Advice for Those Seeking a Sex Change: Don’t
The man who programmed the games M.U.L.E. and Seven Cities of Gold in the early days of home computing had some good advice for those who are considering a sex change: Don’t do it. His name was Dan Bunten, and he made some piquant observations about the consequences of the operation and the culture surrounding it. Those who are considering it should heed his warning.
Dan knew what he was talking about because he had actually undergone the procedure and had become Danielle Berry. After a string of personal tragedies, Dan became depressed and disoriented. His confusion led him to make a huge life-changing mistake that he realized too late; he wished that someone would have warned him. Later, he used his personal struggles to help persuade others against the procedure and warn them against the false cheerleading that he experienced. As others sought his advice, he compiled a general message from the emails that he had sent out. The text is given below.
Special Note to Those Thinking About a Sex Change,
by Danielle Berry
Compiled from a number of emails I sent in response to requests for input from those considering their own change.
Don’t do it! That’s my advice. This is the most awful, most expensive, most painful, most disruptive thing you could ever do. Don’t do it unless there is no other alternative. You may think your life is tough but unless it’s a choice between suicide and a sex-change it will only get worse. And the costs keep coming. You lose control over most aspects of your life, become a second class citizen and all so you can wear women’s clothes and feel cuter than you do now. Don’t do it is all I’ve got to say.
That’s advice I wish someone had given me. I had the sex change, I “pass” fine, my career is good but you can’t imagine the number of times I’ve wished I could go back and see if there was another way. Despite following the rules and being as honest as I could with the medical folks at each stage, nobody stopped me and said “Are you honest to God absolutely sure this is the ONLY path for you?!” To the contrary, the voices were all cheerfully supportive of my decision. I was fortunate that the web didn’t exist then – there are too damn many cheerleaders ready to reassure themselves of their own decision by parading their “successful” surgeries and encouraging others.
I can speak the transgender party line that I was a female trapped in a male body and I remember feeling this way since I was 4. But, it’s never that easy if you look at it sincerely and without preconception. There’s little question that a mid-life crisis, a divorce and a cancer scare were involved in at least the timing of my sex-change decision. To be completely honest at this point (3 yrs post-op) is not easy, however, I’m not sure I would do it again. I’m now concerned that much of what I took as a gender dysfunction might have been nothing more than a neurotic sexual obsession. I was a cross-dresser for all of my sexual life and had always fantasized going fem as an ultimate turn-on. Ironically, when I began hormone treatment my libido went away. However, I mistook that relief from sexual obsession for validation of my gender change. Then in the final bit of irony, after surgery my new genitals were non-orgasmic (like 80% of my TG sisters).
So, needless to say, my life as a woman is not an ultimate turn-on. And what did it all cost? Over $30,000 and the loss of most of my relationships to family and friends. And the costs don’t end. Every relationship I make now and in the future has to come to terms with the sex-change. And I’m not the only one who suffers. I hate the impact this will have on my kids and their future.
Anyway, I’m making it sound awful and it’s not. There are some perks but the important things like being comfortable with myself and having a true love in my life don’t seem like they were contingent on the change. Being my “real self” could have included having a penis and including more femininity in whatever forms made sense. I didn’t know that until too late and now I have to make the best of the life I’ve stumbled into. I just wish I would have tried more options before I jumped off the precipice. I miss my easy access to my kids (unlike many TS’s I didn’t completely lose access to them though), I miss my family and old friends (I know they “shouldn’t” have abandoned me but lots of folks aren’t as open minded as they “should” be … I still miss them) and finally, I hate the disconnect with my past (there’s just no way to integrate the two unrelated lives). There’s any number of ways to express your gender and sexuality and the only one I tried was the big one. I’ll never know if I could have found a compromise that might have worked a lot better than the “one size fits all” sex-change. Please, check it out yourself before you do likewise.
March 7, 2013 at 9:23 am