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What’s That Transsexual Doing Here, Anyhow? Part II (1994)

What’s That Transsexual Doing Here, Anyhow? Part II (1994)

©1994, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Denny, Dallas. (1994). What’s that transsexual doing here, anyhow? Part II. Southern Belle, 7(3), 5-6.


View Part I



What’s That Transsexual Doing Here, Anyhow?

Part II

By Dallas Denny


One of the major problems with our community is crossdressers and transsexual persons are often at odds with one another. Transsexual persons assure me they are different from “those crossdressers” and crossdressers assure me that transsexual” is really a crossdresser gone tragically wrong, or that transsexual people are all crazy.

I’ve been interacting with both crossdressers and transsexual persons for about five years now, and I can say the major difference I see between the two groups is the members of one group have a commitment to sex reassignment, and the members of the other group don’t. I don’t see any consistent differences in terms of the level of gender dysphoria, passability, or feminine personality. Some of the most gender dysphoric persons I know are committed to remaining in their original roles because of friends, family, and employment, or because they feel their physical characteristics would make living in the other gender difficult. And some of the most masculine looking, acting, and thinking people I know are totally committed to sex reassignment, often with totally unrealistic expectations.

Considering my own approach to resolving my gender dilemma, it would by hypocritical for me to not support the right of the individual to self-determination. But I would be both blind and foolish to ignore those who are driving head on into brick walls.

It’s only normal for a crossdresser to fantasize about being a female, or to desire breasts, more shapely legs, or smoother skin. Every crossdresser fights a battle with himself the first time he shaves his legs or trims his eyebrows; I know, I’ve fought those battles with myself. But the danger point is reached when the individual makes body modifications which jeopardize his male life and relationships when he has not reconciled the risk with the reality.

This can happen with something as innocuous as shaving legs or plucking eyebrows. During my teen years, I missed hundreds of opportunities to swim because my legs were shaved. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to swim, but smooth legs were more important. I couldn’t have it both ways. I chose not to swim because I was unwilling to endure the embarrassment and possible ridicule of showing up at the pool with smooth legs. With time, the hair-bearing state of my legs because less important, but it was a real enough problem at the time.

I had the same sort of difficulty in my early adulthood with my eyebrows. Plucked brows were much closer to my feminine ideal, but let’s face it, they stayed plucked when I had to go out into the world as a man, which was most of the time, and caused people to see me as effeminate. That wasn’t something I was willing to accept, so for the most part, my brows remained natural.

Leg hair and brows will grow back. Other changes are permanent, and it’s when crossdressers make permanent changes without coming to terms with the effect that will have on their lives that they get in trouble.

Of course, what I have worked around to here is hormones. They are inexpensive, easy to procure, and easy to take, and they are abused by incredible numbers of crossdressers, who buy them on the black market, steal or appropriate them from their wives or girlfriends, or obtain them from a “friend.” I put the word friend in quotation marks on purpose. Anyone who would give you such a powerful body-altering substance, knowing you will be taking it without medical supervision, is no friend. Hormones pose significant medical risks when not taken under a doctor’s care.

Hormones are an essential part of sex reassignment. In fact, it is hormones, and not surgery, which made sex reassignment possible. And therein lies the danger. With time enough on hormones, it becomes problematic that one will be able to continue to function and live as a man. I am physically and emotionally a very different person today, at age 44, than I was at age 30, when I popped that first tablet of Diethylstilbestrol into my mouth. Hormones have changed me to the extent that I’m not perceived to be a man, no matter how I dress, and no matter how I act. Believe me, before I began taking them, I would never have been read for a woman without a wig and lots of help from Estee Lauder.

I might add that I myself obtained my hormones from a black market source. I remember well the sense of guilt, of intrigue, of danger. But I sought out hormones in 1980, when there was for all practical purposes no gender community. I had been to the only gender program in hundreds of miles, where after spending hundreds of dollars, I was told by well-meaning but ignorant doctors that I was too functional as a male to be transsexual.

As I had already made the decision to obtain hormonal therapy, I was placed in the unenviable position of having to either lie to the doctors, telling them what they wanted to hear, or to break the law to obtain hormones. A distant third option was to accede to the “wisdom” of the doctors and remain in the male role. I chose to break the law rather than to be more fundamentally untrue to myself by lying to the doctors.

I remained on hormones illegally until February, 1989, when I first learned of the Standards of Care and received a referral to a therapist who was knowledgeable about gender dysphoria. By May I was on hormones legally.

Because I found myself on the horns of that dilemma thirteen years ago, I work hard to make sure others won’t be in a similar predicament. I’ve worked hard to identify and develop resources in the Atlanta area and throughout the US so others won’t be forced to go against their innermost natures, breaking the law or telling lies in order to do what they must do.

It’s now possible and in fact quite easy to obtain a referral letter for hormonal therapy after exploring one’s options over a ninety-day period with a therapist. That’s not a large hurdle. In fact, it’s not a hurdle at all, for a main focus during those short three months is to help you understand your options as an individual with gender dysphoria, and what the consequences of your actions will be. That’s why I’m so pained when people I know they take hormones surreptitiously, without medical supervision, without the benefits of counseling, and without having worked through the costs of what they are doing.

Hormones aren’t magic bullets for growing breasts. If you want breasts, put on a bra and stuff it with grapefruit and go to work tomorrow, and you’ll see the effect having breasts would have in your present life. Hormones aren’t something which it is advisable to start and stop at will, for teeter-tottering can have deleterious effects on calcium metabolism and on emotional equilibrium. They’re not something to take unless under a doctor’s care, for they pose significant risks for blood clotting, especially in those over forty, and they can cause liver damage. Hormones are not something to take unless you have made an absolute and total commitment to them and are willing to accept their consequences.

Abuse of hormones is epidemic in the gender community nationwide, and it is in fact a major problem in Tri-Ess. To her credit, Jane Ellen Fairfax has acknowledged the problem and is taking active steps to deal with it. Sigma Epsilon President Linda Peacock has made a similar stand.

Sigma Epsilon isn’t exempt from the problem of abuse of hormones. More than a few members have experimented with them or are currently taking them. Some have done it honorably, following the HBIGDA Standards of Care, and acknowledging that they are taking hormones as a part of their process of self-discovery. But others are taking hormones for all the wrong reasons, and without facing the ramifications of what they are doing. They sneak out of the house because oh, no, they couldn’t possibly tell their neighbors about their crossdressing, they hide their pills from their wives, their performance at their jobs suffers because of emotional turmoil caused by the hormones, all the while their bodies are slowly and inexorably changing in a direction that will eventually make it impossible or at best highly unlikely for them to retain the things they value and are clinging to so dearly—their wives, their children, their careers, their male friends.

Because I have had sex reassignment, I am sometimes sought out by Sigma Epsilon members who are feeling gender conflicted. Most say they want to take hormones. I tell them to find a therapist and work through their problems. Some do. Most don’t bother to take me up on my offer of a referral to a therapist. Some, I’m sure, eventually end up on illegal hormones. On the short term, I have no way of knowing who does and who doesn’t. On the long term, it will be apparent to even the most casual observer.

I have never revealed the names of the people who have come to me for advice or help, even though most of them are well-known to the group because they have spoken in a similar way to any number of people. I would never make it public knowledge based on our interactions that so-and-so came to me, or that so-and-so is on hormones. But I ashamed to say I’m not above passing on gossip. If I hear that someone is on hormones, well, hey, I’m just a conduit for a rumor already in circulation. I’m only human, and in the social context of the group, names sometimes get mentioned. I’m not indiscrete, but perhaps I’m no more discrete when it comes to rumors than anyone else. It’s a tendency I need to watch, just as does everyone else.

The bottom line here is, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. If you can’t handle a rumor that you’re on hormones, then you probably are taking them, and you probably aren’t dealing with it as you should be dealing with it. What in the world are you going to do when those breast buds come poking through your shirt at work? What are you going to do when you need to take your shirt off? What will you tell your wife or girlfriend when your erections go South? How will you explain your crying jags and fits of depression? How will you react when you end up in the hospital with a heart attack because you’ve been taking twice the recommended dosage of Premarin? And what will you do when, years down the road, you are unable to pass as a man?

I may be transsexual, and I certainly won’t betray your confidence, but that doesn’t mean I’ll condone foolish and illegal behavior. If you are feeling gender dysphoric, then fine. Explore it. Do so honestly, and let it take you where it will lead you. But don’t go skulking around in the shadows, deluding yourself and those who love you and breaking the law when there is absolutely no reason for you to do so, and becoming angry when someone innocently speculates about what is becoming more and more obvious every day.

Isn’t it ironic that something that can ultimately make someone so much more physically feminine is so often pursued in such an insensitive, masculine way?