Boyd’s and Cassie’s Come-out Letter
This version of the letter replaces my pre-transition letter and my post-transition letter. Since I am now post-operative and since there were inaccurate items in my previous letters, I have chosen to update the letter and post it here.
". . . Something wonderful is about to happen . . ."1
These words, near the end of the Stanley Kubrick’s film "2001 - A Space Odyssey", marked the beginning of a stunning new-life adventure for the people involved. A wonderful new life adventure has begun for me.1
Recently, you may have learned that I have made a few changes in my life. The changes, not small by any means, have been prompted by a condition that I have had since I was born.
Until 1997, I had kept my condition to myself, fearful of the reactions of others and leary of the outcome of moving towards adjusting to the condition. However, starting on 28 February 1997, I have been taking steps to obtain formal recognition that I have the condition and to get on the path to relieve the stresses that comes with the condition. In August 1998, I started making a major push to change my situation.
The condition occurs in an estimated one in 11,900 males and one in 37,000 females in North America. This puts Canada’s population of people with the condition at approximately 1700 individuals. The cause of the condition is still unknown. Similarly, there is no known cure for the condition. Most therapies that have been tried to relieve the condition have proven ineffective. Only a few therapies have provided relief from the condition.
The condition has been known by a variety of names over the years. It is presently referred to, by the medical profession, as Gender Dysphoria; also known as Gender Identity Conflict and Gender Identity Disorder. (The first term is in disfavour since the term is a psychological label for what is proving to be a psycho-physiological condition.) The original name for the condition, publicized by Dr. Harry Benjamin in 1966, gives rise to the layperson terms for the condition and the sufferers. In layperson terms, the condition is called transsexualism or transsexuality, and the sufferer is called a transsexual. (The discussions that follow will be with respect to male-to-female transsexuals; differences with the female-to-male transsexuals will not be pointed out.)
In transsexuality, the "sex of the brain" (i.e., gender or psychological sex) is of the opposite polarity from the sex of the body. In my case, the body was a normal male body. However, my gender is female. I had been assessed by several gender specialists (three psychologists, two psychiatrists and two endocrinologists). Their diagnoses were that I have gender dysphoria and that I am a true transsexual.
Since July 1997, I have made a few physical changes to my body to accommodate my new life. The hair on my face (beard, sideburns, and moustache) has been electrolysed. Electrolysis is proceeding on other parts of my body. This is a long, expensive, occasionally painful experience that may go on for years yet.
In August 1998, on the recommendations of my psychiatrist, I started going out while cross-dressed (dressed as a woman.) Over the next several months, I would spend at least half of each Saturday cross-dressed.
On 3 September 1998, I started one of therapies that brings some relief from the condition. Namely, I started hormonal sex reassignment. This involves the administering of drugs to reduce the male hormones (androgens) to the normal female range and to increase the female hormones (estrogens and progesterones) to a normal female level. The blood tests have indicated that my blood serum hormone levels have achieved the desired levels.
The altered hormonal structure has achieved a certain degree of feminization. Such feminization includes redistribution of body fat (changing my "angles" to "curves"), development of breasts, softening of the skin and so forth. Other feminization requires cosmetic surgeries and other therapies. For example, I have undergone five surgeries on the throat to remove my Adam’s apple and to alter the pitch of my voice into the female range. Other surgeries may be done when time and money permit.
In October and November 1998, I revealed my condition and my plans to my dad, my brother, his wife, and my sister. During the Christmas 1998 break, I sent letters to my aunts and uncles informing them of my condition and my plans. I have the sympathy and, more importantly, the support of most of my family.
All of my identification documents have been converted from my old name to Kristina Cassandra and from male to female. My last day as Boyd Wales was 21 May 1999. Starting 22 May 1999, I have been living full-time as a woman.
This change to living full-time as a woman, known as "transitioning", had started a period known as the Real Life Experience. During this period, I had to live solely as a woman and could never resort to presenting as a man. When my psychologist had determined that I had adapted to my new gender role and that I was ready to proceed, he issued the first of the two letters that I needed to obtain the gender re-assignment surgery (aka sex re-assignment surgery or sex change.) In compliance with the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association’s Standards of Care for the Treatment of Gender Identity Disorders, I had an assessment by a qualified psychiatrist. He had issued the second required letter.
On 31 January 2002, Dr. Toby Meltzer in Portland, Oregon performed the first of his two stage gender re-assignment surgery on me. This operation replaced my penis, scrotum and testicles with a clitoris, labia and vagina. On 15 May 2002, he performed the second stage of the surgery, to tidy up the aesthetics of my new genitals. I am very pleased with Dr. Meltzer's artistic abilities!
Since starting along the path to womanhood, I have found an inner happiness and a contentment that I have never known in my teen-age and adult life. The happiness and contentment result from the progress that I have made to date and from finding the correct life for myself. Finally, my sexuality can be properly integrated for the first time in my life.
This letter was not written to shock you or to burden you with the above revelations. It was written to enlighten you on the changes that are occurring in my life. If you find the news discomforting, I apologize.
If you wish to find out more about transsexuals in general or about one transsexual in particular, please feel to talk privately with me. Also, I would strongly recommend reading the excellent text by Mildred Brown, "True Selves -- Understanding Transsexualism" which should be available through libraries and bookstores.
The origin of my nom de femme:
P.S.: A rule that I impose strictly on everyone who I deal with: I am no longer Boyd and I have not been Boyd for long enough now. I no longer answer to that name and, if you make the mistake of calling me Boyd, I will hang up the phone on you or will walk away from you. I am not Boyd; I am Cassandra!
1. True Selves -- Understanding Transsexualism, Mildred Brown
2. Trans Forming Families: Real Stories About Transgendered Loved Ones, Mary Boenke
3. Confessions of a Gender Defender, Randi Ettner
4. Transsexuals: Candid Answers to Private Questions, Gerald Ramsey
Cassie’s List of Books and Movies
Please click here to see my longer list of recommended books and movies.
1 The first two paragraphs were adapted from
"Changes . . . Understanding the Gender-Role Transition",
© November 1992 Dana Coles.
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