RavenKaldera.org » Transgender Archive



Disclaimer: These articles are historical documents. They were written in 2000-2004. The terminology and vocabulary used dates from that era, and was acceptable at that time. The descriptions of people and their interesting customs are descriptions of the east coast transgender communities that I hung out in at that time. If it doesn’t look like what you know today, that’s because it isn’t. I refuse to rewrite these documents because someday it will be important to have them available for historical reasons. In addition, I do not claim to be an academic or scholar, and I do not claim to speak for anyone except myself and all the transfolks who have given me permission to speak for them, which is quite a few. Have a nice day.




A Letter To Would-Be Transsexuals

It's not easy to be transsexual. If you're questioning whether or not sex reassignment is right for you, here's a test. Below we've listed all the worst-case scenarios, the awful things that might happen to you if you go down this path. It's not that there aren't good things about being transsexual; there are, but it's important to know what pitfalls may lie ahead.

Not all transsexuals will suffer from everything on this list. Some might be lucky enough to have only experienced a few of these hardships. We're willing to concede that there might actually be some transsexuals out there who have never been troubled by anything on this list, because we suppose that anything is possible, but it's not likely. More likely you will be meeting and battling at least some of these demons, although everyone's experience is different.

Being transsexual is not "fun". It's not "cool". It's not all that erotic, either. You do it because you could not do anything else and still be as happy. It's an incredible relief, and there are many joys associated with that relief from pain, but it is a hard and difficult road. Many - but not all - of the problems you will face are the result of a bigoted and unfair society. That isn't fair or just, but it is the reality of the situation.

Here's the test: If you can read everything on this list and say, "I don't care. I'd put up with every single thing, every day for the rest of my life, if I can only buy my body back, if I can only just make myself happier with my physical gender, it'll be worth all of it," then it's probably right for you. If all these worst-case scenarios are just buzzing flies compared with the real pain of your daily dealings with your body dysphoria, then go with our blessings.....but go prepared.

If You Get A Sex Change:

1. Educating people about transgender issues will be a part-time job for you, for the rest of your life. It's worthy work, but it can be boring and wearing and exhausting. Start putting together your spiel now - it will have to cover things like why you did this, when you knew, what your feelings were, etc. Start practicing it now, on supportive friends and family, if you have any. Get used to it.

2. You will be discriminated against. Not everywhere, not by everyone, but you will run into a lot of discrimination. It will be worse if you don't pass and you don't stay in the closet. If you do pass, you may worry about your cover being blown. If you don't pass, you may be ridiculed or assaulted. If you stay in the closet, you have to constantly fear being outed, and this restricts your pool of friends and acquaintances. If you are out, you might as well not pass.

3. Passing itself can be hard on your spirit. People that you meet for the first time don't really know who you are and what kind of experiences you come from. Imagine knowing that every new person you meet has to have their assumptions about you not only shattered but completely trashed if they are to really know you at all. Depending on how genetically lucky you are, passing may be a constant drain on your energy from the endless worry about whether you're moving or speaking or dressing right.

4. You may have difficulty finding employment. It's not unusual to be fired from most jobs where you transition, unless you're in a really liberal environment. If you don't pass, or you're out, you will find it hard to find work. Social mobility among transsexuals is mostly downward. Your resume has someone else's work history on it, and you may have to choose between leaving on the prior experience that may out you in the interview, or leaving it off and maybe not getting the job. The best option, of course, is to find a job that will be fine with your transition first, before you do it, but not everyone is that lucky.

5. If you found cross-dressing erotic before transition, that will probably go away when it's not cross-dressing any more, it's just normalcy. It's not erotic when it's what's for breakfast for the rest of your life. You'll have to find a new fetish.

6. You won't ever have a normal body of a member of the opposite sex. You may have a decent replication, depending on your genetics, surgery and hormone results, and luck, but it won't be "normal". Hopefully it will be "good enough" for complete psychological well-being, but it might not be.

7. There's no guarantee that your body dysphoria will ever go away entirely. It will certainly improve as you take hormones and change your appearance, but it may not ever go away completely. If you choose not to get genital surgery - it may cost too much, or you may not be satisfied with the results - you may still get attacks of dysphoria, especially when you try to have sex.

8. If you do get surgery, it may be less than ideal. It will hurt. It will certainly cost a lot. Although surgical techniques are better than they were, there's still no guarantee that it won't cost you your nerve endings. This goes for MTF and FTMs are well. We know some of both who had genital surgery within the last year and lost the ability to orgasm with the moved-around tissue. It may develop complications. It may leave huge scars. In the case of phalloplasties, it may rot off. No surgeon has a perfect rate; it may have more to do with good genetics and pure luck than anything else. If you have bad results, it can painfully remind you of your trans status every time you look at it.

9. If you enjoyed being naked in front of people before (we're assuming that it was in appropriate places), that will change once your anatomy is gender-mixed. It will be hard to be naked in front of strangers without it becoming an Education Campaign. Even if you educate them, they may not see you as anything but a freak show.

10. Your dating pool will shrink drastically. This is especially true if you are FTM. That doesn't mean that you can't ever find someone - we did - but it means that you'll have to look a whole lot harder, put up with a lot of rejection on the grounds of your anatomy, and deal with Educating nearly everyone you date. The vast majority of people will not want you sexually. When you do get in bed with a new person, you'll probably have to go through a long explanation of what works and what doesn't, what you want touched and what you want left alone, what you want things called and what sex acts you can't stand. This will, of course, vary with the dysphoria level of each individual person, but with even a medium amount of dysphoria, explaining your sexual habits and functioning bears more resemblance to what disabled people have to do when explaining about their bodies and sexual difficulties.

11. You may lose your family. The majority of the transfolk we know do not have good relationships with their blood kin. It takes very special people to accept their child's sex change, and not everyone is up to it.

12. You may lose many or even all of your friends. You can, of course, make new ones, but losing friends over a sex change is not a fun thing.

13. You may lose your children. Older, grown ones may refuse to speak to you because you've robbed them of having a normal mom or dad. Younger ones can be taken away from you with comparative ease. This varies from state to state, but in general, being transsexual can be a near-fatal strike against you in a custody battle. After complete sex reassignment, you are sterile, and being trans will also be a strike against any attempts to adopt.

14. You may lose your religious community. This depends strongly on your faith of choice - some are fine with us, some think that we are dangerous and evil. Since religion is one of those subjects where people become extremely irrational at times, it will be exceptionally difficult for you to win acceptance in the latter sort of spiritual structure.

15. People will ask you rude questions about your genitalia.....for the rest of your life.

16. Statistically, you will be much more likely to be assaulted and/or killed by hatemongers. This is more likely to happen if you don't pass or are out of the closet, but remember that you can always be outed. Remember Brandon Teena. You will be more vulnerable to assault, rape, and murder, and the authorities will be less likely to believe your story, come to your aid, investigate your murder, or jail your murderer.

17. If you do go to jail, you have a higher likelihood of being killed while in prison. If you do not have genital surgery, you will be placed in a prison with people of your birth gender, unless your state is one of the rare ones with a separate wing for transgendered people. Regardless, you will be denied your hormones while in prison. No state is currently required to provide them, and so far all court cases by trannies to get hormones while in prison have not been successful.

18. You will have trouble finding medical care. Every doctor must be educated, and many will turn you away on the grounds of being transsexual. You may have to endure someone giving you an exam with a revolted look on their face. The emergency room can become a nightmare. Even well-meaning doctors may not know how to deal with your different anatomy and endocrinology well enough to effectively help you. Even surgically constructed genitals need different medical care from ones grown at birth, so there's no way to pretend that you're just like everyone else medically. If you are in an accident and unconscious, your nonstandard body may well affect the quality of the medical care that you get from emergency personnel.

19. Being on hormones usually means being dependent on a substance created by large, corrupt pharmaceutical companies for the rest of your life, especially if you've had your reproductive organs removed. It's expensive, and if you stop your body will suffer. It means having to deal with occasional shortages, price fluctuations, insurance plans that don't always cover it, and (for those on testosterone, which is a controlled substance) pharmacies that sometimes treat you like some steroid abusing bodybuilder.

20. There are certain parts of the globe that you can absolutely never visit because of the very real possibility of being jailed or worse at customs. In certain countries, our very existence is illegal. It's harder for us to get passports, especially if we have not had genital surgery.

If you're reading this list and you're thinking, "Well, maybe this isn't quite worth it," then don't do it. If all this is no more than annoying mosquito bites to the very real and present pain of daily dysphoria, then go ahead and apply for citizenship in our country. Just remember that it's a war zone. You can be yourself here, but you'd better learn quickly how to survive.

--Raven Kaldera, 2006



Disclaimer: These articles are historical documents. They were written in 2000-2004. The terminology and vocabulary used dates from that era, and was acceptable at that time. The descriptions of people and their interesting customs are descriptions of the east coast transgender communities that I hung out in at that time. If it doesn’t look like what you know today, that’s because it isn’t. I refuse to rewrite these documents because someday it will be important to have them available for historical reasons. In addition, I do not claim to be an academic or scholar, and I do not claim to speak for anyone except myself and all the transfolks who have given me permission to speak for them, which is quite a few. Have a nice day.