Tuesday, December 06, 2005

M2F2M

(by Annette Brunette)
As I flip through all the pictures from my transgender photo albums dating back from 1995, I sometimes wonder where everyone went. "Where are they now?" my mind seems to be saying. Some of the ladies have gotten married and have kids. Others, divorced. Some have seemingly vanished from the community only to reappear again, years later, down the road.

A small number of gals are/were in the process of transitioning. Some of them lead successful lives as post-ops. Others are struggling. Alcoholism. Divorce. Job termination. As an outsider looking in, I believe the hardest time for the post-op transsexual is between year one and year two. Some of the novelty of being a woman has worn off. Gals who in past years received sterling performance reviews suddenly get fired. Did they forget how to do their jobs? I think not. It's not all gloom and doom, however. I know at least two couples who, even after surgery, remain happily married.

I first met Kimmy at the Tiffany Club, a local tg support group. Kimmy was tall with a very friendly smile and a beautiful melodic voice. At the after hours party of the big tg conventions, she would often pull out her guitar and we would all sing along. Eventually, Kimmy began the difficult process of transitioning. Hormones. Hair removal. Growing out her natural hair. Voice feminization. As so often happens with transsexuals, Kimmy eventually had surgery and disappeared from the community. I never knew what became of her until someone pointed out a letter she wrote that was posted on the Tiffany Club website. To say that I was shocked is putting it mildly. I guess it goes to show that you never know what curves life will throw at you even when you accomplish your innermost needs. Sometimes you find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and it wasn't really what you wanted. But you don't know that until you get there.


************************************************


SEX CHANGES
(This is a true story.)
Three weeks ago, I changed my gender... Again...

Let me start from a more sensible point. In 1986 I first joined the Tiffany Club of New England. At that time it was in a house in a residential section of a Boston suburb. After less than a year of membership I purged all my clothing out of fear and didn't cross dress for about nine years. But in 1995 I went all out with my dressing, to the point that I sought help from a therapist. The more I cross dressed the more comfortable I felt in my female role. I became one of the leaders of TCNE, contributing wherever I could, serving on the Board, attending all the events.

All this time my wife was OK with this, even enjoyed helping me sneak back into the house without waking the children.

In 1998 I felt strongly that I was transsexual, and was diagnosed as such by my therapist. I cheated the system by buying hormones over the internet without a prescription or letter. I got hair replacement through a local office of a nationwide firm. My moods were swinging back & forth such that my family didn't know who would be walking into the door when I came home.
I was hospitalized more than once for depression & bipolar disorder.

My marriage imploded in 1999, and I went to live with my girlfriend. I lost my job, my house, many dear possessions, and the woman with whom I had spent twenty-five years. But, things were looking up: I went full-time, my girlfriend and I fell in love, I got a good job with a public utility, and was able to see my wonderful children frequently. A year later, my therapist, endocrinologist, psychiatrist all gave me letters of reference for SRS, which took place in Winter 2001. It was a wonderful experience? A little painful, but the pain subsided.

Fast-forward two and one -half years to today. I am back in my original gender role. Why? I went into it all too fast and convinced myself of something which was not true. Don't get me wrong for a moment: I do not have any regrets. Even though I am unquestionably male on the outside, I have a vagina, which I consider a natural part of me. But, after four years full time, I did not feel comfortable in the female role. I equate the feeling to a left foot in a right shoe. I am six feet tall and I got sick & tired of the "freak" factor. You know, the double-takes and overly accommodating, nervous people. Fortunately, during that four year period I was never assaulted. I was most concerned about when I reached 60 or 70? What then?

So I changed my gender back to male. I guess that makes me a M-to-F-to-M, if labels need to be placed. This discussion was not meant to dissuade anyone, nor to provoke thought. It's merely my story and I chose to tell it to the community that helped me
and supported me through my transition.

Sam

2 comments:

Michele Angelique said...

Thank you Annette for posting M2F2M. This is a topic I have not seen readily discussed in too many TG forums. While there must be some who have regrets after transition, it seems few speak openly about these feelings, let alone transition back. This is a sad story, and quite likely very rare.

I can't help but wonder if there isn't an undertone of psychological disorder in this individual? He was hospitalised on more than one occasion due to his state of mind. There may be cases where the person is "diagnosed" transsexual, when their gender focused behaviors are actually resulting from an underlying mental illness.

While my depth of knowledge in this area is limited to only a few psychology classes in university, I can cite a some examples where an underlying mental illness could lead to a gender-identity crisis.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) leads an individual to fixate on a specific detail, either about themselves or their environment. They may engage in repetitive or unusual behaviors in order to remedy the "problem". In some cases that fixation may be their gender, or a specific body part attribute such as their penis or body hair.

Depressive disorder leads an individual to excessive self-critism, hopelessness, feelings of inadequacy. Often people who are severely depressed wish they were someone else, or dead. A very depressed person may lead themself to believe that if only they could take on a whole new body, life would get better.

Mania is the other side of depression, and some people are "bi-polar" (both manic and depressive, in turn). When a person is manic, they may have delusions of grandeur, they may take excessive risks, engage in outlandish or sexually promiscuous behavior, often in the guise of an alter-ego character. Why not that of a woman?

Body Dismorphia is a condition where the individual perceives some part of their body to be inherantly defective, to the point of causing grave distress, where no actual deformity or flaw exists. People afflicted with this condition will often be anorexic or bullemic, engage in excessive surguries or grooming rituals, and go to extreme lengths to conceal or correct the flaw. To such a person, there may be one flaw, or multiple, and in some cases the perceived flaw shifts from one body part to the next depending on the individuals mood. The perception of the penis as a deformity may in some individuals stem from body dismorphia rather than gender disphoria.

These are just a few examples of mental illnesses that may account for people who rush into full SRS then later realize it was the wrong decision. In some people, treating the underlying mental illness may alleviate the gender discomfort. Unfortunately in other cases, an underlying mental illness may go undiagnosed, and the person finds themself just as unhappy in the female mode as they were in male. I suspect this is the case for poor Sam. Fortunately there are medications which help to treat or effectively cope with any of the above.

Individuals who are mentally and emotionally balanced while transitioning are much more likely to be make decisions they can live with for the long term. It should be clearly understood that changing one's sex will not automatically change one's life.

Others who are on a wild roller-coaster ride, whose lives revolve around their gender issues, with turmoil and instability all around, and who feel the need to suddenly and urgently rush into full transition, are more likely to change their minds and regret their decisions later. It is this latter group that I would tend to look more carefully and question the underlying cause of their behavior. These are the people I would urge to consider alternative treatment options. If there is an underlying mental illness such as those described above, hormones will actually worsten the condition.

There is no magic pill... all that hormones or surgury can do is provide a different (hopefully improved) vehicle in which to drive forth. It's up to the driver whether to put the stilleto to the metal, or sit in idle waiting for miracles. People who have this in perspective are more likely to enjoy a successful transition.

Thanks again Annette for sharing this unique perspective. It definitely merits pondering by anyone who is considering permanently changing their gender.

With much love,
Michele

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