THE ED’S LETTER
What’s he on about this month?
A FEW YEARS AGO, I shared an apartment with someone who was in the process of transitioning from being a girl to being a boy. When I interviewed prospective housemates, this young man asked me, “Do you have a problem with transsexuals?” No, I replied, assuming he meant he had transsexual friends who may visit from time to time. I had no idea that he was transsexual himself.
It didn’t take me long to realise. Tom, let’s call him, was a brave but damaged young man. I don’t have permission to tell his whole story, but he was facing the challenges of transitioning alone. He had suffered violence at the hands of an uncle, been rejected by his mum when he came out as transsexual in his teens, and been left to fend for himself.
Along with the usual issues faced by young people – training and education, jobs, money, etc, Tom was dealing with the enormous task of transitioning from the body he was in, into the body he knew he should’ve been in. There were constant tests, both of the blood extraction kind and the psychological kind, and the daily chore of binding down breasts and packing a sock into his jeans to look realistic.
I never saw the girl he had been (he referred to her as a sister who had died), but I saw the joy he experienced in life, even in the little things we take for granted, as he gradually became the real him. There’s a line from a Pet Shop Boys song that comes to mind when I think of Tom: “I never thought that I would get to be, the creature that I always meant to be.”
So it has been terrific to see the incredible leap forward that the broader community has made in the acceptance of trans teens. Last year, the Australian ABC’s Four Corners program aired Being Me, which told the story of an eleven-yearold born a boy but identifying as a girl, and the amazing love and support she received from her family and the paediatric profession. Being Me won its ratings timeslot and attracted nothing but positive responses. Even the usual haters have been silent – it’s hard to hate on kids and not look bad, right? Meanwhile, an American documentary, Becoming Me, tells the story of young gender non-conforming and transgender kids and their families, and watch out for Laverne Cox’ ( Orange Is The New Black) latest trans youth project for MTV, The T Word.
Transformation is a powerful thing, and a theme in this issue. Francis Mossman looks at the allure and the pitfalls of bodily transformation through steroids (page 56), Jesse Archer gets some “work” done for his Salon Skeptic feature (page 94) and our cover guy, Chris Glebatsas shares his personal, physical and career transformations (page 68).
It’s also our Underwear Special, so I hope our Style (page 44) suggestions from Matt Young will help you transform from clothed to unclothed with sexy sartorial elegance!
Even the usual haters have been silent – it’s hard to hate on kids and not look bad, right?