Letters Volume Thirty-Four
This is Volume Thirty-Four 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.
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To contact Jennifer you may use either of the above addresses.
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These are the Thirty-Fourth set of letters
Reference Topic Index
Relative ONLY to this volume:
For the complete list see main letters page.
My Most Difficult Letter, Ever.
A College Student Asks Religious Questions
Safe Sex For Transsexuals
On the hiring of Transsexual employees, in small business, in small places
Dear Jennifer. thanks for all your excellent work on your site. re:beliefs that can kill, heading 4: I thought that a truce had been penned between my wife and myself that meant leaving my femme self behind once and for all in order to secure the integrity of my wonderful family of 2 girls, a boy and our family dog, and the relationship with my wife of 21yrs...we were at the point of breaking up and my transitioning or me denying my nature... I was faced with telling the kids and with that cold, hard reality you describe... anyway same old story, I decided to stay the course and keep the family intact. It was, I thought, a courageous act that I could deny my true transsexual nature and find the strength of will to redirect these energies. This of course led to a final purge leaving thousands of dollars of my beautiful clothes, jewelry, shoes and hairpieces... on the doorstep of the local salvation army store, a windfall for them. I quit my plans...you know the story, changed my phone number and moved all in a single week...but then you caught me short on this one...I was left a quadriplegic two weeks later in a bike accident on a trip I would not have been on had I the real courage to face my own truth... now my wife/so is my fulltime caregiver. it would take Freud and Jung together to sort out the issues.
I had arranged my life to spend my last 40 years as my longed for true face. I denied that and it has tested the boundaries of god for me.
who writes this stuff?
anyway, thanks again for your excellent work.
Well, basically, I write all the stuff on my site; it is what I have learned along the way. I tried to create the sort of information source that I had wished that I had been able to have, way back when, before my transition.
Frankly, I don't know what to say beyond that; your story is, well, overwhelming. There is nothing I can say that would have any meaning; your experience and situation are beyond anything I can imagine to utter. Everything I might say, sounds trite to me.
I thank you for writing to me; your story is very powerful.
ADDENDUM: The above is what I wrote back to the person that wrote to me, but after talking with one of my spouses, she insisted that I needed to post this letter especially - because it might just do some good. For those of you who are sure of who and what you are, but who may be drawn into some purge of your identity in order to please others, or to keep some role or relationship going in your life, you need to understand something... people really have totally screwed up their lives trying to live up to some ideal that they imagine is demanded of them.
Learn from the cautionary letter above. Be true to your identity. Don't lose everything trying to please a wife, a god, children, society, friends or relatives. When you do things that are unnatural to your identity -regardless of what society claims is natural for you- it can be far more terrible than you can imagine.
Always, always follow your true identity. Anything that is not your internal truth, is a role, an act, a stunt. And stunts can get you hurt badly.
Consider that those who cannot love you for your actual identity, may not be worth your sacrifice. There is nothing noble in such a thing. There is only loss.
I cannot express how sad this letter made me. Let it do some good; learn from what it teaches.
I am a college student and I am finishing a thesis about transexuality. I have passed by your website(transsexual.org) and was able to use some of its information for my thesis. But some questions are still arises from my mind about transexuality, here are they:
1) - Isn't it undergoing the process immoral and brings many consequences to the person especially physically and emotionally?
No, going through sex reassignment is not in any way immoral whatsoever. In point of fact, it saves lives.
Let's examine this from several angles.
First, I would reasonably assume that you are a religious person, and most likely belong to some sect of Christianity.
There simply is no, absolutely no mention of anything regarding transsexuality in any version of the bible. Go ahead and look if you like, this is an email, so you've got the time to search if you need to. Not a word. The closest thing that might be construed as being a prohibition against it by some utterly ignorant person would be the statements that condemn transvestites; men who dress up as women. A transsexual is not in any way whatsoever a transvestite. Indeed, most transsexuals can't stand transvestites, for what it is worth.
Transsexualism is a birth defect. It is a neurological version of the condition known as 'intersexuality'. Intersexuality is where a baby (of any species, it happens to all animals, including humans) is born with sex organs that cannot be identified, or which are some blend of male and female that is all mixed up. The usual procedure in the past has been to just choose a sex and surgically alter the baby to fit that notion. However, this is no longer being done as much, because it has been noticed that about half of such babies, when the grow up, are very upset; they say the surgeon guessed wrong, and they want the situation corrected. This is just one small demonstration, among a vast many, that gender -the internal, mental and emotional sexual identity of self- is inborn. People are born male or female not just on the outside, but in the very way their brains are constructed.
No wonder then that some people have the unfortunate, and miserable, birth defect of having their brain wired to be one gender, despite having a body that is partially, or even mostly, the opposite sex from that internal gender. It's no different, really, than a baby being born without eyes, or without arms, or with flippers for legs, or whatever. It's a birth defect, and birth defects happen. They've always happened.
For a person born with the affliction of transsexuality, there is only one medical option; correct the body. The brain is the person, is the self, is the identity...you cannot change that. Changing a person's brain basically kills that person. The brain rides the body like a person rides a horse. So you change the body.
If this is not done, the poor transsexual suffers more and more with every passing year from the age of five or so (when they first notice the problem and can speak clearly enough to describe their pain) to whatever age they make it to. I say make it to, because the suffering is so great that those who cannot get help generally end up killing themselves to stop the horror and pain. It's a pretty miserable condition.
So correcting the birth defect of transsexualism is hardly immoral, rather it would be utterly immoral - and utterly uncompassionate- to fail to help such people. They suffer terribly, and their birth defect needs to be repaired. At least if one cares the least about other people.
2) - Doesn't God have greater and bigger plans for these people instead of altering their gender, so you need not undergo a surgery because only God can complete you if not physically but emtionally and spiritually?
If there is a god which somehow figures that inflicting terrible horror and suffering on innocent babies in the form of horrifying birth defects is a good plan, then frankly I would call such a god demonic, evil, and just plain mean.
I cannot seriously accept that any god that would be considered to be at all good or kind would want any poor little baby to be born with a birth defect. Surely that is why god made people capable of becoming doctors, so they can cure all of those terrible mistakes, don't you think? Would you truly want to serve an evil and cruel god? I wouldn't. No sane person would.
If there is a greater plan for the person who is born with a tragic birth defect, surely that plan is meant to begin after they have that defect repaired as best as can be done. Then, perhaps, they can tell other people about what they learned from the experience, or how they gained strength fighting through to being healthy again. Or perhaps there is no big plan...perhaps sometimes, mistakes just happen in nature. That's only reasonable. It's hard to argue that when birth defects -including transsexualism, by the way- happen to rats and dogs, that there is some big plan there.
Transsexuality, and it's treatment, really isn't any more about god and religion than heart surgery is, or dialysis for kidney patients, or setting broken bones. It's just a birth defect, and it can be treated with hormones and surgery, and the goal is only to allow a suffering human being to have a decent and relatively normal life, as best as is possible. It isn't a subject for religion except in one way; if it is righteous to help the sick and the suffering, then it is right to help the transsexual, because that is all that is going on here.
There is a lot of ignorance about what transsexualism is, and what transsexuals are. A transsexual is not a transvestite, they are not in their situation by any choice, and they are not any different than any other person except in one way; they have a birth defect. All that most transsexuals want is to get that defect fixed as soon as they can (which for some is not very soon - insurance mostly doesn't cover the condition, and it is expensive to treat), and then just live a decent life.
I guess I can sum things up this way; if the transsexual is immoral, then so is the baby with flippers for arms, or the baby born without a face. And if such innocent lives are somehow immoral for their helpless defect in the eyes of some god, then that god is by definition evil, and I for one would want nothing to do with any evil god. I can't accept a god as being evil. I oppose evil.
I care about people. I want people to be healthy and happy, I have compassion for people. Birth defects are horrible, terrible things. I support correcting birth defects as a moral and ethical thing to do. Thus I support transsexuals in their fight to become normal.
I hope you -and every person- would agree with that.
I would not want to meet anyone who would disagree with such a sentiment, I assure you. Shudder.
I feel obligated to give some background: I am in college, and recently I began to feel that I at least need to dress as a woman, but probably need to partially transition. Anyway: I hate to sound overly material, but the one question that keeps bugging me about the surgery: obviously, pregnancy can't happen, but I'm not clear on what the safe sex specifics are for post surgery trans women. I'm also a little unclear of how exactly that area ends up afterwards.
Well, in a nutshell, post-op women have exactly the same level of risk as nontranssexual women, when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases. Being transsexual confers no protective benefit of any kind. Whatever sexually transmitted diseases any woman can get (or give) the transsexual woman also can get (or give).
As for how SRS turns out, depending on the level of skill of the surgeon, things can work out for the MTF transsexual such that even a trained professional would be unable to tell the difference between a post-op transsexual woman and a nontranssexual woman who had undergone a radical hysterectomy.
The functional issues for the transsexual are that such surgery can damage nerves and reduce the capacity for sexual pleasure; this could be from little damage to total loss. No rational person would ever go through transition for sexual reasons. Sex is not the motivation for transition. Identity is the only rational or reasonable motivation to endure transition.
So, in short, MTF surgery runs from nearly perfect to perfect, but there is a definite risk of the loss of sexual function and the capacity for orgasm to whatever degree. One should always be fully cognizant that reassignment surgery is not something one should ever, ever do for sexual reasons. Indeed, one may lose sexual function permanently. The prime issue in such surgery can only be one thing; the expression of personal identity and of being comfortable with the construction of the body.
As a business owner, I've been doing some thinking the last couple days about the implications of hiring a transsexual individual, considering the various tales of woe that transsexuals have regarding employment.
Clearly, firing or not hiring a TS person just because of their status is discriminatory behavior...and yes, laws vary on the enforcement of such behavior. However, it's occurred to me that the degree to which an employer can accommodate a TS person is totally dependent on the size of the business.
It's an unfortunate reality that, overall, people tend to react negatively towards anyone that's different...xenophobia is a natural reaction in almost any animal, and human intellect isn't as able to overcome it as we'd like. Having a transsexual employee would be a disruption to the operation of the business, because of negative reactions to the situation from both fellow employees and customers. It's inexcusable, yes, but it's Real Life.
A large corporation, can absorb such a disruption much more easily...indeed, it can even afford to make compassionate accommodations and policy changes for such individuals, and some clearly do. This is very cool, obviously...a good thing. The corporation on the whole is affected hardly at all, and because it CAN afford to change policies and make accommodations, the company becomes a better place.
But let's consider a small business of, say, under 10 employees. The disruption might be same (in whatever way one would quantify "disruption"), but the effect on a small business is far, far greater.
For the sake of argument, let's say that I, a small business owner, would be ready to hire on an employee to help me in the shop. I would need to consider any prospective employee EXTREMELY carefully, from just about every angle. I would even have to consider the prospect's tattoos and piercings, and mode of dress...because as a very small business, ANYTHING that might affect profits is terribly, terribly important.
I used to wonder why my former employers were always so bitchy about sales and productivity. I don't wonder anymore. A slow month in my shop might mean that I might not make the rent if I don't eat a lot of beans and rice, and maybe not even then. Having an employee sucking at the shop income would make things even MORE frightening, and anything about the employee that might adversely affect shop income must be carefully considered. Customers are fickle and stupid animals, but even the dumbshits are critical to the survival of a small business.
I would feel like a real turd if I didn't hire someone because they were transsexual, because I AM sympathetic. However, this is a town where Dubya is still regarded as a good president, and I can certainly see some asshole making trouble because of a TS employee, and spreading rumors about me and the shop. I mean, this is a town where the lady that used to run the only comic book shop within 250 miles was openly called a witch and Satan-worshipper, when in fact she was one of the finer people I've ever known (she's since retired and left town). I could see having a TS employee killing my business in this town...it would almost certainly happen.
I'm far from being able to consider hiring someone, as I'm barely feeding myself right now (desperately looking for a Real Job, actually). But...how would an otherwise-sympathetic potential employer like myself handle such a decision? I would hate having to make that decision, but what choice would I really have, when the survival of the business was at stake?
Let me know your opinions, thoughts, or possible solutions.
You bring up some very real issues for everyone involved in this situation; the employer, the employees, the customers, and the poor TS looking for a job.
One of the main things I try to tell folks facing transition is to try to transition on the job, hopefully at a very large company or corporation, preferably in a large port city with a high-tech industry (and a very diverse and better-educated, liberal population). This is best for everyone; the T has a chance of remaining employed through the whole of transition, and is not generally visible to customers during the worst of it - or can be moved to a department where they can be hidden away.
And as harsh as it sounds, it is often not a bad thing to be hidden away during the awkward second puberty of transition. It is hell for everyone. The transsexual is in that special hell between the sexes where little love or acceptance exists (and much abuse does), and the befuddled and bigoted masses suffer at the collapse of their comfortable and narrow world whenever the anomalous transsexual invades it by merely existing. Since many people are are so mentally crippled that they are but barely holding on to sanity by clinging to simple notions of the world, having to deal with a person in transition can upset them to the point of deadly violence - or even to not buying things, which in our ruthlessly capitalistic society, is vastly worse.
But pity the very terrible situation of the unemployed transsexual, in the middle of Hicktown, State Of Ignorance, USA, who is desperate for a job. Pity also the one liberal employer in Hicktown, who is barely paying rent.
One solution is to hire the transitioning/unpassable transsexual if there is a backroom job, out of sight, and thus out of mind, of the mindless and bigoted public. I would offer that this is a decent solution for the socially conscious employer in such times as ours, and something to be grateful for to the desperate transsexual.
Some people, involved in gender activism, may recoil at this notion, on the grounds that it perpetuates the third class status of the gender-nonconforming, and that it is tantamount to rendering the transsexual a nigger who must enter from the back door and drink from the non-public fountain. And they would be right. But they would also be impossibly idealistic and ridiculously ignorant of harsh reality if they were to suggest anything else at this time in history.
Sometimes, the only way to survive is to sit at the back of the bus, because the social will for change just hasn't arrived yet. And with regard to the transsexual... such social will has not only failed to arrive, but I firmly believe has actually backed away over the past half decade.
It is important to me that the transsexual have a chance to stay alive, and to do that, they need income, they need jobs. But it is also true that the world, that society, is the way that it is, and most towns and even cities, are far from liberal, far from embracing of diversity, and barely survivable for the gender anomalous. Survival comes first, politics second. Without survival, there is no politics.
I would offer the socially conscious employer that providing work to a gender anomalous person is an extremely positive thing to do, because such a person generally is desperate by the time they get to one's door, having often literally lost everything and everyone. On the other hand, I am cognizant that employing one person only to lose the shop, and the jobs of many others, is not good for anyone. Thus compromise.
In short, as loath as I am to say these words, if you can hide 'em away, why not hire the transgendered? But if the only position is front row center, and the person just plain doesn't pass, yet, or ever, then no pleading on my part, or noble ivory tower stance, will change the fact that the customer base will drop off immediately after hiring the obviously transgendered person.
It doesn't mean I like it. I was fired from my front-line crappy sandwitch shop job, in the middle of my transition, and to this day I curse the bastard that did it for being a bum. Especially since the shop was in downtown San Francisco. But, as one employee later told me, customers were declining, and went back up after I was gone. The liberality of San Francisco is over-rated, it does exist, but only in appropriately ghettoized parts of the city - not the financial district.
So I comprehend. I understand why I was fired. But he was still a bastard to do it. Because it is wrong to make a nigger out of any minority.
But fighting for what is right always means sacrifice, and marginalized people, barely keeping food on the table, or shelter overhead, are seldom in a position to wage such social war. The casualties quickly mount.
The plight of the transsexual - and other gender anomalous folk - will only be addressed when society as a whole finds a cause in supporting such people, because, perhaps, it has been seized by some contagious sanity as well as a keen hunger for freedom, liberty, and civil justice for all.
This is utterly, utterly not the world of 2007. Just about anywhere.
So... if you have a backroom job, hey, do a trannie a favor, eh? But I understand reality, and I understand it stinks on ice, and if anything is getting worse.
Basically, play the part of Vies and Voskuijl, and hide the Franks from the Nazis. Because in a lot of the America of 2007, and a lot of the world in general, this is what things almost are, for the situation of the transgendered.
You might also, however, encourage such a person to save up the money (if possible) to move to a better location (Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, etc.), where they might, say, have a better chance to survive.