keep the faith
BEING AND TRANSSEXUALITY
& Opinion would like to especially thank Robyn Smith, who
is Regional Organizer for the Beaumont
Society UK, a national charity providing support for
transgendered people in the UK.,for her editorial input]. Ed.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * *
know the day destroys the night,
Night divides the day;
Tried to run. Tried to hide
Break on thru to the other side.
was a sultry summer evening. Faith had snuggled into a form
fitting blouse that complimented her considerable cleavage,
and breezy shorts that fluttered about her long and shapely
legs. This Faith is all woman, I thought to myself as she tossed
back her shoulder length hair. To my surprise, I wasn’t
in the least put off knowing that a fully functioning penis
was nestled between her legs.
the next hour, we spoke about her life and transsexuality.
& OPINION: Let’s begin with definitions. What is the
difference between shemale, transsexual and transgendered?
First of all, shemale is a derogatory term; it refers to a man
who exhibits the sexual organs of both sexes: for example female
breasts and male genitals. We don’t like the term because
we are women.
is a generic coverall term to include all transgendered people
both male and female such as transvestites, cross dressers and
of course transsexuals both male-to-female and female-to-male.
A transsexual is someone whose gender identity is not consistent
with his/her biology. He or she is said to be suffering from
“gender identity disorder” or “gender dysphoria.”
The term transgender doesn’t confer special status to
those who have undergone surgery to correct their gender.
is a mixing up of an understanding between sex and gender. One's
sexuality is separate and distinct from gender. For example,
gay men or lesbian women are inherently happy with their gender
and for the most part don't want to dress in the clothes of
the opposite sex. Transgender people are rarely gay or lesbian,
but identify as heterosexual in their original gender. However,
as with every sector of the community there are gay and lesbian
trans people but at no higher a percentage than the rest of
& OPINION: A homosexual is attracted to men, a transsexual
is attracted to men, what’s the difference?
I’m a transsexual and I am not attracted to gay men, who
are attracted to each other. Gay men are not attracted to me
because I’m a woman. I regard myself as a women who is
attracted to men. Gay men regard themselves as men attracted
& OPINION: Let’s go back to when you were young. When
did you first recognize you were different?
I would say when I was about five or six, when other kids accused
me of being a girl. At that point, my life changed dramatically
and I had to learn at a very early age how to manage my sensitivity
(you could say stay afloat) and cope with prejudice. Since most
of us have to run those gauntlets, most of the transsexuals
I know tend to be exceptionally intelligent; we have to grow
up quickly, we heave to learn to deal with adversity and make
very difficult decisions at a very young age. By the time I
reached 15, I clearly understood that I was a women inside,
which is why I began my transition at that early age.
& OPINION: What do you mean by transition?
Taking hormones, estrogen and testosterone blockers. But it’s
actually much more complicated than that. The term transition
refers to the time required to achieve the end of the transgendered
journey. Before you can legally change your name, you need time
to live, work and socialize in your new gender role to prove
you can handle the massive changes and challenges involved in
& OPINION: Did your family agree with your decision to transition?
Yes, I was one of the lucky ones. But of course they were worried
for there are risks involved. It’s not a good idea to
take testosterone blockers long term if you don’t have
your testicles removed. You risk kidney problems and being on
dialysis for the rest of your life. Heart problems are even
more common. But once the testes have been removed, the estrogen
can kick in at full strength and the transition can begin in
earnest, meaning the skin becomes softer and more feminine.
But the drugs only reduce muscle mass, not the bone structure,
and they do nothing to reduce hair growth, especially the beard,
which means you have to go for either laser treatment or electrolysis.
younger you begin the transition the better. Thanks to advances
in modern medicine we can much more easily assume our feminine
identity than transsexuals 30 or 40 years ago. We also age much
more gracefully than the older transsexuals who did not have
access to the latest medical developments.
& OPINION: How much does transition typically cost?
Up to 80,000 dollars which covers years of hormone treatment,
major and minor surgeries, such as having the Adam’s apple
removed, and cosmetic surgery if necessary.
& OPINION: Why do transsexuals want to keep their penises?
They don’t. Most transsexuals want to have their male/female
genitalia removed/added to. But there are still quite a few
who choose to keep their original genitals out of choice, they
are no less transsexual, though. And of course tops who want
to penetrate have to keep their penises. Since I’m a bottom
I want to be penetrated vaginally, which is why I am going to
have my penis removed.
& OPINION: Is your anal pleasure prostrate based, which
is the case for gays, or has estrogen altered, sensitized the
It’s still prostate based.
& OPINION: Doesn’t estrogen prevent you from having
In general, the drugs greatly reduce the male sex drive, and
in some cases you end up becoming a chemically induced eunuch.
But that hasn’t been my experience. The difference is
that my erection is estrogen based, which means I’m slower
to arouse but I can maintain the orgasmic state for minutes
instead of ten seconds. So despite having a penis, my sexuality
is 100% feminine in its expression.
& OPINION: You mentioned that you are attracted to straights
only and not gays. Is it reasonable for you to expect someone
like me, who let’s say finds you very attractive, both
physically and personally, to be able to deal with your penis?
Most of us have seen the movie The Crying Game which
deals with that inevitability. Some men can, others can’t.
It’s not really my problem, but of course once my penis
is removed it will open up the field considerably. A minority
of men are specifically attracted to transsexuals; they find
us exotic, more capable and experienced. If I may be blunt,
these men are attracted to us because they feel they are getting
more physical and psychological bang for their buck.
& OPINION: If I’m reluctant to deal with your penis,
is this, in your opinion, consequent to my conditioning and
the strict gender roles males are exposed to at an early age?
I would answer yes to that. If you fall in love with a transsexual,
you should be able to adjust sexually, much like someone who
is initially afraid of the water who, with practice and experience,
eventually gets used to it and even learns to enjoy it. Many
straights learn to enjoy gay sex in prisons, don’t they?
& OPINION: Do you ever get angry at Nature for dealing you
such a strange hand?
Everyone goes through that phase; you can’t expect a 12-year-old
to understand what’s really happening to him or her physically
and psychologically, but over time and in retrospect, you come
to realize that the hand you’ve been dealt is an opportunity
to evolve philosophically. I have assumed full responsibility
for my life, I have literally constructed myself, and I have
learned to find meaning in both the small and large aspects
of life, and that includes finding happiness. I’m certain
that I wouldn’t be as philosophically evolved as I am
presently had I been born ‘normal.’ So in answer
to your question, I have to be grateful for being born transsexual
because it has allowed me to grow my identity and find meaning
and happiness in my own skin.
& OPINION: Are you a close knit community?
Not at all. There are of course vanity issues – we all
want to look as feminine as possible -- but beyond that, I’m
attracted to people with whom I share a similar background.
I have maybe five or six close transsexual friends; we are all
exceptionally intelligent and educated and we come from economically
privileged backgrounds. Teachers hang out with teachers, lawyers
with lawyers; we’re no different.
& OPINION: Is there prejudice in the workplace?
Not in the typical sense. We have come a long ways in the past
25 years. Most employers publically go on record as saying that
they have no problems hiring transsexuals, but in practice,
it doesn’t happen because they fear losing clients and
they don’t want to risk intra-office conflict. So unless
we are proprietors, or professionals (lawyers, doctors), finding
work is very problematic, which is why I suspect a much higher
percentage of transsexuals work in the sex trade. We incur exceptional
medical expenses throughout our lives, and consequently, we
quickly learn to become very serious business people. We have
to look after ourselves long term, which means learning to save
money and living healthy, drug-free life styles, and we find
it more difficult to find permanent partners – supportive
& OPINION: Are transsexuals more vulnerable to drug abuse
than others groups?
I really don’t know. In my particular situation and milieu
I would say almost all of us do drugs, but we know that people
from all walks of life do drugs
& OPINION: Do you find it degrading having to work part
time as an escort?
First of all, I am not an escort, I am a courtesan, which means
I am equal to my client, meaning I participate in his thoughts,
his decisions, his problems, his concerns and whatever else
preoccupies him in his life. In a typical six hour session,
four of those hours are spent talking like you and I are talking.
I enjoy my work because I enjoy getting to meet and getting
to know men and I of course enjoy having sex. But if I were
offered a regular job that I found interesting, I would certainly
& OPINION: Have you ever been in a long term relationship?
I lived with someone for six years.
& OPINION: We’re you accepted as a normal couple?
For the most part, yes. Most people don’t even notice
and of those that do, most don’t even care.
& OPINION: Are you legally considered a woman?
No, which is ridiculous when you think of it, that is when you
look at me. If I were to walk the streets topless, I would get
arrested for indecent exposure. But since I’m legally
considered a man because I have a penis, I can’t be arrested.
To bring attention to this ludicrous law, some of us girls are
going to organize a topless march and try to get ourselves arrested.
& OPINION: Why haven’t you had your penis removed?
A whole lot of bureaucracy and red tape. And also, the way the
system is set up we can’t choose the surgeon. The province
picks the surgeon, which leaves us at the mercy of his skill
or lack of it. In Quebec we are fortunate to have Dr. Pierre
Brassard, whose vagina constructions are quite good, but are
not perfect. I’ve read that in the UK there are many fine
surgeons who undertake gender reassignment operations, but there
is also a lousy one who should be avoided. I’ve seen photos
of some of his vaginas and they look like mail boxes.
& OPINION: Are you afraid of aging?
I have seen the effects of aging on the older generation of
transsexuals who have not had access to advances in medicine,
those who began their transition late in life, and I get shudders
looking at them. I fully expect to age much more gracefully.
& OPINION: At this stage of your life, what do you want
I want to have a vagina, I want to be in a permanent relationship
with someone I love and who loves me. I want to be a spokeswoman
for the cause of transsexualism.
& OPINION: Is there a place or culture that is more receptive
Definitely Thailand, and the Orient in general.
& OPINION: Is there a reason for this?
Oriental males tend to be more feminine than their western counterparts:
their features are more delicate, they don’t have facial
or body hair, they aren’t as tall, which makes the transition
easier and more acceptable. Also, as a percentage of the population,
there are many more transsexuals in the Orient than in the West
which makes them a more recognizable social and political force.
& OPINION: As it concerns transphobia and homophobia, is
it easier to be transsexual than homosexual?
I can’t answer that: I think it depends on your look,
your milieu, living in a big city as opposed to a small town.
There are many many factors. That said, there seems to be evidence
that it’s easier to be a lesbian than a homosexual, which
might mean it’s easier to be a transsexual than a homosexual.
& OPINION: Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Someone without a name: a transsexual who took me under her
wing when I was very young and afraid.
& OPINION: Who do you most admire in the world?
I admire, as a group, transsexuals, who have dared to live the
courage of their convictions.
& OPINION: What book has influenced you the most?
& OPINION: If you could meet one person from either the
past or present, who would that be?
I would like to meet the great religious leaders from the past
and try to open their minds and beg them to stop playing God
with God’s creatures.
& OPINION: So you believe in God?
Absolutely. A God that is responsible for all of creation and
that includes transsexuals -- we are a part of His plan and
the time has come for the rest of humanity to come to terms
with that and make peace with God’s work.