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What are the hallmarks of a “successful TS”?

| Jun 29, 2009
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What are the hallmarks of a “successful TS”? To put it another way, how would you score a person who has undergone gender reassignment as being successful? Is it because that person has achieved a convincing appearance in his or her new gender? Is it because he or she has achieved success and, presumably financial stability, in a career of choice while undertaking a new gender role?

I ask these questions because recently I came across a web site which is compiling a list of transsexual success stories, posting the photos of those who presumably have transitioned successfully. Many of the photos have links to web sites or further material about the person featured.

I spent the better part of a morning reviewing the material and reading biographies. Some were of people I had heard a lot about such as Christine Jorgenson and April Ashley. Some were of people I’d heard a bit about such as European pro golfer Marianne Bagger and Canadian bike racer Michelle Dumaresq. Most were about people I’d never heard of but who are leading fascinating lives.

Lynn Conway
Lynn Conway

The web site is the work of Lynn Conway. Many of you will know of Lynn. She is a university professor and brilliant person in the field of computer science. I really like the writing that Lynn does to accompany her galleries of TS “successes.”

It is Ms. Conway’s opinion in offering this web site that transsexual success stories are often muted because many of those who successfully transition wish no more than to “fit in” and not bring attention to themselves. What we hear about in the media is the transsexuals who don”t make it, who get on the wrong side of the law, who get mixed up with drugs or who get rejected by supports they expected to have. Lynn wants to change that impression. She has found an impressive list of examples of successful transitions. She has also done definitive work to prove there are more transsexuals in our population than are officially recognized. There definitely are many more than are on Lynn’s list, like Christine who after her operation was successful in being hired as a police officer in a major Canadian city or Olivia, the Montreal university professor who transitioned on the job and continues as a leader in her field.

I accept the notion that not all transsexuals are “females trapped in a male body” or vice versa. We humans are far more in control of our own destiny than we give ourselves credit.  We can and should have the right to determine our own gender and I think many are now taking advantage of that ability. If it is the right decision they are much happier for it and they deserve to be. However, it can be the wrong decision.

I had a close call. At one point in my life I had pretty well convinced myself that I was a female trapped in a male body. I secretly wanted to someday correct nature”s mistake but in the meantime I was making a pretty nice life for my male self. I had a wife, children, a good job and better prospects. I enjoyed bashing around the hockey rink with the boys. Nevertheless when I had the chance I would get myself some privacy to let my feminine identity emerge. For awhile that meant putting on some lingerie, reading a book and masturbating. That evolved to dressing fully with wigs and makeup and eventually to venturing out and – gasp- dating men.

Succcessful TS Amanda Simpson
Succcessful TS Amanda

I was on the verge of seeking out counseling with a goal to gender reassignment. At that time I happened to come across a book written by the late Virginia Prince. It was called Understanding Crossdressing. It was mostly about crossdressing but had one chapter on the subject of considering gender reassignment. I guess Virginia also believed in our ability to control our own destiny. I have long since loaned the book and it was never returned, so my memory of that chapter may be a bit fuzzy but as I recall Ms. Prince listed about a dozen practical questions one should be able to answer “yes” to before committing to a path of gender reassignment. The questions ranged from “would you be able to keep your job or earn as much money after transition as you are now?” to “would you have the support of friends and family?” to “do you have a good head of hair?” and “do the women in your family have large breasts?” The latter two questions had to do with your genetic predisposition to developing female secondary sex characteristics.

Succesful TS Alina Petrova
Successful TS Alina

Apparently in Ms Prince”s view hormones would not be much help in developing breasts for those whose mother and sisters were flat-chested.

I didn’t do well in that self quiz. Besides the women in my family being flat as boards, I was already in my twenties showing signs of inheriting my dad”s baldness. My job would not survive a transition and while my family might hang in for me they wouldn’t be wild about the idea.

Virginia’s book convinced me that I was not a good candidate for gender reassignment and that is a good thing. I have been very happy in the crossdressing role I have staked out for myself. There are definite advantages in being able to enjoy “the best of both worlds.”

But what about those who do transition? What marks them as successful? Dr Conway’s galleries feature many who have been successful as entertainers. They are all very good looking and generally cashed in on the fact that they were once a man but now present as a gorgeous woman.

Others, like Dr. Conway herself, are successful in their careers as educators, counselors, airline pilots and the like.

Successful TS Andrea James
Successful TS
Andrea James

What of the thousands of others who are not in the gallery, who life did not treat so kindly before and even after gender reassignment? I suspect the constant diet of hormones sucks the life and energy out of many. I have heard it said that once a transition is completed the new woman feels liberated from the need to wear make up and to dress in sexy clothing. To some that would mean they have successfully reached a plateau of womanhood. I”m sure glad I didn’t go there but — each their own.”

So that brings me back to my original question: what are the hallmarks of a “successful TS”?  Here is another possible answer: A successful TS is one who, good looks or not, wealth or not, is happy with himself or herself?

I would like to see your opinion. Make a comment with your thoughts.

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul

Linda Jensen

About the Author ()

Canadian writer Linda Jensen is a long time contributor to TGForum. Before the days of the Internet Linda started her writing with the Transvestian newspaper. Her writing ranges from factual accounts of her adventures to fiction although frankly sometimes her real life adventures are stranger than the fiction. Linda is married to a loving partner who upon learning about Linda said, "she was part of you before I met you. Although I didn't know it she was part of the package I fell in love with. I don't want to mess up that package." "Does it get any better than that?" asks Linda.

Comments (1)

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  1. says:

    Very interesting article. Personally, I feel that a large dose of self confidence will take you through a large number of situations no matter what you look like.

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