(revised 5/5/97)


Genesis 1:27= "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

If you're transgendered and are just being diagnosed as an adult the clinical term is "adult onset" Gender Dysphoric (DSM-IV 302.85). Just think of yourself as being so normal that there is actually a standard category for you!



PRENATAL DEVELOPMENT AND ITS EFFECTS
Why does it seem like there are more people with gender problems today? Possibly because humans have been playing with hormonal medications without knowledge of possible longterm effects, and environmental changes such as pollution and chemical exposure also may affect prenatal or postnatal development that might create gender problems. Males have a higher incidence because of the fact that the basic female fetus must be changed into a male during the prenatal development.
If the gene carried in the sperm says, "Make this one a male," then the male organs are developed. They are like the Lunar Landing pod that then sets out on its mission to conquer the territory. It does this by sending out hormonal signals-- many which are one-time, and miniscule amounts (.00005ml or something!). If one of these signals is blocked or if the receptor is blocked from receiving it, then that female-to-male transition doesn't take place in the young fetus.
DES is one of these, a female hormone given by injection to women at-risk for miscarriage (a common practice from '47-71), in order to avoid miscarriage. The hormone (and other hormones, pollutants, toxins, environmental factors, etc.) effectively disrupts the transformation of the default female fetus into a male fetus despite the gene-dictated formation of male genitals. Effects vary depending on timing and length of impact.
Others believe that transsexualism is genetic, such as Dr. Sheila Kirk. There are other views as well, and may explain for subtle varieties among the t*'s.
My own theory is that in many TS' there does seem to be a prenatal, external influence since after prenatal development and birth the sex-appropriate hormones seem to be able to function, most evident at adolescence. Also, many MTF TS' have extremely high feminine brain attributes, not uncommonly in the high 90 percentiles even compared to genetic females, and extremely low masculine brain attributes as compared to normal genetic males or females.
Possibly there are at least two different types of TS determiners-- genetic and prenatal-interference, or possibly some genetic weakness might make some more susceptible to the effects of prenatal interferences.

ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT
How then do males still end up with so many male-trait characteristics? Because many of these traits are created during stage two-- adolescence. The now normally-functioning (presumably so) male organs begin once again to send out hormonal signals, however this time whatever was blocking them probably no longer is a factor.
Therefore, the adolescent transgendered male begins to have a lower voice, grow facial hair and experience various skeletal bone changes such as in the jaw, shoulder breadth and other typical differentiating effects. Unfortunately for any t* who later chooses to change gender or sex, these are the most devastating effects and the most difficult to correct.

TRANS-TERMINOLOGY
At first I was surprised to discover all the sub-strata of terms used for gender-related behaviors--
- CD's/TV's (cross-dressers and transvestites) tend to fall into two categories-- gay drag-queens, and heterosexuals who do it for recreation, relaxation or compulsion.
- T*'s-- I am finding more and more that those with opposite-sex self-identity fill the tg and ts spectrum, and include many who call themselves crossdressers as well. The only difference is the behavioral/lifestyle management decisions which they make. This varies from occasional crossdressing while maintaining a social role in their designated sex, to living part- or full-time in the opposite-sex social role, to full transition and surgery.
Most of the t*s I deal with through my webpage are middle-aged heterosexual Christian males who are just starting to deal with issues of crossdressing and childhood opposite-gender feelings. They tend to be married and have a very interesting collection of similar histories, which I have also read about elsewhere-- they tend to have married young (in order to try and become "normal"), may have tried military, law-enforcement or other "macho" careers in order to "make a man out of them," seem very creative and musically inclined or gifted, and seem to have an interest in computers or electronics and frequently to work in these areas as a career.
Although it is usually midlife stressors and crises that force the issues to the surface they are not the cause, simply the pressure on a pre-existing fault that begins to give way.
What is hardest for them is usually the rejection and shame they experience from other so-called Christians who choose to judge instead of understand. I believe that as Christians are educated on the very real etiology of this disorder they will be better able to be Christians to these brothers and sisters with real treatable disorders, as real as blindness, deafness and alcoholism, all of which have been condemned by the church in its history as "of the devil" or cause to reject the individual rather than to understand with the compassion Christ must have shown them as He ministered among the cast-offs and down-trodden.
The church in the 20th century frequently tends to be ten years behind in accepting what the scientific and secular world accepts but eventually tends to come around to the same point of acceptance.

GENDER SELF-IDENTITY
Self-identity is the crux of transsexualism-- men who lose their genitals don't adapt well if they attempt to live as women, they want to be males. This was proven in a highly-publicized case released to the media in March '97 regarding an 8-month-old baby boy whose penis was destroyed during a surgical procedure. The child was raised as a female and this case was used extensively in the 1970's to promote the view that gender can be culturally shaped. However, the recent follow-up reveals that the child rejected being female at age 14, having no idea of its past or the procedure. It announced that it would be a male from hence on. He later married, had reconstructive surgery and is now in his '30's.
This was proven true as well during the Vietnam War when soldiers who lost their genitals attempted to live as females-- they didn't succeed in most cases. Conversely, T*s from an early age usually are confused between their own self-identity versus the opposite-brainsex roles enforced upon them and are relatively certain of their feelings that their body does not match their internal gender identity.
I know this well since I am one. I spent years adapting in every way I knew how and was always curious about transsexual media stories but yet didn't think I was "one of them." Little did I know that all of my nooks and crannies of behavior were of adult-onset gender dysphoria, those of us who manage to adapt to their genital-dictated social role and later burn out.
Most of the Christians I run into or who seek my help through my webpage are dealing with guilt, shame and rejection from other believers who are more inclined to enforce laws and rules as they interpret them from the Scripture rather than to extend the risk of compassion and understanding. I have been on both sides since I spent much time running from my "feelings" and believing that just being a solid Christian would make the issues go away and telling other t*s the same. It doesn't. When a male-genital body is wired with a physical female brain something burns out sooner or later.
Don't let it be your life.

NEED-BASED IDENTITY
As a Christian trained that the flesh was this evil thing demanding that its needs be fulfilled, I was shocked when I took a doctoral course entitled "Need-Based Ministry" from a rather conservative school! Some of those thoughts came back as I reflected on my own recent journey.
I find that it doesn't matter what I call myself or what plans I make for the future. I still find my need to feel my breasts continue to grow as I take phytohormones and reconsider previously declined hormonal therapy.
I find that although I have once again learned to handle being in a male role, I feel somewhat resigned and am feeling the need to be who I am inside.
I find that dressing in male clothing leaves me once again feeling resigned (hey, most of the stuff doesn't fit my body as well as female clothing anyway!) and find myself feeling the need more and more to get back into the clothing that makes my heart feel light and at peace and in joy.
So-- I thought I would post this message to say that if you're feeling confused about what box to put yourself in-- throw the boxes aside and consider your heartfelt needs, they come from deep within and if your deep-ness is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, then trust Him to send forth the needs and inspirations much like you would when you seek His counsel, "Lord, teach me how to pray" about this or that. He may already be sending you the answers from inside your heart where your needs are sent forth.

BRAIN DIFFERENCES- HOW DO WE KNOW?
There are basic biological differences in male and female brains. In many transsexuals this is the source of their feelings and issues.
So-- how do we know, if we need to know and if it helps us understand ourselves better, what kind of brain we have? By how it performs! Here's an illustration--
You have two cars sitting together-- same body, same color and style. One has the original 4-cylinder engine, the other has a suped-up adapted V-8 turbocharged. One is manual shift, the other is automatic. How can you tell the differences just by observing?
The car with the powerful engine is going to sound that way, most likely. It's going to take off more quickly and with a bit of a rumble in the air. The other one may sputter, hesitate and accelerate slowly-- but, of course, it gets much better gas mileage if that's what you want! The manual (stick) shift is going to be heard as the car accelerates-- a brief pause as the driver shifts gears, whereas the automatic shift will occur more smoothly and possibly less frequently. It's all in the observable performance.
What does this mean to differentiating between brain genders? There are tests, based on much research and testing, that give some ideas. I have a Gender Traits test on my webpage that scores social gender traits. This is only one area of difference between male and female brain performance, but it's a start.
Reading books about the differences is another way. I have several books I recommend listed on my webpage.
Most likely, if you are transgendered, you have already subjectively felt the differences-- being forced to live in one gender-role in society, and yet you continually find yourself in conflict with the way that gender acts, thinks, behaves and makes its choices and decisions.
Don't forget, however, that there are females with high levels of masculine-trait social behaviors and vice-versa, so one has to speak "in general" when saying that males behave like this and females behave like that. It doesn't mean that these people with high opposite-gender traits are transgendered in their self-identity, i.e. Gender Dysphoric-- only in their behavior when measured according to traditional stereotypes of that gender. There are many other differences in brain-sex attributes than just social attributes and we must remember this.
Transgendered individuals, or those with Gender Dysphoria, on the other hand, actually find themselves identifying with the opposite gender (or traditionally, opposite sex)-- feeling or believing that they are of the opposite gender or sex. This is where they find themselves in a dilemma compared to the others.
It is my opinion (theory?) that the social gender attributes (or qualities) are more or less influenced by the person's hormonal balance and the hormonal balance that they were exposed to in their mother's womb. This does not, however, mean that they have an opposite-gender brain.
So, if social gender traits aren't necessarily indicative of brain sex/gender, and the tests are based on these traits, isn't that a contradiction? No-- because many transgendered people score overwhelmingly in opposite-gender social traits and behaviors. Admitted, the test is just a start-- and is helpful in sorting transsexuals from crossdressers. The key is one's self-perception of their deep-felt gender identity, and the tests are just a good starting place, if only to help one to have their subjective (and frequently fragile) sense of reality confirmed to them.

CULTURAL ENVIRONMENT AND GENDER DEVELOPMENT
Have you ever wondered why transsexuals or transgendered people have "urges" that are typical of their culture? For instance, why do those in Euro/American cultures have urges to wear skirts and dresses, whereas this obviously isn't an innate "female" desire, given that skirts don't even exist in much of the world's cultures?
The human brain begins at a very early age to monitor the environmnent and to pick up and mimic same-gender behavior cueing, so that's why it's typical at an early age to adopt cultural stereotypes of the same gender (I didn't say same sex!) at an early age.
We not only have hormones but hormone-receptors. I believe that when we "burn out" it is either because our male-hormone receptors become de-sensitized or the female hormone receptors become heightened. It is typical for our hormone receptors to become heightened during times of stress as well, and possibly in transsexuals the opposite-sex receptors are heightened instead.
Whichever-- that might be an explanation why in mid-age we find ourselves nostalgic and also re-experiencing childhood memories, feelings and our basic identity rather than the adaptive one we have developed in order to succeed in society.

MARITAL, FAMILY AND RELATIONAL ISSUES
It is common for adult-onset transsexuals to have tried hard to "be macho," join the military "to make a man out of me," marry young "in order to be normal," etc. Anyway-- the closest way to satisfy our desire to know a female body for our own is vicariously through another female's. I've also seen that not infrequently we end up married to a rather strong female or one with higher than normal masculine-gender behavioral traits.
Therefore, many have children as well, and wives, and you aren't the first to have to deal with these relationships (many successfully!) in dealing with your own gender dysphoria. In that regard, think of it as a disorder that you need to have treated, and hope that in that light they can come to be supportive-- if not initially, hopefully eventually. You would (or may currently) be supportive if they have a disorder that is beyond their control. Give yourself that grace.
Be sensitive when telling your spouse. She probably has these typical feelings-- a threat to her own femininity, questions of her failures-- feeling it may be her fault, her own spiritual/scriptural issues and teachings, threat of loss of sexual intercourse, and fears of being called a lesbian.
Although you may choose to disclose to your spouse in a careful manner, you might consider seeing a trained gender therapist first so that you both have that source of resources and support in case anything erupts. Some have disclosed to the spouse, only to have her immediately call in the local pastor or call her best friends for support. Having a trained resource to handle this potential crisis may be worth waiting for.
I do believe, however, that you have a responsibility to tell your spouse if you are transgendered. If you're just an occasional crossdresser, I guess it's your choice-- although in a healthy marriage I feel everything should be shared and discussed. I believe for various reasons that the spouse has this right.
You've got to do something, somehow, or eventually either you or your marriage or both are going to come to meltdown if you are caught or you start HRT or even begin to allow your feminine behaviour to become more dominant. Please put some positive thought into direction and management for yourself and your "disorder" and you will find that growth involves risk and that immobility brings fixation and stagnation.

GUILT AND TRANSITION
One writer shares:
I believe I could handle this situation if my own conscience wasn't acting up and if I felt God was on my side regarding hormone therapy and SRS. I've been on 0.02 mg estynal and 50mg Andocur for about two weeks and people I know were already > starting to give me unusual looks. What will happen after 6 months on a > higher dosage as this is like a brief test to see how I will react to hormones. So I really don't know how long I can handle this situation. I guess I've already decided to opt out for awhile until the situation changes - if that ever happens. Maybe these people when they return and will be more understanding and accepting after their new training or possibly the opposite will occur which is more likely.

Robyn replies:
Hmm, surprised at such a rapid response! I think we vary-- I have a great amount of natural breast tissue and although I haven't gone the HRT route yet I've used herbals that have had effects that astounded even my psychologist and endocrinologist! Maybe you're one of those-- a good natural foundation.
Just don't let yourself get too depressed or upset and desperate. I'm struggling with that myself-- following sound medical and psychological advice versus succumbing to the guilt projected by those who we call "the church." Maybe you need to consider looking for a more supportive group of believers? It's painful but many times the best spiritual movements succumb to becoming "the establishment," more focused on their belief systems as they've developed them rather than on the spirituality and mission of the One who called them.
I get a bit put off, tired of the rejection by people who would rather make rules about "outer adornment" than to look at the inner spirit which is eternal. Find His peace and let it rule.

One writer shares an all-too-often story:
I think that something my pastor said to me is an important point, God doesn't intend for us to go through life in a constant state of anxiety, worry, pain, and despair. In applying that to my situation, I continue to pray daily, I move slowly and cautiously, but I move. I am loathe to fall prey to the 'when in doubt about what to do, do nothing' syndrome. If what I am doing is wrong, then I must believe that God will forgive me of this sin, (if indeed it is a sin) as I have accepted Christ as my savior. My brother-in-law argued that I am knowingly walking in sin, and will be punished accordingly, but I submit that I do not 'know', nor can I acknowledge (that) I am walking in sin. To me it is not a sin to live as our hearts tell us, how can we go to God with a transparent heart when we are neck deep in lies? If what we experience is in reality a 'birth defect' of sorts, why would trying to correct it and live with it, (especially as a servant of the Lord) be a sin? Should handicapped people not use every means available to them to make their lives more managable? Should maladies that could be surgically or medically corrected be endured if the means to fix them exist?

Amen, dear!

TRANSSEXUALS, GAYS AND GOD
One Christian writer who works with ministries to gays shares:
What do I think?--
Tg/Ts' show that the church is barking up the wrong tree when it seeks to argue that homosexuality is not a viable lifestyle, if the church uses the argument that homosexuals were not born that way. I believe that homosexuals were not born that way, but there are certainly people who were born with chromosomal anomalies. Thus tg/ts point to the need for the church to love into wholeness instead of criticizing. Sometimes there is very little that can be done beyond loving. And if the love is from God, it's always enough.


Robyn replies:
I believe there are physical reasons for t* issues as I have stated above, as well as homosexual issues. Although I have in the past had a difficult time with my feelings about gay males due not only to the Scriptural references and traditional teachings but also due to the fact that as a child and adolescent they frequently tried to "pick me up" and also because the straights would sometimes think I was gay (I'm not) because of numerous behaviors I naturally exhibited, I realize now that we are somewhat in the "same boat" when it comes to preference and acceptance in society and in common basis of origin. I seem to get along fine with gay females (lesbians) however, maybe because in a sense I am one!
Compassion seems to be the rule with me now, I will let those who call themselves by the name of Jesus Christ be judged by Him. Many of the beliefs that would condemn gays have also been used against acceptance of transsexuals and I now realize that for me to condemn gays brings condemnation upon myself as well. Although I am unsure of my comfort with their behavior versus various Scriptures I cannot condone nor reject their behavior but I do know that I accept and support those who call upon Christ in faith as brothers and sisters, fallen and saved by Grace alone as I am.

SPIRITUAL ISSUES
I believe that for anyone to come to peace with T* issues and the Scriptures one must have a great sense of God's grace in interpreting the Scriptures of law versus grace. I believe a realistic view of Scripture is to see any of the proscriptions and prohibitions in light of "everything is lawful, not everything is good for us" and proceed from there to seek God's intent for their lives in a humble and yielding manner.
It is sad to me that Christians, proclaiming to be ambassadors of the God of Love and Grace, are the most prone to guilt and legalisms and as a result have the greatest difficulties proceeding with their gender issues rather than obtaining healing, in whatever manner, from that same God. I feel we have considerable amounts of legalistic pollution in our current theological traditions in the US "Christian" culture. In my opinion, much of it is dominated by those who still choose to be "under the law" and therefore assert control over many through projecting guilt and rules as the primary means of serving God. This is sad indeed!
As a Christian trained that the flesh was this evil thing demanding that its needs be fulfilled, I was shocked when I took a doctoral course entitled "Need-Based Ministry" from a rather conservative school! Some of those thoughts came back as I reflected on my own recent journey, including a several-month attempt to live in the male role in an attempt to please my wife and children
I find that it doesn't matter what I call myself or what plans I make for the future. I still find my need to feel my breasts continue to grow as I take phytohormones and reconsider previously declined hormonal therapy.
I find that although I again learned to handle being in a male role for a time, I felt somewhat resigned and finally felt the need to be who I am inside-- a female.
I find that dressing in male clothing leaves me once again feeling resigned (hey, most of the stuff doesn't fit my body as well as female clothing anyway!) and find myself feeling the need more and more to get back into the clothing that makes my heart feel light and at peace and in joy.
Frankly, I just am never comfortable in male clothing-- it doesn't fit right! I may have female hips as well, given a recent xray.... Why not-- most everything else is! The dentists are always complaining about my chubby cheeks when I have work done-- another female trait. Soft skin, ultra-fine hair (3.5 mil), even when I was born the nurses said "He's too pretty to be a boy!" as my mom noted in my baby book. And my breasts starting to grow in 6th grade-- guys trying to grab me! Jerks....
I still get confused in public even if I try to pass as a guy! Kinda surprises me-- I don't think I pass all that well if I'm dressed up but anything less, including male-dress, I get "ma'am" all the time!
So-- if you're feeling confused about what box to put yourself in-- throw the boxes aside and consider your heartfelt needs, they come from deep within and if your deep-ness is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, then trust Him to send forth the needs and inspirations much like you would when you seek His counsel, "Lord, teach me how to pray" about this or that. He may already be sending you the answers from inside your heart where your needs are sent forth.

SEXUAL PRACTICE AND THE CHRISTIAN
If you have SRS (Sexual Reassignment Surgery) it isn't uncommon for heterosexuals to find a new feeling toward the now-opposite sex. I believe that you are what you are and if you have become a woman then that's who you are.
I feel that the "absention" mentality is a way that progressive fundamentalists justify their feelings of compassion with the "letter of the law" and is a more or less half-baked notion in my opinion, it allows them to be understanding about the individual's emotions and yet keeps them feeling safe that they haven't become "liberalized" in going against their interpretation and approach to understanding the Scriptures.
God's intent in condemning various peoples and acts as "unclean" in the Scripture was to illustrate to His chosen people the futility of their desire to be "the right ones" and to find ways of judging others. This is illustrated in the concept of "old law" versus "new law" and "old covenant" versus "new covenant."
As such, under the old law anyone blemished was condemned. Therefore it was traditionally believed that the deaf and blind must have done something (or their parents) to deserve this punishment from God.
Transsexualism is not a matter of sexual preference nor of willful rebellion against God. It is a biological disorder, dis-ease if you will, for which the common and recognized treatment is sexual reassignment surgery (SRS). Since the medical community refers to people either as pre-treatment or post-treatment, those transsexuals who have not had surgery are referred to as "pre-operative" in the medical mindset, regardless of whether the individual plans to have surgery or not.
Condemning an individual for practicing sexually after SRS would be like condemning a blind person for reading or a deaf person for listening to music after they were healed or surgically repaired!
If one truly believes that it is God's intent that they be surgically treated for transsexualism and that it is not some kinky desire for self-mutiliation but rather a desire to be whole ("holy" comes from the same word-source!) in the gender that they believe themselves to be, then they must conclude that to live a whole and fulfilling life in that new gender-role is part of the new life. Sexual practice within the constraints of one's beliefs is as normal after surgery as it was before and is as normal as others in their same new gender.

ABOUT SUICIDE
Suicide tends to be a higher risk for those with gender dysphoria than the general population.
We're all human- and I can still be suicidal, as I was recently, laying there in bed trying to figure out how many pills it would take to do the job effectively but then realizing that if I were that rational,.... I must still have what it takes to live. I told God, maybe in rebellion, maybe just from my heart, "Okay, if you called me to know how 'these people' feel in their disorder, here it is! They kill themselves."
Best choice-- get in a good treatment program, build supportive relationships and cast off those relationships which result in your guilt and self-destructive feelings, or get counseling to deal with critical relationships such as in your marriage. If someone is using their relationship with you as leverage through which to cause you pain or guilt, it isn't a true relationship anyway-- it's a social expectation that they're exploiting. Maybe let them know your feelings, and if they feel they are just truly looking out for your "best interests" maybe they'll back off and give the much-needed support you require.


I don't think being transsexual is a "I want to be" but more of a resignation that that's the way it is at times. It doesn't necessarily follow with "should's" but I think finding the best way to acknowledge it every moment of our being is the most healthy way to be.

===> ROBYN'S NOTE- I don't typically take letters sent to me and quote them, so please be assured of your confidentiality. I am currently assembling my thoughts and writings and adding to this page on an ongoing basis. The current update is noted at the top of this page.

More unorganized ramblings by Robyn Shanor which hopefully will eventually be organized by topic into this page or a collection of subpages.

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Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 Dr. Robyn M.E. Shanor, Ph.D., M.Div. All rights reserved

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