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.