The Crystal Cronicle

Vol 9 No 7, July 1997, Copyright 1997 by The Crystal Club, Columbus, OH, Sarah, Editor in Chief

Our Angels

These people have been so thoughtful as to assist us in our outreach efforts, contributing money to offset some of our expenses within the last year. We are very grateful for their consideration and honor them here:

Michelle deLingua (5/97), Ari (4/97), Bobbie Ann and her wife Margaret (4/97), Meral Crane (11/96).


In the Name of Freedom! , by Sarah
Trannies are Boring! , by Sarah
Cathy's Corner , by Cathy Wood
Documentary, Licensed to Kill, to Screen in Columbus
The Truth About Herbals, Glandulars, and Other Supplements , by Sarah
Car Talk , with "Nip" and "Tuck"
Sarah's Quick Tips , by Sarah


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We're everywhere!

In the Name of Freedom!

by Sarah, Editor in Chief

July 4th is of course the day we celebrate our Declaration of Independance 221 years ago from the rule of the British Crown. In the late 18th century our forefathers and foremothers could suffer no longer from oppression of British rule. We, the People of the North American Colonies, held "these truths to be self-evident, that all (wo)men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." These rights had never been written into any legal document, yet their truth burned brilliantly within the hearts of our ancestors. On July 4th, 1776, we boldly declared not only that we have a right to exist but that we have a right to pursue a reasonable quality of life, free of malice from others.

Now we, the People of the Ohio Transgender Community, in Congress first assembled July 4th, 1997, do declare that we too have the right to pursue a reasonable quality of life. Like our Colonial predecessors, we too are inadequately protected by the law, even being oppressed by much of it. While the transgendered have no specific rights according to written law, we heed a higher law. We no longer look to our government to tell us we have rights; we now demand of our government the rights to which our hearts tell us we are entitled.

Now is the time for us to stand up and be counted as human beings. There are probably over 330,000 of us in the State of Ohio, so by numbers alone, we are no more "abnormal" than stamp collectors, model railroad enthusiasts, and lovers of Disco music. There are similar numbers of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, yet they are now in the mainstream of society. Why? Their presence is known and is now commonplace. One of our most pressing goals must be to make our presence known and commonplace too. This is a difficult task, as being openly transgendered has certain associated risks to safety and livelihood. Still, there are safe venues for our participation in society even now, and we need to assert our presence however and whenever possible. As our presence is becoming known, we need to educate society about the transgender community, to reassure people that we are not dangerous, we are not demented, and we are not perverts -- that we are intelligent and worthwhile people who have much to contribute to society. At the same time, we must educate our governments as to our vulnerability and our need for equal protection under the law, and we must press them to pass laws providing us basic human rights. Once we have secured a few of these rights, then it will be easier to assert more of a public presence, educate more of society and government, and press further for our rights. These are the goals of It's Time, Ohio!.

Many people seem to assume that these changes must occur slowly, over many decades; however, the changes we have witnessed in societal attitudes even over the past few years are staggering. At least two factors have thrown us in the forefront of public discussion. First, representatives of our community and often those posing as representatives of our community have appeared regularly on television talk shows. While they often do not convey the most positive image of our community, they do impress the public with our presence and indeed our sheer numbers. More significant is the Internet. It is now perfectly safe for a transgendered person to interact with the rest of society through the anonymity of a computer MODEM connection. As a result, the transgender community is very rapidly asserting a certain presence and even normalcy in society. As we gain confidence from knowing we are not alone, and as we are beginning to be understood, it is becoming easier for us to "come out" to family, friends, and colleagues, which makes our presence even more commonplace. Because of this snowball effect, it is not at all unreasonable to expect some very substantive achievements by the end of this millennium. I expect that if we have nothing else by the year 2000, we will at least have protection against employment discrimination, and we will no longer be so badly stigmatized by the greater part of society. By the year 2000, we will be understood by society, and once we are understood, our full protection under the law and integration into society will be an eventuality.

The taste of freedom is now on our tongues, as its sweet aroma beckons us. One day very soon this freedom will be more than a distant apparition. It will be a concrete reality. We shall be free!

Trannies are Boring!

by Sarah

After about 80 collective miles of walking at the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, over a period of about 10 hours, Cathy, Stephy, and I have proven what should have already been quite obvious from everything we have ever experienced as a club and from everything I have ever written: Trannies are simply too boring to be news worthy! As three trannies, were we "read" by the people there? Absolutely! In fact, I gave being "read" a new meaning. My fuchsia T-shirt clearly displayed the logo:

Could there have been any doubt? Even someone who was illiterate could clearly see the symbol in the middle. I suspect that almost everyone there knew of our presence and probably discussed us at least a little with their team mates. Did anybody see us on the evening news? Of course not! The news crews were there, of course. In fact, Channel 6 was a major sponsor of the event.

How on Earth could the news media pass up such a juicy story? Why was it we didn't see little news breaks throughout the evening, "Transvestites and transsexuals shamefully displaying themselves in public! News at 11..." As much as I hate to admit it, and as much as I know that the news media make the news more than report it, I think they're above that level of sensationalism. Even if they weren't, I don't think they would find the story that sensational. Not one of us heard a single negative comment from anyone. Had anyone disapproved of us, they might have vandalized our tent, which was left unattended for hours on end, proudly displaying in 7" high lettering two banners reading, "It's Time, Ohio! ... an advocacy group for the transgendered." At the very least, some of the women might have complained when we went to the toilet. These things simply didn't happen. Everyone was extremely nice to us!

Imagine the most uncomplimentary story the media could concoct: "Bob, I'm standing at the Hilliard High School track, site of the ongoing American Cancer Society Relay for Life. To the astonishment of all, three men have been circling the track for the past several hours dressed as women. Here comes one now! [shot of one of us walking by, waving at the camera] Sir, tell me please why you are here today dressed as a woman." "Oh, we're here to help raise money to fight cancer. [smile; continue walking] Bye!" "Simply horrible! And what do the other participants think about this? Let's find out. Miss? Miss? Tell me, what do you think about these men being here dressed as women?" "Oh, I don't mind. They seem like perfectly fine people, and they've really been working hard." "OK, thanks! And you, sir? Sir? What do you think of these men dressed as women?" "Oh, I think I'm pretty open minded. Heck, I think my next door neighbor is gay! Hey, as long as they're not trying to pick me up at a bar, what they do is their own business. That's what I say! Heck, you know, I'm not prejudiced." "Thank you, sir! Let's find out what Nancy Minton, one of the event organizer has to say. Ms. Minton? What do you think of these men displaying themselves here as women?" "Oh, I'm glad they could come. It's a pity they couldn't get any more than three people together though. I've only met one of them, the team captain over there. She's very nice and has been quite thoughtful throughout." "Ms. Minton, where do these men go to the toilet?" "Why these ladies use the ladies' room of course! If it's OK with Abby and Ann, it's OK with me!" "Thank you Ms. Minton. Well, there you have it, Bob. This has turned out to be a very strange event indeed." "Thank you for that story, Cindy. [pause; turns to co-anchor] Hmmmmm, I don't know, Audrie. What do you think?" [insipid chuckling] "Gee, Bob, I guess as long as they're not working here on our news staff, I'm pretty happy."

Ask yourself truthfully: If you were the news manager for a television station, would you want to waste valuable air time showing such a piece? First, it would it be very boring, paling in significance to the relay event itself. Second, the news staff would probably look quite bigoted by trying to portray a problem where there is none. Even more significant stories regarding the transgender community are uninteresting to the media. For instance, when GenderPAC converged on Washington to lobby our nation's Congress, we held a press conference, but not a single reporter or photographer showed up!

Of course I used to think that everyone else would be as obsessed with my gender-"inappropriate" attire as I. In psychology, this phenomenon is called transference. We tend to attribute the same thoughts, feelings, and motives to others that we have within ourselves. We cannot rightfully make this conceptual leap. In truth, very few people care how we present ourselves. I was impressed by that fact a few months ago when I was addressing gender issues with a friend of a transgendered friend. He grew very frustrated, pulled me aside into an office supply closet out of earshot of everyone, and said, "I want to make something very clear to you. I just don't care about these things! They're boring! I'm tired of listening to all this stuff! I know it's important to you and [our mutual friend], but I could care less! Understand?" I was impressed further by people's apathy today when I had dinner at a packed restaurant. A person at the next table with a very loud voice was boasting to his friends about his crossdressing. His friends were all fairly tough looking. All three had tattoos, one of them with a big schwastica on his arm. Nobody at his table or within earshot (about a 20 foot radius) lifted an eyebrow except I.

It's starting to come as no surprise to me that we as a community are so uninteresting to the public. Consider how you would feel about a bunch of guys who like to dress up as gorillas. How would you feel about seeing one of them at a charitable fund-raising event? Would you hold that person in contempt, or would you be glad he's there raising money for a good cause? For that matter, consider the Shriners who dress up in funny hats and drive silly go-carts around in parades. Do you hold them in contempt? Do you think less of them as people? Honestly, the image they portray is rather undignified, while the image that the average trannie presents in public is considerably more refined and less laughable. Why then are we terrified that others will view us as weird or immoral people? People, get over it! Just present yourself with dignity and pride, and trust that others will see you as decent people. If you do that, your acceptance is virtually assured.

Cathy's Corner

by Cathy Wood


I hope you all aren't melting in the heat! Our own Mary Ann was in Texas last week for the ICTLEP convention and was in contact with the leaders of It's Time America. Our own It's Time Ohio and the local chapter, It's Time Columbus are now a reality and it's my hope that most of you will join up. You don't have to be "out" to be a member or to help us in our efforts to bring civil rights for all transgendered people to Ohio. One of the things that would help right away would be stories of discrimination or hate crimes against transgendered people. We don't need names or any information that would identify individuals or companies, just the facts of the matter. The email address for It's Time Ohio is, the email address for It's Time Columbus is, and the snail mail address for both is P.O. Box 8111, Columbus, OH 43201. Membership levels start at only $10 per year for a basic, no frills membership and will have increasing benefits at higher levels. More on this later. You may join up at any time by contacting us through the email or snail mail addresses or asking either Sarah or Cait or myself at the next meeting. Joining the local group automatically makes you a member of the State group as well and those of you in other cities besides Columbus, please ask one of us about setting up a local group in your area. We also have an "At Large" group that is available for people who want to join but aren't near a local group and don't want to start one themselves.

The Walk for Life was a bit of a disappointment. I was there setting up at 4:30 and waiting for volunteers to show up. Only Stephy, Sarah and myself took part in the event and three people are nowhere near enough to pull something like that off. While I do realize that the presence of tv cameras was very scary to many of you, they simply weren't interested in us. No one was rude, pointed at us, took pictures, or did anything that in any way would have been a problem. We especially could have used some help during the long night. Sarah and I had to pack it in from sheer exhaustion after the night was mostly over.

Where we read? Of course! Sarah was wearing a "Transgendered and Proud" tee-shirt and you'd have to be illiterate not to notice, but there still were no problems. I even had a gentleman exclaim in surprise after I set up the tent by myself. "You put that up alone?!!" (I don't think he'd read me at that point) Stephy had several admirers, one of whom asked me about her later in the parking lot, and she and I were approached by a young man with a very lame line while watching Sarah walk.

I'm hoping that next year some of you will join us in this effort. It will be organized under It's Time Ohio, as it was this year, so the Crystal Club's security will not be compromised.

A word on being "out". Last night I attended an organizational meeting for It's Time Ohio and wore my own "Transgendered and Proud" tee-shirt (available through It's Time Ohio for only $17 plus shipping and handling). I stopped and got gas on the way, no problems. I went out with Sarah afterwards for a burger, no problems, Sarah and I talked in the parking lot I was parked in for several hours, openly and totally visible to a large number of people. No problems.

Many months ago I announced on cc-online that I would not be running for president of the Crystal Club next year. I would like to make that official at this time. I am currently the chairwoman of It's Time Ohio, a representive of It's Time Columbus and the president of the Crystal Club, a member of TransFamily of Cleveland and This Way Out and that's just too big a load for one woman to handle, even a woman as big as me. It is my hope that one of you will step forward and get ready to take over next February. I realize that my activism makes some of you uneasy still, but it is something that I feel I must pursue and intend to keep doing. Bridges to the Gay Lesbian and Bisexual community must be built up again. Work needs to be done towards gaining basic civil rights on a national and state and local level. Resources need to be developed. I feel I can best do my part as a member of It's Time Ohio, and will be directing the bulk of my attention towards that. I will continue serving as president until my term runs out, but I could use a little help with the job. Some of you have been helping and I would like to extend my thanks to those of you at this time. The Crystal Club is a social club, but the running of the club does require someone to take some action every once in a while. Please, if you value the club, help out in whatever manner you can. For the last two main meetings, I have been left alone washing the dishes and sweeping up after the meetings. While I realize that a woman's work is never done, this has been in addition to making the coffee and running the meetings. This is way too stereotypical and I'm too much of a feminist to not say something about it!

Our next meeting will feature Cait Ball doing makeover magic on several volunteers, myself included. In September we will have our picnic meeting, and the October meeting will be our Halloween outing at Deercreek. Very few people have signed up for the Deercreek weekend. If you are planning to attend, please bring your deposits to the next meeting ($30) The price is a real bargain! Only $60 for an entire weekend! As usual, there will be no regular meeting at the end of November and our annual Christmas party will be the second Saturday in December this year. It's not too early to start thinking about getting some dolls (or other toys) to donate to Choices, the woman's shelter. Please, new toys and dolls. This is the club's main community outreach activity, and I'd like to see us make a really huge donation this year. Sarah shouldered the entire load for the Walk for Life money, $100, out of her own pocket. That I know she cannot afford. Please help out by making a donation to her to cover some of that. It's the least you can do given the poor showing made by club members at the event.

A quick word about club policy regarding security. Guests are welcome at our meetings, but other than spouses/SO's or family of members, they MUST be cleared first by a club officer. Your officers are Sarah, Dianna, Kori, Luann, Jannie, Mary Ann and myself. Occupations, male identities, phone numbers, and other items of personal information about our members are not to be shared with anyone without permission. Please rember that officers are members too and have their own personal security concerns, and freely distributing their phone numbers can put them at risk for hate crimes. All of the officers can be reached at once by e-mailing (except Luann, and we'll get her on there soon). My e-mail address is [no longer available] and that's the best way to get in touch with me if you need to.

The transgendered community in Ohio is growing by leaps and bounds. Links are being forged between the various groups throughout the State and we are entering a new era in gender activism. We will educate the general public about ourselves, and we will achieve civil rights here in Ohio. In the not too distant future, it will be unthinkable to harrass transpeople just because of who they are. This work has already been started. It will benefit every transgendered person in the State, FtM, MtF, crossdressers, transvestites, transgenderists and intersexed people. That day will come all the sooner if you join us in our efforts. There is something that everyone in the community can do regardless of how closeted he or she might be. Just ask.


Documentary, Licensed to Kill to Screen in Columbus

[Editor's note: Following is a release concerning the movie documentary, Licensed to Kill, which explores social factors underlying anti-gay murders. This is a movie we should all go to see. It will show from July 31 through August 2 at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, 1871 N. High St., phone 614-292-3535. The opening night is a benefit for the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Project.]

Offering a provocative look at anti-gay murders, Arthur Dong's LICENSED TO KILL, winner of the Best Documentary Director Award and the Filmmakers Trophy Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival, continues its critically acclaimed theatrical tour in cities through the month of July. Exclusive engagements are set for New Orleans, Columbus, Denver, Philadelphia, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Hartford, New Zealand, and Australia(details below).

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times calls LICENSED TO KILL "A powerful investigation centering on interviews with an unnervingly candid group of convicted murderers of homosexuals. A chilling look at the real face of evil." Emmanuel Levy in Variety describes LICENSED TO KILL as "...a harrowing look at homophobia and gay bashing...a highly intelligent, matter of fact exploration of sexual prejudice and violence."

The Progressive's Bob Blanchard writes: "LICENSED TO KILL paints a frightening portrait of an America where homophobia is a deeply ingrained part of life, the template rather than the exception. An America where hate is taught, encouraged, and passed father-to-son, from generation to generation. The film depicts an American society deeply confused about sexuality, where repressed individuals are given tacit permission to vent their frustrations by performing acts of violence against gay Americans."

And Steven Jenkins in Detour Magazine says: "LICENSED TO KILL recalls such docs as "The Thin Blue Line" and "Brother's Keeper" in its narrative suspense and themetic intensity. Not to be confused with "License to Kill," the late-1980s James Bond yawner, Dong's thoroughly compelling, even necessary film will leave viewers shaken and stirred."

The Truth About Herbals, Glandulars, and Other Supplements

by Sarah

The saying goes, "You are what you eat." For thousands of years, perhaps even tens of thousands of years, humankind has looked towards this principle as a means of affecting the body's internal state. Some applications of this principle are well grounded. For instance, if one ingests fermented fruits, one can become intoxicated. Other applications are fanciful at best. For instance, if one eats the heart of a lion, one will supposedly acquire its courage. Modern day "natural" remedies are merely repetitions of this theme. Some are well grounded and efficacious to at least some extent, and others are highly doubtful for inescapable physiological reasons. Of course in this day of limited biological enlightenment, one suspects that the reason these doubtful remedies still exist and why new ones are still invented is that a good story (one which the average lay person will believe) can always sell a product, whether it works or not. When one cuts through all the glittery sales pitches and sets aside one's wishful thinking, just what sorts of remedies might work, and which sorts probably cannot? Let's look into certain principles of physiology that should shed some light on this question.

First, remedies can be categorized as treatments for live tissues, for dead tissues, and for spiritual aspects of one's being. This article will not deal with spiritual remedies (e.g. eating the heart of a lion or hanging a quartz crystal around one's neck), as I am not a spiritual person, and belief in these remedies is a very personal thing which science cannot address.

Remedies for dead tissues, such as hair and nails obviously cannot rely on biological processes to work. They are effective only if they can do something physical to these tissues, whether in a gross physical or molecular sense. Hair conditioners provide the perfect illustration of this principle. A basic hair conditioner does two very important things. First, it lubricates the hairs so that they do not tangle and knot (which causes broken and split ends). Second, most conditioners have some hydrophilic (water loving) component which draws moisture from the air, thus preventing the hair from drying out. These are protective physical measures, and they obviously work. Some hair conditioners also promise to "nourish" hair, often with vitamins or "provitamins", often with structural proteins such as collagen, and often with assorted food products (e.g. honey, bee pollen, beer, eggs, wheat germ, oatmeal, and coming to a health food store near you, probably tortilla chips and picante sauce). "Nourishing" hair makes no more sense than feeding a cadaver. A cadaver can be preserved, groomed, and conditioned, and it can be altered physically, but no amount of spoon feeding could do anything but fill the gastrointestinal tract. Similarly, hair can be preserved (e.g. kept out of the sun and wind, kept free of gritty dirt, etc.), groomed, and conditioned, but once it's damaged, it cannot be fixed. Hair can't eat, and it can't carry out any physiological functions, so it cannot heal or repair itself. The only thing that can be done for damaged ends is to cut them off.

The vast majority of remedies are intended to affect living tissues. Remedies for these tissues include both physical and chemical. The only effective physical remedies of which I am aware are thermal (heat and cold), photic (light, e.g. for treatment of depression, repletion of vitamin D, and breakdown of bilirubin in infants), and mechanical (pressure, massage, immobilization, exercise, etc.). These remedies all work for known reasons. Other "physical" remedies are rather doubtful. For instance, a gentleman once showed me his miracle ointment whose active ingredient was ground quartz. What was the rationale? Supposedly heat heals, heat is vibration on a molecular level, and quartz vibrates. Why is this remedy doubtful? First, quartz requires application of an external voltage to flex. Second, even if it did vibrate on its own (i.e. with more energy than surrounding matter, such that energy transfer would occur), it would make a poor heating element. The proof is that the miracle balm doesn't generate any perceivable heat. (He smeared some on my arm!) Still, I watched in amazement as this miracle balm cured others of everything from sprained ankles to headaches. I suppose there's a lot to be said for placebo medication!

Most remedies for living tissues of course are chemical. By "chemical" I mean a food, herb, or other substance that would be ingested, inhaled, applied topically, or taken into the body in some other fashion. For such a remedy to work, two things must happen. First, the active chemicals must physically be able to reach the tissues, and second, they must be able to affect the physiology of the target tissues in the concentrations that reach them. Delivering a chemical substance to a target tissue is not a simple task.

Most remedies are taken orally. For anything taken orally to reach the bloodstream chemically intact, it must have some route for absorption from the gastrointestinal tract prior to, and hopefully without, being broken down by digestive enzymes. This restriction automatically eliminates every remedy based on a peptide or protein. Peptides and proteins are digested in the small intestine and pass through the intestinal walls as component amino acids (the building blocks of peptides and proteins). If they were not broken down into amino acids, they would pass from the body in the feces. Insulin, a peptide hormone, is a popularly known example of this principle. Insulin taken orally would have the same effect on the body as a nibble of steak, both supplying the body with a small quantity of amino acids. That is why insulin must be injected to work. Digestion is never a problem for anything that isn't a peptide, protein, starch, disaccharide (complex sugar), or fat. Generally speaking, absorption into the bloodstream is not problematic for smaller molecules or for smaller to moderate sized molecules that are fat soluble. Vitamins, minerals, and basic nutrients (e.g. amino acids, choline, etc.) qualify as "smaller molecules".

Many remedies involve chemical messengers. Chemical messengers include neurotransmitters (the chemicals that carry information from one nerve cell to the next), hormones, and similarly structured substances believed to mimic neurotransmitters and hormones. Neurotransmitters fall into three classes: monoamines (simple amino acids or their derivatives), acetylcholine (a small non-amine neurotransmitter), and peptides (which are composed of multiple amino acids assembled in a specific sequence). Peptides of course are digested if taken orally; however, monoamines, acetylcholine, and their mimics can be absorbed. The problem is that once they are absorbed, they cannot pass into the brain where many remedies are intended to exert their effect. They are blocked out by a very tight barrier called the blood-brain barrier. Only water freely crosses this barrier. All other substances must go through the cells forming the barrier, and neurotransmitters are not allowed through. That's why Parkinson's patients are treated with L-dopa, rather than dopamine. Dopamine is a monoamine neurotransmitter that, if it could reach the brain from the bloodstream, would be therapeutic to Parkinson's sufferers. L-dopa is its precursor, a modified amino acid, and as a brain "nutrient" (or derivative of a nutrient), it is allowed to cross the blood brain barrier. Once inside the brain, L-dopa is converted to dopamine and exerts its therapeutic effect. Passage across the blood-brain barrier may be problematic even for substances that can cross. For instance, many amino acids compete for the same transport sites, so access of the brain to one amino acid can be compromised by an overabundance of other amino acids. The lesson to be learned is that if you attempt neurological sorts of remedies and don't know exactly what you're doing you can easily put your neurochemistry more out of kelter than when you began. The best policy is not to do anything strange or unusual. The human body is a very adaptable machine. Just feed your brain with healthy nutrients the same way you feed the rest of your body, and the "wisdom" of your body's biochemistry will do the rest.

The chemical messenger type that probably concerns us most as a community is hormones. There are two classes of hormones (excluding monoamine neurotransmitters, some of which are considered "neurohormones"). These are peptides and steroids. Peptides, again, are amino acid chains. Examples of peptide hormones are FSH, LH, GnRH, ACTH, prolactin, and oxytocin. Peptides are limited as to where they can travel, and they are subject to digestion. Their mode of action is to travel to a receptor molecule on a target cell, bind to that receptor, and trigger some internal event in the cell. A good analogy is that the hormone is a key, and the receptor is a lock specific to that key. When the lock is turned, something is activated. Steroids are fat soluble hormones mostly derived from cholesterol. These hormones include the "sex hormones", namely the various forms of testosterone, estrogen, progesterone. Unlike peptides, steroids are not restricted in travel. They readily cross all cell membranes (including in the blood-brain barrier) by dissolving into their fatty environment and drifting through to the other side. They exert their effects more indirectly than peptides. First they bind to receptors floating in the target cell's interior. Then the steroid/receptor complex travels to the cell nucleus where it attaches to target sites on the DNA strands, thereby activating or deactivating genetic codes. When a code is activated, some protein (or enzyme) is manufactured according to the instructions in that code, and the presence or absence of that protein helps determine the form or function of the cell. Because steroids are not digested in the gastrointestinal tract, they may be administered orally. Also, because they are fat soluble, they may be absorbed into the body through the skin. Peptides, on the other hand, cannot be absorbed through the skin.

These principles have important implications regarding orally administered "natural" remedies. Different types of natural remedies exist. The most popular of course are herbal remedies, which include extracts and ground herbs. Usually herbal remedies weakly mimic nonpeptide substances in the body. Either they are sufficiently similar that they bind to and "clog up" receptors, much like a broken key in a lock, or they may activate the receptor to some extent. Because of the chemical similarity of these substances to their pharmaceutical analogs, they are usually subject to the same limitations. For instance, if the pharmaceutical preparation cannot be taken orally, the herbal preparation would probably also be ineffective if taken orally. The most popular herbal preparations taken by the male-to-female transgendered are the various phytoestrogens (meaning "plant estrogens"). These include black and blue cohash (which are somewhat toxic), borrage, butterfly weed, caraway, chaste tree (vitex), dates, dill, dong quai, false unicorn root, fennel seed, fenugreek, ginseng, goat's rue, gotu kola, licorice root, linseed (flaxseed), milk thistle, motherwort, pennyroyal, pleurisy root, pomegranites, red clover sprouts, red raspberry leaf, southernwood, soya flour, and tansy. Also popular are the phytoprogesterones: suma, vitex, and wild (or Mexican) yam. (Note that the progesterone in wild yam is reported to be chemically identical to human progesterone.) Finally, saw palmetto is often taken as an herbal antiandrogen (testosterone blocker). All of these herbs are effective to a limited extent and may be taken orally. Wild yam is often prepared in cream form to be applied to the skin, another legitimate route of administrition. Perhaps the attraction of having this particular herbal in a skin cream form is the ability to apply it directly to the breast area; however, it is unlikely that higher concentrations of progesterone can be directed to the breast area in this fashion due to the high mobility of steroids throughout the body.

Another increasingly popular source for estrogens and progesterones are "glandular" preparations. Glandulars are preparations of various animal tissues relating to the hormones of interest. Glandular preparations for male-to-female consumption are obtained from such organs as ovaries, pituitary glands, uterus, and mammary glands (breast tissue). These preparations are all reminiscent of the "heart of lion" remedy discussed earlier. Do ovaries contain estrogen? Absolutely! However, they are not exactly estrogen cisterns. One would obtain far more estrogen from eating a piece of fried chicken than from taking an ovary pill. Would consuming an ovary have any other benifit? No. All of the metabolic machinery in the ovary that would produce estrogen and progesterone dies once the animal dies, and it cannot be reincorporated into another living animal. Even if it could be reincorporated, there would be no way to administer it. Ovaries consumed orally are digested, so that all the metabolic machinery is disassembled into component amino acids, which although they have some nutritional value are completely useless for synthesizing estrogen or progesterone. Oral administration is at best harmless; injection of glandular (bypassing the gastrointestinal tract) would be unthinkable. The recipient would only "reject" it and might even go into anaphylactic shock with repeated injections.

The story becomes even more ridiculous for oral administration of preparations of glands which produce peptide hormones, such as the pituitary gland. Not only are the hormone-producing enzymes digested, but so are the hormones. Glandular preparations are a complete waste of money, which would be more effectively spent buying fried chicken at KFC. In the future, it may be possible to package cultured live glandular tissues in immune-safe, semipermiable capsules for permanent implantation. These tissues would then feed off of nutrients from the body and produce their hormones steadily. The technology is rather complicated and is currently being worked out. If all goes well, look for it within the next decade at an outpatient clinic near you.

This article should end on a precautionary note. Much too much emphasis is placed on the supposed difference between "natural" and "medicinal" therapies. In truth, herbal remedies are medications, provided they have pharmacological properties. There is a common misconception that plant substances are always safe and gentle because they are "natural". Some herbs are quite potent, as many in the '60s generation may attest. Some in fact are quite deadly. Thus, herbal remedies should always be taken with caution and perhaps even with medical supervision.

There are several clear advantages to taking proven pharmacological preparations wherever possible. First, they are well researched and safety-tested. For them to get FDA approval, it is necessary for there to be a clear understanding of what concentrations are therapeutic and what concentrations are toxic. There is usually no such understanding of a "natural" remedy. Second, pharmacological preparations are purified products, often extracted from huge mounds of herbs. Thus, the only stress one places on one's system is from the pharmacologically active substance itself. Herbs contain significant quantities of therapeutically unnecessary substances, many of which are more toxic than the active substance. Black cohash is a good example of such an herb. Third, pharmacological preparations are usually far more potent than herbal remedies, so that better results are achieved more quickly. Also, more potency means that smaller quantities can be used, resulting in less toxicity to organs such as the liver. Fourth, quality control is far better for pharmacological preparations. In herbal preparations, the dosages of the active ingredients are always unspecified, usually unknown, and usually variable from batch to batch. Finally, "natural" remedies are often quite expensive, often far more so than proper pharmacological preparations. The reason? Many consumers prefer "natural" solutions and are willing to pay more money for them.

In conclusion,, while the pharmaceutical industry has numerous safeguards to assure the consumer of receiving a safe and effective product, no such protections exist for "natural" remedies. One can find just about any "natural" product for which a clever marketer can invent a good story. Herbal remedies often do have some merits, but they are neither as safe nor as effective as conventional medicinal solutions. The usefulness of glandular preparations is highly doubtful; however, they are also relatively innocuous, digesting the same way any other food substance would. The consumer contemplating a "natural" remedy is best advised to ignore sales "hype" and to evaluate the product's true potential in light of known principles of physiology.

Car Talk

with "Nip" and "Tuck"

Dear Nip and Tuck, I have a pink, 1957 Caddie convertable. It's in good shape mechanically, but it's been acting rather irratic and tempermental lately. If I drive too far down a long, straight road, the trannie starts making strange "complaining" sorts of noises, and then the clutch starts slipping. When the car finally comes to a halt, the trannie locks up, and the engine dies. The last time it happened, the car didn't stop until it came to a garage. As it slowed to a halt, steam was billowing from under the hood. Apparently the car had blown a hose. Once I had the hose replaced, we were on our way again, as though nothing had happened. Thinking that cooling might be the problem, I then put a bra on the front end, blocking some of the airflow through the radiator. While that did make the breakdowns less frequent, it didn't solve the problem altogether. I'm really clueless as to what's going on. Can you help me?

Confused and auto-dysphoric in Detroit

Dear Confused,

While the "complaining" noises you describe could be coming from the lower ball joints, it sounds to me like your trannie probably needs a major overhaul. I think you'll find that once the clutch starts slipping, major expenses lie just ahead. If I were you, I would seriously consider taking this opportunity to get rid of the stick and to install an automatic. After all, where is it written that you must keep your factory equipment? Whatever you do, just remember that in the course of any repair, you will end up with extra parts, probably a couple of nuts. Just throw them out. They're useless anyway.

Your cooling problem could have something to do with too much circulation to the heater core through the heater's stopcock, perhaps reducing circulation to the main core -- the radiator. You can test this theory by disconnecting the heater core altogether. Once this offending part has been removed from the system, I suspect your Caddie will be more even-tempered. Give it a try. It's not as though anything you would be doing would be irreversible. Right?

Oh, here's one last thing for you to consider: What would you call it when two teenagers make love in the back seat of your '57 Caddie convertable? Give up? Autoeroticism! (OK, OK, so we're just a couple of airbags!)

Nip and Tuck are not responsible for the suitibility of any advice given in this column. Please perform any repairs or modifications to your vehicle at your own risk. All legal inquiries should be directed to Hackett, Bobbit, and Klipp, Attorneys at Law.

Sarah's Quick Tips

by Sarah

A few months ago, I published instructions for making do-it-yourself breast forms from hair gel. I recently came across another material with an entirely different consistency, which would probably also make a good filler material. It would also be very well suited for gel push-up forms. This material would not leak from the plastic bag, so it would allow considerably more latitude in bag materials. Quart sized plastic bags would probably work well for a full form, and baby bottle liners would be quite good for making push-up forms. The magic material is called "flubber" and was obviously named from the Disney movie. Just like in the movie, this stuff is pretty lively and "strange". It bounces when dropped, jiggles when shaken, drips very slowly when suspended, and snaps apart when pulled. It's definitely worth making, if for no other reason just to give it to your kids (or to play with it yourself). Here's how: (1) Mix 2 cups Elmer's glue with 1 1/2 cups warm water in one container. (2) Mix 3 tsp Borax (the laundry detergent additive) in 1 1/3 cups warm water in a second container. (3) Pour the Borax solution into the diluted glue, and gently lift and fold the flubber as it forms. (4) Squish the flubber around, dripping away excess liquid. That's it!

Do you get more mascara on your eyelids than on your lashes? You can keep your eyelids clean by holding a small paper shield between your lashes and your eyelids. This tip comes from the lovely Miss Vanessa Edwards of Houston, who got the tip from a professional wig stylist: Are you tired of paying outrageous prices for wig shampoos and conditioners? If your wig is modacrylic (synthetic), then you can wash and condition it using the same products you use for your laundry. After all, an acrylic wig is much like an acrylic sweater. You can wash your wig with Woolite or any other suitable liquid detergent, including a dilute dishwashing detergent. You can then condition it with a liquid fabric softener, whose job it is to lubricate the fibers with light silicone oils.

Do you pad your hips? If you don't, you should. Padding is great for giving a person some contour around the hips. You can get a padded girdle from Fredrick's for about $40. I bought one long ago, and eventually it wore out. The waist band was the first thing to go. (No rude comments, please!) After the girdle fell apart, I pulled out the foam rubber pads and placed them under my hose or tights. That worked just great, and it was more comfortable too. You can get some pads (without girdle) from Heartline Lingerie (see the Pink List). My advice would be to pad only on the sides to add width. Nobody needs a big bottom! Would it be too hot during the Summer to wear hose or tights (so that you can wear the pads)? No problem! Just wear an old pair of tights with the legs cut off.

Barb'n'Lisa Approved



Copyright 1997 by the Crystal Club. 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 other materials contained in this newsletter. Contributions of articles are encouraged but may be altered with the author's intent retained or may be rejected, whether solicited or not. Absolutely no sexually explicit material will be accepted or printed. Contributions may be emailed directly to the editor or sent to the postal address below. The Crystal Club is a non-profit support group for transvestites, crossdressers, transsexuals, female impersonators, and other transgendered individuals. Spouses and significant others are welcome and are encouraged to participate. Both male-to-female and female-to-male individuals are welcome. Also, members from related organizations, helpful professionals, and approved guests are welcome when cleared through a Crystal Club elected officer. Club policies, meeting dates, locations, and fees are available on request through our address below. We will exchange newsletters with any other similar group. Send all correspondence to: The Crystal Club, P.O. Box 287, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068-0287. (614) 231-1368.