“Rex” (not his real name) has always been a rather unusual boy in many ways. For one thing, unlike most boys, he prefers to be inside the house. Homeschooled throughout most of his life, he has always been a painfully shy, quiet, introverted child but a very intelligent, straight-A student. Growing up in a suburban WASP-y community in middle America, he’s very much into reading (he loves “Harry Potter” and the “Redwall” series), writing, drawing and Lego. He’d much rather watch the Home Gardening channel than to go out and play sports. He’d rather listen to classical music than to the latest Eminem
album. He’d rather play his cello in an orchestra than a guitar in a garage band. Yes, he is very much different from most other boys. But he will not be like the other boys for long. Now at 17, he wishes to be “Roxanne” and live the rest of his life as a female.
“Rex/Roxanne” is a transsexual. Transsexualism is a condition wherein the person wishes to identify with and become the person of the opposite sex. Experts have long since debated what constitutes a ‘transsexual’ person. This is the story of one person who believes that he/she is one of them.
“As far back as I can remember, I’ve known that I should have been a girl, but I don’t think there was ever any defining moment when I yelled (or even thought), ‘Aha! That’s it! I’m a girl, not a boy!'” says “Roxanne”, “When I was really young, I didn’t even understand the difference.” But one childhood memory he had was coming into possession of a pair of candy cane earrings. “I have no idea where I got them. I always assumed that when I became a teenager, I’d get my ears pierced and wear them, and not be a boy with earrings, but a girl. I knew boys didn’t wear earrings, but I couldn’t comprehend that I was a boy, I just looked forward so much to the time when I would be a girl and wear my candycane earrings. “
Even as a young boy, “Roxanne” felt some inner frustrations and conflicts: “I used to think that maybe before birth I had been a female in heaven, and God showed me how my life would turn out if I decided to be born as such. I thought that I must have seen something awful happen if I chose to be born a girl, and chose a male body instead. It’s all weird and I no longer believe in it, but it made sense at the time. It was this thought that kept me going as a boy; ‘I don’t know why, but something awful would have happened if I been born a girl, so I’ll just keep enduring boyhood.’ Trying to endure it kind of fell apart by my pre-teen years–I spent many nights lying awake in bed, wishing futilely that my penis would fall off, or that I’d begin to grow breasts by the next morning and the doctors would say that ‘it was all a horrible mistake, he’s really a girl.'”
Though “Roxanne” had always felt this way throughout her childhood and early adolescence, it was not until she was 13 and happened to have caught an episode of the short-lived Richard Dreyfuss TV drama series “The Education of Max Bickford” which featured a transsexual that she learned about transexuality. “It didn’t sink in immediately that I was a transsexual too.” “Rex/Roxanne” says, “But when it finally occured to me about a year later, I began researching it online.”
What she found scared her. “All I could find were sites with grisly surgical photographs and descriptions of all transsexuals becoming prostitutes and social outcasts. It discouraged me from researching it more for a while–I couldn’t imagine what something like this would do to my family–but I kept it in mind, a glimmer of hope amidst my ever-increasing despair.” A few years later, he gave it another chance. Google made some changest to their system where more positive aspects of transexualism would be found in their search engine and it couldn’t have come at a better time. “I had just come to the point where I felt suicide would be the best option for me, to prevent my family from having to deal with this and to end the inner termoil I was feeling. But I managed to stop myself, and returned to the computer to search. Thanks to the change in Google, I was able to find several wonderful sites.”
But one book available on-line is what finally made her come to terms with her transsexuality, “Mom, I Need to be a Girl” by Just Evelyn (http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/Evelyn/Evelyn.html) “It showed me that other young people had gone through this, and that it was possible to have a normal life after transition.”
What happened when she ‘came out’ to her family? “My family is wonderful. They all have reacted well, and are completely supportive. They just want me to be happy, and they understand that it will take transition for that to happen.”
Currently, she has resumed going to a regular school and even made a few friends and has started to take the next steps in truly becoming a she. “I have gone through many therapy sessions, to make sure what I’m doing is right for me. I am also starting on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).” Hormone Replacement Therapy lowers testosterone and increases the estrogen in his body. “This will soften and feminize the features of my face, change the shape of my body by redistributing the fat, grow breasts, decrease body hair, and make me more emotional. It basically does the majority of feminization.” One thing that will not change is his voice. “I have begun to retrain it using techniques I’ve read about.”
This is as far as she and her family are taking it as of now. Actual surgical sex change would have to come later. “But I’ll most likely be living as a female for many years before I’ll be able to undergo it, due to monetary issues.”
But what about her sexual orientation? Most people assume a male who wishes to be female is gay but nothing can be further from the truth. Transsexuals sexual orientation has the same range as a non-transsexual person. Despite his desire to be female, “Rex/Roxanne” likes girls. “I am currently a lesbian”, he says. But hormone replacement has been known to change a sexual orientation of a person. “I’m open to trying a relationship with either gender. I’ve never been in a relationship, and don’t intend to before going full time as a female.” What about marriage? “I’m not certain about marriage; that’s just one of those things that I’m going to wait and see on.”
The question remains: Does “Rex” have any doubts or fears about becoming “Roxanne”? “I’ve never been more confident about any decision I’ve ever made in my life. This is the right thing for me to do, and something I need to do to become myself. Each step I’ve taken so far has brought me happiness; I’m confident the rest will too.”
What does the future hold for “Roxanne”? “Wherever life takes me. Perhaps a small cottage in Canada, where I can write novels and illustrate childrens books, surrounded by seven pet cats. Of course, I could be dead in a ditch, too, the victim of yet another hate crime against the transsexual community. Life changes rapidly, and I’m not one to make predictions. ” For her sake, I just hope its the former.