Skip to comments.TEEN People Mag: Born with the wrong body - Transgender teens... (MEGA-BARF ALERT)
Posted on 06/28/2003 3:50:21 PM PDT by tgslTakoma
Kade Collins, 18, was a girl who felt like a boy. Samantha Lease, 19, was a boy who felt like a girl. Then each came out as transgender and felt much better
as told to Stephanie Booth
Growing up in Tucson, I was way more masculine than other girls. As early as four, I wanted my hair cut short like a boy's. When I was five, my mom made me wear a dress on Christmas, and I cried so much that she promised I'd never have to wear another. By age six, I'd only wear boys' clothes. People would scream when I went into a girls' bathroom and think a boy had sneaked in. I was mistaken for a boy a lot, but it didn't bother me. I wanted to be a boy: I dressed like one, and I liked girls.
When I was 11, I told my parents I was a lesbian. They're former hippies and really open-minded, so they were totally supportive. They encouraged me to attend a gay-lesbian support group at the local community center. At meetings I learned a lot, but being the youngest person there, I was too intimidated to ask the one question I really wanted to ask: Did other lesbians want to be boys too? Then one day I noticed the word "transgender" on a flyer at the center. I didn't know what it meant, so I looked it up in a book. I was blown away! Finally, a word that perfectly expressed what I was feeling. For the first time I could picture myself having the life I actually wanted to lead.
I started talking about how I felt with family and closest friends first. Luckily, they were accepting and respected my wishes by referring to me as "he" or "him." But at 13, when I got my period, I had to do something more concrete. I think I'd been in denial about being born into a girl's body, but suddenly it seemed official. And scary. When I became so depressed that I considered killing myself, my parents took me to a psychiatrist. He diagnosed me with gender identity disorder. I found it really insulting that he said I had a "disorder," but you have to get the diagnosis to go ahead with becoming a boy, and we all agreed that's what I would do. My doctor prescribed a synthetic hormone called Lupron to stave off my puberty and, to my huge relief, my breasts regressed and my period stopped. To become even more boyish, I'd have to take testosterone shots. My mom was ready for me to start, but my dad was more cautious. He came around, though, and most of my friends were cool with it too.
When I was a sophomore in high school, I started the testosterone. Before long my vooice started cracking, my muscles felt bulkier and I got facial hair. Then I got an elective mastectomy. During the surgery, doctors removed fat and tissue from my breasts to make them look more masculine. I'm not considering genital surgery, though. The results aren't that great, and right now, I'm happy with the body I have. Before hormones and surgery, I hated my body and didn't want to look at it at all. But after, I was admiring myself in the mirror. Other people started scrutinizing me too. My transition became the hot topic of conversation at school. I didn't mind the questions, but the stares and some of the comments were annoying. Most people lost interest after about a month or so, but a few kids couldn't let it go. At our winter formal, my older sister, Elliott, overheard some kid say, "That boy used to be a girl." Elliott said, "No, that's my brother. He's a boy." Having her stick up for me meant a lot. My transition was hard for her to understand at first, and I felt like this was her way of reassuring me that she loved me, no matter what.
You'd think all this stuff would make dating more difficult, but it's actually gotten easier - maybe because I'm more confident now. Just three months after I began taking the testosterone, I started dating a girl from school, Anna. We kept things quiet at first because she worried what other people would think. But she got over it quickly and was very supportive of me. We dated seriously for more than a year. Since our breakup I've had relationships with other girls, but I wouldn't rule out dating a guy, either. While I'm primarily attracted to girls, I focus more on each individual person and less on his or her gender.
It's kind of funny: When I first started "transitioning," I overcompensated by acting macho. I was trying desperately not to be seen as a girl, and I tried too hard to act like a boy. I was really into skateboarding and playing competitive sports. Now, I'm happy just reading and writing poetry. In a way, I don't identify myself as either male or female anymore. I'm just Kade.
As far back as elementary school, I identified more with girls than with other little boys. I always chose to play house with the girls instead of rough-and-tumble games with the boys. But what I was feeling was more than just wanting to play with girls - I actually wished I was one.
I was brutally teased in school. One time my mom took me over to a bully's house to show his parents the welts I had on my back - a result of his beatings. By the time I was eight, things had gotten so bad that my parents pulled me out of school and taught me at our home in Arlington, Mass. Still, whenever I was around other kids, like at my community theater group, someone always goofed on me for being different and said I was gay. But I knew I wasn't gay: I actually had huge crushes on girls.
Puberty threw me into an enormous depression. Becoming more masculine felt so wrong. Sometimes I'd secretly pray to God to make me into a girl. Other times I'd worry that I was a bad person because I couldn't just turn off those thoughts. It wasn't until I was 17 that I learned that there was an explanation for what I was going through: I was "transgender" and didn't identify with the sex I'd been born with. Although it was good to realize there were other people who had these feelings too, it didn't really solve anything.
Finally, when I enrolled at a small college in Iowa last year, I became involved with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community. It gave me both a better understanding of what being transgender was all about and the courage to tell my parents. They hadn't ever been alarmed by my femininity, but when I called them to tell them that I wanted to become a girl, they were more supportive than I'd imagined. It was a weight off my shoulders. With that, telling my college friends was no problem.
Not long after, I attended my regular GLBT support group dressed in women's clothing for the first time. Even though I was wearing a binder around my waist and false breasts, I felt so liberated. I started indetifying myself not as Spencer, my given name, but as Samantha.
The full transition to becoming a woman is going to be difficult. I'm starting vocal therapy to help make my voice more feminine. When I can afford it, I want to get sex reassignment surgery. If I had webbed toes or an ugly birthmark, no one would think less of me for repairing them. So why shouldn't I fix my misleading anatomy?
Still, it can be nerve-racking. I've never really dated, and I'm scared I might wind up alone. It's also unnerving to imagine how strangers will react. Once, when my friends and I were at a restaurant, a few cops asked where we were from. I was so anxious about how they'd respond to my male voice that I didn't say anything.
Even so, I don't feel that living as a woman is a choice for me. It's a necessity. In February, I arranged a rebirthing ceremony - sort of a "christening" for my new identity - in our campus chapel. The chaplain presided and 25 people, including professors, showed up. My friends read a few poems and took a vow to protect me. My mom announced how much she loved me. Afterward, a lot of people told me how strong I am to become a woman. All I know is, I have to be true to myself.
Remember, this article is in a magazine that is marketed to teenagers, with cover photos of today's teen idols and ads for makeup and teen products.
I was in the checkout line at a local drug store and saw "TEEN People" prominently displayed on the counter. The "TEEN" part caught my eye, and I then glanced down to read the titles of articles inside. When I saw the "transgender" article title, I was stunned. Is it not enough that adults are being bombarded with aberrant behavior as normal, but now we are recruiting teenagers into their ranks as well?
I had at first walked out of the store without the magazine; but then thought better of it and decided to post it here, in all its glory... for those of you who have kids and teenagers.
For one thing, this is a mega-BS alert. God does not make mistakes. If He wanted you to be female, you would be born a female. Period. Same thing for males.
Secondly, I have a major problem with this being in a magazine whose target audience is high school age kids. Is this kind of stuff really appropriate for kids?
Adolescence is a time of topsy-turvy hormones and emotions, and kids at this age often don't know who they are from one moment to the next. And for this girl's parents to help her mutilate herself - no, to encourage it - is beyond unbelievable to me. I think they should be charged with child abuse, or something. I fear this poor girl will one day realize what she did and will be emotionally scarred forever. God, I pray that I am wrong.
The boy who became a girl talks about how, if he had webbed toes, nobody would get upset if he fixed them... his college chaplain participating in a "christening" of him as a her...
I don't think an 11 year old can know at that age that she's a lesbian. At age 11 a child should not be forced (by society, by parents, by friends, by anyone or anything) to make a determination of his or her sexual preference.
Would you encourage your 11 year old girl to go to lesbian support group meetings? Would you pay for her to have her body mutilated forever at age 14?
Let me get this straight...this little girl had a 'gene' that told her that boys hair is short? And that girls 'genes' have a 'I want to wear a dress' code; which she didn't have?
Wow! this is a scientific break! But we better inform the rest of planet earth that has all kinds of hair styles and clothing styles for males and females from ours that their children are mutants...
What a stupid, stupid article...