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The Transgender Companion (Male To Female):
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Have You Experienced This Transgender Problem?

How often have you seen this common scenario occurring?
A male-to-female transgender person goes through all of their required counseling and therapy,
12 month Real Life Test, hormone replacement therapy, facial feminization treatments,
body sculpting, breast augmentation, and full gender reassignment surgery...
just to end up a year or two later becoming severely depressed
and even having intense feelings toward suicide.


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many post-transitional Male-to-Female transgender persons.

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spend an infinite amount of time and effort on changing and improving their physical selves,
but never give much thought or energy to
improving and feminizing their mental and emotional selves during that transitioning process.
Therefore, a large percentage of transgender persons tend to become little more than a...
"man going through life in a woman's body!"


Over the next several weeks, ABGender.com will be offering you a FREE course that will work to
improve your mental and emotional self, so you are better able to succeed happily
in your new life as a COMPLETE and confident woman...

For week # 1, my suggestion to you is:
Answer every one of the following questions thoroughly and honestly...

During the past 15 years since I began getting serious about my transgender aspirations,
I have come across literally tens of thousands of transgender persons.
Throughout those years, there was one question that I had heard asked far more often than any other
by people who were considering starting their transitioning process.

 
That one very simple question is:  Should I Transition to Become a Woman? 
While the question may be simple, the answer tends to be far less straight forward.


Naturally, whenever I've heard this question asked at the hundreds of TG support group meetings I've attended,
the majority of attendees shout out things like: "Yes, yes...DO IT!!  Don't wait, you'll be so glad you did it!"
Therefore, a support group meeting often tends to become not much more than a "pep rally" with little
genuine concern about this person's underlying welfare. And, so peer pressure to 'fit in' becomes
a primary focus...when, it really shouldn't even be a factor in the decision process at all.
Now, how certain are you that those support group attendees truly have your best interests in mind?


However, in order to constructively answer the question of whether or not you should transition,
you really do need to be able to answer this series of tougher questions that I always ask people...


Do you have a job/career?  Do you have a home?  Do you have a vehicle that is not yet paid for?
Do you have financial independence?  Do you have insurance?  Do you have respect in the community?

Are you 100% willing to LOSE ALL OF THAT???


Do you have any parents?  Do you have any children?  Do you have any siblings? 
Do you have any relatives?  Do you have any friends?  Do you have a significant other?
Do you have any coworkers?  Do you have an employer?  Do any of them have friends who know you?
Do you have anybody in your life who likes and admires you?

Are you fully prepared to betray, hurt and embarrass EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM???


Why is it you'll almost never hear gender therapists and support group facilitators
asking you those tough questions?


Now, I realize many of you may be thinking that these are not fair questions to ask
someone who is merely 'considering' changing their sex/gender. But the simple fact is, if we stay
 locked comfortably within the comfort zone of our own little fantasy world, and never prepare
ourselves for the potentially harsh reality that transitioning often brings, then...
 who is really to blame when somebody becomes severely depressed and even suicidal?


The hard fact remains, that until transgender people gain their universal respect and acceptance
throughout society, then transitioning may not necessarily be the wisest choice for everyone!


Yes, those ARE tough questions, indeed. But they all need to be answered before you should even
consider going down that long, winding, pothole-filled road into Transitionland!


Perhaps you might consider just cross-living for a while? That is, living in the female role without
beginning hormone therapy, just to 'test the waters' rather than simply jumping head first into the fire.

Robin's reasoning why so many transgender people tend to become depressed:
"We often get depressed when our reality does not live up to the expectations of our fantasies."
========================================================================================


For week # 2, my suggestion to you is:
SMILE  (seriously)!

Transgender people are notorious for not smiling often enough.
Whenever you start to feel down or depressed, just start smiling!


Try this simple experiment:
Notice exactly how you are feeling at this very moment.
Then, start grinning a BIG SMILE (showing lots of teeth) and keep smiling for 20 seconds.
Now, notice how differently you feel after smiling for 20 seconds.
Don't you feel happier and lighter than you had just a few seconds ago?


This is caused by a powerful physiological release of endorphins (our body's natural pain killers)
in our brain that automatically occurs whenever we smile...
which boosts our serotonin levels, thus helping us to feel happier.
Smiling simply makes us feel better whether we want it to or not.


I use this wonderful smiling technique everyday...like...just before I dial the phone,
I start smiling for just a few seconds. And that makes the entire call go much more smoothly.
Or when somebody cuts me off on the highway, rather than getting angry, I just smile at them.
Don't you think this world would be a happier place if we all started smiling more??

Try it, you'll like it!

"Smile, it gives your face something positive to do."  :o)
====================================================================================


For week # 3, my suggestion for you is:
Feed The RIGHT Dog Every Day...


In the final issue of the now defunct Positive Thinking Magazine,
there was a very enlightening article that I wanted to share with all of you - titled:

"Feed The Right Dog: Eleven easy ways to cultivate positive energy in your life"
by Jon Gordon.

Let me share a simple story. A man goes to the village wise woman about what's troubling him.
He says, "I feel like there are two dogs inside me. One dog is positive, loving, kind and
enthusiastic. The other is this mean-spirited, jealous and negative dog.
They fight all the time. I don't know who is going to win."
The woman thinks for a moment and says, "I know who is going to win.
It's the dog you feed the most. So, be sure to feed the positive dog."

Each of us has a positive dog and a negative dog inside us. The key is to feed the right dog,
so it becomes bigger and stronger. And, always keep in mind that,
negative thinking tends to become addictive in all of us!
Therefore, each day we must make a conscious choice to feed ourselves with positive energy
rather than negativity. The actions are simple. We just need to make them a habit.

Here are some ways to feed your positive dog:
1)  Repeat to yourself with emphasis: "I LIKE MYSELF". This quickly builds your self-esteem.
2)  Practice Gratitude. It's impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time.
3)  Laugh and play. It's not just for kids.
4)  Listen to your favorite music, or play subliminal audio programs.
5)  Think of your greatest moment whenever you're feeling down.
6)  Start a journal making note of your successes, big and small.
7)  Get together with a positive, happy person.
8)  Call someone who has made a positive difference in your life and thank them for it.
9)  Engage in a random act of kindness.
10)  Read uplifting books, or watch inspiring movies.
11)  Go for a 'gratitude walk' each day, where you say "I am grateful for"
...whatever you see that you like and that brings you joy...
i.e. singing birds, pretty flowers, soft breeze, finding a quarter on the ground, etc.

Pick one thing on this list and take action today.
You'll be amazed at how quickly it helps you think and feel differently.

Your positive dog is hungry for some satisfying nourishment. Go on, FEED IT!

"Yesterday's thoughts have created your present.
Today's thoughts are creating your future."
James Newman
====================================================================================


For week # 4, my suggestion to you is:
Change your thoughts, and you'll change your life!


Are you looking for the best way to change the way
you think about your life
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All outer change comes from inner change.
You need to change your own thoughts first, in order to change your own world. 
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Without question, your thoughts and thought patterns control your life.
Subliminal programs help to change your thought patterns at the deepest possible level,
thereby changing your life as a direct consequence.


To explain these in more depth, you need to know a little about something called "subliminal messaging."
Subliminal messaging is a method of sending messages directly to the impressionable subconscious mind,
bypassing the more critical conscious mind.
There are many ways of doing this, including barely audible messages, reverse messaging,
speed messaging, stereo confusion and other techniques.


The following subliminal CDs and MP3 files utilize the most powerful of these methods, delivering powerful,
positive affirmations directly to your subconscious mind using the latest audio technology.
(Please note that the actual affirmations sounds themselves are barely audible,
so they won't disturb your listening experience.)
Your subconscious takes these commands and uses them to "update" your deepest thought patterns,
and literally "reprogram" your mind with positive, new behaviors.


For example, you may use a subliminal CD or MP3 file for improving your confidence.
This program will send powerful affirmations to your subconscious such as "I am confident."
The subconscious will then begin using this new thought as a base reference point,
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Here are just a few of the 120 powerful titles we offer...

Declare Your Femininity
The following affirmations are used in this subliminal recording:
I am proud to be a woman!   I enjoy being feminine;   Being feminine comes naturally to me;
I am glad to be female;   I am comfortable with my femininity;   Every day I feel more feminine;
People admire my femininity;   I am relaxed about being a woman;   Being feminine is easy for me;
I am a naturally feminine woman;   I enjoy my femininity;   I am all woman;   I am feminine and proud!


You Are A TOTAL Money Magnet
The following affirmations are used in this subliminal recording:
I attract money!   I can make tons of money;   Making money is easy;   I know how to make money;
I make money easily;   Money comes easily to me;   Every day I make more money;
Money flows to me;   I enjoy making money;   Money is easy to make;   I am a Money Magnet!


Women's Ultimate Sexual Skills
The following affirmations are used in this subliminal recording:
I enjoy my sexuality;   I am happy to be a sexual woman;   I know what turns me on;
I know how to turn on my man;   Everyday I enhance my sexual skills;
It is easy for me to lose my inhibitions;   I am always learning new things about sex;
I find it easy to communicate my desires;   I love being sexual;   I am a great lover;
I know how to greatly satisfy my partner;   I am sexually instinctive;   I am a passionate lover;
I enjoy sex;   I am a sex queen!;   I am a sex goddess!


Other great titles include:
I am a Confident & Powerful Woman;   Increase Your Confidence With Men
;  
Become A Total Man Magnet Enjoy a Slim, Slender Woman's Body
;  
Beat Depression and Enjoy Life! Lose Your Fears Forever!
See Over 100 More Powerful CDs


These Subliminal CDs and MP3s really do work wonders!
I play the "Declare Your Femininity" MP3 everyday while working at my computer!

====================================================================================


For week # 5, my suggestion to you is:
Pick a direction that MOVES you, and move in THAT direction!

A major problem I have noticed over my many years living in and among the transgender
community is, that so many Male-to-Female transgender persons never really manage to find a real,
meaningful purpose in their lives. And without a real purpose, they tend to wander around
aimlessly through life, never really making a positive difference in anybody's life but their own.
Just like one of my all-time favorite motivational speakers, Zig Ziglar, says...
"You will never make it in life as a wandering generality,
you MUST become a meaningful specific."


One enormous benefit to having a definite purpose in your life is that...when you're truly focused
on making a positive difference in the world, all of these issues that would normally depress you,
just seem to 'bounce off' of you. Problems such as, society not accepting you, your boss and coworkers
being jerks to you, your financial situation hurting and many others all tend become rather petty and trite.
They just don't mean so much when you have a well-defined goal that will make a difference in the world.


The trick is, getting past your own petty selfishness, and throwing yourself into a cause that
moves you, and that makes you feel enthusiastic about getting out of bed everyday!
When you are "tuned into" a life-changing purpose that moves you, you will see that the
common everyday annoyances and pet-peeves no longer have any effect on you.
Why is that? It is simply because you are now focused on the bigger picture of your life.


Why is it, whenever I attend a meeting for one of the non-profit organizations I work with,
it is almost always the genetic females in the groups that are the ones who are typically raising
their hands to volunteer to help out with the various activities? Whereas (99 times out of 100),
the males avoid getting involved altogether.
If you want to become truly feminine, then you MUST be willing to offer your services and
GET INVOLVED in a cause that moves you!!  :o)


Another of my favorite speakers, Jim Rohn, often says...
"If you do not stand for something, then you will most likely fall for anything."
======================================================================================


For week # 6, my suggestion to you is:
Whatever you want to happen in your life, ask yourself why it is so easy to have it!


That may sound a bit strange to you. But the simple fact is, your subconscious mind works just like
an Internet search engine. When you ask it a question, it searches for the answer.


Examples:
If you weigh 200 pounds, and wish to lose 50 pounds,
don't say things like "I want to lose 50 pounds."
That will never happen for you, because your subconscious ONLY recognizes the here and now...
NOT the future!
And since your subconscious currently sees you as weighing 200,
it will sabotage all of your efforts to lose any weight.
Instead, you can make that far more effective if you change it to
"Why is it so easy for me to weigh 150 pounds?"
That way, your subconscious will SEE YOU at 150 pounds, and it will do everything necessary
to make 150 pounds a reality in your life!


Other common examples are:
"Why is it so easy for me to earn $100,000 per year?"
"Why are so many beautiful and desirable men/women attracted to me?"
"Why is my life so easy and rewarding now that I have become a positive minded woman?"
"Why do I have so many wonderful and loyal friends wanting to be with me?"
"Why is my entire life becoming better and more feminine everyday?"   Etc., Etc., Etc.


PLUS, if you repeat your questions over and over several times per day, it will compound your
results, thus making your wishes become reality in your life that much faster!
It WORKS....you'll see!!


Your motivational quote of the week...
"Why does everybody love me for the feminine woman I am?"

=====================================================================================


For week # 7, my suggestion to you is:
Thank everybody you care about and are grateful for.


Are there people you feel thankful that they have come into your life?
If so, then TELL THEM !!


Tell them something like...
"Thank you for dealing with and surviving all of the negative stuff throughout your life.
If you hadn't put up with all of that, you would not be such an integral part of my life today.
My life would not be the same if I had never met you.
I am sincerely grateful to you for coming into my life."


You will be surprised how endearing they will feel toward you.
Plus, it makes you feel WONDERFUL!!


Your motivational quote of the week...
You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are
the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love."
Henry Drummond

====================================================================================


For week # 8, my suggestion to you is:
Start your own Gratitude Journal

Take 4 minutes everyday to write down everything you feel grateful for.
If you feel grateful for good friends, loved ones, pets, nice weather, etc...write them all down.
Everyday, try to add more new things, people, events, etc. you feel grateful for.
Do this for a while, and you will notice your negative attitude becoming completely positive in a big hurry!


Your motivational quote of the week...
"When you're nice to people, they want to be nice back to you."
Jack Canfield: American motivational speaker and author
====================================================================================


For week # 9, my suggestion to you is:
Create an Appreciation & Depreciation Journal
Take a blank sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle from top to bottom.
At the top of the left side, put the word "Appreciation"
And at the top of the right side, put the word "Depreciation"
Under Appreciation, write down anything that you see or experience that makes you feel good.
Under Depreciation, write down anything that you see or experience that makes you feel down or frustrated.


For examples:
If you've received a nice compliment today, write that under Appreciation.
If you were insulted or offended today, write that under Depreciation.
If you saw a rabbit or a bird, etc. today, and that made you happy, that goes under Appreciation.
If you were angered by another driver on the road, that goes under Depreciation.
If you made every green light while driving to work, put that under Appreciation.
If you hit ever red light coming home from work, put that under Depreciation.   Etc., etc., etc...


This awareness technique will show you how you can literally change ALL of your negative thoughts
into positive feelings with this one very simple (and fun) exercise.


Do this powerful technique for the next seven days or more.
What you will quickly discover is that, at first, your Depreciation list will probably be much
longer than your Appreciation list. But, after a few days, you will inevitably begin
to notice that your Appreciation list will become considerably longer than your Depreciation list.
And eventually, you will no longer see or feel anything negative at all...
Your Depreciation list will soon cease to exist, because you will begin to see a bright side
to everything that you experience.


Your motivational quote of the week...
"The shortest distance between two people is...HUMOR"
====================================================================================


For week # 10, my suggestion to you is:
Make two lists...
In the first list...write down 10 things that you truly like about yourself.

In the second list...write down 10 things that other people like or admire about you.


Hold onto those two lists, you're going to need them later on in your life!

Have an AWESOME life!

Your motivational quote of the week...
"Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to
feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new."

Brian Tracy: Motivational speaker and self-help author





Transition Frustration
By Gianna E. Israel

It is an eventuality that everyone encounters frustration -
and for transgender individuals there is certainly no escaping it.
My guess is if you have a transgender identity and were to make a list of frustrations you've encountered,
gender-related issues are somewhere on that list.

If you are interested in reading about difficult experiences that other transgender persons encounter,
the following are examples: -- Not being approved for hormones.
If this continues beyond three to six months get other professional opinions; --
Not being able to figure out clothing and make up. Ask your friends or support group members for help.
Also, seek consultation at department stores. The Internet is also a great source of tips.

Other transition difficulties involve family members.
Often a spouse or parents will have been told to too much, too soon.
This often occurs at the very beginning of transition before the transgender person receives enough
information to adequately manage the disclosure. In some circumstances the questions are relentless.
What is to be done?

One winning strategy is to figure out responses or answers that will buy you time.
This will allow you to consult with a gender specializing counselor, as well as understanding friends,
and gain a consensus of what seems to be the best approach in your situation.

Frustration during transition and beyond is just as likely to occur from internal dilemmas as external situations.
When this occurs, it is helpful to have a review of coping tools you can use to master the experience.

Just when it feels as if the world is caving in on you, that you are helpless to deal with matters,
that is the time to develop a strategy to regain self control. Some people choose to take a 'time out' from a
difficulties, others call a friend and ask for help. What may be most helpful, is to remind yourself
that most circumstances are manageable. In fact, it's highly likely that you've already developed that
skills to creatively deal with the situation, and it may be wise to review things that have worked for you before.

If you haven't dealt with a situation before there is a good chance an experienced, knowledgeable friend has.
Whether you or they have, it's critical to recognize when a situation feels overwhelming and may impair
your judgment. In other words, learn to recognize when you are least likely to make good, informed decisions.
For most people this includes time when one is extremely tired, anxious, depressed or isolated.

Being transgender there is also the likelihood that others, generally malcontent people,
will intentionally make issue of your being transgender. Often these are bullies who must pick on
other's perceived differences to make themselves feel bigger or better. And, there are also individuals
who will be more subtle by excluding you from activities and opportunities extended to others.

This type of harassment and discrimination can be very frustrating. Do not fall into the trap of believing
something is wrong with you. If you are harassed, decide whether it is worth your effort to confront the person.
Essentially, if you feel the chances of this occurring with the same person are high, tell the individual
his or her behavior is small and does nothing to reflect better qualities.
If you feel you are being discriminated against, such as in the workplace, consider pointing out your skills -
and reasons why you should be included or promoted.
If you consistently find yourself excluded or denied advancement opportunities,
begin developing documentation regarding this and discuss it with a therapist or attorney.

If one thing is certain, as a transman or woman you will develop a wealth of experience dealing
with frustration over time. Matters generally do get better for most people with time.
If you find this not to be the case, consider seeking short term counseling to learn how to deal with
anger management and frustration. Or, talk with several friends or colleagues and ask what
strategies they use to improve their situations.

Any effort you make to improve yourself can either be used to deal with matters or find a better situation.



Being Your Own T-Girl Star!
by Gianna E. Israel

I will be the first to admit it. I make a specific point to avoid watching the circus of
television "talk shows" and other media featuring transgender persons and issues.
Although I have a host of colleagues, clients and friends who keep me apprised of
any production containing quality education or human interest material.
For the most part, however, television shows, in particular seek little if any input from reputable
transgender information sources and are poor representations of our community or needs.
Rather, the majority contain nothing more than ill equipped attention seekers or
highly biased "spokespersons." The end result being, transgender individuals and their activities
are continually portrayed as dysfunctional, deviant and pathological. These reflections introduce the question,
"what can transgender individuals do to help build positive community images?" Actually, there is plenty.

While crossdressers, transgender persons and transsexuals may lead different lives,
all are capable of enhancing basic communication skills and effectively passing on positive
information about transgender persons. While most individuals are not asked to participate in
media representation, I encourage those that are to contact an established transgender
organization and gain information from others familiar with media representation.
Also, individuals wishing to get involved in media representation, can join a transgender "speaker bureau,"
which provide public speaking training. There individuals can learn to give effective presentations
to schools, psychology students, law enforcement agencies, hospitals and other places needing
information about transgender persons.

Not all individuals have the time or motivation to take part in speakers bureaus,
and in practice even viewer will have an opportunity to appear on talk shows.
This does not mean however that you are not a spokesperson. Whether you privately crossdress or live
"in role," because you are a transgender person this means you also are a representative of our community.
In some circumstances you may even be on "center stage" and the star of your own show.
Your choices in presentation and the way you communicate or "educate"
about transgender issues have an effect in other person's perceptions of you and other transgender persons.

Every Star needs good PR.
The following pointers can help build your representation skills as a transgender person.

Anonymity
Yes, even closeted persons can take a role in public education without disclosing their transgender
status or crossdressing needs. If you overhear or are involved in a conversation where transgender
persons are being poorly portrayed, you can offer counterpoint information.
Such as circumstances you have read in the newspaper or viewed on television.
Various publications occasionally run "human interest" accounts of transgender persons,
who may work as police officers, city legislators or even as Mayor..
Also, there are international celebrities such as "Tula" who starred in a James Bond movie.
The point is to suggest that transgender people also lead quality lives and are not restricted to stereotypes.
You do not have to talk about yourself, although offering counterpoints to anti-transgender conversations may
provide you some clues into who might be supportive of your needs should you ever choose to disclose.

Presentation
If you are a person who ventures out in public crossdressed or lives "in role," your presentation plays a
key role in how others perceive you. Your presentation will also reflect on how others view transgender
persons in general. One concern many transgender individuals have, is whether they are "passing" in
their assumed gender role. The fact is very few pass one-hundred percent of the time.
Consequently the essential element in building a good outward image is not simply passing,
but rather building a presentation that reflects confidence, self-esteem and pride.
If you are going out for a night on the town, dress in attractive attire suited to the places you are visiting.
On the other hand, dress in crisp, clean business attire if you have a job interview,
public speaking engagement, or are going to appear on television.

Impressions
First impressions are lasting impressions. Nothing creates a poorer image than an attractive,
well-presented person who acts rude, obnoxious, hostile or abusive toward others.
Be polite, use phrases such as "please," "thank you," and "you are welcome" with sincerity when
interacting with others. Nearly every day there are situations where you will create lasting first
impressions as a spokesperson representing yourself and your community.

Communication
Developing and using effective communication tools are essential elements when representing
yourself or others. If you are going to share your transgender identity with others,
it first helps to have a good base of information about gender issues so that you can educate effectively.
Typically when people ask questions about gender issues, they will also ask "parallel"
questions about subjects you may not have experienced first hand.
Even though some components of the transgender experience may differ from yours,
people may still ask questions about sexual identity (or orientation), FTM issues, drag queens,
hormones, the model Ru Paul and so forth.

In sharing personal experiences, a common mistake is to "minimize" or "negate" experiences or
opinions while communicating with others. You never need apologize for being a transgender person
or having different feelings, experiences or viewpoints. In contrast to those who put themselves down,
there are people who have monster-egos. This type of individual continually interrupts and dominates
conversations by talking solely of themselves. They leave no room for others to ask questions
or make observations about the topic at hand.

When "educating" about transgender issues, it is possible to "frame" your words and phrases so that
dialogue with others serves you. Reduce the possibility of alienating or prejudicing others by
"de-sensationalizing" your vocabulary. Phrases such as gender problem, gender crisis, drag queen
and sex change lend a negative portray to gender issues. Less alienating and more attractive phrases
include (trans)gender issues, gender identity issues, transgender needs, living in role.

Sound Bites
In counseling, I encourage clients to develop easily memorized educational phrases which reflect
basic information about gender issues and their personal experiences.
For example, a crossdresser in disclosing their status might simply say, "I'm a crossdresser."
When questioned for further information, or when choosing to offer such, the individual might additionally say,
"I do this becomes it fulfills my inner need to explore opposite gender feelings and experiences," or,
"I do this for a sense of emotional release." Creating short, educational sound bites that put a positive
spin on your life experience and needs. Sound bites can also be fun as well as provide a refreshing
escape from overused clichés, such as "I'm a woman trapped in a man's body."

Levels of Disclosure
Not everyone you disclose your crossdressing needs or transgender identity to is going to be interested
in hearing "how your first experiences involved wearing on your mother's pantyhose," or "how your
siblings tormented you by forcing you to wear opposite-gender clothes." In addition, most people have
short attention spans, so learning about the intricate details of your transgender experiences
may not hold much meaning. Briefly disclosing your transgender status and adding in a
couple of educational soundbites will satisfy most people's curiosity or resolve difficult situations.

When disclosing, remember to only disclose your transgender status if you feel it will add quality to a
relationship or provide resolution to difficult circumstances created by your having special needs.



Transgender Embarrassment & Shame
by Gianna E. Israel

Most of us have experienced it at one time or another.
It starts with a sense of uncertainty and can grow exponentially into a major debilitating attack of self-doubt.
When we feel embarrassed we actually feel shamed.
Often these feelings are associated with a variety of assumptions as well as
facts about our appearance or activities, and other's perceptions of us.

There are a variety of situations which can make us uncomfortable at times,
such as being addressed with the wrong pronoun. Or, we may wonder if we are being stared at
or treated differently because others notice our transgenderness.
The fact is, sometimes our assumptions are true.
After all, at times transgender men and women look different than non-transgender persons.
Yet, on the other hand, sometimes a person may only be admiring our appearance and
couldn't care less about our gender identity.
Or, occasionally, the person who incorrectly addresses us may simply do so
because they are unfamiliar with gender issues.

Embarrassment and shame are interesting because these types of reactions and
feelings can be intense, often bringing quick rise to other feelings and responses.
Many a transsexual is familiar with the uncomfortable feeling he or she is being stared at
because they appear different, and then have those suspicions confirmed when addressed incorrectly.
In a matter of moments those sinking feelings of self-doubt can be transformed into anger,
tears and even a depressing state of resignation. Now, for the positive news.
With some practice, it becomes fairly easy for people to identify what types of situations cause shameful feelings.
This is particularly so when embarrassing situations and feelings become repetitive,
and a persistent pattern is noticeable.

Once patterns are recognized, an individual can then decide if the energy they are expressing
during embarrassing situations is productive. Sometimes our reactions to incidental situations can be productive.
For example, a momentary feeling of discomfort can easily be set aside by remembering that
we are prone to human error, such as when we accidentally spill a glass of water.
In this circumstance shame helps keep us from making the same mistake twice.
There are however other times when being embarrassed or shamed feelings are not productive.
This would be so when these feelings prevent us from engaging in activities or interactions with
people we might otherwise consider routine. If this is so with you, then you can start changing your
reactions by first asking yourself questions about how you respond to embarrassing situations.

Why do you think you feel shamed? Does your reactions remind you of past experiences?
Can you give yourself permission to acknowledge that a situation is embarrassing, and then move
forward and deal with the actual situation from a place of distance?
How have you dealt with similar feelings in the past? Which responses were successful, and unsuccessful?

Also, do not hesitate to ask questions about the actual situations which cause you embarrassment.
Sometimes these situations have nothing to do with you personally,
and everything to do with the other person or actual situation.
Are you being treated any different than a non-transgender person would be treated?
Does the situation really warrant your attention and energy? Is the person who called you a
wrong pronoun being vindictive? Or, do you sense that others may simply not be aware of
transgender people's needs?

Are you doing anything wrong by being who you are and carrying out your activities?
This is the most important question you can ask.
Regrettably, far to many transgender men and women believe themselves to be medically diseased,
mentally disordered or plain old-fashioned, socially-unacceptable.
These notions are based on outdated facts, and no man or woman need be ashamed for
having a transgender identity or needs.

For persons in the process of "coming-out," and especially those beginning full-time transition,
dealing with embarrassment and shame issues can seem a monumental task.
My advice, save yourself a great deal of time and wasted energy by getting over it as quickly as possible.
And, do not under any circumstance, allow another person to abuse, discriminate or take advantage
of the fact you are different. Expressing your gender identification is a natural growth process,
and going about your day-to-day activities is your right as much as anyone else's.

If you find that patterns of embarrassment and shame prevent you from doing the things you want,
and you are not able to resolve these issues on your own.
Seek professional counseling assistance or introduce the issue as a topic of discussion at
your local support group. However, when seeking professional assistance, clearly indicate to the
careprovider what you wish to focus on, and do not allow the careprovider to distract you
from your goals by reintroducing gender materials you have already resolved.
The best way to confront issues of embarrassment and shame is to confront the issue head on,
and resolve it as soon as conveniently possible so that your day-to-day activities are not unnecessarily interrupted.




THE SECRET OF CONTENTMENT
by Linda Abbott Trapp, Ph.D.

Learn to want what you have, more often, more fully
Savor the life stage you are in right now
Avoid the cravings that lead to greed and discontent
Balance ambition and repose


This morning I woke with Max snuggled against the curve of my wrist,
and Harley nestled into my shoulder on the other side. Both cats were purring in quiet harmony,
and they rearranged themselves without a fuss when I stretched and rolled over.
Captain Bob reached down and scratched the ears of his twin Golden Retriever pups,
Lassen and Shasta, and I spoke to Nikki, our old Shepherd mix, to see if she was ready to go outside.
We sleep in a zoo, and it's not everyone's cup of tea, but it's gentle, friendly,
safe, and loving, and I like it that way.

After breakfast, which includes some banana bread with plantains stirred in, we'll walk the dogs
around the neighborhood, stopping to practice our Spanish by greeting the neighbors.
I'll admire the royal Poinciana tree now in full bloom, a cloud of red orchids, and we'll try to
identify the birds so vigorously defending their territories. Then, to church, where I get to have a field day
with the pipe organ key I just found on the little keyboard. The afternoon will be spent writing,
playing music, and swimming, with maybe a little fishing as well. It's a lovely way of life, and for the most part,
I'm quite content with the mix of labor and leisure, interaction and solitary, thoughtful work.

The part of me that isn't content is a part I recognize - a bit of ambition, and a bit of greed.
Ambition's a healthy impulse, and greed isn't, so it takes a little doing to sort it all out.
The secret to contentment, I'm told, is to want what you have, simply that.
But as Marie Ebner von Eschenback pointed out a century ago, "To be content with little is hard,
to be content with much, impossible". It seems that the more you have of things, of opportunities,
even of education, the more you want.

Once that's gone, so is any chance at contentment. Greed simply kills it.
If you've ever wondered why the poets celebrate the contentment of the poor, this explains it.
Once the appetites are whetted, satisfaction is elusive indeed.

Ambition is, as I've said, a more healthy impulse. Henry Ward Beecher's comment is very helpful:
"We are not to make the ideas of contentment and aspiration quarrel, for God made them fast friends.
A man may aspire, and yet be quite content until it is time to raise; and both flying and resting
are parts of one contentment."

So, the secret is in the timing, and I may yet learn to paint, once the writing is done.
Because all of us are multi-talented, we can benefit by learning to focus, turning our attention, ambition,
and aspiration to one talent, then the next, then the next, in due season,
building a rich and contented life layer by layer.

I think the chances are better of living that rich and contented life if we spend a little time burrowing
into each layer, exploring, nurturing, detailing, and savoring it. Sometimes in the most unlikely
circumstances real contentment lurks just below the surface. Helen Keller found this to be true.
"Everything had its wonder, even darkness and silence, and I learn,
whatever state I may be in, therein, to be content."

Let's take the layer you may be in right now, perhaps adjusting to family changes,
perhaps learning to fit in at a new school or a new job. It would be easy to hurry past any transitional stage,
to long for stability. If you're a young person, it may be that the adult years look ever so secure and
reliable to you. And yet, the curiosity you share now, the innocent take on family, local,
and national events, the ability to evaluate people's intentions,
are real treasures worthy of study and celebration.

If you'll spend a little time capturing your thoughts and feelings, even writing them in a journal,
you won't overlook the valuable insights you have, right on the tip of your tongue.
And maybe, just maybe, you'll be a bit more contented with being who you are right now,
at this age and in this place.

I'll try to do the same. There are days I'm tempted to un-retire, go back to "being somebody" full-time again,
to the competitive rush and the fat paychecks and the constant pressure. But it passes, and I know that this,
for the moment, is enough, to write and walk and swim and seek, to love and live this way,
right here, right now, in precarious and precious contentment.

Workbook Questions:
1. What is the best part of the life stage you are in now? How can you enjoy it more fully?
2. Have you ever experienced intense greed and craving? What led to it? Did it result in happiness?
How have you overcome it?
3. Who is the most contented person you know? Could you ask that person to talk about what gives
them that deep level of satisfaction?
4. What can you do today to begin to raise that level of participation in all life has to offer?
5. Who do you admire that lives life to the fullest, and what can you learn from that person?

Adapted from: "Contentment". In L.A. Trapp, (2008). Intentional Living; Lessons from the Tree of Life.
Puerto Vallarta, Abbott Publications.

References:
* Partnow, E., (Ed.) (1977). The Quotable Woman. Los Angeles, Pinnacle Books, Inc.
* Seligman, M.E.P., (2002). Authentic Happiness. New York, Free Press.

About the Author:
Dr. Linda Abbott Trapp writes from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
A former Dean at the California School of Professional Psychology, Certified Speaking Professional,
and owner of the consulting firm Abbott & Associates, she's an internationally known speaker
who has authored seven books and more than 250 articles, columns, and reviews.
Her recent books can be previewed at: http://www.abbottpub.com





"Cross-dressing and the Trojan War"

By Harley Jane Kozak

One of the big fringe benefits of being a writer is research, and the enlightenment it brings.

For instance:

My four year old son cross-dresses.
He comes home from school and gets into pretty dresses—silks, satins and velvets are his favorites,
with beading or flowers—then loads up on hair ornaments, nail polish, high heels, evening bags, makeup and jewelry.
He also likes to advise me on my wardrobe. It’s like living with Isaak Mizrahi.
Lately he’s been pushing on me a certain slinky black silk number with attached feather boa
that he considers suitable for carpool, jogging, and shopping at Costco.

I don’t have statistics—or J. Edgar Hoover—on hand, but my understanding is that cross-dressing is
independent of sexual preference—i.e., there are lots of heterosexual guys out there wearing lingerie.
I can’t speak to this as far as my son is concerned, because he’s not quite four years old.

And none of it troubled me till this week, when my son announced his plans to wear ruby slippers
and turn into a girl when he grows up. His sister informed him that he would NEVER become a girl,
because he’s a BOY and would always be a boy, because THAT’S HOW LIFE IS.

“Actually,” I started to say, “he can become a girl someday, if he wants to,
and he can certainly wear ruby slippers, assuming he can find them in his size” but was this the time for the
transgender/transvestite/gay/straight discussion?

They’ll figure it out eventually. If they pay attention at the next family reunion they’ll notice there’s
quite a bit of diversity under that tent. Which leaves me with my own mixed feelings on the subject.

I love gay people. I grew up in theater. I did musicals. Half my professional influences were gay,
and most of my closest friends. The problem is, the majority of them are now dead.
I came of age in New York and L.A. when the Sexual Revolution ran smack into AIDS,
so I can’t even listen to show tunes now without weeping into my espresso.

For most of my friends, it wasn’t all LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, or even BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.
I come from Nebraska, BOYS DON’T CRY country. Every person I know with any kind of alternative gender
or sexual preference issue lived through hell while coming to terms with it.

So when I think about my son and anyone taking issue with his evening gown and chiffon scarf, I get all worked up.
Violent images run through my mind, the kind that end in lawsuits.
Good mothers do not commit assault, do they? But what do they do?
Warn their children about the dangers of complete self-expression in social situations?

I found the answer in Homer (no, NOT Homer Simpson).
Homer. THE ILIAD...

Which I’m slogging through as research for my novel-in-progress.
Guess what I found out yesterday? Achilles’s mother, Thetis, knowing her son wouldn’t survive the Trojan War,
tried to keep him from being recruited into the Greek Army by dressing him in women's clothing.
Now this isn’t a scene you’ll find in the Brad Pitt film, TROY (why not?) and also, it didn’t work.
But it reminded me that there are worse things in life for a child than falling outside the mainstream.

And you can bet that if they reinstate the draft, in about fourteen years,
I’m lending my son that slinky black number with attached feather boa to wear to his Army interview.

Can’t hurt, right??  ;o)





Angry?
by Gianna E. Israel

People have a variety of angry feelings at different times during their lives,
and transgender men and women are no exception. What is particularly fascinating about this feeling,
is it is the most misunderstood, yet, the energy behind it holds the most promise for change.
As a careprovider I have somewhat of a unique insight into anger, because in addition to gender practice
I have provided services to others who have been greatly wronged within my civil rights case management activities.
 Anger is plentiful with so much hardship in our lives.

Read the following sample statements, and see if any sound familiar.
My own anger or that of others frightens me.
If I allowed myself to feel my anger I quite possibly might self-destruct or hurt others.
No one knows how angry I really am. I keep my experiences buried deep inside so that I don't have to feel them.
I know I feel angry too often, and there is nothing that can be done.
I explode when I don't get my way, shouting and throwing things at times.

If any of the sample statements above sounded familiar,
there is a possibility you may have trouble handling anger.
If that be the case, you are not alone, because many people do. Another self-introspective way to
gauge your emotional control is to examine your responses to other important feeling groups.

Are you able to feel happiness and joy each day?
If not, there is a chance situational anxieties and depression may contribute to your feeling angry.
Is there a great deal of sadness in your life, even if for no explainable reason?
What about shame and fear? Each of these is powerful emotions connected with a loss of something internal
or external to you. It would not be surprising to find that you also feel anger once you identify the loss.

Anger is not unhealthy in and of itself. Without it, people would be unable to express feelings of frustration,
discontentment and irritation. What is unhealthy, however, is expressing this powerful emotion with
inappropriate behavior or at times when important affairs need priority, or simply never expressing anger at all.
Transgender folks are no exception to these basic principles, and it is worth observing that at times we can
be extremely angry and not realize it.

Why we are angry can vary between persons. Sometimes folks are just having a bad day, and light up easily!
Other times an individual may not find it easy to get along with others, particularly those with
differing viewpoints or experiences. With these and other anger-causing events,
it is realistic to observe that we cannot always choose those things which make us angry.
We can choose to move beyond, change environments, and create new anger-reduced realities.
The preceding includes reducing our contacts with situations and people which are
known to repeatedly cause conflict.

There are a variety of ways we can use anger to our benefit, here are some condensed pointers:

* Channel anger into education, advocacy and activism benefiting others or you.
Be professional in your activities by allowing your personal anger to fuel your drive forward,
but be mindful that professional-type behavior will be the most respected by others.
* Change the subject. It may not feel so at the time, however an argument with someone on
one subject might easily be set aside. Create the possibility of discussing other affairs,
as this may help you establish a common ground with people when they or you are having a disagreement.
People who disagree regularly or enjoy debating can agree on discussion limits or 'rules of the game,'
thus allowing a formal or informal structure to keep talks focused, and meaningful to all parties.
* Respect others feelings. If you are being told more than once that your behavior is hurting another person,
stop and ponder your contact with the individual. Maybe the person is sensitive,
or perhaps you really are hurting someone's feelings. Either way you will not be heard if you hurt others'
feelings to the point they lose interest in you, or do not feel you will treat them well.
* Express your own feelings in a private, direct and sophisticated manner.
It takes a mature person to know when and when not, to confront others.
Generally it is best to do so privately, just as soon as both parties can agree upon a time to discuss
each others feelings about a certain topic or activity. We also know that focusing how the person's
behavior effects you, or the cause of anger, is far more effective than name-calling, swearing,
or making demeaning statements.
* Refuse to accept verbally or physically abusive or violent behavior. Ask a third party for assistance
resolving a dispute if matters come to this.
* Change the method of communication. Surprisingly, what is relayed angrily in writing might very easily
be cleared up in person or via the telephone. It is also conversely true that writing down your feelings
and relaying these to another can often help keep your thoughts focused.
If discussing a situation seems to be going nowhere in the home, at the office or in ordinarily settings,
you can upgrade the setting! Discussing situations and feelings over a nice lunch or dinner
can help keep things civilized and possibly create a nice experience for both parties.







Transgenderists:
When Self-Identification Challenges Transgender Stereotypes

By Gianna E. Israel

There has been an interesting development in the transgender community in recent years, specifically of persons
who do not identify with the social and clinical definitions which apply to individuals with gender identity issues.
Traditionally, those who comprise what is frequently referred to as the "transgender community" include transsexuals
and crossdressers. In part, the definitions on who is a transsexual and who is a crossdresser are defined by
social stereotypes and clinical literature; however they are also defined by those unique persons who
have transgender experiences.

A transsexual is a person who transitions and permanently lives as a member of the opposite gender.
These persons seek out sex hormones and cosmetic surgery. This includes breast augmentation or mastectomy
depending on the direction of change. In addition, transsexuals are interested in Genital Reassignment Surgery
or what is also known as Sex Reassignment Surgery. It is common knowledge that there is a larger proportion
of individuals who self-identify as transsexual, than the actual number of people who have genital reassignment.
This in part is due to the high financial, emotional and social costs associated with living as a member of the
opposite gender as well as the surgical procedure itself. There also exists a number of individuals who are unable
to undergo Genital Reassignment. More information about those persons will be briefly addressed later in this article.

Crossdressers are persons who temporarily wear clothing of the opposite gender to fulfill an inner sense of need
or reduce gender related anxiety. Typically crossdressing is done privately, although some persons do so
publicly when circumstances appear safe. Some also crossdress for sexual fulfillment, such as in
"transvestic fetishism." While crossdressers do not experience the many difficulties transsexuals face during
the pursuit of transition or Genital Reassignment, they do experience emotional turbulence, social isolation,
or concerns regarding privacy and whether to tell others about their secret. Like transsexuals, these factors are
particularly evident when a crossdresser is unaware of transgender resources or is unable to resolve stereotype
induced feelings of guilt, shame or fear. Both transsexuals and crossdressers are at risk of victimization by
persons who cannot tolerate differences in others. Although, transsexuals face slightly higher risks because they
are more visible than crossdressers who tend to be more hidden.

Transgenderists are persons who consistently live as members of the opposite gender either on a part or
full-time basis. Some maintain their original identity in the work place or during formal occasions.
Others appear in their new identity during all aspects of daily life. Transgenderists are unique because
maintaining both masculine and feminine characteristics is integral to having a sense of balance.
However, the outward presentation of these characteristics varies subtly depending on the individual's needs and
sense of connection to each gender. Like transsexuals, many are interested in obtaining electrolysis,
hormones and even cosmetic surgery to bring their outward presentation in line with their inner sense of self.
However, like crossdressers, transgenderists are not interested in Genital Reassignment Surgery.

To elaborate on this distinction, even if a transgenderists lives "in role" as a member of the opposite gender
on a full-time basis, what separates them from transsexuals, is that they derive pleasure from and value their
genitals as originally developed. However, in most circumstances, it is unlikely that a transgenderist who lives
in role full-time will disclose such private information without good reason. Because transgenderists are not
interested in genital reassignment, they should not be confused with "non-operative" transsexuals or persons
who are unable to have surgery due to financial or medical hardship. Although the majority of non-operative
transsexuals live "in role" permanently, most need to adjust to a period of internalized incongruency during the
time they are unable to have genital reassignment, if at all. Transgenderists do not go through this period of
adjustment, because they are not interested in altering their genitals.

Like transsexuals who are at the very beginning of transition, transgenderists frequently experience
incongruent feelings regarding their gender identity. Unlike crossdressers these feelings persist
"after the clothes come off" and the person dresses in their original gender.
These incongruent feelings typically can be continuous, lasting for days and even weeks,
until the individual recognizes a pattern in his or her needs. Transgenderists stop feeling incongruent when their
needs are consistently met by maintaining characteristics from both genders.

Understanding a transgenderist identity becomes particularly interesting when the subject of differentiating these
from other transgender persons is looked at in further detail. Upon hearing about transgenderists, many people
are inclined to believe that transgenderists are actually undecided about or simply unaware of genital reassignment.
Others believe transgenderists are crossdressers, who somehow have managed to arrange unique living situations,
so as to live out their fantasy. While the potential for such circumstances exists, a person usually s
elf identifies as a transgenderist because their internal needs do not meet the narrow definitions associated with
transsexuals or crossdressers.

As we try understanding the process of differentiating one type of transgender person from another,
it is important to recognize where transgender persons get their definitions and role models.
In coming to terms with crossdressing or gender identity issues, most people consult clinical as well as community
resources, so as to compare their experiences with others. Access to resources can vary immensely depending
upon the individual's location, cultural background, social status, educational and investigative skills.

For example, the standards which validates a person having a transgender identity vary greatly depending on
location. In India, many transgender people have a choice between conforming to traditional gender stereotypes
or becoming part of the Hijra caste. This is particularly so if they intend to live out their lives as members of
the opposite gender. Within the caste, ritual castration without anesthesia is performed on new members
by the caste. Also, hand plucking of facial and body hair is widely encouraged over shaving.
Subsequently, while crossdressers and transgenderists may participate in Hijra activities to some extent,
none are really considered a full member until they have suffered the pain of beautification and ritual castration.

These practices can seem quite removed from the experiences of transgender persons living in the
North America or Europe. These individuals find out about electrolysis, coping with crossdressing,
or making a gender transition through relatively similar gender clinics or organizations.
For the transgenderist, information addressing their needs has come forth slowly as clinicians began
documenting gender identity issues only 20 years ago. In fact, the process of disseminating clinical
information about gender issues is so slow, most people are not aware that transgender persons may
have specialized medical needs. They may also not be aware that having a transgender identity is not
in and of itself mentally disordered, medically diseased or pathological.

Because the majority of clinical resources make no reference to transgenderists, it is important to
recognize that differentiating this specialized sub-population is not much different than other transgender persons.
Whereas most clinical resources use "consistency" in determining who is a crossdresser as well as who is a
transsexual (and therefore an appropriate candidate for hormone administration and genital reassignment),
this criterion is equally valuable in identifying transgenderists and their needs.
Consistency is defined as person having consistent thoughts, actions, requests or demands for a set
period of time. Professionals who utilize consistency as a factor for assessing crossdresser and
transsexual treatment plans, may also do so for transgenderists. For example, within the
Recommended Guidelines for Transgender Care, Dr. Donald Tarver and I recommend (in part) that
"transgender individuals appropriate for hormone administration include those who have in the preceding
three months consistently expressed interest in the permanent physical changes brought forward by hormones,
in order to bring the body in line with an intended masculine, feminine or androgynous appearance."

On the surface the preceding recommendation may appear vague because it does not distinguish between
transgender sub-populations. This lack of distinction, however, reflects an increasing trend among care
providers to encourage transgender persons to adopt a gender-identification based on their needs and experiences,
rather than force clients to conform to a provider or clinic's stereotypes.
Encouraging self-determination has encouraged a relaxation of gender boundaries, which meets the
needs of all transgender persons.

Because there is not an overabundance of clinical literature portraying the specialized needs and issues
transgenderists face, frequently these people cannot locate or are turned away from medical, surgical and
psychological services. Those given incorrect information suffer needlessly and are often at risk.
For example, those believing they are crossdressers and ineligible for professional services frequently end
up self-prescribing, or seeking black market hormones and substandard cosmetic surgeries.
Others, believing they are transsexuals, mistakenly proceed with a full-time transition or undergo
Genital Reassignment Surgery. As a result these persons end up making huge sacrifices in order to
validate themselves, and those who go through with genital reassignment may find themselves regretting
having done so for the remainder of their lives. Recognition by professionals and the transgender community of
transgenderist needs can help reduce these types of incidents.

Frequently I receive requests for information from physicians who are uncertain about how to address hormone
administration in transgenderists. Because hormone administration is a routine medical procedure,
providing it to transgenderists is for the most part identical to that of pre-operative transsexuals.
I always advise physicians to take into account the patient's general health, blood laboratory testing,
prescription side effects and cosmetic predisposition. The only significant differences include the possibility
that the transgenderist may ask that the prescription strength does not interfere with sexual performance,
or that cosmetic growth be focused on moderate development or androgenization.

One of the most exciting developments in understanding transgenderist issues, is the recognition that these their
experiences can sharply differ in regard to pre-existing relationships such as marriages. Unlike transsexuals who
are more likely to face divorce as a consequence of transition, and unlike closeted crossdressers who are the
least likely to share "their secret" with a spouse, transgender issues become a significant dynamic within relationships.
This is particularly true for those who live in role. In most circumstances the person's spouse or significant
other is clearly supportive of the transgenderist's needs. Frequently many couples find that the relaxation of
gender roles allows both persons to get their internal needs met,
whereas they might not get through traditional role play.

It may be assumed that the majority of transgenderist persons deny a desire to have
Genital Reassignment Surgery in order to save a pre-existing marital relationship. In some circumstances that
maybe the case. However, within my counseling practice only 1 out of every 4 transgenderists state that he or
she would "possibly be interested" in genital reassignment if not involved in a pre-existing relationship.
Frequently, this ambiguity diminishes the more accepted the person is by others, particularly when acceptance
comes from their spouse.

Other issues where transgenderists find difficulties include disclosure and isolation.
Disclosing one's transgender status to others is a challenging prospect fraught with risks.
However for the transgenderist, in addition to potential rejection from family and friends, they face the possibility
of being turned away by professionals and rejected by the transgender community at large.
This is particularly so when transgenderists encounter crossdressers who prefer keeping their behavior hidden,
and subsequently feel uncomfortable being around someone who is so visible.
Likewise, transsexuals may not be interested in socializing with a transgenderist for fear of having a desire or
lack of desire in seeking Genital Reassignment Surgery invalidated.

Like other transgender persons who are hidden or who have not found resources, transgenderists tend to live
very isolated, painful lives. This can be overcome by organizations and professionals encouraging differences in
others, even when a person's gender identification challenges transgender stereotypes.






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