Basic TG/TS/IS Information

by Lynn Conway
Copyright @ 2000-2004, Lynn Conway.
All Rights Reserved.
Part IIIcde:
Life as a Woman after TS Transition (Continued)

Part I: Gender Basics & Trangenderism

Part II: Transsexualism (MtF)

Part III: Life as a Woman After TS Transition

 Part IIIcde: (Life, continued)

Part III c,d,e - Contents:
 Family Relationships
 Dealing with Loneliness
 Starting over in socializing and dating
 Early experiences in lovemaking and partnering
 Exploring your sexual orientation as a woman
 Compartmentalizing and adjusting one's stealthiness
 Staying healthy and being physically active
 The Process of Ongoing Refinements
 Finding joy in the little things in everyday life
 Being an immigrant to a new social gender
 Enjoying and finding fulfillment in the world of work as a woman
 But what if you are outed?
 Building and experiencing a full social life
 More about love and lovemaking
 Reaching out and sharing our stories
 What happens as you get older?

Section IIIc:
Adjusting to and Fully Engaging Post-op Life
Even with all the practical and emotional hurdles the woman must undergo to transition, and the ongoing practical and legal difficulties she faces from time to time, her new life can be full of wonders and joy and amazing experiences. However, this can take some time. She must undergo a further period of post-transition adjustment, during which she rebuilds her life. She must either re-establish or move on from family relationships, learn how to deal with loneliness , find new acquaintances, and start over in socializing and dating. During this phase, she'll be gradually compartmentalizing her stealthiness in various ways. She'll also be having her first experiences with love and lovemaking as a woman. She'll also be trying to stay physically active and healthy for the longer term. In this section, we'll examine some of these key social, personal and internal adjustments the woman must make during her early post-transition years.
Family relationships:
Before the woman can really move on in her new life, she usually tries to come to terms with the reactions of close family members to her transition. It may be easy to drop old friends and acquaintances who don't want to be friends anymore. But family members are different. Most women feel a longing for "acceptance in their new gender" by their families, and often try hard to gain this acceptance. Sometimes these struggles persist for years.
However, it is a sad fact that those closest to you before transition are the least likely to be able to cope with your transition. Once you've been strongly "gendered" by someone and known them for a long time, it is almost impossible for them to "regender" you in their minds, no matter how successfully you've transitioned. Even those who appear to accept you will often signal with little "tells" that they still think of you as "the old you". The more someone loved and imprinted on the other person you had appeared to be, the more they will struggle to still see that other person when they see you.
Therefore, relationships with parents, siblings, close relatives and close friends usually suffer life-long strains from transition, strains that may never be resolved.
There are exceptions to this rule, especially in the cases of young transitioners whose initial gender was not heavily imprinted in family members' minds. If you transition as a teenager or very young adult, some families may be able to adjust to the transition as it is occurring and project a newly gendered future for you. However, all transitioners should steel themselves to the possibility of family rejection, and count their blessings if it doesn't happen.
To those outside the family who have no long-term connection with a transitioner, it can be heartbreaking to see these rejections occur. It is so sad to see a beautiful, warm-hearted, loving girl emerge after gender transition, only to be hated and excommunicated by all her family and relatives. Even in cases where the girl gets married, adopts children, and is totally and lovingly accepted by everyone in her new life, family members who knew her in the past may completely shun her.
Family rejection can be a bewildering and crushing experience for the girl after transition, but this is something she absolutely MUST be prepared to endure. If the woman knows that this can happen, through no fault of her own, then she may not be hurt so deeply by it if it occurs.
The extreme levels of family denial of a transsexual woman's corrected gender is seen in cases where families seize the remains of a deceased TS woman, and hold a funeral wake and bury her in male attire under her birth name (as happened to Rexanne in A Tragedy's Tragic End ). Some TS women break all contact with their families specifically to avoid such a fate. This possibility of family intervention to rewrite your gender history is another reason to be SURE to leave a will, name an executor, and leave some funds so that your remains will be properly laid to rest in the correct name and gender when the time comes.
However, TS women must remember it's not their fault that such things happen, nor is it their family members' fault. Instead, these rejections are caused by deep aspects of human nature being acted out under extremely trying circumstances. What we witness is an almost animal-level reaction to something that seems incomprehensible to close family members.
The more successful that a TS woman is in her transition, the more superstitiously emotional and profoundly shocked a reaction she may get from her family. This should not be surprising, being a natural reaction to witnessing one human being disappear forever and a completely different one replace them.
Try to put yourself in their shoes. Think how you would feel if a beloved son or brother of father transitioned. It's a terrible quandary for family members, especially if they didn't have a clue this was coming. Some family members may try hard to still "see the boy" in the transitioner and cling to the past, and thus alienate the new girl. Others will suddenly "don't know this new person who seems to have killed the boy", feel grief at the loss of their loved one, and feel great anger at the "stranger" (the transitioner) for making this all happen.
I've seen many women struggle for years in hopeless efforts to "gain acceptance" of parents and siblings who either can never regender them as women - or else can't get over the loss of the male family member. Trying to gain acceptance of such family members is like trying to make real an unrequited love. It just won't happen, and can only make the love-sick person feel even sicker inside. For some of these women, their failure to gain family acceptance causes a deep lingering sadness that hurts their chance for happiness after transition. At the same times, these families grieve for the one they lost, and this gried is resurfaced every time the see the "replacement". In such cases it would be much better to "let go", grieve, move on and never look back. Otherwise the newly transitioned woman will carry a heavy burden for years, and that burden will interfere with her efforts at building self-esteem and assimilating.
I myself fell into the trap of struggling for years to "gain acceptance" by a family member I loved. During the sometimes lonely years of my early transition, I visited my younger brother and his wife and two boys at least once a year. Sometimes it would be for Thanksgiving or Christmas, other times it would be to go on camping or canoe trips. We never talked about what had happened to me. They were very "nice" to me. I assumed they were gradually seeing me as I now was. The visits were usually fun events, even though usually a bit stiff. This went on for over thirty years, seeing them once a year or so, even though there were telltale signs that things weren't right. For example, they spent three weeks each summer at a vacation home in the Finger Lakes area of New York, along with many of my brother's wife's family members. They always raved about how cool a place it was, yet never asked me to visit there - not even once in thirty years. I already knew I was never invited to the summer place to avoid other family members "seeing me". And on and on it went, one tell after another. I just tried to push these tells out of my mind. After all, they were being nice.the
Finally in 2000, just as my story was coming out, I visited my brother again. We'd planned to talk about my past, so he'd have a current perspective on the TS condition and treatments, and be better able to interact with the journalist doing the story. Upon arriving, I was shocked to learn that he hadn't read anything I'd sent him. He "didn't really want to talk about it", and instead had gone planned an "outing". All of a sudden everything became clear. I could now see all the obvious "tells" I wouldn't let myself think about before, all the tells that he still saw me as the "big brother" he'd so looked up to years ago. To him I was now his big brother who had had a sex change, whatever that was. To him I was still a guy, and when I tried to talk to him about what had happened to me, it just resurfaced grief that he'd never gotten over.
I wasted a lot of energy over years of trying to gain the "acceptance" of my brother and his wife. They were the only family I had, so it seemed important to maintain that connection. I'd felt a lot of emotion about our relationship during those years, a feeling that they were "there for me" and the I was "there for them". When I realized that they didn't even know me, all emotion evaporated. I felt no loss. I felt nothing except a feeling of stupidity for trying to "gain the acceptance" of people who out of fear, shame and ignorance wouldn't make an effort to get to know me. I let it go. They are now strangers to me, whom I won't see again.
I've heard such stories of non-acceptance repeated over, over and over again by other postop women. Stories of loved ones who can't "see us" as who we are now. Some still see and refuse to let go of the old person, hurting us to the very core of our souls. Others suddently do see the new person, but don't have a clue how to get to know her - and resent her for killing off their loved one. Either way, the longer we try to "gain acceptance" and grasp for a loving connection with someone like that, the more we give them power to hurt us, and hurt us they will. And they too are hurt by the situation. If you're in one of these situations, it's best to just let it go.
One useful mental trick that can help us deal with the strange and quirky things that happen to us is to remember that "it's all data". One can cope with family rejection and other difficult realities of postop life by simply observing these things unemotionally, "taking notes", and realizing that you are an observer of very interesting ethnographic data about transsexualism and how people react to gender changes. The behaviors you observe are natural reactions to events that seem mystical and inexplicable to most people. Since no one "is to blame" for these reactions, this helps take some of the sting out of things. It can also help you "let go", and not try to regain the love of people who are now lost to you, and instead look forward to bringing new people into your life.
There are exceptions to this old rule of "loss of family". As people become more knowledgeable about gender transitions and less fearful of "what the neighbors might think", some families ARE now able to get to know and "regender" a family member after her transition, especially those who transition while young. It is much easier to regender a girl who transitions when she is young, because there are fewer memories of her as a post-pubertal boy, and fewer forward-projections of her future as a "man".
There is some very important lessons for families here: Families have great difficulty in regendering a close family member who transitions as an adult. It is just a fact of human nature and of the way our minds work, of how we remember someone's gendered past and project ahead their gendered future. Therefore, if at all possible families should strongly support a TS girl's early transition. This way they are much more likely to end up having a daughter, and knowing that daughter, after her transition. In cases where a close family member transitions as an adult, it's best to be very honest and forthright with them, and tell them if you are having difficulties seeing them in their new gender. That way you give them the option of moving on, and not being hurt year after year trying to hold onto a connection that is not meant to be.
Dealing with loneliness:
The first few years after transition can be lonely ones. Having to break many ties with one's past, and having to start over again in a new gender, in a new job, maybe in a new city where you don't know anyone yet - all this causes many new transitioners to feel like they've been dropped on the earth from another planet, without knowing a soul here.
As a result, the woman may face periods of severe loneliness and have few people to turn to for emotional support at those times. This is especially true if she has been totally rejected by her family and past friends.
This is one reason that many women stay stuck back in the "transitioners' world. Out of loneliness and a lack of confidence in making new friends, they tend to continue hanging out with their transitioning friends and TG/TS social groups. As time passes, their transitioning friends increasingly tend to be the ones who themselves are stuck in transition and can't move on. This tendency to fight loneliness by staying in the transitioners' world can greatly hold a women back from moving on and finding her place in society.
Another trap that many postop women fall into is remaining obsessively bound-up in TG/TS e-mail groups and chat-rooms. They develop these habits during transition, as a way to get information and make important new contacts, and find it difficult to "let go" and move on into a real life after transition. This is especially the cse during periods of isolation and loneliness.
Postop women should keep careful track of how much time they spend on-line each day interacting with other "T's", and try to wean themselves from spending so much time there. Any reductions a woman makes in the "amount of time on-line with other TS's" could then be yet another measure of "how well she is doing". That's not to say that she shouldn't have a few really close TS friends, and maintain contact with TS web activity as a valuable source of information. It's just best to avoid spending hours each day in chat rooms and e-mail groups as a substitute for getting a real life.
Some productive ways to fight loneliness are to focus very hard on finding employment. Then, once you are working, getting really busy at work. Once you are sure of your employment situation, you might then think about moving to a really good new location where you have access to lots of interesting things to do. Where you live has a huge effect on your lifestyle, and on how many things are nearby for fun things to do outside work. It can be far better to live in a bustling upbeat diverse urban environment where there are tons of things to do, than, for example, in the socially sterile landscape of suburbia (even if you had the money to live there).
focusing on learning how to make new friends - - - forcing yourself to join clubs and activities - - until you find some good ones and start making new friends - -
- - - joining clubs based on recreational or hobby interests - - and doing lots of traveling - - are also good ways to fight loneliness too - - -
- - - these things can help a woman snap out of loneliness - - - and help set the stage for starting over socially and making more new friends in the larger world - - - however, she will have to force herself to do lots of new things in order to break out of her social confines and meet lots of people and gradually gain an identity in new social circles - - -in the meantime she must recognize that loneliness may stalk her for quite a while - - -
Pets as companions:
- - -
Experiencing and coping with gender shifts in one's dreams:
- - -
Starting over in socializing and dating:
Starting over - - making friends- - - going out with the girls - - - going to parties, clubs and singles bars - - - beginning to date men as a woman - - - gaining confidence through lots of casual dating - - -
finding dates via the web - - - using and Yahoo personals - - - methods for initial meetings and staying safe - - -
- - - the advantages of having common interests - - - meeting people who share the same hobbies and recreational interests - - -
- - - fully adjusting to one's new anatomy and sexuality after SRS - - - experiencing another "puberty" - - - learning from "how-to" books and women's magazines about how to fully experience your new female sexuality - - - "turning on", masturbation and learning how to reach orgasm as a woman - - - and with feeling more confident that you are ready for sensual encounters with others - - -
- - - getting comfortable with feeling sexy when around others, and with being warmy responsive to flirtation by others - - -
- - - many things to discuss here - - - [see more details in the Section entitled "Sexual Arousal, Lovemaking and Orgasm in Postoperative Transsexual Women" in Lynn's SRS Web page] - - -
Early experiences in lovemaking and partnering:
- - - getting comfortable with fully expressing one's new sexuality in intimate relationships - - -
- - - but do be sure to engage in safe-sex! - - - always be prepared - - - don't just let sex "happen" when you didn't expect it to - - -
- - - one thing to remember is that your genitals look "just fine", and no one is going to notice anything weird about them - - - although women are a lot more likely to notice little details that might give away that something has happened down there, and thus lesbian relationships are more likely to require some sort of "explanation" - - - on the other hand, most men will almost never notice anything amiss, even in cases where the surgery was pretty basic, and even when going down on you - - - so relax, don't worry about it, let yourself go, and enjoy yourself! - - - (coordinate this section with details in the SRS page) - - -
Partnering presents postop women with some challenges, especially that of "when to tell" a lover about one's past. This can be one of the most traumatic periods a transitioned woman faces - - - right when she should be happiest and on "cloud-nine", she realizes that she can lose her lover if her past comes out the wrong way - - - or if her lover otherwise reacts badly to the news.
There is no best rule for when to tell. Some postop women tell right away or before there is intimacy, while others wait until there is a deep emotional bond. Newly transitioned women tend to tell way too early, even on a first date, and often obsess with "being honest". This is especially true of women who are dating men and yet are afraid of men, and who are fearful of "violence" if a male lover were to find out later and feel "deceived".
However, most long-term postop women have learned that it's best to wait until there is a real reason to tell. We've seldom heard stories of "violence upon finding out later". If there is rejection, which isn't usually the case, then it is just usually via words. And, after all, did their date tell them all about his past when they first met? In many cases a man may not have even told the woman whether he is married or not, and this may not matter to her under some circumstances. Thus there are not hard and fast rules on when, or even if, to tell. Each woman has to use her own intuition and judgment in each case.
Unfortunately, transsexual women often lose promising relationships if they are honest with a partner and tell about their past, whether they tell early or wait till later. A woman can compensate for this disadvantage by being more active and getting better at starting relationships than most other women are. Nothing ventured, nothing gained - - - and what counts in love is eventually finding someone - - - even if there are some heartaches along the way - - -
- - - finding and losing love - - - dealing with temporary loneliness and heartbreaks - - - bouncing back and finding new lovers - - -
- - - think about it this way: someday you will have to talk about your past with someone you REALLY love and don't want to lose - - - so an important thing is to do in your early relationships it to "practice telling" and learning how to do it well - - - to increase your odds of success when it really counts - - -
Exploring your sexual orientation as a woman:
Most women who transition have a sense of what their postop sexual orientation will be.
For example, many early transitioners who are attractive will have gained the attention of young men and have lots of warm experiences in being sexually turned on while flirting with men. Many of these young TS's will have taken male lovers while pre-op (functioning as "girls") and will know for sure they'll be heterosexual once they are postop. Other women, especially later transitioners will feel very uncomfortable around men and are sure that they will be attracted to women instead.
However, experience is teaching us that things often don't turn out as expected in this area, and that it is wise to stay open to all possibilities. Many postops find that they have a somewhat fluid "bisexual" orientation, at least for a while, until they settle into long-term partnering habits.
One reason for this is that the profound experiences of transition through RLE and on through SRS often seem to liberate a TS women from the usual hangups about minor details like sexual orientation, and many women feel free to openly explore those issues once postop. After all, whether one is straight or lesbian doesn't seem like such a huge deal to someone who undergone a sex change!
For example, some women who are "sure they are going to be straight" may find that they are visually attracted to pretty women once they are postop, and are surprised to discover that they may passionately enjoy a love relationship with a woman as a woman.
Others who are "sure they are going to be lesbian" before completing transition may discover that, when men find them attractive and begin to flirt with them and turn on to them, this causes a powerful turn-on in them too. To their surprise, they may be overwhelmed by yielding to joyful, passionate lovemaking with men who find them attractive.
This can happen even to later transitioners who've had little experience being out socially and looking attractive to men. They may never have flirted with men or had men come on to them until they are postop and socially assimilated. These women may not realize how much the attention of men can turn them on. It may even come as a bit of a surprise! They may have assumed that they will be lesbian, because in the past while on testosterone they may have liked to look at pretty girls, and may have been turned on by looking at girls - while never have been turned on by "looking at men".
Ah, but girls don't turn on when looking at men the way guys do when looking at women. Girls are not so "outwardly visual" that way. They don't look at someone and get aroused and want to go touch and caress that someone. Instead they are more "inwardly sensual", getting turned on by affectionate advances and flirtatious behavior of others, and turning on inside by the approach of others who desire them! The female turn-on when sensing male attention can very powerful, and can get a woman feeling really "hot" inside. Such experiences may surprise the postop woman who never felt this attention before, and it can make her aware that she might really wants a man to make love to her after all.
All of this is exactly like the uncertainties of any youthful puberty, only that it occurs later in life for the postop woman. And only time will tell how it will turn out, as you experience the wonders of being able to fully enjoy your body and engage in joyous lovemaking as a woman.
Compartmentalizing and adjusting one's stealthiness:
As time passes and a woman's new life becomes more complex and full of activities, she will often make many adjustments in her stealthiness. One of the common ways she can do this is to carefully "compartmentalize" major zones of life-activity, and not have ANY overlap in people from different life-compartments. She is then free to be more out in some areas and more stealth in others, and can make adjustments in one compartment (for example, coming out to someone there) without affecting or risking the others.
Some of the important "compartments" a woman may keep separate are her career and employment scene, her dating scene, her church friends, interactions with her family members, interactions with other trans people, her hobbies, her recreational and sports activities, etc. Many postop women carefully avoid any overlap in people in these separate "compartments". For example, a woman will carefully avoid dating people at work, and her hobbies will not be connected with her work or her dating scene, etc.
Sometimes women reinforce such compartmentalization by trying where possible to do separate things in somewhat different locales within their city. Or they will do things that fit into different classes, or social levels, or social communities that don't often overlap. For example, Lynn's whitewater canoeing and motocross-racing avocations didn't socially overlap at all with her career work.
The great advantage of compartmentalized stealthiness is that the woman can be open in some environments (with family and T-friends for example), and yet be very stealthy in other compartments. If she is ever outed in one major compartment (such as at work), it won't ruin her sports scene or her dating scene, and vice-versa.
It can be a very big mistake to build up most of one's important life-compartments from one original pool of people, such as from friends at work. If a woman dates people at work, and all her hobbies and recreational activities involve friends at work, then she risks losing everything if she is ever outed at work. That can easily happen, for example, if a woman breaks up with a lover at work whom she has told about her past, and he later outs her to everyone at work.
It is common for many postop women to develop and employ to a high degree of skill and sophistication in the creation of many separate compartments of stealth. They can then carefully tune the degree of stealthiness in each compartment, depending on the risks vs returns of being stealthy or open there. This is analogous to skills employed by spies and espionage agents. It takes some time and practice to learn how to keep things straight, and to avoid any information flow between life-compartments.
However, this doesn't mean that a woman doesn't tell people in various compartments about her other activities in life. To the contrary, she will usually informally reveal the existence of several compartments to people in the others. She will about her hobbies at work, and about her work and her hobbies in her dating scene. It is good to reveal these things, because the more extensive her visible socialization, the more interesting she is to people and the less likely people are to suspect her past. At the same time, she'll try to avoid having any people in different compartments actually KNOW each other, and thus be able to pass information about her from one compartment to another.
By compartmentalizing and adjusting her stealthiness as needed, a stealthy postop woman can gradually relax in the comfort of knowing that her life can't be completely unraveled by being outed or having troubles in just one area of her life. If anything goes wrong in one area, she'll have the people and activities in the other areas to fall back on for social and emotional support.
Staying healthy and being physically active:
A very important dimension of postop life is taking care of yourself physically and staying healthy. There are many dimensions to maintaining your health, including getting plenty of exercise, maintaining access to a primary care physician, having regular physical exams (especially as you get older), getting regular dental care, and carefully watching your diet and managing your weight.
There is an old-time notion that exercise "isn't feminine", and unfortunately many postop women buy into this old notion. Way back in the 1950's women thought that way, and you'd hardly ever see girls or women out exercising back then. Most GG women know better nowadays, and realise that exercise can make you look even more feminine and cool, rather than "make you too butch".
However, many postop women avoid almost all exercise and physical conditioning, out of fear that it will bring back masculine-looking musculature. Remembering how the muscles used to build up in themselves and other guys, they're often terrified that exercise might cause some of those muscles to "come back".
However, once you have been castrated during SRS and are on estrogen, your capability for building and maintaining male musculature and muscle strength diminishes rapidly due to the absence of testosterone and presence of the estrogen. Anyone who has known physically active postop women has seen this inevitable musculature transition in those women. The initial changes are quite rapid, and are mostly completed over a period of about two years, somewhat like the time it takes for breast development to complete. After that time the woman is no more able to bulk up with male-form musculature than is any other woman, no matter how much she exercises. (The only postop women or GG women who can bulk up would be those who took steroids.)
Therefore, contrary to many postop women's intuitions, those women who exercise and are athletic often look much more "female" in form than those who don't.
The postop women who exercise can often maintain nicely-toned, well-developed female musculatures, instead of getting "flabby " and having poorly defined shapes. This is especially noticeable in the arms and legs. If you doubt this, look at young women athletes, or cheerleaders, or dancers, or Vegas showgirls for that matter. Compare the bodies of those women who are physically active to those women who are sedentary and never exercise, and you'll see an amazing difference.
Thus we see an important yet generally unrecognized fact: A postop woman's physical conditioning (or lack thereof) during the early years after her SRS can play a very important part in the final "overall shaping" of her new female form.
Exercise can also help a lot in maintain proper weight levels, whereas a sedentary life often leads postop women to become very overweight. Being overweight can then ruin a woman's chances at feeling well, feeling attractive, and feeling and looking feminine.
Many women (whether GG or TS) struggle with their weight. The old-fashioned notion that "exercising isn't feminine" is one big factor in this. Many women also habituate into eating as a way to sooth their emotions. In most cases, all it takes to lose weight is to eat less and exercise a bit more, and do that every day. It's just that simple. However, although tha's easy to say, it can be hard to do. In many cases it's as hard as quitting smoking.
It can take a lot of will power for someone who is overweight and out of shape to get fit and into a healthy lifestyle. You have to eat less, and exercise a lot more, and you must do this with sustained drive and passion, the passion that comes from a deep need to achieve a new body form. This is analogous to the kind of need and level of will power and huge effort it takes to transition. Given their experience at transition, you would hope that postop women should be able call up similar levels of will power to get into good physical condition, since that is so important a part of looking and feeling good as a woman.
Once you are reasonably fit, there are many wonderful activities that women can get into to stay active and fit - walking, golfing, jogging, aerobic exercise and running - swimming, hiking, backpacking, canoeing and kayaking - working out at YMCA's, spas and health clubs - bicycling, cross-country skiing and horseback riding. Many of these activities are not just healthy fun in themselves, but are also great ways to join into new clubs, make new friends and expand one's social horizons.
Getting into new sports, and becoming very physically active, and then discovering that this helps, not hinders, one's physical appearance and presence as a woman, can be very rewarding and validating and can greatly boost one's morale. It brings on a new sense of complete freedom as a woman, especially freedom from the fear that one has to be very sedentary and not at all "physical", or else one will "bulk-up" again. The development of a more female form by getting fit and healthy then further confirms the reality of one's physical gender transition.
In addition to these many benefits at the time, staying fit and controlling one's weight is a great way to ameliorate the aging process, and to stay looking and feeling much better and much younger than your years would suggest.
Participation in competitive sports:
Many postop women have experienced fulfillment through being physically active in sports. As they become more physically fit, some enter and enjoy competitive sports too. Lynn know many postop women who engage in competitive sports such as running, bicycling and golf, and who do well and have lots of fun.
Working hard at learning a physical skill and at physical conditioning, and then doing well in athletic competition, is a great builder of self-esteem and confidence in modern liberated women. This feeling of working hard at something and then achieving success by objective measures can carry over into many other parts of life. Competition has many other benefits too, including enjoying the wonderful comraderie among participants that is present in many sports.
Following are some women from the TS Successes list who have been active in competitive sports. Their stories will help readers gain insight into the challenges and rewards of those sports:
Lauren Manzano
Champion cyclist
Mianne Bagger (Australia)
Top-ranked amatuer golfer (more)
Lynn Conway
National medal-winning
whitewater canoeist
Caroline Layt (Australia)
Aerobics Instructor,
Track and field athlete 
Michelle Dumaresq (Canada)
Champion Mountain Bike Racer
(more, more, more) 
As more and more assimilated postop women have become active in various competitive sports, sports organizations have occasionally had to clarify their regulations as to whether these women can be sanctioned as competitors. Once in a while a controversy develops regarding "whether it is fair or not" for TS women to compete against GG women, and quite a few TS women in sports worry that this issue might come up in their cases.
In most cases of passable women who are not dramatically outside the range of normal female physiques, and who are at least two years postop, there is absolutely no advantage in muscle tone and speed and strength over GG women, and no advantage from physical frame size. Therefore, more and more athletic organizations are now formally approving participation in competitive sports by postop women.
However, there are handful of AG postop women and extremely unpassable postop women who make no effort to live and pass as women, yet who occasionally attempt to enter athletic competitions as women, causing uproars among the female athletes. The unfavorable reactions to these people who look like guys and "vibe" like guys is quite understandable. Because of such experiences, a sports organizations may take a cruelly hard line and exclude any known postop woman from their competitions.
Fortunately, common sense usually prevails: These days postop women who are reasonably successful as women are increasingly being fully accepted as women in sports competitions.
The Olympics quietly dropped their genetic "gender testing" for females before the Seoul games in 2000, opening the door for postop girls to compete in the Olympic Games. Then, on May 17, 2004, the IOC formally announced that postoperative transsexual women and men will be allowed to compete in the Olympics (in their new gender after meeting certain conditions), starting with the games in Athens in the summer of 2004. This new ruling will undoubtedly have a big effect on sports participation by transsexual women and men worldwide, as it ripples down into affecting sports regulations in many other organizing bodies.
Meantime, in the past few years more and more athletic sanctioning groups have one-by-one updated their rules to allow postop women to compete. For example, the articles about Mianne Bagger discuss how the Women's Golf Australia association rules permitted her participation in competition there.
In an important case, Michelle Dumaresq's participation on the Canadian women's national downhill mountain bike racing team was allowed after issuance of a racing license by the sanctioning group, even though there had been a modest protest by a few other women racers. Michelle is a wonderful gal and a great competitor who loves downhill racing, and she is now well-accepted by other competitors. Her being sanctioned to participate on the Canadian national team was great news to other postop women who follow women's sports, and is an important precedent for postop women athletes in other sports. For more about the issues surrounding Michelle's being allowed to compete, see the Sports Illustrated Women article "Switching Gears".
An Important Note:
Renée Richards (often billed as the "World's Most Famous Transsexual") spoke out to the media in response to Michelle Dumaresq being allowed to race, warning Michelle Dumaresq to give up her fight for acceptance:
"Cease and desist, I would tell her," said Richards. "It's very sad for her, but that ultimate acceptance she will not get."
Someone like Ms. Dumaresq is welcome to try again to pave the way for transgendered athletes, Dr. Richards said,
"but they're going to end up not being happy in their pursuit because even if they're successful, they fail."
Richards transitioned in 1975 and outed herself widely the next year as the "transsexual tennis player". The news of her "sex change" was an important event in announcing to a new generation of young TS girls that gender transition was possible. However, all the publicity (which she largely brought on herself), when combined with her very odd appearance, gradually generated a widespread public image of Richards as a "transsexual athlete" rather than as a woman. As a result, she caused a lot of ongoing controversy about postop women ever participating in sports, and her image haunts TS women athletes to this day.
Sadly, it turns out that Renée Richards is a classic case of an intense CD who underwent TS transition at age 40 in spite of strong warning signs that this was a mistake. Richards now openly admits that she regrets transitioning, as discussed in the "TS Warning Page", and now actively campaigns against "changing sex" - as in this quote from a 1999 Associate Press interview:
"It's not something for somebody in their 40s to do, someone who's had a life as a man, - - -
you better get on Thorazine or Zoloft or Prozac or get locked up or do whatever
it takes to keep you from being allowed to do something like this.''
It turns out that Richards is not at all in contact with the large community of postop women who have successfully transitioned, assimilated and gone on to live full and happy lives, such as the women in the TS Successes site.  Perhaps Richards imagines (as many psychologists do) that transsexualism is incredibly rare, and therefore hasn't got a clue about the realities of the many successful lives out there.
It is bizarre that Richards feels free to "speak for transsexuals" when she herself is a self-acknowledged transition failure and doesn't appear to know any successes. Worse yet, she appears to be saying that "if she couldn't do it" (i.e., couldn't be accepted as a woman), then "no one can". Sounds like a bad case of "sour grapes", eh?
Our advice to Michelle is "ignore such naysayers" and "go for it". All the rest of us are rooting for you! In the end, you will find acceptance and inner fulfillment, and you'll have lots of fun along the way!
Because of the past uncertainties about whether it's OK for postop women to compete in various sports, many assimilated women in the past who did compete were in stealth (Lynn was an example - she competed in a number of national-level whitewater canoeing championships in the U.S. while in stealth). In fact, it is just situations like this one - the worries about whether they'd be disqualified from a sport for example - that has kept some women as stealthy as they have been. Hopefully they'll be much less worried about the implications of being outed in the future.
As more postop women athletes such as Lauren, Mianne, Carolyn and Michelle became publicly visible, they will serve as good role models for young TS girls and for other postop TS women of all ages. They show the advantages of physical fitness and the wonderful health and psychic benefits gained from participation in athletic competition. By demonstrating the acceptance that postop women are finding in sports, including by other women in sports competition - they are countering negative images from the past (such as those cast by Richards), and having a strong impact on confidence and self-acceptance among postop women in all walks of life.
The process of ongoing refinements:
- - - ongoing refinement of your mannerisms and voice - - - considering other medical treatments to improve your presentation (FFS, etc.) - - - improving your social skills and extending your range of social experiences - - - gradually relaxing into your new life - - - increasingly looking ahead and forgetting the past - - -

Section IIId:
Social and Emotional Assimilation as a Woman
- - - here we reflect more on the "inner experience" of how our new life feels - - - how well we are integrating our inner persona within our new social role, so that it feels really comfortable and "fits well" - - - how well we are doing at "being ourselves" and fully exploring our own particular interests as a woman in society - - or whether we are still "holding back" or still have some self-imposed constraints on what we feel free to do - - -
- - - this section is aimed at the transitioner who really does want to assimilate as thoroughly as they possibly can, given their own circumstances - - - hopefully the thoughts and ideas here, and the reflections on the experiences of others, may help you in your journey - - -
- - - from this "insider's viewpoint", we'll reflect on issues such as going from being an immigrant in a new gender to assimilation in that gender - - - the social nuances of work as a woman - - - finding emotional support in the company of other women - - - the experiences of romance and marriage - - of having children - - - the many opportunities and possibilities - - - setting goals and reaching for your dreams - - - while keeping an eye open for problems because of your past - - -
- - - the challenge is how to transition from being a "transitioner" to being an "assimilated woman" - - - and have full access to all aspects of a woman's life in society - - -
- - - for some who are young, who only briefly lived in the adult male role, and who've have done everything it takes to become naturally passable, assimilation can be fairly easy and can be a fun-filled, happy passage - - - for others who are older and are more entangled back into their past lives, or who haven't done what it really takes to become passable, this can be a time of trials, and of eventually "making do" with only partial assimilation - - -
- - - the many subtle tradeoffs of "stealth" vs "woodworking" vs "being open" vs "being out" in all one's social relationships - - - how our feelings about these things evolve over time - - - how we gain "distance" from the past - - - how to finesse "thinking about and talking about the past" so as not to internally undermine your assimilation - - - the wide range of different post-op trajectories - - - eventual "assimilation as a woman" - - -
Finding joy in the little things in everyday life:
One way to enhance the process of assimilation is to reflect every day on the small joys of your new life. Try to spend lots of time thinking about how cool things are now, and about what you are going to do today, tomorrow, and the next day to enjoy your new life. Taking a walk in the park, or having fun shopping, or going to work and seeing new friends there, or prettying your face with make-up in the morning, or luxuriating in your new body when you take a bath, or playfully masturbating to a sweet orgasm - all these little everyday things can gradually bring on a ever-increasing sense of joy. Every day you can more strongly feel a sense of relief and happiness about the release you've found from the trap you were in, and about how totally cool it is to be "you" now. The more you find these little everyday things that bring you joy, the more you'll look ahead with optimism about the future.
Of course it's easy for the tangle of events of transition to intrude into your consciousness from time to time. There are ongoing paperwork snafus to deal with. Maybe you're still hanging out with transition friends whom you haven't managed to move on from yet. Maybe you continue to see physicians who remind you of your transition days. And maybe you spent two hours last night e-mailing T-friends instead of going out to a new place for dinner or drinks. Maybe you're still obsessing on how to get your parents or brother or sister to "accept you". Beware however, for the more that you continually keep such things in mind, the more you'll be looking back and staying preoccupied and stuck in the past, and the less joy and optimism about the future you'll feel.
You're now establishing many new life-long habits. You can feel it happening. Realize that there's a great divergence happiness ahead for those who mostly find daily joys in many little things and who look forward to new things, versus those who mainly remain preoccupied and tangled in things from the past, and who are always looking painfully back at what they've just been through.
The following sketch by a young woman clarifies the wonders that a newly assimilating girl can find in the simple everyday things in her new life, and how these thins can set her on a path to a truly joyful future, even though her transition years may have been very difficult:
September 2002 (about 10 months post-surgery)

She pulls the sides up slightly on her panties blue and pink, resting now comfortably on her small hips. Her white top covering breasts only new, but in every sense a part of who she’s always been, she washes her hands, grins to herself in the mirror, and exits the bathroom.

Ironing board out, white top not ironed but livable covering her firm breasts, iridescent blue and pink panties showing her bottle tan to extreme, she irons her camel skirt. Hair washed the day before, now looking and feeling just fine, she leaves for work, a beaming Woman, her make-up just right, her jewelry just right. She walks to work now, a tallish Woman, trying to tone up for the season ahead, a Summer like never before.

She passes shop windows, pretending she’s looking inside, though, no, it’s her reflection she sees and adores. She crosses the road, buys fruit for her day; her water waits on her desk at work. Horns toot, heads turn and she just continues her walk to work.

She’s on holidays in a week, will drive up the coast, spend a few nights alone in some sleepy beachside town, sunbaking, shopping, browsing, reading, writing, reflecting. She’ll return to lunch with her Sister, her Mother, and new Nephew, the next day she’ll lunch with a girlfriend, and then, I guess, she’ll return to work.

Y’now, four years ago I wasn’t even out; yet today this is me. Why do I write about who I am, about how much I adore my body, my personality? Because I’m proud! Because I’m allowed to be who I am! Because this is the Woman I knew I was, and now am.

It’s been traumatic, it’s been horrific, I’ve lost everything not worth having, and have gained everything worth having, most importantly a love for myself outwardly, but more so inwardly. I had no friends during transition, no friends from before, gained one along the way, and I’ve lost most of my family. I had no self-esteem, and any self-confidence I had was long taken from me by an overbearing father. I’ve lost money, I’m now bankrupt, I’ve lost self-respect through sleeping with men who loved me for my penis.

How vain am I? How dare I look at myself in mirrors, shop windows, how dare I be proud of who I am naked, in underwear, in clothes, as a whole. How dare I be happy!

I’ll treasure this Summer. My first complete Summer.

I am so lucky!

Being an immigrant to a new social gender:
Many transitioners put extreme pressures on themselves to get into and through their TS transitions. They boldly came out and sought help. They endured all sorts of pain, costs and embarrassments to transition. They gauged how well they were doing by comparing themselves with other transitioners along the way. At some point they seem "done" by comparison with others, because they've gone as far as any other transitioners they see around them.
What many transitioners do not realize is that they DON'T SEE the transitioners who kept on going and ASSIMILATED, and fail to notice role models for the further stages of assimilation as a woman.
Many transitioners thus don't realize that during the first years AFTER basic gender transition they must maintain a similar level of pressure on themselves as they did earlier in transition. Those immediate post-transition years are the time when they have a chance to re-socialize as women, and move beyond being just a "transitioner".
One way to think about this is by using an analogy: Transition is somewhat like emigrating from the "old country" and joining an immigrant community in the "new country". You've made the trip and "arrived" on the far shore along with some others who traveled with you. However, you are not "there" yet, not by a long shot.
Some people arrive in a new country and embrace its new language and social customs. They leave the "old ways" behind and quickly "assimilate" into the new culture, enjoying living and experiencing the new ways, and gaining full acceptance as a member of that culture. Like the young woman in the sketch above, some transitioners find wonders and joys in so many things in everyday life as a woman that they are drawn almost automatically into full assimilation.
Others immigrate into a country but never really learn the language or customs. They continue to live in the past, never assimilating or finding acceptance as members of the new culture At best they are always read as "obvious immigrants" and seldom travel outside the narrow confines of the immigrant community. It is the same for immigrants into a new gender: If you hold back, continue to live in the same place, go to the same job, and continue all your old relationships, and if most of those people still treat you as if you were from the "old country", then assimilation may be impossible. At best you'll end up with "permanent immigrant" status as a "TS transitioner" instead of as a woman.
Other useful analogies here are "kids who stay at home". We all know someone in our family or high school class who never got up the nerve to "leave home". They couldn't leave that comfort zone and go out into the world and make it on their own, creating a new life with new friends and activities, and leaving their childhood completely behind. This group, like immigrants, provide insight into the socialization challenge facing transitioners. In order to fully enter society they must at some point stop "living with their parents" and go out and make a new life for themselves, mostly leaving the past forever behind. If they do not make this separation from the past, they may forever be stuck there.
The "degree of social assimilation" is a very separate dimension of a transitioner's life from "passing" and from "stealthiness". It isn't about one's appearance or one's secrecy. Instead it has to do with the degree to which the transitioner embraces the new ways and totally immerses themselves in the new culture, as opposed to holding back to some degree or another, either out of lack of confidence, or lack of drive, or simply lack of real interest in the new culture.
Well, you might ask, how would you know how well you're doing? Is having a good job a good test? Is passing a good test? Is being stealth a good test? Sure, having a good job, passing and being stealthy are all good signs, but you could still be living a very confined existence. After all, someone still "living at home" could have a good job without anyone at work even knowing that. In fact, outside of work they might otherwise hardly be living at all.
It's the "little everyday things" that provide good clues about one's level of social assimilation. Here are some things you might use to measure your situation, and some things you can push yourself to do that can help you assimilate:
Do you still work where you transitioned? Or still live in the same house or apartment? Do you still hang out with your transition-time friends? Still go to the same places for recreation and socializing? If so, then all these things keep you in a "comfort zone" that is either in the "old country" or in the "immigrant community" in the new country, and this can interfere greatly with later assimilation. Remember, if there are too many things in your environment that constantly remind you of the past, then it's more difficult to take all the little steps you must to assimilate.
It's hard to be a beginner at new things when you are surrounded by past "successes". It feels embarrassing and awkward to make lots of beginner mistakes in the "new ways" around people who know you in the old ways. This is always the immigrant's dilemma: How to force yourself far enough away from immersion in the "old ways" so that you can let yourself playfully begin to immerse yourself in the "new ways". But this is what you must do if you are to absorb the many new lessons in everyday living, and get good at them, in order to assimilate.
Another question for you: Are you afraid to travel? Do you tend to stay confined to very familiar surroundings? If so, that's not a good sign. Travel is a great way to meet lots of new people, and enables you to keep trying out and evolving your personality and presentation. Plus you can have lots of fun too. There are many travel clubs that offer a wide range of economical trips in groups of other people. Traveling is a great way to begin to think more about where you'd eventually like to live, and about all the things you'd like to do in your new life. Thus one easy way to "break the cycle" of a stagnating "immigrant life" is to simply build a wanderlust and travel at every opportunity you can. Just DO it!
How about shopping? Do you hate going shopping for clothes? If so, that's not a good sign. Not that you want to be into clothes as fetishwear like a crossdresser, that's not the idea here. But you really should find a sweet simple joy in shopping, in finding nice clothes that express your personality, or in getting clothes in preparation for going out or taking trips or going to special events. These are things that many women love to do, and the atmospheres of department stores reinforce this simple joyful feeling for many women. One way to move forward and also add some everyday fun to your life, especially if you're feeling down or bored with things, is to do what so many other women do - GO SHOPPING!
How about having fun with make-up. Have you held back from learning new make-up tricks? Have you ever even taken any lessons at the cosmetic counters in department stores? If not, why not? Are you shy or feel funny about making up in public? If so, get over this and go learn to have fun with make-up. Most young women love to learn new make-up tricks and be pampered by cosmeticians. It's a wonderfully "girly place" to quietly enjoy being a girl. And remember, there are many GG gals who've never taken those lessons either! So it's no embarrassment and isn't a "tell" if you don't have much skill with makeup. Just walk up to the counter, say hi, and say "I need some make-up tips", and put yourself in their hands. It's lots of fun and to learn more about modern "natural-look" makeup tricks. You can do this at several different counters, and gradually learn methods and products that really work for you. And remember, you're never too old to learn new tricks!
Lynn getting some make-up tips in the cosmetics area
of the San Francisco Shopping Center in the summer of 2001
Another question for you: Do you buy and regularly read several women's magazines? If not, why not? Aren't you interested in them? Do you "feel funny" buying those magazines? If so, that's not a good sign, and is indicative of holding back from assimilation, of being unsure of oneself or even embarrassed and uneasy about one's "immigrant" gender status. This doesn't mean that you have to be "stereotypically female". Instead, you should begin feeling comfortable drawing on many new sources of knowledge about the world you've now entered, so that you can find good role models and visualizations of how to become the kind of woman you'd like to be.
Their are many wonderful magazines for women that convey and echo back much of what it means to be a woman in the U.S. today. Once you've transitioned and are settling into your new role, you'll begin notice all sorts of things on the covers of those magazines that immediately attract your interest - in the stream of articles about sex, love, dating, clothes, health, beauty, socializing, homemaking, and more. Those magazines convey how very much women focus-in on such things and also project how wonderful it feels to immerse yourself into that culture - a culture that ever increasingly resonates with your own deep gender feelings as you assimilate.
Instead of feeling distant from the women in those magazines and feeling somewhat of an outsider, as you might have felt when transitioning, you should now feel a rather strong pull towards what you see there, a natural pull to want to know more about what other women are thinking about these days, how they feel about their lives, how they want to appear and how they think about reaching their goals of love and romance and finding relationships and enjoying their sensuality and sexuality. All this should begin to produce a strong tug on your emotions and feelings, and you should want to be part of this culture just as a teenage girl strongly desires to become grown-up woman and a popular one at that.
Examples of popular women's magazines you might find useful to follow:
(click here for reviews of a range of magazines)

Reading such magazines you'll discover that it's women who "know the most about sex and love", ever so much more than men do, and who constantly talk about these things with their girl friends. Guys hardly ever talk about sex with other guys, and they hardly ever read about it either. Instead, it's the women who are the experts and who know "all about it" - the guys simply follow the subtle or not so subtle leads of women during lovemaking. You can really get a feeling for all this by reading women's magazines.
If you don't read such magazines and don't have many GG friends, you can end up in the dark about tons of important stuff that all reasonably sophisticated women tend to know about. This then inhibits your interactions with potential GG friends, who will sense that you are rather "backward" or are strangely naive about a lot of things, and this can hold you back from entering into mutually supportive relationships with other women. When entering any new culture, you're going to go a lot further if you embrace it, learn about it, honor it and try to fully experience it. Women's magazines are good basic tools you can use in this socialization process, and you can find at least a couple of them that are "right" for your personality and situation.
What about friends? Do you have some good GG girl-friends to talk to and be real pals with? If you don't, then you do not have good role models for assimilation. Most women, especially young women, love to talk about and share their experiences and feelings with their close friends. Women learn ever so many things from each other about relationships, about dating and romance, about making sexual and emotional adjustments in their love lives, about children and families and life in general. They help give each other confidence and encouragement as they seek the important things in life, and give each other solace and comfort when things aren't going well. It's really, really important for you to find ways to make some good GG friends to share all these things with.
However, modern young women aren't confined by older traditional notions of "what's feminine" either. Western women no longer have hang-ups about doing "masculine things" as did women years ago. You shouldn't hold back from sports and recreational activities just because some of them are not "traditional women's activities". Instead, go ahead and do those things without any fear that it'll "give you away". After all, being a good sport and engaging in activities that are outdoorsy or that mainly involve guys can be a great way to meet nice men too!
There is a whole new world to explore and to undergo re-socialization in as a woman. This process requires active engagement, a willingness to carefully watch others and to learn, and efforts to constantly gauge how well you are doing. You must put constant pressure on yourself to keep moving forward doing these things in order to move towards assimilation. Little everyday successes then start turning into more and more everyday joys to can fill your life with, and these new joys carry you ever further into assimilation.
Most girls learn all this stuff during their awkward teenage years, at a time when their rate of progress determines their "popularity". The pressure to internalize a female socialization forces teens into a very rapid learning of a huge range of subtle social scripts. After a while the young woman begins to feel comfortable in experiencing and expressing all aspects of her femaleness, and society daily reflects back to her that she is "doing well".
The transitioner must go through an equivalent period of awkwardness and rapid learning in order to complete their re-socialization as a woman. If they don't push through this awkward phase and get all the way through it, they'll get stuck somewhere short of assimilation and remain "an immigrant" (i.e., a transitioner).
Doing what it takes to fully assimilate requires taking lots of little risks and stepping through lots of little mental blocks and hurdles. Many of the steps feel as hard as when the early transitioner first publicly "crossdressed" into their new gender. It's hard for many to keep on pressing further into all this, and many little things hold people back, things of which they are not even consciously aware.
In order to break free of many things they sense are holding them back, most transitioners must at some point simultaneously move to a new location, change jobs, change residence, break off most past relationships and establish lots of new relationships (while in stealth or at least woodworked). They have to relish in the new ways, and really want to be that way. It's like leaving home at 18, or finishing college at 21. It's time to move on, make a new life for yourself and not look back.
One trick for noticing there's something you really SHOULD do is to sense when you're NOT comfortable about doing something. Watch for these signals of "internal resistance". You'll know when you are holding back, or when you feel shy about doing something. Those are the times when you SHOULD force yourself to do something, rather than rewarding yourself by reducing anxiety by not doing it. You should think - hey, I'm going to do this thing anyway, even if I'm nervous as heck about it. Then do it playfully, and just for fun!
If you if you really want to learn the "new ways", and if you can be a "playful beginner" at many things, you'll make rapid progress towards assimilation. Then, as you experience ever more things that fill your new life with joy and happy thoughts, you'll be drawn ever quicker down that path.
Enjoying and finding fulfillment in the world of work as a woman:
- - - going on to career success as a woman - - - the many issues involved - - - coming up with your own ways to deal with the obstacles that all women face in their careers - - - usually having to be much better than guys on the job in order to advance - - - the negative aspects of past affirmative actions and quotas , including not being taken seriously because of doubts about whether you really earned your position - - - learning to approach these issues in a positive and upbeat way - - -
- - - learning to really enjoy your work not just for the money, but also for the many social and emotional rewards it provides - - - after all, the world of work has largely replaced the extended family as the main arena for "social connections" in modern western society - - - what's nice about this is that it isn't such a huge loss to be alienated from one's parents and siblings and relatives nowadays, since most people no longer rely on those ties for social support anyway - - -
- - - however, this does raise the importance of a good working environment to new levels - - - especially for the assimilating transitioner who may not have any family for emotional support - - -
- - - the possibility of wanting to change fields of work after transition - - - of wanting to work in jobs having more human contact, as opposed to back-room technical jobs - - - for example in service, retail, sales or marketing roles, instead of technician work or programming jobs - - - of making a different tradeoff than guys do about money and status vs work life-style and enjoying good companions at work - - -
- - - most postop gals find that over time they feel much less aggressive and assertive on estrogen and as a female than they used to be at work, and notice that this probably puts them at a disadvantage - - - however, many are so released by and happy about their gender transition that they blossom, and are much more open and personable than before, thus compensating for their reduced aggressiveness due to the hormonal changes - - - and in many cases postop women are far more successful in their work after their gender transitions than before - - -
- - - one thing you must face and accept is the reality that women are still discriminated against in many subtle ways in employment - - - you WILL have to work harder and toot your own horn more, in order to be noticed and accepted as an equal at work - - also remember that most guys are VERY territorial about taking and getting credit for doing things - - - they do this aggressive stuff automatically without even realizing it - - - they'll take whatever they can get, and often steal credit from women who won't stand up for themselves - - - and that there may be some "glass ceilings" that you can't get through - - - and their is no equivalent among women of the many "old boys" clubs that honor and award each other for their accomplishments later in life - - - so many women's accomplishments in the past fade quickly from view - - -
- - - however, at least in the U.S. the opportunities for women are the best they've ever been anywhere in the world at any time - - - and most successfully transitioned women can fully participate in exploiting those wonderful opportunities - - -
- - - there are many stories on the Successes page which clarify that transition doesn't set up barriers to career success in many, many fields - - - and that postop women have very similar career opportunities as other women - - -
- - - first of all, one doesn't have to be born into a middle class family and go to college to be successful - - - it is possible to rise from modest beginnings and go on to good employment and make a good life for yourself - - - anything is possible, no matter how you started your journey - - - it mostly depends on your love of life and your drive to live fully - - - for example, see the stories of Belinda Darlington - - - Georgina Beyer - - - Dana International - - -
Belinda Darlington (Australia)
Hairdresser, nail artist, beautician
Georgina Beyer (New Zealand)
Dana International (Israel)
Singer, entertainer
- - - many of the stories on the successes site are about women who transitioned on-the job - - - and we can learn more about that experience by studying those stories - - - here are a few examples - - - Sarah: a captain pilot for American Airlines - - Trish McCurdy, a law enforcement office - - - Alina Petrova, a computer programmer in Russia - - - these and many other women on the Successes site have paved the way for others to follow in such OTJ transitions - - - all around the world - - -
Trish McCurdy 
Law Enforcement Officer
Captain (Boeing 767), American Airlines (es)
Alina Petrova (Russia)
Computer Programmer
- - - of course there are many transitioned women who enter stealth and go on to find good jobs and careers - - - we seldom learn about those stories because these women choose to remain in stealth - - -
- - - however, some of the originally stealthy women are occasionally outed along the way, and their stories come out - - - we can then learn a lot from these stories - - - here are some examples from the successes page of women whose stories came out after they had built successful lives in stealth - - - Jahna Steele, Lynn Conway, April Ashley, Carolyn Cossey, Kimberli, Aleshia Brevard, Christie Lee Littleton, and Rachel Padman, - - -
Lynn Conway
Computer Scientist
Christie Lee Littleton
Beauty Shop Owner/Operator 
Jahna Steele
Las Vegas Showgirl  
- - - You can learn more about a wide range of employment issues and the experiences of many transitioned women by also exploring all the other women's stories on the TS Successes page - - -
But what if you are outed?
The possibility of being outed still causes great fear in many postop women's minds - - - the likelihood and the impact of being outed were much higher years ago when transsexualism was "new" in the media - - - but even now it can be a great concern to many women, who worry about an outing that might ruin their hard-won personal lives - - -
the stories of April Ashley, Carolyn Cossey (Tula), and Rachel Padman illuminate this issue - - - from the 1960's thru the 1980's, being outed as a postop woman was usually a disaster for the women - - - especially in occupations in the public eye such as modeling and acting (discuss April's and Carolyn's stories) - - - during those day the media was relentless in running stories of "sex changes" as if they were scandals - - - and these women usually completely lost their careers - - -
April Ashley 
Carolyn Cossey (Tula)
- - - then, in the late 80's and on into the 1990's, feminist theoreticians began to consider postop women to be part of a "male conspiracy to take over women's spaces" - - - this bizarre theory led some feminists to go on witchunts to "out" any postop women they discovered who were in successful careers - - - discuss Rachel Padman's story - - - Rachel was a stealthy postop woman who was a physicist at Cambridge University in the UK - - - she was outed to the tabloid press by the feminist Germain Greer - - - however, she was luckily able to keep her position, although her life was seriously impacted by Greer's egregious actions - - -
Rachel's writings about her transition, her outing, and her later experiences contain a lot of wisdom that all postop women can benefit from - - -
Rachel Padman
- - - as time passed and we moved into the new century, the western media has become more sophisticated about TG/TS issues - - - transitions are "old-hat" now, and few are ever covered by the media anymore unless the person deliberately seeks publicity for some reason - - - thus the likelihood of press publicity due to intentional outings has greatly subsided - - - fortunately, the bizarre feminist theories about transsexuals have also fallen by the wayside now, except within tedious discussions inside "feminist academic circles", discussions which are no longer taken seriously by anyone but aging feminists - - -
- - - however, many stealthy women still must worry about being outed in their local employment and social environments - - - by, for example, an envious or competitive co-worker, an ex-lover, or just by someone with a grudge to settle - - - although media publicity isn't likely these days, a woman who is outed at work may face firing or may have to leave to avoid constant harassment if she lives in an area of the country where there are no human rights protections for TS women - - -
- - - some postop women confide in the human resources people when they get a new job, so as to avoid this possibility - - - by being open with HR, you are in a position to quietly report on any egregious harassment or efforts to out you, and get some assistance in fending off these difficulties - - -
- - - however, if a stealthy postop woman is outed to her close friends, or dating partners, or her lover, it can take a serious emotional toll in her life - - - and an outing can even put her in great physical danger - - - this may require her to start all over again socially in another city - - -
- - - it is no wonder that being in stealth, although very advantageous in many ways, can take its toll in fear and worries over time - - -
Building and experiencing a full social life:
- - - generating lots of activities, pastimes and methods for meeting people - - - establishing circles of friends - - -
- - - learning how to find out about "things going on in town" - - - getting braver and braver at trying out new activities - - - enjoying going out - - - enjoying music and dancing - - - be sure to let yourself go and get into dancing! - - - almost all girls love to dance - - - and feel free to get girly that way - - -
- - - then there are all the ways you can meet people - - - volunteer organizations - - church social activities - - -
- - - and to meet potential partners - - especially these days via the internet - - -
- - - there are so many possibilities of ways to open up new social opportunities - - to find and make friends - - to have fun things to do - - - don't let your past hold you back - - - just get out there and explore and have fun - - -
- - - and don't feel that you can only get into "girl things" like going on traditional dates, going out dining, dancing, and "partying", etc. - - - don't be afraid of having some activities that seem like "guy things" - - -
- - - One of the big secrets of women who easily meet interestign me, is that they simply "go where the men are"! They learn and participate in recreational sports and activities where the active attractive men congregate and where the men outnumber the women! - - -
- - - This is a really cool way to meet a lot of guys, and to also immediately have a common interest to share with them - - - outdoorsy activities are especially good this way - - - things like hiking, skiing, golf, tennis, bicycling, running, backpacking, boating, fishing, motorcycle riding, the shooting sports - - - getting into things like this is a great way to meet MEN! - - - and if you can be a good sport during the day, and not act as if you are aftraid to "break your fingernails - - - and then in the evening manage to glam up and look sexy too - - - then you're on your way to finding Mr. Right for you! - - -
Meantime, all these things provide great ways to stay healthy and active and have fun too - - -
If you like to do these things and really get into them, you'll be a happier more enthusiastic person - - and will appeal to potential partners more - - - Lynn enjoyed such sports for many years, and met many interesting men that way - - - She also met her husband Charlie that way - - - meeting him while canoeing one day. They initially hooked up not to go on dates but simply to go on canoeing trips together, and then nature took its course - - -
- - - building a full and active social life - - - dating and partnering - - - finding adventure and having fun
More about love and lovemaking:
- - - getting used to the idea of being attractive to men - - - and to the thrill of getting aroused when they pay attention to you, flirt with you and turn-on to you - - -
- - - see also Lynn's SRS page for more details - - -
- - - finally what to do when things "get really serious" - - - thoughts about when and how to "tell" a lover about your past - - - - - - finding and enjoying long-lasting love, companionship and partnership with a lovemate - - -
- - - marriage - - - for now see the following page - - -

- - - motherhood - - - for now see the following page - - -
- - - finally "surviving transsexualism" - - - getting a normal life after all - - - finding peace - - - finding a place where it no longer hurts to "look back" - - - having left behind any and all sense of shame or embarrassment or guilt about your life's trajectory - - - of gradually assimilating and feeling less and less nervousness and uneasiness in any new social situations - - - of feeling free to go on and do whatever makes you happy - - -
- - - building a real life - - - meeting and making real friendships - - - taking on and delivering on responsibilities - - - joining and participating in social communities - - - finding and giving love - - - fully exploring what you can do to lead a full and happy life - - - leaving tracks - - -
- - - then, beginning to sense how special your journey has been - - - that you have been an "immigrant to a new country" where you found the freedom you needed to live and thrive - - -
- - - and gradually realizing how much your journey has set you apart from other people - - - enabling you to experience wonders that others can only barely imagine - - - and yet enabling you to do this with a peaceful heart, and in a body that totally and comfortably resonates with your inner feelings, with the inner "you" - - -
Reaching out and sharing our stories:
Something I've noticed in long-postop women who are well assimilated is that after some years have passed they develop a strong urge to know others who share this same experience - - - we gain additional validation of our own lives upon discovering that many others have survived transsexualism and "made it too" - - -
- - - many of us then feel a need to reach out - - to get to know some of the other survivors, and share our stories with them - - - we also sense how our stories can help the many young transsexual girls who are now in their teens - - - girls who are wondering what the future holds for them - - - by giving them hope for a full and happy life too - - -
- - - many women in Lynn's TS Successes site are examples of this growing trend - - - of assimilated women who have quietly come out of long-term stealth to share their stories - - -
What happens as you get older?
- - - dealing with the aging process, just as ANY other women do - - - importance of adequate HRT, proper diet, staying active, engaging in vigorous exercise, using careful skin care (especially avoidance of cumulative sun-damage), avoid smoking, use alcohol in moderation - - - you may want to exploit cosmetic surgeries (botox treatments, face-lifts, blepheroplasty, laser skin resurfacing, etc. ) to counteract aging, just as any other woman would do - - -
- - - being sure to provide for financial security as you get older (it takes a lot more than most folks think) - - -
- - - and especially being sure to accumulate a lot of good friends for mutual companionship in your later years - --
- - - pets can be wonderful little companions at any time in your life, but they can be even more special as you grow older - - -
- - - if you are careful with your health and maintain your body well, then you will likely find that as time goes by you gradually "catch up with" other women your own age, in terms of being not only more fully passable but also looking attractive - - the longer time means more time on estrogen and longer time since testosterone - - - plus many other women your age will not watch their weight and appearance and will begin to fall by the wayside - - - so, in fact, many older postop women look much younger than their ages relative to the average woman their same age - - -
- - - all of these factors counter the myth that "growing old would be terrible for postop women" - - - that old myth is simply an urban legend based on the fact that most DQ's usually lose their pretty looks at an early age - - - but that shouldn't be a surprise - - after all, they are on testosterone, not estrogen! - - -
so - don't be afraid of aging - - it's a natural process and you can't stop it anyways - - - but you can find lots of ways to keep looking "competitively young" compared to other women your same age - - - and that can be fun and rewarding - - -
- - - remember, a big part of this is to have a happy outlook and avoid negative vibes - - - and keep on maintaining that happy woman's smile - - - because that is the one thing that really keeps you looking good! - - -
- - - examples of older women - - - Sara, Aleshia, Lynn - - - long-term postop women who are continuing to live fully as they grow older - - -
Photos of long-term postop women in their 60's who are doing just fine:
 Sarah, Ph.D.
Aleshia Brevard 
 Lynn Conway

Section IIIe:
Reaching for your dreams:
- - - the many risks vs the many rewards of gender correction - - - finally moving beyond being a "transsexual in transition" and assimilating as a woman - - - finally fitting into a skin that "feels right" - - - being able to "cut loose" and really live and love - - - of every new year bringing new possibilities and adventures - - - finding an honest-feeling place for yourself in society, without having to hide your innate nature - - - and being able to reach for dreams, dreams that were impossibly out of reach before, but that can be made to come true now - - -
- - - as time passes you can feel more euphoria from simple everyday things that would have been denied to you than can normals who take things for granted. Thus as really nice things happen once in a while, you can get a very deep satisfaction from them. I think this is like the "survivor's mind-set" often expressed by those who've had to overcome extreme physical dangers or diseases from which they might not have survived - and they then get a much heightened sense of life and joy in life - even simple everyday life - than most folks.
One doesn't want to have "unrealistic expections" - - - on the other hand, few probably anticipate the great pleasure in everyday things that being a "survivor of transsexualism" can bring - - - (instead of looking for unrealistic rewards or constantly seeking further validations that may not come)
As for me, I have a much heightened emotional and almost spiritual sense about everyday life than I ever had before transition. Even 35 years later I still thank goddess every day for being able to be who I am now. And that feeling of joy in life never goes away for me - - - this is something that many post-transition women learn to feel, and it helps them find joy in the simple things in life, especially the treasure of close relationships with friends and loved ones - - -

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PART III: Sections a,b 

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