“Someone suggested [I] write to you,” a reader shot me a email, “and ask you if you could [write] about Transsexual women in New York.” Oooh, sex & gender benders!! I love it. What better Manly Monday topic could there be than men who used to be women and women who used to be men? A while ago, MSNBC did a documentary called Born in the Wrong Body. It was actually pretty good. Watch clips from the show here. Also, one of the individuals featured, Cris Beam, wrote a book called Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers; you can read an excerpt at MSNBC or buy the book online.
I live in New York. Bumping into transgendered people is as common as meeting lefthanders. Although I know several transpeople — acquaintances, former coworkers, friends of friends, etc. — I only have one real “friend.” When I met him 11 years ago, he was a gay black man. More recently, he began the process of becoming a woman. (Sidenote: He says society is more accepting of MtF transsexuals than it is of effeminate gay black men.) To be honest, it’s taking me a bit longer than I though it would to wrap my head around the change. It’s the little things. For example, we went out with a group of people a while ago. The next day, a German friend “F” asked something about “your friend, the girl we went out with the other night. What’s her name?” I rambled off a list of all the women in the group — forgetting one. Quite honestly, until that moment, I don’t think I realized I wasn’t treating her like a “woman”; instead my mind classified “my (former) guy friend” as a “transsexual.” Interestingly, though understandably, the community also self refers as transsexuals, transgendered and trannies … not solely “women” and “men.”
But, back to the MSNBC documentary. I think they did a nice job at balancing young and old, MtF and FtM examples. It was interesting to notice many of the people featured talked about common themes: noticing something was “different” from a very young age; feeling born to the wrong body; experiencing rejection from loved one(s); and thinking the choice was either suicide or a sex change. I’ve heard similar things from the mouths of acquaintances as well as other pop culture documentaries like BBC’s My Secret Female Body. Here’s a question that came to mind after watching the MSNBC segment about the 16-year-old boy Jake (nee Julia): Should teens be allowed to have sex reassignment surgery if desired? Leave your thoughts in the comments section. Head’s up! I’m not interested in shitty “that’s gross” comments about our lovely transgendered folks. (Why? Because take it elsewhere. Assholes are 100% free to be assholes–just not in my [online] home.) I’m also not particularly interested interested in passive aggressive personal attacks about me using the word — or, I might add, transsexuals self-referring to be — “trannies.” (Why? Because fuck haters. As Mollena brilliantly notes: “[S]ome people look for slings and arrows even from allies and empathizers.”) That stuff aside, I’m geniunely curious to hear your thoughts: Should teens be allowed to have sex reassignment surgery if desired?
Image by Dominik Gwarek