Letters Volume Thirty
This is Volume Thirty of the collected letters.
Wherein can be found the anonymous texts of actual letters written to me,and my answers in return. They are included because it has been suggested that the discussions are of value. The letters are presented as a rather loose, ongoing continuous dialogue between a hypothetical questioner, and myself.
You can write to me, too!
To contact Jennifer you may use either of the above addresses.
You may have to type them in yourself, if your browser does
These are the Thirtieth set of letters
Reference Topic Index
Relative ONLY to this volume:
For the complete list see main letters page.
To Deal With Our Lost Childhoods
Why can't FTM and MTF transsexuals just trade their body parts?
How do I conquer my fears?
The proper path of Transition
Growing breasts even if one is not transsexual
The risks of appearing feminine in a school environment
I wish I was strong like you
Can someone be transsexual who does NOT want surgery?
Hi and namaste! First and foremost I want to tell you what a thrill/relief it was to come across your site. As one at the very beginning of her transition your place was a kind oasis in the middle of a pretty vast desert. So thank you thank you thank you for being out there! :)
Secondly, a question. I'm not sure if you've dealt with this, or perhaps it's incredibly common amongst transexuals, but...
At 36 I am a "secondary" transsexual, although I thoroughly disagree with that term, for I had plenty of female feelings and wants to be a woman as young as second grade. What happened was I lived in a repressive environment and compromised myself and many of my dreams just to get by. It wasn't until many years later that it all came flooding back. I am learning to accept myself, and that process has been remarkably healing. What I find harder to deal with is what I'll call the little girl inside of me.
See, I truly believe back then there was this little girl coming out from inside of me back then, only to be shoved down for decades. Now she's still inside of me, never to be the teenager I think she should have become. Just thinking about it makes me profoundly sad. I guess I could grieve for a youth that never was and simply move on but that somehow strikes me as wrong, wrong wrong. She was never given the chance to live, per se, so I absolutely refuse to simply let her go.
How do "late-onset" transexuals deal with the female adolescence they don't get to experience, for whatever reason? Out of all the issues I am currently wrestling with, this is one of the more emotional, so any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Just so everyone is clear on this, 'Late Onset' just means that the transsexual is finally able to get around to taking action. The term does not mean that the condition was not present from birth, it just means that the time when it became a primary life issue, a life-or-death concern, was late in life. It defines the most common form of transsexual....most transsexuals make a really game effort to try to fit in, to conform, to deny until the pain is just too great to supress. Transsexuals like me, your author, are rarer....punks like myself just cannot bother with all of this 'making others happy before myself' crap for much longer than, say, the duration of a cartoon. Some transsexuals suffer more than others at an earlier age, so they act on it. Others....are made of tougher stuff, and try to live up to others expections for a really long time. Being 'Late Onset' just means you have a pretty high threshold for misery....you are made of tough stuff...or at least put a high premium on the expectations of other people.
Transsexual women and transsexual men deal with the loss of their childhoods in numerous ways. The most common may be to indulge in reliving or in maintaining a slice of that part of life indefinitely. As they say "it's never too late to have a happy childhood". Personally, I live this.
Obviously neither of us is going to get to go to the prom as who we are, or do certain other activities of growing up as one's true self, but there are still a lot of ways to get some bits back. Best of all, doing so is actually a kind of advantage..because childlike pleasures are an enormous fount of creativity.
I once dated a transsexual man for a while, a FTM, and he really missed having a childhood as a boy. Needless to say, he ended up collecting Star Wars toys, and had the most impressive collection for a guy in his late thirties. The little-boy side of him was charming to the extreme.
Myself, my whole life is wrapped around toys, games, and having a childlike outlook on life. I have given up all pretense of trying to act like a 'proper adult'. When I visit Toys-R-Us, it is for myself, and That is just fine. I don't like shopping for clothing...I never really have, to be honest, but I cannot leave a mall without spending time at the software store, or the Sanrio shop (Hello Kitty... Wai!!!!) and my personal choice for movies is animation, fantasy, and science fiction. All this forever childhood serves a use, too...without it, I could never have created the worlds most popular anime site or my online comic. Not to mention all of the games, puzzles, and other things I have invented. It has made my career that I am 41 years old, and am happy to say that I will forever be a child inside. So it can be both healing and profitable to be a childlike adult.
Now by that I do not mean being child-ish....the adult mind must remain dominant....this is not regression. Rather it is the open willingness to express youthful aspects of a complex self. When I go to the park with one of my spouses, you an bet we will end up playing on the swings, or climbing the monkeybars...all with adult politeness and civility.
I read bedtime stories to one of my spouses, and she does the same for me (my favorite is the Little Golden Book "The Poky Little Puppy").
I think you get the idea....the loss of something fundamental in life has left a missing place in my soul, and I make it hurt less by accepting, and indulging, that hurt. The process of doing this, of being perpetually child-like, leaves me filled with wonder, creativity, and allows me to gain the benefits of my missing years with the benefit of an adult mind. A real childhood could probably never compare to my life now. So, perhaps, my loss was my gain, in the end.
This seems to be a common strategy, at least among the more successful transsexuals I know. They dump social ideas of maturity in favor of their own unique, custom crafted lifestyles, and basically find in gentle, kindly, and refined eccentrism not only a cure for sorrow, but a tool for success.
I am a childlike adult, and it has made me wealthy, loved, and full of fun. The price? Turning my back on what being an 'adult' means to most humans. I collect toys, and games, and fun, neato things...and I enjoy the hell out of them, and use that experience to better my life in every way. Where others might go to a bar, I go to the software store or the arcade. Where others see the latest blockbuster, I go see the cartoons....or, if you prefer... 'the sophisticated and emotionally mature animated artform that is Japanese anime'.
In short, craft your life in your own image, and make your greatest sorrows into a source of never-ending joy and invention. All it takes is turning you back on convention, and hey, being a transsexual by itself, pretty much has already eliminated 'boring and normal' from the resume of your life.
It works. Really well.
Im trans male (ftm) i was wondering why cant a ftm and mtf change sex organs so i can have a child and she (mtf) can conceive a child i heard somewhere that the can do that do you know if its a fact?
Doctors working under "Angel Of Death" Dr. Josef Mengele, back in World War Two Germany, attempted just what you describe as part of their infamous human experimentation. The victims of this horrific surgery were not transsexual, just randomly selected from the death camps, but the results would be the same in any case.
The result was quite an expected one, but apparently old Mengele had some time to waste, and wanted to see it for himself.....the horror of tissue rejection.
You see, the primary problem with organ transplants between humans is that every cell in the body carries a unique, identifying protein identification. It's kind of like a chemical fingerprint, or a password. Imagine that the body is an Army base in time of war. Every soldier, every cell, in the body knows the password, and any one who fails the password check is killed on sight. The agents that do the killing are the immune cells.
Should a bacteria, or a virus, or any other enemy of the body invade, it fails the password check, and is hunted down. Eventually, the body tends to win, and kills all of the invaders. That is how you survive sickness, and how your body knows friendly cells from unfriendly ones.
However, this powerful defence system will react with deadly force to ANY invader, including, say, a transplanted kidney, heart, or -anything- else. The reaction is in proportion to the mass of the invading entity (among other factors), and the war that ensues can sometimes be so terrible (if the foreign mass is very large), that it can even kill the body itself...the Army camp....that launched it. A simple cold brings out the troops, but a foreign heart or kidney forces the equivalent of an immune system nuclear launch. Everything can be destroyed.
UNLESS....of course....the immune system, the soldiers...are suppressed. Organ transplants work today only because medicine has found drugs that partially shut down the immune system. Of course, the bad side of this is that the body is left very undefended, and becomes easy prey for invading infection. But, the trade-off -the danger and risk- is worth it, if the problem is that one needs, say, a new heart. If one is THAT bad off, death is certain, so a risky chance to keep living a while longer is worth betting that an infection will not kill one off too quickly. However, the immune system is too important to be shut down altogether....so sooner or later....rejection will finally kill the transplanted organ, and likely, the patient. Still, more years to live....is everything.
To transplant something like a womb or testicles would be pretty foolish in this light. One would be facing a terrible risk of death or grave illness for something that might only last a handful of years. It would be...and is....considered a monstrous thing to do.
Someday, as science and medicine develop, it may be possible to get past the whole tissue rejection problem. One way is through the research currently being done (circa 2001) with stem cells and cloning. It is very reasonable to expect to grow entire new organs that the body will accept, or to clone one's own body -perhaps with a genetic switch of sex- and harvest the corpus for not only the organs one has missed being born with originally, but for fresh hearts, lungs, and everything else....which could allow for a vastly extended lifespan to boot. Perhaps even biological immortality and perfect health as well as a truly complete change of sex. These are very real possibilities. But they...are not now available... and I do not see them happening terribly soon, either.
So this is why a MTF and a FTM cannot just trade body parts...it would kill them both in time, or at the very least, make them so sick that in order to save their lives, the traded parts would have to be removed and dumped in the trash. Or... you could feed the parts to the cats in the alley. Whatever.
I'm actually writing this!
OK, I am <Late 50's>, M2F, had children, grandchildren, the works. Raised <Fundamentalist Christian>, background is all blue collar labor. I look male (yuck!), have been harassed at work to the point of retiring early to keep from killing innocent people along with those that were guilty. (The lives of the guilty were not worth spending the rest of my life in prison ,as a male) Have fulfilled all of my obligations to my immediate family (ie, my children are grown and on their own). I am completely, totally scared. My heart is pounding off the wall. I am TS, no question. I do not care to be around men, let alone associate with them. What do I FEAR? What if I can't pass as female? Do I trade one form of harassment & hatred for another. I have no wish to live as male, but will it be any less painfully to live female, but seen as a #@*%&^# queer. Yes, I should not care what others think, but I've known gender people that have been killed for being TS. How do I handle or get beyond the fear?
From the background you describe, I can but barely imagine the internal struggle you must be dealing with, and the courage it must have taken to write to me. I know fear, very well, not just because of my rather severe panic disorder, but because I have faced the weight of being taught fear, and also self-loathing. In short, I salute, and hear you.
When I had to face my gender issues, it was very, very difficult. If you have read my transition story, you might recall that I wrote of feeling as though my mind had two separate 'files' one who I really was, the other simply miserable but clueless...this was no metaphor, it was literally true. The reason for it was that my shame, the inculcated bigotry I had been taught against the very idea of anything even vaguely Queer, and most of all, the totality of fear I possessed, would seem to have broken my mind. Of course, I got better, but I would not recommend my solution to anyone. The catharsis of facing committing suicide is powerful, but involves being a little too close to the brink of catastrophe!
My own fear was manifold: I was afraid of being loathed, scorned, despised was afraid of punishment both abstract and violently real, I was afraid of becoming a freak, a monster, a thing of disgust even to myself, and I was very afraid of having all of that cause me to be alone and destitute, forever.
I was raised to hate...difference, race, and of course, any diversity in sexuality. The basis for this hate was not openly or directly religious, as it is with most people, rather it was simply narrow-minded conservatism. Religion was mostly a non-issue in my childhood in any form, but the bigotry born of it affects every part of the culture, and so my parents, and thus myself.
I got over all of that, too, thanks to college in San Francisco, and being exposed to direct evidence by experience that gay folks were fun and good and nice, that race was immaterial, that people were people. It's hard to maintain bigotry when the people who help and support you destroy what you were taught simply by existing at all.
But there was one bigotry that I could not beat until I created my TS site...the bigotry against my very self for being what I am...a transsexual woman. From that inner bigot has come so many years of fear. Fear upon fear.
I have found that most fear comes from ignorance, but it is not the ignorance of simply not knowing anything, rather it seems to come from knowing too much...too much that is incorrect, even wildly wrong, but which is buried so deep, because it was engraved on the mind and soul from earliest ages.
I had been taught that all Queer folk...especially the genderqueer...were by definition freaks, monsters, alone and unloved, doomed to ridicule and empty lives of evil. I was taught that gender and sex were the same thing, and that any attempt to think otherwise would cause an immediate fall into the abyss of becoming Queer. I was taught that it was impossible for sex to even be changed successfully, that it was always too late, impossible, terrible, wrong.
All of the above nasty words, I have found, are utter, baldfaced lies.
I am now a successful, very loved, very cared-for woman. I am also transsexual, and I am even OK with that, finally. I am mostly lesbian, Queer, and that is OK too. It worked out, and the things I feared the most, were all illusions.
I wish I had known this back when.
So, I am telling it to you.
Now, the journey was NOT easy. There was miles of pain and hardship before the good stuff started...two years worth of utter struggle and fear....but damn am I glad I did it. Best damn thing I ever did for myself in my whole life, because it gave me ME.
At your age, yes you could succeed. And yes, it could also fail, but that really is less likely. Most transsexuals succeed at transition. Hormones are powerful! It is not as quick or as 'easy' as it is for a younger person, but it is nonetheless possible, and I have met successful transsexual women that began in their sixties and even eighties. I am not telling you that you should run out and do transition, but I am telling you that fear can be overcome, with effort, or because of need. Courage, as I am certain you know, is not lacking fear, but doing what is necessary despite overwhelming fear.
If you truly are transsexual, transition can offer you your own life, the life that you were denied by a cruel defect of birth. It has it's risks, this is true, but I can think of no greater reward than the possibility of an honest life. No person should have to suffer living a life as someone and something they are not. That is a true wrongness in the world.
Educate yourself. Fight your fears, and the root of your fears, by challenging your mind and your heart. Challenge the things you were taught, the things you believe, and the things that limit you. The more you can learn abut all aspects of what tortures you, the more empowered you will feel, and also will actually be. The more open your rules of life, the less you must fear, or loath in yourself, or fear is true about yourself.
Rely on you own instinct to survive. Far too much of human civilization is aimed at crippling the basic animal drive to be happy, to live, to be a true and unaffected self, and honest self. Even a lowly rat, crawling in a gutter, has the basic, natural right to fight for it's own survival and joy as best it can. Certainly that dubious 'pinnacle of creation' called the human being has at least as much natural right as the common rat. Put in perspective, all the transsexual asks to the chance to be repaired, to have a flaw of birth corrected, to live honestly, to know the same level of peace that most people already possess about their flesh. This should not even be an issue to the world, if sanity reigned supreme.
Ultimately, it all boils down to giving yourself permission to be alive. Not just sort of alive, going though the motions to please the expectations of other people....but really living, at least as well as some wretched rat that, whatever it's circumstance, at least can act like what it is without shame.
But I do think that transsexuals are much nobler than that...closer to unicorns than rats, of given a chance to simply be themselves. Rely then also on your sense of justice to overcome fear...it is unjust for a kind person to be denied the right to live as themselves, honestly, even if some people are too narrow to grasp reality. That includes the narrow person inside one, like the bigot that lived in my own head, and made me hate myself for being what I am.
This is what I know about conquering fear...education, openmindedness, survival, justice, perspective.
Be good to your Self.
Hello Jennifer, I wrote you about six months ago to thank you for creating your website, and for contributing to the prevention of my suicide. You answered back quickly, and your words were encouraging and helpful. I enrolled myself into a very highly regarded treatment facility for transexuals/gender dysphorics (Program for Human Sexuality at the U of Minnesota). I underwent a battery of tests and interviews designed to determine my level of transexualism. The detemination is that I am a candidate for hormones and SRS, BUT, I want to do a partially concealed version of a transition for reasons that would take up way to much space and time to explain here. My doctors are extremely averse to this plan, and refuse to give me the hormone therapy that I feel I need until I relent, and agree to go fulltime. We are at an impasse that is starting to really hurt my ability to function. I would like to respectfully request any information you may have that could put me in touch with a reputable physician to oversee my hormone treatment. I need to begin soon, as my dysphoria continues to worsen. I am a (NUMBER, near middle age) year old genetic male, wired predominately female. Classic late onset, though I had many of the symptoms early in my childhood also. I am sure you get many requests such as this, but ANY help you could provide would be sincerely appreciated.
There is absolutely no rational reason to deny you hormone treatment if you desire it (so long as there are no clear health risks, which does not seem to be the case here), whether or not you intend to have surgery, are definitely transsexual or not, or even just for a whim. The effects of hormone therapy, at least in physiological males, are reversible up to around eight months, during which time the individual generally has a very good idea of whether or not they wish to continue hormones to create more permanent changes.
It rather sounds like you are being held hostage. More than this, if I understand you correctly, you have not started hormones, and in order to qualify for hormones your doctors are demanding that you...go full time immediately? Is this actually the case here?
If I am truly understanding you in this regard, and if you have heard things accurately, what you are describing is nothing less than either a mind boggling level of total ignorance on the part of your doctors with regard to the actual, approved process of transition, or a truly sadistic level of brutal abuse. No transsexual should ever be required...or even encouraged...to go full time until the effect of hormone therapy have successfully altered the body so as to accomplish two things...chemical castration, for purposes of legal status, and a reasonable level of passability. Unless a transsexual can pass reasonably well, they are subject to risking the most awful levels of abuse and even physical danger. Currently hate crimes are on the rise in America, and the number one focus for such crimes, according to the FBI, are individuals considered to be Queer, including the transgendered, such as the transsexual.
In short, if they are demanding that you live full time before you are able to take hormones, they are either ignorant, or essentially evil.
The proper and recommended path for transition (according to the Harry Benjamin Foundation) is to first start with counselling, then move on to hormones, and as the patient gradually adapts to the changes in their body and succeeds in such matters as voice training and behavior modification, the patient is assessed. At this point, the patient may, if their transition has progressed effectively, choose to begin living full time. This full time state is maintained for at least one full year in order to qualify for surgery. During the full time trial, the patient should be monitored by a psychologist and psychiatrist (or two psychiatrists), who may then sign off declarations of fitness, after appropriate testing, for surgery. At this point, the patient may then have SRS.
While it is not legally required of anyone to follow the Benjamin recommendations, reputable clinics and doctors do, with only minor alterations as needed to assist the individual case they are dealing with to both survive, and succeed.
If you feel that something...inappropriate...is going on, I strongly urge you to find better help. If nothing else, be aware that you can simply go to any reasonably supportive general practitioner and begin hormone treatment on your own terms. First, of course, interview any potential caregiver to make sure they have no religious or philosophical problems with treating a transsexual patient. Then go in and simply explain your situation, what you want to do and why. Said doctor may need to ascertain that you are healthy...no cardiac or liver problems...but beyond that, there is no reason for you not to be able to go on hormones by...oh, say, two weeks or so. Maybe sooner, depending on whether you have recent medical records handy. It really is that simple.
Absolutely NO transsexual should EVER be demanded to live full time. This is only and always the choice of the patient, and any reputable doctor or clinic will, if anything, dissuade the patient from living full time until there is a clear chance of success, and the patient is reasonably stable with regard to their emotional situation.
My husband would like to "grow" breasts altough he still wishes to be a man. He would like to know if he takes estrogen can he limit the amount he grows his breasts..and if he stops taking it will his breasts return to the size they were before he started taking it or will they stay the same as what they grew to. Also if there's anymore info on this type of subject .we'd appreciate hearing it..thanks.
If estrogen is taken at the correct dosage, breasts will naturally grow. The factors that affect this are age, genetics, and health. The younger a person is, the faster breasts will grow. The kind of breasts (ultimate size and shape) are directed by genetics...one will develop the kind of breasts, in general, that one's mother or grandmother had. genetics also plays a part in how well the hormones work overall...and in 2% of people, estrogen will not work at all. Health determines growth and risks involved. The risks of estrogen are that it can, in some people, cause blood clots (of course, testosterone also can do this), and if the liver has been damaged by disease or drugs, such as alcohol, very bad things might happen. One must also be sure the heart is in good condition too. The benefits of estrogen include a reduced risk of heart disease, protection against male pattern baldness, and protection against prostate cancer, among others.
Generally, the effects of taking estrogen in most people start to become permanent after about 8 months, the time it takes for breasts to really gear up and begin serious growth. Once breast tissue has developed to any real degree, the is permanent, and can only be removed surgically. If the breast is removed, it will never grow back again, it is gone forever.
The development of breasts is exactly the same as would occur in any woman. The degree of growth can be controlled, however, by how long the hormones are taken, and when -or if- they are quit. During the time one takes estrogen, more is affected than just the breasts. The skin texture, body odor, and emotions will all be affected. Indeed, every soft tissue organ of the body is affected, and gradually works to reconstruct itself along female rules. This effect continues for as long as the estrogen is taken. The longer, the more complete the whole body conversion.
Obviously, this also means that the sex organs are affected. They will not change dramatically -which is why surgery is required for transsexuals- but they are affected. Estrogen lowers sperm production and after about 8 months, chemical castration occurs. In effect the person is effectively castrated, as the testes shut down. This effect will reverse if the hormones are quit, and can be reversed up to two years after beginning hormones...though two years is pushing things to the extreme. Eventually, the testes, if enough time on hormones pass, will become soft, cease all production of sperm permanently, and shrink. Given enough time -decades- the testes will all but disappear forever. This all will affect sexual functioning...including sexual desire, which will be greatly lessened, and sexual function...erections will become infrequent, and then almost impossible.
It should be noted then, that if the reason for growing breasts is for a sexual thrill or kink, rather than for a real gender problem, the whole effort might be considered a bit self-defeating.....the very sex drive that powers the kinky desire might well be lost by the very process of trying to fulfill it. So, if your husband is simply a garden variety, everyday transvestite who gets off on dressing up, hormones might rather take away all the fun right there. This should be considered.
However, if you husband has a gender issue, and feels that breasts might help with the suffering that is the result of gender concerns, then hormones might be indicated. Sexuality will be impaired to some degree, but then that may not be a concern, because gender identity issues have nothing to do with sexuality, with the sex drive itself. Gender issues are about personal identity.
In any event, if hormones are decided upon, the wise person seeks out the assistance of a doctor to monitor the process, and set dosages, and so forth. Any doctor, such as a general practice doctor, can do this.
hi I need your advice. I am attending school at the (one of many schools) in Washington. The school is very liberal and open minded. I would like to wear womens clothes on campus but am a bit afraid of doing so. I don't anticipate any thing bad happening. The thing I am worried about most is my roommates. I live with (NUMBER) guys and they don't know I am TS. I am not quite sure how to bring it up. I don't want them to see me in a skirt and freak out. what would you suggest I do to find out how cool they are with TG people without them thinking I am TG. I want to know where they stand before they find out anything. I mentioned the Rocky Horror Picture show to one guy but he did not know a thing about it. I was thinking about painting my nails. That is something I do all the time. To me it seems minor enough to get some idea of where they stand. I really want to wear womens clothes on campus but I hope my roommates don't feel uncomfortable with it.
I very much understand your concern. While we are fortunate in Washington to not suffer laws prohibiting crossdressing, and thus you will not be arrested or fined if you were to dress 'en femme', bigotry and violence are quite independent of the law, or of anything resembling logic. There are dangers here, indeed.
Now I do not know what you have done about your condition so far, to the point, whether or not you are taking hormones, going to a gender group (such as one of the best in the nation, the Ingersoll Center in Seattle -see my links area), or otherwise addressing your gender issues, but such efforts can make a difference. It is one thing to crossdress in public, it is another to be clearly changing physically, so that there is some declaration of commitment and dedication. This can sometimes help, and sometimes hurt, depending.
And the depending part is the problem....the biggest threat in being TS is Other People. Thus your concern.
Certainly, I would be very careful about listening to what your roommates attitudes are, and there are some experiments you might try. If I were in your shoes, I might try to set up anime night to watch anime, and put in the mix many of the popular transgender series and films, such as Ranma 1/2, Here Is Greenwood, Fushigi Yuugi, They Were Eleven, and others, and watch the reaction.
Unfortunately, the only sure way to find out is to actually ask the people involved, directly, what their attitudes are.
There are overall three main factors in determining whether you would be at risk in any event. One is to determine just how religious all of you roommates are. Essentially all gender bigotry derives from religion, so the more religious, the more the danger. The second factor is overall open-mindedness...just how flexible and easygoing any give person is about their political and social beliefs. Strong, inflexible attitudes are dangerous. Lastly is sense of humor....those with an issue have an issue...beware of anyone who jokes too much about Queer folks. The choice of humor is very revealing of the subconscious mind.
Be careful. Personally, I would not think of wearing female clothing until my flesh had sufficiently altered to make such action essentially required by my situation. It is much easier to avoid attack if one simply....fits.
I wish I was stronge like you. You do what I alwas want, but imsted i just drink an I alwas want to change myself to be as aperson insted as then a drunk. Another words. I live in a small town can not think to do what i really want to do. I am a male with a body of a female . What should I do.
The answer is not that hard.
Get enough money together to move.
Get the hell out of your small town.
Go to a city where you have a chance, such as Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver, or even Los Angeles.
Get a life going.
See a doctor about your issues, join a gender group.
Make your dreams happen.
It will take a few years, and it will have rough times...but then, you are having rough times now anyway, huh? The difference is that your rough times could be getting you what you want. There will always be rough times: life is full of shit...but: the key is to make the shit you have to suffer lead to you getting something you want in return.
It isn't being tough. It's just choosing which pain you have to suffer smartly. If you are going to hurt anyway, make it pay off. Ultimately, that is what I did. In the end, it turned out to have been less pain that I would have suffered had I gone one avoiding my problems...but I did not know that at the time.
You could do what I say, if you want it bad enough. That's all it takes. Wanting it bad enough. Or hurting too much. Either one.
The issue that is pestering me, really, is my genitalia. I don't really have enough of a problem with them to justify taking steps to SRS. I want my body to be as female as possible, so I can live as the woman I know I am inside, but I have come to grips with the fact that I have these certain things between my legs. I have been told, by some transsexuals running an IRC support group, that becuase of this thought, this one single thought, that I am NOT a transsexual, and couldn't possibly be a woman inside, becuase if I were, I would be disgusted by my genitalia. Is it possible to be a transsexual and just cope with life without SRS? I don't really mind what's attatched to me between my legs, I mean, I'm only attracted to females, so I presume it could still be useful. (no joke intended) Does this mean I'm coping, or that I'm not the real thing? I do want to go on hormones to feminize my body as much as possible, but isn't my "physical sex" really just between me and my partner? All I want to know is what you think. I trust your opinions becuase I feel you truly try to help.
You are exactly what you define yourself to be. Nothing less, nothing more. I have no problem with a person who wants to identify as being female and having anomalous genitals. In short, yes it is perfectly possible, and perfectly fine to be a transsexual and not have surgery, and to not be utterly disgusted with your genitals.
Being transsexual is about identity: gender identity. Gender is what is in the brain, not what is between the legs. Gender is about what a person knows themselves to be, and not about what they look like, or how they choose to arrange their body configuration. However, that said, you should be aware that there are consequences to any situation that falls outside expected averages, even the averages that apply to the utterly extraordinary.
While I would consider you to be female if you considered yourself to be female (and if I personally felt in my emotions and 'heart' that you were female in meeting you) regardless of your body situation, there are many in the world, perhaps most, that may not be so capable. Some narrow people, including some narrow transsexuals too (for ultimately, people are people whatever their circumstances), might well give you trouble, deny your identity, claim you are not 'really' a Full Blooded Transsexual, or a 'real' woman, call you names, and not let you play in any reindeer games if you do not have the expected, politically correct, surgery. My personal suggestion to such individuals, should you encounter them, is to answer back with a most polite and civilized 'Up Yours'.
Surgery does not make a transsexual. Transsexuality is a problem of gender affecting brain (and to a lesser degree, body) development. It is true that overwhelmingly -most- true transsexuals would find surgery a great benefit and even a life-saving relief from suffering...but not all. There are some transsexuals who are indifferent to their sexual organs altogether. Human beings have varying degrees of body consciousness, and the conflict between the body, and the neurological map of the body within the brain varies greatly. Because transsexuality is an error of prenatal development, it is not exact...some of the elements that define the condition may be present, partly present, or even absent. Like all things, it must be defined as the sum of its components, not by any one component part. Your described situation does not exclude you from being a transsexual, but it is rather fairly unusual for a transsexual overall.
Some might define you as being a 'She-Male', and while technically accurate, in being a female with male sex organs, I maintain that if your internal gender identity is female, then you are female. Again, it is the brain that counts. Socially, however, what counts is not what you think, but how you are perceived.
The social ramifications of living as a woman, but retaining male organs are no different than for any ordinary woman: so long as you cannot be detected as being unusual. One problem with retaining male organs is that they produce male hormones, which, inexorably, over time, masculinize the body in great, or small, ways. Eventually, no matter how well you pass now, you will fail one day, and become a freak to most of society, with all of the unhappy ramifications -such as poverty and exclusion- that come with such a label, unless something is done. You could go on hormones, or be castrated and go on hormones. In any event, to avoid being ghettoized as a social pariah, hormones are a vital, vital tool. That, or give up and live as a man. Something must be done, or you will lose any hope of generalized acceptance, sooner or later.
Hormones do have ramifications, including the reality that they can alter or diminish your sex drive. They also obviously change the body, developing breasts, changing the skin and even the smell of your body. They can make erections impossible, or rare. However, they can ensure -especially at your age- the best possible chance of having a life that is both successful and relatively nonviolent: in other words, avoiding being beaten or killed for being a perceived aberration within our fairly insane society.
One last issue is the problem of medical, social, and rescue-related care, sometimes people in dire situations, if their true genital status is discovered (by accident or in the course of treatment), can suffer for that deviation from the norm. They can be left to die, fail to receive proper help, or be otherwise mistreated or abandoned. In some cases they can be harmed or killed outright. This risk would be -even more- extreme if you were to live outside of an advanced industrial nation such as America or Canada, so adjust accordingly.
However, in normal, day to day life, no one knows what is in your pants, or under your skirt, and so life should be normal, as long as you maintain passability. I describe these issues because they are real issues, and will affect the life of any person who lives as one sex, yet possesses the genitals of another. Gender issues are very real too, and ultimately, you have to live the life you are most comfortable with. Balance choices according to your needs, and ultimately, take charge of defining yourself.
So, in conclusion:
You are the gender YOU determine yourself to be. Period.
Other people may, or may not agree with you, however. Those that define you by narrow rules are not worth your time. However, your overall presentation to the world does change the way you are treated. How you are treated has ramifications, some of them quite dire. You must make choices that meet your personal needs, both for identity, and for future survival. Existence is a compromise between identity and survival. Determine what you want and what you need, and what you can live with, and make it happen.