I’ve discussed this before, in bits and pieces, here and there, now and again. But perhaps it’s wise to assemble all this under one roof where it can be easily referenced.
Approximately 1 in 15000 females, at birth is XY. They are females with female genitals, the works. XY does not mean male. Of these, 1 in 80,000 is Swyer’s Syndrome, and 1 in 20,000 has complete androgen insensitivity syndrome. Another subset has partial androgen insensitivity syndrome and estimates of those born female vary greatly there, from 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 50,000. The cumulative numbers for these three groups are generally assessed at 1 in 15,000, but the frequency could be even higher. The vast majority of XY females are sterile, but rarely some are not, as documented in this study.
1 in 20000 males at birth is XX, also called de la Chapelle syndrome. They are males with male genitals. XX does not mean female. However, the frequency of XX males where the SRY gene crossed over from the Y chromosome to the X may be even higher than that, as this study suggests SRY gene crossover happens more often than previously suspected.
1 in 600 children is XXY, Klinefelters. For the longest time, doctors assumed XXY were always male, because only XXY males had fertility issues, until some biologists decided to go look. And suddenly they found lots of XXY females. This breakthrough came in the last decade so it is relatively “new” news and not all doctors may have heard this year.
The above situations are all scientific facts and prove, conclusively that sex and gender are not determined solely by 5th grade biology lessons about XX and XY, which were simplified for you because at that point in your life, you couldn’t have handled the complexities involved.
So what determines sex and gender? What sex is a male soldier who loses his legs and genitals to an IED. It’s all gone. He has no testicles, no penis, so what sex is he? Stupid question, isn’t it?
It’s stupid because sex and gender are determined in the brain, specifically in the white matter structures of the brain.
Every fetus starts out female and stays female until week 8. That’s when sexual differentiation begins.
The brain is the first human organ to sexually differentiate. This occurs between weeks 8-16. The fetus doesn’t even have genitals until week 14 and then it’s only the unisex “genital tuber” which will later become clitoris, vagina, labia, or penis, testicles, and scrotum.
What drives sexual differentiation? Not genes. Not XX. Not XY. What drives sexual differentiation in the fetus is hormones. Males develop as male because they received about 4 times as much testosterone as estrogen. Females develop as females because they receive about 5 times as much estrogen as testosterone. This is another scientific fact. Cry about it all you want but this is what creates sex and gender.
Consequently, if the mother, during pregnancy for some reason has hormonal interactions that change the basic hormonal ratios away from the median described above, you can get a child whose brain develops one way then their body develops another. Not enough testosterone in weeks 8-16 then returning to median hormonal ratios for weeks 16 and onward? Transgender child with a female brain and male body. Too much testosterone in weeks 8-16 then returning to median hormonal ratios for weeks 16 and onward? Transgender child with male brain and female body. Here is the American Medical Association’s 2011 Annual Meeting Presentation on how hormonal ratios can vary and thus produce the entire spectrum of LGBT people. The presentation is about 70 minutes long, but informative, so be prepared to sit and listen.
So why not fix the brain? We don’t know how without killing the patient. Further, “fixing” the brain would likely destroy the entire personality of that person, a severe violation of their personal liberty and autonomy. So what do we do? We fix the body, which turns out to be relatively easy.
This is the reality of what being transgender means. And I, for one, am tired of ignorant people not understanding science and trying to impose their small minded bigotry against transgender people.
Educate yourself. The science is all available if you want to understand it. The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, and the American College of Physicians all support the above statements, and all support social transition, hormonal therapy, and surgery as the proper treatment for being transgender. The AMA supports hormone treatment and surgery for transgender patients. The American Psychiatric Association supports transition related medical care for transgender people.
Those of you who choose to wallow in ignorance and hate are what drive transgender kids to suicide, not being transgender but being hated by small minded bigots like yourselves.
Grow up, and stop hating. And stop claiming 5000 year old superstitions that you call a “bible” are somehow right when compared to science. The rest of us are tired of your narrow minded, childish, and anti-scientific ways of thinking. Transgender women are women. Transgender men are men. Deal with it.
I originally wrote most of this as a comment to another blog I follow. But I realized it’s useful and wanted others to have the chance to consider this as well.
I really really dislike the term “passing” but I’m going to use it here because so many people in the community understand it. I prefer to think of it as just acceptance of who I am.
One of the things about “passing” seems to be a lack of effort. And I don’t mean that in the way some people might think. In fact, perhaps I mean it the opposite way.
When we’re unsure of ourselves, when we’re not authentically ourselves (which I agree is hard!), we start to “act”, and our role in society becomes performance art rather than just who we are.
But the funny thing is that people seem to be able to detect performance art versus authenticity. Maybe we try too hard. Maybe we make subtle mistakes or maybe we’re acting so hard that we don’t make mistakes. Maybe we “act” too hard and it sends signals to others.
I’m not really sure. But what I do know is that as I acquired personal inner peace, as I began to simply “be me” as opposed to someone society thought I should be, my issues with “passing” vanished.
Yeah, I admit I’ve had medical help along the way as an MtF trans woman but that help, while it definitely helped, wasn’t the final piece of the puzzle for me.
It was when I finally found a way to “be me” that I stopped acting. And almost as soon as I stopped acting, I stopped getting misgendered, etc. I know it’s not that easy for everyone. I know that hormones need time to work. I know that there are other aspects. But regardless of all those things, it does seem to me that “passing” includes being authentic, just “being you” rather than a construct.
NOTE: Part of finding that inner peace, for me at least, did come from surgery. Once I completed GCS, then I began to finally, for the first time in my life, begin to feel positive about my own body. So surgery played a role there too, but only a role.
I’ve mentioned before in other venues about how comfortable I was with my body changes almost immediately. I’ll mention them again here now – by the third day after surgery, I realized I couldn’t even remember what the old genitals felt like and it was a massively liberating feeling.
My traveling companion, who I love dearly and who I’ve called my “guardian angel”, said this about my immediate relaxation and sense of self-comfort:
“What was totally freaking awesome was seeing you lose all body modesty and shame the day you came back from the clinic.
Prior to surgery, you went to shower clothed and stepped out of the closed bathroom clothed. First day home you walked naked across the room talking about politics while looking for a dress. No self-consciousness at all.
That made me tear up. I knew you’d crossed into new territory in your life.”
I hadn’t even thought of that but she’s right. I no longer felt completely wrong naked, even and especially in front of my closest female friends.
I still tire easily, and run out of steam at the end of the evening, but last night, Sunday night, August 23rd, was the first full night’s sleep back in Texas. That was a breakthrough as well. I’ve consequently been awake all day today, working at a measured pace from home, dealing with some remaining Human Resources issues after my trip, and while I’m tired, I’m not feeling like I need a nap before bed tonight, probably around 11pm.
Nerve endings continue to wake up and I’m in a bit of discomfort but no real serious pain. A few aspirin now and then seem to work wonders for me. One part of down there has decided to be hyper sensitive at the moment. Hopefully that won’t continue too long, at least not quite like it is at the moment.
As I told friends today, wonderful is slipping on a pair of jeans and not dealing with a bulge or needing to tuck at all. Everything just slides on the way it should.
I didn’t have any real doubts left by the time surgery rolled around. By then, it had been several years of reviewing all the thoughts in my head. I do remember thinking, as they added something to my IV right before I lost consciousness, “Here we go. Let’s hope all this thinking has come to the right conclusion.” Yet when I awoke from surgery, that question was nowhere to be found. I asked a nurse if everything had gone ok, and she smiled and nodded, and gave me a thumbs up. When I saw Dr. Chettawut, he said things had gone wonderfully.
As for how things are going, I’m at the one month mark of my surgery (actually that was Saturday) and doing very well. I am not in any pain at all, just tenderness and general discomfort.
I began dilator #3 this week and that was, at least at first, a breathtaking experience in a very wincing way. Now it’s just tight and I need to be patient and persistent with myself. I’m on day #5 with dilator #3 so I’ve been impressed at the rate that I seem to be stretching to accommodate it.
I seem to be gaining strength each day, which is good. Back on estrogen again and the hot flashes are gone and my body temperature seems a bit more stable, at least to me.
Finally, while I’m improving, a different chapter of my life is closing. Our family dog of the last 11+ years was diagnosed with cancer so we’ll be putting him down soon. He’s been affectionate, caring, gentle, curious, fun, and very much a part of our family. He will be missed.
As one door closes, another door opens.
Today’s entry is a little more mundane. On Monday, August 11th, I came out at work to my co-workers. HR and my boss have been with me for this ride for a few months now as things have slowly moved forward. With that milestone now achieved, the next step is to see a lawyer and get the legal name and gender change done via the courts. I’ve waited this long for various reasons but now the reasons to wait are gone and over. All that remains is saving up the fees necessary for court and the lawyer and off we go, hopefully in late September or early October. Once that is done, update driver’s license, social security, then update work records at which point I will be allowed to present female full time at work.
Of course it won’t end there. There will be bank accounts, credit cards, bills, and other accounts that all need changed. I half wonder how people will take it when I change my name and gender on LinkedIn. There are a lot of former co-workers who I’ve not informed who are connected to me on LinkedIn these days. And then there’s the old Facebook account. Do I close it entirely? Keep it to keep an eye open towards old school friends from years ago when I was younger? I’ve only come out to a handful of those with whom I grew up, aside from my siblings. I’ll probably let that account sit quietly but I reserve the right to change my mind.
Progesterone continues to apparently work its magic slowly. I doubt I’ll ever have a big bust line but I’m very much filling an A cup now. I’d be really happy with a B cup and ecstatic with a C but I don’t think C is a reasonable expectation. After being lazy most of the summer, I’ve begun a dedicated walking program on the treadmill in the evenings. My goal is to get back to 170 (I was 173 recently) then begin losing weight down to about 155. If I can lose 1-2 pounds per month I can be there by next summer. I just need to keep working out. Once I’ve been walking again for a few weeks, I’ll begin adding some P-90 workouts to my regimen as well.
After the legal work comes looking for the stem cell treatment for my scalp to help further with hair regrowth, then all my savings will be either towards finishing facial hair removal or towards GRS. It now looks very unlikely that I will be able to get this done via insurance so now Thailand becomes a very attractive alternative destination.
I sort of have a dream and I don’t know if I can achieve it, but that dream is a B cup or C cup, lose enough waist to get down to about 28 inches there, enough of my own hair back that I don’t need to wear a wig (though I’d still likely do so in certain situations), after GRS to find the perfect grape colored one piece swimsuit. I’ve often dreamed of walking up to people I used to know on a beach somewhere and just saying hi, then watching the confusion. I’ve had even more wicked thoughts that amuse me to no end but I won’t post them here. My closest friends know about them.
I was recently asked a question, when did I know I couldn’t go back to “him”? Honestly, it was when I told my spouse, I knew where I was going. I had already looked over the precipice and almost ended it all before and I didn’t want to go back down that road. I knew where that road ended. But if I had ever had second thoughts, those second thoughts were destroyed forever by those who once said they loved me. When they were done, there was no “him” to return to, as they had turned their backs on me, spoke about me behind my back, and taken my grandchildren from me as well. You might say that their hatred, bigotry, and cruelty sealed the deal, nailed the door shut, and built a brick wall to hide the door. My happiness is with other people now. My happiness is forward.
As for everyone else, it’s been reassuring to experience so many supportive people in my life – friends, siblings, co-workers. That one disappointment remains my own children, and wondering what I did that they turned out like this.