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“Transsexual” Challenges Tri-Ess (1996)

“Transsexual” Challenges Tri-Ess (1996)

©1996, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Denny, Dallas. (1996). “Transsexual” challenges Tri-Ess. TV Connection, V. 6, No. 2, p. 21. It also appeared in LifeLines: The Journal of the Long Island Femme Expression (1996, October, p. 8) and a number of other newsletters.





LifeLines Version (PDF)

TV Connection Pages (PDF)

Read My Letter to Tri-Ess

11 September, 1996 Society for the Second Self P.O. Box 194 Tulare, CA 93275

Dear Tri-Ess:

Enclosed is my $40 membership fee. I am requesting full membership in Tri-Ess as a heterosexual crossdresser. As you know, I have been a long-term supporter of Tri-Ess. I’ve been reasonably content to be an associate member of Sigma Epsilon, the local chapter here in Atlanta—but I’ll be much happier as a full member with voting privileges.

Now, most people would say I’m transsexual, and in truth, that’s a designation I have proudly used for myself. I have lived full-time as a woman for more than six years, and have every intention of continuing to live as such. However, I know some Tri-Ess members, including some Board members, cross-live full time; if they are heterosexual crossdressers, then I certainly am too!

I’m not sure if it’s possible to be a heterosexual crossdresser after genital sex reassignment surgery. I do admit to making a two-week trip to Belgium in 1991, and it’s commonly believed I went there for SRS. However, I would submit that my genital status is my own business. Tri-Ess, to my knowledge, does not do physical examinations on its members, and I should certainly hope that it would not begin with me. Of course, there will be a Tri-Ess physician present at Southern Comfort, should you insist on a panty check. So far as my sexual orientation goes, it’s difficult to say what constitutes the “opposite” sex. The only person I’ve have a sexual relationship with within the last six years was a pre-transition FTM transsexual. I can happily say that heterosexual is as good a term as any to use to describe my sexual orientation.

It’s swell to be a heterosexual crossdresser who, like so many Tri-Ess members, cross-lives full-time, has taken hormones, has had electrolysis, and maybe even (I’m not tellin’) had SRS. Why, if everyone just understood that no matter what they do with their bodies and who they have sex with, they can be heterosexual crossdressers just by saying that they are, they would know that Tri-Ess’ membership criteria aren’t really exclusionary.

I’m happily awaiting my full membership status.

Proudly heterosexual, proudly crossdressin’

Dallas Denny

cc Just about everyone you can think of

I took continuing exception to the exclusionary membership policy of Tri-Ess, The Society for the Second Self. Gay men, bisexuals, and transsexuals were barred from full membership. I repeatedly asked the national leaders to open their membership to anyone would supported the organization’s focus on heterosexual crossdressers and their female partners.

I wouldn’t have made an issue of it except for the hypocrisy. On the national level the co-founder, who retained full membership, lived full-time as a woman. On the local level the president of Atlanta’s Sigma Epsilon chapter lived full-time as a woman—and yet had kicked another member out of the group for being transsexual. Nearly half the members had approached me privately to talk about their feelings of gender dysphoria or for a referral to an endocrinologist for hormones—and I knew that wasn’t atypical because a survey of Phoenix’ Alpha Zeta chapter had revealed a full 64% of members would like to magically transform themselves into women.

Even then I would have kept my silence—but when Tri-Ess Director Jane Ellen Fairfax, with whom I had been corresponding, wrote that I supported Tri-Ess’ membership policy I took her at her word that Tri-Ess would turn away no one who self-identified as a heterosexual crossdresser. I applied for membership as a “heterosexual crossdresser” and mailed the letter that accompanied my application around the country. It was of course tongue-in-cheek. I didn’t expect Tri-Ess to grant me full membership, and in fact they didn’t.

“Transsexual” Challenges Tri-Ess

“If they want to deny my membership upon the basis of my presumed genitals status, then I’m going to insist on a panty check, not only for myself, but for all Tri-Ess members.”

Dallas Denny, popularly believed to be a six-year post-operative transsexual woman, has sent an application to the Society for the Second Self, claiming to be a heterosexual cross-dresser and asking for full membership status. The Society, popularly known as Tri-Ess, is a sorority for heterosexual cross-dressers. Only heterosexual cross-dressers and their female partners are allowed full membership status. Some chapters offer “affiliate” status to those who do not meet requirements for full membership.

Denny, formerly a full member of Tri-Ess, has been an associate member of Tri-Ess’ Atlanta-based Sigma Epsilon chapter since 1990, when, due to her transsexualism,  she submitted her letter of resignation to Sigma Epsilon and was told she was welcome to attend functions as a full member of the chapter.

Over the years, Denny, who has remained active with Tri-Ess, has become increasingly concerned about Tri-Ess membership requirements, which she calls exclusionary.

“And not only exclusionary,” she says, “but hypocritical. There are members, chapter officers, and even some members of the national Tri-Ess board who are not heterosexual cross-dressers by any common sense definition of the term. Some live full-time as women, some take hormones. And yet I am identified by Tri-Ess as transsexual and denied full membership privileges. I presume it’s because I’ve had sex reassignment surgery, but I don’t recall a panty check. My genital status is my own business and not Tri-Ess’. If I say I’m a heterosexual cross-dresser, then by golly, I am a heterosexual cross-dresser.”

For the purposes of joining Tri-­Ess, I’m a heterosexual cross-dresser and as such, I’m applying for full membership privileges. If Tri-Ess denies me membership, then I’m going to insist on a clear explanation why. I don’t want to hear that I don’t believe in and support the mission of the organization, which is to serve heterosexual cross-dressers and their partners. I do. And I don’t want to hear that I’m transsexual. Tri-Ess has no right to label me. If they want to deny my membership on the basis of my presumed genital status, then I’m going to insist on a panty check, not only for myself, but for all Tri-Ess members, And I’m going to ask why others born male who live as women are allowed in while I’m not.”

Denny, who founded and is director of the American Educational Gender information Service, a national clearinghouse for transsexual and transgender issues, was also concerned by the number of Sigma Epsilon members who approached her privately to talk about their issues with homosexuality and transsexualism.

“Cumulatively over five years, it was more than half of the organization,” she said. “We’re talking 30 to 40 people. Eventually, I said ‘wait a minute!’ Something is not adding up here.”

Earlier this year, Denny published an article entitled “Heteropocrisy: The Myth of the Heterosexual Crossdresser,” in which she brought up her concerns about the massive amounts of denial she had seen in various Tri-Ess chapters. Tri-Ess officials responded by asking the AEGIS Board of Directors to “counsel” with Denny for her criticism in “Heteropocrisy” and other articles. The AEGIS Board has not yet taken action on Tri-Ess’ request.

Denny received a Friends of Tri-­Ess award in 1992 at the organization’s national convention. She displays the award prominently in her home office.

“It’s because I am a friend of Tri­-Ess that I’m doing this,” she says. “Supporting the organization does not require me to condone the membership policy. Let’s face it: any organization which excludes homosexuals from membership can only be called homophobic; any organization which excludes transsexuals can only be called transphobIc; and any organization which differentially enforces its own rules is in need of reform.”