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A Word from the Editor (Chrysalis, 1991-1998)

A Word from the Editor (Chrysalis, 1991-1998)

Between 1990 and 1998 I edited, laid out, and published twelve issues of a remarkable and innovative journal called Chrysalis. Issues were themed, and many of the articles have been widely cited. Here are the Word From the Editor/Publisher columns from the various issues.




A Word from the Editor

Health Issue, V. 1, No. 1, Spring 1991

©1991, 2013 by Dallas Denny


Denny, Dallas. (1991, Spring). A message from the editor-in-chief and publisher. Chrysalis Quarterly, 1(1), p. 3.

Denny, Dallas. (1991, Winter). A word on terminology. Chrysalis Quarterly, 1(1), p. 3.


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A Message From the

Editor-in-Chief and Publisher


Hello, and welcome to the premiere issue of Chrysalis Quarterly.

CQ is an exciting new magazine which will explore gender issues which have been largely overlooked or neglected, and we will look at old ideas in new ways. Although our primary focus will be on transsexualism, our content will be of interest to everyone in the gender community. Our approach will be criti­cal, but moderate. I think you will be pleas­antly surprised by the quality and timeliness of CQ.

CQ will contain articles, letters, editorials, reviews, fiction, and poetry. We also welcome your advertisements and subscriptions. We solicit your contributions.

CQ is the house organ of The Atlanta Educational Gender Information Service (AEGIS). AEGIS serves as a clearinghouse for information about gender dysphoria. Our pur­pose is to educate the general public about this phenomenon, but even more so, to help persons who are gender dysphoric become aware of their options and make educated and considered choices about how they will live their lives. AEGIS will provide free refer­rals to support groups and gender clinics; to those not within easy commuting distance of a support group, we will provide referrals to psychologists, physicians, and electrologists, whenever possible.

One of the meanings of the word aegis is shield. A second is protection. A third is spon­sorship or auspices. By education and by dis­semination of information, we hope to live up to our acronym, for safety lies in self-determina­tion, and self-determination lies in knowledge.

The theme of this issue of CQ is Health and Transition. We have taken a look at vari­ous diseases and disabilities as they can impact the process of self-transformation. We have interviewed and obtained first-hand reports from persons with various infirmities and from professionals who treat transsexual persons with such conditions. We have looked at what the scientific literature has to say on the subject (we found so much information that much of it has spilled over into the next issue). But mostly, we have tried to convey the sense of dignity, courage, and trepidation with which persons with infirmity and gender dysphoria face their future.

I would like to thank those who have contributed to this issue, and especially those of you who have subscribed and taken out advertisements, sight unseen.

Dallas Denny

Editor-in-Chief and Publisher


A Word on Terminology


The Editor-In-Chief has worked in the field of mental retardation for nearly twenty years, and has become sensi­tized to the application of stigmatizing labels to individuals.

Current thinking by many in her field is that persons have mental retardation. They are not retarded, not the retarded, but persons with mental retardation or persons who have mental retardation.

Like mental retardation, transsexualism is a stigmatizing label. Those with transsexualism are not transsexuals, Rather, they are persons who have transsexualism.

Consequently, rather than conceptually turn people into something less than human beings—”transsexuals”—we at AEGIS will strive to use, both in our publications and in our speech, the terms transsexual people and persons with transsexualism. Transsexual will refer to a characteristic of the individual and not the individual himself or herself.

The bulk of those in the crossdressing community have chosen the terms crossdresser and CD to replace the pejorative term transvestite. Rather than use the term person who crossdresses, we will adhere to this apparent preferred usage.

—Dallas Denny

Caregivers V. 1, No. 2, Summer, 1991


Denny, Dallas. (1991, Summer). A message from the publisher. Chrysalis Quarterly, 1(2), pp. 3-4.


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From the Publisher


The first part of this column first appeared in the Fall, 1990 issue of Insight, the newsletter of The Montgomery Medical & Psychological Institute. It provided the inspiration for the theme of this issue of CQ. I’m afraid I no longer have the issue to capture the citation.


Welcome to the second issue of Chrysalis Quarterly. Our theme for this issue is “Being a Good Consumer.” It complements last issue’s theme, “Transition and Health.”

Transsexual persons should be good consumers—but often are not. They tend to face the reality of their inner selves through a haze of doubt, guilt, insecurity, and igno­rance; this is compounded by the apathy, distrust, prejudice, and ignorance of the general public—and, unfortunately, sometimes of service providers. Often, transsexu­al persons stew in their own juices until they can stand it no longer, and then act in a desperate frenzy. To say this is sell-destructive would be an understatement. Transsexual people should plan for transition just as for any other major life change—education, career, or mar­riage. They should not “closet” themselves for years and then expect to blossom overnight. Nor should they stop in mid-transition, accepting deviant lifestyles because they have found some acceptance as she-males, drag queens, or Street hustlers. Unfortunately, the haphaz­ard and slipshod manners and lifestyles of many transsexual per­sons lead them into continual diffi­culty throughout the transition pro­cess, and eventually land them in the gender twilight zone.

Successful feminization or mas­culinization is possible, and with planning and perhaps some luck, can be accomplished with minimal disruption and anguish. There are, unfortunately, myriad ways to foul up—and the consequences are mal­adjustment, unhappiness, disfigure­ment, disability, and even death.

The mistakes made by some transsexual people are legion. I worry about those who have sent large amounts of money though the mails to purchase illegal hormones; who have prematurely dismantled their lives—before there was any reasonable chance of passing in the gender of choice—leaving them with inadequate support systems; who have tried to transition or even have surgery before beginning elec­trolysis or before they have let the hormones do their work; who needlessly reveal their transsexual status at an early stage; who have had trouble giving up their transsex­ual status for that of a “real” man or woman, ending up in gender limbo; who have expected hormones (or surgery) to turn them into men or women overnight; who have been “pumped” with illegal silicone until they look like caricatures of women and men; who have taken inappro­priate dosages of hormones or who have taken hormones in inappropri­ate ways; who have denied they needed therapy (yet who obviously did); who have come on great guns, and then disappeared into the clos­et. Others have calmly and method­ically gone about the business of turning themselves into men and women. I have no doubt that the latter individuals will make it. I have my doubts about the others)


 A Word on the DSM III-R

The inclusion of transsexualism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM III-R) has legitimized it as a mental illness. In apparent hopes that it will somehow influence insurance companies to pay for sex reassignment surgery (SRS), some factions of the gender community embrace this DSM III-R status.

In a better world, perhaps insurance companies would line up to pay for SRS. But they do not line up to pay for liver transplants and other expensive procedures, and they are unlikely to change their policies about SRS. Although transsexual persons are crazy by DSM standards, they are specifically excluded from handicapped status by federal legislation, and their record in antidiscrimination cases is dismal in the courts of this nation. They have the worst of both worlds.

Psychiatric diagnosis is buying and will continue to buy transsexual people nothing but prejudice and discrimination. Status as handicapped persons will buy them little more. Transsexualism is a physical disability (the body is functionally and cosmetically unacceptable), and should be considered as such.

Only when transsexual people achieve acceptance as whole and sane persons will they stop being treated as devalued persons by this society. It is time for the gender community to petition the American Psychiatric Association for removal of gender dysphoria from mental illness status. It is likewise time to send lobbyists to Washington to wake up our legislators to the fact that transsexual men and women are just another of the many minorities that make up the citizenry of the United States.

A Word on the Standards of Care

We at AEGIS believe that transsexual people should go about their transitions in a logical and structured way. That elusive quality, common sense, is especially important when one is reinventing oneself. Each of us, after all, has only one body, and we can ill-afford to damage it.

When seeking help with changing your sex, there is every reason to take the same sort of cautious approach that you would take when purchasing a house or an automobile. You should shop carefully for service providers, proceeding only when you have checked them out and are certain that they are legitimate, well-trained and credentialcd, and well-intentioned. You should comparison-shop, selecting the person or agency which best fits your needs. You should frequently assess the services you are receiving and ask yourself whether your providers are doing an adequate job. You should not be afraid to “fire” psychologists, physicians, or clectrologists, or even gender clinics. Alternatives are available.

The Standards of Care of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, Inc., are a set of minimal guidelines. They exist to protect both transsexual people and providers of services for transsexual people.

The Standards are the Consumer Reports of transsexualism. They are the path through the maze. A reading of them will show you what you need to do, and what your service providers should be doing.

The Standards of Care are not just a series of hurdles that you must jump. If you follow them, you will be minimizing your chances of doing something that you will later regret.

Additions to the CQ Staff

CQ is lucky to have Margaux Ayn Schaffer, a talented graphic artist, joining the staff. Her input shows up for the first time in this issue, augmenting the excellent work of Stephanie Rose, who singlehandedly laid out the premiere issue. Stephanie and Margaux have worked long and hard to give an already impressive magazine an even better look. Margaux has designed the new AEGIS logo, as well as the new logo for CQ.

Holly Boswell is also a graphic artist, although she joins us as Associate Editor. Her article “The Transgender Alternative” appears in this issue, and her editorial input will be apparent in future issues.

Medical Model, V. 1, No. 3, Winter, 1991-1992

Source: Denny, Dallas. (1992, Winter). A message from the publisher. Chrysalis Quarterly, 1(3), pp. 3-4.


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From the Publisher


We’ve been busy, moving into new and more spacious offices; this explains why it’s been a while since you saw an issue of CQ.

The new offices will allow us to have design and printing services on the same premises, giving us in-house turnkey production, from writing to editing to pre-press production to printing to distribution.

AEGIS is growing by leaps and bounds. Creative and energetic people have appeared and are continuing to appear to take on the many burdensome tasks that need doing. We have successfully launched a magazine which has drawn only raves, produced an amazingly thorough bibliography of gender dysphoria (and we are negotiating to have it published), and distributed the first several of a series of booklets designed to help transgendered persons help themselves. We have started a support group (which is now independently operating, and thriving), maintained a telephone help line, and begun a speaker’s bureau. We have made liaisons with service providers and with many individuals and groups in the gender community. We have been involved in the planning and running of Southern Comfort, the first-ever major gender event in the South, and are deeply involved in the planning of the second Southern Comfort.

I am amazed by the talent and energy which the AEGIS staff has shown, and by the ideas that they generate. My hat is off to each and every one of them.



After two successful issues of Chrysalis Quarterly, perhaps it is time to introduce ourselves.

I am the founder and Executive Director of AEGIS. I am a youthful and exuberant 42-year-old. I am employed at a sheltered workshop for adults with mental retardation, doing case coordination, psychological testing, and applied behavior analysis. I find the work very fulfilling. I am a licensed psychological examiner in Tennessee.

I am working hard to finish my doctoral degree in special education from Vanderbilt University.

Stephanie Rose is Assistant Director of AEGIS. She is in charge of pre-press production on all AEGIS publications. She singlehandedly designed and laid out the first issue of CQ and the Transition Series booklets. Stephanie was the first person to share my vision for AEGIS, and I will always love her for it. Her hard work is in a large measure responsible for our success.

Stephanie is a graphic artist by profession. She is a member of Sigma Epsilon, the Atlanta-based chapter of Tri-Ess, and she was very active in the planning committee for Southern Comfort, designing the logo and promotional materials.

Margaux Ayn Schaffer is Publicist for AEGIS and Art Director of Chrysalis Quarterly, and AEGIS representative to the Southern Comfort Convention Planning Committee. Margaux is an extremely talented graphic artist who specializes in corporate identity. Her work can be seen on the signs for and facades of many familiar Atlanta landmarks. She designed our letterhead and business card, and is in charge of the “look and feel” of all AEGIS materials. She and Stephanie designed a cookbook which was included in the Southern Comfort registration packet.

Margaux is the model of an enlightened consumer, well-read and articulate. She and I have spent countless hours on the phone and face-to-face, discussing gender issues. Most of the things I have said and written in the past two years were first brought to light in those discussions. Many of my ideas were originally hers.

Victoria Germonde is Production Director for all AEGIS publications. She is responsible for the beautiful production of CQ. A printer by trade, she has volunteered her time to help make CQ the most attractively produced magazine in the gender community. It’s wonderful to watch the pages of CQ as they come out of her offset press. Each page looks better than the last.

Holly Boswell, a resident of beautiful Asheville, North Carolina, is Associate Editor of Chrysalis Quarterly. Holly is married, and has a 4-year-old son. An editor by trade, she is currently doing graphic work for several books.

Holly is founder and director of Phoenix, a transgender support group which meets in Asheville, NC. Phoenix has been in operation for about four years, and in recent months, membership has snowballed. Holly was active at the Southern Comfort meeting, where she presented a workshop on transgender lifestyle options. She will be the editor for an upcoming issue of Chrysalis Quarterly which will examine the duality of human nature.

Carol Miller, M.Ed., is a licensed professional counselor in Georgia and Mississippi, an advisor to AEGIS. She graciously allows the support group we started to meet in her offices.

There are other AEGIS personnel I would like to mention and thank: Geneva Deveraux, who came up with the idea for the Southern Comfort 1991 Cookbook, and provided the recipes; and Brenda and Tamara, who proofread CQ and our other materials.

Are any of us transgendered? Yes. No. I don’t know. I’m not saying. The point is, does it matter? Each of us is participating on the basis of our education and experience. We are productive and talented and well-balanced and stable, and we have something to say. Whether all of us were born women, or whether some of us are new women is irrelevant, and should not influence what you are about to read.


They Infested a City

Dr. Richard Ekins, of the Transgender Archive, graciously sent us several copies of his Archive News. A 1954 press clipping caught my eye, making me aware of just how bad things once were for transgendered persons.

 The discovery of a small black book with the names, addresses and telephone numbers of scores of men living in the Midlands led to the exposure of what was described at Birmingham Assizes as “a vicious clique who had infested the city for many years….” The court was told that the men called themselves by names such as Tiger Lil, the Duchess, Garbo, Rita, Jezebel, and Nina. It was said also that the men held parties at which some were dressed as women… All the 28 men pleaded guilty to serious charges… At the end of the case the judge said, “I feel the police have shown considerable care and assiduity in these investigations and it is extremely fortunate that this disgusting clique has been brought to light.”

—News of the World, 1 August, 1954, p. 8.

If there has been improvement in the status of transgendered persons, it has been largely due to the dedication and hard work of professionals who have chosen to work with them. Beginning with nothing, they have built a literature of gender dysphoria, created standards of care, and perfected hormonal and surgical procedures and other treatment techniques. They have helped tens of thousands of transgendered persons in their quests for personal happiness and gender consonance.

Nevertheless, there have been and continue to be problems in treatment. In some instances, transgendered persons have been ignored, maligned, mistreated, exploited, or turned away by those who have sworn to help. This has been due to ignorance on the part of a few service providers; proper training in matters of gender is unfortunately rare in training programs. Although dramatic improvements have occurred, it is still difficult for transgendered persons to find service providers who are able and willing to help them.

Ignoring treatment problems will not make them go away. They must be confronted head on, so that those who have been responsible for sexism, prejudice, and unprofessionalism can come to understand how they have wronged transgendered persons and move to remedy their mistakes.

In our coverage, we will avoid sensationalism, and, whenever possible, back up our observations with references and quotations from the literature. We will try to point out solutions as well as problems. We realize that not everyone will agree with what we have to say we say, but we hope we can make those who read CQ realize that there is great room for improvement.


Public Service Advertisements

We have begun a series of public service advertisements, designed to make transgendered aware of some common dangers. Last issue’s “Dangerous Curves” ads was the first in the series, and this issue contains the second. In hopes that they will help us to carry our message to everyone in the gender community, we are sending the ads to support groups and publishers around the world.

The ads were conceived and designed by Margaux Schaffer.

Realities of Transsexual Surgery, V. 1, No. 4, 1992

I am hardly the first to call for increased cooperation between consumers and service providers. Dr. Anne Bolin kindly sent me a position paper prepared in 1981 by the Colorado Gender Identity Center, in which it was written, “As the principle consumers of hormonal and surgical sex reassignment, we have a legitimate vested interest in efforts to standardize and improve the level of medical care provided gender dysphoric persons… there should be more and more opportunity for transsexuals to share in the process of defining the standards of their own treatment. Just as other areas of medical specialization have profited in the recent past from the increased input provided by educated and aware patients and consumers, the treatment of gender dysphoric individuals can be enhanced by the creation of a full partnership between patients and professionals in the field.”


A Word From the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher


Few things on the planet generate as much heat and as little light as the controversy surrounding sex reassignment surgery (SRS). The effectiveness, morality, and legality of this procedure has been debated in the pages of scientific journals, religious tracts, and daily newspapers, as well as on the television screen. Few people are neutral on a subject that has been called at various times humane, lifesaving, mutilating, noneffective, and sacrilegious; which some feel to be psychosurgery, changing the body to match a diseased mind; which has been said to turn men into “constructed” women and women into “constructed” men; which has been called cosmetic and unnecessary in some theaters, and medically and psychological essential in others.

Few would argue for SRS; its proponents campaign for freedom of choice of genitals, much as the pro-choice movement is hardly a pro-abortion movement, but instead campaigns for the freedom of women’s bodies. As Dr. John Money has noted, the opponents of SRS would demedicalize and criminalize it. They would give it the back-alley status abortion suffered in the 1940s and 1950s, and turn transsexual people and the surgeons who treat them into outlaws. Others, not enemies, perhaps, of transsexualism, but certainly not friends, would have SRS performed only as an experimental procedure, in limited numbers at government-selected centers.

In these pages, I have likened surgical treatment of transsexualism to Pandora’s box. Those who demand SRS will not be gainsaid. A population that was undreamed of before 1952 is manifesting itself in growing numbers. We can expect more men and women to request SRS in the nineties, and even larger numbers in the 21st century. More and more transsexual people will come forth, playing havoc with incidence rates. They will declare themselves, form alliances, demand their place under the sun. They will be hungry; they will be vocal; they will be restless; they will want.

And what will they want, these men, and increasingly, these women? They will want SRS, most of them.

For some, surgery will be appropriate; for others, it will not. But the demand—the large number of people determined to have this procedure—will ensure that it remains available. The supply will grow to meet the demand. This has already been happening, and it will continue to happen. Wendi Kaiser, of The Human Outreach and Achievement Institute, told me over the telephone that 43 postoperative pre-registrants for Outreach’s New Woman Symposium in September, 1991 reported 42 different surgeons. Wendi said The Outreach Institute had over 200 sources for reassignment surgery in its files. She estimates that in the U.S. alone, there may be more than 500 surgeons doing SRS.

Yes, it is too late to slam the SRS door shut.

For many people, reassignment surgery is the culmination of a long journey toward congruity. It enables them to have normal sexual relations; it removes those last traces of insecurity about their physical selves, and it gives them genitalia which are more appropriate for their appearance and their social role. For them, it is, to use Donald Laub’s term, gender confirmation surgery, and they accept it, with all its limitations.

But for every legitimate candidate, there are scores of others who want surgery: often unrealistically, often with no notion of passing in the gender which matches their desired genitalia, often without the necessary persistence or stability of purpose, often without funds—they want SRS. They declare their transsexualism, and set their surgery date, some of them, on the same day.

It is unfortunate that we live in a society with a strongly bipolar view of gender, a culture which defines sex primarily on the basis of one’s genitalia. It is unfortunate because many transsexual people subscribe to this view, believing they will not be women or men until they have the correct genital equipment. Often, this segment of the transsexual population desires and values surgical change over the more important and realistic goals of coming to look and act like a member of the gender of choice and establishing a viable life in that gender. These people forget, or do not care, that their genitalia are tucked away, hidden by clothing, unseen by the masses. They know they don’t have what they want. They want what they want, and pursue it monomaniacally, like Ahab after the White Whale. They never think about the social and financial difficulties involved, the medical risks, the fact that their money and energy would be better spent on facial plastic surgery or psychotherapy or electrolysis, that they are sacrificing perfectly functional equipment for something from the surgeon’s trick-bag. They want SRS, and too often, they get what they thought they wanted.

But in too many cases, it is not what they expected, for they had unrealistic and perhaps fetishistic notions of what it would mean to have the new equipment. They find that it does not help them to pass, that their level of sexual pleasure is diminished, that they still have trouble attracting sexual partners, that the new equipment requires upkeep that they are unable or unwilling to carry out, that life is no better, that it was not worth the pain and the money and the bother, that all things considered, they would rather be in Philadelphia with their original genitalia. They grow despondent, and sometimes suicidal; they (if male-to-female) lose vaginal depth because they will not dilate (sometimes dreaming of further surgery to increase vaginal depth!); they begin to regret having the surgery. They discover that life is not magically different because they have changed plumbing. They have lived their fantasy, and they find it wanting.

I am not saying here that SRS is a bad thing. It is a miracle of modern science, and I would not have it done away with. But blind pursuit of SRS can be a bad thing. It is one thing for someone with a viable appearance, living and working in the gender of choice, to seek SRS as a sort of closure to a process they began years earlier; it is quite another for someone who has not yet begun to live in the gender of choice, or even to alter their appearance, to be consumed with fantasies or thoughts of surgery. Such fascination is not healthy. It is counterproductive; it is fruitless; it is a waste of time and effort that could be better applied elsewhere.

If a walk-in SRS clinic were to open its doors, there would be long lines of people, most of whom would be asking for genitals which contrasted with their social role and outward appearance. Most of these people, if given surgery, would later regret it.

It is for this reason that there needs to be quality control—that it is important that there be standards and guidelines which will minimize the chance of any individual undergoing irreversible surgery which he or she will later regret, and yet minimize the chance of the truly deserving being turned away. We have achieved the first part of this equation; I would argue we have a long way to go before we can say the equation is balanced.

The tightrope walk of transition should not be negotiated blindly, but with illumination provided by the helping professional. The object should not be to knock the individual off the rope, but to help him or her to maintain balance. And if the individual falls, there should always be another chance to walk the tightrope. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.

Given that SRS is occurring and will continue to occur, and that it is decidedly inappropriate for a considerable percentage of the people who desire it, some sort of regulation is needed. We need to move now to ensure not only that those for whom surgery would be inadvisable at that time are required to wait, but that those who need and desire surgery get it. We need to switch from what is essentially an exclusionary model to a criterion-based model.

The Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, Inc., publishes the only commonly accepted guidelines for hormonal and surgical treatment of transsexual persons. Their Standards of Care provide minimal requirements for both service providers and transsexual people.

The brilliance of the Standards of Care lies in the placement of SRS at the end of a period of real-life rest, in which the individual must live successfully in the gender which will match the new genitals. Because many find this impossible, and opt to return to their gender of original assignment, they are spared irreversible and potentially humiliating change. Those who persevere can expect to find SRS at the end of the tunnel.

Unfortunately, the Standards of Care are minimal guidelines, and as such are subject to overenthusiastic excesses by service providers. As Dr. Anne Bolin has pointed out in her book, In Search of Eve, the Standards of Care turn service providers into gatekeepers, giving them inordinate control over something that perhaps can be best viewed as the business of the individual. Worse, sexist and inappropriate notions of the gatekeeper can keep deserving persons from surgery.

What is needed is a balance.

The problem is one of locus of control, and it is a sticky one. Because surgical treatment is a medical procedure which can be done only by licensed physicians, the individual must give up some autonomy, just as is done with zoning laws and traffic regulations. But control should not be placed entirely in the hands of service providers, who are subject to failure and bias, and who are, as I have mentioned, making a determination of gender that is more the business of the individual than it is theirs.

Where is the balance? I’m not sure, but I suspect that the answer may lie partially in supply-side economics. If individuals are free to choose among service providers, then they can avoid those who are unnecessarily strict or unsympathetic. The risk here is that by shopping around it may be possible to find a service provider ignorant enough or unscrupulous enough to recklessly give the green light to irreversible procedures like SRS. But it does give the individual some semblance of control—unlike the case when staying with a single service provider, who has final and absolute say-so about hormones and surgery—and hence, the fate of the individual. I think the advantages of this á la carte method outweigh the risks. By comparison shopping for service providers—or even for gender clinics—the individual maintains some control over his or her life and destiny.

Another point of balance may lie in reification of the real-life test as a prerequisite for surgery. Unfortunately, there are sometimes disagreements between transsexual people and service providers as to what constitutes success in real-life test. Here, too, I think the locus of control must shift a bit. Currently, the service provider is in the driver’s seat. Criteria for success should be arbitrated and contracted, with both the service provider and the transsexual consumer coming to a clear understanding of what “success” is. It is important that success not be limited to the service provider’s notion of what is feminine or what is masculine, or what constitutes “success.” If necessary, a third party should be invited to facilitate agreement. A binding written contract should be produced, clearly stating what the transsexual person must do in order to receive the go-ahead for surgery. It is imperative that both parties understand clearly what is expected, and follow through with the written plan.

To this end, it is critical that the consumer be provided with a copy of the Standards of Care. It is morally indefensible and medically unethical to keep a consumer ignorant of these rules. And yet, this sometimes happens, even in the most prestigious treatment settings.

A third point of balance might be for service providers to rethink the business of counter-sex hormones. Certainly, they are not without risk, but they are frequently withheld for social and psychological, rather than medical reasons, turning the physician into a social worker/psychologist—omething he or she is probably not trained to do (and besides, for what other conditions is necessary medical treatment withheld for social and psychological reasons?)

Some service providers, and even some gender clinics, like the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto and the Program in Human Sexuality in Minneapolis, require long periods of cross-living before hormones are prescribed. For a variety of reasons, this causes problems: 1) the physical effects of hormones, which are largely reversible simply by stopping their use, are less damaging, especially in the short term, than the global effects of terminating marriages, telling family and friends, and dealing with employers, all of which are necessary in order to even start to live in the other gender; 2) cross-living before hormones have changed the habitus to approximate the other sex is discriminative, giving unfair advantage to those who are lucky enough to be young, to those who have physical characteristics which help them to pass, and to those who have (often illegally) had previous hormonal therapy; and 3) requiring crossliving before hormones places the individual in a situation in which verbal abuse and ridicule is highly likely—and at risk for physical abuse, in this era of minority-bashing. I would add that hormonal therapy and SRS are separate and distinct, with SRS being much more intrusive, and that hormonal therapy does need not necessarily lead to the desire for surgical reassignment. An increasing number of people who identify as nontranssexual are coming forward, requesting hormones. What are we to do with these people, who call themselves transgenderists? Finally, failure in real-life test is extremely traumatic, and can do lasting psychological harm—and failure in real-life test leaves the person not only without a viable life in the new gender, but with the original life thoroughly dismantled. The service provider should support the individual in real-life test in every way, rather than throwing up needless and harmful obstacles like the real-life-test-before-hormones requirement.

We are coming to an era in which transsexual persons are becoming comparison shoppers, are starting to stand up for their rights, and are proud of who they are, refusing to slink back into the closet after SRS. They are beginning to question methods of treatment, and are already demanding reform. They are demanding a shift in the locus of control. This is a mark of social and political maturity.

Transsexualism is coming of age, and service providers should be glad of it.


A Word on Terminology


The Editor-In-Chief has worked in the field of mental retardation for nearly twenty years, and has become sensitized to the application of stigmatizing labels to individuals.

Current thinking by many in her field is that persons have mental retardation. They are not “retarded,” not “the retarded,” but “persons with mental retardation” or “persons who have mental retardation.”

Like mental retardation, transsexualism is a stigmatizing label. Those with transsexualism are not “transsexuals.” Rather, they are persons who have transsexualism.

Consequently, rather than conceptually turn people into something less than human beings— “transsexuals”— we at AEGIS will strive to use, both in our publications and in our speech, the terms “transsexual people” and “persons with transsexualism.” Transsexualism will refer to a characteristic of the individual and not the individual himself or herself.

The bulk of those in the crossdressing community have chosen the terms crossdresser and CD to replace the pejorative term “transvestite.” Rather than use the term “person who crossdresses,” we will adhere to this apparent preferred usage.

Diversity, V. 1, No. 5, Spring 1993

A Word From the Publisher

In February, I was at the Texas “T” Party in San Antonio. The “T” is one of the better-attended events in the gender community. There were perhaps 300 people present, but with the exception of the females who came as wives or girlfriends of crossdressers or to sell merchandise for Jim Bridges or others, and a couple of dozen transsexual people, the conference was made up of males. And not only males, but middle-aged, middle-class, heterosexual, Caucasian males. The diversity which I know to characterize the gender community was lacking. I saw only one or two persons of color, just one obviously gay male (“I’m here for the same reason you are, Honey,” I heard her tell a crossdresser in the bar), and one or two persons with physical handicaps. Everyone else could have come out of the Tri-Ess cookie cutter, except, distressingly enough, about half seemed to be on hormones.

Now admittedly, the “T” Party is just that—a celebration largely for heterosexual couples, largely for first-timers (so why were so many on hormones?)—and not a working meeting like IFGE’s Coming Together conference, which I also attended in April, in Houston. But IFGE’s convention had a similar constitution—largely male, largely Caucasian, largely heterosexual—and so did the first Southern Comfort convention.

It was, in fact, Southern Comfort which got me to thinking about our community, and the diversity within it. It was my first gender convention, and I was amazed by what I saw. There were people who I had once interviewed to join a support group, now in real-life test, and some even post-op. There was a 70-year-old male in a square-dancing skirt at high noon on Friday. There was a 6’2″ male-to-female transsexual person with her 5’6″ boyfriend, and a 5’4″ female-to-male transsexual person with his 5’11” girlfriend. There were legends of the gender community, and there were first-timers. There were transsexual lesbians, professional female impersonators (“Don’t try this at home, folks!), pre-ops, post-ops, non-ops, never-ops, TSs, TGs, TCs, CDs, SOs, and all the rest of the gender alphabet. It was a wonderful melange. But it was largely a male, middle-class, Caucasian, heterosexual melange, and I gradually came to see that Southern Comfort was an expensive-to-attend, selective slice of the gender pie. Why were there crossdressers there from California and Florida, while many transsexual people I knew from Atlanta were unable to attend, or were able to do so only by working registration or doing other chores? Where were the transsexual people from California? Where were the racial minorities, the sexual minorities? (A friend kept anxiously asking, “Were there any persons of color there today?”) Even the programming was representative of middle-class, heterosexist norms. Where were the lectures on AIDS, on safe sex, on gay relationships?

But it was the men who really made me see the light. There were seventeen female-to-male crossdressers and transsexual people, and they caught us unawares. We didn’t have enough for them, and to make matters worse, we slighted them time and again—unintentionally, to be sure, but an insult is an insult. I heard more than one banquet begin with the salutation, “Good evening, Ladies.” I heard the word “she” used time and again, but rarely heard “he.” It concerned me and has eventually come to obsess me that one-half of our population gets so very much less than half of the space in our publications and so little programming in our national conferences.

It was after Southern Comfort that AEGIS began seriously thinking about the diversity within the gender community, and how to reach out to groups which are ignored or shunned by the rest of us. This issue of CQ is an attempt to make the bulk of the community aware of some of these special groups, and we have begun to reach out in others ways—by pressing (successfully) for inclusion of more female-to-male, health, and transgender information at the 1992 Southern Comfort, for instance, and by appointing a National Minorities coordinator.

The demographics of Southern Comfort and other conventions are not surprising, and are really nothing to be distressed about. It is, after all, mostly middle-aged Caucasian males who can afford to come to such meetings. The organizers of the Texas “T,” the Coming Together, and Southern Comfort deserve only accolades and applause, for these meetings are open to all of the segments of our community, even if some are underrepresented, and the organizers do everything possible to cut costs.

The community needs organizations like Tri-Ess, which are limited to sub-sections of the population, and admirably meet the needs of their members. But other segments of the population have needs, also, and they do not seem to be getting addressed. Where are the national organizations for gay crossdressers, transgendered persons of color, transgendered persons who are HIV-positive, new men, female-to-male crossdressers, and transsexual lesbians?

We need to encourage such people to increase their visibility within the community, but it will not happen so long as we allow racial prejudice, heterosexism, anti-transsexual feelings (for crossdressers), and anti-crossdressing feelings (for transsexual people) to drive us. It will not happen until we stop bashing prostitutes and offer them a helping hand. It will not happen until we tolerate differences of opinion and stop putting each other down. It will not happen until we stop practicing the politics of exclusion. It will not stop until the petty and senseless feuds between various groups and individuals are put aside in the interest of all. Can we not be big enough to do that?

It is largely through the efforts of Merissa Sherrill Lynn and Ariadne Kane, and Virginia Prince before them that there is a community. They have influenced the gender world and built it into what it is. But it does not need to stop here, nor would any of them want it to. At the “T,” Virginia said that we are entering a new phase. I hope it is an inclusive one.

The Goddess, V. 1, No. 6, Fall 1993

A major purpose of AEGIS, and so of Chrysalis Quarterly, is to foster communication and respectful interaction between caregivers and consumers. We have done that in these pages, and will continue to do so in a variety of ways.

This issue is a bit of a departure. The first five issues of CQ reflected my training as a behavioral scientist. The magazines and the articles in them were logical and sequential. But the world is not always logical and sequential. Science, as marvelous as it is, is but one way of seeing ourselves and our surroundings. There are other, more ancient, and equally valid ways of ordering reality.

This issue, which was edited by Holly Boswell, gives us a less sequential, less Aristotelian way of looking at transgender phenomena.

Those who have gender dysphoria often feel in their hearts, and will tell you, if you bother to ask, that despite the troubles their condition may have brought upon them, they feel they have been blessed with a duality of nature, a merging of masculine and feminine energies that they would not give up. They feel a spirituality and a pride in being transgendered that they sometimes do not have a name for, a connection with what we have called in this issue the Goddess.

Dallas Denny

Publisher & Editor-in-Chief


Perhaps the most blatant and ludicrous example of sex discrimination in human history has been the claim that God is exclusively male. This absurd premise is based on a polarized view of gender, where women embody the physical and emotional planes of being and men are imbued with the higher faculties of intellect and spiritual awareness. There is an overwhelming accumulation of evidence that the subjugation of the Feminine is directly linked with the exploitation of Nature. All living beings— including soil, water, and air— are suffering the devastating consequences of this profound imbalance.

I was blessed as a child to live next to an expanse of forest laced with creeks. Most of my free time was spent there, both as playground and as refuge. Over those years, I was infused with the sweet scent of damp mosses and rotting leaves, the delicate music of water’s rush and gurgle over smooth sculpted rocks, and the dazzling flicker of warm sun through swaying trees in pulsing breezes. I came to feel her breeze through my own breathing, the splash of her creeks in my laughter, the total caress of her body surrounding my skin, and the sparkle of her life glowing through my smile and shining eyes. As I became aware of our oneness, I realized: it is our love that is divine and eternal. Who needs a church when this sacred union is naturally intact? Just before I went away to college to embark on the preordained path of my supposed “manhood,” the bulldozers came.

So why is the Goddess returning, and what does it have to do with being transgendered ? It is important to understand that the ancient world-view and spiritual practices of the Goddess are Nature-based, being most akin to shamanism and Native American traditions. The purpose is not to replace the male godhead with a female one , but to celebrate the whole of gender and reverence for all life without hierarchies. To quoke Starhawk, a major voice in the “Reclaiming” movement: “The Goddess, like nature, loves diversity. Oneness is attained not through losing the self, but through realizing it fully.” There is no prescribed dogma. Access to the divine is achived personally from within. The sacred and the secular are one, becoming “heaven on earth.”

The transgender spirit transcends the simplistic cultural dictum that anatomical sex is synonymous with gender expression. Gender cannot be polarized. It is a rainbow that is far too splendorous in its diversity. The expression of one’s true gender is intuitive and ever-changing. There can be no rules.

Just as women are reclaiming their connection with the divine, transgendered people are beginning to reconnect with a rich spiritual heritage that extends back through all cultures throughout history. Traditions of alternative gender are diverse and have many names, but they also have a potent commonality. They form a strong foundation that speaks to us now, to inspire and empower us as visionaries, artists, mediators, healers, and spiritual leaders. We embody the Goddess’ spirit of diversity and inclusiveness. We can be a bridge between polarities to help restore balance and wholeness. Our very own gender liberationis a key. We must cultivate “whole gender” in order to meet the critical challenges of our time.

When the first Europeans came to America, they called us “berdache” and fed us to the dogs. Like gay men and lesbians, who are reclaiming the pejorative words “faggot,” “dyke,” and “queer,” we can reclaim and cleanse our past through pride in who we are. Before we can help heal the planet, we must heal ourselves. We must tell our truth, refashion our myths, and reinvent the tools we need to operate in today’s world with deep compassion and fresh relevance.

This anthology is largely the result of a collaboration of “new berdache.” A circle of us from around the country recently converged in the southern Appalachians to revive our tradition and explore new potential. We are encouraging a ripple effect of widening circles. These are exciting times.

Holly Boswell



This first-of-its-kind anthology is dedicated to our dear sister Rena Swifthawk, a Native American berdache who has empowered us with her wisdom, love, and laughter to live in balance with all things and offer all our words and deeds in a good way. Just as women are reclaiming their connection with the divine, transgendered people are beginning to reconnect with a rich spiritual heritage that extends back through all cultures throughout history.

Repression, V. 1, No. 7, Spring 1994

Transgendered persons have a long history of persecution at the hands of others. Our cover reproduces an engraving from 1594 by Theodor de Bry, showing Panamanian Indian berdache being fed alive to dogs on the orders of the Spanish conquistador Balboa, who was offended by their dress and behavior.

There are hundreds of documented cases of the execution of cross-dressing men and women in Medieval Europe. The most famous is Joan d’Arc, who was burned at the stake because of her persistent refusal to wear women’s clothing.

The first group of people the Nazis turned to after having cleared the asylums of those who were mentally ill and mentally retarded were persons with alternative methods of showing their gender. And yet the files of the sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld were reported to be filled with thousands of case histories of Nazi officials. How ironic that der Fuhrer’s elite were dressing up in private in Berlin and Berchtesgarden even as the cattle cars carried those who were too masculine or too feminine for their putative genders to the death camps

Yes, transgendered persons have suffered at the hands of others. But they have more often been victims of their own doubts and insecurities. Most transgendered persons share a common history of denial and repression. They make repeated and often desperate attempts to ignore, deny, and circumvent their feelings. These attempts can take a variety of forms ranging from purging (throwing away clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, correspondence, and books) to compulsive overwork to compulsive overeating to alcoholism and drug abuse to self-mutilation of the genitalia.

Tens of thousands of transgendered persons marry and have children in order to prove themselves to be men or women. They seek out sex-typed occupations like nursing and secretarial work for women, or engineering and the military for men. They damage their bodies with needless risk-taking, and by neglecting their physical illnesses. More than a few (no one knows how many) end up dead at their own hands.

With acceptance of one’s transgender feelings comes the promise of a better life. For some, this means sex reassignment; for others, it means simply acknowledging their masculine or feminine side. Certainly, education is the first step to self-understanding, to the casting out of the doubt and the guilt and the fear.

Because we can imagine the smell of our own flesh as we begin to burn at the stake; because we can feel the cold linoleum of the kitchen floor as we sit there naked, knife in hand, ready to slide into our genitals; because we can identify with those in alcohol and drug-induced hells of their own making; because of the injustices done to transgendered persons by others; and because of the injustices transgendered persons have done and continue to do to themselves, the theme of this issue of Chrysalis Quarterly is repression.

Relationships, V. 2, No. 1, 1995

Relationships are of extreme importance to all human beings. Every one has family, and most people have partners during large parts of their adult life. Transgendered persons are as desirous as anyone of having quality relationships of long standing. Unfortunately, the very nature of the transgender phenomenon plays havoc with relationships. Crossdressing, and especially transsexualism, can, if revealed, result in rejection by employers, churches and social groups, parents, brothers, and sisters; alienation from sons and daughters; and hostile divorce. Small wonder, then, that transgendered persons are often reluctant to disclose their feelings.

Having a spouse, lover, or family member with gender issues can be extremely confusing. Questions abound: “Is my daughter going to have a sex change?” “Why does my husband dress like a slut?” “Will my mother be my father now?” “Why does my boyfriend being his behavior into our bedroom?” And the questions are not limited to the behavior of the person with gender issues: “What did I do to cause such behavior in my son?” “What does the fact that my girlfriend is slowly becoming my boy friend mean about my lesbian identity?” “Why did I select a man who crossdresses? Does it mean I have homosexual issues I’m not dealing with?” “What if the children find out?” “What will I tell my mother?” And of course, there’s the proverbial “What will my neighbors think?”

These issues are real, just as the transgender feelings are real, and must be dealt with. In an ideal world, communication would be open and honest, with all parties dedicated to maintaining the relationship, and with knowledgeable helping professionals like psychologists, family and marital therapists, and clergy readily available. Unfortunately, the real world seldom works that way. One or more parties will be likely to have hidden agendas, helping professionals may not be knowledgeable, and what should be a peaceful, gentle process often becomes antagonistic.

Well, no one ever said that it would be easy.

We believe that it is possible for a transgendered individual to function without friction in his or her environment regardless of his or her transgender feelings, and regardless of how they are expressed. It requires respect and consideration on all sides, but it is done every day, all across the nation. Family must understand that the transgender feelings are valid and respect them, and the transgendered individual must acknowledge and respect the strong emotions that his or her behavior causes in loved ones.

One thing is sure: we must all work towards maintaining our relationships. When an individual is put out of the picture entirely, as quite literally happened with the family on the cover, everybody loses.

FTM Issue, V. 2, No. 2, 1995

The theme of this issue is FTM: Men’s Issues. It is an issue by and for female-to-male transexual people, transgenderists, and crossdressers. They are collectively known as FTMs, but there is no doubt that they are men, pure and simple.
And not only men, but men who embody the best of what is masculine. Many FTMs hold onto the nurturing, caring aspects of feminine socialization, even as they cast aside the physical shell. Unfortunately, many in the transgender community have yet to realize that the men are half of the community, and ignore, insult, and patronize them. Kudos to those who reach out to FTMs, and to the men for their patience.
Jason Cromwell is guest editor of this issue. Jason is a doctoral student in anthropology whose dissertation concerns FTMs. He is on the Boards of Directors of the International Foundation for Gender Education and AEGIS, and is past President of Seattle’s Ingersoll Center.
The cover drawings are by Tone Cimino, from a card for Jason’s 38th birthday.


t has taken much longer than either Dallas or myself thought it would to pull this issue of Chrysalis together. On one hand, it is my fault. As a graduate student who is nearing completion of my dissertation, my time is limited. Add to that the fact that I teach (to pay tuition) and that I’m a husband and father…. Well, you get the idea. On the other hand, a problem I encountered was the lack of submitted material. After an unsuccessful call for submissions (which garnered very few items) I resorted to asking, cajoling, encouraging, even admonishing individuals I knew to write something, anything, from their perspective. Finally, there were enough FTM authors for this issue. Which brings me to a matter I’d like to mention here. I find it extremely frustrating to hear FTMs say that there is so little material about us, then to provide an opportunity for more material to come into existence, only to have such a poor response from the community. But I am not alone in this frustration. FTM Newsletter editor James Green as well as the editors of Tapestry and Chrysalis have repeatedly asked for submissions from FTMs— to no avail. Why continue to complain that what is available is inaccurate, erroneous, and narrow, and not do anything about it? There are many venues for our voices to be heard. We must take advantage of these. To this end, I am grateful to the individuals who provided materials for this issue. I applaud all of them for having the courage to speak out.

The voices contained within these pages are those of frustration, anxiety, pain, and anger, as well as triumph, happiness, peacefulness, and joy. All of these emotions are expressed via the following topics: what it is to be FTM; how to deal with friends, families and our children; coping with being transgendered and living within the in-between state of maleness and femaleness; the media’s skewing of our lives by telling only part of the story; the addition of a condition such as multiple personality disorder and how it complicates being FTM; living with our bodies; changing intimate relationships; dealing with “male privilege;” differences between us and others in the gender community; being “out” or not; and last, but not least, the realities of surgery. These voices come through poetry, short prose, journals, and essays. With the exception of one poem and the lyrics to a song, all of the theme-related material in this issue is by FTMs. The poem and song lyrics are included because they express an outsider’s point of view that is both insightful and humorous. By providing these voices, it is my hope that those who are FTM will find some comfort with the daily struggles of being transgendered men by reading about others like themselves, and that those who are not FTM will gain a broader understanding of what it is to be who we are.

Over the past few years, I have talked with and listened to hundreds of FTMs express what it means to them to be transgendered. The common denominator among us is this: We have always known that we were men, even when others did not recognize us as such and even when we were not living as men or doing anything about our feelings that we were men in women’s bodies.

I would like to end with an excerpt from a speech I gave at the Southern Comfort Convention in October 1992.

As children, what we dreamed about and knew deep inside ourselves was that we were boys (despite all the evidence to the contrary) who would grow up to be men. But when puberty hit, we were told and we learned that the only way we could become what we knew we were would take some pretty drastic measures.

Many of us at some point in our lives took (or are taking) all or some of those measures. At this point in our lives, we can choose to spend the rest of our lives mourning that we weren’t born as males. But if we do, we will never discover the wonderful life that lies within and beyond us.

Some of you may be thinking, “THIS is wonderful. No, I didn’t choose to be transsexual.” And in a sense, I agree. We didn’t choose. But in another sense, we did choose to do something about our self-knowledge that in spite of our bodies, we are men. We choose in varying degrees to be men. But the question remains: What is wonderful about being transsexual or transgendered men?

I believe it is a gift. A wonderful opportunity to be unique men. How many men truly know what it is to be treated like a woman in this society? We know, and because we know, we have a special knowledge that it is more than a penis that makes a man a man. We know that it takes more than genitals to make the man.

I think these sentiments are clearly expressed throughout this issue by all the authors who took the opportunity to share with the readers of Chrysalis their thoughts and feelings about being FTM. —Jason Cromwell, Guest Editor


We’re pleased to be, so far as we know, the first national transgender publication (besides the newsletter of FTM International, of course) to have FTM issues as the theme of an issue. It won’t be the last time for us, provided that we receive materials from FTMs.

We’ve been publishing materials by men all along— Stephen Whittle, Erich Trapp, James Green, and others.

We understand that FTMs are half of the transgender community. We understand that men are not impressed by talk about makeup and womens’ clothes. We understand that there is a paucity of literature for men; that surgical techniques are, to make an understatement, primitive; that prosthetics leave a lot to be desired. We know that men are marginalized and treated insensitively by some factions of the transgender community. We know that Standards of Care developed for MIT people don’t adequately address FTM issues.

We don’t like it either.

We named our new publishing division after Lou Sullivan, a transsexual man who fought the medical establishment for his right to love other men as a man. Sullivan Press’ first publication will be Recommended Guidelines for Transgender Care, by Gianna Israel and Dr. Donald Tarver. The authors have taken pains to get the input of men, and to adequately address FTM issues in the book.

In 1994, AEGIS announced that we would award $500 to any group which would match that amount for purpose of putting on a national conference for transsexual and transgendered men. FTM International took the challenge, and we awarded the money in February, 1995. The conference, the first for men on the North American continent, will be held in San Francisco. Appropriately, it kicks off on my birthday, 18 August, 1995.

We’re very proud that our challenge provided the stimulus which has resulted in the FTM Conference. It wasn’t much money in an absolute sense, but it was in a relative sense, as it represented a major portion of our budget. It is money well spent.

1995 is a watershed year for the transgender community. It has seen the acknowledgement of transgendered academics, a growing recognition that it is a society which cannot accept diversity which is sick, rather than transsexual and transgendered persons, and maybe, just maybe, it will be the year the guys got organized.

—Dallas Denny, Editor-in-Chief

Transgender Gothic, V. 2, No. 3, 1996

A little over decades ago, Dr. Harry Benjamin, a New York City endocrinologist, was working with a few transsexual patients, providing them with counseling and hormonal therapy, helping them to make sense of their lives.

A few thousand miles to the west, in Los Angeles, Dr. Charles Prince, a chemist—and a crossdresser—was trying to make sense of his own life. He was beginning to correspond with other crossdressers, planting the seeds of what would one day become the transgender community.

Both Benjamin and Prince were pioneers, not because they were courageous, venturing into unknown ground at considerable risk to their reputations and freedom, but because they developed coherent, well-thought-out philosophies of (respectively) transsexualism and crossdressing.

In his classic 1996 monograph, The Transsexual Phenomenon, Benjamin laid out the intellectual foundation of transsexualism, a condition which had not previously been rigorously defined or adequately described. It was the first full-length clinical treatment of the subject. In its pages, he wrote of the anguish of his patients, they relief they obtained from sex reassignment, and the techniques he had developed to work with them.

Prince, who took the name Virginia, developed her philosophy in the pages of Transvestia, a magazine she published from the early 1960s to the late 1970s, and in a series of journal articles and presentations at scientific conferences. She made others like herself and the world in general aware that many crossdressers are heterosexual, and that men cross-dress for a variety of personal reasons (and not solely because they find womens’ clothing sexually arousing).

Benjamin and Prince were the principal architects of identities which for many years comprised 100% of the options in the transgender community. The community had little room for the only other available identity—female impersonation/drag.

At the time of my fieldwork, there only three gender options (social identities) available for physical males who cross-dressed among the group I worked with: the surgically-oriented male-to-female transsexual, the male transvestite, and the gay female impersonator/cross-dresser (1994, p. 451).

That’s anthropologist Anne Bolin describing “The Berdache Society,” a transgender support organization which she studied in the mid-1980s.

There is a problem with having but a few options: one tends to be channeled into one of several pre-ordained paths. Bolin writes of the Berdache Society:

Newcomers were presented with only two mutually exclusive possibilities for experiencing cross-dressing. If one were transsexual, then pursuit of hormones and surgery accompanied one’s transition. Desire for bodily reassignment became a mark of authenticity to male-to-female transsexuals (p. 452).

Conversely, if one was a crossdresser, one was expected not to take hormones, not to live full-time as a woman, and not to have or desire sex reassignment surgery. “If one was not absolutely committed to having the surgery, then was de facto a transvestite” (pp. 451-452). But a decade later, when Bolin took another look at the transgender community, she found things had changed considerably:

Ten years ago male-to-female transsexualism supported the binary gender schema by dividing gender-dysphoric individuals into men and women where transvestites were considered “sick” or pathological men and transsexuals were women on whom nature had erred. In contrast, the recently emerging transgendered identity offers an account of gender as a social product by giving one the option of living as a woman or a “blend” without sex reassignment surgery. The transgenderist may or may not feminize: some appear androgynously, and others pass (p. 482).

In a speech given at the 1995 annual conference of IFGE, Callan Williams noted that the ways of thinking given us by Harry Benjamin and Virginia Prince no longer provide a good “fit” for all of us. It is time, she noted, to move beyond the “Benjamin/Prince Model.”

It’s no secret that we are in the midst of a period of turmoil and change. A “beyond the binary” view of transgender seems to be emerging—and it is having a major impact on the Benjamin/Prince model. But without that model, upon which our community is founded, we would not be in a position to question it. The Benjamin/Prince model was an essential part of our history.

If a new model is emerging, it is not despite Harry Benjamin and Virginia Prince—it is because of them. Their courage and hard work made it possible. Their model, even if it no longer “fits” some of us, has served all of us well. They have done all of us a great service.

Harry Benjamin died in 1989, at age 101. His concept of transsexualism had been under attack for some years, but the opposition consisted only of isolated voices. He did not survive to see his model come under fire from transsexual people themselves. Virginia Prince is alive and well today. She has lived to see the community she birthed and parented grow to maturity, using the model she and Dr. Benjamin developed. And in the past few years, she has seen this community march into unknown territory, away from her model. How frustrating it must be for her—but what a mark of her success!

If there are heroes in the transgender world (and there certainly are!), Harry Benjamin and Virginia Prince are two of the greatest. Their contributions have ensured their place in history. Two or three hundred years from now, when our descendants have this transgender thing all sorted out, they will still be standing on the shoulders of giants: Harry Benjamin and Virginia Prince.

Employment, V. 2, No, 4, Winter 1996/1997

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go!  A lucky few of us do, anyway. Many of us aren’t employed, and not through lack of trying. It’s not that we’re not good workers—often we’re exemplary—it’s because we face a depth and breadth of discrimination that surpasses that shown to just about any other group.

Few employers will knowingly hire a transgendered or transsexual person. That means that those who do not pass, those who are “out,” and those who live in small towns where everybody “knows” find it difficult to get a job, and even more difficult to keep one. Those who are undercover—including crossdressers—are at constant risk of being outed. The bottom line is that regardless of whether we consider ourselves to be crossdressers, transgenderists, or transsexual, and whether we are in or out of the closet, few of us are secure in our employment. We’re but one innuendo away from being company history.

Many of us are forced into jobs which do not pay us commensurately with our talents, experience, and education. Some of us end up on disability or welfare. Thousands have no option but to turn to prostitution or other forms of sex work. Others wind up on the street.

It’s not a happy picture, but things are much better than they were even five years ago. Many of us are working, and at jobs that would have been once unthinkable. There are transsexual and transgendered pilots, physicians, psychologists, professors, politicians, and policemen.

A fortunate option which exists for many of us is transition on the job. That means we stay at the same posts throughout and after gender role transition. Some large corporations, in fact, have nondiscrimination policies which include transgendered and transsexual persons. There is job protection in some cities (for instance, San Francisco and Portland) and three states—Minnesota, Washington, and Oregon—but we are specifically excluded from national protection by the Americans with Disabilities act, and any number of courts have ruled that we are not covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That means that in most parts of the U.S. we an be fired at any time and for any reason, and so long as our trans status is listed as the reason for our dismissal, we have no legal recourse. I suspect that if more employers realized this, even more of us would be out of work.

Our experiences vary widely. Some of us sail along without any problems; others face constant rejection. Why is that?

We’ll be looking at some of those Why’s in this issue of Chrysalis.

Intersex, V. 2, No. 5, Winter 1997 / Spring 1998

Cheryl Chase and Martha Coventry are the guest editors of this special issue of Chrysalis. Cheryl selected and edited the text, and Martha edited the photos.

Contributors include Cheryl and Martha, Tamara Alexander, Max Beck, Raphael Carter, D. Cameron, Brynn Craffey, Derick, Dr. Alice Dreger, Annie Green, Morgan Holmes, Dr. Suzanne Kessler, Jeff McClintock, Angela Moreno, Sven Nicholson, Kira Triea, and Heidi Walcutt.

The cover photo was taken in October, 1996 in Boston, when activists from Hermaphrodites with Attitude picketed the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is generally considered to be the first intersex political action ever (see also the article by MorganvHolmes beginning on page 7).


Intersexed people have until recently been without a voice. Things changed four years ago, when Cheryl Chase founded the Intersex Society of North America and its witty and oft irreverent newsletter, Hermaphrodites With Attitude. This issue of Chrysalis, which is edited by Cheryl and Martha Coventry, both of whom are intersexed, reflects the groundbreaking work of ISNA.



We are thrilled that Dallas has given us this opportunity to present to Chrysalis readers these writings about the lived experience and the history of intersexuality.

Intersexuality refers to having a body whose sex differentiation is atypical. It is a matter of being different. There are dozens of reasons why a person may be born intersexed, but its major import is the same for each of us: We are different. Although difference is not an illness or a medical condition, sexual difference has been treated as illness since the middle part of the nineteenth century. Medical historian Alice Dreger relates, in “Doctors Containing Hermaphrodites: The Victorian Legacy,” just how Medicine turned its gaze on intersexed people in the latter part of the 1800s, and how that legacy is visible in  modern day medical treatment of intersexuality.

During the early twentieth century, medicine developed technologies, both surgical and hormonal, to alter the body’s sexual characteristics. In the late fifties and sixties, treatment protocols were established. The birth of an intersexed child was labeled a “psychosocial emergency”— but one which was and continues to be addressed by surgeons and endocrinologists, not psychiatrists or sociologists!

Current medical thinking holds that having a body which is visibly different from most males and most females is incompatible with quality of life. Intersexed children will be rejected by their parents, stigmatized by their peers, and as adults be unacceptable as intimate partners—doomed to live without love. The medical solution is to erase the evidence of intersexuality from the child’s body, and then to deep-six that history of difference by treating it as shamefully unspeakable.

The effect of these protocols was to render intersexuals and intersexuality invisible. No medical follow-up was performed, and we certainly did not publicly identify ourselves. Most doctors assumed that we had all successfully blended into the woodwork, and were now living our lives no differently from men or women.

That is not the reality. Many of us treated for intersexuality as infants or children have been terribly hurt by the treatment. Genital surgery has damaged or destroyed our sexual and urinary function, as related by several contributors to this issue. Medical attempts to eliminate difference have failed to do so—plastic surgery does not produce genitals that “pass,” and for many of us, our sexual difference looms large in our psychic make-up. In the effort to transform “different” into “normal,” medical and surgical intervention succeeds only in compounding the suffering of a child who will always feel different anyway.

The first large group of people treated in this way has only recently reached an age at which we have been able to gather enough material resources and practical skills to begin to heal. Medical treatment, by rendering our intersexuality unspeakable, delayed rather than facilitated our healing. The first step was to find each other, so that we could begin to tell our stories, to overcome our shame. We learned that our secret worry—that perhaps others had benefited from this treatment, perhaps we were the only one abused and damaged in this way—was not true.

As intersexuals have come together — through the Intersex Society of North America (US, Canada, New Zealand), the Androgen Insensitivity Support Group (UK, US, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Australia), Hijra Nippon (Japan), the Workgroup on Violence in Pediatrics and Gynecology (Germany)—we have heard the same stories over and over again.

Hearing these common histories has given us the determination to speak out publicly and to prevent infants being born every day—about one in two thousand—from being hurt in the ways that we have been hurt. The stories you will read in this issue are an important part of that effort.

Until we found each other through support groups, the only images we had of intersexuality were horrible photos in medical books: children standing naked in front of a wall marked out in centimeters; tight closeups of infant genitals with surgeon’s fingers spreading the parts; surgical illustrations of clitorises being removed, of Frankenstein techniques for making penises more cosmetically acceptable. And all with the eyes blacked out.

When we first came together, we were still too filled with shame to allow our pictures to be published, or in many cases even our real names. Now, we are finding our pride and finding the strength to show our faces. With special assistance from Dallas, we have complemented this issue with a gallery of pictures of us. Pictures of our childhoods, of our lives today, and of the joyful changes that breaking silence has made possible for us. These pictures are our gift to ourselves and to our intersexual brothers/sisters and their parents who have not yet begun their healing journey. And to the world, to declare that we exist, we are human, we are everywhere among you.

— Cheryl Chase, Guest Editor — Martha Coventry, Guest Editor

©2014 by Dallas Denny