President - Stephanie
Vice President - Carey
Treasurer - Dianna
Secretary - Jannie
Newsletter Editor - Kelly
Assistant Editor - Jannie
Meeting Coordinator - Latoya
Screening Officer - Dea
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:
Please specify in the subject field that this is an article for the newsletter.
From the President
Sorry to not have an article in the last newsletter, but I was in Los Angeles visiting my youngest son. He works for the same airline as I and has been begging me to come and see him before he decides to leave California.
I'm really glad I went. The weather was beautiful and I got to walk along the beach and see Hollywood. He introduced me to one of his friends and I really think he had a good time showing me off. The only weird thing was that he always called me "dad" , but I didn't mind. I did catch a few people with puzzled looks on their faces when he said "dad" in one of the restaurants we visited. He has adjusted to my change better than any of my other three children and I think he can help them deal with this. We also visited some longtime friends whom I have known since Chris was a baby. This was the first time they had seen Stephanie and they did not know what to expect. When we were met at the door by Lee she gave me the biggest hug and said that she could see I was happy by the way I looked and immediately started using all the proper pronouns (she and her). Chris still called me "dad". Their daughter Jackie, who I used to baby-sit remarked that my adams apple was gone because she remembers sitting on my lap and playing with it. I used to tell her I swallowed a golf ball and it got stuck in my throat. I hated that thing. My
last night there we stayed at a hotel near the airport and it was the greatest feeling to lay in the sun by the pool in my swimming suit with Chris. He was watching the girls and the guys were watching me; I loved it !
I guess one of the things I have learned by finally coming-out and being myself is that people don't know what to expect until they see you. My friends in L.A. remembered me having a moustache at one time and for a moment pictured me still having it, only wearing a dress. I really had to laugh at that one. When I made the announcement at work that I was going to be living full time as a woman, several people said they were going to be sick the first day I showed up in a skirt. They just didn't know what to expect and let their imaginations run wild. Things have worked out very well though, I think patience has paid off. I'm still hoping my other children will become as accepting as Chris.
On a different note, I am glad to see the large turnout we have had at our social meetings and it's wonderful to see some new faces almost every month. I hope everyone had a great Memorial day weekend.
By Kelly Davidson
Earlier this evening I visited a funeral home to offer my condolences to my old psychologist. His wife had passed away after an 11 month battle with cancer. To see this man, who had literally saved my life 15 years earlier, in this situation was heart-wrenching. What could I say to him? I knew he was touched that I had shown up but I felt my words to him were inadequate.
As I was driving back home I was reflecting on his spouses passing and also something my wife e-mailed to me weeks before. It made me realize an important lesson about life, itís not about getting by day to day, itís about *living* life day to day. Here is what my better half, who I love very much, sent me.
I hope you enjoy and benefit from it as much as I have.
A Story To Live By
by Ann Wells (Los Angeles Times)
My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. "This," he said, "is not a slip. This is lingerie." He discarded the tissue and handed
me the slip. It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. "Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion." He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me. "Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion."
I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister's family lives. I thought about all the things that
she hadn't seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special.
I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed my life. I'm reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time
in committee meetings. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.
I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event-such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom.
I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks
have noses that function as well as my party-going friends'.
"Someday" and "one of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now. I'm not sure what my sister would have done had she known that she wouldn't be here for the tomorrow we
all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles.
I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I'm guessing I'll never know.
It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with someday. Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn't tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them.
I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is...a gift from God.
If you've received this it is because someone cares for you and it means there is probably at least someone for whom you care. If you're too busy to take the few minutes that it would take right now to forward this to ten people, would it be the first time you didn't do that little thing that would make a
difference in your relationships? I can tell you it
certainly won't be the last. I don't have to make up
silly stories about people being hit by buses or crushed by falling disco balls for not sending this letter on. You've seen the result of this neglect in your own relationships that you have allowed to fade, dissolve, and fall into disrepair.
Take this opportunity to set a new trend. Take a few minutes to send this to a few people you care about, just to let them know that you're thinking of them. It's even better if they're not the people you already correspond with every week. The more people that you send this to, the better luck you will have. And the better you'll get at reaching out to those you care about.
Here's the deal:
Forward this letter to at least 10 different people; within 1 hour of receiving it. Do it, and reap what you sow: luck in love, people who care for you, and that warm glowy feeling that comes from loving others.
Don't do it, and suffer the consequences
of being alone, wrapped up in your own affairs,
and being too busy to do the things you actually care about.
May love litter your life with blessings!
We would like to thank Meral Crane for her $25 donation to the club. Meral Crane has donated money to us in the past and has always been supportive of our needs. Thank you again Meral for your support of us.
By Dianna Mills
Attending Members: Sheila, Stephanie, Jamie Elizabeth, Judy, Kristen, Kelly, Mainna Mills,
Mary Ann, Latoya, Diana Brit, Trisha, Cictoria, Dominique, Dawn, Rikki, Carey, Julie & Cheeri. We had a couple of new faces, but I didn't get their names.
Speakers at the Meeting were Scot Dewhirst, Attorney at Law and Roberta Mitchell of Capitol University Legal Clinic. Their talk was very interesting and brought up several points regarding the transgendered community. There are no specific protections provided by Federal or State law which provide protection for TG individuals, although some protection may be afforded by "Sexual Orientation" and Gay and Lesbian laws. It was also noted that TG individuals, while in a Ladies Room may possibly be charged with criminal trespass. This may also apply to any other place(locker room, dressing room) specifically provided for the opposite sex. There are also restroom laws that cover creating a disturbance or annoyance which may apply. This points out the need to use common sense when in a public area.
Also pointed out was that in the event of a traffic stop or other contact with police, no attempt should be made to conceal your identity. The best tactic to use in this type of situation is to not conceal your true identity. Be as co-operative as possible.
For the June meeting we will have Michael Washington who will do make-up demos. We will be meeting on June 27th at our usual location.
DEER CREEK WEEKEND
We currently have 5 members committed to spending the weekend at Deer Creek. We need 8 members committed and having paid a deposit by our regular June meeting to continue this event. Any member wishing to spend the weekend should let Dianna Mills know by that date. If we don't have sufficient interest, all deposits will be returned.
Ex-doctor who served time faces murder charge
Written by Bill Callahan , Staff Writer
San Diego Union Tribune
Received from GAIN
A former San Diego County doctor who served a prison term for bungling a sex-change operation now is charged with murdering a New York man who died of gangrene after his leg was amputated.
John Ronald Brown was ordered held without bail yesterday in a case that has investigators fanning out across the country and Mexico, looking for facts in the grotesque death and clues as to whether others may have been mutilated.
"The horror stories coming out about this man's botched operations are shocking," said Deputy District Attorney Stacy Running, who added that
additional charges may be filed.
Brown, 75, has a lengthy history of medical improprieties that grew out of his specializing in the shadow society of transsexuals and a growing demand for sex-change operations in the early 1970s.
Brown's California medical license was yanked in 1977, and he was sentenced to three years in prison in 1990 for illegally practicing medicine by performing a sex-change operation on a 30-year-old Orange County man. At Brown's sentencing, the judge said the victim suffered significant injuries that caused pain and suffering.
Yesterday, prosecutors accused Brown of again illegally wielding a scalpel, this time out of his ground-floor unit in a San Ysidro apartment building.
Bloody towels, sheets and mattresses as well as anesthetizing drugs were seized from the apartment by National City police Tuesday after they arrested
Brown on suspicion of killing Philip Bondy, 79.
Prosecutor Running said police also found "records of hundreds of patients," as well as graphic videotapes of Brown performing sex-change operations. A search of Brown's mail found correspondence addressed to "Ronald Brown M.D."
Bondy's body was found by police May 11 in Room 609 of the Holiday Inn on National City Boulevard. The Medical Examiner's Office said Bondy died of gangrene from a recently amputated leg.
Running told a San Diego Municipal Court judge that Bondy apparently flew to San Diego from New York on May 7 and was operated on by Brown at an undisclosed location two days later.
Investigators are still puzzled over why a man who lived on Manhattan's Upper East Side would come to San Diego and undergo such an operation, Running said after the hearing.
Brown took Bondy to the Holiday Inn after the operation "and gave him no postoperative care other than a few painkillers," the prosecutor said.
Investigators said Bondy telephoned a friend in New York City, a psychologist whose name has not been released, and asked him to come out to San Diego.
The psychologist, investigators said, was told by Bondy that one of his legs had been amputated after a traffic accident in Tijuana. The psychologist flew to San Diego, checked into a room at the Holiday Inn and called police when he found Bondy dead in bed the morning of May 11, investigators said.
In Bondy's room, police found two receipts, each for $5,000 and signed by a John Brown, for surgery and hospital expenses, Running said. "We think the defendant is an incredibly dangerous individual to the citizens of both the United States and Mexico," Running told Judge Lillian Lim in her successful request to have Brown held without bail.
Brown apparently had resumed his practice of performing sex-change operations in Mexico and returning the patients to his home in the United States for further treatment, Running said.
She said Mexican authorities are cooperating in a widening investigation that includes interviews with former clients of Brown across the country.
Brown's pale skin contrasted with his blue County Jail uniform, and he appeared frail during his court appearance. He made no comment; his not guilty plea was entered by his court-appointed lawyer. Running said Brown apparently recruited clients through a Web page on the Internet and advertisements in gay publications.
"His clientele is, shall we say, of a different bent, mostly men who want to become women," the prosecutor said. "Normally there's a six- or seven-year wait for a legitimate operation, but he would have them fly out and do it over the weekend."
Several people dressed in female attire appeared at Brown's 1990 sentencing in San Diego Superior Court in a show of support for his handling of their transformations.
Brown's lawyer then described him "as a leader in transsexual surgery . . .who had perfected a technique of gender reassignment surgery."
Brown grew up in Arizona and Utah and earned a medical degree in 1947 from the University of Utah. He received surgical residency training at medical centers in Los Angeles, New Jersey and New York City, according to medical records.
No, not barbecued LesBIGaTr, but
LesBIGaTrs eating BBQ...
BBQed homophobe (bull)
BBQed transphobe (chicken)
Bring a friend
Bring a good appetite
(with video showing of James Green speech)
Sponsored By It's Time, Ohio!
Political Advocacy for the Transgendered
6:30 PM, June 17
Unitarian Universalistic Congregation East
1789 Lancaster Ave.
Just North of 256 and Livingston
or call for directions, 470-4245
Update on Susie Longsworth &
From Diana Brit
Some Crystal Club members may remember Susie Longsworth, Diana Brit's friend who visited her and the club in the summer of 1997. Since then Susie
has moved from Ft. Wayne, Indiana, to San Diego. In April she and her partner, Cathy Curtis, had SRS in Montreal. This is Cathy's report to Diana of their
First, Montreal. I love it. I love it. I love it. I have never felt so comfortable and at home as I did during our brief visit to the residence that Doctors Yvon Menard and Pierre Brassard have created for their patients. There was more love, caring and compassion in that home than I've ever experienced in my own family.
From the moment we arrived and were whisked away from the airport in a stretch Cadillac limo to the moment we first were greeted at our new but temporary home, to the post-op's we met there, and the pre-op's whom we met the last few days before we departed, to the staff and the doctors themselves, nothing could have been improved upon.
The surgical clinic is small and about two blocks from the residence. The quality of care was as excellent as any I've yet seen in any medical facility, and between Susie and I, we've seen quite a few.
Our surgeries were on 14th by Dr. Brassard. With all of the pain medication, the first day and a half my memory is fuzzy, but I do recall looking under the
sheets and smiling at what I didn't see there! By Thursday morning we were up and walking and allowed to shower. Dr. Menard came in that morning and removed the outer packing and the stitches that held it in place. What a relief !! I hadn't even realized how tight it had been. Friday we were taken back to the residence. Very quick.
When we returned to our room at the residence, the staff had bought 2 of the most beautiful bouquets of flowers for us that I'd ever seen with a wonderful note attached that congratulated us on a successful surgical transition and wishing us luck in our new lives. We both cried. (Just thinking of it now is bringing tears to my eyes)
All of our needs were provided for at the home....laundry, dining, entertainment, even making our beds for us....all is taken care of. You need raise a finger for virtually nothing.
Monday morning Dr. Brassard and Sylvia Menard ( Dr. Menard's wife, a registered nurse and a very integral part of the operation of the residence )
came to our room early in the morning and removed the stitches, the internal packing and the catheter. My Gawd ! What a relief !!! Of course, then the fun started ; Sylvia gave us each instructions on how to douche and to dilate and we've been enjoying that pleasure each day since ! (G)
Actually, that first dilation was fairly easy, as we were still stretched from the packing that had been in there for nearly a week, but at five times a day
we were pretty sore the following morning, and things began to swell a little internally, so it became more difficult and a bit more painful, but life must go one, as must the five times per day regime.
By Wednesday afternoon we made the short trip down to the clinic to wish luck and good-by to the girls who had just had their own surgery's at the beginning of that week. It's kind of a tradition there for the outgoing girls to wish the best to those who have just had their own dream come true.
Thursday morning, the limo was waiting at the door for us and whisked us back to the airport for our departure. We had smartly made arrangements with the airlines for wheel-chair service all the way through to our home destination, and it helped tremendously with our comfort levels on that trip. Speaking of
that trip...it was a flight to hell. By the second hour of the first leg of our flight we were both popping pain pills, took more during our hour layover in Chicago, and even more on the four and a half hour leg to Sandy Eggo. We were a mess by the time we arrived. Nevertheless, we were so happy to be home again and to see our friends who arrived to drive us home and handle our luggage.
So, what have we been doing since ? It would seem that we've been doing everything in the world. Jeez!! I thought when we left here that everything
was covered, that the house was prepared for our return. Wrong !!!
It's bad enough having to dilate five times a day, an hour or more each time plus clean-up time after that, but we have both been so exhausted that all we want to do is sleep. I wish we could find the time for that. We are both beat. We are so terribly drained of energy that everything is doubly hard, and by noon each day it's all I can do to keep my eyes open.
A couple of very important notes....if you can have a friend, neighbor, family-member, anybody, do something for you instead of doing it yourself, then for god's sake...let them. We all have a tendency to want to handle it ourselves, to not impose. Well, "B.S." Get past that. For the first four or five days you are home you shouldn't be up for anything that doesn't involve the bathroom or meals. Period. Your body has been ripped apart and turned into hamburger and you have absolutely no reserves of strength or energy of any kind. Give it a chance to recover. Give yourself a break.
The day after we returned I popped a stitch on the right labia majora (there had been a little bleeding and accumulation of blood under the sutures, probably from the plane ride), and it bled for nearly 7 hours, so you know how I spent my Friday. After a couple of hours, Susie decided to call Montreal to ask for advice and she got Suzanne on the phone. (Suzanne seems to run the business office and is the person you will deal with the most prior to your trip there.) She told us that Dr. Brassard was in surgery but that she would get the message to the doctor. Well, within half an hour he called back. He was still in surgery and I think he had a nurse holding a cell-phone to his head as he was working, and he talked with me under those conditions. Talk about service and dedication !!
Anyway, we told him what was going on, how we had packed it in ice, and were applying pressure and he agreed that we had done the right thing (Susie used to be a paramedic....it helps). He said he would check back with me later to see how I was doing, and he did. That night, at 10:PM the phone rang and it was Dr. Brassard again. He was on his way home from another emergency (facial injuries in a car accident ...it seems that he's on call for several of the hospitals in the area.) and used the time in the car to carry through on his promise to me. (it was 1 a.m. there in Montreal !!! He just amazes me !!) I was just fine by this time, sitting up and having a late dinner and watching a movie. He was pleased that I felt better and asked me to call again if anything at all should come up.
Dilating is getting easier. We had been told by the doctors to expect difficulty for a week or two and then an improvement...they were right. There are three stints that are used primarily for dilating....the smallest one that comes in the set of five is useless...you might as well throw it away.
Starting with the next one above that, in graduating increasing sizes are #1,2, 3, and a red-wood tree (forget about that one too...you won't be needing that for several months !!). It was recommended that we use a schedule of 3 minutes with #1, 5 minutes with #2, and 25 minutes with #3. There were times in those first few days where #'s 1 and 2 were all we could get in, but as the days went by, I was able to start easing #3 back into the program. Eventually I stopped using #1 altogether, starting right off with #2, but common sense has returned and I'm using all 3 stints once more. It's much more comfortable that way and no doubt less strain on those delicate tissues inside.
Susie couldn't get past the #2 all the time we've been here; simply too much pain for her, so we agreed, with a bit of convincing on my part, to just go
with 1 & 2 for now. Yesterday morning however she was feeling well enough after #2 that she tried 3 and it worked, so she used it all day. I'm glad.
Our schedule now is 10 minutes, 15 minutes and 25 minutes respectively for the different sizes. It takes longer, but it goes much easier for us and we'll
stay with that for awhile.
We've made a few trips down to our doctor's office to re-fill some of the prescriptions that were given to us in Canada, primarily antibiotics and
valium (to help relax prior to dilating...it helps a lot in the early days, especially when you are still swollen internally). We had to make a couple of extra trips for the main pain medication than we had been given up north (we used a lot of it on the plane on the way down, and we're still sore enough sitting that something that can help is a true blessing ). It seems that here in the states it is a class 2 drug which requires all kinds of federal forms to be filled out before dispensing, and after we finally got the forms
filled out right, it turns out that the particular dosage isn't even available here. (Isn't Gov't wonderful ?) The pharmacist recommended a substitute medication which he said was equivalent (to what?). Susie took a half of one of the pills after we got home and she nearly passed out (after throwing up).
Four hours later she took the other half and went to bed, and it was noon the next day before she started to regain any sensation. Some things about our medical system scare the hell out of me...this is an example....most of the so-called professionals have no idea in the world what the hell they're doing.
I'm going down to the pool later today to lay in the sun in my new swim-suit (and with my new "C" cup implants it looks really good on me too!!!). Finally it's time to relax. No more emergencies !!
I haven't been on any pain medication since the second day after our return, and though I've been uncomfortable it's not been all that bad as long as I don't stay on my feet for too long at one time. Susie is still using pills, but she's weaning herself off and is making good progress. I expect that within the next week we will both be out walking every day to try to start rebuilding our strength and endurance.
Oh, one more thing. Something that no brochure or discussions ever tell you about before surgery. It's your attitude about yourself after it's all done. I can't explain it, but I feel different somehow about my identity. It's subtle, but very real. Also, and this is a fact....suddenly no-one is "reading" me anymore. I was pretty good at passing before, but I've been watching, and even teen-aged girls (the worse ones to get by !) are now calling me maam. I don't get it, but I love it. It just keeps getting better and better.
One last thing, and this is VERY important....this experience has brought home to us the absolute importance of friends and family. The support that we have gotten from all of you, from the people in Montreal, etc. If it hadn't been for the physical, emotional and spiritual helping from each and every one of you this would have been many times more difficult.
We are all family. Many of us have lost our own family's due to our transitions...be sure that you rebuild your support network, that you share love and give love to those like yourself who are in need. It takes little but can mean so very much to someone in need and it will come back to you when you need it the most, and you will need it.
We love what has happened to us in surgery. We have made changes that are permanent and are exactly what we've waited for all of our lives. We are
happy. We are lucky to have and love each other. We love life.
Best of love and luck to each of you.
Cathryn Curtis and Susie Longsworth
New Mailing List for Christian Transsexuals
from Terri Main
I wanted to write and tell you about something I'm inaugurating this week. It's a new discussion list for Christian transsexuals. It's to be a safe place where TS's can come and share matters of faith or whatever in a supportive environment. If you could help me let other people know about this I would be happy. They can sign up directly by going to this page http://members.tripod.com/~terrim/TSCHRIST.HTM or by writing directly to me at: email@example.com
ITOH! Recognized by Gay People's Chronicle
Recently, Dawn Leach of Cleveland's Gay People's Chronicle ran an article about It's Time, Ohio! to make the regional GLBT community more
aware of our organization. For those of you who don't know, It's Time, Ohio! (ITOH!) is one of the more recent state chapters of the national organization, Gender Education and Advocacy (GEA, formed by the merger of It's Time, America! with AEGIS),a Columbus-based, grass roots organization
dedicated to political advocacy for the transgendered and education of the public regarding transgender issues.
Although ITOH! is only now cutting its teeth on the political scene, it already has achieved some impressive results. Accomplishments thus far include: the first transgender-protective language in American
corporate history in the EEO policy of Lucent Technologies (a milestone achievement that other major corporations will soon follow) and a recent lobbying trip to Washington, where ITOH! met with all of Ohio's US representatives regarding the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), the Hate Crimes Protection Act, and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
ITOH! is currently conducting an ambitious project to survey transpeople for information about hate crimes, job discrimination, and educational discrimination. (A survey will be distributed later on the web site and in a newsletter insert.) This will also be used to show US and Ohio elected officials that transpeople do face very real and serious problems with inadequate protection under the law. Statistics from the survey will be posted on the It's Time, Ohio! web page at:
and the It's Time, America! web page at
ITOH! is still fairly small, but it is growing steadily with new members and new regional chapters. In addition to It's Time, Columbus!, the founding chapter, regional chapters in Cleveland and Dayton will soon be a reality. The It's Time, America! system is also growing steadily with new state chapters in neighboring Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia, and with plans for a chapter in Michigan.
ITOH! meetings are held at 6:30 PM on the second Thursday of each month at the Stonewall Union, Northeast corner of 4th and High, Columbus.
Basic membership is $25, and all are welcome to
attend meetings, irrespective of transgender or membership status. You may contact ITOH! at firstname.lastname@example.org, (614)470-4245, P.O. Box 21310, Columbus, OH 43221.
IN ANCIENT GREECE, SHE'D HAVE BEEN A GOD. IN WALES, THEY SPIT ON HER.
By Barry Hugill (from GAIN news)
LINDA ROBERTS was born during the blitz. The delivery took place under the kitchen table. On her deathbed her mother revealed to her daughter, who was then her son, what the midwife had said: 'Mrs. Roberts, you have a perfectly healthy baby. Would you like me to register it as a boy or a
Linda Roberts was born with a penis and a vagina. Half a century later a doctor told her she was a hermaphrodite. She looked it up in the encyclopaedia: 'An organism combining qualities of both sexes: producing both eggs and sperm and possessing both sex organs.'
In 1942 little was known about the phenomenon and, not surprisingly, nothing has changed. The odds against being born with dual genitalia are six million to one. Linda is believed to be one of, at most, 12 hermaphrodites in the UK.
The name comes from Hermaphrodite, the mythical son of Hermes and Aphrodite, who became joined in body with the nymph Salmacis. 'In ancient Greece, I would have been regarded as a god,' she says wryly, reflecting on the antagonism her condition has provoked.
Last year she moved to a tiny cottage in the remote village of Penrhyndeudraeth in Snowdonia. But there was no welcome in the hills.
Her presence has infuriated a gang, about 30-strong, of mainly young people intent on driving
her out. They see what they believe to be a man
dressed as a woman and conclude she is a 'pervert'.
She has been spat at and stoned; her windows smashed. Earlier this year she was forced to the ground, kicked and stamped on, her bones broken.
'What do you expect, a person like you moving to a village like this?' said the investigating police officers.
She is used to hostility. Her father insisted she was registered as a boy because he had always wanted a son. 'When I was eight I told him I felt like a girl and he beat me black and blue. He warned me that if raised the subject again he would kill me.'
Two years ago the surgeon who was to save her life tried to explain what a hermaphrodite was. 'You were a Siamese twin joined not externally but
internally. Your brother was on the outside, you were on the inside.'
In 1996 she was close to death. Over the years clots had been forming in her legs and lungs. The surgeon explained she was 80 percent female although she looked masculine. She had no need to shave and, although she had a penis, she also had a womb, vagina and clitoris. She had been menstruating since her mid-teens but had no obvious periods because she lacked a cervix. The discharged blood was causing the clots.
She was psychologically damaged, baffled as to her gender and sexuality. She had known she was 'different' but no doctor had discussed it with her and as long as her father was alive it was a taboo subject with her parents.
Not knowing whether she was man or woman, she adopted the 'macho' approach, applying to join the police, army and fire brigade. Each demanded a medical, ordered her to drop her trousers, took one look and rejected her.
'I decided I must be gay. I had tried with girls but I could only just get an erection. I was attracted to women, but not as a man, if that makes any sense. I fancied women as a woman. Lesbianism I supposed, so I tried that. All that felt normal was going with a man with me as a woman. You have to understand that I had the equipment to do almost anything, any way.' In fact, she has been celibate for 30 years.
THE BULLYING and name-calling began in her late teens. People noticed her mannerisms and decided she was 'queer'. This was the fifties when homosexuality was outlawed and the word 'gay' had a different meaning. She sought out homosexual bars where she felt 'safe' and for the first time received sympathy and understanding -- and some lucrative offers.
'Word got around and men offered me thousands to appear in porn films. They told me I would enjoy it.'
She declined and decided to go straight. She married but it was never consummated. 'She knew I was a cross-dresser and could accept that but when she fully realized ... well the full truth was too much for her.' They divorced.
For 18 years she worked as a gardener for a north London council. In the evening she socialized with gay friends. She thought of herself as an 'ordinary transsexual' -- a woman trapped in a man's body. It was a sad existence punctuated with failed suicide attempts.
By the time she was 50 the medical problems were multiplying and the blood-clotting had become life-threatening. By chance she was admitted to London's Middlesex hospital and found doctors who understood her condition. Initially they suspected her of overdosing on hormone pills to make her breasts grow.
'They discovered my estrogen level was five times higher than that of a normal woman. They ordered a full body scan and realized what the
problem was -- I had no cervix. That was the first time a doctor had used the word íhermaphroditeí with me.
'They told me I had three options. I could do nothing and die. I could have my womb removed and become a "proper" man. Or I could have the penis removed and a cervix constructed.'
She chose the third option, but three surgeons refused to perform the operation because they thought it would kill her. And her NHS trust ruled that, even if a surgeon could be found, it would not fund a 'sex-change' operation.
At the end of her tether she consulted a specialist in Brighton. He would do it, but advised against. He thought death on the operating table a near certainty.
'I had to take the risk. I would have been dead in a few months if I didn't. But it would cost UKP7,000. I went to a builder and got an estimate for an extension to my house. I took it to Barclays and got the loan.'
On 28 September 1996 she was wheeled into the operating theatre. One last time the surgeon asked her to reconsider. Many hours later she came round wearing 'the largest nappy I've ever seen'. The surgeon was a 'genius' -- she was a full woman.
But the UKP7,000 loan had drifted upwards and the bank wanted its money back. She was forced to sell her house and moved to North Wales because
property was cheap and she had spent many happy holidays there.
For nearly two hours she has been talking in her tiny cottage, cuddled up to her two dogs. When she drinks coffee they sip from her cup. 'I only let them use my cup,' she explains. The dogs are her life.
The interview had been pushed back an hour so she could 'look her best'. Neatly dressed in blue skirt and cream blouse, she wears white stilettos and in her ears has large, jangling rings.
The voice is deep and facial features masculine despite lipstick and mascara. The mannerisms are female and this coupled with the voice and large hands makes her seem rather camp. It is not artifice; it is the way she is.
The name-calling she could live with but the stone attacks on the house scared her. For months she drew the curtains day and night and sat alone, bar her dogs, in the dark. Only the need to buy food forced her out.
Once a week social services provide a 'career' to escort her to the shops. She lives on a small disability pension, a legacy of a spinal injury from her gardening days. Sketches of the Snowdonia mountains decorate her walls. Most of her time is spent making models of boats. It appears a desperately lonely existence.
MOST VILLAGERS I spoke to denied any knowledge of her. Many refused to speak to a reporter. Three young men told me to get back 'where I belonged'. She was a 'filthy queer' and I was probably no better.
A young woman, child in tow, said she felt very sorry for her but thought she had brought it upon herself by coming to such an isolated place.
But the mini-cab driver from Bangor, nearly 40 miles away, insisted on meeting her and declared her the bravest woman he had ever met. He made a point of shaking her hand in the street and loudly wishing her well.
A small group of neighbors, no more than four or five, have apologized for the behavior of the youths and encouraged her to stay. The cottage is up for sale and she may return to London. Yet she is reluctant to give in to hooliganism.
And the medical profession has suddenly discovered an interest in her. She is 56 and still menstruating. There are no case-studies of hermaphrodites to predict what is 'normal'. Medical researchers would love to study her.
She is having none of it: 'When they repay me all the money I had to borrow just to stay alive then I might let them examine me again. But after all I have been through why should I be a guinea-pig?'
Looking Back with Kelly Davidson
For months I have been persuing others to write articles dealing with real life situations and allowing me to post them in the newsletter. As a result, I began looking back on my own life, the golden age of my crossdressing history you may call it, from the time I was eleven until my late 20ís.
Donít get me wrong, Iím not saying my crossdressing experience has gone downhill since then. I still continue to grow each day. But there was something special about that time in my life. It was a time of learning, of trying new things and experiencing new feelings that I will never experience the same way again. There were the happy days when I was on the top of the world. Then there were the long, dark night when I question if life was worth all the hassles. But from both experiences I grew so much.
Step back with me if you will so we can look a few of these moments together. This first experience I call;
Child's Play -- Part 1
When I was eleven (11) years old I was friends with a little girl named Lisa who lived across the street. We were the same age and in general, like the same things. In fact, she was a tomboy who dressed pretty much like the other boys in our neighborhood. But every once in a while her mother (who looked like Jill Taylor from the show, "Tool Time") would make her wear a dress. I admire Lisa clothes and wished I could try them on. There was a red dress in particular that caught my eye. I use to spend hours dreaming of playing dress-up with Lisa and trying on her clothes. But Lisa was more into doing boy things then playing dress-up or house, so I knew my dream would never happen. Or would it?
One day I learn that Lisa and her parents were leaving for an overnight trip to visit her grandparents. Her father was looking for a job in another city so they could be closer to them. This meant the house would be empty for a whole day, all I had to do was find a way in. I decided then and there that I was going to enter their house while they were gone and try on some of Lisa's clothes. A plan formed in my mind and I put it into action. The night before they left, I went over to play with Lisa and made sure one of the basement windows was unlocked.
At 7 a.m the next morning I woke up just in time to see Lisa getting into the car and it driving away. As soon as it turn out of sight the excitement started to build inside me. Today was the day I would get the chance to try on some girls clothes. Oh, I had worn some of my mothers stuff before but everything was always to big. Now I was going to wear something that was "MY" size.
I wanted to leave right then, but two fears held me up. First, I was afraid if I left too early my mom would get suspicious and watch to see where I was going. Second, I was concern that Lisa's family may come right back. So I sat and watched the house from my bedroom window. Despite my enthusiasm, I somehow waited until 9 a.m. before making my move.
After telling my mother I was going out to play, I calmly trotted over to Lisa's backyard. Making sure no one was looking, I slid behind a bush that hid the unlocked window. I sat there for moment, wondering if anyone had noticed the window and re-locked it. But when I pushed on the window it open right up.
I slid myself into the basement and locked the window behind me. The house was quiet and spooky and for the first time I felt guilty about what I was doing. True, I wasn't planning to steal or damage anything still, I knew what I was doing was wrong. Despite my guilt, the excitement of trying on some of Lisa's clothes over came what I was feeling. Cautiously, I walked upstairs, carefully checking to make sure no one else was home. Convinced I was alone, I walked into Lisa's room.
It was your typical girls room except for the fact there were more boys toys laying about then girls. I stood in front of the closet for 30 full seconds just thinking, "This had been so easy." I couldn't believe
that something so forbidding and beyond my wildest dreams was about to come true.
I grab the knob and open up the closet door. There in front of me hung a number of dresses, some which I had never seen Lisa wear before. I was like a kid in a candy store, I didn't know which one to try on first.
Then I spotted the red dress I liked so much. It was a simple dress with white bows on the sleeves and just long enough to cover my thighs. I reached out and grabbed it off the hanger.
Holding it up in front of me, I stood in front of the mirror trying to see how it would look. I hadn't even tried anything on and yet I couldn't remember a happier day in my life. Just as I was getting ready to take off my shirt someone asked, "So Jeff, did you find anything in YOUR size?" I turned to see Mrs. Smith standing in the doorway with an amused look on her face. No doubt she had seen the whole thing however, I quickly put the dress behind my back in a poor attempt to hid it.
"Mrs. Smith," I shouted. "What are you doing here?".
Without changing her expression she said, "I decided to stay home and get caught up on my needlework. Lisa decided she would rather visit her grandparents while her father looked for a job then stay here with me. Now, the ten thousand dollar question is, what are you doing here young man?"
I didn't know what to say. Even though I had been caught red-handed I wasn't about to admit the real reason for being there. I did some quick thinking then told her, "I couldn't find my baseball this morning and thought that maybe I had left it over here last night".
"Hum, I see." She smiled even more. "And what's that behind your back?"
"Nothing." I said nervously. I clutched the dress tighter, hoping this would cause it to disappear.
She walked over to where I was standing and bent down. "Looks like something to me. Come on now, let go of it. Let me see what it is." She pulled the dress out of my hands and from behind my back. Holding it in front of me she smiled real big and said, "This doesn't look like a baseball to me. What were you planning to do with Lisa's dress?"
"Well, you see," I stuttered, trying to think of a good story. "I knocked it off the hanger by accident and it fell to the floor. So I.....picked it up......and was checking to make sure it wasn't dirty before I put it back." It might had been a good story if I had been able to tell it convincingly. Unfortunately, Mrs. Smith saw right through it.
"I see," she replied getting down on her knees and holding the dress up to me. "Nope, it looks clean to me. I like this dress. Lisa looks real cute in it. You know, I hadn't realize it before but you and Lisa are about the same size. I bet you could wear this dress if you wanted to."
The words made me freeze. Had I really heard her right? Was she implying it was alright with her if I tried it on? Or was she waiting to see how I would reply before yelling me for breaking into her house? I
stood there not know what to say. Mrs. Smith had always been a nice lady to me but then, I had never been in trouble with her before.
Sensing my fear, Mrs. Smith smiled softly and in a low voice said, "Don't worry, I'm not going to tell anyone what happen. I know you're a nice kid." She paused to stared at me for a moment. Then she spoke the words I had dreamed of hearing, "And if you want, I could dress you up as my "little" girl."
A cold chill of excitement ran up my spine. Had I really heard her right? Was she being sincere or was this a trap? Still afraid to show my true feelings, I played her last comment off as a joke. Giving her a weak smile I replied, "Well, I guess that would depend on what you would make me wear?"
"What do you mean?" She asked.
"You heard the saying...your mother dresses you funny." I answered trying to sound humorous while hiding my excitement.
She smiled sweetly and said, "Why I would dress you in the most beautiful dress, with ribbons and bows.....and frilly panties...lace anklets and black paten leather shoes. Wouldn't you look just adorable? You'd be the ultimate in femininity....for a little girl I mean."
My mind went numb. I wanted to scream out, "Yes, yes. I'll do it!", but was afraid of what she would do if I sounded too eager. After all, my parents could never accept my desire to dress up. With years of living in fear behind me it was hard to believe someone was willing to let me live out my dream and not judge me for it. I tried to find the words but couldn't. Finally she spoke to me.
"There are a few rules we need to get worked out. First, we can't tell anyone about this. It will be our little secret."
"Second, you will spend the day here until it's time to go home for supper. I'll call your mom to let her know where you are so she won't worry."
"Third, your name will be....lets see, how about Susanna Marie Smith. I always wanted another little girl so I could give her that name. You on the other hand will refer to me as mommy."
"Finally, you will have to act like a good little girl. That means listening and doing what I tell you to do even if you don't want to. Are we clear on these rules?"
I nodded out a "yes" and tried to appear more relaxed. I didn't realize it but the last rule would come back to haunt me later.
"Now, would you like to see the outfit I have in mind?", she asked. I shook my head and for the first time began to wondered what I had gotten myself into. She smiled, got up off her knees and took my hand. "Okay, come with me dear."
I was beginning to think Mrs. Smith was looking forward to this just as much as I was.
To be continued...
10-14, 16th Annual Be All You Want to Be Weekend , Pittsburgh, PA.
Hosted by Transpitt, P.O. Box 15408, Pittsburgh PA 15237, Phone: 412-242-5902.
17, LesBiGayTr Bar-B-Que at the Reynoldsburg UU Church. See article in this newsletter for more information
20, Pittsburgh PrideFest '98, Pittsburgh, Pa. Festival in Mellon Park. Contact Three Rivers Pride, PO Box 81207, Pbgh, PA 15217. Phone: 412-422-3060.
27, Stonewall Cincinnati's annual dinner
with the theme "Pride in Who We Are, Strength in
Unity." Cincinnati Convention Center with a members' reception starting at 6:00, cocktails for those not attending the reception at 7:00, and dinner at 8:00. Phone: 513-651-2500
28, Gayfest at BiCentenial Park, Columbus, OH.
1998 LesBiGay Holiday Pride March: steps off 1 PM from Goodale Park and marches south to Bicentennial Park. Holiday Gayfest at Bicentennial Park, 2-6 PM. Ban 'N Rouge, a drag benefit softball game, at Berliner park, diamond 29, starting at 5:45 for $5.
28, 29th Annual New York City Pride March, New York City, NY. Phone: 212-80-PRIDE.
24-27, Paradise in the Poconos, Poconos, PA. Creative Design Services, P.O. Box 61263, King of Prussia, PA 19406, Phone: 610-640-9449. email@example.com.