To The Editor #103

Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #103, Fall 2003.

Kudos on a powerful presentation of valuable resources (Tapestry #101). This material will be a tremendous aid to many. The only shortfall is the shelf life of printed material. Please consider creating a web presence to permanently enshrine this material. Over time it would draw an increasing number of people to your web site. Congratulations again.

-Rachel M


I just received Transgender Tapestry #101. Not only is it the
best TG/TAP I?ve ever seen, but
it is the best transgender community publication?of any kind?that I have ever seen!!!
You, your staff, and your contributors should all be very
proud. Congratulations.


My life so far has amounted to nothing but misery, depression, and two failed suicide attempts.
I?ve known I was different since I was four years old. I would try on my sister?s bras, even though they were too large. Sometimes I would sneak into her room and stare at her breasts, wishing I could grow some when I got older. I would steal gowns from my sisters or mother and secretly sleep in them, until I almost got caught.

When I was nine years old, I was molested over the course of a year by an older family ?friend.? I didn?t tell because I was terrified of what might happen to me. At 12 years of age, I molested four of my relatives, doing to them what my family?s friend made me do to him.
I grew up in ghettos. As I grew up, I was a loner and got into a lot of trouble. I drank and smoked, and my secret dressing routine escalated. At 15, I had sex with a 40-year-old man while pretending I was a woman. I had frequent sexual encounters until I was 23.

I was depressed because I wanted to come out and wear dresses all the time?but the way my family treated my lesbian sister when she came out installed a fear into me of being alone and disowned. I would have had no support, so I kept it bottled up.

When I was 24, I got married to a 22-year-old native woman?I?m Native American also. I told her about my life, both what had happened to me and what I had done to others. She took it well, telling me she had been a prostitute in Nevada.

After we married, she found my female clothes, makeup, hair removal cremes, and beauty serum, which contained estrogen hormones. We got into a big argument. I lied to her, saying an ex-girlfriend had left it, but she didn?t believe me. My nephew overheard us arguing and called the police. I was arrested for domestic violence and got a sentence of ten months. Eight months into the sentence, charges from my past were brought up, and I was given 95 more months. I broke down and cried when the detective told me.
I knew enough to keep my feminine feelings secret from the other prisoners. In 1996, I was sent to a medium security facility at Walla Walla. I spoke with a psychologist and told her of my feminine side, that I am a woman in a man?s body, but that I was terrified of coming out because
I didn?t want to be used sexually by people with 20 years to life.

In 1997, I was sent to Airway Heights. For three years I talked with a second psychologist, explaining how tormented my life had become. She said she believed I was transsexual, and asked if I would like to be put on antidepressants. I refused, for to get antidepressants I would have had
to visit the psychiatrist and relate everything to him.

We had a service where you could order books. After finding Kate Bornstein?s Gender Outlaw and reading it, I ordered more books from IFGE, and subscribed to Tapestry. I was hungry for information.
Through all this I decided to tell my
mom and two older sisters of my plans to transition. My sisters took it well. The lesbian sister said she wished I had told her sooner, because she could have helped me. My mom didn?t take
it well. She blamed herself for my apparent dilemma.

I?ve not come out to the rest of my family, but will do so when I get out on June 30 of this year. I look at my release as a sort of new birth. No longer will I be a prisoner to other people?s expectations.

-Michelle W


I visited IFGE?s conference and saw Trankila. I left the conference and did not return. I then contacted Exec. Director Nancy Cain and expressed my disapproval of IFGE allowing this person to participate.
You say that, ?Our community is about nonconformity to gender stereotypes.? I wonder just who empowered you to make that statement? You don?t speak for me. I don?t believe that the ?community? of transgendered people is ?about? non-conformity to gender stereotypes at all.

The fact is that most transgendered people conform quite nicely to gender stereotypes. They may be sexed
opposite to their gender presentation, but that presentation is generally
quite conformal. In addition, most transgendered people... members of the ?community?... have little interest in non-conformal activism.

Trankila isn?t simply non-conformal. Trankila makes a mockery of this community and turns transgendered people and their ?community? into a laughingstock. This person brings shame on our people and adds nothing
positive to our efforts to ?outreach? (as the Tri-Ess folks would call it) to the non-transgendered community.

Why is it so difficult to deal with the fact that well over 95% of the world, by anyone?s yardstick, consists of males and females living according to some set of sex/gender norms. They have a system that has proven to be relatively successful. The human species propagates, a fairly stable ratio of males to females is maintained, children flourish, people are trained in how to live together, social order prevails most of the time, and we haven?t yet killed ourselves. They seem to like the system. They protect it. They defend it. Even the most oppressed members of it seem reluctant to part with it.

At the fringes of this bifurcated system is a small ?community? of people that are not so easy to classify in the bi-gendered system. Most simply want to blend in and live ordinary lives in the Matrix so to speak. But a very small minority of them are ?nonconformal? people who seem determined to cause the 95% to change their views of men, women, sex, gender, and their system to the gender-
liberating views of this tiniest fraction of the tiniest minority in the world.

Get real, Dallas. It isn?t going to happen. Men are going to be men and women will be women long after you and I are both dead, buried, and fully decomposed in the grave.
Be thankful that our western legal system affords sufficent general protection to allow tolerance of our gender behavior. Within this framework, a transgendered ?community? actually prospers. We live, work, and play. Some institutions even codify protections specifically for transgendered people? protections, which I remind you, can be revoked at will.

I can guarantee you that if large numbers of the ?community? were living their lives publicly as Trankilas, we would have no protections, no
tolerance, and many of us would
lie dead... slaughtered by those who tolerate us today but will not tolerate a mockery of their system and values by
Trankilas. Trankila goes too far?not only with the beard but with the
psychedelic outfits and whore presentation. Trankila is not the symbol
of nonconformism triumphing over irrational oppression. Trankila is
gender insanity.

Transgendered people have progressed by the acts of extraordinary people standing up for and creating the right to express feelings of gender in variance with their birth sex. These extraordinary people were not sensationalists like Trankila. They simply wanted to live normal lives despite their extraordinary circumstances.

The ?community??the real ?community??consists of fairly ordinary people leading fairly ordinary lives doing things that cause few people any surprise or consternation precisely because they are fairly conformal. Most recently, Michael Kanteras is a perfect example. Here is an extraordinary person trying to lead a normal life. His courage to stand up for his fairly ordinary life and what should have been fairly ordinary rights blazed a trail in Florida for all transgendered people to follow. Judge O?Brien recognized the true nature of our community and his ruling says it all. Read it. Michael represents the ?community,? not Trankila.

Consider yourself. I have known you for many years. You do your work (fairly conformally)... you come home to your conformal suburban home... plink on your guitar... run your business... attend events... go to the store... mow the lawn... all in a manner that is fairly conformal, if you ask me.
I have NEVER EVER seen you in fuck pumps, psychedelic micro-mini, multicolored shock wig, prostitute?s long gloves, and a full face beard! You are highly conformal, Dallas... just like the ?community? you write about.

I?m sorry? you won?t make me feel like a traitor to some notion of proper transgender values created by gender activists. I am ashamed of Trankila. I want nothing to do with this person. This person does NOT represent the transgender ?community? in any way shape or form in my opinion.

PS? I haven?t written anything about gender in many years and probably won?t for a long time. I didn?t do any research or analysis on this. I am reacting at gut level to a picture on the cover of Tapestry? a person that I have seen in person and who disgusted me then and now. If you recall, I was once a Tri-Ess member. Virginia and Jane Ellen are occasionally right about some things. This is one of them. You can print this letter if you want, but without editing. All or nothing. I really wrote it for you and not the public. Do as you wish, but no editing of content above my signature.

-Brianna C

While I by no means consider myself an elected or appointed spokesperson for the transgender community, I have a duty to use the editor?s page in a responsible way. I often challenge our biases and misconceptions. Trankila?s journey may be different from, but is no less valid, than mine or yours.?Ed.