9 Things I Recently Figured Out About Transsexuals, and 1 Thing I Still Don't Understand
This essay is a companion piece to "10 Things Crossdressers Don't Know About Transsexuals". Originally it was called "10 Things I Don't Understand About Transsexuals." But in writing the piece, and discussing the issues with various people, and just growing as a transsexual woman myself, I think I'm starting to understand. So here are some things you might not understand about transsexuals, and my theories about them. I could be wrong--I'm still new at this. What do you think?
Note: Apologies to my transman brothers, but I've written this from the transwoman viewpoint only. (If some of you would take me on a few dates, I could start to understand your viewpoint better!)
1. Why do some transsexuals look down on crossdressers?
Last year in an article in TG Forum (9/30/2002), Diane Dale suggested that it is a "conflict between the 'Haves' and the 'Have Nots'"--but a backwards conflict, where each contingent believes their suffering is the greater. I have seen this in action, and I do not dispute it. But personally, I find it hard to sympathize with. To me, the pain of laser hair removal, or even loss of closeness with loved ones, pales in comparison to the pain of having to live in guy mode part of the time. Don't we each choose the path that minimizes our own pain, as best we can?
Another reason why transsexuals sometimes look down on, or try to disassociate from crossdressers is one I find myself much more sympathetic with--somewhat to my shame. That is the simple issue of passing. We transsexuals have a lot of advantages that allow us to do a better job of passing than you crossdressers. These advantages include hormones, surgery, and living full time, which means we can pluck our eyebrows and grow out our fingernails and hair. A more subtle advantage is that the loss of libido that usually comes with hormone therapy may remove our urge to dress up sexy whenever we can. I won't argue that transsexuals necessarily place a greater importance on passing (although that argument can certainly be made), but we hate getting clocked because we're with a crossdresser who is not very passable. I think that alone leads to a lot of the grief between us sisters.
2. Why do transsexuals say they have no choice but to present themselves in their new gender all the time?
You've heard this sort of thing, haven't you? "You crossdressers can choose whether to present yourself in boy mode or girl mode, but we transsexuals have to be women all the time." Well why not? Many of us crossdressed M2F before, why can't we crossdress F2M now? I think Thelma answered this question for me in the movie "Thelma and Louise". She said, "Somethin's crossed over in me. I can't go back. I just couldn't live." What's more, I've heard stories from transsexual women who have tried to present as men in certain situations. It doesn't work. Mostly people take them for women anyway, or if not, they are just confused.
3. Why are so many transsexuals anxious to beat the Harry Benjamin standards?
Some, IMHO (In My Humble Opinion), are just plain rushing things. Some resent the fact that they are not allowed, as adults, to make their own judgements and life choices. I also think some transsexuals wait so long to transition, getting so very well prepared, that by the time they do it, they just don't want or need to take a year before SRS.
4. Why do some transsexuals take so long to transition?
Because they want to do their best to guarantee a successful transition. And there is a lot of inertia in the system encouraging them to do so. Personally, I believe many transsexuals wait too long to transition. Maybe I'll write an essay about that subject some time.
5. Why is Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS) so important?
Most simply, because it really does work. IMHO, again, I feel that many girls put too much emphasis on FFS. But I have seen such good results, that I can't really dispute it. I will continue to preach that the most important keys to beauty and femininity and passing are a good attitude and a big smile. But FFS can help too.
6. Why do transsexuals worry so much about passing?
I think that fewer do worry about it as much as I thought when I first posed the question. But you know what? It gets damn tiring having to explain one's self and one's gender all the time. Nobody else on earth has to. Leave me alone! If only I could just pass..
7. Why don't more transsexual women choose a more feminine presentation?
Oh, this was a tough lesson for me to learn. And it's maybe the most important lesson of all in this world of gender variation. I personally am a woman who likes to be rather femmie in dress, poise, mannerisms, voice, etc. It is difficult for me to understand why all women aren't this way. After hormones stripped me clean of libido, I find myself much more inclined to wear jeans and skip most of my make-up regime. But the real truth of the matter is that people come in all types and styles, and that has no bearing whatsoever on whether at the core we are men, women, or something else. Diversity, you know? Oh, I see!
8. What's the big deal about hormones?
Goddess, how we transsexuals do go on about our hormones! Some girls report huge emotional changes from hormones, curing their depression and making them feel all girly-like. Others, like me, did not have such a strong response. So what's the big deal? Now, after almost a year on hormones, I have to say this: I do like my AA breasts, and my softer skin, and, say, are those hips I'm developing? Hormones ARE a big deal!
9. Why in the world don't all transsexuals stop smoking and lose weight?
Okay, this one I have NOT figured out yet. Everybody knows that the most important things you can do for you health and appearance (and this applies to everybody, not just transsexuals) is to stop smoking cigarettes and to maintain a healthy weight. I really don't understand transsexuals that go through all the pain and expense and psychological changes of transitioning, and FFS, and all the rest, but they keep smoking the damn cigarettes, and carrying around an unattractive extra 30 pounds. And on top of that, some of them complain, complain..
Note: Two years later, two years after SRS, I've gained 25 pounds. Oh, now I get the weight thing!
10. Why do transsexuals complain about how tough it is to be a woman?
Hair and make-up take so long. People judge me on my looks. Men don't respect my opinions. Yada yada yada. I don't mind when GG's complain about these very real issues. But you chose to be a woman! Quit yer bitchin' or go back to being man, dammit! (I know you can't go back to being a man. I just needed a snappy ending for this article. Sorry!)