I'll be updating this page
soon with information to educate and inform.
Having been subject to ignorance and prejudice, it only seems right that education and information are the tools in which we defeat those terrible foes. Without knowledge, human nature is to malign or fear that which we do not understand. It is my hope that there will be a future for our world when humankind rises above and embraces diversity in this world.
Hopefully the information to be provided here will, in some small way, help with that process.
Lynn Conway, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Emerita
Transsexual Women's Successes
by Lynn Conway
Copyright © 2001-4, Lynn Conway
30,000 to 40,000 postoperative transsexual women live in the
The social invisibility of successful women who have undergone gender corrections supports the notion that male-to-female transsexualism is extremely rare. However, intense transsexualism is not all that uncommon. Recent calculations indicate that the condition occurs in about 1 out of every 250 to 500 children born as boys, and that about 1 in every 2500 males in the U.S. has already undergone surgical sex reassignment*. Transsexualism is thus more than twice as prevalent as multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy or cleft lip/palate conditions.
The invisibility of these successes supports notions that gender transitions often have rather sad outcomes. At present, the media only spotlights transsexual people on two occasions, namely when "someone well-known changes sex" and when someone is a victim of discrimination, harassment or attack. Media stories about someone's "sex change" are never followed-up to find out what happened years later. Instead stories always focus on pre-transition life and struggles during transition and never on their life afterwards. This lack of balance in exposure shapes society's notion that transition leads to social marginalization or worse, because we "never hear about them again". Only stories of occasional social failures and victims of harassment and attacks remain visible longer term.
Lacking successful role models, and confronted with deliberately staged, stereotypically-prurient images of "transsexuals" from media like the Jerry Springer Show, young trans girls are often terrified to tell anyone about their condition. Constantly reminded of the violence and discrimination that trans people face, but unaware that large numbers of successful women get beyond such difficulties, many young transsexual girls can't see any way out of their awful predicament. Social stigmatization of transsexualism leads many young people to internalize a lot of undeserved shame, embarrassment and guilt about their condition. As a result, young transsexual girls often waste precious years before they seek help, and many never find a way to correct their gender condition.
the veil of invisibity has been lifting, as many
post-operative women all around the world have begun creating websites to help
others. Some of these women are quietly "out" within the TS
community. Others share their stories by being "virtually out" (VO)
only via the web (while otherwise remaining woodworked or in stealth). We are
very fortunate to finally be able to learn about their lives, as they become
listed on webpages such as this one.
The women listed on these pages are a very diverse group. They are of many different nationalities, races and ethnicities. They come from a wide range of social classes and family backgrounds. They transitioned at many different ages. Some have been postop a long time, others transitioned more recently. Some have been "out" for many years, others are still living stealthily.
Many of these women had to suffer terrible trials in order to transition, especially those who did so years ago. Some rose from extremely humble beginnings, including living on the streets, and yet succeeded anyways. Others had easier transitions in more recent times in the more enlightened western countries. A few were even fortunate enough to have had the support of their parents when they were young.
The thing that makes these women "successes" isn't how far they've gone in their careers, or how much money they've made, or how pretty some of them are, or how well known some are as entertainers. Those accomplishments are very meaningful, and show that transitioning doesn't have to hold a woman back from achieving traditional social measures of success. However, the real successes we find here are ones of the heart. They are successes in living "life in the large". We see it in the happy faces, and sense it in between the lines of their stories. These are the successes of women who have survived and corrected their earlier transsexualism, and gone on to find joy and comfort and peace in their lives.
Taken together, our stories will gradually help change people's views of the transsexual condition. After all, we are happy and productive contributors in all walks of life: as doctors and lawyers, as scientists, engineers and programmers, as airline pilots, as entrepreneurs, managers and office workers, as university professors and students, in politics, in education, in law enforcement, in the skilled trades, in modeling and in entertainment. The realities and completeness of our physical gender transformations cannot be denied. Many of us are wives, lovers or partners in long-term loving relationships. You can put a compelling human face on the transsexual condition by browsing the websites linked from these pages, which contain information about the experiences of these successful women.
Lynn Conway’s website