Friday, February 24, 2012

The Changing of the Guards

Yesterday, Natasha received her SRS packet. It's official... assuming we can get all of the money together... she will become a full female in about three months.

I feel mixed about this because she feels mixed about it. On the one hand, having SRS will finally make her body and mind synchronize. On the other hand, she never wanted to be a female.

It is a time such as this when people who think that being Transsexual is "just a phase" or "some kind of sexual turn-on," or some other nonsensical uninformed claim about it. It is a time such as this when spouses should be able to see clearly the pain that this medical condition causes the recipient, if that is ever in question. To think that one could be "cured" by electrodes and hypnotherapy and whatever other wacko things they do at those re-orientation camps just has his or her head up their (mainly religiously fanatic) butts!

Imagine, my non-TS readers, a day when you wake up and you realize that the body you've had all your life really belongs to someone else and you have to give it up. Well, you don't HAVE to, but if you don't, your consciousness will have to take a back seat to the real owner. none of your friends or family will know it's happened. You will be able to hear yourself scream, hear yourself want to reach out to someone to tell him or her that you're still there, but you won't be able to. Rather than give up the body you know and love, you choose to live the rest of your life in the quiet backstage, as much as it kills you to do so (and you couldn't actually kill yourself if you wanted to because you had no control over your body and you couldn't just leave once you committed to staying) But then, one day, a doctor comes to see you... YOU! He looks into the eyes of your former body and says, "I can get you out and put you into a new body. Nobody else is in it and it's a lot like your own, but different. Your friends and family will know it's you. What do you say?

This isn't the same as what a TS goes through, but asking a non-TS to imagine what it might be like to realize that you feel like your own body is the wrong one is near impossible. The resulting mixed feelings, I think, are similar, though, in my scenario. To stay and suffer in silence or to move and learn a new happiness. What a horrible decision to have to make!

I wish so much that I had some kind of magic that would alter Tasha's mind to one that is happy being male. That would solve so many problems for all of us (except the remaining boobs. We'd have to deal with those). But I can't and so her only cure is SRS. I am happy for her that it is coming soon, but I feel her pain that she is finally saying good-bye to that part of her that made children with me, that asked me to marry him, that is Daddy, Husband, Father. She doesn't mind when she is called these things. I can see why.

For her, I hope these next few months go quickly and that we make this thing happen. We all need to move on to the next phase.


Anonymous said...

[Compiled from a number of emails I sent in response to requests for input from those considering their own change.]

"Don't do it! That's my advice. This is the most awful, most expensive, most painful, most disruptive thing you could ever do. Don't do it unless there is no other alternative. You may think your life is tough but unless it's a choice between suicide and a sex-change it will only get worse. And the costs keep coming. You lose control over most aspects of your life, become a second class citizen and all so you can wear women's clothes and feel cuter than you do now. Don't do it is all I've got to say."

"That's advice I wish someone had given me. I had the sex change, I "pass" fine, my career is good but you can't imagine the number of times I've wished I could go back and see if there was another way. Despite following the rules and being as honest as I could with the medical folks at each stage, nobody stopped me and said "Are you honest to God absolutely sure this is the ONLY path for you?!" To the contrary, the voices were all cheerfully supportive of my decision. I was fortunate that the web didn't exist then - there are too damn many cheerleaders ready to reassure themselves of their own decision by parading their "successful" surgeries and encouraging others."

"I can speak the transgender party line that I was a female trapped in a male body and I remember feeling this way since I was 4. But, it's never that easy if you look at it sincerely and without preconception. There's little question that a mid-life crisis, a divorce and a cancer scare were involved in at least the timing of my sex-change decision. To be completely honest at this point (3 yrs post-op) is not easy, however, I'm not sure I would do it again. I'm now concerned that much of what I took as a gender dysfunction might have been nothing more than a neurotic sexual obsession. I was a cross-dresser for all of my sexual life and had always fantasized going fem as an ultimate turn-on. Ironically, when I began hormone treatment my libido went away. However, I mistook that relief from sexual obsession for validation of my gender change. Then in the final bit of irony, after surgery my new genitals were non-orgasmic (like 80% of my TG sisters)."

by Danielle Berry

Anonymous said...

You wrote: "I feel mixed about this because she feels mixed about it. On the one hand, having SRS will finally make her body and mind synchronize. On the other hand, she never wanted to be a female."

This is disturbing. As I approached my SRS, I had no mixed feelings. It couldn't happen soon enough! About three weeks before the operation, I had jitters. I searched myself completely and made sure that my mind and heart were on the same page. They were. The jitters went away. The morning of the operation, I was as calm as could be. In the time since, I have not had one regret. That's because I should have been born female, and I always knew that, although it took me a long time to admit it to myself. I really had no doubt. It's hard for me to believe now I could ever have lived any other way.

Being born transsexual shouldn't really be that hard for a non-TS person to imagine. Imagine that you are you, exactly as you are, your thoughts and your personality entirely your own, but instead of a vagina, you have a penis. Wouldn't that seem crazy? I imagine you have a strong sense of yourself as being female. Fortunately, your body agrees with you. But someone born transsexual has that same strong sense, but the anatomy says otherwise.

I do understand that someone might have an attachment to certain parts of the male life, especially when they have a spouse and children. Life even with a birth defect isn't necessarily all bad. But if someone's brain is really female, then bringing the body in line is, well, a no-brainer.

If it's just jitters but she's sure she's doing what is right for herself, OK. If it's truly mixed feelings, then I hope she thinks long and hard about whether she is on the right path. Now is the time to do that. As the anonymous person posted, some people have regrets. I would not want Natasha to be one of them.

- Ariel

Anonymous said...

I'll be honest, I didn't quite get the "she never wanted to be female" thing either.

I always wanted to be female, always. I remember months before my surgery I sanity-checked myself a few times, and no matter what path my mind took during those sanity checks, those what-ifs, I always ended up at the same place... Asclepiade. I had no doubt, no jitters, no nothing... was remarkably calm.

But this whole feeling mixed about it, if that is in fact how she feels, is very troublesome.

I also kind of didn't quite understand "Daddy, Husband, Father. She doesn't mind when she is called these things. I can see why." Doesn't make too much sense to me on a couple levels.

- Teagan

Anonymous said...

"...she will become a full female..."

Wow! Really? Just Like that? Amazzzzing!

"...nobody stopped me and said "Are you honest to God absolutely sure this is the ONLY path for you?!" To the contrary, the voices were all cheerfully supportive of my decision"

Question: Has anybody sought out a second or third (professional)opinion?

Has anybody considered the following..."I'm now concerned that much of what I took as a gender dysfunction might have been nothing more than a neurotic sexual obsession. I was a cross-dresser for all of my sexual life and had always fantasized going fem as an ultimate turn-on...."

Marni said...

To Anonymous 1 and 4, no offense, but it sounds like these people you have quoted had unqualified therapists. I appreciate the information and the opinions, but I know several post-op women and they are quite happy with their decisions.

Ariel and Teagan, I understand that what I wrote was not what I intended to convey. Tasha has mixed feelings about the whole damned thing. The surgery being all official and all has just caused that to resurface. She wants the surgery very much. As this is her lot in life, SRS will solve many issues she has. So, I didn't mean to imply that she is second-guessing that she is a TS. Now, I have to ask: Teagan, you said that you "always" wanted to be female. Does that hold true when you found and married your ex and had children with her? I'm not asking to be snotty or anything: please don't misunderstand my intention. I'm asking because, while Tasha knew early in her life that she was in the wrong body, she didn't necessarily "want" to be female. She "wanted" to be cured: NEEDS to be cured. And when we met, she had so utterly convinced herself that being TS was impossible that she didn't "want" to be anything other than husband/father. I'm sincerely curious about how you felt at that time in your life.

By the way, Ariel and Teagan, I am so very grateful to the both of you for being there for Tasha. I can only support her so much through this process. That you have been there and are serving as beacons in what seems to be a torrent of bad advice and horror stories, I am forever thankful for your presence in out lives... if only from afar! :-D

Natasha said...

Anonymous 1 & 4:

Take up a hobby, please. You're the reason I stopped blogging. Because you're impossible people who think they are helpful in some twisted worldview of what helpful is and all you really do is shit in people's living rooms and smile when they gasp. Mission accomplished, bitches. You've left your stink. Now go.

If I knew where you lived, I'd gladly return the favor.

Sarah Wilson said...

Checking one self and asking pointed questions of the person in the mirror is always a good thing, especially here. The idea that you ask questions isn't a sign of trouble. However a consistent answer of, "I am unsure of the destination that I am headed to" is. Being brutally honest about the answer is then essential.

What I see in your post here Marni is something that many of us experience when we finally reach the point of realization, loss. We and those close to us loose the person we once were. Anytime there is loss, there is naturally a grieving process that takes place for everyone involved. I was hit with incredible grief at first, then my spouse had to catch up. When I was ready to pick myself up and move forward with transition, I had to walk slowly while she caught up if I was at all interested in her and I walking this together.

While she caught up, there was for a while a sense of ambivalence on her part. This was something she was trying to adjust to, especially the finality of the journey. On the morning we went to see my endo to start HRT, I was reassured that my spouse would indeed be traveling with me. Based on this post and your alternate scenarios, this is where I see you are now. Readying yourself to take the trip hand in hand with Natasha, but taking a moment for now to look back just one more time.

The labels of Daddy, Husband and Father are really just that, labels at their core. They're convenient tags that convey to others concepts and ideas about the roles we play in parts of our lives, and also have special meanings to us personally. Children are indeed a blessing and I would not trade mine for all the tea in China. But through no fault of their own they do complicate things just a little for the transitioning person. As to labels, I will still look upon my daughter as my little girl, and will continue to call her by the pet name I always have regardless of my place in transition. Likewise she will always see me as "Dad" regardless of what pronoun I am called by. It would be cruel of me to insist that she think of me any other way just because someone else has a problem with how her and I interact.

Last but not least, apparently anon #1 not only didn't read the meaning behind your post, they were lazy as well, copying and pasting from Lynn Conway's site. If one were to look further in that section one would see the reasons why transition for Danielle was a bad idea. Anon#4 was a rehash of the above, a poor attempt to interject #1 into your post. It didn't take me long to observe the fail. I think I understand what you mean by the "in 3 months" remark, and it's not just HRT.

Hang in there Marni, and keep in mind that since you didn't bail you're one of the rare few among us. And Natasha, don't let them get to you. Remember, YTMV.


Kathryn Dumke said...

All too fully I understand what you are trying to convey, although I must admit I had questions too before I read your clarification. I completely understand where Tasha is right now a place I passed through some time ago. I hope she can concentrate on finally and complete, embracing herself and no longer feel it is the lesser but necessary choice. I leave a week before she arrives. I'll think good thoughts for her.

Anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

My opinions of Anonymous 1 and 4:

Some people do need SRS to feel whole. In my case, simply being on M2F hormones has calmed me down and helped me quite a bit. I don't feel the need to have SRS, but I certainly can't condemn anyone for wanting to have the operation.

Regarding Anonymous 1 - from what I gather the emails were from someone who died in 1998. Presumably the SRS technique has improved substantially since the 1990's so there would be a much higher outcome of success - being orgasmic with the new genital configuration.

I really feel bad the Natasha does not want to blog anymore about her experiences. How can people be so cruel to her?


Anonymous said...

Narnia (it's an inside joke; ask Tasha) - Well, yes, I did say "always." Always means always. I always thought that I should have been born a woman. But there's a difference between that wish and finally realizing and accepting that one *is* in fact female, which didn't happen until after I was divorced. My X knew about all this from the first time that I met her.

- Teagan

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry that Natasha has chosen to interpret my concern as an attempt to, "shit in people's living rooms and smile when they gasp."

Like Teagan and Ariel, I found the ambivelance described by Marni, disturbing. I do agree with Sarah's advice that now is the time for "brutal honesty".

I am not sure that I can agree with Johanna that Danielle's lack of orgasmic ability was the cause of her regrets. Nor was I being "lazy" in referencing Ms. Berry's very poignant remarks. Those remarks, as well as those of others who have experienced regrets can be found in their entirety, on Lynn Conway's site under "regrets".

I also find it very disturbing that Natasha and her spouse seem to so blithely dismiss the concerns expressed by those who have walked this path before them, choosing instead to attack the messengers.

Perhaps Natasha and Marni might be better served to confront these questions and concerns, rather thn to seemingly ignore them.

As always, I wish you only the best.

Natasha said...

Anonymous well wisher:

You have no experience because you are a nonentity. If you would like, write me an email and tell me why I should trust that you are anything but some imbecile who gets his jollies concern trolling trans folk as to why they might not be who they think they are. As far as I am concerned, you are a figment and a fool.

A fool because you make the assumption that I am somehow, at almost three years into transition, blithely doing anything when it comes to my life. I assume you are a man because you are so patronizing to us poor womenfolk who are simply flibbertigibbets, flying off to Montreal on a whim to spend a great deal of money on something that you seem to classify as experimental.

You must think I live in a shell of ignorance and self delusion, don't you, sir? That I have never given any of this any thought at all. That I haven't spoken with folks, read hundreds of thousands of words, written as much for others and myself...You must think I just got off the boat and am entirely clueless that there are some poor souls who didn't find what they wanted on the OR table.

Please take your concern elsewhere, because here it is an insult to my intelligence. You know nothing about me and yet you cast judgement on me as if, because you claim to be some great elder statesman of all things trans, you get to decide that you know anything about me.

As I said before, if you tell me where you live, or at least hang your internet hat, I'll be happy to come on over and crap on your rug and insult your intelligence as you have insulted mine.

As always, I wish you would just go away.

Nicola Cowie said...

I would ask anyone here passing judgement the questions - what qualifies you to judge the actions and motivations of others? How long did you goto universtity and study psychology? How many years clinical experience do you have working with and treating transsexual patients?

Any form of major life altering event is a mixture of loss and gain. Quite frankly dealing with and adressing both is a sign of maturity and being grounded in the reality of the situation.

SRS is not a panecea for all issues that transsexuals go through and have to deal with. It is not some Holy Grail, it is however major surgery and it carries risk aswell as potential joy. As a responsible parent and spouse these have to be weighed in the balance.

In the end I suppose there is only one thing to say - Do what you feel is right for you and yours and know that your friends will love and support you no matter what.

Much love and respect to you both.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Lot's of anger, resentment, name-calling, fear and judgement in these comments.

In reaction to what? A simple question regarding this, YOUR statement..."Tasha has mixed feelings about the whole damned thing. The surgery being all official and all has just caused that to resurface."

I am sorry that you choose to find my concern offensive. It is not my intent. Please do not project your negative emotions onto others, whom in fact, you do not know.

"Mixed feelings"??? OMG! Get a grip!

Natasha said...

Wow, lots of patronizing bullshit in your response.

I'm not projecting my negative emotions on you at all, but rather actively telling you over and again that I think you are the worthless filth of the world because you believe you know something and you expect others to accept your anonymous bullshit because you say they should. I don't. And yet you continue to respond.

I don't have mixed feelings about you. I despise you.

Get a grip? How about you get a life?

Anonymous said...

Very well. Since it is more than obvious that you have absolutely no capacity to respond in a rational manner and without resorting to insults, I will leave you to your irrational and self-righteous rage.


Marni said...

@ Teagan - I see your point. I have thought many times about what I would have done if Natasha had told me at the start that she wanted to be a woman. I don't think I would have married her... or I might have, having convinced myself that she would never do anything about it. The latter, I think, would have been a bad choice. I think I would have become resentful, even though she would have told me from the start. In our situation, though, she had brainwashed herself to believe that this was not the case. Ah well. It is what it is, right? :-)

@Nicola - I couldn't agree with you more! :-D Also, I don't know that this it talked about enough... the idea that SRS is NOT the end of the transition. For many people, I think they think it will somehow solve their other problems. What it does, though, is remove a barrier that might have been masking those other issues.