With the wildly successful unveiling of Caitlyn Jenner this week in Vanity Fair, everyone is talking about Caitlyn and her contribution to the transgender community. Some 12 million viewers watched the You Tube unveiling, while millions commented on Caitlyn in social media around the world. In the typical Kardashian fashion, Jenner came out with a well-organized reveal. Caitlyn at 65 years old is now the transgender supermodel, who will soon be addressed by her first name.
My cross-dresser and transgender women friends, for the most part, are highly supportive of Caitlyn, even though there were many others before her that came out; Caitlyn is a highly recognizable and beautiful example of a transgender woman. But, is Caitlyn really representative of most transgender women? Her journey is similar to the TG friends I have met who have had a later in life acknowledgement of their gender issue and subsequent hormone treatments for feminization.
Yet, Caitlyn is very rich and can afford the massive amounts of plastic surgery, to not only physically transform her into a woman, but also help her defy her age, along with being able to afford reassignment surgery (SRS) from the best doctors in the world! Most transgender women can not begin to afford the high-maintenance plastic surgery and all the money it takes to look beautiful. I know, I was born a woman and to look like a Housewife of Beverly Hills, takes loads of money!
My transgender woman friend, Linda Jennings and I met up for coffee at Koffi in Palm Springs to catch up. Linda classifies herself as a pre-op transsexual who started as a cross-dresser, was married with children from her first wife and is a retired business executive. She gives us an insight on what it is like to be a non-celebrity transgender woman, while trying to live an authentic life. It’s not Caitlyn’s life.
What challenges have you had in dating as a transgender woman?
Challenges hum Terri, dating as a transgender is tough. Straight men are not really attracted to transgender women. From what I have experienced, most men that will date a transgender woman do it as a lark. Many men date a transgender see us as a sexual object, a toy to play with, and then discard. But then I guess that’s the misogyny of many men. You will find that most transgender women date other transgender women. A transsexual woman that is post op and has melded into the community has a better chance of dating straight men than any other of the trans named community. I personally have only dated a ‘straight man’ once or twice and then only to find that he was married. Most transwomen do have that bond with other genetic females. We don’t date another woman’s husband!
What advice would you give to the transgender community and cross-dressers who are just coming out and to the younger generation?
My sincere advice to other cross dressers and the younger generation is ‘be true to yourself…knowing the consequences of your actions’. The life you will lead will be a lonely one. I saw a recent statistic on suicides in the trans community…almost 50% have thought of or attempted suicide. Not a very good statistic. Every year many girls are killed with a larger proportion being black transgender women. Every November we remember the women and men that are murdered that are transgender women. The statistics are climbing every year. One reason I feel it is happening is that the community each year grows somewhat from the sensationalism of many personalities that are now coming out and showing the world that many of us are out there in the shadows but its all right to be out.
Always be aware of your surroundings and those around you. Never put yourself in a situation that is dangerous.
Do your consider yourself Transgender?
The term transgender seems to have been ‘hijacked’ by the transsexual…I do consider myself transgender, but also transsexual. I may not ever be a complete transsexual, but…
Is this the term now used for cross-dressers who don’t want to become a woman but want to dress like one or should it only apply to Transsexuals who feel they are born the wrong gender?
Again, I do feel that transsexuals have hijacked the term transgender and apply it to those that consider themselves transsexuals but will not because of either the desire or financial means to complete the transition.
Do you think the transgender and cross-dressing communities are more comfortable with coming out in public now that Transgender is becoming a more popular in films, TV, Caitlyn Jenner coming out?
As you know, as of this writing Caitlyn Jenner is now out and is the talk of the world. In many ways I feel that this will benefit the community because it shows that there are more of us out there than is really known. I have seen figures that estimate the percentage of ‘cross dressers’ to be less than .0001% of the population. Were that really the case most insurance companies would not decline SRS as a legitimate surgery to treat ‘gender dysphoria’ because there are many of us that would seek that surgery today…its very expensive and only a handful of surgeons will perform it.
Linda Jennings is one of many thousands who can not afford the feminization and SRS surgery, yet live their lives as a woman, attempting to find companionship and acceptance from a society that has yet to really understand them.