Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 11, No. 1, 2012
  Current Issue  
  Back Issues  
Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Nancy Snipper
Farzana Hassan
Samuel Burd
Andrée Lafontaine
Sylvain Richard
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Diane Gordon
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Chantal Levesque Denis Beaumont Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Contributors
  Noam Chomsky
Mark Kingwell
Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somerville
Mona Eltahawy
Michael Moore
Julius Grey
Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Ernesto Zedillo
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

keep the faith



[Arts & 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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

You know the day destroys the night,
Night divides the day;
Tried to run. Tried to hide
Break on thru to the other side.
The Doors


It 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.

For the next hour, we spoke about her life and transsexuality.

ARTS & OPINION: Let’s begin with definitions. What is the difference between shemale, transsexual and transgendered?

FAITH: 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.

Transgendered 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.

Left photo batting average = 327.  Right photo BA = 027There 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 the population.

ARTS & OPINION: A homosexual is attracted to men, a transsexual is attracted to men, what’s the difference?

FAITH: 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 to men.

ARTS & OPINION: Let’s go back to when you were young. When did you first recognize you were different?

FAITH: 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.

ARTS & OPINION: What do you mean by transition?

FAITH: 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 changing gender.

ARTS & OPINION: Did your family agree with your decision to transition?

FAITH: 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.

The 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.

ARTS & OPINION: How much does transition typically cost?

FAITH: 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.

ARTS & OPINION: Why do transsexuals want to keep their penises?

FAITH: 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.

ARTS & OPINION: Is your anal pleasure prostrate based, which is the case for gays, or has estrogen altered, sensitized the area?

FAITH: It’s still prostate based.

ARTS & OPINION: Doesn’t estrogen prevent you from having an erection?

FAITH: 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.

ARTS & 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?

FAITH: 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.

ARTS & 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?

FAITH: 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?

ARTS & OPINION: Do you ever get angry at Nature for dealing you such a strange hand?

FAITH: 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.

ARTS & OPINION: Are you a close knit community?

FAITH: 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.

ARTS & OPINION: Is there prejudice in the workplace?

FAITH: 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 men.

ARTS & OPINION: Are transsexuals more vulnerable to drug abuse than others groups?

FAITH: 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

ARTS & OPINION: Do you find it degrading having to work part time as an escort?

FAITH: 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 accept it.

ARTS & OPINION: Have you ever been in a long term relationship?

FAITH: I lived with someone for six years.

ARTS & OPINION: We’re you accepted as a normal couple?

FAITH: For the most part, yes. Most people don’t even notice and of those that do, most don’t even care.

ARTS & OPINION: Are you legally considered a woman?

FAITH: 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.

ARTS & OPINION: Why haven’t you had your penis removed?

FAITH: 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.

ARTS & OPINION: Are you afraid of aging?

FAITH: 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.

ARTS & OPINION: At this stage of your life, what do you want of life?

FAITH: 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.

ARTS & OPINION: Is there a place or culture that is more receptive to transsexuals?

FAITH: Definitely Thailand, and the Orient in general.

ARTS & OPINION: Is there a reason for this?

FAITH: 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.

ARTS & OPINION: As it concerns transphobia and homophobia, is it easier to be transsexual than homosexual?

FAITH: 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.

ARTS & OPINION: Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

FAITH: Someone without a name: a transsexual who took me under her wing when I was very young and afraid.

ARTS & OPINION: Who do you most admire in the world?

FAITH: I admire, as a group, transsexuals, who have dared to live the courage of their convictions.

ARTS & OPINION: What book has influenced you the most?

FAITH: The Prophet

ARTS & OPINION: If you could meet one person from either the past or present, who would that be?

FAITH: 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.

ARTS & OPINION: So you believe in God?

FAITH: 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.



Email Address
(not required)

Some people don't like the term transgendered and use transgender or simply trans instead.
Transgendered implies something happened to people, which is not the case. People always were this way.
There is a biological explanation to being tansgender, to do with development before birth. It's nothing that is contagious or happened to people later imo.
I read 2/3 of article then stopped. Sorry. Totally turned off. As for the transforming a vagina into a penis . . . beyond comment.
Interviewee seems a bit conceited. And they said intelligence was supposed to be attractive.


BENEFIT CONCERT FOR HAITI, SALLE GESU, JAN. 20TH (Papa Groove, Ariane Moffatt, Bïa, Kodiak, Echo Kalypso, Doriane Fabrig (ex-Dobacaracol), Claude Lamothe, Ian Kelly, Pépé: Box-office 514.861.4036 = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting, no down time/top security, exceptional prices
Film Ratings Page of Sylvain Richard, film critic at Arts & Opinion - Montreal
CINEMANIA(Montreal) - festival de films francophone 1-11 novembre, Cinema Imperial info@514-878-0082: featuring Bernard Tavernier
2011 Festival Nouveau Cinema de Montreal, Oct. 12-23st, (514) 844-2172
Montreal World Film Festival
Montreal Guitar Show July 2-4th (Sylvain Luc etc.). border=
Montreal Jazz Festival
CD Dignity by John Lavery available by e-mail: - 10$ + 3$ shipping.
The Centre de répit Philou is a private not-for-profit, charitable organization that welcomes physically disabled children
Listing + Ratings of films from festivals, art houses, indie
Photo by David Lieber:
Canadian Tire Repair Scam [2211 boul Roland-Therrien, Longueuil] = documents-proofs
Available Ad Space
Valid HTML 4.01!
Privacy Statement Contact Info
Copyright 2002 Robert J. Lewis