Understanding, Part 5
(Note: this entry turned out to be about twice as long as is proper for this speace, but given the nature of the information I am loath to split it. Do know that this is an exception, and not the “new normal.”)
As promised last time, let’s take a look at the practical differences between the road faced by your loved one (or perhaps yourself?) if you are transsexual as opposed to being a crossdresser. It is these that leads to the turn of phrase “just a crossdresser.” It’s not that the CD is a lesser sort of person, merely that the challenges before them are much less daunting.
This discussion is informative to you in understanding what you need to be prepared for if you stand by the person who’s declared their transgender situation to you. It also serves to completely destroy the insane contention that transsexuals “choose” to be as they are. No one, even the insane, would choose to burden themselves with this situation if they had any choice. In fact, there are (at least) two pieces of advice every person hears if they ask “should I transition?”
1. If you can possibly find peace doing anything else, don’t.” and
2. “Be prepared to lose everything you know and love.”
Why so negative? Well, let’s consider the issues that will be faced and you will see. But first, a caveat: IF the MtF transsexual is fortunate enough to transition early, specifically under the age of 25 (and the further under the more this is true), some of these do not apply. Someday I’ll do an entry on why it is so very important to give the young trans person the opportunity to transition while young. You may think of these as the issues faced by the transitioner who has accepted the need to do so in their thirties, forties or later.
That person, who chooses to transition at, shall we say by way of example, 40 can expect to have to deal with the following:
1. Hair. Facial hair will be present in every case and need many hours of painful and expensive laser or electrolysis to remove. Body hair will vary, some are more fortunate than others, and for some hormones will be helpful but others will need yet more laser and/or electrolysis to remove unwanted hair. Then theirs the hair in the genital region, if the person is a candidate for SRS. You think electrolysis on the scrotum is an inviting prospect? Then there’s scalp hair. If you are one of the unfortunate ones with male pattern baldness or an obviously receding hairline, that too must be addressed with expensive and potentially painful remedies, unless one wants to spend the rest of their days in wigs.
2. Hormones. While some, due to economic or other circumstances are forced into a “do it yourself” (DIY) situation, which entails notable life-threatening health risks, proper HRT as recommended in the Standards of Care involves (a) several costly sesions with a gender therapist, who, hopefully, will condescend to write a recommendation; (b) regular costly visits to an MD, if one who treats trans people can be located in your area, who will be able to actually write the prescription (and pray he has any idea what he’s doing in this area of expertise); (c) regular costly blood tests in order to check that the proper hormone levels are achieved and maintained. Usually none of it covered by any sort of insurance, and all of it predicated on the notion that you do not have a pre-existing health condition which counter-indicates such treatment. If you do, the MD will simply refuse to write it. If you want them, you go underground and DIY and hope and pray your health survives it.
3. Surgery. This ranges from facial feminization surgery, to breast augmentation, to hair implants or scalp advancement, to tracheal shaves, to sex reassignment surgery (none by different names) – all of them costly and some prohibitively so. SRS, for instance, if done competently can’t be had for less than $15k, and it’s not hard to spend twice that. What do you do if that’s a year’s income for you? What do you do if you start your transition at 50 and need 10 years to save enough for that operation, let alone pay for the rest? And I need not point out the pain and risk involved in any major surgery.
4. Legalities. There’s a hundred legal hoops one needs to jump through, and that’s apart from the real possibility of divorce. Name changes only start with the judges order (and that doesn’t come free) – you have to go to every entity with whom you have a legal relationship and require them to change it. That alone doesn’t change your legal gender either, you have to go through a whole other process to get that done, where it CAN be done. It often becomes a huge amount of hassle and headache and sometimes heartache too.
5. Personal cost. In the majority of cases, you are going to lose your job and likely your career. You are going to find that you are facing this very painful and expensive process with no income, or a much lesser one than your qualifications deserve. And, of course, a corresponding loss of insurance. You will likely lose most, if not all, of the folks you had called friends. You will often be disowned by many, if not all, of those you called “loved ones.” Parents reject their child, children reject their parent, spouses reject and even become implacable enemies of those they once vowed to love, siblings cut you out of their lives without mercy. All because you, in their view, “chose” to be transsexual. The stories are legion of the well respected family man and professional leader who’s whole world fell apart because of the rejection of those in their life. Not a few found that pain alone to hard to live with, even when they had faced and defeated every other challenge on this list. Related to this is the ongoing public-perception nonsense fueled by the canard that one can never change their sex and thus we get to screw with you over every trivial thing you try to do (like using a public restroom).
Their is more, even, than that. But it’s best not to get too deep into the weeds because I think the point is made. It’s easy to see why a person would spend as many years as possibly trying very hard to be “just” a crossdresser, or indeed, denying even to themselves the idea that they have any trans feelings at all. Many has been the transsexual who hears the criticism “why didn’t you do this years ago?” Answer truly, does any of this sound like an east\y thing for anyone to embrace and accept the challenge of being? Indeed, any person would flee and for those of us in the older generations, we did and we do. Fortunate beyond words are the young people who live in a day when they can deal with this early and live their lives at peace with themselves.
I assume there’s no need for me to belabor the contrast between all this and the path for the man who identifies himself as a CD. Other than the social stigma implicit in point #5, none of these necessarily accrue to being a CD instead of TS. That’s not to in any way belittle the dignity of the CD and the reality that they, too, deserve respect. But it’s necessary to give you a clear answer when you ask “what now?”
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