December 25, 2009
Dear ______ & ______,
Let me preface this letter by wishing you and your family the merriest Christmas and a very Happy New Year. Times are hard for many people nowadays and I hope that you will be spared the brunt of our “interesting times.”
I am writing because I have received a Christmas card from you that I found to be hurtful. I do not believe in my heart of hearts that you meant any offense. I know that your Grandmother told you what I have been dealing with my entire cognizant life - and I know that this is something that is very difficult for most people to get a grasp on, let alone be able to accept it for what it is and deal with in a rational manner. I know it was certainly so for me – and I had over fifty five years of dealing with it first-hand before I had to finally accept my life for what it really is.
I am dealing with what is now called gender identity disorder. The common name for this is transsexualism, or from the perspective of the politically correct, I am transgendered. Please note that this is not homosexuality, as it does not stem from sexual orientation. It is not a fetish as I do not get any sexual excitement from sexual transition. It is also not a sexual addiction as frankly, I am not sexually active and get no pleasure from what I am doing. All I get is relief from an indescribable amount of pain that has injured my life in so many ways.
What medical research and medical history is now showing is that transsexuals are those born with a central nervous system that has developed into the opposite sexually specific anatomy of the genitalia. This is now being shown to be essentially the same type of condition that causes androgen insensitivity syndrome, (apparently normally developed girls that are of XY genetic makeup and are infertile). The only difference is that it occurs slightly later in prenatal development as it does not affect the sexual development of the rest of the body. Several researches, done with different methodologies, including post mortem vivisection of gender variant areas of the brain and, more lately, ultra high resolution magnetic resonant imaging (fMRI) of the brain have all produced the same average and standards of deviation showing that transsexuals do have brain development consistent with their perceived sexual identity. Another study showed that while hormone replacement therapy does affect overall brain mass, they did not affect the sexually determining areas of neurodevelopment. In effect, this has negated claims that it was the cross hormonal therapies that caused the change in brain development.
In 2007, a Swiss team of researchers determined that there is a complex of five genes, acting in concert with each other, that can and does cause prenatal hormonal deviations from normal development patterns, producing several known forms of intersexed conditions, including GID. It was present in all of a test sample of 126 transsexual individuals and was absent from 100% of the controls of normal sexual cognizance and sexual orientation. While many have criticized this work as being inconclusive, due to the size of the statistical domain, the quality of the data obtained is significant as there were absolutely no ambiguous findings encountered within the scope of the study. To further complicate things, a Chinese study has shown that XX does not always mean female or XY mean male. One individual, encountered during their study, a female that had conceived and carried a normal baby to term, was discovered, cross checked, and found to be of normal 46XY genetic composition. A complex of three genes was found to control the genesis and differentiation of the genitalia, prenatally.
I am presenting all of this as I wish to merely state where I am coming from. The fact is, the only thing that has shown any degree of curative ability in dealing with GID, is transitional medicine. This process is rigorously controlled, non-experimental and completely standardized. This despite claims by some individuals like Jerry Leach, which claim that this form of treatment is “experimental, invasive and ineffective…” In reality, “reparative” therapies, espoused by many religious organizations, do not work, inflicting severe psychological harm on the individuals treated and have been denounced by the American Psychological Association as being inherently harmful.
So where does this leave us? I am now in my fourth year of hormonal and surgical treatments. Realize that the process that I am undergoing is not “on demand” and is not an “idle choice of an alternative lifestyle.” During the early stages, if it had been found inappropriate, I would have been redirected into alternative therapies. What I am undergoing is a rigorously controlled process of sexual transition that is only done with strict adherence to a set of standards of care that are internationally recognized - and rigorously upheld - by all competent practitioners within the field. The criteria are exactly defined and adhered to by those who practice these forms of therapy as if the individual being treated is not gender dysphoric preoperative, they definitely will be so postoperatively.
In light of the fact that I am where I am proves that I have met these criteria and it has been demonstrated to several licensed, certified practitioners, of multiple disciplines, that I am indeed benefiting from the ongoing process. In essence, I have shown that transition it is medical necessity for my continuing health. This is not something that can be faked as there is a definite syndrome that can not be scammed with any degree of success. This process has now been shown to produce a 98% success rate – which is one of the highest long-term “cure rates” of any form of medical therapy when the required standards of care are followed. This is no joke and not something that is in any way ambiguous, be it necessary and appropriate. Many of the therapies that I have undergone are simply not tolerable to those with psychological deviations or fetishist perspectives, being a very diagnostic litmus test to confirm the diagnosis.
I believe that we can now get to the heart of the matter. I have accepted what and who I am and attempting to do the best I can at correcting a lifetime of suffering in the only way available to me. I tried for years with the types of therapy touted by many religious beliefs, essentially finding them to be completely useless, and ultimately harmful/toxic to me in many ways. I am essentially a woman who was born in male body – as much as I hate this analogy. I have undergone irreversible “corrective surgery” and will be having more done in the near term, Lord willing. This has nothing to do with who I go to bed WITH, but everything about who I go to bed AS. End of statement. This is not about a choice for an alternative life/sex style. It is strictly about curing the constant pain of a prenatal dysgenesis that has left me neurologically intersexed.
Please note the stress upon identity. This is the core of the issue. I am not, nor have I ever really been “John,” “Mister” or anything male. The brain is the most significant sexual organ of the human animal and is the core source of sexual identity. My legal name is Joanne and my legal gender - or sex - is female. Please note that feminine forms of pronouns and address are now applicable to me. Anything other than this, if done knowingly, is neither beneficial nor appropriate. My marriage to Barbara is still intact and will remain so as marriage is for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. Save for the cause of adultery, we will not divorce. Frankly, I do not think this will ever happen.
I do not believe that you were attempting to slight us on sending Christmas cards to Mr. and Mrs. John nor do I believe that addressing the latest card to John and Barbara was done in anything other than simply not knowing exactly where we are on life’s path, nor the reality of our situation, such as it is. I believed that you spotted me as being different Jeff, at a very early age, as you always taunted and teased me ruthlessly as a small child. To me this is about my core identity. The issues I face are that I am now legally, morally and practically female. For this reason I am taking the time to explain what I am dealing with and why. If you can accept this, please treat me as the woman I have become, as incomplete as I may be. As with many medical procedures, there is some degree of compromise and no perfect answers. At least, it ends the torment of a lifetime.
If you are intentionally doing this from the perspective of religious belief, then I would ask you to cease. Simply stated, this will do none of us any good. If you, for matters of good faith and conscience, can not comply with my request, please accept my love and blessings - but forget that I even exist. Uncle “John” is irretrievably gone. I am who and what I am and there is no going back for me. This is my reality and my life - and I will never go back to the living death that I endured for almost twice your lifetime.
I know how difficult something like this is to come to terms with. Believe me; I know how hard this was for me to accept within myself. If there was any choice that I made, it was basically one of do “I sacrifice an arm for my life?” The fact that I was willing to make these changes at my current age tells volumes of exactly how irresistible GID is to deal with. I know that you do not understand this, and I pray that you never do - on an emotional level. All I am asking for is acceptance that I really have no other alternatives for life and have explored every other viable alternative before choosing this route. I am asking essentially for grace – that I am living a life that is not in variance with God’s will for my life. Taking exception to what I am doing, having never walked a mile in my shoes, is simply denying – or limiting – how God’s grace can be deemed to be “acceptable” from your personal perspective, faith and understanding of scripture. I can not bow to your beliefs in the face of my own experience, understanding and faith.
As a point of clarification: I mentioned the term “transgendered” earlier. I would like to expand on this a bit. Transgendered is an umbrella term, popular with the LBGT, used to cover everyone from transvestites to drag queens and the like – as well as transsexuals and other forms of intersexed conditions. Please note that this is a political device that does not have any tangible relationship to those in my condition. We are not fetishists like the transvestites (cross dressers) nor are we drag queens/kings. The basic thing here is that this is a conflation of gender and sex in the name of political expediency. Gender is as much a societal construct as it is a physical, while sex is a biologically-determined aspect of an individual. Note that sexual identity resides in the brain and not in the genitalia. The brain can not be changed, but medical science allows one in my situation to achieve a body that fits the brain’s map of what the body should be. This is solely by reason of the way that the brain has developed during the first trimester post conception. Notice that the brain map resides in the non-verbal portion of the brain and can not be controlled by psychotherapy. Essentially, it is what it is – and once it has developed, it can not be changed. I can not help being who and what I am any more that a person born without legs can ever be anything other than legless or a manta ray can help being a manta ray. All I can do is change what is wrong and then continue to try to live a godly life.
You are adults, capable of thinking for yourselves. If you can find it within yourselves to accept a broken individual within a broken creation, no one will be happier than I. If, however, you find my actions to be inappropriate, then realize that I can not change who or what I am and the severance of our relationship, as thin as it has always been, would be appropriate. I have no desire to rule another’s conscience. Conversely, I am coming from a pretty rare perspective, having had to deal with something that only about one in every thirty thousand individuals ever has to contend with. In either case, think it over. You will never be able to negate the love I hold you in. However, it would be much better if we go our separate ways if you can not deal with my life and identity as it is. Things are not always black in white in life, which is why we need God to judge and to mete out grace as He decides is His will. I am reminded that God can, and does, use all things for the good of those who love Him. I have come to the point where I have had to lean entirely on the Lord to make my paths straight. I know that what I have endured even exceeds my own comprehension in many ways. I only know who and what I am and I have to remember that God allowed me to come from the womb like this. Everything else is a matter of trying to be what I am and not become vexed by my own life.