Ask Angelo - Angelo Pezzote
Plus, Understanding the 'T' in GLBT.
By Angelo Pezzote, MA ("The Gay Man's Therapist")
I've never written to anyone about my problems before. Eight months ago my dream man jumped into my life. Three weeks later, I was snooping and found that he was cheating - the end of my dream. I want to confront him, but I am afraid I will end up out on the streets if I do.
Signed, Honestly I Don't Know What To Do
Dear Honestly I Don't Know What To Do,
You have a tough situation. While your partner has a right to be upset with you for going through his things, you need to decide what you're willing to put up with in order not to lose the security of your situation. If fear was not a concern, what would be most important to you? Do not lose yourself and your dignity. No one can abandon you without your permission.
It sounds like both of you are being dishonest with each other. You can build a healthier relationship through trust. Trust comes out of honesty. I'm glad you trusted me to write. What I want for you now is for you to trust yourself most. You already have an answer inside about what to do.
My friend, a drag queen, told me he is having a sex change. I do not understand it, but I think it is because he is getting older and not getting enough attention as a guy. How can I stop him from making a big mistake?
Signed, Stop In The Name Of Love
Dear Stop In The Name Of Love,
Your friend may be a transsexual woman and not a drag queen. 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 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 of your friend as a woman in a man's body. Your friend may want to be called "her." There are not only male to female transsexuals (MTF) but also female to male (FTM). Your friend may need 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. So what 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 body has been changed into a woman's. As a man, how might you feel about this? Would you now be a female just because you have female genitals? Would you feel betrayed or disgusted by your new body? How would it be to be called "she" instead of "he?" Could you live in society as the opposite sex? Would you be screaming, "but I am really a man"? A transsexual person suffers from an early age from this mismatch between mind and body. Gender identity (how we think of ourselves) is separate from our anatomy.
Sexuality is an entirely independent issue. You may be surprised that most transsexuals, like most people, identify as heterosexual. If a man is attracted to men, but identifies as a woman inside, then "'she" is straight. This becomes much more obvious after the sex change. This is not a cop out for fear of being gay. While some transsexuals may identify as drag queens for a while before they come to realize they are actually transsexual, transsexuals are not drag queens and drag queens are not transsexuals.
A drag queen is a gay cross dressor. Drag Queens are gay men that usually cross dress for fun, entertainment or work. A drag queen does not live as a woman. He does not feel he is a woman. He does not want to change his male body into a woman's. Drag queens are gay men playing with gender who like being men. There are lesbian drag kings too. Other cross dressers are heterosexual men. They dress in women's clothes for fun, entertainment, work, sexual fetishes or to access emotionally sensitive parts of themselves.
There are also intersexes and a huge variety of other fluid variations between sex, gender, and sexual identity. The word "Transgender" is often used to cover all gender variances.
Fortunately, we can choose to celebrate difference and to affirm each other as we are. If you can, tell your friend you will be there for her and try not to worry. The system has safeguards in place. Before hormones and surgery, most doctors require letters from gender therapists like me saying that the person is making the best decision for themselves with a clear mind.
It is understandable at first to feel afraid, sad and like you are losing your friend. Many 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 the strength 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 lose your friend in the end. Although much will change, your friend will still be the same person - maybe even happier.
Angelo Pezzote, MA, "The Gay Man's Therapist"
"My clients like being able to talk about sensitive issues in an open, relaxed and non-judgmental space with a caring therapist who understands their unique life experience." Visit www.askangelo.com
Angelo Pezzote, MA, All Rights Reserved