Trying on your Sister’s Dress

In the 1960s when I was part of an Action Faction cadre (what would be a Black Bloc in today’s world of G20 demonstrations) and Weathermen we used to have encounter group where we did something called “gut checks” regarding our motivations behind our actions.

A year or two later after I came out these same encounter group games were played by sisters only we called them Synanon games after a well known Southern California based substance abuse re-hab.

While these games run to a rather brutal form of “Truth or Dare” they can produce insights and learning by demanding people strip away the facile explanations for actions.  In some ways they can act as an Occam’s razor in the destroying of bullshit theories like those put forth by Bailey, Blanchard and Lawrence.

When I came on-line back in 1996 I was on Usenet. Honestly I had never encounter so much bullshit in my life.  Bullshit is like the growing medium in a petri dish where the bacteria of really negative psychopathologing theory grows. Honesty and empathy are like soap and bleach for cleaning up the crap.

Now coming out 40 years ago and going through the process way back in the bronze age gave me historical perspective, a way of seeing that some of the reasons middle aged emergers were giving were just plain false.

I am a photographer and I was working back in those days.  I have only to open my neg files and I can pull up pictures that show the same mix of people at the group sessions at the Stanford Clinic in 1972 as one finds today in the group sessions for people in process.

So that pretty much blows the argument that you couldn’t get SRS in 1972 if you weren’t flawless, beautiful and liked men since sisters who were stone feminists, middle aged, not terribly attractive and who were married to women and parents were going through the process.

Besides I had heard the rationalizations when they were valid as back in 1962 it was almost impossible to get SRS inside the US.  But give me a break.. After the 1970s… At some point the cut off date for that excuse has to kick in.

Now what a lot of the people I asked probing questions of didn’t realize is that I never believed there were any real basic core differences in the root causes.  That I have believed all along the core cause is, “We were born this way.”

Then on Trans-theory I met “RS”.  She was just about as close as I could hope to wish for when it came to a matched demographic twin as a control subject.

We were both born in and grew up in small towns during the 1950s.  In 1967-1968 we lived around the corner from each other in the Haight Ashbury.  I came out in 1969, she came out in the 1990s.

Her defenses were that she couldn’t find any information as she was in a small town.  I was in an even smaller town further from a major city and I found the information.

Then our differences started to emerge.  She passed better as a boy than I did.  She was afrad of losing her family.  I was pretty much on the road to being disowned by the time I hit the Haight.

Now here is where trying on your sister’s dress can become an enlightening game of what if.  As I have been writing my story I have found junction points where if I had had one thing happen instead of another then it would have made my reaching the next junction point at the time I did far less likely.

Even with my appearance I had one even that very nearly put me on a track that would have made my coming out at 21 unlikely.  I won a full tuition Scholarship.  If I had really devoted myself to making the best use of that scholarship instead of using the time to become a political radical and hippie the tangent would have propelled me in a direction that would have made my coming out at a point when I would have been just graduating from college unlikely.

Kris Kristofferson’s song “Me and Bobby McGee” has a line in it “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”.  By the time I hit the Haight I had nothing left to lose.  The only barriers to my coming out were internal and massive dose LSD trips took me deep and I saw that this was who I was and even if i were to try to deny it I would always have the physical reality of being transsexual.  Face it now or face it later

Empathy…  Realizing that life events determine if one will face it now or face it later and the stories of these life events and how they are dealt with, the junction points and why one goes one way instead of the other determine when we will get to a point when we will deal with it.

Becoming a parent tends to block out a 20 or so year period when being a parent is going to put the dealing with your transsexualism deep into the background.

Being an out teen queen in high school is going to put you on a different track and probably means you are more likely to have a boyfriend than a girl friend.

But these aren’t the root cause.  These are the events that make up demographic patterns.

So perhaps before being so judgmental regarding those who come out at a different point in their life than you did perhaps it would be useful for you to mentally walk in the other person’s shoes and imagine if you had done something different at various points in your life if your life might have followed the arc of the person you are judging.

I can see how it would have been possible for me to wind up a middle aged history teacher waking up and deciding that Ineeded to face who I wasand deal with it rather than face another 30-40 years of longing.

3 Responses to “Trying on your Sister’s Dress”

  1. Rachel Xavier Says:

    —–So perhaps before being so judgmental regarding those who come out at a different point in their life than you did perhaps it would be useful for you to mentally walk in the other person’s shoes and imagine if you had done something different at various points in your life if your life might have followed the arc of the person you are judging.—–

    Thank you so much. There really is a lot of high school level meanness among some young MtF transsexuals, who simply do not know how lucky they are. I am 47, just starting to transition. Fear kept me from doing this 30 years ago. I was simply afraid in a world much different than today.

  2. Suzan Says:

    That cuts both ways. Only a minority of transkids enjoy much skin privilege as many wind up throw aways or with interrupted educations and most doors other than sex work closed to them.

    Too often late emergers are unaware of the privilege accrued that goes with functioning as male during those formative years in one’s career development.

    Employment issues aren’t just hanging on to that career one might not have had if one came out young. Employment issues also involve getting a non-sex work career.

    Ever harder in the US now that so many programs for job re-education have been erased by 40 years of conservative rule.

  3. Sarah Says:

    That cuts again both ways. My dream was to work as Kindergarten (Teacher?) but I knew I will transition. Imagine the horror of parents. And because at least in germany it is a very bad paid job wich only a women can do that feels safe with a second income I had to drop that Idea. I had a very mixed career, but finally settled in IT and now have a high wage. This and the fact that I’m late on the other hand gives me the option of having the best surgions. But you on the other hand never even needed an FFS?

    The grass is always greener on the other side.

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