By Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH, presented to the Gendy’s Conference, Manchester, UK, Autumn 1996
In the fifties Harry Benjamin withstood accusations that he was pandering to the delusions of an effeminate homosexual male, when he assisted in Christina Jorgenson’s feminisation. Now, the public draw new breaths of fascination as Emma Thompson dramatises the agonies and frustrations of a tale of Radcliffe Hall, a woman who believed she should have been born male.
Words like impossible, immoral and inevitable are perceived by the public to describe the progress of modern-day science’s treatment of the transsexual phenomenon.
Words such as evil, unnatural, and unnecessary still continue in the mouths of the ignorant to be used as prejudicial cudgels against a small set of individuals (transsexuals), who are widely misunderstood. Whether the argument is scientific, logic versus moralistic indignation or vice versa is immaterial, because either way the “fors” or “againsts” can win the day in accor dance with their own judgments.
The common person is influenced by the tabloids and television. Whatever the gutter press declare is the truth, can be enshrined our modern culture.
“Sex change has baby!”
“My sister! Who became a Mr!”
“Martian dog eats my granny!”
Need I go on? We have all, at some time, seen those incredulous articles that in sensationalist manner fill up the pages of the newspapers, between advertisements for greenhouses and dodgy investment offers. I am, of course, talking about the “quality papers”.
So where do these creators of mythological creatures find the raw, and effervescent terminology with which they weave their daily illusions?
The experts of course.
Those who sit comfortably ensconced in hierarchical academia, laying credence to their often ill-researched formulated prescriptions for the unfortunates. Some careless authority who dictates what realities we all should be experiencing, in order to conform on an acceptable basis. They speak of resolved childhood traumas, dissipated anger for auntie’s second cousin’s best friend and the real inner personality trying to get out. How often too, in an attempt to make their mortgage payments, do they comment upon subjects they do not truly understand.
So when the shit hits the fan we all stink.
Words…the initiators of wars… examiners of sanity? Precursors of copulation are sometimes the dangerously handled tools of the inept.
What wisdom there is, can be lost in an instant, by the flapping of loose tongues
In the story entitled “The three students” Sherlock Holmes declares “Yes, my dear Watson I have solved the mystery”. No information as to how Holmes had solved the mystery was previously offered or what the solution was, but the presupposition was that he was Sherlock Holmes was verification enough. When a person, of even a modicum of expertise, publicly makes comments, these are often seized upon by the media, and imprinted upon the minds of the general public as the truth …. The whole truth and nothing but the truth.
In the human equation there is no such thing as a sex change.
If there ever will be, it is indeed a long way off. Nature has not seen fit to have a person born one sex and, then to change or be changed into an opposite. By modern day definitions biological sex, gender identification, and cosmetic sex can make up the identity of an individual.
It is now a matter of choice for transsexuals, that they can alter their external identity, to rectify what they believe nature had not completed. Gender dysphoria ceases, for the majority of transsexuals after treatment. They are no longer gender dysphoric, even if they remain a non biological sex.
We can never be biologically aligned with the polarity sexes of male and female.
By using expanded clarifications it is now possible to identify many sexes. To mislead ourselves, and the general public that a human being can be changed from one biological heterosexual model to its opposite, is to denigrate the transsexuals’ rights to exist. Change is inevitable, tomorrow will become today, next week will become this week, but the phrase sex change is dangerous for transsexuals.
This is not a conference for sex changes, because they don’t exist
When I first proposed this to a panel of experts a few years ago, I received a cursory dismissal being told that people should have the right to call themselves what they liked. Well! That is fine by me, but let us consider the implications of labelling oneself, or being labelled by others what one is plainly not. With words go presupposition and expectations that the article or person must live up to its description, or else the natural human response is to dismiss that article as being fraudulent.
I never was and can never be a biological woman.
Last year I happened to catch a lift back from the Harry Benjamin conference on transsexualism in Bavaria, to Munich airport; I was fortunate enough to have amongst as my co-passengers Steven Whittle & Alice Purnell. We were all, in total, collecti vely a good 80 to 90 years past our changeover dates. We had led the good part of our lives of as post metamorphics.
The subject of conversation steered itself towards how we coped with the ups and down of being, as near as damn it, the people we had set out to become. One thing became evident that we had all lived what we identified as “the secret” the life that defies others knowing of our true transsexual condition, and living it for fear of discovery.
We had all been, at some time, closet transsexuals
We had been afraid, if we were found out, that there would have been a distinct chance of us being accused of being neither true women or men. In our past, we had all experienced the rejection that can sometimes occur from someone when they discover that we were not born biologically as we cosmetically appeared. “Living the secret” was a time bomb, that we had all, at times, kept underneath our beds, for fear that it may go off in our faces. We knew our own sexes, but we did not want to be held up to public ridicule as freaks, charlatans or unfortunates yet again.
So what could we have been?
Dr Don Montgomery, our fourth passenger, listened on ruefully to a window into the issues that would be facing the patients he treated now, when they were 20 years down the road. It was probably a rare opportunity for him to review the long-term issues of post-reassignment transsexuals. He has himself acknowledged that after treatment he rarely ever sees the patients again.
We can only be transsexuals
I recently treated a woman from America, and she was raised on a native reservation. As a small child she had been taken to the reservation, after being left, at a few months old, outside a doctor’s office. She was considered by all accounts a half-breed. Presumably one parent had been white and the other a local native. Growing up she had experienced some rejections from both halves of her presumed heritage, which led her to be a very solitary and unhappy alcoholic.
No man’s lands, as perceived by exclusive polarities, is a bitch!
At 25 she decided to try to trace her mother. She made enquiries throughout the state of all doctors, midwives and nurses that had been practising at the time of her birth. Eventually after three years exhaustive detective work she found her birth mother. The mother was now a devout catholic nun who had run away from home as a teenager to evade her father’s sexual abuse. When the mother had escaped her strict Italian father, she was already pregnant by him.
So what was my client’s real identity?
My client came to me in a state of absolute confusion, for all her life she had been a half-breed, but suddenly she was a pure Italian bastard, the result of incest. Her predicament was not through the result of her history, but through the expectation bestowed upon her by the descriptions of others.
We are our words
With transsexuals, it is easy for us to live up to being transsexuals, because that is what we are. However, when such a dangerous phrase as sex change is used, it bestows ex pectations upon us that we can not fulfil. Those who live cosmetically as females cannot get pregnant. The transsexual who lives cosmetically as male cannot physiologically father a child, because they were not born a biological male.
We are not part of the biological polarities
To live the gender and sex of transsexualism does not disappoint the transsexual, because we can perform that, and the expectations are within our range of achievements. However, when we are sex changed into the stereotypical, biological polarity sex roles, it is an impossible goal for us, and failure is ensured by presuppositions.
I am a transsexual woman
I don’t want to have to live up to the expectations of the biological polarity sexes.
Stop “sex changes” now!
The phrase “sex change” can be replaced, most of all by clinicians. Transsexuals should have equal rights to other sexes, sexualities and genders, because they are transsexuals and not in spite of it.
Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH, BHSc, ND, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist. Counsellor, PACFA registered Mental Health Professional and Naturopath In Sydney. You can get help by booking an appointment with her at Australian Health & Education Centre.