On the Science of Changing Sex

Do as I say, not as I do…

Posted in Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on February 20, 2010

female_scientist…or in this case, believe what I say, not what I do.

One of the constant complaints of those who disagree with the two type taxonomy is that sexologists ignore their narratives, which would “prove” their theories wrong.  Of course they do… because they aren’t interested in their narratives, but in what they actually do!

What is of academic interest to researchers, becomes a matter of the ability to navigate a difficult social landscape, with the occasional land-mine, for the feminine androphilic transsexual.  If I may share with you a personally painful episode in my own life?

One day, when I was but eighteen years old, my roommate, Stella, also eighteen years old, and I were hosting our friends Jennifer, nineteen years old, and Marcella, twenty-four years old.  Our place was a tiny, cramped, poorly furnished studio apartment, hot in the summer, cold in the winter.  The four of us were very poor and still pre-op.  As Jennifer was a beautician, she was helping the others remove unwanted facial hair by waxing, while the three of them good humoredly bitched and complained in envy that I did not need to deal with such,  (I never grew a beard).  None of us could afford electrolysis yet, of course.  As we talked about our boyfriends, sex, and such… Jennifer abruptly exclaimed in a horrified tone, “Did you know that Karen is really bisexual?”

I knew in that instant what was coming next… Jennifer then told of how Karen had tried to seduce her in a very inappropriate manner!  I flashed back a few months…

Candice_Caltech

Kay Brown in college

The household I had been temporarily sheltered in, with several older women, all lesbian ( save for one who we would today recognize as a “noho transman” / transmasculine who had bound his breasts to live as a man at times, who joshed me, occasionally trying to flirt with me, knowing I was only into men) was disbanding.  I needed a new place and I didn’t have much income, being dependent on a very meager remittance from my family.  The remittance came with the proviso that I was to stay far enough away from them such that I wouldn’t accidentally be seen by my family’s social connections, so as not to embarrass them.  This meant that I couldn’t seek to live with any of my high school friends.  Karen, a twenty-five year old recently post-op transsexual I had met at the Stanford Gender Dysphoria Clinic only days before eagerly sought me as her roommate.  She had a nice, but very small, apartment and her own car.  She consistently represented herself as a straight woman, looking for Mr. Right.  I felt safe enough accepting her invitation.  Living with her was OK at first, but I noticed that she was insanely jealous of my boyfriends.  At first I thought that that was the result of her not having any… So I hosted several parties, inviting available young men, straight, but open minded.  But… she ignored efforts at flirtations from cute guys… and flatly rebuffed several date invitations by these men.  This seemed odd and confusing.  Then, one very early weekend morning, while I was still in bed, Karen tried to seduce me, insisting on having sex with me or she would throw me out… which is exactly what she did when I very strenuously refused her!  Karen became irrationally angry and verbally abusive.  I feared for my safety.  I was out on the street that very morning!

In tears and very distraught, I had to beg my mother for assistance, since I was flat broke with no where to go.  She was very annoyed, but found and paid for first and last month’s rent of the small studio mentioned earlier.  I had been corresponding with Stella, since being given her contact information by the Stanford program, when I asked them if there was “anyone else like me?”  Stella moved from her parents home in a small town to become my roommate a couple weeks later, sharing expenses.  So, I guess it all worked out “OK”, but…

I listened to Jennifer’s story of being embarrassed by Karen, then recounted my own story, beginning “She isn’t bisexual”, which horrified my listeners even further.  I admitted I didn’t understand how this could happen… and we all began to discuss about the “older transsexuals” and how odd they seemed to be.  It was the much more world-wise Marcella who explained it all, “They are all TVs that need a bigger fix!”  We discussed it further and pieced Karen’s story together.  She had transitioned recently, starting HRT and had SRS only six months later at a clinic in the mid-west, near where her folks lived.  Her folks had paid for it in cash.  That clinic was known for only performing SRS on “true transsexuals”, which meant that Karen had to lie about being interested in men, hiding her real interest in women.  But, somehow, that medical lie had become a social lie… or maybe more accurately, a part of her established personal narrative, her self-image.  However, that was not her actual sexuality.  She was totally uninterested in men, focusing on women, or more likely those males who looked and acted like women, namely feminine androphilic transsexuals.  In the next few years that I saw her around in the community, she deliberately sought out the society of the feminine androphilic TS, while continuing to represent herself as straight (androphilic).  Whether she was ever successful in her efforts to find an HSTS lover, I can’t say.

So, there we were, three young transies (as we called ourselves back then) learning from our older and wiser mentor.  Marcella taught us how to survive, how to date straight boys who didn’t know we were TS without them discovering that we were pre-op; which straight night-clubs would let us in without carding us; and most importantly, giving us a working understanding of how autogynephilia operated, though we didn’t use that word, since that wasn’t even coined until a decade later.  We learned how to differentiate AGP TS and “our kind”… because this wasn’t a matter of academic interest, it was potentially a matter of survival… but certainly one of social neccessity.  We learned how to spot an AGP TS by the way she walked, talked, held her body, what interests she had… and most especially, to trust our gut, which was invariably right.  If we felt that we were talking to a girl, she was like us… if we were getting mixed signals… she was AGP.

In recounting the above story, I know that I am risking offending many.  This is not my intention.  But this is the simple truth.

Further Reading:

Essay on Gynadromorphophilia (specific attraction to transwomen)

Essay on Gynandromorphilia and Autogynephilia / CrossDreaming

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