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Your letters - Melanie's responses

A Reader Asks...

What if someone has a big ugly face and nose. The transition period could be quite painful. I sometimes wonder if it wouldn't be easier to just disappear, then reappear post-op with the finished product. Then what could anyone say? The whole thing is a fait accompli. What do you think of that?

Melanie Replies...

Well, there are two parts to what you suggest... First, is living full-time for a year a worthwhile venture, and second, would it be better to disappear and then reappear as the new person.

I'll answer the second question first. Although it might be better in a visual sense to disappear and reappear, it would also mean that one will not have developed the social skills and unconscious natural mannerisms which define the new role.

What one looks like is only part of the issue. I've met some pretty U-G-L-Y women in my time! But I seldom meet one who acts like a man.

It is important to note that there is nothing to prevent one from having electrolysis, a nose job, and other facial surgery BEFORE sex reassignment surgery. If a person was truly worried that his face would not pass as a woman for the Real Life Test of one year in full-time, then why would he imagine it would pass after GENITAL surgery? The two are not connected at all.

Jumping to the first question, Full-Time is designed to let one experience the REALITY of the new role, blemishes, warts and all. So many on the gender path have developed this fantasy world in which they come to believe that if they just get the genital surgery, everything else will be all right.

But Sex Reassignment Surgery doesn't solve anything in the practical world, and it doesn't change anything in the emotional world. After all the smoke clears, you are still you. If you haven't developed the skills or don't look good in the new role, well the only thing you will have done is screwed up your life royal! The best you could hope for then would be to go back to the old role, even though you've had the surgery, and just not let anybody peek in your jock strap.

The point is, surgery is just a little snip. The ROLE is the rest of your life! The only way to find out if you are going to like that life is to live it for a while, and we are darned lucky that an established path exists to do just that.

If we are concerned with our looks, then we ought to have plastic surgery OTHER than the SRS to see if we can come to look the part. How well others accept us will ultimately be the determining factor as to how much we enjoy our lives, no matter how much we accept ourselves.

Why wouldn't someone want to make themselves more feminine by facial surgery and a year of hormone use before surgery, if they really want to live the role? In fact, those things would be wonderful improvements, for someone who truly wants to live as a woman.

The truth is, however, that many who believe they want to LIVE as women, really just want to BE women, and don't recognize the difference. BEING a woman means having the thrill of walking out on the street, knowing you are attractive, perhaps being turned on by your own body and sexuality. But, BECOMING a woman means adopting a lifestyle cast by society for those of the female sex.

Yes, any individual can fight against the confines of a societal role, but if one really wants to live in that role instead of the one currently available, then the issue is about fitting in, not fighting for change.

An important thing to remember is that there are four aspects to one's sexuality:

1. Anatomical Sex

2. Gender Identity

3. Sexual Preference

4. Mental Sex

Anatomical sex is, simply, the physical sexuality of being male or female.

Gender Identity is where you fall on the Masculine/Feminine scale, and is not really tied to anatomical sex at all. We often encounter masculine women and feminine men.

Sexual Preference is who you like to go to bed with: same sex, opposite sex, both, neither (self). Again, this has nothing to do with anatomical sex or gender identity. Any combination goes.

Mental sex is determined before birth. It is a bias to see things more spatially (linear) or more temporally (holistic). Spatial people look first to reason and then to emotion. Temporal people look first to emotion and then to reason. We all have both, but which one gets preference determines mental sex.

Statistically, men are much farther along the scale toward the spatial, and women to the temporal. But this just describes the foundation of our personalities, a bias toward one or the other set before birth.

The bulk of who we are comes from our experiences, and though we never lose our pre-birth bias, we can more than compensate for it. As as result, you get very linear, reason-oriented women, and very holistic emotion-oriented men. But the women will never be quite as linear as a linear man, because of the bias. And the men will never be quite as holistic as a holistic woman, because of the bias.

So, there are four primary areas which touch upon changing one's sex. Any person who starts along that path will encounter all of them, though which one's are most important will vary from person to person.

For example, the term "Gender Dysphoria" refers to people who are unhappy with their role because it does not support or reflect their gender identity. But people suffering from GENITAL Dysphoria are unhappy with their bodies, their anatomical sex, even though they might be quite happy with their gender identity.

I personally know of one individual who had surgery from male to female, but afterward continued to live as a man. Why? Because "he" had Genital Dysphoria, but not Gender Dysphoria. This person wanted the body changed, but loved the old role. And so, that is how they live. In fact, for this person, the requirement of living full-time for a year was really tough!

To draw this to a conclusion, I think it is important for each individual to come to understand where he or she REALLY wants to be in all four categories, before doing anything as permanent as surgery.

One should ask oneself, "Which physical form do I really want to have for the rest of my life? Where do I really fall on the Masculine/Feminine scale? Who do I want to go to be with? Am I convinced that underneath all my training and experience, I really think more like the other sex?"

Although it may be painful, the year of full-time living gives one the opportunity to examine all of these issues and come to a greater surety of mind. What a tragedy it would be for someone to skip this period of self-examination and make a permanent choice that later turned out to be the wrong one.

In my opinion, anyone who tries to avoid that step is afraid of what he or she will find. They are worried that they will be forced to acknowledge that the course is not really right for them. But the joy of the fantasy, the hope that surgery holds a "way out", the thrill of the eroticism is so strong, that rather than do what is necessary to ensure the RIGHT choice, some of these people try to side-step that period of discovery because they really don't want to know. They think that if they get the surgery, even if it turns out to be the wrong thing, they will at least have lived the fantasy. But the sad truth is, if it IS the wrong thing, there is no fantasy, only a lifelong nightmare.

If ever the phrases, "look before you leap", and "try before you buy", should be taken under advisement, this be the place!



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