in sync with my mind and I was becoming whole for the first time in my life, my friends and colleagues worried that dark days lay ahead for me.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Transgender teen settles landmark health case

FORT COLLINS — An 18-year-old college student who grew up as a girl and now identifies as a young man has settled a landmark civil rights case against Kaiser Permanente of Colorado.
In the rare case, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission found in March that there was probable cause that Miki Alexander Manigault suffered discrimination and unequal access to health care specifically because he is transgender.
On the same day, after pressure from advocates at One Colorado, Colorado’s Division of Insurance issued abulletin and became the third state in the country to specifically bar health insurance companies from discriminating against people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. (California and Oregon preceded Colorado. The District of Columbia also bans discrimination against LGBT patients and Vermont has since followed suit.)
Faced with charges of unequal treatment, Kaiser Permanente quietly settled Manigault’s case before it was slated to go to a hearing in June. Amy Whited, a spokeswoman for Kaiser Permanente, declined to discuss Manigault’s case. As a result of a settlement with the Civil Rights Commission, however, Kaiser, one of Colorado’s largest health insurance companies, has agreed to work with the commission to convene discussions among insurers regarding health care for transgender people.
Manigault’s case has already prompted at least one other complaint to the Civil Rights Commission and may open the doors for equal health care for LGBT patients in Colorado and elsewhere in the U.S. Alex finally had the chest reconstruction surgery that doctors deemed medically necessary but Kaiser previously failed to cover, according to the formal complaint.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Many Shades of 'Out' -- Lynn Conway's innovations changed our lives

A personal journey by an engineer whose innovations changes our lives.

On a sultry June afternoon, as my husband and I strolled towards the White House East Entrance, I reflected back to the time of my gender transition, in 1968. Shamed as a social outcast, I'd lost my family, my friends and all social support. I'd been fired by IBM, and lost a promising computer research career. In many jurisdictions, I could have been arrested and charged as a sex offender -- or, worse yet, institutionalized and forced to undergo electroshock therapy in a mental hospital.

 Evading those fates, I completed my transition and began building a career in a secret new identity, starting at the bottom of the ladder as a contract programmer. Even then, any 'outing' could have led to media exposure, and I'd have become unemployable, out on the streets for good. The resulting fear channeled my life into 'stealth-mode.' I covered my past for over 30 years, always looking over my shoulder, as if a foreign spy in my own country.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hong Kong starts to embrace transgender issues

"I didn't feel trapped in the wrong body, but mismatched - my inner self was somehow mismatched with my outer body," says Kaspar Wan as he happily poses for photos in a park near his home. The sun's out and Wan, who usually goes by his nickname Siu-keung, talks candidly about his life - one that started as a girl.
For years Wan struggled with gender dysphoria, a condition in which someone is uncomfortable with his or her biological gender. He strongly identified with the male psyche, and wanted to be a man.
Growing up, he says, "to make myself comfortable with the 'girl' identity, I would position myself as a 'boyish girl'. But as I got older, the uncomfortable feelings grew stronger. I knew I didn't want to become a woman".
Eventually, in December last year, Wan underwent a subcutaneous mastectomy - a complete upper-body surgery in which most of the breast tissue is removed. "After the surgery I only had a couple of small scars. The surgery is fairly simple."
But, for Wan, that procedure ended years of emotional turmoil.
"It was the best decision I've made. My only regret is not having the surgery earlier," says the 34-year-old freelance video producer. "I spent many years struggling with body issues. I couldn't look at my reflection in the mirror. I was unhappy, stressed and confused and would ask myself whether or not I was a homosexual. I just didn't fit in and the feelings of isolation made me think about suicide.
"As far back as three years old, I have wanted to be a boy. Now I've had the surgery, I can face myself."
Transgender issues have been in the limelight following a groundbreaking decision by the Court of Final Appeal last month that allowed a transsexual woman, "W", to marry her boyfriend, forcing the government to make a U-turn on marriage laws.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

This Woman Is the First Transgender Navy Seal

While gays and lesbians celebrated the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell two years ago, freedom of personal expression in the military still has its limits: Transgender men and women still can't serve in the ranks.

 That might change after America gets to know Kristin Beck. For 20 years, Beck served as an enlisted petty officer in the elite Navy Seals, amassing seven warzone deployments, a Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart -- as well as a tour in Seal Team Six, the secretive unit that went on to kill Osama bin Laden. Born and raised as Chris Beck, she was a man's man -- a football player, avid motorcyclist, and war hero.

 But Beck never felt entirely comfortable as a man. Shortly after retiring from the service in early 2011, she began to transition -- "working toward my own peace as a woman," as she recently put it on Twitter. It's a story she's telling publicly for the first time in a new memoir, "Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL's Journey to Coming out Transgender." As another former SEAL who knows Beck said on his own blog: "While Chris was always a little different I had no idea what was lying under the surface, as I'm sure a lot of people will have the same experience."

 On one hand, maybe Kristin's revelation is not all that remarkable. After all, plenty of hardened vets get out of the service and let their hair down, whether literally or figuratively. On the other hand, her experience could leave many Americans asking: Why *doesn't* the military permit transgender folks to serve openly?

 The truth is that the armed forces like neat, easy categories -- it's naturally hard to get millions of uniformed service members organized for battle, or anything else -- and so commanders don't deal well with individuals whose answer to "sex" on a checkbox form reads like a Facebook relationship-status update: "It's complicated." Then there are the ethical and personal hang-ups of critics who think anyone outside of typical gender norms is mentally ill or morally depraved. As The Atlantic put it last year, when discussing the status of transgenders, "[M]any military members are afraid of what they don't understand."

 Beck is hoping her story will help break down some of the suspicions and misconceptions surrounding transgender people; she's active on Twitter, and sounds like a typical "operator," as the military's elite troops are called -- criticizing warzone soldiers who stay off the battlefield and frequent on-base Burger Kings and movie theaters. And she arguably had it harder than her all-male colleagues in the Seals, waiting until after retirement to come out and transition, even though she states she had feelings of unease with her male identity since she "was a little boy." Imagine trying to keep those feelings inside while working for two decades in a community of warriors whose unofficial motto is "The only easy day was yesterday."

 Clearly, she's not alone in her desire to serve her country and still be her own person. A 2011 survey by the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce estimated that 20 percent of all transgender Americans serve in the military -- a rate that's double that of the "traditional" U.S. population at large. And just last week, the Navy agreed to change another transgender veteran's sex on her permanent records -- an unprecedented move.

 "They're acknowledging that transgender people exist and not completely off their rockers," vet, Autumn Sandeen, told local reporters.



Saturday, June 15, 2013

Basic TG/TS/IS Information by Lynn Conway

We learned in Lynn's story that she was born and raised as a boy, and later in life was changed into a girl by female sex hormone treatments and major surgical procedures. Because of this past, Lynn is sometimes called a woman. Why did this happen to Lynn, and what is transsexualism anyway?

In order to understand transsexualism, we must first answer some basic questions about gender. What is Gender Identity? Where does it come from? What events occur in nature that interfere with correct assignments of gender? These pages aim at answering these questions. Links are then provided to further information on gender identity, transgenderism, transsexualism and intersexuality, and to information about methods and technology for physical gender modification.

Knowledge in this area is under rapid development. There are challenges in defining, separating and "labeling" the different phenomena, and in making estimates of frequencies of occurrence. There are also differing interpretations of the underlying science, and differing points of view about the evolving social and medical protocols for resolving these conditions.

However, much more is known about gender identity than just a few short years ago, and those new understandings are very much worth sharing and building upon. The taboo on this area has also been broken, so that we can openly discuss these important issues without fear, shame or embarrassment.

As we'll see, far more people suffer from gender-identity conditions than previously suspected, and the lives of millions of people are impacted by gender-identity issues. The key to improving the quality of those lives is better knowledge and more widespread understanding of that knowledge.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mommy, I'm supposed to be a boy. God made a mistake!

It was a primal scream that went right through me and sent distress signals to my heart. My beautiful 4-year-old daughter stood up in the bathtub as though she were possessed. "Mommy, I'm supposed to be a boy. God made a mistake!" she screamed through heaving tears. Somehow I stayed calm, put my arms around her and tried to calm her down.
We talked and talked over the next several years, and I spent hours on the Internet looking for children's books, social groups, summer camps, films, anything that might help Syd feel less alone and isolated. There just wasn't anything for children who questioned their gender or felt different, unless they were older.
School was torture. I dropped her off, and then I pretended to drive off but instead parked across the street and watched as she tried to navigate the schoolyard, a daunting task for even the bravest. I was heartbroken. A million memories of her nine years on the planet went through my head.
She was adopted at birth and was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. Then there were the many psycho-educational tests, therapies and her ongoing gender questions. We tried switching schools for middle school, but by the time sixth grade was coming to an end, things still didn't feel right for Syd. She was gifted, had some learning challenges and was desperate to be a real boy.
Mom and I were watching TV and saw two little girls who were born boys, and I responded, "Mom, that's me, only opposite! My brain and my heart feel like a boy."
Like any good mother I tracked down the doctor who was on the show, and to my surprise she was right here in L.A., at Children's Hospital. We went to several appointments, and Syd went through several years of psychotherapy with a gender specialist.
It was quite by accident that we next landed at Bridges Academy, a school for twice-gifted children. It was there that Syd began to blossom and I first heard about the LifeWorks Mentoring program. I called them immediately and was told that it was for kids between the ages of 14 and 24. My heart sank as I told them, "Syd is 12. But please, just meet her. See if you think she'd fit in."
We went the following day and met founder Michael Ferrera, Dan Dumont and Dinorah Garcia. They all agreed that Syd would be a great addition to LifeWorks and were willing to give it a try.
I finally had a place to land, a place to get my questions answered, make deep friendships with kids like me and have a home away from home with people who accepted and understood me.
Within a couple of months LifeWorks moved to the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center at McCadden Place, and soon thereafter, they introduced me to a hand-picked mentor, Moore Rhys, an exceptional woman who provided me with a year of Sundays and more. She shared her life and her wisdom and gave me information, guidance, respect and love, and we've cultivated a lifelong friendship as a result.
Beyond the LifeWorks program, the center has provided me with many friendships and all kinds of classes, and it has brought me into the community. I couldn't be more thankful to Lorri Jean, Bill McDermott and the coordinators of "An Evening With Women" for all the opportunities they've given me. I spread the word to anyone and everyone who needs a place like I did.
I am hoping to be accepted into CalArts next year to pursue my life-long dream of making LGBT animated films for a starving generation of kids like me. LifeWorks has been so supportive and pro-active in helping me achieve my dream.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Doctor calls for gender clinic plan as number of transgender children increases

THE leading Queensland psychiatric expert on children with gender identity disorder says the number of transgender children is increasing.
Dr Stephen Stathis said he expected parents of two children would apply to the Family Court for permission for them to be given feminine hormones within the next year and more would follow as others reached puberty.
But he said some desperate parents who were unaware of the professional help available for their anxious transgender children were getting unregulated, unregistered hormones from overseas via the internet.
Dr Stathis, Director of Child and Youth Mental Health Services at Brisbane's Royal Children's Hospital, has seen more than 20 children with GID in the last four years, including some as young as four.
"The numbers are rising and now we're looking at developing a gender clinic," Dr Stathis said. Half his gender identity patients are boys who identify as girls - the other half are girls who identify as boys.
But Dr Stathis says research shows that about 50 per cent of children with significant transgender behaviour will desist, or grow out of it, by the time they reach puberty.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Why is This Trans Kid in Afghanistan Jubilant?

Sixteen-year-old Enamullah has become the youngest person in Afghanistan to have a gender reassignment surgery. According to the Lahore Times, Enamullah was assigned female at birth, lived in the Paloso naw village of Kunar province, and began to talk to his parents about being a boy about two years ago.
"I understood that I have not seen any marks that I am a girl, so I shared it with my uncle’s wife, and she told to my parents," Enamullah told Lahore Timesreporter Hamayoun Mahzon. After getting referred from a local physician to Dr. Haider, the chief of Kunar Provincial Hospital, Mahzon writes that Haider told Enamullah "that you are 70% boy, and we will have a small operation, and you will become ok."
 The 16-year-old trans boy told reporters he's incredibly happy after the operation, as are his parents, in large part because he is the only boy in the family. He has 10 sisters. Even Enamullah's former fiance helped him celebrate his transition, though he's now planning to marry someone else.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Simple Valentine's Day Dance

Nicole was 10 years old, openly attending school as a transgender girl, and Valentine's Day was right around the corner. I was working late on a farm safety problem when Dave, the custodian, poked his head into my office to say "hi." Dave often shares a few words of old Mainer wisdom or a good joke to cheer me up. He was well aware of the bullying and harassment that my daughter was facing at school. This time he told me about his weekend plans with his granddaughter. They were going to attend a Valentine's Day dance.

He proudly described the small-town Mainer tradition that requires fathers or grandfathers to escort their granddaughters to the local community center or firehouse dance. He told me that he was going to borrow a friend's Cadillac, buy his granddaughter flowers and a corsage and take her to dinner before the dance. He showed me her picture, and when we'd finished talking, I told him what a beautiful granddaughter he had. He smiled and said, "Thank you, Wayne," and went back to work.

After he left, it hit me. It was another one of those moments that require me to expand my comfort zone. I began to wonder if Orono had a Valentine's Day father-daughter dance. Dancing is my last big fear, but I knew that if I was asked, I had to go. I could not let Nicole think I was afraid to do so.
That night I did not conquer my fear of dancing. Maybe I put a dent in it, but I have no interest in dancing again anytime soon or trying to conquer this fear head-on. However, I do hope that someday I will dance at Nicole's wedding and share another special moment with her. When that happens, as I imagine everyone watching us, I will no longer be concerned that they might be judging me or wondering how I will react to the evening's events. I know that everyone will be smiling and thinking how beautiful Nicole is and what a special moment it is for a father and his daughter.
As a father of a transgender child, I worry a great deal about the present and the future. I often overanalyze simple daily events, but sometimes the simple things are not that simple. Planning ahead and obtaining advice from those who have already been down this road are very helpful. The challenge for me is the fact that there are few dads of transgender daughters to talk with me about how to handle things like small-town dances, or signing up for softball, or dating. Sometimes I wish that I could just have a cold beer with a few other dads from my world, and between talking about sports, they could share how they handled their first father-daughter dance and provide some advice on how to proceed.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Answers From the Wife of a Transgender Woman

My spouse, Jean, transitioned about 11 years ago. We've been together for 16 years and will celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary this spring. This has been a long journey for both of us.

We've had a very strong bond since the first time we laid eyes on each other. We're two halves that make a whole. This is not a bond that comes around very often. We literally complete each other.

To answer Sue's question about "maleness" is difficult. I mourned losing Gene when he first started talking about transition. I was scared out of my mind, as well. What is going to happen with us? Can I be strong enough to help him through this? Can I even get through this? These were just a few of the questions that went through my mind when he first told me he needed to pursue transition.

I didn't want to lose Gene, but he was getting too difficult to live with. He'd sink into sullen moodiness and strike out at me verbally, all because he was afraid of losing me. I couldn't stay in the dark regarding what was causing him such distress. I turned inward and started wondering what more I could do to help, to keep him from going into the depression that was crippling him. It didn't matter what I did, though; nothing helped until he transitioned.

When we first met, he told me that he suffered from high levels of testosterone. I think that was his first hint to me that there was something more going on. The problem, one Jean had dealt with for her entire life, was that she knew she was trapped in a male body. She was scared to death to tell me much of anything. We knew we belonged together, but she didn't know how I would react to her secret gender identity.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Insidious: Extreme Pressures Faced by Trans People

Studies show that the trans population lives under extreme psychological pressures unseen in even active military personnel. Fifty-five percent of trans people  [1,2] were found to live with social anxiety. Within the general American population, similar types of anxiety are experienced by only 6.8% [3] of the population while these levels of anxiety were found to exist at a rate of 8.2% among military personal. [4]
Levels of social anxiety experienced by population.
This graph compares the social anxiety transgender people feel against levels of social anxiety within the general American population and that experienced by military personnel.
Transgender and gender variant persons are frequently harassed and discriminated against when seeking housing or applying to jobs or schools, are often victims of violent hate crimes, and face challenges in marriage, adoption and parenting rights.
Discrimination and lack of equal civil rights is damaging to the mental health of transgender and gender variant individuals. For example, gender-based discrimination and victimization were found to be independently associated with attempted suicide in a population of transgender individuals, 32% of whom had histories of trying to kill themselves, and in the largest survey to date of gender variant and transgender people 41% reported attempting suicide.
The APA joins other organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, in endorsing strong policy statements deploring the discrimination experienced by gender variant and transgender individuals and calling for laws to protect their civil rights.


Stu doesn't pass that well, an understatement, but is well accepted in this rural community--in fact, she is the Mayor.


(Photo: Just Out)
(Photo: Just Out)
THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — [I wrote this for Just Out.] On Election Day 2012, a transgender Oregonian drew national attention for the second time by winning a fifth term as Mayor of Silverton, Oregon. Stu Rasmussen first drew media attention in 2008 by being the first transgender person elected mayor in the United States.
[Read the entire article on the Just Out site here:http://www.justout.com/columns/voices/in-transit/trans-mayor/ ]
Stu was born and grew up in Silverton. She was hired by Tektronics right out of college, eventually ending up as a staff engineer for the Television Products Division. Later, she started a cable television company with a partner bringing service into Silverton and Mt. Angel. After a while she sold that company and moved on to a number of other engineering ventures as well as running the Palace Theatre in Silverton. She also dabbled in local politics and along the way changed her gender and decided to shoot for the mayor’s chair after serving three 4-year terms on the city council. Although national media came to town following her victory, Stu says it was “no big deal” in Silverton.
A visit to Stu Rasmussen’s campaign website reveals that this no ordinary trans woman. The site states: “If you just stumbled on this site you may be asking yourself ‘Is this guy for real?’ or ‘Is that really a guy?’” No beating around the bush here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I am Jazz - A family in transition

Jazz summed it up so well, "For anyone out there who is transgender and they are scared stiff out of their shadows, it's OK to be different and be who you are. Just know that you are special and just be yourself."

Billie Rene: I am so impressed by Jazz and I so much recommend that everyone listen to her wonderful words of wisdom. As I listened, I recalled many things I went through at that age. We didn't know and my parents suppressed this. It is so very obvious now that I had what is called Gender Dysphoria and there was so much emotional trauma resulting from this that we didn't understand.

I've had surgery and this is the happiest time of my life. My wife stayed with me and we are doing better than ever. I wouldn't trade any day now for the lifetime I experienced previously. It is wonderful being me. It has nothing to do with sex; it has everything to do with just being me.

I've been through many technologies and I wish I could express it in more definitive terms, but I just love being me. I never understood it as clearly.