Diane Wilson
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Gender in the Personal Sense




Transition in the Workplace


Why I'm Off My Feed, Part 12


Thoughts on Surgery


Transition and RLT


First Meeting with a Transsexual


Importance of Passing


More on Passing


Transgender Pride


In Memory of Olivia


Puberty the Second Time Around


Silly Stories

Related Items


The Woman Who Used to Live in the Mirror


Bizarre Verite

Puberty's more fun the second time around

Scott Dorsey writes:

> Can I be hypnotized to think I have breasts too? I just wonder what it would feel like.

Hypnosis is strange. You can experience things you've never done. You can change things that you have done. But it's all inside your head; it's all made from things inside your head. Words can plant new ideas, but not new sensations. Nothing about experiencing other people's breasts prepared me for the feelings of having my own.

I'm going through puberty again, since I didn't do it right the first time. The first time was like a graft that didn't take, or a transplant that got rejected. I know that living as a male for 42 years was the most foreign experience I ever want to have.

I had my quarterly visit with my endocrinologist yesterday. I got my usual shot of Depo-Provera, to suppress testosterone and keep me from getting pregnant. He also raised my dosage of Estrace from 4mg per day to 6mg. We both know that's not sustainable, but he seems to think that I shouldn't be satisfied with B-cups. I don't know about that; I'm happy to have anything, but B-cups are small on my frame. Besides, what's the fun of puberty without a good hormone rush?

The other morning, while my partner was making her breakfast, I stopped by for a hug. I wasn't wearing much, and she responded. Then I had to ask, "Is that a banana in your hand, or are you just happy to see me?" It was yet another moment to be thankful that neither one of us are normal.


When this was posted to talk.bizarre, it drew some response. Here's my reply to one:

Babs Woods writes:

>Diane Wilson wrote:

>> Hypnosis is strange....Nothing about experiencing other people's breasts prepared me for the feelings of having my own.

> Would you be interested in a trade? It'd be more likely to take on you than Scott. I could go for Bs in a...ahem....big way.

Depends. What are you offering in trade?

>> I had my quarterly visit with my endocrinologist yesterday. I got my usual shot of Depo-Provera, to suppress testosterone and keep me from getting pregnant.

> Somehow this seems unlikely, without surgery. You get to go through puberty without the joy of bleeding all over yourself and your clothes at odd moments. I hate you. You don't get to endure the sheer joy of "blowing chunks" every month (I don't mean barfing, here), awash in the Red Sea at high tide (if you're lucky, only low tide). I hate you.

OK, hate me if you want. Just remember that there's no free lunch. I was born this way, and I get a choice of how I want to deal with it:

Package deal number 1:

  1. Continue living as a male.
  2. Live in shame and fear of discovery.
  3. Be miserable because I don't fit my own self-image in some very fundamental ways. Therapy, BTW, can't fix this one; the only recognized "cure" for transsexuals is gender change. See below.
  4. Spend money on therapy anyway. The list of "side-effects" includes, but is not limited to, depression, borderline personality disorder, dissociation (possibly including multiple personalities), and self-mutilation. I'm not talking about ordinary cutting; this can include attempts at self-castration. Also, the suicide attempt rate runs over 20%.

Package deal number 2:

  1. Live as a female.
  2. Go part-way; do the hormones, but skip the surgery. Be a freak by everyone's standards. Insight: even most transsexuals don't fully understand why I chose not to have surgery. (That's not quite true; many female-to-males skip part or all of surgery. Their surgery is more expensive, more complex, less effective, and even more subject to some very nasty complications.)
  3. Spend about $6,000 out-of-pocket having your beard burned out, hair by hair. It's even more money if you have to have the same thing done to your arms, hands, chest, back, or wherever.
  4. Start all over learning social skills that everyone else learned as a child.
  5. Retrain your voice to sound female. Some people spend thousands on speech therapists to help with this. Others try the surgical route, which is about $5,000 and has a high complication rate. One complication is permanent loss of your voice. Cost of surgery is out-of-pocket.
  6. Spend the rest of your life on hormone replacement therapy.
  7. Optional cosmetic surgery as needed: nose, jawline, brow ridge, trachea, cheekbones, liposuction, breast enhancement. No surgery is yet available to reduce the size of your hands and feet, or the width of your shoulders, or to give your butt the proper width. Again, cost of surgery is out-of-pocket.
  8. Spend thousands on a complete replacement of your wardrobe.
  9. You get to choose between:
    1. Transition from male to female and risk losing your job, your friends, your community, and/or your family, piece by piece, one at a time.
    2. Leave your past behind and start over somewhere else. No one can take away all those pieces of your life if you throw them away yourself and beat them to it.
  10. Consider castration as another optional surgery. That's probably another $3,000 to $4,000, but it does reduce the long-term health risks by reducing the required dose of estrogen. Again, cost of surgery is out-of-pocket.

Estimated cost: $15,000, including considerable therapy, and not including optional surgery.

Package deal number 3:

  1. Become a female in external body form, sexual function, and in the eyes of the law. No gene swap, though, and "sexual function" ends at the cervix.
  2. Spend $12,000 out-of-pocket on surgery. Take a 20% chance of losing all sexual sensitivity, permanently. Plan on a long recovery, including six weeks out-of-work and six months of dilating five times a day for at least 20 minutes to avoid having your new vagina collapse.
  3. Same as package two for hair removal.
  4. Same as package two for social skills.
  5. Same as package two for voice.
  6. Same as package two for hormones, although testosterone suppression is no longer necessary.
  7. Same as package two for cosmetic surgery.
  8. Same as package two for your wardrobe.
  9. Same as package two for transition options.

Estimated cost: $30,000, including considerable therapy, and not including optional surgery. (Going the other direction, by comparison, can be over $100,000.)

What's included in all deals:

  1. Relationship problems. Not many people are comfortable enough with their own sexuality and gender identity to cope with a relationship with a transsexual. And if someone actually wants a relationship with a transsexual, then I know that this is someone to avoid. Plus, for those who choose package two, the hormones play hell with your sexual function.
  2. Sterility. To me, the idea of being a father is worse than being sterile.

What's not included in any deal:

  1. Motherhood, except by adoption, which is probably only a realistic option in package 3.
  2. Social acceptance. I hear it's trendy these days to have a lesbian friend, but even movies like "Priscilla" and "So Long, Wong Foo, and Thanks for all the Fish" (or whatever it was called) aren't going to do that for us. I either hide a significant part of myself, or take the risk of being seen as a freak. This isn't always a choice, either; if someone says, "Oh, I can't find your records; have you changed your name recently?" then outing yourself stops being a matter of choice.

Do I remember someone in the froup mentioning this week that life sucks?

In practice, I can improve my chances at social acceptance by being a polite, friendly human being and not pushing my gender status in anyone's face. But very, very few of us pass flawlessly as female, and there's always the off chance that someone will go ballistic just seeing me in the restroom.

Also, my transition has been exceptionally smooth, even to the point that I'm doing the same job, working with the same people, and sitting at the same desk. I have the same friends, go to the same "church" (Unitarian, actually, which doesn't qualify as Christian), and the same relationship. My gender therapist called it the "death by a thousand cuts" approach. It cost a lot in terms of time and emotional energy, but it worked.

>> Besides, what's the fun of puberty without a good hormone rush?

> Those are not fun.

No, they're not. About the only good thing is that the endocs have finally figured out that there's no point in cycling progesterone in a transsexual. Even so, there are some nasty periods of mood swings when starting hormones, and (so I've heard) again after surgery. Plus I have to go off estrogen if I ever need surgery for anything, because one of the side effects is blood clotting. So add some violent mood swings to the normal cost and pain of surgery.

>> It was yet another moment to be thankful that neither one of us are normal.

> Dear, no one here is Normal. Do you know why? We found Dr. Stepford. We killed him. We roasted him on a spit. We threw the body over a cliff, on the sudden theory that if we ate him we'd become Stepford Normals, despite having gone through the effort of hunting him down and killing him. We did have fun on the Hunt, though. (We had enough anvils and lead pipes along to make the meat really tender.)

> Any Normals here are Stepford Lab escapees we haven't been able to catch yet.

Normal? Yes, I think I remember hearing that term in a statistics class. I got so fed up with the labeling inside the gender community (never mind what the rest of society labels us) that I adopted my own: "outlier." It's a single data point so far out that, by itself, it can skew the whole distribution curve.

Human sexuality is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine. (with apologies to J. S. B. Haldane)

Copyright © 1995, 2001 by Diane Wilson. All rights reserved.