Hello. This certainly is a hot-button topic in the lesbian community today! Thank you for giving it a broader forum.
I personally identify as "butch lesbian", which, to the population at large, is hard enough to understand. Those legs and feet in your photo might belong to me. This is how I look and feel when standing in line for the ladies' room. Sometimes I am aware that other people stare at me, most days I don't notice. When I enter the gym locker room, I am aware that other women may feel uncomfortable, so I make sure to avert my eyes and change in the restroom.
Often I experience looks or words of unadulterated hatred from men when I am out with a beautiful woman. There is something about my exterior that really enrages some, as though I am out to steal something that rightfully belongs to them; their ladies their status, their prerogatives. I can only call this base insecurity and I do not attempt to reason with men like this.
I often, jokingly, express the wish that one day, people will be able to look at me without thinking about sex! But it is my intention to be seen as different, and this momentary discomfort is part of that trade-off. As a former teen beauty queen (!) I feel that, having abandoned a traditional standard of beauty, that I am happier being a big fish in a very small pond than being marginally attractive across the board. If you can understand this...!
Let me be clear that I am definitely female and do not plan on ever changing my gender. To some it may appear that I already have. I am a lesbian who wears men's clothes and I am proud of my persona and the way I feel in my skin.
The subject of the 'pregnant man" was one that caused me some consternation. I know that when one goes through the transitional process, there is a great deal of counseling that is mandatory, the best reason I can think of, not having experienced it myself, is to make sure the candidate is really sure he or she wants to go through with it, because it is a big decision and can be, in some ways, permanent. I personally feel that a person should always have the freedom to change their mind and body in any way they see fit, but the media circus that Beatie encouraged was, to me, a shameful display of a person changing his mind and inviting the country to gawk at the spectacle A man did not have a baby.This is, of course, not possible. A person partway through transfiguring, decided to halt the process and create the sensation around himself. Was it for pride or monetary gain? I cannot know. It certainly does make one look at expectations of gender, but what have we learned? Can Beatie have been a man long enough to really feel what that means, thereby challenging the role of "husband" or "father"?
Thank you for your intelligent thoughts on this complicated matter.
Helen E. Amirian
The subject of the 'pregnant man" was one that caused me some consternation.
As I understood the story at the time, he deliberately did not complete the transition because he knew he wanted the opportunity to have children. The pregnancy was planned and carefully prepared for, and the only reason he outed himself was because he was about to be outed by a tabloid anyway and wanted to control the story to some extent.
It all sounded very well adjusted and logical to me. Why give up the chance for something you truly want if you don't have to? And at the same time, why have children when you are not ready, or stay a woman when it isn't your reality?
This is all very new to me and this article really opened my eyes.Thanks for sharing with us your wisdom.
My first wife called me and suggested that I check out your program and website. She lives in Portland. My name is Emily and I live in California. I am 61 years old and, although being born a male, have always known, since my earliest recollection, that I am meant to be female. My earliest memory is of myself sitting on my bed in my bedroom, drawing a picture which depicted a house (in thoroughly five year old style) with two doors, one on each side of the house. On the left side, little boys were entering the house, and on the right, they were coming out of the house magically transformed into little girls, with pony tails, pretty dresses, and maryjanes on their feet. I also remember clearly what I felt, at once a feeling of how wonderful it would be and at the same time a feeling of sorrow that it couldn't be. And then the event which pressed this into my memory--my Mom came into the room and asked me what the picture was about. I remember I lied and made some story up, but also felt great shame, knowing full well what it was about, but little boys did not think such awful thoughts.
But I did think such awful thoughts, and continued to think them. Although seeming to be like every other male, I went through the usuals of life: I married, had children, held a good job, served my church as a pastor, but finally, at age 55, could not take it any longer. After two marriages, both of which were not really satisfying to me (and because I sincerely cared very much about my wives, I couldn't really figure out why) I finally told my second wife the truth. I couldn't live as a man any longer. I didn't want to die with the name I carried for so long in life on my tombstone. It would have been a lie.
Since then I have divorced and lost all, financially, that I had worked so long for. But I have what really counts. My three children love me. My first wife is one of my best friends (she actually traveled to Scottsdale, Arizona, to be with me when I underwent sex reassigment surgery). My second wife and I are working on getting along. My mother supports me, as does my brother. And I am Emily, the person I was meant to be.
I underwent surgery in July of 2007 and now am fully accepted as a woman. It is truly liberating. Despite the fact that I have lost three jobs since my decision, and that I was turned down for health insurance three times before Kaiser took me, I am happier about who and what I am than anytime in my life. Being a thinking person, this has spawned a lot of introspection on my part, a lot of thinking about what gender really means. The fact is, there is not really much difference, physically, between the two. But a whole lot culturally. At times I feel like I have always been female; at others, I am shocked by the differences in my two lives. But I am really, really grateful that I live in an age which has made my lifelong dream come true.
I guess I see this as a very personal issue for those who struggle with feelings of gender-dislocation. I haven't struggled with it myself, but had a close friend from high school who transitioned into living as a man for about a year, then transitioned back into being a woman. She now lives as a woman with her husband and has two daughters. I have tried to be loving and supportive through these transitions in her life, even as it was confusing. She seems much happier for having "tried out" being a man, but is honestly much happier in her life now than I have ever known her to be.
I recently watched the film "transamerica". It was really eye opening for me to see the complications that are added to an already difficult life by having to deal with gender identity issues.
It is not easy to understand these issues for people who don't struggle with them as the topic is blurred by the many different forms of cross-gender behavior, such as drag shows.
this topic is a is a great reminder that every person has their own truth and struggle in this world.
I was really pleased to hear that you were going to be focusing on trans people today. I am a 21 year old FTM who is currently living in New York for school but I'm originally from Portland. I started transitioning when I was 15 or 16, started testosterone when I was 17 and had chest surgery a few months after my 20th birthday.
One of the really interesting things that I've encountered regarding being a trans person who passes 100% of the time is taking part in conversations surrounding what it's like to be male (specifically a black male). I get asked about this a lot when I'm in school, in classes, at conferences, and when prospective students are asking me questions (I go to Sarah Lawrence College which is very white and primarily female) and I never really know how to respond. I generally tend to talk around the question but it is interesting because I look at life through a transgendered lens (and of course I have plenty of other identities) as opposed to a male one and also draw upon my experiences growing up as a girl and still having a female body. It's interesting because even though to anyone who would see me on the street I look like your average guy, I don't fit so cleanly into the male gender binary in a very different way that people who were born as male who identify as male do.
Here's a link to the film, "Austin Unbound," that our caller just brought up:
I am a transgender woman and a student at Lewis & Clark Law School.
Were it not for the love and support of my family and friends, I cannot imagine myself as the same healthy and successful person I am today. I want to encourage listeners to extend that same love and support to everyone in their lives, regardless of their gender assigned at birth or the gender they know they need to live.
The problems trans-folks face are real: 50% of gender non-conforming children seriously contemplate suicide. As many as 57% of transgender people have been victims of employment discrimination. These problems are not intrinsic to transgender identity itself, but are the direct result of the actions of those who decline to extend the love, support, and respect we all so dearly need.
We are making progress. Programs such as Talk Out Loud are introducing issues of gender identity to the public discourse, and as of this year, trans-folks are protected under Oregon's anti-discrimination law. I have great hope for the future.
Thanks for a great show!
In response to the last caller. If he believes the surgery should be illegal because it is unnecessary then we will need to make all other forms of elective cosmetic surgery illegal as well.
The book, "Our Stolen Future," called a sequel to Rachael Carson's "Silent Spring," cited medical teams that were observing endocrine disruption in fetal brain development due to the presence of persistent chemicals in our global food chain. It was stated there that the effects of these hormone mimics would masculinize the female embryo and feminize the male embryo. Why is this not being told to the public, especially as we continue to use sexual orientation as a socially divisive issue? Do your guests have any comments?
I would say that the traditional roles of male and female are really blurred in our household. I always have thought of myself as a "tom boy" and having more "male" characteristics; liking car chase movies, agressive at work, fishing... while my husband has "female" characteristics; home decorator, color consultant, buys the pots and pans. So I am really concenious when raising our son to not say things like, 'that is a girl color', 'trucks not dolls', and being open to having his toes painted like mommy (he loves painted toe nails). But I think when he starts school the peer pressure of what is "acceptible" for a boy is going to be difficult. He was even going to be the stay at home dad (five years of planning) until he got a better/more stable job offer than me.
Like Daiseycraze, I am also the "tomboy" and "fix-it gal" in my marriage and my husband is the cook and artistic one. We raised our daughter in a large city in a conciously "gender neutral" environment. She plays well with both boys and girls. What a culture shock when we moved to Vancouver when she was nine. The gender division is vast! Boys play football and girls do cheerleading. When she played football with the boys the girls were vicious towards her. The first couple years were very hard and she felt alienated. I am happy to see her stand up for what she likes; she is now the one in makeup making the touchdown! Unforgenately there are still a bunch of girls that have to make a negative issue out of that.
i would like to respond to the caller who talked about not being able to change your gender and the fact that gender re-assignment surgery should be illegal.
the concept of gender is purely societal. biological sex is different than gender. gender is fluid. gender is how you present yourself to the world around you. while our society is used to only having two genders, there are actually far more. what about women with facial hair? you can change your gender day to day if you wish. biological sex is more fix, there are also more than one biological sex. intersex is something not many people talk about. most who are intersex are considered freaks of nature, or their biological sex is chosen at birth. why is that not wrong?
speaking of wrong, why should gender reassignment surgery be outlawed but plastic surgery be allowed to flourish? surely the caller would agree that breast implants, tummy tucks, nose jobs and face lifts are for the most part not needed.
trans active is a local non-profit that works with trans and transitioning youth! google it. jenn burleton is the executive director she is great!
I have a neighbor who is transgender - a "she" who was born a he. I know I don't understand all of the thought processes of someone who makes this choice.
This person is a valuable individual, but to me it doesn't seem to fit for this person to be a female - he looks and sounds like a male, except for the hair which may be a wig and the feminine clothing.
I know that some struggle with knowing who they are.
It is my belief that people were a certain gender before they came to earth.
In my church - the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - our presidency created a document called "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" in 1995. One part states:
"All human beings - male and female - are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." (Check out www.mormon.org for more info.)
This may be hard for some to accept, but I believe this is where the fight against the "natural man" and "bridling our passions" comes in, as we learn in the Bible.
These people should definitely be accepted and loved, however, I believe that gender was set before we got here to earth. We should try to embrace the gender we were born with - that doesn't mean that girls have to wear dresses and boys have to love football.
In response to Jim who called in to the show, how can anyone possibly suggest that transgender surgery shouold be illegal, suggesting it was no different than asking a surgeon to cut off your arm? Oregon is built on progressive values, and I am proud to live in Portland, which should really be called "the other San Fransico." While I am not gay, nor transgender myself, I believe strongly in the inherant value of the indivual, that we are each CREATED by a loving God to be unique, beautiful, and worthy as a person. Every one of us DESERVES to be treated with respect, love, and dignity, no matter who we may be, BECAUSE we are EACH unique and wonderful in who we are inside. NONE OF US would want to be treated differently or shunned, or put down, or ostrisized, for any reason, and words and feelings can be just as hurful as anything else. How we are treated MATTERS, and we as a society - and as individuals - should strive to "do unto others as we would have them do unto us," and in so doing, to love each person without any judgements or assumptions. I applaud the courage of these indivuals to be themselves, and I am proud to live in Oregon, where they can.
My uncle (now aunt) came out as transgender after the death of her wife. Like one of the guests, she is close to 60 and has known she wanted to be a woman since the age of four or five.
I recently got a chance to visit with her at a family gathering and she handled it incredibly well, despite knowing that several of our relatives were skeptical of her choice of sexual transition--seeing it as a way to "get attention" from neglectful family members.
The very idea that a sane, rational person (like my aunt) would be motivated to change gender because of mental dysfunction is absurd. A society that refuses to accept that some people are born into the wrong sex, on the other hand--THAT is dysfunctional.
Gender, like sexuality, is performative, determined from a young age by the way we are socialized--the clothes we wear, the toys we play with, the way our parents and peers treat us.
Being transgender or gay is not 'normal,' it is perhaps a disorder of sorts. Not wanting the body you have, or literally hating the body you have, is certainly not healthy mentally. It is unfortunate that activists often don't acknowledge this. I can understand the social need not to; because of so much discrimination. But, you can still be throughly accepted even if you are not 'normal.' This is what activists should strive for, they shouldn't bend reality. It is difficult to get people to understand this fine line: if someone has a disorder or is not 'normal'---we should not discriminate against them because of it. Because everyone is indeed not 'normal.'
Normal is so over-rated.
What is not normal is being told by society that you are not 'normal' because you don't fit into the binary fallacy of gender. Although it is 'normal' that this would lead to mental health problem associated with the body especially with hatred of it. So yes, it would be great if we could be more accepting towards individuals who come from all over the gender spectrum. As far as calling it a disorder, a simile would be calling internalized racism a disorder. Another way to analyze the problem would be to turn the finger away from the individual and whether or not they are normal, healthy or disordered and instead point the finger at society and ask if the way it treats this individual is healthy?
Hey Jack, I totally agree with what you say here. It may well be primarily a social problem. Internalized racism, hatred of one's self because of what society says about one's race, is a great analogy. However, if a black man wanted to become white, to have skin-replacement surgery because he'd internalized society's prejudices against him. . . well, we'd definitely try to talk him out of it, wouldn't we? It'd be a terribly misguided decision; it'd be caving in to an internalized evil, and it wouldn't, ultimately, fix the real problem.
Jack Books + Lighthouse,
Internalized racism is a bogus comparison that doesn't fit at all!
Wanting to be white (if you are black), because there is prejudice against blacks, is nothing to do with being transgender. Being transgender is not caused, because people favor one sex over the other, or because one sex is discriminated against. I could see how you would want this comparison to fit, but it is far off.
Additionally, being black is definitely not (by any ridiculous stretch) a disorder.
Yes, a lot (perhaps most) psychological issues associated with being transgender could be from the societal response. But that doesn't speak to whether it is or isn't a disorder.
But our society does favor the concept of male and female over the idea of transgenderedness. People do discriminate against people who aren't male or female. This causes an internalized hatred just as with people who are not white. While getting your skinned surgically lighted sound far, fetched what about hair straighter, skin cream that gives you a lite complexion, what about the assimilation factor. What happens to the person who tried to dress in non-western clothes.
I am definitely trying to say here that I don't think surgery fixes the underlying societal issue but I am say that it can help someone live a happy productive life. I don't really think that anti-depressants solve the problem of our lack of fulfillment in life in our modern age but I wouldn't say that even though they manipulate a person brain that a person shouldn't have a right to use them, if it helps them be a happy and productive person. I suppose a person could say that manipulating a person's mind is different than manipulating a person's body but is it? Studies have shown that children who are raised with emotional abuse have the same amount of PTSD: Post traumatic stress disorder as those who were raised in a physically abuse environment.
I think above all it comes down to the you can't judge until you have walked a mile in someone else's shoes.
The notion that all non-medically necessary surgeries should be illegal seems absurd to me. If a breast augmentation, tummy tuck or gender reassignment surgery helps you to enjoy your life and feel right in your body, I don't see the harm. I'm not sure that medical insurance needs to pay for it, but if someone has the funds and feels strongly about it, then I say go for it. How is it different from the mother of 5 kids with leftover skin getting a tummy tuck? -Rachael in Corvallis
I am wondering how a transgender/transsexual person handles romantic relationships. How are partners affected--both former and newer. Does a transgender male view herself as a lesbian or gay man?
This is a question to ask an individual. Sexuality and gender identity are two separate issues. Each individual has their own gender identity as well as their own sexuality.
But to answer your last question, first of all a transgendered male would be a himself. Since the most common definition of lesbian is a women who is sexually attracted to other women then it is safe to assume most transgendered males don't consider themselves lesbians. Although a transgendered person might consider themselves a lesbian; also a male to female transsexual might also consider themselves a lesbian if they were attracted to women. Moreover, I have met several women who identify as lesbian and have long-standing relationships with transmen and still would consider themselves a lesbian. If you are in a relationship or want a relationship with a transperson there is a group at the Q center which is focused on this topic.
Some other resources (perhaps worth voicing on the air):
NWGA (Northwest Gender Alliance, a social/support group for transgender people) - http://www.nwgapdx.com
Q Center (hosts several gender-related groups): www.pdxqcenter.org
Esprit Conference (transgender conference organized by volunteers from NWGA plus the Seattle and Vancouver BC gender organizations): www.espritconf.com
Esprit in particular is a wonderful way to explore -- both by experimenting with your own gender presentation, learning practical techniques, and meeting others from occasional crossdressers to pre- and post-operative transsexuals.
There is one huge difference between transgender surgery and electing to remove a limb, as a caller earlier compared. The most basic component of our identity is our gender. Someone would not look at you as a whole different person if you removed an arm. To be treated as a female your whole life when you are sure you are a male inside is a fundamental problem that affects every aspect of your identity. Think of how basic it is to be called the wrong name by mistake.
I think the limb versus transgender surgery is a pretty accurate comparison, except for the point that removing a limb handicaps you in a severely literal sense. You become disabled, you do not become disabled by changing your sex. But, then again, many of the disabled say they are also 'normal'---such as some in the deaf community. All these things become so tricky when we try to develop artificial pride instead of just excepting we are defective!!! What is so wrong with being defective?
It seems like a better comparison would be pre-operation as being with out a limb and surgery as the solution to reattaching the limb. Maybe we are all normal, maybe that is why the deaf community prefers language like differently-abled because they feel like what people call their disability often causes other parts of them to be heightened (such as sight or taste). Transpeople also have traits that "normally" gendered people might not have. From my knowledge of both communities, the language and life choice are about loving the self not some sort of artificial pride. Artificial pride comes from buying anew car not from choosing to be yourself.
This type of psychology is really terrible because it is unnecessary and goes to the opposite extreme. I think it hurts rather then helps people who are different. I'm gay (as I said) but I am not proud of being gay-I am simply gay. I don't want people to discriminate against me (as they have often done), but I also don't want to be irrational and say being gay is 'normal', by claiming it definitely isn't a disorder or biological malfunction, just to curb bigotry. Even if being gay or transgender are disorders or malfunctions, people still have no right to discriminate against you because of something you can't control. This is they key, it can't be controlled by your will---it is not a choice. This reasoning alone is enough logic to stop bigotry. If it isn't, then I am not willing to put 'faith' in the idea that we are 'normal.' I don't want to live a lie.
What this issue is about and where all the terribleness came from, is 'control and choice.' People who claim that you choose to be this way, or can control it, have no evidence---and if anything the evidence points to the opposite. So they have no reason to use this fodder for discrimination.
People want to be accepted, but they don't have to be proven healthy and in perfect genetic and biological order to be so. The problem isn't with proving the transgender or homosexual healthy and normal, the problem lies in unfounded, ill-advised and irrational bigotry.
You have a great point. No matter what people don't deserve to be discriminated against. I can stand behind that.
First, thank you very much for doing this show! It is extremely relevant to my life, and I appreciate your discussion.
I am a late twenties woman who is engaged to an amazing trans man. I have been looking for legal advice regarding Oregon's new domestic partnership law. As I understand it, this law is only for same sex couples. My partner lives his life as a male, but all of his official documents still list his gender as female. I believe this means that we would need to get domestically partnered; however at some point he is hoping to legally change his gender to male and I am not sure how this would effect the legality of our partnership. What if there are children involved by that time? Would we need to get married at that point?
Our lives are very comfortable in all other arenas - but when trans folk have to approach legal affairs, I feel like things get slightly confusing. Does anybody have any advice or insight that could help us? Thank you very much!
trans folk are usually left out of policy when we are making it, which is unfortunate. about your question with DP in Oregon. the only thing that counts according to oregon law are federal gender markers. (ie birth certificate) so if your birth certificates both say female then you need to get a domestic partnership. if he amends his birth certificate to say male, then your DP is void and you can/have to get married. children make it really confusing. so if you have a child while in the DP, the non-biological parent should adopt the child, even though oregon grants those rights automatically, there is no guarantee that any other state would recognize it. you should adopt just to be safe and covered, should you leave the state. if you have children after marriage no worries, but before marriage the same adoption applies. i know, overly complicated.
There was some confusion (and I missed about 10 minutes, so I hope this isn't redundant) about gender vs. sex. The quip is "sex is between your legs, gender is between your ears." People tend to conflate gender (masculine or feminine), sex (male or female), and sexual orientation (straight or homosexual). THEY ARE SEPARATE THINGS! :)
The program was quite interesting. I wish we could heard from some individuals who were earlier in the process. I'm aware of someone who is transgendered and has needs surgery to complete the process. Is anyone aware of funding sources that might support this individual in their quest to achieve their true gender identity?
They don't have scholarship option as of yet but it has good resource for low cost therapy (which is required) and a link to sliding scale health clinic for hormones.
I always wonder what religion people grew up in because I have noticed that kids raised in one of the fear based religions, that is, under a regime of fear, tend to develop one or another of many and various behaviors and beliefs to try and help them lessen the effects of that fear or compensate somehow. I doubt that applies to transgender but the question lingers in my mind. Maybe that is not an appropriate question here.
One of your guests mentioned the fathers moralistic and judgmental religious attitude, which is indicative of the fear based religions and that is what brought up the question for me.
So I guess my question is how much is due to the wide range of variety in human beings and how much is due to trying to adjust to living under a fear religion.
I think that religion and its effects don't usually get questioned and it ought to be.
For the record: I'm gay and I grew up in an extreme regime of fear, yet my views seem to be the opposite of the result you are suggesting. Perhaps, I am just the exception to the rule.
Didn't Smitty say that his Dad was able to accept him as trans but not as a homosexual? I believe he also said that he stopped speaking with his father before deciding to take hormones. This makes it seem like it was of his own freewill that he made this choice.
I am an open-minded, liberal Christian. This is a difficult issue for me, as my ideals clash with my personal experience. It is good, I believe, to challenge social gender constructs; and in many ways it's great that science can overcome biological destiny. We would not tell a person living with a debilitating disease that they should just buck up, that God had designed them that way for a purpose -- if our society had the means to heal them. However, the transexual people I've known all seem to have fastened onto the idea of sex change for unfortunate, highly problematic reasons.
One woman I knew, who became a man, despised her body with an ascetic furvor. Before finally cutting them off, she bound her breasts so tight against her chest that it interfered with her breathing. She utterly neglected personal hygiene, even though she was a high school teacher. Most worryingly, she had disturbing, false expectations about what life would be like as a man. She once revealed to a classroom that she thought it was normal teenage behavior for boys to masturbate in groups. Clearly this was a troubled person, but I don't think undergoing a sex change really spoke to the root of her (now his) problems.
Today's speaker, Renee, gave an illustration of another concern I have with transexual surgery. She was a husband and a father, and as such she ought to have put the needs of her wife and her children first. Marriage requires fidelity, no matter how contrary one's personal desires may be. You could be an accountant who's always dreamed of being an airplane pilot; if you're married and it would cost your family too much to send you back to flight school, you stay an accountant. Renee's responsibility as husband was to love her wife self-sacrificially, to give everything for her, even to die for her if need be (as Christ died for the church). Her responsibility to her children was to provide a positive example of what it means to be a good man. Being true to yourself, despite social gender constructs, is one thing; being selfish despite the pledge of love and trust between you and your family is another.
We should definitely accept people for who they are. I would not tell a gay man to deny that he was attracted to other men; that would be encouraging him to lie. However, people should accept themselves for who they are, too. If you are a wife and a mother, even if you've recently concluded that you're gay, that is who you are, and you need to live with it. Those are deep commitments. If you're a boy who longs for tenderness and femininity, that's who you are. It will be hard for you to conform, and it's really, really sad if your community rejects you, but that doesn't mean you should reject yourself, reject your name, and undergo surgery to become somebody else.
Clearly, people don't undergo surgery because it is easy, or for some need to reject who they are, or their lives. They do it because they mentally need to.
If the surgery isn't harming other people, even if it doesn't fix underlying issues, why should we tell people they can't have it? What good reason is there to say no?
"Clearly, people don't undergo surgery. . . for some need to reject who they are, or their lives."
Sure they do! Not just transsexuals, either; cosmetics are all about augmenting or transforming identity, whether it's as subtle as piercing your ear, or as drastic as getting a face lift. People don't always "mentally need" these things, but they may sincerely think they do. An insecure 18 year old, growing up in Beverly Hills, may "mentally" believe she needs breast enhancement surgery. . . however most of us would agree that bigger boobs wouldn't really solve her problems. In fact, they'd only lead her farther into an unhealthy delusion. She'd be reinforcing the belief that worth and attractiveness are defined by superficial, hypersexualized appearances. "The surgery isn't harming other people," but it aggravates the underlying issues. So, in answer to your question, there's a good reason to say no.
How does it aggravate the underlying issues? What are the underlying issues? What issues? Who caused these issues? Can the issues even be remedied? If a person wants to be, needs to be or believes they should be another sex---again what is the underlying issue?
Changing your breasts because you live in Beverly hills, is quite a bit lower on the emotional/mental scale, and many degrees from changing your sex. If someone in Beverly Hills, after extensive perseverance with their current boobs, wants new ones and can't live without them, and are willing to change their life to get them---then be all means, let them do it!
Surgery is a modern concept and since there is records of trans people throughout history it can be assumed that people needed to deal with this without having the option of surgery. What people are not discussing here is the fact that we live in a different age now. Our world is very different. We have surgery. We also have hate. We have prejudice. We have bigotry. If a person can modify their body UNDER THE SURVEILLANCE OF A DOCTOR WHO IS MONITORING THEIR MENTAL HEALTH and if doing so will help them live a happier more productive life AS ASSESSED BY A CERTIFIED MENTAL HEALTH PSYCHOLOGIST then there is a good reason to say YES! Maybe the 18 year old in Beverly Hills should have to go through the hoops a transperson has to in order to get surgery. Maybe the mandatory counseling would help her.
What do you mean by "a happier more productive life"? You're certainly right that "A CERTIFIED MENTAL HEALTH PSYCHOLOGIST" knows more about this than I do, though I certainly would not make such a decision based merely on the approval of a psychologist.
Regardless, I'm not talking about whether or not we accept a transgender or transsexual person, or whether or not our society allows those who want this surgery to have it. I am questioning the reality of the promised "happier more productive life." It seems like a sad, even a tragically misguided decision to me, and I've stated my reasons why.
I sincerely hope that sadness and tragedy will not be the end reached by you and your partner.
I am speaking from the perspective of being partnered to a transperson. From going through the transition process with him, I can definitely say that he is a happier, more mentally sound and a more supportive partner now. I believe Renee made the best choice to show her family that it is okay to be yourself. It is okay to love yourself. She still supports them with her job as a physician. Now she can also support them emotional because she loves herself unlike she was able to when attempting to live her life as a man.
For most transpeople they are living a lie when they try to live as the gender they were assigned at birth. Everyday is a painful facade that tears away at the very ego. It results n severe depression and often trans-people who don't come out end their life through suicide (to end what seems like an endless pain for them.) This is the reason most trans people transition so they can just be themselves. For my partner it was like the weight of the world was lifted off his shoulders when he started his journey.
Since this conversation is not about God, I will pose the question: Why wouldn't god want you to love yourself? Especially if being able to love yourself helps you love other people more?
Jack, I totally agree with you in principle, and I am glad to know that your partner's sex change is beneficial to your relationship. I hope it will also be good for his other relationships. In my experience with transsexual people, that isn't usually the case.
What I heard Renee say was that her surgery pushed her wife away ("she's not a lesbian"), estranged her from her daughter ("she thought it was incestuous"), and has utterly confused her son ("he still calls me dad"). Renee might be content with where she stands with them now, but it certainly doesn't sound like she made the best choice for them to me. Of course it isn't for me to judge, and it shouldn't be. At this point I'm not advocating for a legal ban on sex changes. I am just asking about their efficacy and their consequences.
You're right that being able to love yourself helps you to love other people. It also works reversed, though; actively loving other people will help you to love yourself. In Renee's case, staying a husband and father would have been an act of love towards her family. Service creates self-esteem. Using what you have to offer as you are, as a biological man or woman, will help you begin to love yourself -- without undergoing drastic, irreversible surgery. I think that's what God wants for us, since you asked.
As for Scott's question ("What underlying issues?" &c.), I can't offer a broad, general psychiatric diagnosis for everyone who seeks sex change surgery. I'm not qualified to speculate too deeply about that. I'm simply saying that, in my experience with transsexual people, the self-loathing that leads them to their surgeries is commonly rooted in something other than their actual, biological sex. It might in fact come from what society says about gender; society might tell you you're too plain to be a woman, or too graceful to be a man, and that might understandably torture you. That doesn't mean it's true, though, and giving in, relinquishing your biological identity, might only make your problems worse.
Regarding my boob job analogy, Scott, I think you're underestimating the reasons women surgically alter their breasts. "Clearly, people don't undergo surgery because it is easy." I agree with you, however, that there is a difference of degree between breast augmentation and sex change. There is a difference of degree; I'm not sure it's a difference of kind. I think they may both have their roots in the same sort of self-loathing, where sex and gender are confused in the mix. In my experience, surgery is not a good solution to either problem.
I have not had an opportunity to listen to the whole show today, but a friend called me and asked me to offer some resources for gender variant children. I am a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and I work with children and adolescents. I have an interest in working with gender variant children, some of whom are transgendered, some will be gay/lesbian/bisexual, and some heterosexual and gender atypical. Life can be very challenging for these children and there are many things adults can do to support them. My website offers relevant links www.thrivingfamily.com and a way to contact me for more assistance. There is a therapist in Portland who runs a support group for these children and one for their siblings that does not pressure children to be any particular gender but gives them a place to be comfortable. You can contact me for more information.
Valerie Tobin, PMHNP
Here is my opinion FWIW- This life has nothing to do with being different. It has all to do with being 'normal'. Our soul purpose for being here is to love. We are spiritual beings that are here for growth. The 'growth gauge' is how, who, and why we love. We are all on a spectrum of fear(difference) to love (accept and love all). Whether you know it or not, we are all striving to be unconditional lovers of all. When someone that is 'different' than you comes into your life, you are now given a chance to test where you are on the 'growth gauge'. Some are not very far along. Fortunately, there is no penalty for being where you are, or there would be a lot of people in a lot of trouble. Unfortunately, our religions have made it very difficult to move along the scale, because of the 'difference' issue and the thoughts that 'God' doesn't make mistakes. If you think like that, you are correct. God doesn't make mistakes which is why difference exists. If we were all the same, where would the growth be? Who would there be to accept? God did make 'difference' whether it be in the form of gay, transgendered, black, or any other persecuted group. And these 'groups' were not a mistake. They are here to test those who think somehow that they are better than the rest. That somehow, they did have a choice in who they are and that's why they're 'normal'. Well, I've got news for you- if you think you're 'normal' because you had a choice in the matter, you have a lot to learn. No one chooses a lifestyle that is full of hate and unacceptance. I am transgender. I did not choose it. I am a teacher, and I am here to teach you not to hate. I give you a choice of whether or not to move 'up the scale' so to speak. For if you do not, at some point you will be the 'different' ones who simply are the slow learners. We are here to become as 'Godlike' as we can. Love one another came from some book I read once. Choose to see difference as a test- a test of your spirit to become one of love, not hate. I will now step off of my soapbox...
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