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Saturday, December 24, 2011

To Your Health!

One of the more important things that I am both personally and professionally concerned with is the status of our overall well being. It worries me that we don't pay enough attention to our general health and worry most about getting HRT and the surgeries that we want to feel complete. Many of us ignore our health towards this goal by obtaining black market hormones off the street or from pharmacies that sell on line that don't even require a prescription. We don't really know what we are getting from these sources, but the imperative to move our bodies towards a better fit with our minds allows us to take risks risks with our health we would never consider doing otherwise regarding the rest of our health care. It is not entirely our fault, but we share some of the responsibility for this conundrum.

It has been notoriously difficult to find therapists, physicians and other health care providers to provide the care we need, yet more and more health care professionals are willing to treat us and more and more insurance companies are willing to pay for some, if not all of our health care needs on a parity to that comparable with other diagnoses. Many health care systems offer financial assistance based on income. There are also free clinics in many communities that offer health care to those who work, have no insurance and are of limited income. 

When I began working with transsexuals, way before I ever considered that it would be possible for me to transition, I was the only therapist who provided transgender care for the greater part of Virginia. I had one resource for a physician who provided HRT for my male to female patients. I had no resources for my female to male patients, but I had never encountered one until the last 4 years and I was able to find a doctor willing to provide his care.

Today I have developed resources for my patients that include the psychotherapy I provide, substance abuse treatment, treatment for co occurring mental health problems and second letter evaluations (psychiatry), primary care, endocrinology, aesthetic dermatology and voice therapy. Generally, we think of male to female people benefiting from voice therapy, but female to male people can benefit from this service as well. That is because communication within our gender identity does not only include the pitch, tone and inflection, of our voices, but it also includes non verbal communication such as gestures and body movement.

For whatever reason, even if you decide to go the DIYS (do it yourself) HRT route, there are some things that are absolutely necessary and should not be neglected.Please do these to maintain your good health!

1. Blood work: We need to have some blood work done twice a year when first beginning hormone reassignment therapy and after full induction, at least once a year. These tests include a metabolic panel to check the functioning of your organs. The liver and kidneys are particularly stressed by hormone therapy. Having a lipid panel is important as well because hormones can elevate cholesterol and raise the risk of coronary artery disease.

2. Depression, anxiety and substance abuse: These problems are epidemic in our community and we have an overall suicide rate of 41% of those who have attempted suicide at least once. People of color have a much higher rate of attempted suicide than that reported overall.

3. Substance abuse is a particularly severe problem for us and exacerbates depression and anxiety and is often a huge factor in attempted suicides. It has been difficult for us to find substance abuse treatment that is sensitive to us as individuals, but this has been an emphasised area for improvement among substance abuse treatment professionals. This problem is taking too many good brothers and sisters away from us. It is so unnecessary too. There are 12 step programs available. They work for more people than anything else. Check out Alcoholics Anonymous   or Narcotics Anonymous

   . Click on these links to find a meeting near you! or . Some of the groups in some localities are for GLBT people specifically, if you don't feel comfortable with another type of meeting, but if there aren't any of those type meetings available in your area, please don't make that the excuse to not get the help you need. It is truly a matter of life and death.

4. Don't forget your annual mammography! While we generally have a lower rate of breast cancer than genetic women, we are at higher risk with family histories of our moms, sisters and aunts having had breast cancer, especially if they had one of the mutations that cause the more aggressive breast cancers. It is really a painless procedure and will be a life saver. Then there are a couple of tests that we hate as a reminder of having a body we felt was wrong for us. We still have to have the digital examination of our prostate glands. While the risk is reduced, we still are at risk for prostate cancer as we age, even though estrogen and progesterone are treatments used to slow the growth of prostate cancer. We also need to have the PSA blood test done on a yearly basis.

For the guys, it is important to continue to get that pelvic regularly along with a pap smear, and even if you have had a hysterectomy and oopherectomy, you will still need that done periodically, perhaps not as often.

5. See your dermatologist once a year, especially if you have had heavy sun exposure or have a history of skin cancer in your family. It is imperative that you do this yearly if you have has any relatives who had malignant melanoma. This is an extremely dangerous skin cancer and it is too often the case that when it is finally found, it is often too advanced to be successfully treated.

6. See your dentist twice a year! People who are able to keep their own teeth are healthier and live longer. Poor dental health can often lead to heart disease.

7. Don't smoke! It is the most difficult of all addictions to overcome, but it can be done! Smoking is a deceptive addiction, because it doesn't kill you as quickly as some other addictions, but the long term health consequences are devastating and are well known.

8. If you use alcohol, please use it in moderation. Alcohol in any quantity has negative effects on every tissue and organ in the body and is one of the more deadly addictions. Alcohol causes many ruined relationships and injuries due to accidents as well as fatalities. Know when you have had too much and don't be too proud to ask for someone else to drive or take you home. There is no shame in that and it may save some one's life if not your very own life.

9. Get some exercise daily! Even if you can just take 30 minutes and go for a brisk walk, it will improve your overall health as well as cardiac health. It will help you with weight control as well.

10. Be sure to laugh every day! Enjoying humor has been known to benefit general health and one's outlook. Cultivate a positive attitude. It is part of being healthy and attracting positive people. It will be part of being successful and happy in your own life. Smile! positive people are attracted to people who smile and are interested in their well being too.

11. Do something for someone else. It is good for one's outlook and overall attitude to do something nice for someone else. It doesn't have to be anything big, just look for that little opportunity to do something special to help someone else. The return will be ten times what it took to do that little helpful or kind thing!

I hope that you all have a happy and healthy 2012!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

So What's In Your Glass?

What's in your glass? Is it half empty, half full or something different? This is the time of year we tend to take stock of our lives and that of what has happened over the past year.

Being of melancholic temperament, I have in past years spent my time dwelling  on things that didn't go well or were exceptionally spectacularly disastrous. This isn't about those experiences. It isn't helpful for me to recount those to others very often unless there is something that the person would learn that would help them to improve their own situation. I am not unique in this regard, we all have those types of experiences in our histories. I do hope that those of you sharing this prose have not had too many experiences like those I refer to! Still, I was able to take them and turn them into something positive, or I would not be able to be sharing these thoughts with you. I have benefited from my own adversity and have been able to use it to help others sometimes.  I hope that you have been able to take the darkest, most difficult times and turn them into something that benefited your own growth or helped others to overcome their own personal adversity as well.

This year, despite some very sad events, my glass is decidedly over half full. Some of the reasons for this have been due to professional accomplishments and some of them are due to achievement on a more personal level.

Professionally, I have been able  to expand the services offered with the transgender care program I put together. I was able to add another provider of HRT, a psychiatrist who will write the second opinion letters of those I recommend for GRS  and are adding voice therapy this month. This is a service that seems to be in great need and hard to find. I'm grateful to the health care professionals who took the time to listen to my talk about the needs of the transgender community and are willing to grow personally and professionally to offer these much needed services. In no small measure this was due to my willingness to become vulnerable and share my life story with them about my life and why I do what I do professionally. For me to have grown to the degree that I was willing to take that risk is no small step in becoming who I have always been, trusting that people who know me will continue to respect me and be supportive of what I need to become self actualized. To me this is a real accomplishment. What makes it most important to me is that it benefits people who will now have choices that never existed for me when I was younger. As time goes on, I hope to expand our services in other areas of health care. The possibilities, I believe, are limited only by my own vision. So this makes it most important that I focus on the positive and not what I haven't accomplished, which would be characteristic of my nature.

I also gave six workshops in places that I haven't presented at before. I met a lot of wonderful people who came to my workshops and I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with people I have admired for years. I learned that there are a lot of people who think what I am doing is important and that I have something special to contribute to the lives of people like myself. I've always had a difficult time believing that. ( I'm not fishing for compliments). Because of the experiences I have had and the people I have met, I am beginning to actually believe I have something to offer others. I don't think at the end of last year I could have said that because I didn't believe it. I'm not going to attempt to single each of you out. Each of you who read this will know that you are one of the people I am referring to, though not all of you might have the opportunity to see this in the written word. Many of these accomplishments would not have happened without the generosity and kindness that characterize the kind of person you are. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart and soul. It is a great gift you have given of yourself freely to me.

Others have simply granted me the gift of friendship and acceptance. This is no small thing to me. It is a rare and treasured thing.

One of the most important things I was able to find was a church and faith community where I feel at home and most importantly I feel wanted. I can be myself and am given the gifts of being ministered to and nurtured by other women in this church. It is a place for me to explore my spirituality as a woman and grow in that aspect of my spirit. It is something that has always been an important part of my life and I found the first fleeting vision that I could have this in a Baptist church in New Jersey when I had gone up there to give a workshop and stayed with a dear friend who attended that church. It was even more special as not only was it the first time I was able to worship as I am without a facade, but I took communion that day as well. Now I have a church where I can receive that sacrament every time I attend.

The most important thing that I have that makes my glass well over half full is the love and commitment of my marriage with Patty. It takes a very special woman to be able to take this journey with me. We are every wife's nightmare, more often than not. There are a lot of special women like her, but so many more who cannot go through a life with a transgendered spouse. I hope that I will be worthy of the ongoing pledge of love and commitment that I have been given. It is truly a gift freely given.

It is so very clear to me that this year I have been blessed. I hope that no matter how difficult and painful your year has been, there are some things that each of you count among your blessings too.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How Do You Tell Who You Tell?

Though I have helped many, many tell  others they care about that they are transsexual or transgendered, telling the most important people in my life leaves me confounded and creates some level of anxiety.

 It's not so much that telling people I know on a social, less personal basis is so hard. I don't have the emotional investment in them that I have with other people. If they can't deal with it, well that is not such a big thing for me.But with those who I am most closest, the process of who to tell, when to tell and why to tell becomes an issue that is anguishing at times. I'm a person who is an introvert and I have just a few close friends who are not also transgendered.

Specifically, I'm thinking of my two best male friends who I have ongoing relationships that spans decades ( NO I SAID!! I am NOT going to tell you how OLD I am! A lady never tells her age... and NIKKICOLE, you don't know EXACTLY how old I am either!). My one friend B. and I have been friends since the first week of my undergraduate education and my other friend K. I've known since the end of my graduate education. Both are and have been wonderful and loyal friends and to have such close relationships over that length of time is something truly to be cherished.

What makes this difficult is not the fact that I need to tell them, but how to tell them and when to tell them. It hardly mattered when I never held out the possibility that I could actually become self actualized and live an authentic life. Now the time is at hand and I need to take care of this soon. The biggest obsticle is that B. lives in Oklahoma and K. lives in Arizona, where before B. lived here in Virginia, and J. lived in Alabama. B. lived close enough that I would see him at least every other week and K., being in Alabama, I got to see at least once a year. This is something I do not feel comfortable telling them over the phone and certainly I wouldn't disrespect our friendship by tossing off a letter to them, no matter how well I crafted the letter. This has to be done face to face.

The distance involved makes it more difficult. I haven't gotten to Oklahoma or Arizona on one of my magical mystery tours of workshops to date, or even near there yet. Most of the workshops I do are done out the desire to help other trans people and have been paid for out of pocket. That doesn't leave me much money for leisure travel. Yet I must do this in person with them. I don't think it is fair to them or to our friendship to do it any other way.

Then too, because of the distance and time since I've gotten to see them, it worries me to no end what their reaction will be when they do find out. One friend is extremely liberal and he loves everyone and everybody. I don't think it will be a huge issue with him. You never know though. Some people who are very liberal are some of the people I would never have guessed would have trouble with a trans person turn out to be the most bigoted and prejudiced against trans people and some of the conservative people I know who I would have thought would be the most unable to accept transpeople turn out to be some of the most accepting people I know. It's a funny world. I'm very conservative and that it would turn out this way was something I never would have dreamed possible. Of course, there are many liberals who are accepting of trans people and many conservatives who aren't. You just can't figure it out by someone's political philosophy.

I had an experience tonight that reassured me that I will be able to tell B. and K. and the outcome will be good. I was speaking to B. tonight and I mentioned the workshops I've been doing as I had done quite a few east of the Mississippi this year and he asked about what they were on. I told him that they were on helping transgender people and he was interested. He noted that they have often had difficult times in life and that more and more we are finding this to be a biologically based issue. I was surprised that he knew that much about it, but then again, he IS a LIBRARIAN, so it wouldn't be unusual that he had read some things about transgendered people, plus he had lived in Minneapolis- St. Paul which has a reputation for being extremely tolerant of transgender people. I feel much more hopeful about the outcome of this coming conversation and I think that he and I will make the transition in our friendship without too much difficulty. I just have to figure out how to get out to Oklahoma to see him for a couple of days.

K. and I have been good friends for quite a long time, not as long as B., but long enough that he is just as important to me and I have to sit down with him too. In some ways, I expect it will be easier with him. He and I have both had friends who are gay and he knew a couple of transgender people that I don't know from Alabama. He has always seemed accepting of them and I have never heard him make a derogatory comment about them. His middle name should be Tolerance! Since he moved to Arizona, he has gotten married. He knows that I am doing extensive work in the area of transgender care and his wife has a nephew who is an f2m transman. I'm pretty sure he will be ok with this, and I had always thought that he would be the easier of the two to tell, but then I've had these experiences where the people I think will be tolerant are not and the ones I think won't are.

My biggest worry is that they may be upset that I kept this hidden from them for so long. In my defense, most of that time I was fighting as hard as I could not to be transsexual (I wonder if there are ducks fighting hard not to be ducks?). I worry that they will be upset and may feel they don't know me at all because I hid this from them for so long.

The other relationships I'm worried about are my parents and my wife's family. My parents are very elderly and I would hate to ruin our relationship now when they really need me. On the other hand, I worry what this revelation may mean for my wife's relationship with her family. I've wondered if I can avoid telling her family, make token appearances far and few between in an androgenous manner and leave it at that. My parents are a more delicate situation because we live so close. Can I do the same with them? I'm not sure that those are viable options.

In the end, I know that it will be what it will be. If I lose their friendship, it will break my heart. If I am able to preserve these friendships I think the bonds will be even stronger than ever. In any event, my life will go on and it is up to me to make of it what it will become. It is my choice to be happy or sad. One can look to the future or dwell on what was lost in the past. I prefer to look to the future.

Updates to the blog....... 12/11/12

In addition to the new post on Transitioning, Stealth and Passing, yesterday and today I have added some new links to transgender conferences that I regularly give workshops at and a link to the Canadian Professional Association of Transgender Health. I've also added to the list of blogs I follow. Fiat Luxe is the blog of the Rector of St. Paul's Memorial Church where I attend. I also added the link to the blog of my friend from Facebook, Katherine Bradford. Its called Crumbs From the Cosmic Muffin Top. Finally I added a book to the list, Sandra Samon's When the Opposite Sex Isn't. I hope that these additions will make your visit to my blog more enjoyable!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Transitioning, Passing and Stealth

Most of us have thought at one time or another that when we transitioned we could live in stealth, living our lives without others knowing of our transgender past. When I was in second grade, I had a fantasy after reading The Box Car Children that I would run away to another town where no one knew me.  The Box Car Children had lost their parents and had been in an orphanage. They learned that they were going to go live with their grandfather who they had erroneously decided was a mean old man who didn't care about them. So they ran away and found a railroad box car on an abandoned spur off a railroad track in the woods that they came across in their travels. This turned out to become a wonderful home for them! They fixed it up nicely so that it was homey and comfy. There was a creek close by that they dammed up and had a nice place to play and swim. And of course, they went to school and had everything they needed. Eventually, their grandfather did arrive on the scene and turned out to be kind and loving, so they went to live with him. If I remember correctly, he was pretty wealthy too. He had the box car moved to his home so they would have that forever.
 I decided this was a pretty good plan for me to become the girl I knew myself to be! I would live in a cave and go to school as the girl I really was! PERFECT!! (Only I hadn't thought about where I was going to get an adult to enroll me in this new school in this new town, or buy me all these new clothes, and I wasn't particularly mindful about where my meals would come from or who would take care of me when I got sick or was afraid, or had a nightmare.....).
I thought that when I finally would run away, I would have all the clothes I could want or need to be the perfect little girl! To that end, I poured over the Sears and J.C. Penney catalogues looking at the clothes a 2nd grade or 3rd grade girl would wear and picked out the pretty dresses I liked. I would draw pictures of pretty girls wearing the clothes in the catalogue with my colored pencils. I wonder if my mama ever saw those pictures that I drew? I was careful when I did this that she was elsewhere in the house doing mama things while I was doing Michelle things. That was my first name I picked for myself and that was the name my BFF Christina Lang knew me as when she met me in an IRC chat room in either 1996 or 1997. At some point I decided that Michelle was way too close to my male name and really didn't reflect my personality anyway! Thus, Sherri Lynne was born (already all grown up)!
I don't know why I never ran away but I guess as I got a bit older, I realized that there was no way I could, as a child, make this plan work. I mean, really, how was I going to afford ALLLL those clothes?? I didn't get more than about a quarter a week allowance back in the day (NO, I'm STILL not going to tell you how old I am!!). Even into my adolescence and young adulthood, I held out the thought I would finish college and transition, go to graduate school and transition, graduate from graduate school and disappear as I transitioned. In those days there were no resources available where I lived or where I eventually moved to in order to accomplish this thing I wanted so badly, so it never happened. I knew there were others like me. By this time I had read literally dozens of books and hundreds of journal articles, but where could I find the help I needed within a reasonable distance? I couldn't. I knew that if I did move somewhere where no one knew me that I would have to break off my relationship with my family to accomplish becoming the person on the outside that I was on the inside. I would disappear and my friends would never know what happened to me. I would start life all over again and that this would be the price to be paid in order to live my life in stealth.
So for one reason (or was it an excuse?) and another and another, I chose not to transition until three years ago. As time goes on, my transition picks up the pace. I've come to the realization over this period of time that there is no perfect stealth for the vast majority of us. I'm sure some people have been able to establish perfect stealth, but I think they are far and few between. Given that we are such rare people to begin with according to best estimates, the numbers of us who have achieved perfect stealth are even infinitely rarer.
For instance, if I were to achieve perfect stealth, I would have to lose all of the following things: my family; all my present friends; my career; my home; my community; ties to the college and universities I attended. In other words, I would have to move somewhere where I have never been, have no contact with those I left behind, and likely give up a career in which I have been very successful in and not be able to claim all the years of experience that I have in my career. That would be a very steep price to pay for a chance at something that might be successful for a while, but I would always be looking over my shoulder in fear that I would run into someone who knew my past or knew someone I knew who had a story about someone they knew who...  You understand what I'm saying here. Is it farfetched that it could happen after all that sacrifice?

Consider this experience I had one time. I was flying back from Kansas City after taking part in a substance abuse treatment conference. The first interesting thing was that Richard Petty of NASCAR fame was on the same plane, but then something even more amazing occurred. The flight was bound for Charlotte where I had to make a connection. I became engaged in a conversation with a man from Florida seated next to me. He had been out west on a business trip and was on his way home, also changing planes in Charlotte. We got to talking and I told him I was on my way to Charlottesville. He told me that he grew up there and of course my curiosity was piqued. I asked him where he went to elementary school as I had gone to school there and it turned out that not only had he gone to the same school, we were in the same class in first and second grade, were playmates, and later were in Scouts together. Small world, huh? That's an example of why I don't think perfect stealth will ever be an option for most of us and certainly not for me.
Rather, I think that stealth exists in degrees or like layers of an onion. There will be people who will always know that you once lived in a different gender you are today. I wonder if any of them can really see me as a woman and not quickly think of the person I used to be in my former gender. My guess is that at some times that will happen and others they will remember who I used to be. That isn't my ideal, but I can accept that reality, as long as I am treated with dignity and respect and as the woman I am. I think the younger a person transitions, the degrees of stealth increase. My reasoning on this is that there is much more life to be lived and many more new people coming into one's life who never knew the young person in a differently gendered life.
 For some people this will be important to them, for others not at all. When I think of those who it is unimportant to, I think of those folks who identify themselves as "gender queer". Perhaps it is a function of the times I grew up in, but I can't relate to that identity, personally. I have always had a clear identity as being female, and view my male body as a birth defect. I don't loathe the body I was born in as the stereotype of transsexuals that exists, I just have always known it wasn't the one I was supposed to have.
It would be really difficult to continue in my chosen profession if I were to disavow my past professional life in order to live in stealth. I have too many years in my profession, too many accomplishments that I would have to leave behind, and with that decision the prospect for a job that is commensurate with my knowledge skills and abilities and with my salary requirements would all but be impossible to obtain. I wouldn't have any references and wouldn't be able to list prior work experiences because the person I am interviewing with may possibly know another professional I used to work with. Any google of my name would also lead to my prior identity because of the types of psychotherapy I practice as well as my true identity. Instantly, my illusion of stealth would be shattered. For most of us in the age of the internet, stealth is becoming more and more of an illusion.
When one considers stealth and what it means, we are often talking about our transition and passing. In the first few years before I seriously considered transitioning, I did go out as myself, with generally unhappy outcomes. Though I dressed nicely, I didn't pass. So at that time, stealth wasn't even on the table as something possible. I would catch funny looks out of the corner of my eye or people frankly staring and that was really painful for me, to feel that something that seemed so right to me, made me at best a curiosity and at worst the target of derision or being seen as a freak.
Eventually though, with enough experience in being out and about, and as the hormones changed the way I looked, the way I carried myself publicly, and the more comfortable I became in social interactions, people stopped staring and I became able to go about my business and became comfortable interacting with people, I realized that I was "passing", even in situations with close contact, such as shopping in the Bare Escentuals store for makeup or dining out by myself or with my friends. Even in the most difficult tests of all, being in proximity with teenage girls (notorious for being able to scope us out) and in the ladies room.
Now if it is the case that I am passing well, then I have accomplished a level of stealth that in many ways is the only stealth most of us will ever experience. Even if I am being read as a transsexual woman, the fact that I am being treated with dignity and respect as a woman is really all that is necessary for me to live my life in a manner that allows me to be who I am.
I also have a new church that is welcoming to transgender people, though to my knowledge I am their only trans woman. I don't mind it because they have all been so nice to me, made me feel at home and wanted as part of the congregation. They treat me as a woman and I don't have to think about being a trans woman at this point there which is always a nice way to live. I've spent way more time than I ever wanted to thinking about my gender as it is.
To continue to work in my career at the same health care system, means that there will be no stealth for me whatsoever, as I interact with nearly every clinical service that is available there. However, the important thing to me, again, is that I be treated respectfully and with dignity. To me it’s that people get the name and the pronouns right when they speak to me or about me. I certainly have no thought " they won't know". Indeed, it is the colleagues closest to me where I work who will have the most difficult time with the transition. Patience on my part will be required as they will not get it right 100% of the time in the beginning. As long as they are making the effort to try to get it right and are improving, then I can roll with it during the learning curve.
 I would hope that new professionals who join us as others leave will only know me as a woman. I also know that it would be unusual if there weren't one or two who know me and said to the new coworker, "Yeah, and you won't believe this but Sherri used to be a guy!!" Such is human nature. I'm sure in most cases it wouldn't be meant maliciously either, knowing the people I work with. I wouldn't be happy if it occurred, but in the grand scheme of things I could handle it. I would be assertive in asking the person involved not to do that again. I think I know my coworkers well enough that if that were the case they would stop after being asked.
Dealing with family is an entirely different subject. It is my hope when I engage a patient for therapy who is transgendered if problems within the family system over a family member's transgender status develop that I have an opportunity to intervene. My hope would be to prevent people becoming estranged with their family of origin. I'm almost certain that almost no family member will ever think of their relative other than their birth gender, even if they are loved and accepting of that relative. It's almost impossible to forget all that shared history. But it is possible to accept and embrace their relative. More and more often, even if there is a period of estrangement, families are staying close to their transitioned family member. The bonds of family are very strong. Even in the cases I've worked with where children are abused or neglected, they more often do remain close to their families, even after having been removed and placed into foster care until the age of majority.
I think that in more public situations is where stealth exists and perhaps in business situations when dealing with other businesses and perhaps even in the place of employment if different from the place of employment where one transitions. As relationships become closer, the degrees of stealth diminish. Is that necessarily a bad thing? I think not. I want the people who are closest to me to really know me for who I am. Even this most painful part of my life (my prior male existence) after my transition is complete. After transition, I believe that I will simply see myself as a woman; being in a "trans" state will be over. I could very well be wrong about that though.  This is not to say I think that when my transition is complete I have arrived at the destination. Life is a voyage, a journey. The arrival is when we reach the end of our time here and go on to what’s next. I'm rather thankful that life is that way too.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Just What Kind of a Girl Are You Anyway?

So just what kind of a girl are you exactly? Really. Do you know?
"What kind of girl am I really am??" - Roseanne Cash

One way of figuring this out is by taking the Myers- Briggs Personality Type Indicator test . This easy to take test is based on Carl Gustav Jung's work with personality temperaments, has been studied and found to be exceptionally reliable and valid. Validity has to do with how well a test measures what it purports to and reliability has to do with the consistency of it's results over the passing of time.

It features 4 continuums of personality characteristics: introversion versus extroversion; sensing versus intuiting; thinking vs feeling and judging versus perceiving. In combination, they result in 16 personality types that describe all people. Some personality types are relatively common, some are rare. Each of these traits exists in relative degrees in people and the test can tell you how strong you personality is on one trait versus it's opposite. For instance, one can be either mildly extroverted or extremely extroverted. You can get a brief overview of the various personality type descriptions here or do a search for your type and read more extensive descriptions

I first became fascinated with this test almost, ummm, well, a long time ago when I took a graduate level course in personality development at James Madison University. It never ceases to amaze me that I have gotten the same personality profile every time I take it with the exception of a few times in my life when the judging- perceiving aspect was reversed. That is because my Judging is closely balanced with perceiving, though most often tests out on the judging side. My profile is INTJ. It's one of the most rare profiles. I'm not sure that is a good thing or a bad thing. I guess it depends on the circumstances. As a woman, it can be off putting to people because it isn't a profile that is associated with traditional femininity, but then again as a transsexual what would it be that is traditional? I'm ok with that, though.

Though this test has been normed, found to be valid and reliable over the many years and used with many different populations, to my knowledge after an exhaustive literature search using medical database search engines, there have been no studies done on transgender people and I'm quite interested in doing a research project about this topic.

I'd invite you to take the test and find out what your personality type is. Please feel free to share with us your personality type and how accurate you think the results are.

So Just what kind of a girl are you anyway? Really?