Ask Angelo - Angelo Pezzote
My friend, a drag queen, told me he is having a sex change. I do not understand it, but I think it's because he is getting older and not getting enough attention as a guy. How can I stop him from making a big mistake?
Answer: Don't! Your friend may be a transsexual woman. If this is the case, the best thing you can do is to be a supportive friend. Talk to your friend and get to know what his experience is. Here is some information that might give you some background help to enter the conversation.
A transsexual woman does not want to become a woman, she is a woman. It might help you to think ofyour friendas a woman in a man's body. Itmay be most proper to address your friend as her. There are not only male to female transsexuals (MTF) but alsofemale to male (FTM).
Your friend may needthe surgery to change her male anatomy to female so that it matches her internal sense of being a woman. Getting older, not getting attention, or being a drag queen have nothing to do with that.Sowhat causes transsexuality then? Ask yourself, how did you become gay? How do you know you are gay? It just is and you just know. It is who you are.
Imagine that you go in for routine cosmetic surgery. When you wake up, somehow you are hurting where you should not be. To your horror, you discover that there was a mistake and that your male bodyhas been changed into a woman's. As a man, howmight you feel about this? Would you now be a female just because you have female genitals? Would you feel betrayed ordisgusted by your new body? How would it be to be called "she" instead of "he?" Could you live in society as the opposite sex?Wouldn't you be screaming, "but I am really a man!" The transsexual person often suffers from an early age from this mismatch between mind and body. Thus, one's gender identity (how we think of ourselves as male or female) is fully separate fromour anatomy.
Sexuality is an entirely independent issue.You may be surprised to know that most transsexuals identify as heterosexual. For example, if a man isattracted to men, butidentifies as a woman inside, then she isstraight. Thisbecomes much more obvious after the sex change. This is not a cop out for fear of being gay.
In contrast,a drag queen is aman attracted to men thatusually cross dresses for fun, entertainment or work. A drag queen does not want to changehis male bodyinto a woman's. He does not feel he is a woman. He does not live as a woman. Drag queens are gay men playing with gender who like being men. While some transsexuals may mistakenly identify as drag queens for a while before they realize they are actually transsexual, transsexualsare not drag queens anddrag queens are nottranssexuals.
Still yet, cross dressers are heterosexual males that dress in women's clothes for fun, work, entertainment, sexual fetishes or to access more emotionally sensitive parts of themselves. There are also intersexesand a huge variety of other fluid variations between sex, gender, and sexual identity.The word transgender is often used to cover everything.
Fortunately, we can choose to celebrate difference and to affirm each other as we are. If you can, tell yourfriend you will be there for her. And try not to worry. The system has safeguards in place. Beforehormones and surgery,most doctors requirelettersfromtherapists that aregender specialiststhat say theperson is making the best decision for themselves with a clear mind.
It is understandable at first to feel afraid, sadand like you arelosing your friend.Sometimes people transition in midlife because it is a "now or never" issue at that point and they can no longer conform to something which is not them. They also may have developed thestrength as they have gotten older to do something which is so difficult and so misunderstood. It may help to think that you will not in fact loseyour friend in the end.Although much will change,your friend will still be the same person- maybe even happier.