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Journal SarahAnnAlien's Journal: Journal Problems #1

There's a problem with my journal here, and I'm not sure it's fixable. I'm thinking about giving up on it entirely. I've decided to do a few entries about the problem and see if I can work through it, but if I can't sort it out to my own satisfaction, then I'm just done here.

If you're transsexual, you're going to think this entry is about you specifically. It isn't. In a sense, It's about you *collectively*. No single person is responsible for bringing this on.

Also, if you're transsexual, I'm really not that eager to hear from you on this issue... but you're probably going to write me anyway, no matter what I say, so I won't even bother to try to ask you not to. If you're not transsexual... honestly, I'm not sure whether I'm ready to hear your thoughts on this or not. Your call.

And finally... this isn't complete. There are more pieces to the problem than this. But I can't cope with it all at once. So we'll have to do it in pieces.

* * * * *

My transition has certainly been a challenge... but less so than I had expected. I spent years doing very intensive research, and doing my homework slowly and carefully turned out to be a big win. Things have gone very smoothly, and has to date been a success beyond my wildest dreams. It is, in fact, the most amazing thing I've ever done in my 38 years on this planet, and I'm intensely proud of my achievement.

Maybe that's why I get so angry and frustrated about this... problem.

The problem is, transsexuals read my journal. And then the fun begins.

They don't just write to say hi. They don't just write to make friends. They don't just write and offer help if I need it.

No, they write and tell me what to do and how to do it. They write to explain to me what it is I'm doing. They write to tell me that I need their help, that I have to have their help, that I can't possibly do this without their help. They write to insist that they help me. That I absolutely *have* to have their help. That I'll never understand, never be able to succeed, unless they explain it to me.

I *really* don't understand why transsexuals regard my journal as a cry for help. It's not, ok?

It was intended to share knowledge and experience. About life. Not about transsexualism.

And it had another purpose, but I'll have to talk about that another time.

I keep trying to find a way to say to transsexuals, "I don't need your help", but I'm always reluctant to just come right out and say that. It makes me sound arrogant and stuck up, and I don't want to be like that.

What I mean by that is NOT that I'm the world's foremost authority on gender disorders. And it is NOT that I can do it all without help... quite the contrary. I think the success that I've enjoyed has been a direct result of the people who have helped me... and the choices I've made as to who would help me, and how.

I have help. A lot of help. No... a *LOT* of help.

I have so much help that the extra help just spills over the top at this point. There is, practically speaking, a waiting list.

I can only accept so much help at one time. There are real-life relationships waiting to be developed that I simply don't have the time for. There aren't that many hours in a day.

And yet, every transsexual who writes me insists on pushing herself to the head of the line, so that she can take me under her wing and teach me everything I need to know.

And of course, I try to be polite. They send me a "suggestion", and I write back, thanking them, and explaining why that particular suggestion won't work for me, or can't work for me, or why we decided not to try it, or explain what happened when we did try it. They counter with another set of "suggestions", and the process repeats.

Occasionally, ten or twenty emails later, they will grudgingly concede that I seem to somehow know what I'm doing. Either that, or I just give up and stop writing back.

I'm really sorry... I don't have enough spare time to justify the decisions in my transition to every single transsexual on the internet, ok? Each one of those emails takes time and emotional energy to write, and, to put it bluntly, that's time I could have spent doing something else. Like building my real-life relationships.

You see... um, I'm pretty sure I know what I'm doing. I spent *years* doing the research. No, not the "yet another website that teaches me how to be a transsexual and do my own hormone therapy" type of research.

I work at a major research university, ok? We have a medical school. A medical library. Very expensive journal subscriptions. I'm not even vaguely intimidated by highly technical material. And I've always enjoyed reading and studying.

I spent about five years doing just that: reading and studying. Five years. Endocrinology. Neuroendocrinology and behavioral endocrinology. Urology. Urologic surgery. Pediatric urology. Intersex disorders. Transsexualism. Cosmetic surgery. Birth defects. Even a bit of dentistry!

Eventually I purchased some of the medical textbooks outright; they were simply too heavy to carry home from the library. The four volume set on urology was literally too heavy for me to pick up. I had to drag the box home from the mailbox place on a small, wobbly luggage cart. About a half mile. That was long, long before I had my car.

And then I read most of it. And most of the multi-thousand page endocrinology book. And hundreds of journal articles. Keep in mind, I had no life to speak of back then; free time wasn't really a problem.

Had I fit into the transsexual mold, in even some cursory manner, I never would have bothered with this much research. Medical treatment for transsexuals is comparatively straightforward these days. The problem was, I didn't seem to fit *anywhere*, and I kept looking deeper and deeper, trying to understand why. My eventual conclusion was that whatever incident, stressor, or genetic error that had caused me to have a variety of subtle birth defects had also, in fact, left me with an as-yet unrecognized neurological intersex disorder.

I was fully prepared to continue the research even further, but it became obvious that, for me personally, there began to be a diminishing rate of return on my research. I pretty much knew what was wrong, and while I couldn't prove it, I had a strong hypothesis that made a lot of sense. And it was obvious that incontrovertable proof was not going to be forthcoming. Neuroscience simply isn't up to the task of supplying that proof right now. Maybe in fifty to a hundred years. But not now.

Oh, and I did my best to read everything I could find on gender disorders, too. True Selves? Well, duh! Alter's book on genital reconstruction? It happens to be on my dining room table at the moment; I'm hoping to go speak to Dr. Alter in the next couple of months. Ousterhout's out-of-print book on craniofacial surgery? Yes, I have read it. And dozens more. I highly recommend
"Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex", by the way. Particularly for normally-gendered people.

I had learned as much as I could... and it was time to put what I had learned into practice.

This background knowledge has served me well in the ensuing years, though. I understand what's going on and why, up to the limit of what medical science is currently capable of working with. And a little farther, in fact; much of what has been learned in animal models hasn't been tested in humans yet.

I wasn't willing to rely solely on my own research, so I went looking for professional help as well. I was able to find a therapist and an endocrinologist, both of whom have twenty or more years of experience at treating gender disorders. I've always been very careful when working with them, however, to keep in mind that they have their own biases that don't necessarily match my needs or my treatment choices. That's something anyone should keep in mind when working with *any* medical professional.

An then there were the local support groups. At one point I was going to five different support groups for trans-this, queer-that... I went to everything I could find. I did my best to participate in the community. It took about a year and a half, but I eventually realized that there were two basic reasons why I was a bit uncomfortable in the groups. First, just about every single person at the group, while very friendly, was also very, very different than I was. I couldn't really relate to them, since they seemed to be on a completely different wavelength or something, and they couldn't seem to relate to me... but usually insisted that they *did*, despite evidence to the contrary. And second... sigh... what's a polite way to say that there's a whole lot of really fucked up shit in that community? There probably isn't one, huh? Anyway, I decided that I didn't want all that crap to become part of the person I would grow up to be... so I gave up on the groups, and the community, with a very few exceptions. In the time since then, I've more or less given up on the few exceptions, too. More on that some other time.

And yet... despite all my successes, despite all my hard work, despite everything I have learned.... to every transsexual on the internet, I just fell off the turnip truck yesterday, and need to have all of this *explained* to me.

And somehow, I have to learn to shrug off the insulting implication that I am a clueless newbie, ignore the fact that they seem to have no respect at all for what I have achieved for myself, and simply cope with the fact that, while they seem to misunderstand who and what I am all about, they still feel that I can't live my life without their help.

Sigh. I find this very, very frustrating. It makes me angry, too.

I want to be polite. I want to be gracious. I want to be appreciative. I want people to understand that yes, I really do appreciate all of their offers of help.

But I also want to scream, "JUST BACK OFF, DAMMIT!"

* * * * *

Now, for a brief FAQ:

Q: You should really be more open to accepting help from people, you know. You won't be able to transition without help.

A: Sigh... please go back and read this whole thing again. As I've said, I alreay have more help than I know what to do with. Also, that's not a question, silly!

Q: Why won't you let me help you? You need my help.

A: No, dear, I don't... I appreciate the offer, though, really, really I do.

Q: But have you tried... ?

A: Yes, I have. That didn't work for me.

Q: Well, you may not be aware that you can... ?

A: Yes, I know about that option. It doesn't make sense for me.

Q: Well, what about... ?

A: As I said before, I'm really sorry, but I don't have the time or energy to justify my transition to every transsexual on the Internet.

* * * * *

Well, I think that's enough for now... I need to get to bed. More on this as I have the time and energy to deal with it.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson