Author Topic: OpEd piece V2.0 as accepted for publication  (Read 863 times)

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OpEd piece V2.0 as accepted for publication
« on: November 26, 2007, 11:28:33 pm »
Okay, I started a whole new draft, and the OpEd editor edited it a bit.  Here's the finished product (after her edits,) which I approved...

It’s very difficult to explain transsexuality to those who do not experience it for themselves. There is definitely an “ew-w-w-w” factor that some experience when contemplating one who has a body of one gender, but a brain of the other. Also the “sexual” in “transsexual” seems to cause many people to fixate on the prurient aspects of the phenomenon. I prefer the more neutral term “transgender,”  thank you.

I can’t begin to address all the mis- and dis-information out there, but I can try to shed a little light on a small part of the larger debate and talk about the need for SB 777. The bill, which strengthens prohibitions against discrimination in public schools, was signed into law this year.

I’m a transwoman. I’ve followed the medical protocols and have been given the diagnoses, certifications and recommendations that allow me to express my true female gender. My inner life is much calmer, now that I’m not hiding my true self and faking masculinity to avoid bullying, harassment and discrimination.

The harassment began in grade school, if not before that. Although I nominally presented as male, my innate behaviors attracted the attention of bullies — lots of bullies. It was as if I had an all-but-invisible scarlet letter affixed to me that they could see.

My step-father, a truck driver from Georgia, set himself the goal of making sure I didn’t grow up to be a “homosexual.” So I learned to fight. And to hide my innate femaleness. And to hate myself. And to feel that I was sick. And to ask God why I kept having these thoughts in my head.

As I have since learned, <transgender> is a natural but rare variation in the human potential. <transgender people> are aware of their differentness at an early age. I certainly knew well before age 11 that I wished I had been born a girl.

Studies show that there is indeed a difference between male and female brains. (Please search online for “human brain sex difference” and “human brain sex difference transgender” to read some of the studies.) It is generally agreed in the scientific community that there are direct biological causes for transsexuality, and the traits and tendencies are present from birth.

Counter-intuitively, many <transgender people> attempt to assert masculinity, some by joining the military. Many transwomen are decorated combat veterans, such as Diane Schroer. An Airborn Ranger-qualified Special Forces veteran, Schroer was hired as a senior terrorism research analyst at the Library of Congress, only to have the job offer rescinded less than 24 hours after disclosing that she is transgender. She is now suing the federal government.

I’m retired from the Army and am one of four transwomen from my old major command. Two I knew personally. As for the third, we know so many people in common that we’re both amazed we never met while on active duty.

I’m at the point in my transformation that I can’t be mistaken for male. New people I meet don’t know that I am transgender unless I tell them or someone who knows “drops the bomb.”

My transformation has been guided by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of care.

The first step is psychotherapy, to determine that the subject is transgender and has no other conditions that would indicate an unreadiness to transition. After a minimum of three months of counseling, hormone therapy can be authorized if the counselor feels the subject is ready. Taking female hormones has the effect of shutting off any male physical and mental characteristics that may be brought on by testosterone, and replacing them with female characteristics. Of special note, male libido is greatly reduced or eliminated.

When the counselor feels the subject is ready (at least six months after the start of counseling), the transitioner may start the Real Life Experience, living 24/7 as the target gender for an entire year. Only after this experience will the transitioner be eligible to receive certification from a psychologist and another mental health professional, and seek gender reassignment surgery.

The process takes a minimum of 18 months, and typically three years.
I have completed almost all of the above, and am merely waiting for the date of my scheduled surgery.

But for the past year, I have used the female restroom, because it is appropriate for both my inner gender and my exterior presentation. It would be as unsafe for me to use the male restroom as it would be for any woman to attempt that.

I know transwomen who, while waiting for their surgery date, used the changing facilities at public and private fitness centers, but only after making sure the facilities offered private changing and showering areas.

I’ve only touched upon a few aspects of the transgender condition that seem relevant to SB 777. Let me summarize.

• Transgender people are so from birth. Trying to make them not so is damaging and futile.

• Transgender  people are not freaks, but ordinary people with an extraordinary gift, or curse.

• Transgender students need the protections in SB 777 to be free from harassment and to prevent denial of access to facilities appropriate to their gender presentation.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2007, 11:19:19 pm by Karen »