I Slept with Professor Richard Green

Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #097, Spring 2002.

by Annie Wright, LifeWorks UK

Richard and I woke to the smell of fresh coffee. Breakfast was being served. We had slept well after our exhilarating and exhausting time in Galveston. But it wasn?t quite as idyllic as it seemed. He was in seat 22A. I had slumbered on the other side of the cabin in seat 25G. We were returning to Europe from the 2001 XVII HBIGDA symposium.
The program, with three twelve-hour days and a half-day on Sunday, was not for the faint-hearted. The symposium opened with a half-day on the language of gender variance which caused several subsequent speakers to revise their terminology. Female-to-male transsexualism and autogynephilia were the subjects of many debates. Similarly, HIV and STD risks took another half-day. It was decided these are so great that the HIV committee?s brief was increased to include all blood-borne diseases. Speakers also emphasized that transsexuals are still at risk from remaining organs from their birth gender. Thus, FTMs must continue checking for breast cancer, as some breast tissue often remains to form the contours of a male chest. MTFs can suffer from prostate cancer if that gland has not been removed. It was concluded that disclosing a full medical history to a primary care physician will ensure tests and treatment appropriate for the body.

The legal sessions included discussions of homophobia in the law and the extent of awareness of transsexuals in the prison population. However, this session was marred by a lawyer who threatened health care professionals with malpractice lawsuits if they complained of defamation by the transgender community. ?By the time the malpractice insurance lawyers have gotten through with investigating your past, you will be in trouble.? This was not at all a professional approach.

Endocrinologists discussed the side effects of hormonal treatment, including the increased risks of diabetes and venous thromboembolism from oral estrogen use. The MTF surgery sessions concentrated on refining SRS techniques, providing sensate neoclitoris and secondary esthetic refinements in labiaplasty and the vulva. Psychotherapy sessions showed that even those with disassociative disorder could have SRS. Family relationships were discussed in several sessions. One evening was devoted to outreach in a church in Galveston, where a panel of professionals answered questions before an audience of about 50 transgendered and transsexual Texans.

Incoming President Eli Coleman is proud of the fact that HBIGDA is developing educational contact with the outside world; he discussed the Amicus Brief prepared in the Brandon Teena case and said HBIGDA has advised the U.S. Surgeon General on transsexual issues.

Enduring snippets: Veteran surgeon Stanley Biber telling the story of giving Osama bin Laden SRS before dropping her back with the Taliban; Belgian surgeon Stan Monstrey cycling along Galveston?s Seawall Boulevard on a bike he had to buy because he couldn?t rent one for the week; looking down a busful of professionals who were bouncing along like happy schoolkids after a gala dinner aboard a 19th century iron barque at the Texas Seaport Museum; meeting IFGE?s Alison Laing.

The next symposium will be in 2003 in Gent, Belgium, with a session or two in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Let?s hope there?s an airline still flying.

Annie Wright is a specialist in construction law and proprietor of Lifeworks UK, selling books on transgendered subjects. She is a member of HBIGDA and was ejected from two separate IFGE Board meetings. ?I didn't even get chance to open my mouth,? she grins, ?but I bear no ANNIEmosity.? She believes transgenderism transcends national differences and hopes full acceptance by the mainstream of society is near.