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Saturday, 16 September 2006 20:00
Last Updated on Monday, 25 September 2006 15:29
Lisa Jain Thompson
Springfield, Virginia, USA. Last week I had a minor operation involving a fatty growth on my back, the walk in, cut the growth out, walk back out type of surgery. While they were prepping me for the surgery, we were discussing anesthesia and questions about previous surgeries arose quite naturally in the conversation.
… Other questions had been addressed in the normal routine of pre-op questions asked at the surgeon’s office:
Was I pregnant?
When was my last period?
I’ve learned to answer those with a smile and quick, deflecting answers as they come up frequently in medical interrogatories. The technician does not need to know my life’s history for an MRI or other similar procedures. My sexual history is irrelevant most of the time and besides, it costs me nothing to have a lead shield placed over the place my ovaries should be …
So when the question of prior operations came up, I answered honestly.
“Sex Reassignment Surgery a number of years ago,”
and added that I normally come out of general anesthesia quite quickly with an appetite.
The surgical nurse looked at me and said
“Your surgeon did a good job.”
I smiled, thanked her, and when asked, told her who my surgeon was
“Dr. Toby Meltzer in Scottsdale, Arizona.”
We went on with the preliminaries and that was that.
It was only later after she left that I realized that all the surgical nurse could see was my face. The hospital gown covered up all of Toby’s fine work. The face was my own. The breasts, slight as they are, were home grown. My voice and body language were innate, not something taught me by Dr. Meltzer or some highly paid “gender role” coach at a local university.
The “good job” the surgical nurse referred to was all me; the qualities and physical attributes she admired have been with me since birth unaided by surgical or performance artifice.
I smiled again and slipped under the knife …
… A middle-aged colleague approached me at the Pentagon, a heterosexual male co-worker who expressed an interest in learning more about transsexuality.
My self-preservation alarm went off. Was this an all too real stalker of transsexuals, the ones both my therapists took pains to warn me about? Was this one of those guys who get fetishly excited by the thought of having sex with a woman born transsexual?
Turns out he was in the other group, the ones who are curious about transsexuality. He was one of the many who have know a transsexual and are now curious to learn more.
[There is a third group, people who are coming to terms with their sexuality, trying to discover if they themselves are transsexual. I am reserving judgment whether he is in this group. Current data is insufficient.]
We talked in passing, on and off, for a number of weeks with me providing brief answers to his questions. Eventually he asked for more details and I provided him some detailed background information and we made a lunch date to continue an extended conversation.
In the Pentagon’s center courtyard, we talked for an hour in the mid-day late summer sun, eating our lunches, sipping our diet sodas, and wandering in and out of what it means to be transsexual. He asked the usual questions:
How much does Sex Reassignment Surgery cost?
How long did electrolysis take?
How long after I began taking hormones did they start to have effect?
Is laser hair removal permanent?
Did it hurt?
In the course of our discussion, he asked if there were any therapists I would recommend that he could talk to and ask questions. I named three.
He asked if there were any local support groups he could visit. I named a metropolitan transsexual support organization.
To my surprise, he said he had gone to a couple of their monthly meetings and found them to be wanting.
When I asked why he felt that way, he responded that “they were all caught up with being transsexual and not going anywhere.” He added the dominant members seemed more concerned about publicly announcing they were transsexual than actually helping people transition. He admitted that there were a handful of women at best who were transitioning or had transitioned but they were talked over and mostly ignored by the louder members whose chief concern seemed to be their position in the organization’s power structure. Then he added
“They need to get a life.”
So I mentioned a transgender support organization across the river. His response was swift and concise:
“I visited their booth at the Pride Festival in June. They’re men in dresses!”
I conceded that there were a lot of cross-dressers in their membership. He remained firm and repeated himself for emphasis:
“They have nothing to offer me. They are men in dresses. Any information they might provide on transsexuality is suspect.”
As we finished our sodas, I told him that if he had any more questions in the future, he should feel free to ask. I would answer what I could and aim him in the right direction for the rest. He thanked me and we went back to our respective offices work the afternoon’s firefights and email …
… The various TS-Symposium websites are attacked once or twice a month, probably more -- worms, viruses, denials of service, that sort of thing. Most of the attacks seem to be coming from irate cross-dressers and transgenderists.
They are upset that we (and the medical and scientific evidence) do not include them within the definition of transsexuality, nor do we wish to be included under the one world transgender umbrella. So they try the internet equivalent of shouting us down, to dominate us like men try to dominate women everywhere.
They will not win. Momentum is with us and we refuse to yield the field to a handful of loud obnoxious sociologists and sycophantic socialists who believe that because they say something, and say it often enough, it must be true. Although that may work in an academic setting of federal grants and soft-science journals, that is not the way a democracy works or science works.
We are here to stay. Our science is good, our goals real and achievable. We will not be silenced …