A TS Youth Perspective

Editor's note: In May 2003, I got the following letter from one of my young readers. Let's call her Bonnie Jackson to protect her privacy. It's a great example of all the ways this sexualized taxonomy fails to describe the experiences of most transsexual women.

I am a member of a UK based mailing list called "TG Youth UK". Most of us are between 18 and 25 and most are on hormones and surgery tracked. I'm 26 myself, having spent around 4 years on this mailing list going through the process of transitioning and getting SRS, and now I'm sticking around to help support those that are just now coming into the 'system.' I write to you because I believe the membership of this list present a clear contradiction to the Bailey/Blanchard/Lawrence taxonomy.

As a group of TS girls, being visibly gender variant is fairly uncommon. Hormones work wonders in the under 25's, and being able to go stealth is practically taken for granted amongst the membership.

None of us have ever even considered the idea of getting married or doing something absurdly masculine like joining the army. We tend to be profoundly suspicious (rightly or wrongly) of those that do because we cannot relate to anyone that has managed to function in any capacity as an adult male.

The level of mental disturbance and social dysfunction we suffer before transition is effectively so crippling as to make it practically impossible to function on anything other than a superficial level. Taking this as the truth, according to Bailey and Blanchard, we much therefore be a group of "homosexual transsexuals."

However, a little time spent on the list and meeting the members reveals a range of sexualities and personalities, of which exclusive androphilia is phenomenally rare. The most common sexuality, by far, is bisexuality, and the most common relationships are between m2fs themselves.

There's also a very high level of 'computer geekiness' too.

As a group, also, we're hardly 'glamorous' in the conventional sense. Finding any of our members remotely interested in anything other than wearing jeans, t-shirts and flat shoes is rather unusual, to say the least.

So, taken from that point of view, perhaps we're a group of “autogynephiles”?

In fairness, every single member of our list would score as "homosexual" in Bailey's little test, but the truth is a little more complicated.

I contributed a post that confessed that I'd been terrified about having SRS because of Lawrence’s work. I had begun to doubt my own sanity, wondering if secretly, you HAD to fantasise about having female genitals in order to be happy post-op - what if Lawrence was right? I had never had a sexual fantasy of that nature, and so when I had the money to have SRS I panicked and spent it on learning to drive and getting a car (which ironically turned out to be a far more life enhancing thing to do than SRS!). I decided to try getting SRS through the NHS instead, which would give me another year or two to consider whether or not a profound disgust for my old genitals was reason enough to risk my life.

The first 'issue' arose when I met my first post-transition boyfriend. For one reason or another (and against my better judgement) I told him I was transsexual, and that I was still pre-op. Because he was bisexual, he told me he was "still interested" and it went from there.

Ultimately however, it became apparent that even though he had no problems with what I had between my legs, I did - it caused me an enormous amount of distress and made me realise that I would never have a chance of an intimate relationship as long as I reminded pre-op. Adding to that my hatred of my existing genitals, I became sure that SRS was right for me, even if I didn't have any sort of “autogynephilic” fantasies relating to surgery.

That isn't to say I don't have ANY fantasies - but, from my point of view, what I used to fantasize about bears no relation to the reality of my life, at all. In fact, in common with everyone else on the planet, there are things I have fantasised about that I would NEVER want to happen to me in real life.

It would be interesting to see if, in the vaults of Fictionmania, there's any stories about someone who willing goes out of their way to become a completely ordinary boring girl.

Most of the people on our mailing list reported similar feelings once the subject was out in the open.

Everyone else seems to defy the ability for Blanchard and Bailey to categorise us.

Again, I don't know how useful this is. I think traditionally, younger TS people have never been bothered with politics, being almost exclusively stealth and being comfortable with the traditional "true" or "primary" transsexual labels, but Bailey's book affects us all, especially those of us with partners.

If you're a "homosexual transsexual", you're just sexually promiscuous, using men to satisfy an enormous libido, often resorting to prostitution for FUN! (FOR FUN??!!!). If you're an "autogynephile", then you're incapable of being truly attracted to anyone, that your partners are mere props in a sexual fantasy.

This is the worst slur in the book as far as I'm concerned - being stealth and already post-op, my main concern is that if I did decide to come out to a partner at some point in the future, if Bailey's theories became universally accepted by everyone, he might not believe me when I say that I love him.