Glitz Speech

Our trip to Phoenix and the Glitz was a little nutty thanks to the usual trans community in-fighting. I’d written this speech about partners and family, but when I got there I realized an entirely different speech was needed.
So I never delivered this one (though I will use it for an upcoming speech elsewhere, no doubt).
* * *
Thanks to G____, B_____, and to all the people of Transgender Harmony who put the Glitz together for inviting me to speak tonight. An especial thanks for the excellent timing – even a few days’ escape from a NY winter is more than welcome!
There are moments when I’m at an event like the Glitz, talking to another wife while our pretty husbands share beauty tips, and I wonder, “How did this happen? How did I get here?” and then “What did I do to deserve this?”
Do you ever have those moments? Times when you’re just astonished at how things have turned out? I don’t know how many years you have to go back, but I’m sure all of you can remember a time when the only place you went en femme was from the bathroom to the bedroom. Your heels had never walked on pavement. Maybe there was a time when your wife didn’t know, or your best friend – maybe they still don’t. But everyone in this room has made some kind of progress to be here – whether this is your first time out (first timers? Where are you?) or if you’re in the middle of your real life test. How big a step, or how many you’ve taken, isn’t always the important thing.
One of the things a wife has a really good view of is how hungry for progress you are; it’s the thing that scares the dickens out of us. More than one CD has gone from telling his wife that he likes to wear women’s clothes to him planning their annual vacation around a trans conference, so he can spend a week en femme. You can call it euphoria, or kid in the candy store syndrome, but no matter what you call it, it makes wives nutty. That’s especially true when they’re initially accepting, in any way, because somehow, coming out as a crossdresser, or a transsexual, affects your ability to measure, and every mile only looks like an inch. As a result, we start to feel like we’ve been taken advantage of, with the ever-escalating needs, the ever-increasing purchases. There are times now I feel surprised when I see a man WITH underarm hair.
And of course it’s not just wives. For some of you, the loved one you drive most crazy might be a close friend, a parent, or a child. No matter who it is, there’s almost no doubt that your need to express yourself will make them a little crazy remembering the right pronouns. I’m here to tell you – we need your help.
A very mature but young transman told me recently that he dreaded telling his mother he’s going to live as a man. He wasn’t worried about her being accepting – in fact, he was pretty sure she would be – but he understood what he was taking away from her, and how much he was pushing her. He said to me, “She already accepted me as a lesbian, and lost all of her dreams of planning my big-white-dress wedding, and now she’s going to lose her daughter altogether.” And I thought, when he told me, that all of us should be raised as women until a certain age, where some of us can then decide to live as men. Transmen are – in my experience – the coolest guys ever. I like to joke with Betty that if I’d known about transmen when I was single, we might not have ever met. But my point is – he got it. He got the loss, the change, the sense of feeling that we have to accept more and more – that sometimes, it feels like the changes never stop.
What that transman knew and understood was that his transition wasn’t just about him, and that his own happiness was also the cause of his mother’s disappointment. His concern for her had the potential to enable him to help her through his transition. It gave her the chance to have a good relationship with her new son.
It’s not just people living fulltime who need to help their loved ones through change. A wife who is told her husband is a crossdresser has to adjust just about everything in her life as well. Her ideas of her marriage, her man, and her future all change. Her sex life might change. She has to start thinking about gender and so-called “deviance” in ways she probably never has before.
The thing is, I hear too many stories of things not working out. Whether the cause is transition or euphoria, I don’t really hear much in the greater trans community about how to think about others as part of your self-expression, and what I do hear seems to be kind of condescending, along the lines of “how do I get this person on board for what I want and need?” Which is not quite the same thing as “how do I help this person I love deal with the changes I’m about to thrust upon them?” or even “how do I modify my needs in order to keep this person I love from running as fast as she can?”
There are workshops on fast track transition, but never any on transitioning slowly enough so your partner can keep up. There are workshops for CDs on how to remove hair but never one on how to do your wife’s makeup, so she can feel glamorous too. Endless makeovers, photo shoots, and receipts – all add up to a lot of time and energy and money, and the wives, and girlfriends, – especially the ones who are willing to be here, or join an online support group, deserve to feel pampered too. Look at it this way: if you spend as much on your partner as you do on your femme self and you won’t run out of closet room so fast. Honestly, would you go to a week-long conference for whatever her gig is? Would you want to be around a bunch of women who scrapbook, knit, write fiction, do yoga? Do you know as much about her as she does about both of you?
The bottom line is that your loves ones are your best allies – potentially. If you can help them understand, they can become the people who will stand up and say you’re not crazy, and that this isn’t a joke. We don’t have the shame to get past, we don’t have the internal conflict. Once we’re on board, we’re on board. You want us on your side. Nurturing our change – along with yours – will go a long long way toward getting us there.
I don’t say all this only because I’m a wife. I say it because I don’t want to see anyone else end up on the other side of the mirror alone. I say it because I’ve seen too many relationships – romantic, familial, friendships – strained to the breaking point. I know it’s not easy – that you’re impatient, that the revelation of who you are is HUGE. It’s easy, when you’re online, reading message boards or mailing lists, and coming to events like the Glitz, to think that everyone knows about gender. But they don’t. The education isn’t out there – on TV, transsexuals are still shown as serial killers when they’re seen at all. Crossdressers are still a joke. You know that when you tell family and friends, you have to start with transgender 101. I’ve yet to meet someone trans who isn’t on their way to a PhD in trans studies, which means, of course, that you’re way ahead of us, a Chief Financial Officer of a global corporation teaching someone how to balance a checkbook. The chasm between is what causes the difficulties. What we need – as your potential allies – is to get you to slow down, and yes – please repeat that.
We can all do something to help couples and families through. When a married CD friend says, “I went shopping,” you can ask: “what’d you get your wife?” When your favorite transwoman starts listing her hormones, WITH dosages, ask her how her mother, father, wife, or child is. Remind each other that you’re not in a void, that you’re not alone, and amazingly enough, that there’s more to life, and gender, than hose, heels, and hormones.
You deserve for there to be more. You deserve love, and happiness. Being trans is not easy – not ever. You’re reinventing yourselves in ways that are mind-blowing, but you innately understand why you need to. We don’t. We’ve never thought about gender. You have no choice. Most partners can get that. We can see the difference, even when we don’t like it. Sometimes we know it even when we know we can’t go with you. The liberation – the sheer joy – y’all exhibit is obvious. Hold onto it in your dark moments. Hold onto it when your mom screws up your pronouns for the Nth time. Hold onto it when you look in the mirror and don’t see what you want to see. Hold onto it when your wife cries about her loss. For you, there’s struggle and joy, but for us, it’s just struggle and loss. You need to find a way to let your joy, your liberation, infect us, recharge us. It’s your joy, your freedom, that will win over not just partners, but friends, employers, family – and the rest of society. And it’s way better than Angry Tranny Syndrome.
When most of us can’t make up our minds how to cut our hair or quit a job, you’ve gone and imagined the impossible – and started making plans to have it happen. If you give your loved ones a minute, once in a while, to catch their breath, they’ll be there for you when things look bleak. Your wife will remind you not to tuck your dress into your pantyhose. Your best friend will help you figure out the line between being a man’s man and a macho jerk. Your mom might be the one to see that after all, you DO look like her. Give us time, give us love, and give us hope. Some of us will get lost, or stuck. But lots of us – I mean look at this room! – will be the ones who help you go forward with grace, confidence – and far from alone.
* * *

Harvard President Summers

With President Summers’ actual statements still unknown, and while he continues to withhold transcripts of what he actually said, we are all left to guess as to what was controversial enough to make a Harvard graduate and female scientist walk out of his lecture in disgust.
What I think it’s important to keep in mind is that there are trends in science as elsewhere; what might be the hot thing today turns out to be absurd tomorrow.
Biological essentialism has its day every few decades, usually as a result of political/social progress. The anti-black science (a la “The Bell Curve”) that came out a few years ago was well-timed: the black middle class was making real inroads.
Likewise, biological essentialism vis a vis women became all the rage when we were trying to return those newly-liberated WWII female factory workers to their homes. It happened again after the 2nd wave of feminism in the 70s. John Gray didn’t come from nowhere; his bullshit is exactly the answer to so many people’s anxieties about the changes in gender roles.
Aside from that, there’s funding. During this presidency, which has proved itself willing to fund only research that it finds politically expedient, we have to see where the money is coming from.
Most theories can seem rational without proof. Interesting and worthy of research, too. But it doesn’t make them right – and until proven otherwise, I think Summers was talking out of his ass.
As trannies, you all are going to have to keep track of this stuff, too. You can’t be surprised when a sodomy law gets taken down, backlash happens – and it happens in all industries and cultures – even that untouchable behemoth we like to call science. One of the things you start to figure out as a minority is that the hotshots of science hobnob with the same legislators that won’t approve trans-friendly legislation. Everyone has politics, but some hide them behind their impressive degrees.
The one thing transwomen especially have to keep in mind – and which they may have no experience in – is understanding that a strong objection (like Hopkins’) isn’t usually about nothing. Find out who is objecting, and why, instead of dismissing a person’s compaints for being too sensitive, or being “politically correct.” Discrimination is a difficult thing to prove but terrifically oppressive to the people living with it. As transfolks, you know what oppression is, and if you’re not going to be accused of “crying wolf” when someone treats you like crap, learn how to give other kinds of objectors the benefit of the doubt before dismissing them.
Summers may be a scientist, but he’s also a man with a lot of power. Power is deafening to those who have it, and unbearably loud for those who don’t.


Here’s some depressing news from The New York Times:
“A new study by psychology researchers at the University of Michigan, using college undergraduates, suggests that men going for long-term relationships would rather marry women in subordinate jobs than women who are supervisors.”
(The entire article can be found here:
I doubt this is going to be big news to any women out there, but it’s kind of frightening that it’s actually supported by a survey.
The implications?
Men choose women who are subordinate to them for marriage.
If you look at it one way, the man with an IQ of 150 who makes $100k a year is most likely to marry a woman who has an IQ of less than 150 and earns less than $100k.
Which also means that a woman with an IQ of 150 who makes $100k a year is either going to end up single or marrying a man who has an IQ that is higher than her own and who makes more money – because the men in this study ARE CHOOSING TO MARRY WOMEN WHO ARE SUBORDINATE.
I’m sure plenty of powerful women are dating younger, less powerful hotties. But that’s not the point. The point is that when those hotties choose to get married, they’re going to marry a woman who is subordinate to them, too.
If this trend continues, every single one of my nieces is going to have two choices: to marry a man more powerful than her or to marry a man more powerful than her (or being single, or a lesbian, I suppose).
The study also indicates that it is also unlikely that the guy even pick someone who is an equal in these regards.
To me, it’s like playing any game or sport you’re good at. The guys in this survey are basically saying that they always want to play with someone they’re superior to. The intimation is that they are stacking the odds in their own favor.
One of the researchers, Dr. Stephanie Brown, is quoted as saying: “Men think that women with important jobs are more likely to cheat on them.”
Men are choosing subordinate partners because they are insecure around powerful women. They are concerned that strong, smart, salaried women might not be faithful. Imagine if women did that: no one would ever get married, both sides standing off to the sides waiting to be the more “dominant” partner.
This report is sickening & depressing to me. Deeply. Because I do have ten nieces, and I thought the world had changed a lot more since when I was a kid, but this survey – and the report about it – pretty much shows that girls are in the same shitty position they’ve always been in: either be okay with being subordinate and married, or be single. Or marry a tranny, I guess.
Since the study was done on undergraduates, I can only that eventually men do wise up – maybe once they’re dating more in their 20s and 30s, and maybe they come to appreciate having an equal, challenging partner.
Still in all, depressing news.

Meeting Miss Vera

As quite a surprise to both me and Betty, the always lovely (& eternally amused) Mariette Pathy Allen decided to bring a “friend” to the New Year’s Day performance of “The Trial.”
Mariette does not have average friends! She brought Miss Veronica Vera, the one and only.
Finally, after these many years, we got to meet Miss Vera. I wanted to thank her for the sex-positive work she’s done, aside from the tranny work she’d done with the “Finishing School for Boys Who Want To Be Girls,” of course. It was her first book that alerted me to the fact that some CDs do have erotic tastes for boys when en femme. I remember reading that, and comparing it to what various websites had to say on the subject, and realizing that Miss Vera had no reason to lie (while websites put up by CDs, well, might – especially if they knew their wives were reading them!)
So we met her: as curvaceous as she is smart, Miss Vera proved to be a lot of fun, just as you’d expect. We accidentally ran into each other on our way into/out of the Ladies’ Room, and compiled about a lifetime’s worth of sex stories into about 11 minutes’ chat. Then we rejoined everyone else; we did manage to take a few pictures, but only with Betty’s camera, & the quality is pretty sucky (though Betty has promised me photoshop’d versions forthwith.)us with mariette & veronica
It turns out Miss Vera is also going to be delivering the Banquet Speech at this year’s First Event, so if you’re in the Boston area (or otherwise have the time and money) don’t miss it. She’s a powerhouse of an ally, indulgent of most sexual proclivities, and absolutely gorgeous.
< < A very blurry picture of Miss Veronica Vera and Mariette Pathy Allen (with us squeezed inbetween).

What I Wish

As it turns out, the U.S. government has pledged less money to aid those desperate folks in South Asia than we’re planning on spending on the inauguration.
What I wish:
* that we had a president I’d be happy about inaugurating.
* that I could go to South Asia and work to help make things better.
* that we’d all call off all the freaking wars and killing going on to help clean up the whole area, clean the water tables, and set up a system to warn people of disasters like this, so they can at least survive with their families & a set of clothes, if nothing else.
Some days it feels like the planet herself is trying to let us know that we’re jackasses, and we keep not listening.
But you can urge Pres. Bush to up the U.S.’ contribution.
A tired and sad,


Hello friends and readers,
This is the least comfortable request I’ve ever made, but we’ve spent way more money doing the book thing than we expected. Since we’d like to keep doing what we’re doing – education, outreach, and advocacy – we could use some help: keeping up this website, running the MHB Message Boards, getting to conferences. Contrary to popular opinion, there isn’t any money in writing books! There is, however, a lot of money spent promoting books, and attending conferences, and no-one’s paying me to hold anyone’s hand or to answer innumerable emails from people needing help, resources, a shoulder. If only! I don’t mind doing any of it – in fact, it’s one of the single most rewarding aspects of having written the book. But I’m not independently wealthy, or retired, and there’s no trust fund to be found.
Look, it’s been really expensive doing all this. It’s a LOT of time. I don’t really know any way to ask except to ask. So if you like what we’re doing, and want us to keep doing it, you can show your support by making a donation (of your choice).

This donation is NOT tax-deductible. We’re looking into how to do that, but for now, this would just be considered a gift.
Thank you so much to those who have already donated. Wow, do I hate asking people for money. I used to work as a fundraiser, and Betty has to do a lot of schmoozing for theatre fundraising, but it never, ever gets easier.
Thank you,
Helen Boyd & Betty Crow

Guest Author: LWU

Today, on the MHB Message Boards, one of our regulars, LWU, posted an insightful piece about the mysteries of being a recently transitioned woman. I found it quite in keeping with my reputation as Helen ‘Pulls No Punches’ Boyd, and so it found its way to my blog.
LWU called her post “Dirty Little Secrets: Passing.”

The Short Version:
— Don’t transition if you don’t or can’t pass.

The Long Version:

Every few weeks I have a conversation with someone who wants advice about transitioning. Leaving aside the issue about the value of free advice, or my capabilities to say useful things in this regard, a recent conversation brought up a point that forced me to clarify and distill some thoughts.

A lot of the questions in these conversations revolve around material issues such as surgery, voice, etc. In this case, though, I had a very specific thought, which is that passing may well be the single most important issue in post-transition happiness. I know that I’m covering old ground, but that’s the miracle of the Web, that everything old is new again. And again. And again.
Here’s the deal. If you transition and don’t pass, for the rest of your life, on every day that you interact with the mundane world, people will treat you like a pariah, at best. Perhaps you don’t care what they think, or how they treat you, but it’s going to affect your ability to get a job, etc.
I’ve never met any vaguely normal person who absolutely had no concern about how others perceived them. You’re not one of them, otherwise you’d be a sociopath.
Happiness for a lot of people seems to be the ability to lead a life that maximizes happiness and minimizes hassle. If you don’t pass, you’re going to get hassled. It’s not fair, and it’s certainly not just, but like Microsoft in the software world, it *is* the dominant factor in most social environments. You can’t ignore it.
Passing has a lot of aspects, of which appearance is probably the most important, followed by behavior and then voice. A lot of MTFs don’t seem to understand what it takes to pass. A fat wallet isn’t enough. I’ve met a number of MTF folks in the last few years who’ve had very expensive facial surgery, implants, hair-removal, voice training, and you know what? They don’t pass. And after a few minutes in their company, other people treat them poorly, because they’re being perceived as weirdos (at a minimum) and perverts (at the worst).
Are there exceptions? Sure, and somebody wins every single lottery, but it’s not going to be you. In fact, if you’re not sure whether you can do it, you probably can’t, at least not until you’re sure.
In my case, I pass most of the time *except* on the phone with strangers (and friends, I suspect) when I *never* pass, and this after lots of voice and social-voice training and practice. And when people call me “sir” on the phone, it makes me feel bad, although I’d like to be able to shrug it off.
My advice was, and is: Do everything possible to avoid transitioning. Others have written this screed, I know, but it bears repeating, that many people aren’t going to pass, especially late-transitioners. At the very minimum you *must* find a psychologist who specializes in gender issues *and* who will let you speak with existing patients.
You *must* have a comprehensive physical to rule out organic issues. Maybe you don’t feel like a man because you have very low testosterone. Perhaps you have a pituitary or adrenal tumor or other endocrine problem. You. Don’t. Know. If you make a decision about transitioning without investigating all these possibilities you’re doing your family, friends, and self a huge disservice.
And there’s another rub: Many, if not all of these changes take money and time. Fair? No. Just as Helen is tired of having to repeat herself about her approach to feminism, I’m tired of talking about whether the binary gender system is fair, and whether certain aspects of semi-free-market economies are fair. They’re not, Ok? And it sucks. But you still have to live with it, like it or not. Why? Because if you won’t pay attention to the outside world, you’re literally insane. I’m going to talk about resources and whining in another inflammatory post, coming soon to a MHB forum near you.
Don’t do it. Don’t transition. Do anything and everything you can to work out some other solution. If you’re depressed a few days a month because you have to be a man, would you rather be depressed for a few weeks every month because no one will accept you as a woman?
I’m much happier now that I’ve transitioned, but I’m the exception in almost every respect. I got the Lucky Sperm Club neutral facial structure, neutral hand/foot size, and enough resources that counseling, electrolysis, and surgery did not represent an insurmountable burden. I have a spouse and friends who weren’t happy with me at first, but they didn’t actively interfere with my project and many of them helped and are helping me to learn to act like the person I want to be.
In addition, I work hard at passing every single day that I’m going to interact with The Man. Makeup, shoes, clothes, behaviors that match my age and apparent social background. I’m 43, so I selected a name that was statistically likely both in terms of frequency and social group. I work with financial institutions and MBAs, so I wear makeup and clothes suitable for that environment. I’m a nerd so I also present as a nerd by carrying the appropriate amount of geer (geek-gear). If I don’t, someone will kill me with sticks, or refuse to hire me, which actually has longer-term personal consequences.

Alternatives to HRC

For those of you disturbed by the HRC’s dismissal of trans-inclusion, I have found two other groups that are much more hip to trans issues.
1) The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) is a social justice organization dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment. NCTE was founded in 2003 by transgender activists who saw the urgent need for a consistent voice in Washington DC for transgender people. NCTE provides this presence by monitoring federal activity and communicating this activity to our members around the country, providing congressional education, and establishing a center of expertise on transgender issues.
2) The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) is the national progressive organization working for the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, with the vision and commitment to building a powerful political movement.
These two groups work together and are a constant presence in DC. The lawyer who works on trans-issues at NGLTF is very dedicated and a strong speaker on trans issues. Mara Kiesling, of the NCTE, works way too hard – which is exactly what you want in a social justice organization!
So give them your money and time instead, and tell HRC to get bent.

Olympics okays TS athletes

IOC clears transsexuals for competition
Associated Press
Posted: 18 hours ago
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) – Transsexuals have been cleared to compete in the Olympics for the first time.
Under a proposal approved Monday by the IOC executive board, athletes who have undergone sex-change surgery will be eligible for the Olympics if their new gender has been legally recognized and they have gone through a minimum two-year period of postoperative hormone therapy.
The decision, which covers both male-to-female and female-to-male cases, goes into affect starting with this summer’s Athens Olympics.
The IOC had put off a decision on so-called transgender athletes in February, saying more time was needed to consider all the medical issues.
Some members had been concerned whether male-to-female transsexuals would have physical advantages competing against women.
Men have higher levels of testosterone and greater muscle-to-fat ratio and heart and lung capacity. However, doctors say, testosterone levels and muscle mass drop after hormone therapy and sex-change surgery.
IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said the situation of transsexuals competing in high-level sports was “rare but becoming more common.”
IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch said no specific sports had been singled out by the ruling.
“Any sport may be touched by this problem,” he said. “Until now, we didn’t have any rules or regulations. We needed to establish some sort of policy.”
Until 1999, the IOC conducted gender verification tests at the Olympics but the screenings were dropped before the 2000 Sydney Games.
One of the best known cases of transsexuals in sports involves Renee Richards, formerly Richard Raskind, who played on the women’s tennis tour in the 1970s.
In March, Australia’s Mianne Bagger became the first transsexual to play in a pro golf tournament.
Michelle Dumaresq, formerly Michael, has competed in mountain bike racing for Canada.
Richards, now a New York opthamologist, was surprised by the IOC decision and was against it. She said decisions on transsexuals should be made on an individual basis.
“Basically, I think they’re making a wrong judgment here, although I would have loved to have that judgment made in my case in 1976,” she said.
“They’re probably looking for trouble down the line. There may be a true transsexual – not someone who’s nuts and wants to make money – who will be a very good champion player, and it will be a young person, let’s say a Jimmy Connors or a Tiger Woods, and then they’ll have an unequal playing field.
“In some sports, the physical superiority of men over women is very significant.”
The article can be found at

'As Nature Made Him'

Gender change victim dies
WINNIPEG – A man who was born a boy but raised as a girl in a famous nurture-versus-nature experiment has died at age 38.
David Reimer, who shared his story about his botched circumcision in the pages of a book and on the Oprah TV show, took his own life last Tuesday.
His mother, Janet Reimer, said she believes her son would still be here today had it not been for the devastating gender study that led to much emotional hardship. “I think he felt he had no options. It just kept building up and building up.”
After the circumcision accident as a toddler, David became the subject of an experiment dubbed the John/Joan case in the ’60s and ’70s. Janet said she still harbours anger toward a Baltimore doctor who convinced her and her husband, Ron, to give female hormones to their son and raise him as a daughter, Brenda.
Kids were cruel to Brenda growing up in Winnipeg.
This gender transformation was widely reported as a success and proof that children are not by nature feminine or masculine but through nurture are socialized to become girls or boys. David’s identical twin brother, Brian, offered researchers a matched control subject.
But when David discovered the truth about his past during his teenage years, he rebelled and resumed his male identity, marrying and becoming a stepfather to three children.
David recently slumped into a depression after losing his job and separating from his wife. He was also still grieving the death of his twin brother two years earlier, their mother said.
Continue reading “'As Nature Made Him'”