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Letters to the Editor

A Reply to GAnnSmith, who wrote to me with questions about how one knows if one is transsexual:

Dear Gwen,

In your letter, you opened a dialog on what it means to be TS, and of course I'll be happy to help all I can. Your central question was how to know if one is TS or not; specifically, how did I know. Well, I didn't and I don't. Being TS is not something you can know because it is an emotional state, not a logical issue. As a result, I cannot state with certainty that I am TS even now. All I can say is that I strongly believe I am. In fact, I believed it SO strongly, I had surgery. But did that quash doubt? Not hardly. You see, the issue first comes in defining what a TS is. And as I say in my article on Mental Sex, even if one's brain could be proven to be female in a male body, that is only 1/4 of the issue. There is also subconcious gender identification, upbringing (experience), and free-will as to what we wish for ourselves. These three areas can completely outweigh any biological binary bias. So, the real heart of the matter is not "am I legitimate or not?" but "which way will I be happier?"

That, then, is the emotional decision we all must make. As such, it is not binary; rather, it is a process of growth. Your biology, your subconscious, your experience, your free-will all will change their relationship to one another as you learn more about what makes you happy and what doesn't. The problem we have BEFORE we admit our transgenderism is that we won't even look in those areas to see how we feel about them. How can we make decisions based on no information at all? So, admitting to being transgendered is not being any particular thing, but merely selecting a subject in which to educate oneself: a direction to explore. That's why my editorial in The Subversive comes under the heading "Explorations".

Are there no binarys then? Certainly surgery itself is about as binary as you can get. But the DECISION to have surgery or not is NOT binary. That is simply a tendency that you have seen grow or diminish as you approach the decision. On friend of mine lived full time for six years before deciding to have surgery. Another lived full time for four and decided to go back to being male. Both are satisfied with their choice. Each has some regrets. Why? Because for them, the decision was not so clear cut as it was for me. For them, the good and bad on each side nearly balanced each other. For them, they had to wait all those years for something in their SITUATION to change, rather than in themselves, since they were equally on both sides of the fence and therefore really not on either. And their situations DID change, in different ways for each of them, so they came down on different sides. Are they happy? Not always: who is? Are they happiER? Definitely - and not just because of who they are, but because they know themselves much better and have learned enough about themselves to live with their decision.

For me, it has always been a question of reconsidering the decision: If I had the success I'm about to get with the story development software THEN would I have done this? If I had married a more demonstrative woman, younger, prettier, would I have done this? Now that I'm here, do I want to go back? I could, you know. Nobody pulls down your pants to see what you've got. Just shift the old voice back, go on testosterone, retrain the body English - I did it before; I can do it again. But I won't. And why not? Not because I'm so terribly happy. Not because I have found the end of the rainbow - far from it. No, I won't go back because there is no motivation deep within me driving me to do it like there was when I changed from male to female.

You see, when it comes down to it, the only real justification for surgery is that you can't stop yourself. No matter WHAT might happen you HAVE to do it. And so you do or you don't or you wait and then do or don't. It really doesn't matter. If the time is someday right for you, you'll be full of doubt but unable to stop. That is a real argument for it not being an easy thing. If we could just take a pill, we'd be flip-flopping back and forth three times a week. But then, it wouldn't matter, would it, because the consequences would be so miniscule. But, the consequences are fairly formidible the way things are, and the difficulty of the journey is just about tough enough to require that undeniable drive to get to the surgical table.

So, to bring it all together, just go with the flow: explore each step of the way. And when your drive gives out, you'll find that you stop dead in your tracks like those toys that walk up to the edge of the table and halt, OR your drive won't give out and you'll wake up and realize you marched right over the edge into the unknown. Then you'll spend the rest of your time rethinking if you should've stayed at the edge: but its a mute point - you really couldn't have, even if it would've been better, simply because your drive wouldn't let you stay.

I hope this helps give you some new perspectives as you ponder your future and the meaning of life.

Love and best wishes,
Melanie Anne

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Subj: Thank You
From: GAnnSmith
To: Melanie XX

Melanie,

As you are already aware of, I went through a very difficult time last week. In fact, I've been going through this for quite some time. I realized last week, however, that I might be a Transsexual.

Now I have been a rather active crossdresser for the last couple years, after coming out of a ten year purge. I assumed that this was all I would need; that I would only have to dress occassionally and that that would, by itself, take care of my "feminine feelings." Last week all this went on its ear. I began to reflect upon things so far, and realized that I still didn't feel that I was fully looking at myself. And when I did, I truly frightened myself. I realized that I was more than willing to go ahead and strive for the operation, and everything else, at whatever cost necessary -- and I am not referring to purely monetary costs either.

As I said, this frightened me. So I considered locking it away yet again. But, of course, the Pandora's Box was opened, and the lock would not go down.

So I found myself in a dilemma. And it upset me. I wrote you, and others, looking for help. And you responded. To paraphrase you from the response 'I cannot tell you how I decided that I was transsexual, I don't even know if I am now.'

You have no idea how much I needed to hear those words. It gave me the strength to continue, and to finally realize that I needn't try to supress any desire for SRS, and such.

That is not to say that I am hell-bent on doing that, say, tomorrow, or that it shall ever take place, but I can't rule it out now.

And there was something else there, in your response. You taught me a very important idea: that no matter where I end up going, I may as well enjoy the trip there.

Thank you,
Gwen Smith

P.S.: Anything that I do send your way, as if you didn't already know it, is certainly open to publishing, unless I ask it not to be.

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