Index to May 2000 Issue
We now interrupt our regularly scheduled
the May meeting
This month, there was a glitch with our meeting at our regular location. First, the club decided to move our May meeting from the fourth Saturday to the third Saturday of the month. This was done because the fourth Saturday in May is also Memorial day weekend, and history has shown that itís a bad weekend to hold a meeting. Many of our members, myself included, have family activities planned and cannot get away to go to a meeting.
But there was a second, more serious problem to deal with. Due to conflicts in the churchís schedule, we were unable to reserve the room for either weekend. So, the search was on to find a new place where we could meet in May. There were only two locations to consider. One was the place where we will be holding our meeting. The second was a church which had yet to be checked out.
Diana Brit volunteered to check out the new location before the April meeting, so I emailed her all the information I had on the church. While she didnít get a chance to visit the church in person, she did call and what she found out wasnít encouraging. There were a number of problems with the new location, including a lack of a dressing room and having to share the entrance way with one or two other groups. As a result, we were faced with three options.
First, cancel the meeting for the month of May. We didnít feel that was a good option, especially when we had places we could still use.
Second, hold the our meeting at the regular location but on the 2nd Saturday instead of the 3rd or 4th. This was ruled out for a number of reasons, one of which the club had decided to meet on the third Saturday and we didnít want to change dates and confuse everyone ( like the January meeting).
Option number three was to hold our meeting on the third Saturday at this other location. It was the best solution to our dilemma and more important, the management was welcoming us in with open arms.
However, some of you have expressed concern over this decision and, I can understand why. So let me ease some minds here.
I have secured our regular location all the way up until October. So unless we find a new location that the majority of the members are comfortable with, we will continue to meet at our regular location until then (remember, the Christmas party is at a different location this year).
In regards for finding a new, permanent home closer to downtown, that is where you come in. I donít want to keep searching for a new location the rest of my term as your president. Iím asking you to seek out any place that may fit our needs and let us know. Letís try to put this issue to rest so we can move on to other business. Thanks! Kelly Davidson
About 30 people were in attendance to hear Meral Crane speak at the meeting (Iím sorry, I didnít have a list of who was there at the time the newsletter was being printed). Meral gave a heart-warming talk about family and relationships concerning TG individuals. Julie Ann made stew and bread for everyone and Kelly brought in a cake to celebrate our 11th anniversary. It was announced that there would be no business meeting in May. It was also discussed, due to a conflict with our current meeting place, that we would be attending a new place in May.
The May meeting will be on held on the third Saturday (May 20) instead of the our regular fourth Saturday. This month we will be exchanging clothes. Please clean out our closet and bring in anything you would like to get rid of.
Itís that time of the year again. Please check your mailing label to see if your dues have been paid for the year. On your mailing label, you should see:
If you have not paid for 2000 (your label should read 01/01 if you have paid), please send your dues as soon as possible. If you have paid your dues for this year and your label reads incorrectly, please notify Dianna Mills at Mills999@aol.com or in care of the club.
Yearly dues are $42 for the year (includes newsletter) or $18 for newsletter only.
We will be removing names from our mailing list in the near future.
Laser Hair Removal
"The First Treatment"
by Anne Davis
You may recall that in the recent February 2000 newsletter, Mary Ann had an article calling for applications to undergo a new type of laser hair removal. The club would choose one of its members who desired the treatment to go through the process, with a generous donation to the club by Mary Ann to cover the cost. This is for the purpose of education, to help the transgendered community evaluate the new treatment and its usefulness for our needs, specifically male to female facial hair removal.
I applied for the treatment for many reasons. Facial hair has always been something I hated, even before I realized I was a transgendered person and tried to actually pass off as a woman. I hated it as soon as it developed. At that point I was simply crossdressing in shame whenever I found private time, mostly with some of my mother's old clothes in the basement or something my sisters had. I didn't have any concept then of why I did it, and I also didn't have any concept of how little I looked like a girl, and how much the facial hair contributed to that. I never tried makeup until later, and even then only lipsticks, eye colors and blush. It was simply about wearing dresses, and my youthful ignorance allowed me to feel pretty just by trying them on. But I still hated the facial hair. It was so... useless! Even as a boy, I was expected to not have a beard, so it would grow, and I had to shave it off. At first, not very often, soon though, it became a few times a week. And then every day! It was quite simply a major pain, it made my face break out (or at least I believed it did), it just kept growing, and it was just plain ugly! I didn't understand why it was there at all since so few actually put it to use and grow beards. More than any of the other changes that happened to me in adolescence, developing facial hair contributed the most to the low self-image I had of how I looked.
And it still does. Over the last few years I have grown tremendously as a transgendered person. From the first time out, to attending support meetings, to learning about the art of makeup (and cover-up!), to starting to develop my feminine personality, I have come a long way. Now, even in "boy mode" I wear my hair long, my fingernails longer than usual, and wear women's tee shirts and jeans and jackets 95% of the time. All of these things have become simply a natural expression of who I am, nothing drastic or head turning, but enough to help me feel better inside. But that facial hair was something I couldn't shake. Even when I'm trying to pass off as a woman, with full makeup and everything, there is a constant struggle between me and that hair. Way too much of my effort in dressing is spent covering up the facial hair to a point where I can feel the slightest bit pretty. And without the makeup, well... I just feel like an ugly, hairy, bear.
So, when the idea of a permanent hair removal solution came up, of course, I was interested. In fact, for quite some time I had considered doing some form of electrolysis. But the expense of it was just too great for me. Since I couldn't afford it, I put it aside as one of those "someday" things that I hoped I could do in the future. Unlike some people I have heard from, I had already made up my mind to commit to permanent hair removal. I'm past the point of being afraid that people will notice, or that I will look too "feminine" for a guy. I guess it doesn't matter because I'm not completely convinced that I want to be a guy at all. Secretly, I find myself wishing that once the treatment is done, I get identified as female much more often, even when I'm not trying. It wouldn't bother me a bit. But THAT is a whole other discussion.
When I applied, I completely never expected to get chosen to have the treatments done. This is mostly due to the fact that I never feel worthy of ANYTHING (again, an entirely DIFFERENT personal issue). When I heard that I was chosen, I was totally thrilled, and overwhelmed. It certainly was an amazing opportunity for me, and I am so thankful to everyone involved. I couldn't wait to see what was in store for me.
The treatment was being offered at Westerville Dermatology, offices of Dr. Kevin B. Karikomi, D.O. The first step in the process was to have an initial consultation done with the doctor. Scheduling was easy, and they seemed to be flexible. Like most doctors' offices, I guess, they were only open during the day, through the week. Since I work part of the weekend anyway, I usually have a day off through the week, and didn't have any trouble getting a time that day.
At the consultation, I first filled out paperwork, then went back into an examining room where Jamie, the nurse who would be doing the treatments, talked to me about it for a while. Then after a few minutes, Dr. Karikomi came in the room and also talked to me about the treatment. It was mostly stuff I had already known about the treatment, and was pretty straightforward. There was only one slightly uncomfortable moment. Up to this point, no one had ever said anything to me about being a guy wanting my beard and neck hair removed. Well, the doctor was looking me over and seemed a little unsure. He said something like, "You know that you'll have a very SMOOTH look when you're done. We don't usually do this on guys." He then went on to start suggesting some other options, something about just doing the hair on the neck and blah blah... but I didn't even let him finish. I tried to tell him that I wanted the smooth look, that I understood and that was what I was going for. Well, he still didn't seem convinced, and started pressing me as to why I wanted it. I was a little uncomfortable, and I'm sure I blushed. But then I just said it: "I'm a transgendered person." I was ready to embellish the topic, but he and Jamie suddenly got that look on their face like "everything is clear now!" He just let out a big "OHHHHHHH," and then said, "that was all I needed to hear." He asked me if I was going to go "all the way" and have surgery done. I told him that I didn't have any plans to one way or another at this point.
Once that was cleared up, he went on to tell me about the treatment. The procedure consists of 3 full treatments and what they call 1 "touch up" treatment. This is the package that is priced at 15% off when you pay for all the treatments up front. Any subsequent re-growth can be treated periodically (probably at most every 6-8 months) with additional "touch ups" that are priced at $100 each visit. They showed me the laser machine, and said that I did look like I would be a good candidate for the treatment (dark hair and light skin are ideal, the lighter the hair is, the less it will be affected by the laser). They asked me if I needed time to think about it, and I told them no, I was ready to go ahead and schedule the first treatment. They took my picture with a digital camera, explaining that they take "before and after" pictures. I was also given a prescription for a topical anesthetic called EMLA Cream. I was to apply it and leave it on for two hours before I come in for treatment. I was told that the face would use the whole tube, and the prescription included a refill for each treatment. Finally, I made the appointment for the following week to have the first treatment done.
The day of my first treatment, I think I had to be there around noon-ish. With it taking around 30 minutes to drive there, and on top of that having to put the EMLA cream on 2 hours before that, I wasn't exactly going to get to sleep in that day. And this is a challenge for me, especially on my day off. I did manage that day to be pretty much on time. I was not specifically instructed about shaving or not shaving that day. I took a calculated risk and just shaved lightly with my electric razor. This turned out to be the perfect thing to do. I found out later that she would have had to shave the area if I hadn't, and since I used an electric razor the skin wasn't really irritated to start out with.
Applying the anesthetic EMLA cream was very awkward. Technically, the manufacturer of the cream says you have to use some specially designed dressing, like a wrap, to place over the cream for 2 hours while it absorbs. The nurse told me just to use saran wrap, it would be fine for these purposes. So if you can imagine, I had to goop on a thick layer of this white cream and press saran wrap on top of it (which I guess helps the skin absorb the active ingredients). This wouldn't be too difficult on most areas of the body, but it was awkward at best on the face. I had to place the wrap in sections, since I made a guess that I was NOT supposed to cut off my breathing with saran wrap (although, that WOULD have helped ease the pain even more!). It wasn't impossible, and soon I had my face covered and all I had to do was wait. 2 HOURS. Not really the most fun thing in the world. I ended up laying in bed and setting an alarm clock to get up to take the stuff off and leave, since I knew I would fall asleep because I never get much sleep at night. The cream made my face kind of numb and tingly, but I was able to relax enough to dose off, having to lay on my back so I wouldn't turn over and get cream all over my bed sheets. When I woke up, I wiped the cream off with a rag. My face felt very odd... tight and I guess somewhat numb and still tingly. It was fine, so I got dressed and left.
When I got to the office, I signed in and was taken back to the treatment room within a few minutes. I knew that she wanted to get started right away, so that the anesthetic would still be going strong. The anesthetic was supposed to last a couple of hours I guess, but better safe than sorry! So now, the treatment part. All anyone wants to know is: does it hurt?? In fact, you've probably read this far just to find out if it hurts. And the answer is: well YEAH, it hurts. Just not all that bad. Want more? Read on.
Since it's a laser treatment, they have you lie down on an examining table, and put on these "blackout" goggles to protect your eyes from the laser. She wore some kind of protective eyewear too, but not sure exactly what because once I put my goggles on I didn't really see anything. She started with a test "zap" on the cheek and then we went right into the upper lip. For the upper and lower lip, she gave me a wet gauze to put between my teeth and the skin, because she presses down on the laser just enough to be uncomfortable on the teeth. The laser itself is a little "gun shaped" device with a trigger, connected to a control unit that sits on the floor like a rolling file cabinet with a screen. The area that actually touches the skin is small, a couple of square centimeters maybe, and it treats it in little squares like that. Traditional electrolysis treats the hairs one at a time (from what I understand). With this method, my entire beard and neck were treated in one sitting. There are 3 or 4 treatments because hair grows in cycles, and the other treatments hit the hairs that weren't growing at the time, areas that were missed, or hairs that didn't get enough the first time and are back for more!
So, back to the pain. Others have described the feeling of each zap as being like a rubber band snapping on your face. And this is true. Well, at least in some of the areas. What you have to understand is that the pain doesn't come from the laser light itself, the pain comes from when the light hits the hair pigment and it literally vaporizes the root of the hair under your skin. So naturally, areas where the hair is lighter or less dense are going to have less "vaporizing" going on than areas with very dense and very dark hair like male facial hair. My darkest, thickest, and most dense hair is on my chin and upper and lower lips, with the beard hair on the sideburns, cheeks, and neck coming in a close second. Add to this the fact that the bonier areas of skin are always more sensitive and hurt more than the fleshy areas, and we have just raised the bar on pain quite a bit. When she hit the areas on the upper lip, lower lip, and chin, it was intense. Not intense enough to cry, or scream. Not intense enough to quit and leave. But intense enough to flinch and grunt. At least that's how I dealt with it. Suddenly the little rubber band snapping has turned into something worse. I don't have much of any experience with whips (HEY! I'm workin' on it!), but I describe the laser hitting the dark parts of the facial hair as being like the meanest, darkest, thickest, scariest, most evil leather whip you can think of being brutally slashed against your skin in little square centimeter places.
All I can say is: watch out, this is not a nice, clean, easy, painless sissy procedure. I'm the first to admit that I'm like, the biggest sissy there is (and yes, that is a WONDERFUL thing!). But you have to toughen up just a bit to make it through this. I have never even had a test zap of traditional electrolysis, but from what I have heard this isn't anywhere near as bad. If only for the fact that you only have to endure it 3 or 4 times, the worst of it on the first treatments, and with traditional electrolysis, you have hundreds of hours of treatment to go through.
The treatment itself was very systematic. She mostly did it in rows, doing the upper lip, then the left side of my face and neck, the lower lip, the chin and lower neck, and finally the right side of my face and neck. She started the treatments with the laser intensity set just below the maximum. At one point the doctor came in and looked to see how everything was going. He said if I could stand it, to go ahead and run it at full, saying that I will get the best results when I do it as high as I could stand. We tried the higher setting, and I really honestly didn't feel much difference, so we did the rest at that setting. I don't think it was a huge change. He said, "You were at 38 and now you're at 40!" "40 WHAT?" I said. "Joules!" he said. At the end of the treatment, when I had taken my goggles off, I got a quick glance of the screen on the unit before it was shut off, and I saw that the number was actually 40 joules per square centimeter, for all you bio-techies out there.
I told her that I wasn't sure how well the anesthetic cream was doing, since I could still feel a lot. She told me that it certainly was working, because at this level, if I hadn't used anesthetic I would be "flying off the table" with every zap. That's encouraging.
As she treated my face, she was in awe. What I mean is that she kept commenting about how she had never seen hair this thick and dark before. I guess it is normal for some of the hair to smoke and scorch after being hit with the laser. But she said that nearly every one of my hairs was scorching, and she had never seen anything like it! This reaction may seem like they are inexperienced at removing full beards, which is probably true. With the treatment method being so new, this seems reasonable and understandable. I asked her if they did many full beards, and she said that the only other full beard that she had personally done was one other person that was currently being treated. I didn't ask if it was a transgendered person, it wasn't really my business.
Oh, and one other thing I have been forgetting. With scorched hair comes one thing: smell. The burnt hair smell was nearly unbearable! She had a small fan in the room, and opened the window to vent out the stench. The worst part is that the smell is coming from the hairs on my face, and it's hard not to breathe it when it's coming from literally right under your nose! The smell never really made me fell sick, but it was close at some points.
After she treated each area, the skin would start to get really, really hot! She would put a cool, wet rag on the area to soothe it, and then move on to the next area. She had expected to spend an hour on the treatment session, but by the time she was done, the treatment took nearly 1 hour and 45 minutes. She said that she didn't mind it taking a long time, and it was mostly because with most areas she can move quickly, but with my beard she had to go slowly, and sometimes pause so I could rest, or I would just be in too much pain.
When she was done, she washed off my face as much as she could. She said that a lot of my hair was scorched, and that she was able to get most of it off, but not all of it. She applied some aloe to my face, which burned a little, and then I was done. I took the goggles off and didn't know what to expect. I looked in the little mirror there and, well... I certainly wasn't pretty! My face was all red and a little swollen. The scorched hairs she had been talking about looked like little black scabs all over my face. They weren't scabs, they were little black spots of hair that got burnt and heated so much that they exploded out of the pore, and got trapped by the laser that was pressed against the skin.
All I had left was to schedule my next treatment. She said it could be anytime between 4 and 6 weeks later. For most areas they wait 6 weeks until doing another treatment, but they said that with the facial hair, it grows a lot faster and you can treat it sooner, since the growth cycles are shorter. I scheduled a treatment 4 weeks later, since it seemed to fit my schedule, and I always had the option of re-scheduling later.
So, now I was into recovery. She said that I would blister, and instantly I could tell that parts of my face were irritated and felt like open sores. There was also a slight sunburned feeling, and they said to apply cool compresses to the area for about 4 or 5 hours after treatment. Also, I was to wash the area a couple of times a day with a mild soap, and follow that with a small application of aloe.
I had no idea how I was going to look after the treatment. If I could suggest an improvement concerning the information they give about the treatment before you have it, I think they need to make it clearer how you are going to look after the treatment. This may not be a concern when doing legs or the chest, or other cover-able areas. But with the face it's a completely different story. People need to know if they're going to have to hide from society for a while after treatment, and maybe the inexperience they have with doing beards is why they didn't know to warn me. I was under the impression that the skin might be really red, looking somewhat sunburned. Instead, I probably looked like a mild burn victim!
The worst part is that I wasn't very smart. I had scheduled an appointment with my therapist on the same day, AFTER the treatment! Bad idea. I had given plenty of time, but since the treatment ran long, I didn't have time to stop for lunch like I had hoped, and had to go pretty much straight to the therapist after my treatment. I brought some aloe in with me in my coat pocket, and stopped in the restroom on the way in. I tried washing my face again, and was able to get more of the little black spots of scorched hair off. I also tried applying the aloe to my face, which by now burned pretty bad since much of my face was now an open sore. It was also some kind of medicated aloe for burn relief, and smelled like my grandmother's medicine cabinet. The combination made me want to crawl in a hole and not come out.
I did go to my therapy appointment, and made it through. It made for a unique opportunity to talk a little about hair removal and some of my feelings about doing it, but we didn't completely focus on that. During the hour I had to keep dabbing my face with a cool compress because the skin would start to feel hot and sunburned.
What I noticed during the first one or two hours after treatment is that the blistering and sores on the skin started to be more and more irritated. I was thrilled to get out of the therapy session and get home, where I could take care of myself. The skin was really starting to blister now, and over time I could tell the skin was "oozing". I hate to be so gross, but from here on out there's not a very nice way to describe healing blisters and skin irritation. All I could do was wash it periodically and apply more aloe.
That evening was the ladies' night out, where a bunch of us get together for dinner and socializing just like we had been doing every Thursday. I was a bit uncomfortable going. Part of me wanted to just stay at home, away from the general public, but part of me knew that everyone there would get a kick out of seeing my freshly treated face! I washed up again, and armed with aloe and a damp rag, off I went!
If you want to hear an outsider's perspective on how I looked, talk to one of the ladies who were there that night and saw me! Mary Ann, Judy, Kristen, Carrie, and some others (sorry I can't remember you all! That was a few weeks ago!) Judy took some pictures (which might get published somehow, someday), and I got to tell my story. It wasn't too bad for me, I got to be in great company AND get everyone to feel sorry for me!
Another part of my bad planning was that I had to work the next morning. Again, I just had no idea what to expect, and it's a big deal to re-arrange work schedules. I had hoped just to get the treatment done on my normal day off and appointment day. And well, by Friday morning the sores still hadn't healed. I freaked out and called off work. It really wasn't any worse than on Thursday night, but you wake up in the morning and see it and it just seems worse. Next time I'll have "the day after" off too. The club also had a business meeting that Friday evening, which I had planned to go to. I spent all day washing my face or lying in bed, and ended up running late eating dinner. Even though I had gone out Thursday night I was somehow more run down about it and self-conscious. After a while it got so late that I decided it wasn't worth it to drive over to the business meeting, and just stayed home and healed.
What was happening is that the blistered areas, which were really just open sores on my face, were starting to heal. As they healed, they would scab over. Once areas of my face had healed like this, the irritation wasn't half as bad. But initially, it felt like my entire face was a big, irritated open sore. Really it was just in spots - the spots kind of made a little "checkerboard plaid" pattern on my cheeks and neck. What's worse is that they felt horrible. I think the worst part about the whole treatment was the pain of irritated skin that I had to deal with for the first few days after treatment. This drawn out pain and irritation turned out to be worse than the laser zaps themselves. By Saturday things were mostly healed except my chin. I think I took it the worst there. But everything still had that lovely "checkerboard" pattern. I had places to be that day which I could NOT get out of. Work in the morning, then working at a wedding ceremony (of all places!) in the afternoon (was my planning horrid or what???). I had some time in the morning to play, and decided that I had to do something about the way my face looked before I went out. This is something that only a crazy transgendered person would ever think of. I shaved LIGHTLY with my electric razor, and believe it or not, did wonders with some cover-up and powder tricks. In guy mode, in the bright spring sun, having to be places all day! I saw my girlfriend that day, and she told me it DID look like I had cover up on, but really only when you were close to me. I never got any oddball comments. I was prepared to tell them I had a skin treatment done, my face broke out, and "the doctor gave me this 'cover-up' cream that actually seems to be hiding the sores, and is supposed to help heal". Dunno if anyone would have bought it, but I was gonna say it anyway. The only bad part was that the cover-up was irritating my chin. By Saturday evening when I got home, my chin was starting to break out in a couple dozen pimples. The makeup was also hard to get off, and I managed to get most of it. But by Sunday morning my chin and other parts of the face had broken out into literally dozens and dozens of pimples. The makeup only probably had a small part to do with it. I completely expected it to happen, because I have acne problems already, and I knew it would be part of the healing process. I won't gross you out describing how I eliminated the pimple problem.
I didn't have to do makeup on Sunday, it was a low-key day. The pimple breakout was down to a minimum, but still continued. A lot of my face started peeling, kind of like a sunburn, on Sunday... and the scabs were coming off most of my face as I kept trying to wash off that cover-up. The places where it peeled and scabs came off were a little red, but healed, and looked pretty normal. Maybe a little rough, but I wasn't uncomfortable with it. The chin was a different story. It was about a day or two behind. It had really only finished healing Saturday evening, so it was still ugly looking, mostly scabby. I stayed in most of the day Sunday, but actually went out to eat a fast food dinner, and stopped in Target and Meijer quickly for some shopping my girlfriend had to do, and some groceries I needed. By Sunday night/Monday morning, a lot of my face had cleared up. Only a few spots here and there. The chin had started to peel and clear up. There were still some scabby spots, but I was VERY comfortable going out and going to work during the day - I think if anything it looked like I probably had a bad bout with acne and my face was healing here and there. I also went to a rehearsal in the evening that I had to be at, and this was a place where I really didn't want to have to explain anything to anyone. I felt comfortable with how things were looking, and didn't get any questions.
As of Tuesday evening, mostly all of my skin had peeled like a sunburn, with a few scabs left on the chin. It was all slowly coming off. I was feeling fine by then. And ever since then, now 3 weeks later, I got back to normal quickly. The redness cleared up quickly. The skin continued to peel for a while, just like a sunburn, but it wasn't bad at any given time, just dry.
What also happened is that I started to lose hair! Right away, all that was obvious was that there were these patches where I can tell hair was gone - not really big patches, though. It mostly gave the appearance of slightly less density of hair.
On the post-op sheet they give, they say: "The hair will continue to grow until the hair follicle has grown and fallen out. This process may take up to two weeks." I was told the same thing when I was getting the treatments, that not all of the hairs come out right away. But even though the hairs were still there, they HAVE been "treated". Meaning they have a good chance of not coming back! Hairs started to come out here and there, especially when I was washing my face with a washcloth, some of them were loose and slid right out when I wiped them. I was noticing that all the hairs are coming out without a "root" - the little bulb that usually shows up when you pluck a hair out seems to have been literally "burnt off". I'm guessing and hoping that this is a GOOD thing. So, even though they still appeared to be growing, I guess they were actually just growing OUT of my skin. This continued for the next two weeks, just like they said, and some of them were coming out even later than that. After a couple of weeks, most of the treated hair had come out, and I could easily see patches of untreated and newly grown hair that were left. Right now my hair growth is patchy. The good news is that a lot of my face has obviously been treated, and I can see a significant amount of area with little or no growing hair follicles. The largest patches of growing hair are on the upper lip, lower lip, and chin. These are obviously the hardest places to treat, and will still take more treatments to look really clear. The other parts of my face have scarcely growing follicles, with some patches here and there. But otherwise my face is noticeably softer and smoother. I shave my face with an electric razor in the morning to get rid of the patchy growth, but don't have to try as hard as I used to have smooth looking skin. She told me at the treatment that most people don't see results until after the second treatment. Well, I'm seeing dramatic hair loss results right now. I already feel more feminine because I think that at a distance, the beard shadow is greatly reduced. Once the patches are cleared up, this is going to be wonderful if those hairs really do stay away.
I'm also hoping that as I have less hair, the treatments will be less and less "severe" for me in terms of skin breakouts. I'll bet the second one will still be dense enough to cause some trouble, but she said that it gets easier and easier once you have less hair. Going back to what I said earlier, less hair will mean less pain! By the time you read this, I will have probably had my second treatment, and with any luck I will get my homework done and write another article about that for next month! Besides, if you've read this much, don't you want to find out how it ends?
Valley Gems Meeting
This is a reminder to let you know that the Valley Gems meet on the first Saturday of each month. For more information on the club please call Holly at 937-236-0477.
Man kicked out of store for shopping in women's clothing
SALT LAKE CITY -- Larry Goodwin says he was minding his own business, shopping for clothes with his wife, when he was ordered to leave the Little America Hotel. He said he refused to leave, was tackled by security officers and then arrested by police for trespassing and disturbing the peace.
Goodwin says he was discriminated against because of how he was dressed -- he was wearing a skirt and blouse.
Goodwin said he is a well-known cross-dresser in his hometown of Douglas, Wyo., and he prefers to be called "Sissy."
"I'm outraged, absolutely outraged," Goodwin said Wednesday. "Would they treat a man in a three-piece business suit that way?"
A manager at Little America insists Goodwin was acting provocative and upsetting guests.
"We have many cross dressers coming to our hotel. That wasn't unusual," said manager Klaus Kelterborn, who claims Goodwin kept bending over, "exposing his pink underwear."
Goodwin insists his demeanor was "not out of the ordinary" and that "the only reason they saw my underwear is because they threw me on the floor and my skirt flew up."
He said he will plead innocent at a May 25 court date. He has filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union and lawyers for the group say they may take up his cause.
Goodwin says he has worn nothing but women's clothing for 30 years, even at his job at a power plant. His manner of dress is accepted by his wife of 32 years and his two children, though Goodwin says he's often harassed while traveling.
Letter from the Ohio State Highway Patrol
Ann Landers on Trans
I have an unusual problem, and I hope you will help me. My 42-year-old brother, "Darrin," is a transvestite. He lives at home with my widowed mother, and claims he is not completely comfortable unless he is dressed in full feminine attire, including a wig and makeup. He enjoys sitting around my mother's house at night wearing women's lingerie. When my mother first found out about his offbeat lifestyle, she was devastated, but since then, she has become accustomed to his preferences, and now, even defends him.
I have a sister who often hosts family gatherings in her home. She has three children under the age of 10. Neither my sister nor her husband believe it is appropriate for Darrin to attend these events in feminine attire, nor do they want their children to witness their uncle in his bizarre get-up. My mother insists that Darrin should be permitted to wear a wig, at the very least. They have both asked me for my opinion, but I do not want to be in the middle of this.
Tell me, Ann, is my sister right? We would like your opinion.
-- A Family Divided in California
If your mother approves of Darrin wearing a wig and dress in her home, fine, that is her prerogative. If, however, your sister and her husband say he cannot dress up in their home, that should settle it. Their children are too young to understand why their uncle is showing up in a dress, makeup and a wig, and your sister and her husband apparently feel it is not yet time for them to be told about transvestitism. The parents should have the last word.
9 Saudi CDs Sentenced to Prison, Floggings
from Associated Press wire service:
(04-16) 05:59 PDT RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP)
Nine young Saudi men have each been sentenced to more than 2,000 lashes and at least five years in prison for deviant sexual behavior, a police officer said Sunday.
A court in the western city of Qunfuda on Saturday sentenced five of the men to six years in prison and 2,600 lashes. The men are to be flogged 52 times in 50 sessions, the officer said on condition of anonymity. The four other defendants were sentenced to five years and 2,400 lashes. They are to be flogged 48 times in 50 sessions.
There will be a pause of 15 days between each of the flogging sessions.
Police started tailing the nine men after reports that they were acting strangely, the officer said. He said police found that they were dressing in women's clothes and engaging in deviant sexual behavior with each other. He said the nine confessed to the charges. The conservative kingdom, where women are not allowed to drive and must be covered head-to-toe in public, follows a strict interpretation of Islamic law. Courts routinely order hands amputated for theft, and public execution for murder, rape, sodomy and drug trafficking.
Human rights organizations have criticized those penalties. They say defendants do not receive fair trials and often do not have access to lawyers.
Code of Discrimination
A 17-year-old transgender youth in Gresham, Oregon was suspended from school after coming to class on April 21 dressed in a skirt and low-heeled pumps. Officials from Sam Barlow High School claim the suspension was warranted because Brian-Violet Peters (s/he has used both names) violated the school's dress code, which bans "disruptive" or "distracting" clothing. According to gender rights activists, however, discrimination is the real culprit.
GenderPAC's executive director Riki Wilchins said, "How does a boy wearing a dress and suffering daily taunts and harassment differ from the first girl who wore pants to school suffering intense sexual harassment? This issue is not disruption but genderphobic school officials."
While school officials reprimanded some of Peters' classmates for their taunts and created a new "respect policy," which includes punishment for harassment of gay students, the school has closed the door on transgender students.
Defending the school's decision to suspend Peters, Linda Jessell, director of secondary education for the Gresham-Barlow school district was quoted in the Portland Oregonian (May 3, 2000) as saying, "We can restrict student expression and dress when it disrupts the learning environment for other kids." Peters responded, "The message [school administrators] are sending to students is that I am not normal. That I am disruptive. That I am wrong."
MY TRUE STORY
I thought I was a girl until dad told me that I'd been born a boy.
Fourteen year old Brenda had always known she was different. Then her dad revealed the shocking truth -she had been born a boy.
Teenager Brenda Reimer was licking an ice cream in her dad's car when she was told the news which would change her life forever.
Brenda, her dad explained carefully, was not the name she'd been given when she was born. She was called Bruce as she was, in fact, a normal, healthy boy.
However, a terrible accident during a routine circumcision burnt off his penis. And instead of attempting to reconstruct it, doctors persuaded Bruce's mum and dad to bring him up as a girl. He was operated on to remove the rest of the penis and testicles, and his parents were told that he would adapt completely to being a girl.
But Brenda, as she was now called, did not adapt. For 14 years, she lived the miserable life of a misfit. She had long hair, frilly dresses and a pretty face like any other girl. But she also walked like a boy, fought like a boy, played boys' games - and even began to fancy girls. Throughout her unhappy childhood, Brenda knew something was wrong. She was taunted at school with cruel nicknames such as "Cave-girl." She had no friends, male or female, because she did not fit in with either group.
Even her twin brother Brian kept his distance, tired of being teased about his "butch sister." So when her father finally told Brenda the truth, she felt a whole mix of emotions - anger, amazement. disbelief. But most of all she felt relief.
"Suddenly, it all made sense why I felt the way I did. I wasn't a weirdo. I wasn't crazy," says 34-year-old David Reimer, who quickly ditched his female role and name.
He took the name David because he did not like Bruce, although anything was better than Brenda. His conversion into a girl was part of an experiment being conducted by an American psychologist. David's parents, Ron and Janet Reimer, from Winnipeg, Canada, were distraught when their baby suffered the horrendous injury.
They saw a string of specialists, and were told that reconstructing the penis was a difficult operation, and that their son would never have a normal sex life.
Then they met Dr. John Money, who told them that humans see themselves as boy or girl not from the way they are born, but from the way they are brought up. They agreed to his plan that Bruce should become Brenda. They thought they were doing the best for their child.
When Bruce was 22 months old he was surgically castrated, and came home to start life as a little girl.
What they did not know was that for Dr. Money, Brenda and her twin Brian were exciting news. For several years he would write and talk about them, claiming them as proof that his theories were right. Without being named, Brenda was written about as "the identical twin boy whose penis was cauterized and who, now that his parents have opted for surgical reconstruction to make him appear female, has been sailing through childhood as a genuine girl."
But Brenda wasn't "sailing through." When her mum put her into her first dress, just before her second birthday, she tried to pull it off.
She fought her brother for his toy cars, never wanting to play with her own dolls. She horrified other girls at school by standing up to pee. She came home from school with her clothes dirty and torn.
At seven, Brenda refused to have an operation to build her a vagina. She dreamt of a future in which she had a mustache and a sports car. At nine, she had a nervous breakdown.
"I just huddled in a corner, shaking and crying," recalls David.
The twins changed school a lot, but Brenda never fitted in. "You can go to a thousand schools, and it's always the same. Thereís the girls over here and the boys over there. Where do I go? There's no belonging. So you're an outcast."
At times, to please her parents, she would struggle to be more ladylike. But by the time she was 11 it was becoming increasingly difficult.
When other girls were having their first periods and sprouting breasts, Brenda was acquiring wide, muscular shoulders, a thicker neck. and a deep voice. She was given female hormone tablets, which she tried to flush down the toilet. When her parents caught her, they supervised her taking the tablets.
She grew breasts, and a padding of flesh around her hips. Mortified, she began binge eating to disguise her female shape under fat.
When she went to a teenage birthday party, and the girls started to pair off with boys and smooch, she felt herself getting jealous.
"These people looked like they knew where they belonged, says David today. "There was no place for me to feel comfortable with anybody or anything."
Once, at a school dance, a boy kissed her on the cheek. "I thought ĎIt doesn't seem right. I don't like this.í"
And at a girls' pajama party, she couldn't join in when the others talked about boys they fancied and she found herself sexually aroused when the girls stripped off for bed.
It was only at the insistence of another psychologist, who could tell Brenda was a boy, that her parents were persuaded to tell her the truth.
Brenda converted to David in a matter of months. He used tape to flatten his breasts and started wearing male clothes. He was given testosterone injections, and eventually had a double mastectomy to remove his breasts. He also had a series of operations to build a penis.
He was much happier - but he was also very angry. With money saved from a paper round, he bought a gun and tracked down the doctor who had carried out the botched circumcision. But he could not bring himself to use the firearm.
Brian began to introduce him as 'Brenda's cousin." But there were more problems ahead. At 18, David wanted to go out with girls - but he could never go beyond kissing and holding hands.
When one girl discovered that he did not have a proper penis, she told everyone - and the giggling and whispering that had dogged his childhood began again. He made the first of two suicide attempts.
By the time he was 23, his twin brother Brian was married and had fathered two young children - and David was very envious.
"I got so terribly lonely," he says. "I did something I'd never done before. I prayed to God. I said 'You know I've had a terrible life. But I could be a good husband if I was given the chance. I could be a good father if I was given the chance.' "
Two months later. he was introduced to a friend of Brian's wife, a woman who had three children by different fathers. From the moment they met, David and Jane clicked. She already knew his story.
Today they have been happily married for nine years, and David, who works in a slaughterhouse, loves being father to her children.
"I live my life through my son, because I never had any kind of childhood," he says. "I'll tell my kids about it when they are older."
David's incredible story is told in a new book, As Nature Made Him - The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl. He says: "I'm sick to death of feeling ashamed of myself. That feeling will never go away.
"I was wearing a dress, had a girl's name, had long hair - you can't erase memories like that. Mum and dad wanted this to work so I would be happy. But you can't be something that you're not."
Lawyer ponders effects of transsexual's case
by Adolfo Pesquera
Express-News Staff Writer
A recent appellate court opinion intended to legally define what is a man and what is a woman will create havoc throughout society unless it is replaced with a better definition, a Houston trial attorney said.
The majority of the medical community and an international court agree with her.
A San Antonio transsexual's loss of standing in a wrongful death suit against her late husband's doctor appeared to be a fascinating but isolated situation with little significance outside a small community of people who choose to have their sex surgically altered. But as the case has drawn attention, said her attorney, Phyllis Frye, it is becoming more apparent that the implications can touch everyone.
Christie Lee Cavazos Littleton, now 48, underwent sexual reassignment in 1979. Ten years later, she was injured in a car accident and had to go to Lexington, Ky., for bladder reconstruction.
There she met Jonathon Mark Littleton, an auto assembly line worker. While she was recovering, the two became friends, fell in love and obtained a marriage license in Kentucky. But in 1996, Mark Littleton became ill and died.
"It's a funny thing," Littleton said. "When I met my husband, he was taking care of me. Holding my hand in bed, changing my bandages. We met and ended it the same way."
Littleton's wrongful death suit against the doctor for medical malpractice was thrown out of 288th District Court on the grounds that Littleton was really a man and same-sex marriages are illegal.
The 4th Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's decision in October. In its opinion, Chief Justice Phil Hardberger sided with the doctor's insurance company and said, "Male chromosomes do not change with either hormonal treatment or sex reassignment surgery. Biologically, a post-operative female transsexual is still a male." In March, the Texas Supreme Court informed Littleton's attorney it would not hear her case. He told Littleton, then removed himself as her attorney. She missed a deadline for filing a motion to reconsider before she could hire Frye.
Frye was granted an extension Tuesday and has until April 18 to file a new motion.
"Every heterosexual involved in a wrongful death suit, a divorce, anything involving community property, insurance benefits, stands to lose something," Frye said.
"If this ruling stands, and right now it is the law of the land, attorneys will have to seek chromosome tests. If they don't, their client can turn around and sue them for malpractice."
Genetic testing would add to the legal cost, but under the present legal system it can't even be done. State law prohibits the use of genetic information by a state agency, including judges. Littleton never was given a test to discover whether she was genetically a man. The court simply assumed she was because she once had male organs. But it's not that simple. Just ask the international athletic community.
Allegations that certain countries were seeking unfair advantage in athletic competition by disguising men as women led to genetic testing for sex verification in 1967.
Known as the baccal smear, an athlete's mouth is swabbed, and a sex chromatin test is supposed to reveal whether the athlete is XX (female) or XY (male). Inconsistencies immediately surfaced.
In 1967, Polish sprinter Eva Klobukowska was eliminated from the European Cup, banned from competition and publicly humiliated worldwide, all because she had an XXY result, one chromosome too many to be declared a woman. A few years later, she became pregnant and gave birth to a healthy baby.
"One in every 400 competitors was eliminated in the Atlanta Olympic Games, even though there was nothing unusual about them anatomically," said Cheryl Chase, director of the Intersex Society of North America.
Three dozen medical conditions create sexual ambiguity in the human species, Chase said. These conditions affect between 1 percent and 2 percent of the general population, or in Lone Star terms, between 190,000 and 380,000 Texans.
"If the Texas court's finding about who is eligible to marry is allowed to stand, many intersex people will not be allowed to marry anyone," Chase said.
The hard facts of science, said Brian Derrick, a biologist at the University of Texas at San Antonio who has been studying brain anatomy as a better indicator of sex, is that there are anatomical men with female chromosomes and vice versa. That makes everyone suspect and the potential target of genetic testing. "From a psychological and medical perspective, Littleton is a woman and always has been a woman," Derrick said. Courts throughout the United States have rarely granted transsexuals the status they prefer.
The one notable exception was Renee Richards, the transsexual tennis star who in 1976 defeated the United States Tennis Association's attempt to ban her when the New York Supreme Court ruled there was "overwhelming medical evidence that (Richards) is now a female."
But outside the United States, and within the athletic community, sex definitions are changing.
Kristina Sheffield, a transsexual, sued the United Kingdom in the European Commission of Human Rights after she was repeatedly forced to identify herself as a male in judicial and commercial matters. The commission ruled in 1997 that her privacy had been violated and noted that "there was a clear trend toward the legal acknowledgment of gender reassignment in ... Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and Turkey."
Whichever way the Texas Supreme Court rules on Littleton, the case won't end there. The issue is too important, Frye said.
"I have an appellate attorney in Virginia waiting for my phone call," she said. "If need be, we'll take it to the U.S. Supreme Court."
The courts may be confused as to what Littleton is, but the widow and self-employed beautician goes on with her life confident that she must prevail.
"I'm a woman," Littleton said. "Anybody can see that's all there is to it."
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The Crystal Chronicle is the official newsletter of the Crystal Club. The Chronicle is published and mailed a week prior to the regularly scheduled meeting. Complementary copies of the Chronicle may be obtained by contacting a club officer or any club member. News items for the Chronicle should be mailed to Kelly Davidson before the end of each month. Her e-mail address is: Kelly@tgender.net Please specify in the subject field that this is an article for the newsletter.
Copyright (C) 2000 by the Crystal Club, Kelly Davidson, Editor. All rights reserved. Articles and information contained in The Crystal Chronicle may be reprinted by other non-profit organizations without advanced permission, provided the author and source is cited and a copy of the issue containing the reprinted material is sent to the Crystal Club within two months of publication. The opinions or statements contained in the Crystal Chronicle are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or the Crystal Club. Furthermore, neither the Crystal Club nor the Crystal Chronicle editor assume responsibility for any consequences resulting either directly or indirectly either from advice or from any of the material contained in this newsletter. Contributions of articles are encouraged but may be altered with the authors intent retained or may be rejected, whether solicited or not. Absolutely no sexually explicit material will be accepted or printed. Contributions may be electronically mailed directly to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org, or sent to the postal address above.
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