2010年2月15日 星期一

Emotions, Gender, and the Body in Transsexuals. Coming Out Stories

In this paper, we show how a group of born males used coming out of denial stories to facilitate their transition to living as women. Central to these narratives were feelings of embodiment and cultural notions of gender. We show, for example, how stories about feeling awkward interacting as men and feeling unsatisfied when crossdressing for autoerotic activities were used to distance themselves from various masculinities. We also show how in their stories of having sex with men or women and stories about their changing bodies and desire for surgery, interviewees discursively used emotions to affiliate themselves with women. We conclude by discussing the relation between gender, the body, and emotion and the role of narrative in life course transitions.
在本文中,我們展示如何一組用於男性出生走出拒絕的故事,幫助他們過渡到生活的婦女。中央對這些說明是感情的體現和文化觀念的性別。我們展示,例如,如何故事感覺尷尬的互動和感情的人不滿意時,crossdressing為自淫活動被用來從不同距離自己的男性特徵。我們也顯示了他們的故事是如何發生性關係的男人或女人和故事,他們渴望改變機構和手術,受訪者話語用情感從屬於與婦女。最後,通過討論,我們之間的關係性別,身體,情緒和敘事的作用,在生命過程的過渡。
1 DRAFT Breaking Through Denial: Emotions, Gender, and the Body in Transsexuals' Coming Out Stories By Doug Schrock, Emily Boyd, and Lori Reid Florida State University "Coming out of denial" stories saturate the discursive landscape of contemporary American society. With the popularization and perhaps hegemony of self-help discourse, therhetoric of breaking through denial has become an invaluable resource for those embarking onlife course transitions. More specifically, people strategically use these narratives to bothaccount for and propel themselves through life course transitions. In telling self-transformationtales, people use emotion as a folk concept to pry away masks to reveal their "true selves" hiddenbeneath. Although coming out of denial stories are commonly used by people ending marriages,changing careers, or dropping out of graduate school, there has been little research on howpeople use such narratives to facilitate life course transitions. The interviewees for this study were especially positioned to teach students of social life coming out of denial stories can facilitate change in the life course. They were in the middle ofswitching genders. The storytellers defined themselves as being born in the wrong body andwere going through what the transgender community calls "transition." Transition is a difficult,time consuming, and expensive process of becoming women. To qualify for the expensivesurgery—not covered by insurance US companies –a psychiatrist first diagnose them with"transsexualism," a mental disorder listed in the American Psychological Association's DSM-IV.Transsexuals. This diagnosis is needed to gain prescriptions for hormones that gradually changetheir bodies and, in a handful of states where activists have been successful, the diagnosis canforce DMV workers to change the gender listed on their driver's license. To further qualify forsurgery, one must live for at least a year full-time as woman (which is called "the real life test").The real life test is graded, so to speak, by a therapist who must vouch that you are ready tohandle life as a woman—in effect promising you won't have major regrets. Part of the real lifetest involves coming out to family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and employers. Passing aswomen to both gatekeepers of surgery, financial well-being, and emotional support requiresmore than appearances, it requires the construction of credible stories about coming to termswith being differently gendered. Such stories are not only constructed with such gatekeepers in mind, as if the transsexuals had some kind of pathology and were trying to manipulate others. Because of the risks of beingdisowned by family and friends, discriminated against at work, and harassed by bigots,transsexuals wanted to make sure they were doing the right thing. Transsexuals did not want tocause unnecessary pain for themselves or others. Furthermore, coming out to others and surgerywere not something that they could take back. Constructing credible stories about their identitychange were crucial for reassuring transsexuals that they were indeed on the right path. Transsexuals were unlike these sorts of life changes, of course, in that they were changing their gendered presentations and sexual equipment. As a result, it is not surprising thattranssexuals strategically used cultural notions of gender and the body to construct their stories.Furthermore, both because transsexuals were required to be in therapeutic relationships andbecause the larger culture has been shaped by therapeutic ideology, especially during the past 20or so years, therapeutic discourse—with its focus on authenticity and emotions—was also animportant resource for emploting their identity change.

2 The Participants Maura grew up as Martin in an upper middle class religious home. As a teenager, Martin began crossdressing during masturbation and as an adult sporadically crossdressed during sexualrituals with two wives, who both initiated divorces because they became unaccepting of hiscrossdressing. During his first marriage, Martin discovered that crossdressing without sexualrelease relieved stress and made her feel better about her self. Less than a year before ourinterview, she connected with the transgender community via America Online, went to the statepride march where she met Leslie, the therapist co-leader of the local support group, and beganattending local support group meetings and therapy sessions with Leslie. She introduced herselfas a crossdresser for the first few meetings but had recently decided she was transsexual. Maurawas 41, worked as a computer programmer, and defined herself as a lesbian woman. Gordon (Gwen) began wearing his mother's lipstick and hairpieces when he was four years of age and his parents sent her to psychiatrist before she reached ten and again in her lateteens, for depression. After earning his undergraduate degree, his live-in girlfriend Reneeaccepted his crossdressing until she discovered Gordon had secretly bought a wig and demandedhe see a therapist. The therapist went out of her way to gather articles about transsexualism andintroduce Gordon to the transgender community. After his relationship with his girlfriend fellapart, he moved in with a born male who had lived as a woman for 15 years and began thinkingof herself as Gwen. At the time of the interview, Gwen, who was in her early 30s, had come outto her family and friends, was crossdressing every night and weekend, and was planning totransition on her job. Jerry (Jan) grew up in the Midwest and remembers wanting to be a girl/woman since he was five years old. He kept the feelings a secret and didn't crossdress as a child or teenager.After earning a bachelor's degree, he spent 3 ½ years in the Peace Corp. while having a seriousrelationship with a woman volunteer. After returning to the U.S., their relationship was fallingapart and Jan told her he felt like a woman, to which she said he needed therapy to change theway he felt. Jerry then moved across the country, started graduate school, and began datingSarah. On their first date, Sarah said Jerry reminded him of a woman and Jerry told her that hefelt like one, which she accepted because "she wasn't into traditional gender roles." They movedin together, married, and planned to stay together as Jerry became a woman. But recently Sarahsaid she didn't think she could be a lesbian and their relationship was coming to an end when Iinterviewed Jan in their home. Jan defined herself as a lesbian feminist and was in her mid-30swhen interviewed. Nancy was named Ned when she was birthed from a traditional Midwestern housewife married to a man who sold "women's clothing wholesale to stores." Ned began regularlydressing in his father's clothing samples in order to enhance autoerotic activity as a teenager.The year after graduating form a large urban university, Ned dressed in women's clothes andwent out in public for the first time to a pageant for gay drag queens. At that event, she learnedabout an organized transgender group that ran a "safehouse" for crossdressers and transsexualsand became involved immediately. Nancy, 38 at the time of the interview, had recently droppedout of graduate school due to stress-related seizures, had her license revoked for driving whileintoxicated, and worked part-time helping an elderly woman. She had never been in a seriousromantic relationship, but said she would pursue lesbian relationships after surgery. Karen grew up Karl in an upper middle class family and remembers wearing her sister's clothes and being told she walked like a girl before she started elementary school. From sixthgrade until graduate school, Karl used crossdressing sexually and defined himself as atransvestite. Karl's two serious relationships with women ended because of his crossdressing.Karen began defining herself as a transsexual during a bout of serious depression after returningfrom collecting data for her dissertation abroad. When interviewed, Karen was in her early-30s
參與者瑪芙拉馬丁長大,在一個宗教上層中產階級家庭。十幾歲時,馬丁在自慰開始 crossdressing並作為成人偶爾 crossdressed在sexualrituals有兩個妻子,誰提出離婚的雙方,因為他們成為 unaccepting的hiscrossdressing。在他的第一次婚姻,馬丁發現 crossdressing沒有 sexualrelease緩解壓力,使她覺得她更好地了解自己。不到一年前ourinterview,她涉嫌與變性人群體通過美國在線,到statepride遊行,她會見了萊斯利,治療師共同領導當地的支持團體,beganattending本地支持小組會議和治療會,與萊斯利。她介紹 herselfas 1 crossdresser在最初的幾個會議,但最近已決定她是變性人。 Maurawas 41,擔任計算機程序員,並確定自己是同性戀女子。戈登(格溫)開始穿著他母親的口紅,假髮當他四年的年齡和他的父母把她送到精神病醫生在她到達 10,後來又在她的lateteens,抑鬱症。他獲得學士學位,他住在女友Reneeaccepted他crossdressing,直到她發現了秘密戈登買了假髮,demandedhe去看醫生。治療師走出了她的方式收集相關文章變性 andintroduce戈登的變性人群體。在他與女友的關係 fellapart,他搬進了出生的男性誰住作為一個女人15年開始 thinkingof自己是格溫。當時的採訪中,格溫,誰在她30出頭,來到 outto她的家人和朋友,是crossdressing每天晚上和週末,並計劃 totransition她的工作。傑里(1)生長在美國中西部和記得想當一個女孩/女人,因為他5歲。他不停的感情秘密,不crossdress作為一個孩子或teenager.After入學士學位,他花了3年半的和平公司,同時還有一個 seriousrelationship一個女人志願者。回國後,美國,他們的關係 fallingapart和揚告訴她,他覺得自己像一個女人,對她說他需要治療改變 theway他感覺。傑里然後移動在全國各地,開始研究生院,並開始 datingSarah。當他們第一次約會,莎拉說,傑里提醒他,一個女人和傑里告訴她,hefelt像之一,她接受了,因為"她沒有把傳統的性別角色。"他們 movedin在一起,結婚,並計劃留在一起,傑里成為一個女人。但最近Sarahsaid她不認為她可能是一個女同性戀和他們的關係即將結束時 Iinterviewed 2008年1月在他們的家。 2008年1月確定自己是同性戀女權主義者,並在她的中30swhen採訪。南希內德被任命為當時她birthed從一個傳統的家庭主婦中西部嫁給了一個男人誰賣"女性服裝批發商店。"內德開始 regularlydressing在父親的服裝樣品,以提高自淫活動為 teenager.The年大學畢業後的形式一個大型的城市大學,內德穿著女式服裝 andwent在公眾首次為選美皇后為同性戀拖累。在這種情況下,她learnedabout有組織變性組,刊登了"藏身"的crossdressers和transsexualsand立即被捲入。南希,38時採訪,最近droppedout研究生院因壓力相關的癲癇發作,她的執照已被吊銷駕駛 whileintoxicated,以及部分時間工作,幫助一名老年婦女。她從來沒有在一個 seriousromantic關係,但說她將繼續手術後同性戀關係。卡倫長大卡爾在中上階層的家庭和她的姐姐回憶穿的衣服,被告知,她卻象一個女孩,她開始前小學。從 sixthgrade到研究生院,卡爾用crossdressing性,確定自己是atransvestite。卡爾的兩個嚴重關係與婦女結束,因為他crossdressing.Karen開始定義自己是變性人在一個回合的嚴重抑鬱症收集數據後 returningfrom她的論文在國外。在接受採訪時,卡倫在她早期30歲。
3 and had recently come out to her family, friends, and dissertation chair. She had always beenattracted to women, but recently began fantasizing about being intimate with men as a woman. When Alan (Alison) was about five years old, he began regularly changing clothes with his female cousin in the attic of their sick grandmothers house, until they were caught. He wasmarried soon after high school and was drafted and served in the Vietnam War. When hereturned, his "mind was scrambled" and the marriage ended. Alan first crossdressed sexuallyafter being persuaded by his second wife; the relationship ended when she tired of "her littlegame." Alan's third marriage broke up after he came out as a crossdresser to his wife, who saidshe wanted a husband not a wife. Alan moved across several states, began dressing at a gay bar,had many sexual encounters with men, and gradually decided to have sex reassignment surgery.Alison was in her mid-40s when interviewed, worked as a woman telephone operator, hadfinancial difficulties, and defined herself as a heterosexual woman. Mandy grew up Randy in a small southern town and was regularly called "Georgie Girl" due to his feminine demeanor. Randy began wearing his mother's clothes at age 11 but said thatmasturbation later replaced crossdressing. During college, Randy began crossdressing in secretagain, which he linked to coming out as a gay man. After college, he told a close woman friendabout his crossdressing and she began helping him with make-up, shopping for clothes, andgoing out in public with him crossdressed. Randy called psychiatrist who had been on a talkshow about crossdressing and transsexualism and learned about and then became involved in theorganized transgender community. After being involved in this community for a few years, hedecided that living full-time as a woman and getting surgery would most satisfying. Tyler (Taylor) began crossdressing in his mother's clothes when he was five, incorporated crossdressing into masturbation activities seven years later, and wasn't interested intrying to conform to traditionally masculinity in high school. In college, Tyler read a book abouttranssexualism, which led him to believe he was really a she. But then she was drafted into theVietnam War and reconsidered her diagnosis. Upon returning to the U.S., Tyler becameinvolved with a woman, they married, crossdressing was incorporated into their sexual practices,but the marriage fell apart after seven years "due to her drug abuse." He then became sexuallyinvolved with his half- sister, who was turned on by his crossdressing. When Tyler cut thatrelationship off, he became engrossed in masculine hobbies such as motorcycle riding and knifecollecting. But then he became depressed, unsuccessfully tried therapy, but then had anepiphany that he was really a transsexual. Taylor, in her mid-40s when interviewed, worked as acomputer programmer (dressed as Tyler), found the transgender community via the Internet, andplanned to transition on the job with in the next year. Taylor envisions herself as a conservative heterosexual woman. Wendy was born William into a middle class family, his older sister dressed up him up in her clothes before he was five, he began regularly wearing a bra and petticoat of his sister's forautoerotic activity when he was 13. He married Barbara in his early 20s, became a father in ayear later, and first bought himself women's clothing the following year. After confessing hiscrossdressed to his wife, she went to therapy where she was told to either leave him or live withit. She tried to live with it, but William did not crossdress around her. In his 30s, Williambecame involved with a local Tri-Ess chapter, an organization for heterosexual crossdressers.But for the past five years, crossdressing hasn't been enough and Wendy now thinks she is awoman in a man's body, although she hasn't told her family. Owner of a successful business, ina 24 year marriage, a father of a 16 year old child, however, she was not ready to have thesurgery when she was interviewed. Wendy, in her mid-40s, was planning to wait until her childgraduated from high school and she obtained a divorce. ANALYSIS
並在最近出來她的家人,朋友和論文椅子。她一直beenattracted婦女,但最近已經開始幻想與男子正在密切作為一個女人。當阿蘭(艾莉森)大約是5歲,他開始經常換衣服,他表姐在閣樓生病的祖母的房子,直到他們被抓住。不久,他wasmarried高中和起草並曾在越南戰爭。當 hereturned,他的"心是炒"和婚姻結束。艾倫第一crossdressed sexuallyafter被說服他的第二任妻子,這種關係結束,她厭倦了"她littlegame。"艾倫的第三次婚姻破裂後,他出來作為 crossdresser他的妻子,誰 saidshe丈夫不想要一個妻子。艾倫遷往幾個州,開始在更衣室同志酒吧,有許多男子的性接觸,逐漸決定將變性 surgery.Alison是在她45歲左右接受記者採訪時,一名婦女擔任電話接線員,hadfinancial困難,確定自己是異性戀女性。曼迪長大蘭迪南部的一個小城鎮,並經常被稱為"喬吉女孩",因為他的女性風采。蘭迪開始穿著他母親的衣服,在11歲以後,但表示thatmasturbation取代crossdressing。在大學,蘭迪開始 crossdressing在secretagain,他掛出來為同性戀人。大學畢業後,他告訴密切女子friendabout他crossdressing,她開始幫助他與化妝,買衣服,andgoing在公眾與他crossdressed。所謂的心理醫生蘭迪誰曾在脫口秀對 crossdressing和變性和了解了,然後開始參與 theorganized變性人群體。後參與這個社區幾年,hedecided的生活全職作為一個女人和手術將得到最滿意的。泰勒(泰勒)開始 crossdressing在媽媽的衣服,當他五,納入 crossdressing手淫活動納入 7年後,並沒有興趣 intrying符合傳統男性高中。在大學,泰勒abouttranssexualism讀一本書,這使他相信他是真正的她。但她隨後被徵入theVietnam戰爭和重新考慮她的診斷。在回到美國,泰勒becameinvolved和一個女人,他們結婚,crossdressing被納入他們的性行為,但婚姻解體 7年後,"由於她吸毒。"之後他成為 sexuallyinvolved與他的同母異父的姐姐,誰被拒絕就他的crossdressing。當泰勒切斷 thatrelationship起飛,埋頭在他成為男性的愛好,如騎摩托車和knifecollecting。但後來他變得抑鬱,但沒有成功嘗試治療,但後來卻 anepiphany,他是真正的變性人。泰勒在她45歲左右接受記者採訪時,擔任 acomputer程序員(打扮成泰勒),找到了變性人群體通過互聯網,andplanned的過渡工作,在明年。泰勒設想自己是一個保守的異性戀女性。溫迪出生威廉成一個中產階級家庭,他的姐姐打扮成他的衣服在她之前,他是5年,他就經常穿著胸罩和裙子的妹妹forautoerotic活動時,他只有13歲。他娶芭芭拉在20歲出頭,成為父親的ayear後,首先自己買婦女的衣服下一年。坦白hiscrossdressed後向他的妻子,她去治療,她被告知要么離開他或生活withit。她想住在一起,但沒有 crossdress威廉身邊。在他30多歲,Williambecame參與當地的三桂林,章,一個異性 crossdressers.But組織在過去 5年,crossdressing沒有得到足夠的溫迪現在 awoman認為她是在一個人的身體,但她沒有告訴她的家人。業主的一個成功的企業,伊納 24歲結婚,父親是一名16歲的孩子,但她不願讓 thesurgery她問話。溫迪,在她40多歲,正計劃要等到她childgraduated高中,她獲得了離婚
4 Inauthenticity as Men Transsexuals needed to convince themselves and others that manhood was unsatisfactory. Otherwise, why would they have wanted to become women? Transsexuals had to thus constructstories of manhood so as to preempt and/or offset questions that could undermine their transitioninto womanhood. When interviewed, transsexuals were in the middle of this dramatic life coursetransition and they had to interpret their pasts so as to both justify and promote their identitytransformation. They accomplished this by telling stories about trying out traditionalmasculinity; (2) trying out alternative masculinities; and (3) depression tales. Trying traditional masculinity. To become women, interviewees narratively distancedthemselves from traditional masculinity by evoking therapeutic discourse. More specifically,they claimed when they tried conforming to traditional masculinity that their feelings indicatedthat something was wrong. Importantly, interviewees needed to frame their emotional troublesas related to gender; not work stress, family problems, etc. The most basic way interviewees did this was by inserting into their narratives statements about feeling unfulfilled, unsatisfied, awkward, unnatural, and full of self-doubt as men. Mandysaid that being a man "just didn't seem as fulfilling as it should be." Jan said that before shecame to terms, she had "a feeling that if I had to continue living as a male that I would just neverbe satisfied or happy with my life." Gwen said, " I always felt awkward as a man [and] wasalways filled with self-doubt." Being a man "is completely unnatural," said Karen, who alsosaid, "In order to do it [i.e., masculinity] people have to give me cues, and still I'm droppinglines constantly." When interviewees were asked about they meant with such general statements about manhood, they indicated that they were talking about traditional masculinity. When the firstauthor asked Gwen, "What do you mean by not feeling like a man?," she replied: Like being the provider, being the instigator. I was never really comfortable picking up agirl at the bar. I did it. I could do it. I never really liked it and never felt comfortabledoing it. There were certain roles that men assume and do that I didn't like, but did it toprove to myself or to the people I was around that I was a man. Many different kinds of men feel that doing masculinity is emotionally troubling (see, for example, Seidler 1994; Schwalbe 1996), but most never question being men. If interviewees hadjust pointed to being unsatisfied as men as proof of transsexuality, others (and perhapsthemselves) would likely wonder, "A lot of men feel unsatisfied with life, so maybe she is not areal transsexual." Some transsexuals pre-empted such questions by acknowledging that manymen don't feel satisfied with their lives. Maura, for example, said, I do resent [presenting myself as a man] sometimes. It's a role that I can fill, notnecessarily well all the time. I don't know that anybody ever does. But I don't ever feellike I'm doing a good job at it because somehow I can detect that I'm missing whatever itis that makes for a male personality. It's just not there. While acknowledging that non-transsexual born males often don't feel they are living up tocultural standards of masculinity, Maura narratively distanced herself from such men by sayingshe felt she was missing a "male personality." Gwen also pointed to the notion that it is not necessary for men to conform to ideals of manhood. After saying that there were masculine "social roles that I was uncomfortableassuming," Gwen said, "and it was so stupid because now I realize that I didn't have to assumethose roles, even as a man. But I guess that I was so full of self-doubt and anxiety that I pushed
不真實的男性易性癖需要說服自己和其他人的男子氣概是不能令人滿意的。否則,為什麼他們想成為女人?變性不得不因此constructstories的男子氣概,以先發製人和/或抵銷問題,可能削弱他們 transitioninto女性。在接受採訪時變性人中這一戲劇性的人生coursetransition,他們還必須解釋他們的過去,以便雙方辯護並促進其identitytransformation。他們完成了這一故事告訴嘗試 traditionalmasculinity;(2)嘗試其他男性特徵;(3)抑鬱症的故事。嘗試傳統的陽剛之氣。要成為女性,受訪者narratively distancedthemselves從傳統的男性話語所喚起的治療。更具體地說,他們聲稱當他們試圖符合傳統的男性,他們的感情indicatedthat什麼是錯誤的。重要的是,受訪者需要確定自己的情緒 troublesas與性別,不工作壓力,家庭問題等,最根本的被訪者這是插入到他們的敘述感覺發表的言論兌現,不滿意,笨拙,不自然,和充分的自我懷疑的男子。 Mandysaid,作為一個男人"只是似乎不像履行它應該的。"2008年1月表示,在shecame的條件,她"感覺,如果我有繼續生存的男性,我只想neverbe滿意或滿意我的生活。"格溫說,"我總是感到尷尬作為一個人[和] wasalways充滿了自我懷疑。"作為一個人"是完全自然的,"卡倫說,誰 alsosaid,"為了做到這一點 [即,男性]人給我線索,仍然我droppinglines不斷。"當受訪者被問及他們意味著這種對成年一般性發言,他們表示,他們在談論傳統的陽剛之氣。當格溫 firstauthor問,"你是什麼意思不是感覺像男人?,"她回答:作為供應商一樣,作為始作俑者。我從來沒有真正舒服拿起agirl在酒吧。我做到了。我能做到這一點。我從來沒有真的很喜歡它,從來沒有 comfortabledoing它。有一定的作用,男性承擔並做到這一點我不喜歡,但它toprove給自己或周圍的人,我認為我是一個男人。許多不同的男性陽剛之氣的感覺,這樣做是情緒困擾(例如見,塞德勒1994;施瓦爾貝 1996年),從來沒有問題,但大多數是男性。如果受訪者hadjust指出,被不滿意的男性性慾的證明,其他人(和perhapsthemselves)可能會奇怪,"很多男人的生活感到不滿,因此,也許她不是面變性人。"一些變性預設這個疑問承認 manymen覺得沒有自己的生活。莫拉,例如,說,我討厭 [展示自己作為一個男人]有時。這是一個角色,我可以填補,notnecessarily以及所有的時間。我不知道任何人都沒有。但我從來沒有 feellike我做得很好,因為在某種程度上,我可以說我發現缺少什麼炎,它為男性人格。只是不存在。雖然承認非變性出生的男性往往不認為他們生活了tocultural標準的陽剛之氣,瑪芙拉 narratively距離自己從這種男性的sayingshe覺得她錯過了"男的個性。"格溫還指出,這是觀念男子沒有必要以符合理想的男子氣概。說完有男子氣概"的社會角色,我是uncomfortableassuming,"格溫說,"它是如此愚蠢的,因為現在我知道我沒有要assumethose角色,甚至作為一個男人。不過,我想我是如此充滿了自我懷疑和焦慮,我推
5 myself to." While saying that men don't have to live up to cultural notions of manhood to bemen, Gwen used the rhetoric of self-doubt and anxiety—the same feelings that she used asevidence of her transsexuality—to explain why she tried to present herself as a man. Overall, most interviewees described trying out traditional manhood as emotionally taxing. Using therapeutic discourse, they portrayed such feelings as their differently genderedtrue selves calling out from the depths of their unconscious. Dissatisfaction with traditionalmasculinity was also seen as a precipitating factor in trying out alternative masculinities. Inother words, their recognition of such feelings was narratively defined as a turning point in theirtranssexual paths. Trying alternative masculinities. Transsexuals did not render themselves as going fromunsatisfied traditional men to pursuing womanhood. Such a narrative structure would have lefttranssexuals appearing rash in switching genders. Instead, they told stories about trying outalternative masculinities, such as sensitive men, gay men, erotic transvestites, and crossdressingmen. Similar to their tales of traditional masculinity, interviewees depicted feelings as indicatingalternative masculinities were not in line with their true selves. "As a man, I would refuse to accept things like keep a stiff upper lip, you know, if something was going to make you cry," said Taylor. Jan, Karen, and Gwen also said that theytried a "sensitive" or "soft" masculinity. In telling their coming out stories, interviewees definedenacting a softer masculinity as ultimately unfulfilling. Karen, for example, said: I can't play that macho shit. The only way I could deal with the role was the easier wayto do it, which was the sensitive male. But I blew that one constantly. Whenever thingscame down to the clinch I got confused. Jan attributed her attempt at sensitive masculinity from living with a feminist woman who wasn'tinto traditional gender roles. Gwen had tried dressing and living androgynously for about a yearbefore she finally decided transsexuality felt right to her. Gwen's father actually give her a copyof Robert Bly's Iron John a few months before she came out to him as transsexual. "I was like,'Sorry dad, this ain't going to work," said Gwen, who added, "I didn't feel like I was a man outof touch with my feelings. I felt like I was a woman with the wrong genitalia." Mandy, Nancy, Anne, and Alison, told stories about trying life as gay men. Anne said that after her third marriage ended, she moved half-way across the country and immediatelybegan going to a gay bar dressed as a woman. She described her motivation as follows: At that point and time I was thinking maybe you're just gay. Maybe that's the thing.You're gay. You're afraid to admit it . . . but we'll go and find out. Similarly Mandy, Nancy, and Anne portrayed themselves as believing they might be gay becausethey had associated crossdressing with homosexuality and thought they could find like others inthe gay community. In telling these stories, however, feelings were used to define being gay asnot fulfilling. Mandy's rendition was typical: Once I told people that I was gay, they continued to push me that way and reinforce thattype of behavior. And that sort of created some stress because I was like, "Well that'snot really it. I'm not enjoying life as much in this sort role." So that's when you sort ofstart to look out again and at anything too. Mandy, Nancy, and Anne stories of trying life as gay men as evoking feelings of inauthenticity,were thus framed as a kind of turning point. Having tested the waters of the "gay lifestyle,"interviewees thus said their emotions told them to swim elsewhere to find the true self.

6 "I was sexually aroused when I [cross]dressed, which made me think, ah-ha , I'm a transvestite," said Gwen; although Maura, Alison, Nancy, Taylor, or Karen could have said it.These six interviewees said that they had used crossdressing sexually, essentially playing the roleerotic transvestites. To reconcile these sexual experiences with their current transsexual identity,interviewees needed to tell stories that diminished the erotic components of wearing women'sclothing. If they could not accomplish this, they would leave open the question that they mightnot be transsexuals, which could have undermined their transition into womanhood. Interviewees who recalled crossdressing for private masturbation rituals, which included Nancy, Taylor, Karen, Gwen, and Maura, employed emotions as evidence that disconfirmederotic transvestitism. After saying that crossdressing "started as a fetish," Nancy said that sucharousal dissipated as she came to terms with transsexuality: "I was sexually aroused by it, but asI got older it was something more serious, more of an identity." Gwen said that crossdressing "isbecoming more of an everyday part of my life [and now] I don't get aroused." Here we can seehow regularly enacting an identity (Gwen) and vague references to an identity (Nancy) thatinterviewees had already came to terms with was a resource to account for a change in eroticfeelings, which also distanced themselves from a closely related but discarded identity(transvestite). A similar strategy was used by Maura when she described a dramatic recognition of her "female" true self as disconnecting eroticism from crossdressing. There were a couple of moments that I dressed in hose and heels, and maybe this waseven before the earrings, that I turned around and looked at myself in the mirror and itwas just electric. There was a person there. It was female. This was not a man in adress. I was there seeing my self as a woman and after that, the connection with malesexuality just snapped. And it's never been there again in any strength. . . . The oldconnection between lingerie or whatever and male sexual response is just not thereanymore since I've seen myself this way [i.e., as a transsexual]. Although Maura had used crossdressing for sexual release for about twenty-five years, her storyof recognizing her differently gendered true self in the mirror "snapped" the sexual associationwith women's clothes. Although it may not be surprising that men in their 30s, 40s, or 50s whohad used women's garments for masturbation for 15-30 years no longer became as aroused bythis activity as they had been in their teens, our point is that narratively breaking with thetransvestite role was necessary for interviewees to embrace their transition into womanhood. Breaks from interviewee's erotic past, however, were not always complete. Under such conditions, transsexuals had to account for being aroused from wearing women's clothes. Themost common approach was to blame biology. When Maura latter revealed that she still gets "alittle erection" when trying on a new piece of women's clothing, for example, she blamed"testosterone poisoning" and said that such arousal should end when she begins takinghormones. More generally, blaming biology also enabled transsexuals to distance themselvesfrom transvestites when talking about the origins of their own erotic crossdressing. Nancy, Karen, Gwen, Taylor, and Wendy claimed that they first crossdressed before they reached ten years of age and it was only during puberty that they began used crossdressing formasturbation. For example, after she had been dressing in women's clothing for "seven yearsbefore I had my first orgasm," Taylor added, "so my reaching puberty and beginning tomasturbate and becoming sexual was just coincidental with my crossdressing." Using culturalnotions of the male sex drive kicking in during puberty, interviewees sometimes used the bit ofsexual ideology that describes the penis as uncontrollable "with a mind of its own." Gwen, forexample, said that maybe she was aroused when crossdressed because "maybe I just felt sexyand a penis being what it is, an external sexual organ doesn't require much to wake up."
7 Interviewees thus used cultural ideologies about male sexuality (Teifer 19??) to bolster theirclaims to be women. Besides using biological ideology to discount the potential significance of being aroused while crossdressing, transsexuals also distanced themselves from transvestites by emphasizingthat they did not need to crossdress to get sexually aroused. Taylor, for example, said: "I havenever needed to be crossdressed to become aroused. In fact, I would generally take off thewomen's clothes before I would ejaculate so I wouldn't mess them up." Interpreting taking offwomen's clothes before she ejaculated, was now interpreted by Taylor as indicating that shedidn't need to crossdress to become aroused and thus was never really a transvestite. Interviewees also said that when they crossdressed for supposedly erotic purposes that they had feelings beyond the erotic, as Karen revealed: I hit puberty around sixth grade and from about that point until the time I started graduateschool I insisted to myself that the only reason that I did it was for the erotic stimulationduring masturbation. But by the time that I was in graduate school that wasn't the truth.[I]t wasn't like I put on a pair of panties, masturbate, and be done with it. It was putsomething on and I'd feel great pleasure. I got more pleasure from the dressing up thanfrom [masturbation] and that was hard to reconcile. "I shouldn't think that way. Ishouldn't feel that way." And I'd get dresses and skirts. I'd get makeup and perfume. Iwould figure out ways to stuff a bra. I would do all these things that didn't have anyerotic components. Narratively using non-erotic pleasurable feelings and wearing women's clothing that she claimeddid not have sexual connotations helped Karen define her previously held identity 'transvestite'as false consciousness. Karen and most other interviewee's stories about crossdressing alsoemphasized that wearing women's clothes helped them feel more like women (more on thisbelow). Distancing themselves from eroticized crossdressing helped transsexuals was a kind oflinguistic identity closure. Maura, Alison, and Taylor told sto ries about incorporating crossdressing into sexual games with wives and girlfriends. Due to the explicit eroticism of such encounters, intervieweeshad to render them as leaving the true self incomplete. Although these interviewees said thatthey initially enjoyed crossdressing with their lovers, they claimed that they eventually came torealize that it wasn't emotionally satisfying. Alison's account was typical: [My second wife] liked me to wear her underwear when we went to bed. And I thought,"Oh God I'm in heaven. Thank you Jesus!" Finally a woman understands the way I am.As time went on, it progressed to where I was wearing more and more female clothing,but only when we made love—only when we made love. But that was enough to keepme going. But then again it was like, "This is not what I want. I like what I'm wearingbut I still want to be her." By depicting crossdressing sexually with partners as leaving herself feeling incomplete, Alisonwas able to distance herself from the identity 'transvestite'. Furthermore, her rendition pointedherself toward changing into the woman she now presents herself as. Overall, interviewees depicted crossdressing as unnecessary for sexual arousal, losing its erotic edge over time, evoking pleasure beyond the sexual, and leaving the true self unsatisfied.They had given erotic transvestitism a try, but their stories strategically used emotions asdisconfirming this alternative masculinity. Painting themselves as inauthentic transvestitesforeshadowed, for many interviewees, trying out the identity 'crossdresser'. In the transgender
8 community, crossdressers were defined as men who presented themselves as a woman on a parttime basis in order to express their "feminine side." All of the interviewees except Jan had defined themselves as non-erotic crossdressers before deciding that the identity 'transsexual' was a better fit. Defining themselves ascrossdressers was appealing because it allowed them to express femininity without going throughthe dramatic life transition required of transsexuals. They could crossdress on occasion, go tosupport group meetings, and not have to worry about coming out to family, friends, oremployers. Crossdressers could thus maintain the privileges of men in their public lives andenjoying being women in private. Crossdressers often said that they enjoyed "the best of bothworlds." In interviewees' coming out of denial stories, however, they depicted themselves as not fully enjoying the identity 'crossdresser'. Gwen, for example, described working with hercohabiting girlfriend Renee to find her true self as follows: [W]e were trying to figure out what slot I fit into and we decided that let's trycrossdressing. Let's see if you can be happy crossdressing. And there were parts of itthat were fun. It was fun to be with her as a women. [B]ut it brought even morehumiliation and confusion because I wasn't happy with that. I felt like I looked reallydumb. I hadn't changed my physic or my outer appearance very much. My eye browswere still very heavy. I had a lot of body hair, that kind of thing. So I really looked likea guy dressed up like a woman. Not like a girl. And that made me unhappy and I justfelt like an idiot. Also, all this happened behind closed doors, closed windows. For twonights a week I'd shut all the blinds and in our house and dress up like a girl and feel likean idiot. And that was very degrading. Gwen's story was typical in that feelings were used as a resource to claim that crossdressing wasnot liberating the true self. Other interviewees emphasized that crossdressing was unfulfillingwhen done alone in private and even in support groups. One transsexual, described trying out the identity 'crossdresser' by attending meetings of Tri-Ess, a national organization for crossdressers: I got involved with Tri-Ess, but really, they were crossdressers. That's their whole thingand that was just not fulfilling. I tried it, I thought, "let's see." And there again I justdiscovered real fast that they're playing games and I thought I am so much different thanthey are. They're playing games and to me, this isn't a game, this is real, this is seriousstuff. For transsexuals, expressing your "true self" is serious business, not something to be mocked ortaken lightly. The person quoted above tried to belong to a group of crossdressers in a sense she was "trying out" that identity. After a while, she said, she felt unfulfilled, which wasinterpreted to mean that still hadn't found her "true self." It was as if her feelings signaled,'wrong identity, try again!' Overall, Trying out alternative masculinities furthered a story in which the decision to become transsexual was not a rash one. In fact, the narratives portrayed transsexuals as carefulin trying to make sure that their feelings were not caused by anything else. Fighting depression as men. Maura, Karen, Taylor, Jan, Nancy, and Gwen said that coming toterms with transsexuality involved bouts with depression. Depression was sometimes defined asresulting from tenacity of the differently gendered true self. After saying that transsexualismwas "surfacing more and more," Maura said: "[T]he reason for the depression was simply thefeeling that this was going to come up and (pausing and beginning to whisper) I just couldn't
9 deal with it. Here on a subconscious level I was going, 'No, no, no, no, I can't be a woman, Ican't do this, people will hate me." Besides pointing to a subconscious recognition of transsexuality, interview ees also suggested that depression was caused by trying to silence the true self. After Taylor said that shetried to sustain denial by engaging in several masculine hobbies, for example, she said: But the feelings just kept on pushing and pushing and pushing and I finally got to where Icouldn't mask them anymore. I went through a two or three year period of just reallyserious decline in emotional and physical health because of that. Had no energy, went nowhere, did nothing. . . . Really didn't have a life. And finally, almost exactly a yearago, I got to where couldn't sleep anymore and my throat felt sore all the time . . . And soI made an appointment with my doctor [who said] I had classic symptoms of depressionand anxiety, so he referred me to a psychiatrist. Here Taylor narratively rendered depression as a result of trying to squelch the true self as it wastrying to assert itself more and more. Drawing on therapeutic discourse, transsexuals' storiesimplied that the true self was a powerful force and that denying it expression would causedetrimental side effects to mental and physical health. Feelings of depression became so intense for Taylor, Maura, and Karen that they had contemplated suicide. Stories of suicide were also common in the transgender community as awhole. Using suicide in coming out of denial stories required transsexuals to link suicidaltendencies to gender issues. Karen, who had previously identified herself as a crossdresser,accomplished this by saying: What ultimately led up to admitting transsexualism [was] I had gone into a very deepdepression. About the only thing I accomplished with any degree of competence lastspring was a detailed planning of my death. . . . I got a great deal of peace out of theprospect that it's only going to go on for X many weeks and then I'm gong to stick 10cc's of air in my arm and my heart is going to stop, no problem. At that point I wasn'tassociating any of this with the gender problems. But one of the things that touched thatoff was when they shut down [a transgender email list] and I felt just completely cut offfrom everybody. Karen, who defined herself as a crossdresser at the time, thus framed the cause of her depressionas resulting from not being able to express her feminine side in cyberspace. Although Karenexperienced a more debilitating depression than most other interviewees, framing her emotionaltroubles in gendered terms was common. In interviewees coming out of denial narratives,depression was defined as a side effect of not expressing the true selves. Arguing that stories of depression strategically justified gender switching is not meant to diminish the seriousness of emotional turmoil. Our point is to examine how emotions were usednarratively to account for a life course transition. Depression was an especially usefulbiographical resource in this endeavor because telling others about the depression in effect askedlisteners to be sympathetic (see Clark 1987). As a listener, the interviewer for this studydisplayed (and felt) sympathy by deferring to storytellers' accounts, which helped preserve bothour faces (Goffman 1967). Depression tales were also especially useful in buttressing storytellers' decision to dramatically alter their life course. By rendering depression and suicidal planning as resultingfrom denying transsexuality, they in effect defined not becoming women as a path that wouldinevitably invoke such undesirable feelings. Therefore, their narrative use of depressionpromoted transitioning into womanhood because to turn back now became literally defined asself-destructive. In addition, stories of depression were often tied to epiphanies, which weredramatic turning points in the transsexual's life stories.
10 Interviewees' narratives generally depicted the path out of depression meant as coming to terms with transsexuality. While working with a therapist through her depression, Taylor hadbeen examining her childhood by, in part, having guided conversations with herself as a "littleboy" that had been locked up in a metaphorical box in her mind. But then Taylor started lookingin other boxes during her spare time: "In exploring these things, I went around and opened a boxand there's a little girl." Taylor said that "once it was out, it couldn't be locked back up again.she could never again," and thus decided to "deal with it and see what happens." Alison told of her depression related epiphany as follows: On three consecutive evenings I had an identical suicidal fantasy. It was a little moreintense each evening. The fantasy was of me dressing in my favorite outfit and climbinga ladder and hanging myself from that beam up there [pointing to the beam going acrossthe cathedral ceiling]. And the first two nights th e fantasy was a first -person fantasy, me experiencing it in the first person, doing it. The third night, the point of view changed tothat of a female, sitting right where you are, watching me doing it, with the femalegetting off on it sexually as the pseudo transvestite killed himself. As I was having thisfantasy it occurred to me that this was sick, I've got a problem here. I couldn't stop thefantasy from playing all the way through. And at that point, that was when I knew I hadto deal with it. I couldn't push it back anymore. And you see this set of encyclopediashere (reaching over and picking out a volume and opening it up to a marked page). Iknew there was an article on sex reassignment and I had never allowed myself to read it.And there's a passage in here that hit me hard and I'll read it to you. "The developmentalbiographies of transsexuals vary. One type is that of effeminate males and conversely ofvirile females. Such people have a history of active erotic imagery if not experience fromsame-sex partners from a very early age. A second type is that of a person who, even ifhe or she manifested no crossgender signs in childhood or adolescence, was alwayssecretly obsessed with being sex reassigned. At puberty this person's erotically inert.The third type is the person who has a history of transvestitism. Manifesting, two names,two wardrobes, two personalities until middle life, under the pressure of a major lifecrises, full blown transsexualism emerges." And my respiration rate pretty much doubledmore or less instantaneously when I read that. I said to myself, "This is you. Payattention asshole." Alison said she could no longer deny her transsexualism after this revelation. Authenticity as Women. Stories of coming out of denial did not only emphasize feeling inauthentic and depressed living as men. Interviewees' narratives also stressed the importance of feeling authentic aswomen. Having tried alternative masculinities such as gay and crossdressing men wereparticularly useful biographical resources that could be used to claim feelings of authenticitywhile behaving in ways deemed to be feminine. In this section, we will discuss howinterviewees used emotional references to describe trying out femininity and/or imaginingthemselves as women. The three main ways transsexuals claimed feeling authentic as womenwas by telling stories about (1) feminizing dress; (2) feminizing sexuality; and (3) feminizing thebody. Feminizing Sexuality. Transsexuals often said that sexual orientation had nothing to do with gender, but like most people, they assumed the two were connected. As Nancy put it: When I come out to people . . . the first thing some of them say is, "Are you gay orbisexual?" But gender has nothing to do with sexual orientation. So there's some
11 confusion out there. Yes, I'm attracted to women. So when I have my operation I guessI'll be a lesbian. The concept of sexual orientation necessarily depends on the concept of gender. Thecombination of the gender of those they were attracted to and their own gender determinedsexual orientation, as it does for everyone. In contrast to how they used sexuality to distance themselves from erotic transvestites, interviewees coming out narratives used other recollections of sexuality to bolster their identitytranssexual. They did this through what we call "feminizing sexuality," which refers to the wayspeople render sexual encounters, feelings, and fantasies as indicative of true womanhood.Interviewees interpreted previous sexual encounters with men or women (when they definedthemselves as men) as suggesting they were really women. In our culture, part of being a "real man" is to have sex with women. Because of this, transsexuals who had heterosexual sex as men often reinterpreted such expressions of desire inways that suggested that were not really "real men" after all. In explaining how she wasdifferent than other men, for example, Nancy said: I feel more sensitive in lovemaking, for instance. I enjoy cuddling, embracing; a lot ofguys want to get straight at it. . . . In fact, I've asked partners to take the top position. Iguess I enjoy all positions, but I like to be the more passive one. Here Nancy narratively aligned herself with stereotypes about women's sexuality, suggestingthat even as a man having sex with women that her differently gendered true self foundexpression. As social constructionists of sexuality point out (Tiefer 19??), desire is more in the mind than in the body. Gwen seemed to agree when she said, "When I [as a man] slept with women, Ifantasized that I was a woman with a guy." After coming to define herself as a transsexual, shethus reinterpreted heterosexual sex as an expression of heterosexual desire as a woman. Herstory pointed her in the direction of heterosexual womanhood, which she was currentlytransitioning into. Interviewees who had sex with men as men also rendered these experiences as brining out the woman hidden inside. Mandy, for example described her gay sexual encounters ashelping her become "more strongly identified as a woman sexually." She represented her sexualrelationship with a roommate as follows: With Michael, I really started to feel much more in the feminine role, which was good,though I didn't really tell him. But in our sexual relationship it was obvious who wasmore of the aggressor and who wasn't. And obviously I wasn't. So, that was good. Mandy thus relied on cultural stereotypes of women's sexuality to align herself withwomanhood. Mandy thought her passivity in sex with Michael was "good" because it wasanother step in recognizing that her true self was womanly. Stories of sexuality were not only constructed as a step toward womanhood, but interviewees could also depict sexual encounters as life altering epiphanies. After a divorce,Taylor began crossdressing as a woman and going to a gay bar where she met John who becamea "lifelong friend" and, for a time, her lover. She described their first romantic encounter asfollows: It was the most remarkable experience of my life. It was nothing like I thought it wasgoing to be. He treated me totally female, not male. [H]e didn't rush me into it. We saton the couch, we talked, he put his arm around me, we hugged, we kissed, he undressed
12 me slowly. He picked me up and carried me to the bedroom. That was a thrill all alone.. . . He explained everything to me. What to do. What he was going to do. What it wasgoing to feel like. Everything. I had never even touched a man before. Never. And Iwas touching him. And it was the strangest it was like it didn't feel strange, it felt natural. And we made love. Slow tender love. . . . When I was with him, I felt soooofemale. Not just looking female, dressed female, but I felt female. And that changed me.That was the final hurdle, step, conquest, that was it. When that happened I knew, "No,you've not made a weird decision, you've not been strange all these years, finally, finally,girl, you've found out who you are and know that you are not gay," even though I waswith a man. I knew it. He didn't treat me that way . . . Straight people cannot understandthat. They go, "He's got a dick, you've got a dick, right? That means you're gay." Itwas there, but the way he treated it was not like a masculine thing. It was like a femininething. Does that make sense? He didn't treat it like it was a, quote, penis; he treated itlike it was a vagina. Interpretation is more powerful than the body. After coming to define themselves as transsexuals and acquiring the skills to pass in public, being an object of sexual desire as a woman was seen by some interviewees as evokingfeeling like a woman. While filling her car up with gas recently, Maura (dress as a woman) said: One man walked out and gave me what I think is a politically correct second glance.Men aren't supposed get to look at women these days and if they're going to do it theycan't look like they're interested. And it was a look, look away, look back with a verybored face and then look away after another couple of seconds. [Q: How did that makeyou feel?] (pause) It was nice. I felt like I had achieved something. Although Maura was attracted to women and felt "a little uncomfortable" having a man checkher out, it made her feel more like a woman. In a culture of "compulsory heterosexuality" (Rich198?), it's not surprising that sexual objectification was defined as confirming womanhood. The promise of validating their differently gendered true selves through sex with men led some interviewees who had only been attracted to women, including Maura and Karen, toconsider trying out sex with both men and women after surgery. Although Karen had alwaysbeen "attracted to women," she said she will "try it out both ways and see what happens." Thepull for Karen was the promise of affirming her femininity: "There is a dramatic validation ofone's femininity in being able seduce a man. The same thing doesn't apply to being able toseduce a woman." Here we can see how the cultural notions of gender and sexuality not only shape how interviewees told stories about their pasts but also their futures. Such stories also shaped thechoices they made in the present. During the interview with the first author (who was passing asa man at the time), for example, Wendy, who invited the first author to a hockey game a weekearlier, said: This will probably throw you for little bit of a loop. There are times when I really, reallyfeel feminine that I have a high need to cuddle and it would be really awkward for me tocuddle with a woman. My only choice is a guy and I'm really struggling with that but Iwould really like to go either with a paid escort or with someone who is gay or someonewho would do it as a courtesy. Go out on a date, dancing, theater, dinner, and whatever. .. . That's what I would like as my next experience. I'm trying to figure out how toachieve that. Like the other night at the hockey game, that was a borderline experience. Iappreciate that.
13 Wendy then asked the interviewer if he would go out on a date with her. Wendy was trying toinitiate a scenario that could later be incorporated into her self-development plot. During theinterview, the interviewer was thus turned into a potential resource for Wendy to have herwomanhood affirmed though heterosexual intimacy. Feminizing the body. Pondering the future of sexual relationships was tied to most transsexuals' decisions to seek sex reassignment surgery. They wanted to be loved. They desiredthe intimacy of romantic relationships. But who would love them if hormones had initiatedbreast development and rendered their penis inert but still there? The fear was that no one could.Or worse, they would be pervert magnets. Maura said that what made her examine whether she was really a transsexual before coming out was that "I realized I wanted to be accepted in a physical relationship as a woman,and that's going to be real hard to do given my body." Karen said the significance of surgerywas that "it allows sexual interaction with the proper equipment." Taylor said surgery "enablesyou to function sexually as a female," which she felt was "a pretty strong need." "In terms of mysexuality, [surgery] is just really important," said Jan, who added, "I don't want to have arelationship with a male, but it's really important for me to change [my body] in order to havephysical relationships as a woman. . . and it's also is very important to me to have other womenbe able to accept me as a woman." Transsexuals thus believed that acceptance, whether as heterosexual, lesbian, or bisexual women, would be easier if they could make their bodies conform to people's expectations. Thenon-transgendered maximize acceptance by working at it from the other direction. That is, non-transgendered people work to make their gendered appearance conform to the kinds of bodiesthat gendered appearances are supposed to signify. Surgery was not only defined as necessary so as to expand the market of potential partners, but several interviewees' narratives constructed pasts in which they despised their malebodies. In order to fix their feelings, they believed they needed to change their bodies.Therapeutic discourse, with its emphasis on the sanctity of emotions, made invoking emotions intheir accounts inviolable. Taylor said, "some people, including myself, have a great loathing fortheir genitals. I find my genitals repulsive. I can not bear to look at them, I can barely bare totouch them." Alison said, "for years and years I looked in the mirror and I didn't know who thatwas. I looked in the mirror and instead of seeing a nude male in my minds eye I was seeing anude female, but a few body parts that weren't suppose to be there, which I hated. I didn't wantthem there." Jan said, "For me, the most important thing about this is how I feel about my body.And that's something that for as long—since I was five, I've felt really strongly that my bodyshould be female." After interviewees talked about their "feelings" about their bodies, the interviewer did not continue to ask them "What do you really mean?" As Garfinkel (1967) has pointed out,language is indexical and one could ask such questions indefinitely without ever gaining aprecise understanding of another person's experience. Furthermore, the interviewer wassomewhat worried about insulting the interviewees and did not want to sabotage the interview orundermine future interviews. The interviewer was working on his own life course transition,from student to professor, and needed to conduct X many interviews in order to satisfygatekeepers. Because of these institutional and interactional constraints, the interviewergenerally deferred to interviewees comments about feelings, in effect helping to maintain"feelings" as a resource transsexuals could use to narratively construct a past that made it seemas though sex reassignment surgery was inevitable. Having decided to change their bodies, the next step for interviewees was to being taking synthetic hormones to feminize their bodies. In the transgender community, hormones were seen
14 as not only affecting them physically, but emotionally. As Taylor, who was planning to begantaking hormones soon, put it: The next big step is starting the hormones. That's going to have of course the physicalside effects, which are kind of trivial compared to what it does to you emotionally. [Q:What does it do?] There's two aspects to the emotional impact. Part of it is just theknowledge of what you are doing to yourself. The knowledge that if you do this longenough that you're going to become sterile probably permanently, you're going tobecome impotent, you're going to loose interest in sex. Knowing before you growbreasts that you are going to grow breasts. Knowing before your hips and thighs fill outthat they are going to and then dealing with those things emotionally as they happen. Starting hormones was often seen as a turning point, often calling it their birthday. Alison said"my birthday is April 19" and said: I remember when I got the prescription filled and I sat in the car and I took that pill outand I looked at it and it was April 19. Four thirty in the afternoon and I took that first pilland that's when everything turned around. From that point on there was no turning back.[O]ne morning I was standing there and I kind of turned sideways and I went, "Damn,there's a little something there." Not much, but more than had ever been there before.[Q: How did that make you feel?] I was in the best mood. Taking hormones not only seen as a turning point, but also was defined as instigating emotionsculturally marked as feminine. For example, after Jan began taking his wife's birth control pillstwo years earlier, I felt I was a lot more emotional, a lot in touch with my feelings. And I am able toexpress my feelings a lot better. So that was the biggest change. . . . My interests havechanged a lot. It used to be that when I go to the bookstore, I'd go to the science andcomputer section or whatever, and in the last couple years, I've been getting a lot moreinto nature and, things like growing plants and things. And so no matter when I go to thebook store, first I go and check out the books, the gardening books. . . . But I'm definitelyvery much more into relationships. You know, I mean connecting with people and beingin nature, and not at all into technology. Jan, who repeatedly described herself as a feminist who was not into traditional gender roles,nonetheless said that taking synthetic female hormones made her more emotional and concernedabout relationships. Surgery was not seen by interviewees making themselves real women. Karen put it most bluntly, "if your not a woman before you go to Montreal [to have surgery] you won't be afterthey hack it off and turn it inside out." Transsexuals believed that they were truly women beforethe surgery. If they weren't absolutely sure of this, they would have never sought surgery. Toprepare themselves for surgery, Vivian, the therapist that most of the interviewees saw (who wasthe co-leader of the transgender support group) helped them come to terms with their futurebodiliy transformation. Taylor recalled this as follows: Vivian put me through a visualization exercise last time and the stated goal of theexercise was to say good-bye to my genitals. [Q: So what did you do?] Well the way sheset it up was [that] you are alone in a very comfortable chair in a very comfortable room,fire in the fireplace. You're utterly at ease. And you gradually become aware of another
15 presence in the room. That presence is your genitals, which are there for you to bid them farewell. She told me to speak to her as if I was speaking to my genitals in the first person. I'm afraid I wasn't very nice to my genitals. I wound up shedding a few tearsnot in remorse for loosing them but in regret and frustration for the pain that they have cause me in the past four decades. I will be glad when they are gone, eagerly anticipated departure. Here we can see how fictional stories co-constructed with therapists can generate emotional experiences that can be recalled to reinforce the decision for sex-reassignment surgery. For transsexuals, emotional experiences were rendered as indicating that a woman was locked inside their male bodies. Within therapeutic discourse, such a true self needs to be accepted and brought into existence. The true self was not as malleable as the body. As Karenput it: There's this article, it's basically anti-transsexual— these people are claiming [sex reassignment surgery is] similar to a woman who goes in and tries on a shoe and it doesn't fit and has foot surgery so the shoe fits. I think it's the other way around, the body turns into the shoe and needs to be changed. A very intimate suit of clothes: the birthday suit.
CONCLUSION [TO BE WRITTEN]

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