Another tid-bit of my history is what I did in my corresponding with both Stanford and Janus.
I originally wrote to Stanford in autumn 1977 (thank you, Denise) and Janus during summer 1978 (thank you, Linda). I presented my autobiographical narrative and subsequent correspondence to them as Nick M-F. Through the course of our exchange into 1979, they both determined that I am an acceptable candidate for reassignment to female. I made my way and began my M-F transition through my local counsellor and internist.
My counsellor administered various psychological profile tests to me. Of note was my MMPI. My counsellor ran my data as both male and female and shared the results with me – that I came out as female on both.
Some time toward 1980, I realised that I had to re-test my theory; I had to be certain before I progressed too far:
- Was Stanford simply declaring everyone a good candidate? or
- Was I truly qualified and accepted?
I again wrote to both Stanford and Janus; that second round presenting myself to them as Sharon F-M. They did not previously know me as Sharon but as Nick. I was then residing at a different location to provide a different address to them than previously as Nick M-F. My Sharon F-M autobiographical narrative to them was mostly identical though I modified events and names to not make it an exact, traceable duplicate; e.g., rather than reporting my experience as a Boy Scout, I reported that I was a Girl Scout.
I sought to answer a critical ‘What if …?’:
- Would they still determine that my Sharon persona is likewise female identitied?
Janus sent the same psychological profile tests to me Sharon F-M as they previously sent to me Nick M-F. Because I kept a copy of my initial Nick M-F responces, I provided those exact same answers on those same tests. I got the same results – female.
Janus certainly concluded that I am female identitied whether as Nick or as Sharon. In fact, Janus expressed their serious concern to Sharon if she continued seeking transition from female to male.
Thus, that was one of the ways I had to determine where I was. Either way, both Stanford and Janus affirmed that this person – whether Nick or Sharon – is female identitied.
When I dig up my box from storage, I shall post both Stanford and Janus F-M guidelines and their replies to Sharon to seek counselling to remain as female rather than to transition to male – all interesting reading as well.
I would really enjoy exchanging letters with people who also went to Stanford or Janus – especially during the same time (1970s) as I. I am open to those who want to correspond with me.
We were few and far between.
Who knows how many of us are still here?
I was scared of family rejection as a dependant child with the very real thought that my adopting family could someday put me back into the system.
I needed to push yet I feared pushing too far and getting beat when I crossed that line.
I had no knowledge of what I was experiencing. I felt that I could not talk with my pediatrician; my parents rarely took me to the doctor anyway.
My parents berated me that there is no such thing as changing one’s sexual anatomy.
If there is no way to change / correct what I knew is wrong, then I felt stuck with something very wrong.
I first saw that my ‘down there’ was different when my dad sent me to Summer camp (1966).
The camp counsellors ordered us to strip and take a group shower on our last day.
There I was, age 9, teased and taunted for being different and not knowing how or why as though I did it to my self rather than that is the way that I was created and born.
Sex education class during 7th Grade and 8th Grade was quite an education unto itself.
The usual filmstrips, graphics, and movies of the 1960s showed anatomy that I did not have. I saw that my outside was not quite female, yet I was clearly not male.
Showers during 9th Grade gym class were another shock – a daily repeat of 1966 Summer camp.
My class-mates bullied and teased me from the first day when our gym teacher ordered us students to the group shower at the end of each day’s class. There I was with this not-quite-male ‘down there’ and blossoming chest up top; those boys got quite an eyefull. I was really struggling with my female identity to add to my physical distress.
I quickly learned to hang back, be the last to shower, and hope that I got less notice.
I continued living my existance of ‘not a male’ physically while female-identitied mentally. I began transition knowing little of inter-sex until I began self-study at University of Utah Medical School (1981 – 1985). I spent many weekend hours at the Medical School Library. The Librarians became familiar with my presence; some eventually called me ‘Doctor’ supposing that I must have been a physician considering all the books that I was reading and notes that I was writing.
My presence made it possible to develop the opportunity to come in contact with and to convince medical doctors to examine me for inter-sex due to my irregular genitalia and my female indicators.
I went on the OR table (November 1982). Doctors used the fluoroscope but did not seem convinced that they had sufficient visual proof of either what they were trying to locate or what they were trying to verify – the presence or absence of either male or female anatomy; they told me that they saw no male internal anatomy.
Were they humouring me?
Could this be true after all?
What of female anatomy?
They then gave a release for me to sign approving them for surgery – to cut me open and take a direct peek inside. I was not nervous; I was eager to learn. I told the doctor, ‘You have my permission to remove anything male but keep anything female.’. I was serious.
The surgeon stuck a butterfly needle in my hand, I did the countdown, and I awoke at their recovery room some time later. Doctors determined that my external was mal-developed female and reported no internal male anatomy. That was what I heard in my fog; it was good enough for me. I was too much in a foul mood about my life at that point to hear or consider anything else. Oh, I was happy enough with what I got. ‘See, world, I told you all along that I’m female and now I have proof.’
A day or two later, a nurse came to me with a wheelchair and told me that she was taking me to talk to a psychologist. I did not ask for this, but okay, if it is part of the news.
The psychologist and I talked for quite a while. I don’t know how long, I had no clock visible for me to see, but our conversation did last quite long. He tried to convince me to not change to female, that I could still pass as male though I am ‘not male’.
Maybe he was playing devil’s advocate, maybe he was trying to see how far he could take me. None of it worked. I insisted that I am female; now that doctors told me that my anatomy is female (or at least ‘not male’ if that satisfies you, Dear Reader), I thus had every right to assert and proceed to female.
I recently learned a few months ago that most inter-sexed persons retain their erroneously-assigned sex compared to most transsexed persons who change their sex. There I was, my first foot long-planted in the transsexed category with transition support from the medical community and then my other foot newly-planted in the inter-sexed category with competing medical perspective.
I spent three or four days in recovery. Barney Clarke was there at the Medical Center; the entire place was abuzz about him.
The hospital discharged me home with papers; I never read them. They sent my hospitalisation billing details to me in the mail; I really could not be bothered to read them, either.
Essentially, I was in no mood to read much. I already had my answers and that would suffice for me. I would continue with transition.
I learned that knowing was one thing, what I did with it was entirely different. There was much power but I had to consider wisely how I used it. I realised that I could not tell family, as much as I so wanted.
- My dad was difficult to talk to. I understood that telling my dad would hurt him deeply; no matter our conflict, I would not do harm to him, I would never tell him.
- I did not know how or when to try to tell my mom. I visited her in 1983 and 1984 without having the opportunity to share a serious talk with her. She still thought my purple Premarin was candy. How could I impress upon her more serious topics?
- I visited with my sister in June 1985. She did not want to talk details. My presence alone put her ill at ease. She took me to dinner and then to Improv (we saw Marsha Warfield); she repeatedly spoke in a loud voice calling me ‘her brother’ and using my male name though I was now Sharon. She even disrupted Warfield’s routine so much that Warfield called her on it.
Unlike some inter-sex who have pieces of both, my apparent variety is lacking anatomy. Maybe un-developed, maybe minimally developed and dissolved.
It’s me. It’s all I know. I don’t know different, my body does not know different. When I think about it, I think it’s kinda cool in its own way. Other M-F have extra stuff that I do not have – do not need.
It’s me. It is what makes my own unique self among others of similar diagnosis – I am among others who have missing anatomy rather than both.
My head nurse at my primary physician’s office re-confirmed to me last September that my internal abdominal organs are ovaries. That’s what she told me without equivocation. One more piece of evidence.
I’m glad I lack male anatomy. Can you who are not trans comprehend how it feels to be M-F and not have dreaded male structure? My gyn and I both smiled the other day at my appointment. She saw how happy I am getting re-confirmation all these years later when I am now in better spirits to appreciate and share the good news.
Missing male anatomical structure supports my argument that I am female. If I’m ‘not male’, then I’m female at least by binary definition. No?
In my original perspective as transsexual (until November 1982), I utterly hated what external bits professionals told me was male. Afterward, relief that I am a bad variation of female and proof enough to me that I am female.
There was (maybe still is?) a segment of the counselling population that considered transsexuals were homosexual males in a committed partnership seeking to ‘normalise’ their relationship into a heterosexual couple. As such, they would steer one of the partners toward surgery.
This obvious failure neglected that no homosexual male wants to eliminate his anatomy nor seek a partner who would lose his male anatomy.
There are perhaps hundreds to thousands of post-op people who were mutilated using this faulty psychology pervasive into the 1980s. I am shocked that any psychologists of this thought remain today.
AGH! – 4o, 5o, 6o years – then that sliver hits. Coming home recently that sneaky thought, my life is odd.
Why couldn’t I have been one or the other?
Why pieces of both?
Why pieces of neither?
Why stuck with nagging mental remnants of ‘before’? Not of doubt, just an annoyance.
It is me, my life, my experience as both a boy and a girl growing up.
Regrets not doing better, not insisting more, not demanding more since my earliest as kids do today. A victim of fear, of rejection, of my time and circumstance; yet, as you say, a pioneer.
How rare indeed was my out-going trans behaviour at age 3 (1959) or sooner? Experts report that trans children show as early as age 6 months. What was me at 6 months? Is family fear and ignorance why they said nothing?
There were so few acknowledged trans persons at 195o’s: Christine Jorgensen, Jan Morris, a handfull of others making tabloid news, then there was my mom’s younger brother Frank and there I am (two in one family!) with all my feminine protesting tantrums, a ‘boy’ behaving as a girl at age 3 or younger; rather a girl forced against her will and nature into a pretence as a ‘boy’.
Little education in those past years, whether in medical community or public.