A/N: This is an essay I wrote for my Human Sexuality class. I had to write an overview of transsexuality, and I decided to take a literary turn with it, as opposed to the typical, research report deal. There are references that go with this, so if you would like to see them, I will post them as a separate chapter. And I'm sorry if this is in any way formatted wrong.
My Name is Georgiana
My name is Georgiana. It is, perhaps, not the name my parents deigned to give me, but it is a name, I think, that feels right for me. I wanted something feminine, yet something to which I would readily answer. Georgie, after all, is a nickname many have called me throughout my life.
I was born George Francis Humphrey to two very wonderful people. I was always their "strong, little man," though that appellation never did feel right to me. Dress-up and Dolls were far superior to Legos and Nerf guns. It soon became very apparent that I preferred my sister's treatment as opposed to my own. Years later, my psychiatrist would diagnose me with primary transsexuality.
Let it be said that my childhood was not unhappy. Neither was it traumatic—I was not abused and I did not experience anything that would dramatically alter my worldview. No, my parents loved me and provided for me as all parents should, which, looking back with the perspective I have now, was a most fortunate circumstance for me. I have acquaintances that refuse to even acknowledge their parents because their parents refuse to acknowledge them and their self-perception. It is unfortunate that my familial situation is, in my experience, such an aberration from the norm, but I am exceedingly grateful for support groups such as Tri-Ess founded by Ms. Price1.
It was in my early adolescence that we discovered I suffered from acute gender dysphoria. That is to say, I was extremely unhappy by the pattern of maleness that society via my parents was trying to thrust on my shoulders. I was unwilling to follow in my father's footsteps, for that was not the sort of life that appealed to me. In all, I envied my sister and how she was able to freely express a full sense of her femininity. At that time, I was beginning to discover just how much I liked girls, despite rumors of potential—gasp—homosexuality. Indeed, all I really wanted was to be like all the girls with whom I found myself falling in love.
College, it turns out, were my most productive years on the soul-searching front. I met—or rather, discovered—many sufferers of the dissatisfaction that was their biological sex, few though we were relative to the overall population. (In truth, there were only a handful of us, I being the only individual who had endured this melancholy since childhood.) I discovered what it meant to have a gender identity; and, quite frankly, I have never been so happy in my entire life as when I discovered the truth of transsexuality. In a way, I figured out a manner in which I could attain personal happiness and fulfillment. What's more, I was immensely pleased to know that I was not alone in such an endeavor. To be a transsexual, to finally have a name for my affliction, "the most pronounced form of Gender Dysphoria," as another like me2 once called it, was more than for which I could have ever hoped!
Perhaps it would be well worth my time to give you an overview of exactly what this condition of mine entails. According to , transsexuality is distinct contradiction between one's biological sex and one's gender identity; and as I said before, it is the "most extreme form of gender dysphoria." The aforementioned website goes on to say this:
"In-order to label a person as a transsexual the following criteria need to be satisfied:
The person must experience a sense of discomfort and inappropriateness about his/ her anatomic sex.
The person must have a desire to be rid of his/her own genitals and to live as a member of the opposite sex.
The disturbance needs to have been continuous for at least 2 years and not limited only to periods of stress.
There must not be any genetic abnormality or congenital sex hormone disorders.
There should be an absence of coexistent mental disorder such as schizophrenia."
Upon reading information such as this, I knew there could be nothing else "wrong" with me, as it were. Indeed, there was nothing "wrong" with me as far as I was concerned. However, as far as the American Psychiatric Association is concerned, they still include Transsexualism and transvestitism in their publication, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which delineates between what is and what is not a psychiatric illness.
I first started wearing women's clothing in my sophomore year in college. My girlfriend of the time suggested that I might try on her clothing. Though to her it was somewhat of a fetish, I found myself instantly at ease. It was as if a feeling of calm had settled over me. I didn't cross-dress because I was in a show, nor did I want to amuse or offend3. No, looking back, I have never even considered it cross-dressing. I wore something that made me feel closer to what I was convinced I should be and should have been. With this, I was one step closer to being me.
It was only about three years I ago that I discovered I could truly become a woman—truly become that gender with which I had identified myself since I was nothing more than a child. In undergoing sex reassignment surgery, I could ultimately become that which had eluded me for so long. But I was soon to discover that it was not such an easy task to accomplish. In the early days of sex reassignment surgery, many men had become depressed—even to the point of suicide—when they realized just how much they missed their masculine genitalia. It was then that the medical community imposed its own standards on eligibility and readiness. "The Standards of Care of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA) defines the currently accepted protocols for the medical treatment of transsexual women. These Standards cover all aspects of medical treatment, including the requirements for Real Life Experience (aka, Real Life Test), and other requirements that must be met before a Trans woman is recommended for SRS. Most surgeons who perform vaginoplasty will only operate on transsexual women who have been treated under these Standards and who present the corresponding letters of recommendation for surgery from their case-counselors" (Conway). My first stop, then, on the road to happiness was a referral to my psychiatrist. Throughout the next few years, I would spend one hour a week just talking of my life and my emotions to someone who was a complete stranger to me, but with whom I was entirely comfortable. I have never been as sure of my exact and potential happiness as when the good doctor gave me his recommendation for the initiation of hormonal therapy.
They told me everything I needed to know, and often repeated themselves, much to my annoyance. Really, all I wanted was to become the woman I knew I could be as immediately as possible. Hormone therapy would begin first with anti-androgens followed soon after by estrogens and progestogens. I saw the effects in as little as two to four months and I knew they were irreversible in as little as six months. The entirety of the hormone replacement therapy would last for at least five years before I would be eligible for reassignment surgery. Even then, I would still need to live as a woman to ascertain that, yes, this was—beyond a doubt—what I wanted.
This was the beginning of my transition, "the period of time from when the individual first starts the sex-reassignment procedure until the individual is living entirely as a member of the opposite sex" (Rohde). Said phase of my life would not be complete until I had adjusted to life as my proper sex. The next step was surgery, the details of which are far too gory for even me—and I went through it! Suffice it to say that some of the best SRS surgeons constructed a beautiful vagina for me. Later, I underwent cosmetic surgeries (the least of which was breast augmentation) to complete the feminization of my former masculinity.
As someone like me once said, "I am a woman who, probably due to some endocrine malfunction before birth, was born with male genitals. Since our society assumes that gender and sex always correspond, I was wrongly assigned to the gender pigeon-hole called 'male' by a doctor who looked at my genitals instead of my mind. Throughout my childhood I knew perfectly well that I was really a girl (after all, it's my mind, not my genitals, that make me the person that I am), but because my body seemed to insist otherwise, I was forced to try to fit in to the gender role of a boy. This produced intense unhappiness and almost totally ruined my life until I accepted the reality of my situation and underwent gender reassignment as an adult. I now live in the gender role called 'female' that matches my gender identity; the medical profession labels me as a 'post-operative true primary male-to-female transsexual', but I regard myself as a perfectly normal, well-adjusted and happy woman."4
1 Virginia Price was the co-founder of Tri-Ess, a support group for transvestites. She was fundamental in decriminalizing cross-dressing. The term "transgender" is credited to her. )
2 From , Transsexualism: A Primer.
3 has a list of a few categories of transvestitism.
4 See endnote number 2.