2017: The culmination (1)

 

The microwave take

I had set my goal to be fully transitioned by the time I turned sixty. Over the course of four years, I had done everything to set up 2017 to complete the task in time, having the surgeries I desired.  My birthday is in April, after the eleventh.

  1. January 19: Vocal cord surgery
  2. April 11: Sex reassignment/gender confirming surgery
  3. November 22: Facial feminization surgery and breast implants

When I fudge my stated goal—to have all of my surgeries in the calendar year in which I turned sixty—I can claim to have achieved it.

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That was one crazy ladder.

The crock pot take

It was 2013. A few months after I began seeing a therapist that April, I had decided that I would need to attempt transitioning, to see if it would help me feel better. Actually, I was on about my tenth decision to transition, and my mind would remain on the I-will/I-won’t swivel for more than two years.

That January, I had crashed. As I reflect on things, I now see that I was in the process of crashing for a few years, since my very early fifties. My life was like watching a slow motion video of a football running back who is hurling through the air, stretching for the end zone, only to have the enormous linebacker awaiting.

It was five years ago that I finally made contact with that linebacker. I was crushed, crunched, and crashed.

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Yeah, that’s me—new look, same great taste, and still a dip!

Back to the therapist’s office, that summer I had once again decided I would need to give transitioning a try. Nothing else was working. I was getting worse. Meltdowns were my too-frequent visitors. I cried almost as much as I breathed. If I could have torn off my flesh, I would have.

Having announced my decision, I said to my therapist, “I have a goal. I want to be fully transitioned, with whatever surgeries I will decide to have, by my sixtieth birthday, in April of 2017.”

At the time, I had plenty of time. As I tore off calendar pages, it felt like sand seeping out of the hour glass and through my fingers. Before 2013 was out, I had begun hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and in 2014 I retired. Outside of retiring, everything else was a seesaw, including the HRT which I stopped and started four times. Up and down I went, and with every hard landing came the next crash, more jarring than the others.

While suicidal thoughts regularly came calling, I never was close to trying. What came close, and I truly thought was going to land and stick, was losing my mind, going insane, becoming a blithering idiot of a person who could do no more than sit around, eating and watching television.

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Nice, but I like my new packaging better.

That is where I found myself in June of 2015. On April 29, I had gone public online, that I had struggled all my life with my gender identity. I was so hoping that fighting my battle in public, openly writing about it, would strengthen me in my resolve to remain male. I found that while writing was therapeutic, being public about this was no cure. In June, I decided to begin to live full time as a female, to see if it would help. I set July 2 as the date to go all Gina, all of the time.

I was finding relief. Thus, in mid-August, I went public about it. I changed my online presence from Greg to Gina. While I continued to have seesaw-situations, each one was situational A pattern emerged. Every time I took the next step, I subconsciously rebelled against it.

And, every time, not only did I fight through the rebellion, taking the step proved beneficial. I succeeded at living as a female. I legally changed my name on May 2, 2016. I scheduled visits with surgeons. I kept going forward.

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Extra!  Extra!  Read all about it!

In 2017, I had every surgery I planned to have. If surgeries did not take so long to accomplish, I would have made my goal of being fully transitioned by my sixtieth birthday. After I hit sixty, the lone thing I had to do was my face surgery and breast implants. At least, I can say that I got them done during the year that I turned sixty. Yeah, I’ll go with that, reaching my fudged goal.

Since my final surgery, I have been on a high. It is a combination thing. I am both tremendously happy with the surgery and riding the wave of being done. If I had a pizza for every time I have verbally proclaimed a huge, smile-accompanied “Whew!”—well, I’d be continually sauced.

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I’ll take four of these and leave the “33% more!!!”

The other thing I find myself saying is, “I am a completely transitioned transsexual.” This boggles my mind. From my middle-school years, when I first learned about transsexuals and was so intrigued by them, to the many years that my regular lament was, “All I want in life is to be a girl,” of all of the daydreams I had where I could not ponder actually transitioning, so foreign to my life was that notion.

And now here I am. I am one of them—a male who is a fully transitioned trans woman.

If I had been selected in high school to be part of some crazy send-a-teenager-to-the-moon program of NASA, and had been the youngest person to lope the lunar landscape, it would not have been any wilder in my imagination than the ground on which I am now walking.

It turns out the man in the moon is transgender.

dolunay

Ain’t that cheesy?

Trans Ed 101: sex and gender

In the news: Kim Kardashian accidently revealed the gender of her baby on Ellen. My reaction: Um, nope; she didn’t.

Speaking of a Kardashian, I am reminded of Caitlyn Jenner, of whom it’s often been questioned whether she’s had gender reassignment surgery. The answer is “no,” even without asking her. The reason? No one has ever had gender reassignment surgery, because it doesn’t exist.

On my driver’s license, I had my gender marker changed from male to female. Or, wait—I had my sex marker changed. Ugh. Which is it?

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Sex and gender are not the same thing. To help keep it straight, it is bluntly said that sex is what is between your legs and gender is what’s between your ears. More scientifically speaking, sex is biological and gender is experienced. Or, to put it yet another way, sex is objective—I can identify my sex organs with my eyes—and gender is subjective—by simply looking at another person, I can’t tell whether this one or that identifies as female or male or questioning/queer.

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In this age of our finally, openly talking about transgender issues, it is bewildering so often to hear sex and gender being used interchangeably, as if they mean the same thing. Turning my bewilderment to downright consternation is that even transgender folks are heard confusing the two.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I begin with this thing which, along with baby bump selfies, has become popular: the gender reveal.

The doctor moves the sonogram wand over the pregnant woman’s belly, gets a good view of the fetus, and then asks, “Do you want to know the baby’s sex?”

Catch that: the baby’s sex. The doctor sees the genitals of the fetus and feels confident making a pronouncement. Assuming the genitals do not appear ambiguous, one of two determinations is made: boy or girl—the baby’s sex.

Sex, not gender. The sonogram wand cannot read the baby’s mind, to determine her or his or their gender.

Somehow, identifying the baby’s sex has gotten translated to revealing the baby’s gender. Despite our new awareness of all things sex and gender, I should not be surprise; almost everyone uses “jealous” when they mean “envious.” We simply don’t pay enough attention to words.

[In case you’re curious, and I hope you are, think of jealousy and envy this way: when you are jealous of someone, you don’t want her to have what she has, and when you are envious you want what she has. Jealousy: “I wish that guy were my boyfriend, not Monica’s.” Envy: “I wish I had as nice a boyfriend as Monica’s.”]

Trans folks have preferred to get away from the use of the word “sex,” because it can cause hearers to think that this is about sex, or the act of having sex, and having sex is not what we want heard. So, the original word, “transsexual,” has largely fallen out of favor and replaced with “transgender.”

This takes me to the term “gender reassignment surgery.” The original term for the surgical alteration of one’s genitals was “sex reassignment surgery.” With the new preference for using “transgender” over “transsexual,” it seems that folks simply replaced “sex” with “gender” for the term for this surgery. Not so fast.

The gender of a person is not being changed. To alter one’s gender would mean to do brain surgery, to perform a self-identity-altering procedure. Such an operation does not exist. If it had, I might have opted for it, so that I could have successfully lived as a cisgender male, “cisgender” referring to one whose sex and gender identity match.

Since “sex” is no longer preferred for this surgery, how might we replace it with “gender”? It’s easy enough and is done by those who are paying attention. Many now call it “gender confirmation (or confirming) surgery,” while others, such as the University of Michigan’s hospital, use “gender affirmation (or affirming) surgery.”

I like the sound of “affirming,” but I refrain from typing the term as an acronym, as U of M does: GAS. Believe you me, having this surgery was not a gas! [Note to those of a younger generation regarding having a gas: https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/having+a+gas ]

Onto the driver’s license, and the question on so many forms. Are we being asked our sex or gender? Historically, the request was: “Sex: Male___ Female___.” Nowadays, forms might ask your sex, and they might ask your gender. There seems to be no rhyme or reason.

Maybe, they should ask both.

When I was in the early stages of transitioning, months before I had my name and, ahem, gender marker legally changed, and well over a year before my GAS (see? It looks weird), I was filling out a form at my dentist. Asked for my sex, I indecisively circled “male” and moved on. I returned to it and circled “female.” I then made a line joining the two and wrote “transgender.”

Some places are getting away from asking one to indicate sex/gender, while other places are offering a number of options, and still others simply present a __________ and let the person decide how to indicate this personal designation. Facebook tries to offer every imaginable option, now with up to seventy-one gender—um, sex—well, which is it?—opportunities for a person’s self-identity, including “asexual,” “intersex man,” “gender neutral,” “male to female transsexual woman” and—catch the difference!—“male to female transgender woman.”

While folks are busy making their “gender” reveals, others are saying that babies are assigned a sex at birth. No longer do we say of a trans woman, “She was born a male,” but, “She was assigned male at birth.” It makes sense. Naturally, I was assigned male; I had a penis. No one could know that I would have a gender identity issue and one day be transgender.

The following cartoon humorously takes this entire issue to its ludicrous conclusion. Well, wait; for we who experience the tremendously challenging and difficult disassociation of sex and gender, it’s not funny at all.

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No, I’m not jealous of you cisgender folks but, I gotta be honest, I am envious.

All of this talk has not touched on sexual orientation.  Instead of making this a long and ponderous post, the following diagram nicely and succinctly encompasses the entire conversation.  Memorize this, and you will have it!

1600-Genderbread-Person

 

 

Trans Ed 101: transsexual

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Have you noticed that this word, “transsexual,” is no longer used in regular conversation about, um, transsexuals, er, I mean, transgender folks?

If you’ve not noticed, perhaps it’s for the same reason I couldn’t figure out what was missing from my buddy’s face after he’d shaved his mustache. It’s hard to detect what isn’t there. While my friend wasn’t wearing the mustache for a century, believe it or not the modern age of trans is coming up on being one hundred years old.

Soon after surgery was introduced in Germany, in the early 1920s, to conform the male genitals to those of a female, “transsexualism” was coined, which means “to go across from one sex to the other.” It took until nearly 1950 for the word to be translated from German to English. Dr. Harry Benjamin, who is essentially the USA’s father of all things transsexual, popularized the term in his 1966 book on the topic.

Also in the mid ‘60s, “transgender” was created by John Oliven. By the 1990s, “transgender” became the umbrella term for the entire spectrum of people who are trans, with “transsexual” a specific subset. (All historical information gathered from the Wikipedia page, “Transsexual.”)

Nowadays, though “transsexual” and “transgender” are true synonyms, one rarely hears “transsexual.” Besides being reduced to a subset of transgender folks, it also has been largely corrupted, often used to speak unfavorably about “trannies” and “she males,” and others in what are viewed as less than savory occupations, or about whom the speaker is intentionally degrading. When the media want to sensationalize a headline, they will use the older term, as in “Big star caught with transsexual hooker!”

In my reading of scholarly books on the topic, I have found “transsexual” still to be used in an honorable way, to be a term for those transgender persons who have undergone a surgical change to their genitals, the procedure which I have always referred to by its old name, sex reassignment surgery (SRS), which is more often now called gender confirmation (or affirmation) surgery (GCS/GAS) and, even more recently and picking up steam, simply as bottom surgery, which allows one to speak of the variety of possibilities of surgery for both genetic males and females.

There is one thing that I like better about “transsexual” over “transgender,” and it is that it does not need a qualifying word to accompany it. One may speak of a transsexual, but not of a transgender. I can say that I am a transsexual, but to use the other term means I have to add a word: I am a transgender woman.

Transgenderal will never be a word.

Some simply add an “s,” referring to transgenders. If you want to raise the dander of a trans person, go ahead and do this. Um, please, don’t. Besides, I have noticed that the predominance of those who call us transgenders are those who disrespect us.

I like specificity in words. The more specific one is, the better understood with the fewest words. Thus, I hope an honorable usage of “transsexual” does not completely fall out of favor. Indeed, now that I have had SRS, I identify as a transgender person who is a transsexual.

Ultimately, one term is not inherently better than the other. The “sex” of “transsexual” points to the sex characteristics regarding the mismatch of brain and body, while the “gender” of “transgender” focuses on the experienced identity of the individual. It is my opinion that “gender” is winning over “sex” because how one identifies speaks for us better, referring to how we see the entirety of our lives.

“Sex” and “sexual” immediately takes one’s mind to one’s genitals, and being trans is tremendously more than about one’s genitals. For many, being trans has nothing at all to do with the genitals.

Even more, being trans has nothing to do with having genital surgery, as with when the word was originated.  For many reasons—no interest or need to have surgery, or it’s not economically feasible—many trans folks never have surgery, and consider themselves fully transitioned.

As much as “transgender” came to replace “transsexual,” the simple “trans”—removing “gender”—is taking over for both of the full terms. For example, I am a trans woman.

Because to be trans is way more than simply male or female, woman or man, in our trans group meetings we have come to refer to those who are “trans feminine,” “trans masculine,” and “non-binary.”

“Non-binary,” you ask? Indeed, a fairly new term, and one which has made great headway toward regular usage. To learn more about that, stay tuned to more Trans Ed 101 posts.

A sex change-of-heart

I’m back to being who God wanted me to be. I’ve been reading my Bible every day, and all I could hear was God saying, ‘Well, you really need to go back to who I made you.’ I was a phony. I was a fraud. I always thought I needed to be important. I thought, ‘I’m going to be somebody, someday. I want to be famous, you know.’ Now, I do want to be famous; I want to be famous for God. Please, listen to this because without the Lord you have nothing. He’s the vine and we’re the branches. Without Him we can do nothing. I was too embarrassed. But, you have to stop. You have to stop and get help. This is the worst thing I think that anybody could do, is get involved in the sex industry or business. It destroyed me, but praise God I’m set free now.

Those words do not belong to me, but to the man in this video:

The comment introducing the video reads: “Transgender realizes he made a mistake. Here is his message to the world.” The video is 2:59 in length. I encourage you to watch it, but my comments will make sense if you do not. I present seven quotes from the video, which I pledge to keep in the context of his speech.

“I’m back to being who God wanted me to be.”

I truly hope he is correct, that the Lord wanted him to de-transition. I hope he is not merely putting up a good front while continuing to struggle.

I was told by many whom God wanted me to be. I regularly asked them to tell me how I am supposed to know whom God wanted me to be. If He so badly wanted me to live as a male, why was He silent to my pleas? He promises to answer our prayers when we pray according to His will, yet my cries for help, for mercy, for the strength to remain male, to stop hating myself, went unanswered. If it were His will, then why didn’t He help me so it would happen?

In that silence, I never prayed, “Well, it looks like you want me to transition. Thank you!” Rather, every step of the way, I have continually begged Him, “What do you want from me? I am your servant; please use me according to your good and gracious will.” And here I am, one step from being fully transitioned.

I did not decide to be this way. I did not choose to be transgender. I have a real, physical intersex condition. I was not created male. I was not created female. I was created a vexing combination of both. As with any person dealing with a chronic situation, I would gladly dispose of it. Since I cannot, I am doing my best with it.

“I’ve been reading my Bible every day, and all could hear was God saying, ‘Well, you really need to go back to who I made you.”

I also read my Bible every day. It is the first thing I do every morning—well, after I get the coffee going. Reading God’s Word and tying it with my ongoing, fervent prayers, I constantly ask Him to show me His good and gracious will and then help me to follow it. I often pray Psalm 25:5: “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all day long.”

“I was a phony. I was a fraud.”

I have read of others, who de-transitioned, who report having felt like a fraud. I can report that there have been zero occasions when I felt like I was a phony, never a moment that I have felt that I am a fraud by living as a female. While I would never call Greg a phony or fraud, I, Gina, finally enjoy peace of mind, the lifelong fire in my brain having been doused. Indeed, I feel so fully female that I have to work to remember how I felt all my life, struggling with my gender identity.

“I always thought I needed to be important. I thought, ‘I’m going to be somebody, someday. I want to be famous, you know.’”

Whenever I listen to a person who has de-transitioned, I pay close attention. Walt Heyer is a vocal former transsexual and the subject of a blog post, and the key reason he did not find peace in transitioning is because he was misdiagnosed.
https://eilerspizza.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/sex-change-regret/

No matter a person’s situation, a correct diagnosis is vital lest improper treatment be prescribed. My own mother was once diagnosed with cancer. After an operation, her surgeon informed her that she did not have cancer. It was diverticulitis. Totally not life-threatening. Totally different treatment. As with anything, it is important to determine the cause of gender dysphoria.

The unnamed person of this video—and, because he is unnamed, and I cannot find a whit of information about him, makes me wonder if he is genuine—does not supply a lot of information about himself or what led to his diagnosis, but one wonders about this desire to be famous. Many people have done a lot of extreme things in their desire to be famous. That he was able to de-transition is serious grounds for questioning whether his motivation for transitioning had been bona fide.

“Now, I do want to be famous; I want to be famous for God.”

One continues to be concerned about this desire to be famous. Even if it’s for God.

“Please, listen to this because without the Lord you have nothing. He’s the vine and we’re the branches. Without Him we can do nothing.”

Agreed. Indeed, I have written, and will continue to write similar things, because Jesus Christ is everything and I am nothing without Him.

“I was too embarrassed. But, you have to stop. You have to stop and get help. This is the worst thing I think that anybody could do, is get involved in the sex industry or business. It destroyed me, but praise God I’m set free now.”

He doesn’t explain “too embarrassed,” but the sense is that he was too embarrassed to admit he had made a mistake by transitioning.

Though I am now finding success in transitioning, I did not get to this without trying to stop dozens of times. Most of the stops were small ones as I changed my mind every few days during 2013 and 2014, working so hard to remain male.

Three times, I stopped taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Each time I stopped, the anguish returned worse than each previous time. This helped me grasp the physical nature of my condition, the reason I had gender dysphoria, because my endocrine system had been disrupted when I was in the womb. The HRT proved it to me. It was not a decision to feel better or to feel worse; I felt better on HRT and I crashed when I went off it. I now have been on it for fifteen consecutive months and I no longer have gender dysphoria.

Now, for his revelation. He had been in the sex industry? I am very curious what this man did—what the transsexual woman did—in the sex industry. I certainly agree that being involved in the sex industry is a dangerous thing, a destructive thing. I praise God with him that he is set free from that.

Whoever made this video chose a poor subject. My ultimate assessment is that this is nothing more than a propaganda piece. The three minutes were spent in a poorly constructed argument, with a curious conclusion.

Finally, about the innocent people like the person who sent this to me, who are watching these videos, who are being tricked into believing they are watching something genuine, something worthwhile, something both to educate them and to enlighten me. I can only continue to demonstrate where things are being explained well and where they are exploitative.

People are being fed a lot of misinformation. That is why I will not sit quietly when folks send me things like this video.