Transitions

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A Trans Man’s Transsexuality 101, Part 2

Posted by TransMan on April 10, 2008

Part Two

“transmen, like men as a whole, represent a spectrum of gender expressions. I know transmale drag queens.” – Leslie Feinberg

How did we get here and where do we go from here?

If the definition of Transsexuality is “the experience of being born within the reproductive category that is more or less opposite of what one identifies as”, and as such is pretty simple, then Transsexual experience is far from simple. It is as individual as the people living it. No two people feel the same, live the same or view the world the same. Some experiences connected to the medical part of the experience may be largely similar, but what actually goes on inside is individual. The path we take to achieve wholeness and what wholeness is to us as trans people is also individual.

For some, especially among those who transitioned prior to DSM-IV, when contact with the GLBT community was frowned upon by the medical community, it is a straight line, from the initial contact with the medical community through to a complete surgery package to traditional straight lives in Suburbia with no looking back and no contact with f.i the GLBT community. They are straight guys living straight lives. They may have transitioned while retaining their jobs, or they may have quit their job and transitioned and then gone somewhere else for work. Some have even quit their job to transition and then applied for a job in the same place when the transitioning process was complete. Some times their bosses knew, and re-hired them as is, some times not. They may marry, they may not. Some find that transitioning has changed their sexual orientation, and they find themselves with yet another “coming out” process to go through – that of identifying as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual.

Others however arrived at their decision to transition after having lived, perhaps many years, within the GLBT community, identifying as Gays, Lesbians or Bisexuals. For many of those, this initial contact with the GLBT community has delayed their decision to transition. For yet others it might have speeded up the process of arriving at a decision to transition, especially during the last 10-15 years, when openness, tolerance and acceptance within the GLB community has increased.

There is no single way to go, nor is there any single destination for the Transsexual in terms of where they “end up” after transitioning successfully.

So, what are the nuts and bolts of transitioning?

While there is a specific “schedule” for the parts and pieces that the Medical community requires or at least see as pertinent to transitioning, the way we go about it and the time it takes for us to get where we are going is also individual.

The simple schematics looks like this:

For the trans man: Legally female -> hormones ->real life test (RLT) ->mastectomy with chest reconstruction -> hysterectomy -> genital correction surgery -> legally male.

Depending on the MD one contacts RLT may precede hormones instead of hormones preceding the RLT. Depending on personal preferences the last stage surgery may be excluded.

For the trans Woman: Legally male -> androgen suppressants and hormones -> real life test (RLT) -> chest surgery (breast augmentation) -> castration -> genital correction surgery ->legally female.

Again RLT may switch places with the hormones.

Many trans men use the initial testosterone boost to build muscle mass and speed along the redistribution of body fat so they appear more masculine faster.

Dependent on how much the hormones will cause the breast tissue to grow, one may opt not to have any breast augmentation. Some trans women may also include electrolytic epilation to remove facial and body hair as well as hair implants to restore a full head of hair. Many trans women also choose to see a voice coach to learn how to speak in a female tone of voice.

Part of the Transsexual experience for many is the fact that we have often been “read”, i.e people around us have been aware that we are Transsexual without necessarily knowing what it is they have “read”. Many Transsexuals give off a distinctly masculine/feminine energy that the environment pick up on and get confused by – they see someone they deem to be female/male, but who gives off masculine/feminine signals. “Being read” is a potentially very dangerous situation, and many Transsexuals have been beaten, raped and killed because of this. This is a major reason many Transsexuals endeavor to either exaggerate the traits “typical” for their reproductive category or  to display the traits typical for their gender to a point where they pass as their gender without any hormones or surgery. With both types fear of detection is the most overshadowing emotion.

If you think you have “read someone as being Transsexual” do not disclose this to them or to others – not to them, because it will only scare them witless even if you are supportive, and not to others, because doing so may place the Transsexual in danger of social, mental and bodily harm.

Besides, you might put yourself in a troublesome situation if you are wrong and the person you point out as Transsexual is not 😀

While transgendered people have always been part of the GLB community, as Drag Queens and Drag Kings, many DRAGS and DRABS were actually Transsexuals who were only tolerated as entertainment on Saturday Nights. That they were only allowed to be themselves as entertainment doesn’t mean that they were not Transsexuals, it only means that the GLB community exploited their need to be themselves much the same way Blacks were only allowed to portray servants and musicians on film for the longest time. This and the insistence from the Lesbian Feminist community that they were either traitors to their gender (FTM) or sexual predators (MTF) is the worst case of discrimination and oppression.

Fortunately the attitudes among the general GLB community has changed in many places, especially in metropolitan areas. Unfortunately there are still die-hard transphobes on the loose that will not accept transgendered people as part of the GLBT community and in some places the rate of violence against trans people is evenly divided between the Straight community and the GLB community.

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