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Author Topic: MTF? FTM? WTF? Everything you wanted to know about Transgender but were afraid  (Read 115295 times)

Offline estefue

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Because of increased interest in the topic and at the request of several members we are starting a new topic on transgender issues.  This is the place to come to share your thoughts and ask questions about a topic many of us are not too familiar with.  We invite your comments!

In response to member request I am adding some clinical definitions from DSM-IV TR, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Ed. Text Revision.  The American Psychiatric Association classifies Gender identity disorders as those characterized by "...strong and persistent cross-gender identification accompanied by persistent discomfort with one's assigned sex. "(p.535)

The manual does not provide defnitions for transexual, transgender or intersex.  It does provide a defnition for Transvestic Fetishism (cross dressing) but this is not classified as a gender identity disorderand only applies to heterosexual men (p.575)

According to the Wikipedia:

Transgender is an overarching term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies that diverge from the normative gender role (woman or man) commonly, but not always, assigned at birth, as well as the role traditionally held by society


Read the article here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender
« Last Edit: September 07, 2006, 12:45:39 PM by estefue »

Offline Sid401k

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If you look in the upper left hand corner of my posts, you might notice that I don't use a little ♀ or ♂ identifier.
But it's not a secret.
If FTM had been one of the choices in the profile drop-down box, I would have picked it with pride.
Allow me to introduce myself with a quick timeline:

  • August 1949 Born:  "Congratulations, it's a beautiful little girl."  "We'll name her Susan."
  • February 1962 First period:  "Mother, today I am a Woman!"
  • September 1972 Married Richard
  • September 1978 Came out (finally!), separated from Richard:  "Call me Sid"
  • January 1980 Started hormones
  • September 1980 Moved to SF
  • January 1983 Living full time as male
  • some time in 1986? Divorced
  • February 2006 Saw Brokeback Mountain


So what does transgender mean to me, personally?  It's not anything I can say in just a few words.  So I'll just write out a list of broad categories based on my personal experience with my own journey, and those I have met on the road.

There are people (surely the majority) who know who they are--male or female--and it matches the physical reality of their body, and they are entirely comfortable with it.

There are full-bore transsexuals:  persons who have an innate, unshakable belief that they are truly a member of the sex that is opposite to the physical body that they were born with.  This one is where I live.

There are transvestites:  people who for any of numerous reasons spend part of their time dressed as the opposite sex.  Even in my limited experience, this covers a lot of territory:  gender, sex, self-expression, camp, theater, fetishism...  Well, a lot of territory...

There are some whom I call gender-confused.  There's a big difference between wishing one was a member of the opposite sex, and believing down to one's core that one really is a member of said sex.  And it's all too easy for any of us to fall into the trap of thinking "Oh, if only I had/was <fill in the blank>, my now-wretched life would be perfect!"  Well, if only things were that simple!

There are androgynous people.  They may have some of the physical characteristics of the opposite sex, such as a man with delicate features or a tall woman with broad shoulders.  They may have some of the mannerisms of the opposite sex; a man might have a feminine speech pattern, or a woman might have a masculine stance.  (Or vice-versa, of course.)  They might dislike their androgyny, enjoy it, or be indifferent to it.  Many--perhaps most--transsexuals are to some degree androgynous, due to hormonal influence during their childhood and puberty and/or early social conditioning that they still retain.

And there are the intersex.  These people are born in a state of development that makes it difficult or impossible to make an immediate assessment of what sex this baby is.  In the modern Western world, they are usually assigned to whichever sex seems most appropriate (or convenient), and treated with hormones, surgery, etc. to bring them closer to the "norm."  As adults, some of them are pleased that this was done--others are not.


I intend to be a regular poster on this thread.  I can't wait to see who else will be posting and what questions or comments or life experiences they will share.

Offline AHappyMan

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Re: MTF? FTM? WTF? Everything you ever wanted to know about Transgender but w
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2006, 12:50:21 AM »
Wow, Sid! Thanks for that informative post! You go!

I'll be stopping in here for sure. Bound to be a very interesting discussion.

Rick

Offline michaelflanagansf

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Re: MTF? FTM? WTF? Everything you ever wanted to know about Transgender but w
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2006, 01:08:33 AM »
There are transvestites:  people who for any of numerous reasons spend part of their time dressed as the opposite sex.  Even in my limited experience, this covers a lot of territory:  gender, sex, self-expression, camp, theater, fetishism...  Well, a lot of territory...

There are some whom I call gender-confused.  There's a big difference between wishing one was a member of the opposite sex, and believing down to one's core that one really is a member of said sex.  And it's all too easy for any of us to fall into the trap of thinking "Oh, if only I had/was <fill in the blank>, my now-wretched life would be perfect!"  Well, if only things were that simple!

There are androgynous people.  They may have some of the physical characteristics of the opposite sex, such as a man with delicate features or a tall woman with broad shoulders.  They may have some of the mannerisms of the opposite sex; a man might have a feminine speech pattern, or a woman might have a masculine stance.  (Or vice-versa, of course.)  They might dislike their androgyny, enjoy it, or be indifferent to it.  Many--perhaps most--transsexuals are to some degree androgynous, due to hormonal influence during their childhood and puberty and/or early social conditioning that they still retain.

A few comments and questions, Sid.  First off, I have some friends who do drag as performance and I've always really thought of that as being quite separate from people who feel compelled to be transvestites because the feel they are more 'natural' dressed that way - although there are no strict lines there, some of the people I mention have gone through surgery - either partially or fully.  And I think that is an area of confusion for me as well - how does one know when they have finished?  Is this just the sort of decision that individuals have to make for themselves - to decide that they have transitioned to where they feel right regardless of surgerical status?

And speaking for transvestism - aren't there other men who incorporate wearing lingerie into their sexual life?  How does transvestic fetishism relate to this whole continuum?

Also, I have to mention the memories you brought up when you talk about gender-confusion and androgyny.  There was a period of time in my late teens and early twenties when I wondered whether or not I should actually consider gender reassignment - and considered myself quite androgynous.  And what you say about the difference between wishing and believing is what it came down to for me.  I thought it would be simplier to be female, but didn't really believe I was female at my core.

That's all for now.

Michael

I do my thing, & you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other - it is beautiful. If not it can't be helped.

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Offline jack

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sid.  great post.

jack
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Offline mary

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Great post Sid
I have a question;
When did you know that you were transsexual?  Was it something that was crystal clear in your mind from an early age or was it a gradual realization?

Part of the reason I ask is that I have an acquaintance who's daughter (a 7 year old)  has from the time I've known her said that she wants to be/is a boy.  She goes to my son's school so I see her fairly regularly and she is pretty firm in her resolve about this and apparently always has been. 
never enough time, never enough....

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Offline Ellen (tellyouwhat)

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Hmm -- looks like we will keep you busy, Sid!

I have questions about someone I took a class with -- I don't know her well, just from three meetings at the class.  The class was about career goals.  During the course of the class the tall, rather large woman told us she had moved to Dallas from California after a sex change.

This information made me wonder -- ignorant questions, I suppose, but that's why I'm asking here --

my first question has to do with why does a person go through a sex change, leave their job and make a fresh start in a new city to live as a woman, and then declare to everyone she was a man until recently?  It seems to me that isn't exactly living as a woman, or I guess I'm saying, is the goal to have people think of her as a woman, or just to be able to live as a woman?

My next observation -- again, coming out of my ignorance, I'm sure -- was the irony that this person chose to become a middle-aged woman, when the reality is that being a middle-aged woman in the US is one of the last things anyone would choose, including most middle-aged women.  At times I feel like I would rather be almost anything else but a middle-aged woman.

Third -- I wonder if she is hoping for relationships based on her new orientation.  I suppose she may or may not be, but it seems most people, no matter what their orientation, hope for that.  It seems like the longest shot in the world for most middle-aged women.

To sum it up, here was a woman who told us she was recently a man who moved from California to Dallas WILLINGLY and gave up her job and seniority as a man at that job, to become a middle-aged woman.  Huh?

OK, others were in line before me, so I hope you can answer all these questions.

Thanks
sometimes I think life is just a rodeo the trick is to ride and make it 'til the bell --john fogerty

Offline estefue

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Thank you all for joining this discussion!  Seems there was definitely a pent up demand for information.  Thank you Sid for your interest and for your honesty.  We look forward to your responses. 

Michael was wondering earlier:
And speaking for transvestism - aren't there other men who incorporate wearing lingerie into their sexual life?  How does transvestic fetishism relate to this whole continuum?

Michael, generally transvestism is considered a whole other area; a significant number of men (I can't speak about women who do so) have no interest in assuming a female role, they simply derive sexual enjoyment from dressing in female attire - at least that is the clinical definition of transvestic fetishism.  For others, as we know, it's just for fun.

Offline jackfingtwist

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And there are the intersex.  These people are born in a state of development that makes it difficult or impossible to make an immediate assessment of what sex this baby is.  In the modern Western world, they are usually assigned to whichever sex seems most appropriate (or convenient), and treated with hormones, surgery, etc. to bring them closer to the "norm."  As adults, some of them are pleased that this was done--others are not.


This is my problem here. I wont get into the gruesome details because no one wants to hear it. but to say the least, there is more that you have failed to recognize. Intersexuality is so involved, Im sure you know. Its basically a "glitch" in the DNA system. So when I was born, I was obviously one biological gender. It wasnt until I hit puberty that anything happened. some intersexed people dont know they're intersexed until they are middle aged! There is no way to explain to people what intersexed is because it is different for most all who have it, Most dont even identify as it.

Thanks so much for giving so much to us on this thread! Ill look foward to hearing more/talking to you.!!
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And I would die with them
Before I'd live by myself." S. Bear Bergman

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Offline Dave Cullen

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wow. very interesting stuff. the wishing vs. believing was new to me also, and really crystalized it for me in a way i had never gotten it.

the confusion thing is also interesting. that sounds like a very useful and descriptive word, but i'm curious: do some in those communities balk at that as fighting words? i would expect they might--though sometimes, let's face it, lots of us our confused about things. i spent six fucking years confused about whether i should be with my last boyfriend, for example. hahaha. but seriously--there were important questions embedded there, like what i really wanted in a mate, and whether i really wanted to be monogamous and . . . i've been confused about many of the most important questions in my life for much of my life, and i think most people are too, so i don't think it's a shameful condition. and yet . . . i'm guessing that some people are very touchy about that word. no?

(and please don't misunderstand me. i am NOT suggesting we strike it from this conversation. i'm a curious guy, and i'm curious where the taboos are and the way we describe ourselves and each other, and want to discuss that, too.)

Offline michaelflanagansf

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Re: MTF? FTM? WTF? Everything you ever wanted to know about Transgender but w
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2006, 12:33:26 PM »
the confusion thing is also interesting. that sounds like a very useful and descriptive word, but i'm curious: do some in those communities balk at that as fighting words?

Hmmm, somehow I don't see this Dave - I kind of think of it in the same context as the word 'questioning?'.  We have lots of pamphlets for teens that say 'Gay? Bi? Questioning?' and I would guess that 'confusion' would fit in the same context as that regarding gender.  Just a thought.
I do my thing, & you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other - it is beautiful. If not it can't be helped.

Fritz Perls - A Gestalt Prayer

Offline planetgal471

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Re: MTF? FTM? WTF? Everything you ever wanted to know about Transgender but w
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2006, 01:17:34 PM »
Hello, all. This seems to be the place to be, yes?

My situation is, to me, unique (isn't everyone's? yay). I like who I am. I mostly wear baggy jeans and T-shirts, but I love dressing up for a night on the town in a hot dress with a punk flair or whatnot. I like my hair styled but think I look like a clown in make-up. I'm just me.

I'm biologically female, and to most people I appear to gender-identify as female. But the fact is I never sat back to think about it because I knew I didn't want to, but when I did, a lot of things came very clear. Since I could remember, I was male in my dreams. I never questioned that. I've accidentily walked into the 'wrong' restroom more times than I can count. I often say "they" referring to women and "we" referring to men without noticing. I was just reading on this thread about how difficult it is is to be a middle-aged woman, and found myself thinking "thank God I don't have to be one." And I live a happy life, until I look in a mirror, or undress, or go clothes shopping, or have someone call me "Jessi" with the i, like I'm a twelve year old girl. My husband learned long ago to avoid words gender-labelling me as female, and I was proud to see him cringe when my own mom called me a "young lady," cause he knows such thoughtless talk actually hurt me, like it's an insult or something. I don't have sex as a woman, I don't live life as a woman, and yet I'm happy most of the time when I don't think too deeply about what I look like through other people's eyes. I wear restrictive bras, drink beer, go to college football games, and play video games. That's who I've always been. That's who my husband fell in love with.

My... pain is what to do about the way the rest of the world sees me. My two most-hated labels are wife and woman, both of which I technically am, (followed in close third by Jessi, which I most definitely am not). The pain comes for me in small doses, my mom saying something about how I don't wear lipstick or need more dresses, my husband wanting to be on the receiving end and me entirely unable to give.

But mostly I just wish I could wave a magic wand and the world would see me just exactly how I see myself. It's the disparity that hurts at the end of the day, in a frustration that makes you realize this is more than changing a hair color or a wardrobe.

And it doesn't help to have my husband along on this ride. I think most days he's as confused by this as I am. I know he sees me how I see myself in all circumstances, but he's fundamentally a straight man and on his own journey here, full of its own pains, that I've brought upon him. That doesn't make for peaceful sleep.

So in conclusions, I am honestly just too confused to evaluate the situation clearly, so in the meantime I just concentrate on being myself, tryng not to pull those macho stunts I sometimes pull just to prove I can (why do I need to prove anything to anyone?), and gettng myself into a better place to see clearly my next move. Uh... thanks for listening?
"Speak what you think today in words as hard as cannonballs and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance

Offline planetgal471

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Re: MTF? FTM? WTF? Everything you ever wanted to know about Transgender but w
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2006, 01:22:46 PM »
My next observation -- again, coming out of my ignorance, I'm sure -- was the irony that this person chose to become a middle-aged woman, when the reality is that being a middle-aged woman in the US is one of the last things anyone would choose, including most middle-aged women.  At times I feel like I would rather be almost anything else but a middle-aged woman.

Well, I would say it's not a choice at all. I certainly wouldn't choose to be as confused and alone-feeling and depressed as I am abtou this, and God knows I keep trying to chose not to be, but the issue isn't one that can be swept under the rug. Imagine waking up to find you're a dog, but you feel like a person. It's hard not to look in the mirror and say ,"Hey, wait! When I did I become a dog?" every single time you look into the mirror. The hardships of every day life may seem a relief after that sort of hour-by-hour haunting.
"Speak what you think today in words as hard as cannonballs and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance

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Re: MTF? FTM? WTF? Everything you ever wanted to know about Transgender but were
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2006, 04:10:55 PM »
Am LOVING this thread!!! 

Always wanted to be a boy.  Always thought of myself as a boy when I was a kid.  When I was really young all of my friends were boys. I only wanted to do boy things--hell with dolls and dresses, bring on the baseball and train sets and Tonka trucks! Love trucks and trains and baseball and going tomboy still, all that stuff. Always was more comfortable around men than women.  Was miserable when puberty hit.  But hey, it meant I could play with boys in a different way, no?  :D For I didn't just want to be a boy; I wanted to be a boy who went out with boys, but being a girl who went out with boys I could live with, I guess.  And I didn't really understand any of this as clearly as I do now until I saw BBM and realized just WHY I was so turned on by the m/m.  And one of the reasons why I love Jack is because I want to BE Jack (well, up to a point, anyway).  And I loved the name Jack when I was a kid, wished it were my own name (not even kidding on that).  So to sum up, I have a gal's figure and face but a boy's soul.  And while at one point I was a bit confused, now I feel that it just is the way it is--and that gender identity, like sexuality, is a fluid thing.  Only problem is that while I can do the girly thing all right, I do wish I was a guy a lot a lot.

Thanks for listening!

XOXOXOXOXOXOOXOXXO

edited to add (simply because it's appropriate given the thread title):

« Last Edit: September 06, 2006, 04:17:06 PM by B73 »

Offline bbmbliss

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Re: MTF? FTM? WTF? Everything you ever wanted to know about Transgender but were
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2006, 04:37:31 PM »
So to sum up, I have a gal's figure and face but a boy's soul.  And while at one point I was a bit confused, now I feel that it just is the way it is--and that gender identity, like sexuality, is a fluid thing.  Only problem is that while I can do the girly thing all right, I do wish I was a guy a lot a lot.


So B73 - have you ever considered living as a guy?  Making the outside match the inside?
I know why the caged bird sings.  The caged bird sings of freedom. - Maya Angelou