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Your letters - Melanie's responses

Are you and your wife still together? If so, what sort of arrangements do you have, actual as well as emotional? Do you have your separate boyfriends? Are you still intimate with her? Do you think the relationship is stable and will continue? Is she happy with the situation?

We are still legally married and live in the same house. I decided I was uncomfortable sleeping in the same bed a little over a year ago and moved to a separate room. We are still the very best of friends and go to dinner and movies and vacations together, sometimes with and sometimes without the kids. I think we feel about each other pretty much the same as we always did, except we each know that we are not man and wife and also not going to be intimate. We tried that after surgery, it just didn't seem a positive experience - it was rather bland. So, knowing the limits takes the edge off the relationship. We have made a lifetime commitment to stay married and look after each other. This, however does not mean we will always live together. I do date and may at some time move in with a boyfriend for a little while or a long while. But I'll always stay married to Mary and we'll always look after each other. Twenty years of trust is not easy to come by and stupid to throw away.

At what age did you tell your children? How old are they now and how do they relate to you? Is the relationship healthy/happy/good?

My son was 10 and my daughter 6. There were some sad and some rough times, but we got through them. I'm sure there are days when they are sad because of how they have been "cheated", but most of the time we are all one big happy family. The kids and I get into tickling fights, wrestling fights, in fact the other day, my son and I got in a water fight and ended up running out of the house and chasing each other all around the back yard with squirt guns and hoses! As problems between parents and children go, we have comparatively few. Both my kids get good grades, are involved in extra curricular activities, are clever, caring, and motivated. What more could a dad (or pseudo mom) ask?

Let me ask you this: would the long journey described in the "The Subversive" have helped you if you could have read it before departing on the journey?

Well, there's another question no one has ever asked me. Where do you come up with these? Anyway, yes, I know it would have helped me. When I first started, the very first contact I had with others was on an old BBS system based on the East Coast called The Jersey Shore System (JSS). I read about it in Tapestry magazine - the only issue I ever dared buy. I was completed under cover in those days. I signed on at three in the morning, having sneaked out of bed while everyone was sleeping. In those days, I didn't know anything about computers or modems to speak of and was using a 300 baud unit on a Commodore 64!!!

When I finally figured out how to get on the system, I found letters and postings from all kinds of gender people including special forums where quite a number of TS folk were very active with their communications. After reading for a few days, I finally posted, then continued to post for a while. I don't think I ever would have continued on this path if I hadn't found out I wasn't alone. Reading the notes turned my concept of a transsexual from thinking of them as these rare, strange people of the tabloids, so unlike me, into nearly exact replicas of who I was inside - just normal people with this one odd drive that set them apart from the crowd.

Just knowing it could be done was all I needed to hear. So, in answer to your question, if I had something like The Subversive to read when I was starting out, I think it would have provided the same service, but perhaps in more depth but with fewer varieties. In a way, that's why I am glad so many people contributed articles to the Subversive in the early issues. It provides the confirmation that one is not alone. But after that, it is important to get more into the heart of it, and that's why, I suppose, I've slowly shifted the Subversive to simply be a presentation of my diaries and the letters I respond to. In that way, a common theme emerges more clearly, and though it does not negate anyone else's journey, it provides a more focused illumination on the ground we all must cover.

I doubt that my barber would distinguish between my burden and homosexuality. There will not be compassion and help for people who are born with a different sexual orientation in the United States until we are able to reach these people.

There won't be a safe haven and normal life for anyone until these attitudes can grow. The day of the binary thinker as absolute arbitrator in the judgment of morality must end. Binary has its place, but not as an exclusive mandate. The analog approach, being more dynamic and temporal in its consideration, but now also be included in the equation or our culture will stagnate and die.

Now, how many of those men at your barber shop do you imagine have their own little secret feelings but are so trained in the ways of sameness that they don't even realize those feelings are theirs and view them as unwanted intrusions thrust upon them by the liberal media? Now THAT is a fairly entrenched mental position, when one sees one's own feelings as coming from the outside. In psychology, it is called "projection". In Mental Relativity, we call it "fourth level justification".

Hi Melanie Well. I did check your Web Site , it was a waste of time , maybe because I expected something different . Only suggestion I can give you is to change your heading from : Web girl in Burbank , to : Web transsexual in Burbank ! No matter how many operations you get, how many hormone shots , you will never be a girl , so do not try to be. There is nothing wrong to be a TS, so be it, and do not try to fool everybody .

Now, first of all, I listed BOTH my Web sites. That should indicate to you that I am not trying to "fool everybody". If I was, I would only have listed my first address. Believe me, if I met you at a dance or at work, you would never know I was originally born physically male unless I told you. Even if we should have become romantically involved, you would never have known. This is because who I am comes from the inside and is now reflected by the outside.

I teach classes to hundreds of people. None of them know. But if anyone becomes closer than a casual acquaintance, I share my past as a matter of ethics and courtesy.

I got no sense of either ethics or courtesy in the tone of your note to me. I do not mean to diminish you in any way, but simply to say that the tone of your reply and the assumption that I am trying to pull a fast one not only does not fit the facts of my up front approach, but also hurts me deeply.

Sure, I have never met you, and from the sound of things, I never will - at least not with your knowing about it. We may have already met at some time and you just didn't know it was me.

The point is, I don't know what you think I have done to you to deserve your hurting my feelings. I am honest, and for this I get rebuked. If I simply met you and we struck it off, I could have married you and you would never have known. And because I was honest, you attack me?

I know you probably won't read this far. People who come to me with attitudes such as yours seldom want to learn anything that might change their minds. But, I have a few things I feel obligated to write. Ignore them, if you will, but then we both know what that says about your open-mindedness.

First of all, I was never gay. I never had a gay thought or fantasy. I married at age 22 as a virgin. I had two children because I believed that was what was expected of me. I tried VERY hard to be what the world wanted. But ever since kindergarten, I felt out of place. And finally, about six years ago, I decided to find out why. I then explored what it would mean to change my life. I went through two terrible years of being ridiculed until I unlearned all the old behaviors that didn't fit and learned a new way of speaking.

Then, I fit in and felt better about myself than I ever had before. Now, to me, that does not seem like an attack on anyone or even a threat. To me it seems like someone who really looks inside, improves what they can and accepts what is an essential part of their being.

If you follow medical news, you know that there is now scientific proof that the brains of men and women are different. It is not a stretch to realize some children are born with a birth defect in which the brain structure of one sex occurs in a body of the other.

God does not make mistakes. These things happen for a reason. But just as when a child is born blind and we have learned to make him or her whole, so too we can correct the birth defect of the transsexual.

Now, my story is a long one and I won't relate it here. There is a medical reason why my life had to turn this way to find happiness. I have done the best I can for myself. But don't expect me to wear a sign everywhere saying, "I used to be a man!" or to wear a yellow star in Nazi Germany if I had been a Jew.

Now, I don't know if you are black or white, young or old, male or female for that matter. How can you condemn me for being who I am now and then being honest enough to say who I was, while you have so many things you hide about yourself? Sure, you feel that you aren't hiding, but just that these issues were not something you bring up as a matter of course. Once one has come through transition to emerge on the other side, divulging that issue is also not a matter of course.

I am not a transsexual. I WAS a transsexual. I am now a person. If I called myself a man, people would laugh. Most people don't believe it when I tell them. They actually ask other mutual friends to confirm it. So what do I do, say I am a transsexual when I haven't had anything to do with that in over four years???

Does that mean you should say, I was a Boy Scout, a Navy Man, a Bank Teller, whenever you meet someone? Just how much of a resume do you expect everytime you shake hands and meet someone new? How much of a life history?

I really don't understand people like you. I know I speak in generalities, and I don't want to be bigoted about it, but to tell the truth, the people who make comments like you do never bother to read this much or to stay in contact long enough for me to get to know them as individuals. They close their minds and run away from what they can't explain and don't understand.

So, I suppose I'm just writing this for myself, but on the chance you are still here, know this:

You have hurt my feelings deeply by categorizing me.

You have lumped me in as part of some group with which I do not regularly associate.

You have taken a posting of friendship and responded with a note of hate.

And, you have simply reconfirmed my opinion of the very, very few people who respond as you do.

In fact, of all the responses I've had since my ad went up a month ago, yours is the only one I have received that was anything but kind.

So, maybe you aren't part of a group. Maybe you are all alone.

Melanie, Parent, Co-creator of the Story Theory, Human being

P.S. I am taking the liberty of posting your note on my web pages. Thank you for the material.

I never sent that reply. After I calmed down a bit, I penned the following response instead, which I hoped would present a more balanced impression of our community.

Hi, Triad. Thanks for the note. I appreciate your comments on how I should present myself in life, and also your evaluation as to what makes one a "girl". Thanks for the friendly tone.

I must say that I don't agree with your assessments and don't expect to change in that regard. First, I judge a person by the inside first and the outside second. I have always felt I was born with the wrong brain for this body. My feelings never matched those of the "boys". So, for me, I don't feel like a transsexual because I never thought of myself as a man. I FEEL like a woman who was born with a birth defect and had it surgically corrected. Since I believe that a person's heart is more important than their skin, if I truly have the heart of a woman, that woman I am, even if I never had surgery at all, although I had mine four years ago.

Let me ask you a question... If you woke up and found yourself in a woman's body, would you think of yourself as a woman? I suppose some people might, and they would just suddenly start thinking like a woman, with a woman's heart and desires. As for me, I was born into a male body, but never thought like that. I really TRIED to be a man. It never took. I ended up getting married as a virgin because I finally met a woman who was simply a good friend. But I never felt like a husband or father, and I truly regret not being able to change my mind to match the body.

But, I couldn't, so here I am. This is a LOT more honest that going through life letting people assume I am a man when inside I have never been, nor ever found a way I could be.

Anyway, the second part of your message deals with an issue of honesty. Believe me, I have grieved over that for years! I don't know what your beliefs are, but I think my situation falls into the category with all other things you have done or been in your life but are not part of your life any more.

If I was still living a life as a transsexual, then that's what I should call myself. But I live life as a woman. I am sincere from the inside out. No one would know unless I told them. I could get married to a guy and he'd never know. But then, I wouldn't be honest to him or me.

So, I don't believe I have a responsibility to broadcast all the "dirt" about my past history before I even talk to somebody. That would be kind of like saying, "Here's everything you might not like about me right up front. Now, if you can wade through that, there's a person in here who isn't any of those things any more."

First impressions, as you have already seen, are very important. When you didn't know about my background, you were interested in what you saw. All that I said was absolutely true. Only when you found additional information about who I used to be did it change anything.

Now, since I could "fool" you or anyone else if I wanted to, wouldn't it be easier for me to simply say Web Girl and just not tell? Of course it would! If I had done that, you and I would be dating. And the whole time, you would be feeling really good about it because all you saw and felt near you was all woman.

You know, I think if I put up "Web Transsexual" THAT would be trying to fool someone. If someone answered that ad, they would expect someone who at least had some aspects of both sexes either in mind or body. I would really disappoint them! Also, the person that ad would attract would probably want to talk about transsexual issues, or would get off on my having been a male.

Well, I don't want to talk about these issues. AND I don't want anyone attracted to me because of that. In fact, no one makes love to a hormone. They make love to a person. AND, the shell in which we live defines a lot of how people view us. If I have nothing physically left of a male body, then isn't it dishonest to advertise, "Well, I USED to have this and that, so try to picture it in your mind."

As for chromosomes, have you ever seen one? Did you know there are a lot of "born women" out there with XY and XXY chromosomes? It's a pretty large percentage, actually. Only a few are even aware, because it never comes into play in their lives.

Well, anyway, I'm not trying to convince you of anything. I simply want to say that I do not think of myself as a transsexual, am not seen as a transsexual, and have nothing to offer as a transsexual.

Of all the men who have written me, your note was the first to have a problem with this. Many of the guys I've met from this ad I have now dated, and they have told me they were quite glad I didn't tell them about this in the ad or they never would have written me and met me. Some had to adjust to the news, some didn't want to continue a conversation, some wanted to be friends but not lovers.

The whole point is, if I was trying to fool anyone, I simply wouldn't share the information about my past. By putting it upfront, but AFTER they get to see who I am today, I believe it is the most honest approach for both others and myself.

I'm sorry you have taken some offense at this. I hope this note has perhaps clarified a few issues and maybe brought up some points you haven't considered.

Thank you again for your friendly tone, and I wish you well in your search for the hormone/chromosome combination of your dreams.

You suggested that you sought out leadership roles. I am also certain that people sought you out for leadership roles as well. Do you still find yourself desiring leadership roles? Do you find yourself still being asked to fill leadership roles?

I've always had trouble trying to deal with my feelings about this. On the one hand, I do find myself being able to conceive of and visualize concepts and projects and solutions that most others around me have not come up with. And, since I hate to stand back while something that could be improved is not, I eventually (usually soon than later) jump in and take charge. The problem is, just by coming up with the idea, even before it is expressed, sets me apart from the group. I can never really be part of them because, quite simply, I don't think like most of them.

So then the only question becomes, "do I hide that difference and let the great ideas go unspoken, only to grate on my sense of progress, or do I offer up my thoughts and have the group set me up as a leader?" I hate that question.

In any event, I have chosen to speak up. As a result I end up isolating myself: "You can't have a simple conversation with Melanie". Well, that has nothing to do with gender except that the place of the woman in society still does not smile on the outspoken visionary. So, although in a practical sense I end up in leadership positions just as often (after all, most women have been trained as sheep) I find myself even MORE isolated from the group by comparison, so the attendant costs are even higher than before!

No, it is not a happy state in which to be. It is, in fact, the one true dilemma I cannot solve merely by readjusting myself. To be true to myself requires responding in a way that creates social isolation, to respond in a way that satisfies society is untrue to myself. Either way, I am not satisfied.

I jump between the two extremes all the time, sometimes being simply the emotional female (which is a part of me that surfaces when the logistic side is asleep or repressed) and other times being the dynamic leader who is sensitive, yet driven (when I put my tribal yearnings on hold). The middle ground is completely untenable as when the original idea occurs, the choice is binary: tell it or not.

I think more to your point, there are two aspects that we are talking about in regard to leadership: one, will people still listen to you after coming out, and the answer is absolutely, and two, will people still treat you the same way when you lead, and the answer is absolutely not. So, the power is not an issue, only how others respond emotionally to your exercise of the power, and quite honestly, though they will respect your work just as much, they will be afraid of you instead of proud of you.

You mentioned, you'd started going out with guys ... has it been like you imagined? Is it easy to find an accepting guy, who is wanting romance?

Well, the doing of this thing called transition is an immense undertaking. It is so big to change that much about yourself that it is inconceivable. Even now I know I can never fully appreciate just how enormous an effort that was. In fact, its totality is too large to hold in the mind at once. You can only get about 25% of it at a time. So, you go through phases in the change. Each one brings its own challenges, and as you pass into it, you forget what it was like at the last phase. Each one occupies all awareness. By the time you are finished, it is as if nothing happened at all.

As for guys... well, I don't know what the percentages are, but there are quite a number who either can deal with it or actually get off on it. I don't care about that either way, as long as they treat me as who I am. (They just love me for my body! ;)

Anyway for me, it is being held and protected that is important. I like snuggling. The sex part is good, but that is just incidental anyway. The psychological part is what is important to me, and I seem to be able to make that happen with any guy I want. In other words, after a life of not knowing what it meant to be in love, I can now fall in an out of love any time I want. That is only because I've never met a guy who was special to me. I'm sure if and when I do, the emotional will be the same. The only difference will be that I can't turn it off!

Just wanted to ask you what are the dangers of getting estrogen from birth control pills?

As far as I know, there is no danger from the estrogen. There IS, however, a danger from the progesterone in BC pills. Normally, a woman goes on the BC pills for 21 days and off seven. In hormone replacement therapy (HRT) Estrogen is given daily, but the progesterone is taken only ten days per month. I've found myself to have adverse reactions to extended progesterone use including leg cramps, severe depression, shortness of breath, and exhaustion to name a few. Recent studies blame these effects on the synthetic progesterone currently used for the BC pills and for HRT. There are naturals available, but only as herbs, so the dosage is unpredictable. My suggestion is that if you go with the BC pills, go off them every fourth week. You'll have major PMS, but your health will have a better chance.

Melanie, you must have made the right choice, since you look and sound like a great lady. I don't think I've ever known a transsexual person, but how would I know!

That's a good point. While a lot of really "true" people with sincere hearts still end up looking and sounding like truck drivers in tutus, there are also a lot of lucky ones who fit right in both physically and mentally. The real issue then is, can one ever feel close to another while hiding a big secret. I don't think so. That's why I tell up front.

This whole issue only comes up in my life every once in a while. It's kind of like when you talk about your childhood. Sometimes you'll go through weeks without the subject coming up, and other times it seems to come up several times a day. So, I try to make it just another part of my life's history, and pay most of my attention to who I am now, and the things I am doing, such as continuing to develop the story theory and also getting more involved in my art like writing, and music.

Response to another letter...

Thanks for the note. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I no longer participate directly in the transgender community. I had my surgery four years ago, and two years ago I stepped down as head of the Transgender Community Forum on America Online. Transition is not a state, but a process. The idea is not to get stuck in it, but to get through it. And when you do, you come out on the other side with a new life and new concerns.

I still hope to help those who are exploring the same concerns, though, which is why I set up a web site at http://heartcorps.com/journeys/

That site has all my writings for the gender community. Also, the Transgender Community Forum, which I originally started back in 1991, has grown FAR beyond where I left it. There are now many conferences as well as all the files to download and bulletin boards.

I assume that from how you say you came across my name, you are familiar with the TGF. If you aren't, just use keyword, GENDER.

Because of my writings, I get a lot of email from community people. But if I were to go over that kind of material again and again, I could never move on, and we must all move on if we are to grow.

In closing, I wish you the best of luck in all you hope to do and be, and urge you to become more involved in the online community on AOL, where you will find both support and answers.

Response to a question as to the reason
I did not originally link my gender writings
to my personal home page (though I have since done so!)

Yes, you are correct in your ultimate conclusion that I intentionally do not link my home page to my "journeys" page. The reason is that I have a very successful career as a story theory guru, which could be damaged to some degree if my history became public knowledge too early in the game. I do intend to link to the journeys page sometime soon, perhaps later this year. Because a large part of my income is from royalties derived from sales of the story development software which is based largely on my theories of story, I don't want to rock the boat until I am sure the market it strong enough in support of the software that the personal life of one of its principal creators won't have an impact.

Still, I do want to continue to support the community from which I graduated, so I put up the journeys pages and posted their URL to the principal BBS that cater to gender folk. In that way, I have a URL I can give to friends in the general public and another I can give to the community. Someday they will be merged. I also hope to enjoy meeting some people via Email who know me only as Melanie, rather than as Melanie (who had sex-change surgery four years ago).

Still, I am just egocentric enough to fashion myself something of a cross between Anais Nin and Virginia Woolf, and therefore hope and intend to release my diary and other writings at an appropriate time.

This is not unlike Anne Rice (of Interview with the Vampire fame) who also has a number of erotic books published under the name Anne Rampling. Only now that her career is secure has she allowed the connection to be publicly made. This is certainly a common approach by many writers, and one which I currently find useful myself.

In any event, the diary is up there for people to find and it is up there to be read. I'm not trying to hide it, merely limit direct access to a degree that won't jeapordize my continued success.

How goes the screenplay writing? I ran into someone the other day who was looking for the story development software. I didn't know how it was sold, though. Should I refer this person to you through e-mail or other? I'm not sure I understand the software very well, so I erred on the side of caution and mentioned I might be able to find how to get more info on it. It's a brainstorming/idea shaping tool for writing screenplays, right? Or am I way offbase?

Hiya! Actually, I hate writing screenplays. You put in a ton of work and end up with something you can't show to people who aren't in the industry, 'cause no one will appreciate it. I've done four, but no more. I'll be sticking to prose from now on.

The best price on the software can be found on my own web site at http://storymind.com

As for what it is, well, it is a computer model of all the dramatic relationships that must be in every complete story. How they are arranged is what makes a story different than any other. So, by answering multiple choice questions, the model will be able to calculate the collective effect of several answers and predict other answers without direct input. It will also narrow the available choices on remaining questions as the options are limited by previous choices.

In the end, the author gets over twenty reports about the dramatic relationships in their story from act order material to character information, the development of the thematic argument and shadings of genre. Also, in version 2.0, coming out in mid-March, there is a StoryGuide workbook and special companion software path that takes all those reports and hand-holds the author through the construction of a complete treatment of the story including scenes and character development.

There is also a streamlined version already out that does all this with fewer details. It is called the Writer's DreamKit, and is less than half the cost of Pro. List price on DreamKit is $149.95 and Pro is $399.95, though both can be had for just about 1/3 off that during sales. WDK will be selling at Egghead for around $100, for example.

Hope this is of use, and thanks for asking.

How do you tell, from the replies to your personals ads, who is cool?.

It's easy to tell who is cool, but not so easy to tell who I would enjoy being with. Cool is style, companionship is substance, so you really have to meet people no matter how cool or uncool to find out what kind of chemistry might develop.

Are you nervous, meeting someone, you've never met nor seen?

Never. I've been through so much I never get nervous about anything. Just happy or hurt, but never nervous.

How long have you been playing piano?

Since I was nine. Never learned to read notes (very well) but play by ear.

Consciousness is one of the great science mysteries. What have you discovered?

Well, it is too complex to go into here, but over the last six years as we built the model of the theory, we realized it was a model of psychology. The model is kind of like a very complicated Rubik's Cube, if you have those there. Our model is based on non-linear equations, fractals and relativistic relationships. Like a Rubik's Cube, it describes both a structure and the dynamics that make it stay a cube even while it is flexible enough to rearrange the pieces.

In trying to understand the fractal relationship of the model to the biology of the brain, we were able to identify the system through which the neurology interacts with the biochemistry to create an interference pattern that does not exist in a physical sense, yet forms the essence of self-awareness. And, from there, knowing how it functioned, we were able to take a look back at evolution and at social evolution as well, and create a theory of how such a biochemical/neurological system that would generate a non-physical self-awareness might have come into being. It's all hard science, though it sounds like some New Age religion.

I would've thought you do not get PMS because isn't that related to periods?

That's what I used to think until we worked out our model of the mind. Along the way, one of the offshoots was the discovery that the mind cycles itself based on modulated dynamics. Which set of dynamics you have determines whether you are more spatially or temporally biased in your thinking. Each bias sets up its own pattern of cycles, with the male cycles being primarily seasonal and the female cycles being primarily monthly. So, whatever chemical balance set up the dynamics in my brain set them in the temporal pattern, giving me a monthly emotional cycle almost regardless of hormone use. Hormones only amplify whatever cycle you have (or smother it) but do not create it. That is why I can look back to my pre-Melanie days and see the same monthly cycle, simply subdued.

What bust size were you and what size are you now?

I went from A to D in sixty seconds.

Do you keep photos of David?

Yes. I haul them out of mothballs every January 9th (the anniversary of my surgery) and throw darts at them.

The Story Development Solftware sounds neat! Did you use any AI, or is it all database-driven?

No databases, and no expert systems masquerading as AI. It is a relativistic model of mathematical relationships in non-linear equations with an extra dimension that changes not only the variables in the non-linear equations but the operations as well. That is what creates the flexibility without losing structure.

Is there mentally any trace of your masculinity?

That's for others to determine.

Do you feel like a real woman psychologically as well?

As compared to what? I don't think anyone really knows how anyone else feels. All I can say is I find myself more comfortable not trying to be like men.

By the way, what do you like to do on your free time?

Travel, the outdoors, adventures, writing and other creative expressions.

Where do you live?

Burbank, the center of the unknown universe.

What's your occupation?

Independently wealthy from royalties from software for writers based on my theories of story. I continue to develop other projects, both in software and in the arts.

And that is durn well enough correspondence for one sitting, dag nab it!

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