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Monday, December 20, 2010

Crossdressing Thoughts & Reflections - Stana

What's a series of guest posts, focusing on crossdressing, without featuring one from my friend, Stana?   Stana is very well known in the T Community, both internationally via her blog, but also locally, via her outreach activity. 

Femulate has an incredible following, which is quite apparent when I look at where the readers of my personal blog, and even T-Central, are coming from.  I often refer to Femulate as a Mega-blog and I'm sure there are many of you out there who have visited Stana's Femulate site.  If you haven't visited Femulate, do it now!  It's a wonderful resource for fashion, and crossdressing and also includes Stana's daily activity updates and even a touch of her own brand of humor.

So, without further mindless babble from me, let's hear from Stana.

 - Calie
 




My Theory of Operation
By Stana (stana-stana@sbcglobal.net, www.femulate.org)

I identify as transgender, more specifically, a heterosexual male-to-female crossdresser, who crossdresses once or twice per month (in deference to my spouse). However, I readily admit that if I had the opportunity, I would crossdress 24/7 and live full-time as a female without surgery, hormones, or other body modifications. I likely would get electrolysis, but nothing more than that.

If I desire to live full-time as a woman, am I still a crossdresser? Or am I something else... something beyond a crossdresser, but not quite a transsexual mainly because I never felt that I was a woman trapped inside the body of a male.

As a youngster, I participated in sports (baseball and football) and played "boy games" (cowboys, war, spacemen, etc.). I felt that I was a typical boy and I enjoyed doing "boy things," unlike many trans sisters, who as children, hated "boy things" and preferred "girl things."

I enjoyed boy activities... to a point. I was not your typical rough and tumble boy and I did not like to take part in any activities where pain was a possibility. For example, I liked to play football, but I preferred touch football and avoided tackle football. So, I definitely had a sissy streak in me and some of the other youths let me know it by taunting me and calling me names.

And I enjoyed creative activities (writing and drawing) and there were other activities, i.e., some that were downright female that I would have pursued, but I knew if I followed those girlish interests, I would be pushing the envelope too much, so I avoided them.

Despite my participation and enjoyment of boy things, other boys called me names like "sissy," "fairy," "faggot," etc., which indicated to me that I was not necessarily all the boy I thought I was because others perceived me as being effeminate. That perception may still exist, but as an adult, most people I encounter are polite enough to keep such opinions to themselves.

In my youth, it was not just a case of bullies using random offensive names to raise my ire. Even some of my friends told me that I was not acting like a boy at a 100% level and that I should do something about it.

I wondered if there was something in my speech or mannerisms that caused their reaction? I was not intentionally speaking or acting in an affected manner. Rather, I was speaking and acting in my natural manner.

The fact that even friends told me that something was amiss indicated that something really was amiss, but I was clueless. I had no idea what I had to do differently to be more boy-like. So, I continued acting the same way I always acted.

I did not and do not make any effort to be effeminate (or masculine, for that matter). I always acted in a way that was natural to me and my natural inclination was to act effeminately according to the "standards" set by our society.

I never felt I had a masculine or feminine side and I never felt that I was a woman trapped inside the body of a male like the typical transsexual, who hid or suppressed their femininity in boy mode.

I never felt that I was a woman trapped inside the body of a male because she was never trapped! I never suppressed my femininity because I never realized I was acting effeminately, so as far as I was concerned, there was nothing to suppress.

Back in college, I attended a Halloween party in drag. One of my classmates who knew me well was impressed with how my normal persona was such a good fit for my female Halloween costume. Until he saw me in drag, he never realized that my everyday persona was so feminine. That confirms what I always believed, i.e., "I" am the same person in boy mode or in girl mode except that "I" am a better fit in girl mode.

In conclusion, I am not a woman trapped in a male body; rather I am a woman with a male body and I’m OK with that. I realize that my body has nothing to with my gender and further that having a male body does not make me less of a woman.

31 comments:

  1. The problem is that non-TS people think the whole thing is all about feelings, and that they can "turn transsexual" if they just feel enough. That's simply not true. TS is about cold hard facts and biology.

    You are either born TS or you are not. It's becoming a clearly definable condition, and all the talk about being a woman with a male body is clearly unrelated.

    If having a male body doesn't make one less of a woman, does that mean women with female bodies (usually meaning people with vaginas when mentioned in this context) are co-equal to crossdressers? Why is it framed in terms of hierarchy? Or more to the point, why is it always presented in a fashion that does away with the status and definition of "woman" completely?

    Going through life with a vagina does make a difference. All the difference in the world. Having bodily integrity IS important.

    I'd like to hear the proof that crossdressing has anything at all to do with having biologically "female" neurology. Until there is some kind of real science behind this connection between CD and TS that is always assumed is patently false. It's a bold faced claim made because it has always gone unchallenged in the past. Well that's going to change.

    CD'ers should start asking themselves some hard questions. And they should start listening to people born TS when they are told that what the CD'er experiences is not even close to being the same. It's your life to ruin.

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  2. Virginia Prince lived full time as a woman without surgery. She called herself a transgenderist, distinct from transsexual. That just means "full-time crossdresser." Not terribly complicated, although the word has gone out of fashion.

    There is a lot of conflation in this post of stereotypically feminine with female and stereotypically masculine with male. I quite understand that society reinforces this conflation, and indeed you experienced it up close. But even though women in general have a tendency to be feminine (and the exceptions almost undermine the rule) and men in general have a tendency to be masculine (again with lots of exceptions), feminine does not equal female and masculine does not equal male. There is no such thing as a male activity or a female activity.

    I never thought of myself as a woman trapped inside the body of a man, although I know that's a common description. I have always been myself, same as you, with very little repression. I never built a male façade. I did suffer for this when I was young, and indeed sometimes when I was older, but I was a total failure at stereotypically masculine behaviour. Still, that didn't tell me I was transsexual. The need to change my body to match my brain did.

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  3. I just wanted to let you know that I love your blog Stana and I think you are wonderful...just as you are! Hugs!

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  4. @arialblue: I don't have any problem accepting the assertion that the TS experience/condition is different from that of a CD (and by CD, I assume you to mean everyone except TS).

    But why is it that every post in this series by a CD that celebrates their transgenderism is answered by a TS that feels the need to invalidate that experience? Why would a TS be upset that some of us may feel ourselves to be partly female? We are different, no doubt, but why do you have to make sure to draw the line between us with a bolder stroke?

    I do not mean this as an attack of any kind; the questions are genuinely intended to solicit answers. I am seeking a better understanding of why, instead of comments congratulating the CD poster on their lifestyle or even on their post, or celebrating the diversity of our community, we have comments that seem to me to be dismissing their experiences and feelings.

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  5. Excellent point. Perhaps the reason for the seeming and in some cases, outright defensiveness by both sides of the debate, is that there is a politically active minority within your community that has pushed long and hard to erase that distinction.

    I can not, nor would I care or dare, to speak for others but, it is my hope that given a good understanding of that distinction a peaceful co-existance might ensue.

    I do not believe I am trying to invalidate your experience. I am just trying to distinguish it from mine.

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  6. In addition to my CD-life, I play keyboards. Now if ever there was a competive lot, it's musicians. There's always another instrument, other riff, someone better or worse, people who can't keep time, those who can't read, despised by those those who can.

    *****ism seems to me much the same. Labels don't help here either. Each of us afraid of being an outcast, and picking on the other first.

    As my dear ole dad used to say, 'enjoy the skin you're in', or as he didn't say, but I will now, 'whatever turns you on, the universe doesn't judge'. In our brief time, we get to rearrange a few molecules. Some of us have the urge to move lots of them and build a bridge or a dam, the rest of us get to keep the chinese busy.


    $25 wig anyone?

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  7. Stana, I love your blog and visit it often. I support everybody's right to be as much male or female as they want. This is America and being a whole female(whatever whole means to you) or only 50% female is our God given right. Stana, you are wonderful just as you are or will become. Hugs
    Heather Marie

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  8. Wow this is complicated! I have crossdressed since I 'borrowed' a pair of tights (pantyhose) from my sister when I was quite young but I was never overtly feminine, or at least not so as to be noticed. However, I have a real feminine side to me and am hetrosexual. What does this make me?

    My thought on all of this is that there are transexuals who know from a very young age that they are really female and there are crossdressers who cover a huge range of shades of grey from dressing once a year to living as females.

    Crossdressers - transexuals - maybe not so complicated after all.

    Louise

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  9. Speaking of things I don't understand ... I can not grasp why any woman would ever think she can win an argument with a man. There just seems to be some mind configuring effect about testosterone levels that inclines men to a "conquer or destroy" pattern of interacting with the world. Oh sure you can get a man to do what you want but that is not the same as getting a man to "lose the argument".

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  10. Dear Stana,
    I love your blog and visit it often. As Heather Marie said, you have the right to be as much male or female as you want. I don't pretend to bother you or others here..then excuse me it's only my point of view..
    Please, think what does it mean for you to be a woman 24/7?
    Don't you think it's kind of different?
    Maria Victoria

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  11. I agree TV and TS are different. I wrote my opinions in my blog a couple of weeks ago:

    http://youcancallmemeg.blogspot.com/2010/12/not-that-old-joke.html

    No, you don't go from TV to TS. You go from denial to TS (which is TS) or from confused to TS (which is not).

    Reading these comments, I started to wonder ~ is TS, for want of a better term, a sexual identity issue, and TV a gender identity issue?

    Meanwhile, Ariablue, I'd like to hear the proof that transsexuality is anything more than a confused mental state, as has been suggested. Until there is some kind of real science behind this "need" to change sex that is always assumed, it is patently false.

    It doesn't make sense when either of us say it, does it?

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  12. I may be naive and blue eyed but I have yet to see real evidence of the "politically active minority" that attempts to erase the distinctions between Transsexuals and Gender Variant. Maybe I haven't read the right stuff.

    I think pretty much every intelligent human being that has informed themselves reasonably could describe and define the distinctions.

    My question is: What does that have anything to do with Stana's post? In my view what she did was describe her experience, without specifically generalizing this experience and impose it on anyone.

    The phenomenon of people turning from Gender Variant to Transsexual is in my view a comprehension problem. If you have grown up in the internet universe you might call yourself many things until you have completed your research and finally realize what the correct nomenclature is. If you were to simply stick with the biographical narrative, then in my view there are very few who actually go from one state to the other.

    Maybe a little linguistic hygiene is necessary and some cleaning out of the concepts.

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  13. @Kathryn - Until now, I have been staying quiet and just approving the comments as they come in regarding Stan's post. But, you asked the same question I asked one of the commenters in a private email. I understand and appreciate the comments on this post but I do question the relevance of the comments relative to just what Stana had to say.

    This is series supposed to be an opportunity for crossdressers to share their thoughts. I don't identify as a CD, so it is good for me to read these posts to better understand just what goes on inside the head of a crossdresser. I don't say this in any sort of negative way and I'm very much enjoying each and every one of these posts (and there are more excellent posts to come). As I said in my most recent post on my own blog, we're all in this together....as far as how we're perceived by the general public out there. We must always remember that.

    Calie xx

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  14. I am a genetic/natal cis-gendered female whose partner identifies herself as a non-op M2F transexual woman. So what do I know? And yet I somehow find myself socially/emotionally invested in these crossdresser vs. transexual debates, perhaps because they address an issue I find personally and intellectually fascinating: where does our sense of gender come from? There is some interesting but very preliminary scientific research out there, but with all my reading, I have yet to satisfy myself that this is a matter of "cold, hard facts and biology." We, all of us, rely on our "feelings" in this matter. I am perhaps fortunate in that my feelings and my biology are congruent. But I have enough empathy and curiosity to imagine how that could be different... Having spent years on the fringe of the transgender community as an interested outsider/ally, I can share with you my perception: the line between the committed crossdresser and the transexual woman can be pretty blurry, and subject to change over time. We are all on continuums. As a result, I really have come to reject the "gender binary." At the same time, I understand and sympathize with the urge of transexual women to distance themselves from crossdressers (I could write a book about why). I also feel compelled to add that I that I find the preoccupation with SRS sad and oppressive (though understandable given our current laws). I have never felt my sense of womanhood rested in my vagina or my breasts -- my uterus, perhaps (the potential of bearing offspring) -- but not in my secondary sexual characteristics.

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  15. @Anonymous: Interesting comment. But just so you know: breasts are a secondary sexual characteristic, but a vagina is primary.

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  16. @Anonymous (cis-gendered female) - This is a very interesting comment. One idea I'm working on is another series of guest posts to be written by some of those close to the research that is currently underway. In the end, the research will hopefully address your questions and mine. I just hope I live long enough to see the answers.

    I do feel that there is a connection between CD's and TS's in that both are hormonal/medical (etc.) conditions rather than psychological.

    Regarding your comment about the preoccupation with SRS...for me it is not so much the prospect of having a vagina and breasts but rather ridding myself of the male equipment that seems so foreign to me....bits, if you will, that should not be part of my body. I fight a minute-by-minute battle with myself to remain status quo, for the benefit of my wife and family and somewhat influenced by my religion. But others are not necessarily like me. Indeed, I know many, many who identify as TS and in some ways all are the same yet in other ways there are great differences between them.

    Your partner's desire to remain a non-op is something that is difficult for me to understand (yet I do respect her desires). If my life were such that conditions were right for a transition, I would do it in a heartbeat and that would certainly include all of the necessary surgeries. To live full time as a woman with a partner who accepts this (as I am assuming to be the case with you) yet desiring not to proceed with the genital surgeries is something I just can't understand. Again, however, I will say that I respect your partner's decision but that doesn't mean that I understand the rational behind it. And, actually, the more I read your comment (and I have re-read it about 5 times now, lol), the more I can relate to a similar situation I am aware of.

    So here I am, supposed to be moderating, yet participating in comments that would appear to have absolutely nothing to do with the theme of Stana's post...

    Calie xx

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  17. If enjoying the wearing of dresses, high heels, hose, and makeup, and other "feminine" things somehow makes a man a woman, then doesn't it follow that women who do NOT enjoy such things are "men"?

    100 years ago, a woman wearing pants and doing stereotypically "male" things would have been quite scandalous. Today such things are commonplace for women, while men continue to keep themselves trapped in a little box, resulting in the idea (among themselves) that a man who enjoys stereotypically feminine things is somehow not a man... and therefore must be a woman.

    If the men in our society would pull their heads out of their asses, they'd realize that clothes are just clothes, and perhaps they'd give themselves the same freedom of expression that women now enjoy, and stop pretending they're something other than a man in a dress.

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  18. @ anonymous #4

    Thank you so much for a much needed voice of reason on this thread! There is so much intellectual dishonesty in the TS world, resulting from personal insecurity. People manufacture personal narratives that are designed to garner the the most sympathy. They then get so caught up in defense of their own path, that they become blinded to the legitimacy of others. They think any departure from their particular narrative is somehow a threat to their own integrity. Even though they clamor for you to enumerate them, there is no use in pointing out any similarities, because they already have so much invested in denying them, that no mount of logic will ever disuade them of their certitude.

    Calie, you really opened up a can of worms here. I fully expected some of the responses, and very sadly I didn't have to wait long to see them.

    A word to the wise, (which I know will be wasted on some) forget about absolutes. Speak for yourself, and only for yourself, because in reality, that's all you can do. There is no certifiably exact science on TS/TG/CD issues, regardless of what some would have you think.

    Peace on Earth
    Melissa XX

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  19. Melissa, I agree with your comment but would not describe it as intellectual dishonesty. People manufacture their own myths all of the time whether they are TS or not. Why should it be any different here.

    However, this webiverse is filled with so many that "feel" de-legitimized and de-valued by the narratives of others as if their own was too weak to stand on it's own two feet.

    Reading Stana's post here, I was delighted by a well written interesting "Who I am and How I live". It was a great read. The post did not pretend to be anything else and was simply beautiful.

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  20. Anonymous: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Finally a cisgendered woman said it out loud: women do not define their gender by their genitals or their secondary sex characteristics.

    From what you say however flows a conclusion that is also apparent in Stana's post. We experience ourselves as belonging to a gender. We have bodies that either match or not match our gender experience. There are essentially two human conditions among what society calls transgender.

    The one Stana describes when she says: "I am not a woman trapped in a male body; rather I am a woman with a male body and I’m OK with that." It is clear that she has no congruency issues and will never need alteration of her body to become whole. This is what you are referring to in your last post.

    Then there are those who experience that as a result of a genetic or hormonal accident their body developed contrary to who they are during gestation and beyond. They are in congruent and must have surgery to repair and heal this defect.

    The difference is that one is an experience issue (see Stana's post) and the other a physical, physiological and genetic issue.

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  21. Hi, cis-gendered female again here. I want to clarify that my ts partner is non-op because she is not willing to undergo the pain, potential risk, and expense of surgery and not because she wouldn't prefer to have a vagina instead of a penis. Anyway, to get back to the point, I also read Stana's blog because I appreciate the frank way she charts her experience as a cross-dresser. I'll admit I struggle with my issues around self-identified "hetero male cross dressers" (as opposed to self-identified "translesbians" like my partner) and I'm dealing with that by trying to listen and understand folks like Stana. Also I love her links and beauty tips!

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  22. Your words mean so much. Your last line reonated so much.I struggles withat so long. I am 75yo and finally I can be at peace with thw whole ting. My history is too long to bore folks with
    Thank you for all you do for so many
    Love
    Marilyn

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  23. As Stana has posted today on her wonderful blog, the comments that precede mine are very interesting and well-written.

    I think it's unfortunate there are some that want to "label" things very rigidly. I agree with those previous commenters (which I'm guessing may include Stana) that there is a continuum of gender identity as well as sexual orientation. Each one of us is truly unique in the universe. I understand that for practical reasons we may label ourselves as transsexuals or crossdressers to give others that don't know us very well a quick "idea" of what we are.

    I consider myself to be a crossdresser. I have friends that consider themselves transsexual, even if they still have their birth "naughty bits" (as Monty Python members call them). I respect the self-determined "label" (TS or CD or whatever) a person chooses for themself. My "tanssexual" friends (post-op, pre-op, or non-op) get along beautifully and non-judgmentally with me, and I with them. We don't get hung-up with "labels".

    When I have been asked by non-transgendered people, like wives or SOs of my transgender friends {TS or CD or whatever} if I ever plan to transition, I say "No", and that crossdressers do not eventually get promoted to transsexual status.

    One of the previous commenters indicated she did not understand why a person would be a (paraphrasing) "non-op transsexual". Some possible reasons could include medical, age, financial issues or just plain personal choice.

    “Labels” can be convenient at times (if they are not used negatively or combatatively), but they should not be used as “absolutes” in areas as complex as what we have all been discussing here.

    Anyway, Thank You Stana for your lovely blog, and your interesting article on this blog.

    Love,

    Sheila.

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  24. "I do feel that there is a connection between CD's and TS's in that both are hormonal/medical (etc.) conditions rather than psychological." -Calie

    I disagree, Calie. I do not believe that most heterosexual male cross dressers suffer from, or have "hormonal/medical" issues.
    Perhaps low testosterone levels, associated with aging, might be an issue, but I do not believe it has anything to do with cross dressing.

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  25. @
    Melissa....I agree. No matter what ANYBODY says, thre is no way YOU will ose an arguement.

    •Transsexual gene link identified
    •Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus
    •Male-to-Female Transsexuals Show Sex-Atypical Hypothalamus Activation When Smelling Odorous Steroids
    •Regional Grey Matter Variation in Male-to-Female Transsexualism
    •A sex difference in the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus: relationship to gender identity.
    •White matter microstructure in female to male transsexuals before cross-sex hormonal treatment. A diffusion tensor imaging study.
    •A Sex Difference in the Human Brain and its Relation to Transsexuality
    •Gender Identity and phantom genitalia
    •Typical female 2nd–4th finger length (2D:4D) ratios in male-to-female transsexuals—possible implications for prenatal androgen exposure
    Why is that?

    Here is the Link...

    http://www.reddit.com/r/TransphobiaProject/

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  26. Even if we don't all agree, I think it's great that we feel as strongly as we do, and that we're willing to entertain a (mostly) civil conversation.

    I humbly suggest that the term 'transsexual' is broad enough, strong enough, and diverse enough to encompass more than just those who have (or will) surgically transitioned. Even those of us who proudly consider ourselves crossdressers may identify emotionally or intellectually as transsexuals.

    It's the difference between 'dressing' female and 'feeling' female.

    That shared identification shouldn't be taken as a slight or as an insult. The fact that a crossdresser feels some sort of solidarity or sisterhood with transsexualism shouldn't negate or invalidate either label.

    At the end of the day, it's about what we think and how we feel inside. Whether or not anybody else is comfortable with what those feelings mean and how we choose to label them, it will never change what we feel inside.

    As Calie said, "we're all in this together....as far as how we're perceived by the general public." Instead of arguing about who is more or less worthy of a label, let's celebrate the fact that we're a community . . . different from the general public, but also wonderfully diverse amongst ourselves.

    Hugs,
    Sally

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  27. Sigh. Before I throw up my hands and give up entirely, I'll leave you a link to the latest post in Salad Bingo.

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  28. OMG Sally, I love your comment!

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  29. I suppose that if we lived in some "FantasyLand" Like 'Alice in Genderland", FEELING would be all that mattered. FORTUNaTELY we do not and are there fore subject to the simple and immutable law of physics and chemistry.

    To ignore the science is to postulate that the world is flat BECAUSE I SAY SO or I "feel" that it is flat.


    @Kathyn..."I may be naive and blue eyed but I have yet to see real evidence of the "politically active minority" that attempts to erase the distinctions between Transsexuals and Gender Variant. Maybe I haven't read the right stuff." -K.M.

    Case in point. Autumn Sandeen in cahoots with Mara Keisling of NCET is now arguing that because all that is required for a gender/SEX marker change on a US Passport is proof of "appropriate gender treatment", (Whatever the heck THAT means), that he is now ENTITLED to a full ten year passport and not the previously agreed to 2 year passport to allow for travel abroad for he purpose of obtaining SRS.

    So firt of all what happened is that GENDER, (a social construct) was conflated with, and successfuly equated to SEX, a biological dimorphism.

    This was then built upon to invent an ambiguosly worded State Dept. policy that could be intepreted so as to allow for Autumn Sandeen,and any other Tom, Dick or HARRY with a "Doctor's Note", to wander the planet with a US Passport, get "harrased", and demean every other masculine looking woman on the planet.

    Go to PHB for more details.

    Sorry for the "derail" folks but Kathryn DID ask.

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  30. I would say that transsexuals have fairly well succeeded in getting their plight across to the public. I can't count how many times I've been asked if I'm "transitioning" (no), had/going to have the surgery (never), boobs real (yes), hormones/implants (none). I'm just a run of the mill guy who likes to dress like a girl and go party, and frankly, the TS awareness is a bit disconcerting to me at times.

    But truly annoying is the fact that every time a discussion like this occurs, there's always a TS in the mix declaring himself a martyr... and that CDs are somehow unenlightened subhumans. It can't be just the estrogen, because I rarely meet women so hysterical.

    The irony comes in when the TSs broadly admit to having horrible psychological issues, the likes of which I can never understand... then expect everyone to take their every word seriously. Hello! You're unhappy with yourself; I'm not. Go piss up a rope. I'm not interested in sharing your misery -- I have enough of my own. Want to hear about my financial problems? I thought not.

    Most CDs are happy to support you in some way... but we're not going to sit here and be lectured, criticized, and condescended to. Try being pleasant.

    Stana's post was thoughtful and interesting. It's not my experience, but I certainly did not come away from it with the notion that it should be my experience, either. It's one thing to troll someone who outright has their facts wrong, but for crying out loud, people are entitled to their opinions -- and each of us is more qualified to describe his own experiences and perceptions than anyone else.

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  31. As an older hetro man who has led a mans life, Cowboy, logger, soilder and sailor I would say if you like who you are then you are a sucessfull person and what counts. It is icing on the cake when others like who you are but that comes after liking yourself.

    Stana, I love your picture in the blue dress, You look like a very nice person. And yes, you look nice in your other pictures. And what you have going here, helping others and giving them a place to discuss is very nice.

    Best wishes
    Mel.

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