I am a well-known church musician in Chicago. Also, closetedly, I am male-to-female transsexual. I am also African-American. Being those in one often puts me in a big bowl to be stigmatized. And being very naturally passable puts me in a completely different boat.
I am writing about Dennis Rodkin's article on J. Michael Bailey's book ["Sex and Transsexuals," December 12]. I am pleased to see that Rodkin, unlike so many other people, turned to some excellent resources on transsexuality.
The truth is: as Randi Ettner said, we transsexual people are so shamed, so misunderstood, and so stigmatized. It is usually because of people like Bailey. And also because of those male-to-female transsexuals who are autogynephilic. Usually they are men who are so homosexual that they are hyperfeminine. Usually they are attracted to men who are very strong and masculine. And there are many gay men who are very "straight acting." Usually that man is NOT attracted to femininity...after all, he's gay...he likes MEN, not women. So what happens is the first of the two types of autogynephilic male-to-female transsexual. A gay man, who in order to have a relationship or sexual fulfillment for a very masculine acting, strong man, will turn himself into a woman. A term many of us true transsexual people feel is derogatory, shemale, is what many of these AG male-to-female TS call themselves. The other type is similar to what Willow Arune describes...a male-to-female TS woman who usually turns out to be a lesbian trapped in a man's body. Then there are those like me. I am 24 years old and have identified as female since I was 5. I began my transition at 22 and have no regrets about it. I never was a gay man, but a straight woman. NO...I am not attracted to myself as a straight woman. I am attracted to men as a straight woman. The theory of autogynephilia is very, very disregarded and not accepted by many of us, because, as Randi Ettner said, it makes us all seem like fetishists. I am simply a woman who has a birth defect...male genitalia...and I'm working to correct that.
Now let's talk about something that really, REALLY gets on the nerves of us male-to-female transsexual women...of all types. Men who we call "tranny chasers."
Suppose you are a guy surfing on the Internet one day, and you come across a Web site for pornography. You are nosing around, and a pop-up hits the screen. It says "shemales" or "transexuals" (note the use of one s in that term). You click on it. You become aroused at this. You begin to become more and more curious. Every time you are online, you type these things in "shemale" and "tranSexual." Or even "transvestite" or "cross-dresser" (and by the way, a transvestite is a heterosexual man who cross-dresses for sexual pleasure or self happiness; he is happy being a man and has no desire to have sex with a man: see transvestic fetishism in the DSM 4, section 302). So anyhow, you become aroused, and you start to go online into chat rooms and onto Web sites where there are people who identify as autogynephilic male-to-female transsexuals type one (the gay extra femme), shemale, or as a cross-dresser. You ask them where you "go to meet a girl like them." You go to a club...such as Crobar or Berlin. You see some there. You immediately get a generalized image that ALL MALE-TO-FEMALE TS persons are simply in it for sexual reasons. NO!!!! THAT IS NOT TRUE!!!! What one person is into is not what we are all into. So you see, for someone who is "true transsexual," like myself, we too get our share of "tranny chasers."
Male-to-female persons are always subject to "tranny chasers." Take a group of ten guys who "have an interest." Only about three of them are what we call "admirers" or metrosexual. These are guys that usually see us on the street, think we are very attractive, have no idea that we are transsexual, and will have no problem dating us, or they have dated a woman like us before and say they don't wish to date a genetic girl again. Most admirers are very adamant that they want to be with someone who WILL someday have sex (genitals) reassignment surgery to have a vagina. (And NO they don't cut it off!)
Now a chaser is usually a man who likes male genitalia. He sexually likes to do things with it. HOWEVER, he does NOT want to be with someone who is masculine, hairy, and taller than he is. Therefore he seeks a person who is a cross-dresser, some male-to-female gender variationist, or identifies as "shemale." He is usually only comfortable with someone who will NOT have genital surgery. He does not like a vagina. Often these men are married or attached to a genetic female in some way. These "chasers" see male-to-female persons only as a sexual fetish, something that gets them off. They often feel that a male-to-female person is not capable of being loved like a natural-born woman but used as a piece of a**. These men come in many shapes and sizes, from the south-side drug dealer to the corporate manager living in a Lincoln Park condo. Some of them have a generalized idea that male-to-female TS persons are very submissive and like to be dominated. Chasers are not favorites among those of us seeking a normal female life! Relationships for the true, surgery-seeking, male-to-female transsexual person are the most difficult to get into. If we pass very well we attract guys who do not or have not ever had an interest in transsexual people. We usually wind up being rejected by this person because he, like Bailey, calls us gay men, "transvestites," etc. And most of those who don't mind being with a male-to-female person, like above, are "chasers" and see us only as a sex objects or as ways to be close to male genitals while buffering their own closeted homosexuality.
As far as genital surgery goes, many people who are against it usually are those who went to a surgeon who was cheap and botched things up. It is necessary to go to a surgeon who is well-known and who will create for one a final product that is very sensate and works right. And anyone who is adamantly opposed to surgery, in my opinion, is not feeling a 100 percent gender disconnect.
Now, let's talk about what goes on in the mind of that person who is going thru the sex change for sexual reasons. What most people do not know is that person usually only takes hormones, usually high doses of estrogens, and Spironolactone (a testosterone suppressor) long enough to get a female shape. Once they stop taking it, their sex drive begins to "remasculinize" itself, meaning, like most men, they get aroused the moment they see something that is sexy to them. Therefore sex is the drive for them. However, for those of us who take the hormones on a regular basis, or who strongly identify as female, our sex drive is more feminized, as the suppressed testosterone results in a decreased libido, or at least the libido is feminized.
I encourage you to look at some Web sites that are much more than Bailey will ever be: www.transsexual.org, www.hbigda.org, and also search for the Illinois Gender Advocates.
Good article, and thanks for getting people who know the truth to talk about us.