Transsexualism: Male to Female
I knew relatively little about this topic when I began to plan this article. My only exposure had been some reading on Gender Identity Dysphoria (the diagnostic term) and contact with three MTF (shorthand for male to female) persons locally who were helpful in sharing their stories and listing local resources. Growing up I had heard of the “famous” MTF persons about whom movies were made but up until not that many years ago this was still an underground topic. Not anymore, at least as far as information and legislation is concerned. The search engine, Google.com has now 81 pages of related topics from the scientific to the practical as well as personal stories. The October 20, 2002 edition of the Buffalo News had a feature story on a Rochester and a Buffalo MTF Trans written in a sensitive, non-exploitive way. More importantly, this exposure brings the topic out of the shadows, puts real names and faces on the issue and helps relieve two of the enduring issues for Trans persons, the feeling of total isolation and misunderstanding.
Given the availability of information I will focus in a general way on the local scene and the shared experience of the individuals I spoke to regarding this article. I am intentionally leaving out the names and contact information of local health care professionals and others who have been identified as helpful during the transition process. At this point be assured that services are available related to the emotional, hormonal, body hair, voice and beauty needs of Transsexual individuals. If you are at a point were you wish to talk with someone the Endocrinology Department at Children’s Hospital might be a good starting point. Surgery, if it is to occur, is an issue that is much later in the process and so not a part of this article. Write this site if you are at a point where you are ready for more specific support services contact information. Those I spoke with put beginning awareness of a “difference” at around age 7 or 8 years when their interior experience (feelings and interests) did not match up with their external appearance of being male. This is different than transvestitism where the male still feels male and does not want to physically become female. The transition process is long, difficult, painful physically and emotionally and is expensive and so usually is not undertaken until a person is independent. As a teen wondering about these issues for yourself there are some important initial steps you can take to begin to connect yourself to information and support:
1. The Trans Page on this website.
2. Attend the monthly GLYS Trans Group (see claendar for day and time), facilitated by Kay Patterson and Patti Jones of Spectrum Transgender Group, this can be a small discussion for youth who ID as trans,or a general discussion to increase the awareness and compassion on GLYS’non-trans youth.
3. Contact Spectrum Transgender Group (contact info on our Trans Page)
4. The Innternet. As noted above, Google. com has many pages of sites on this topic. If you are careful to not always hold everything you read as fact you will find a wealth of information including many stories of personal journeys.
5. Books. She’s Not There and Normal (non-fiction) as well as as Transister Radio (fiction) can be obtained at the GLYS Drop-in Center oor mailed to you. Other books include: True Selves. Understanding Transsexualism – For Families, Friends, Coworkers and Helping Professionals by Mildred Brown & Chloe Rounsley; Transsexuals, Candid Answers to Private Questions, by Gerald Ramsey, Ph.D.
6. Talk to an experienced health care professional.
7. Understand and accept that the process is a long one that begins with your own understanding and acceptance.
Next month I will continue on this topic focusing on the FTM (female to male) experience. Let me know if you have information for this article and remember to write this site if you have questions on this or any other topic.