Through the Looking Glass, Column 1

Could I Be TS?

‘Do you think you may some day face the music and transition? And could you shed some light on what distinguishes a CD from a TS?’ I was asked the other week in an email from Katherine, a recently post-op TS I met at the Be-All who was struck by how similar we seemed to each other.

‘About two years,’ according to a popular joke, which implies that crossdresser is just a temporary way of thinking about yourself, while digesting the deeper, more difficult reality of being transsexual. Like the best humor, the joke works because of the surprising truth it contains: we all know a few dyed-in-wool crossdressers who became dyed-in-more-sensible-wool transsexuals. Could I be one of those crossdressers? I suppose so, but the timescale is a little bit off. I’ve been an out-and-about crossdresser for over twelve years now.

Still, though, Katherine, are you puzzled when you meet someone just like you, but you’re a TS and she’s a CD? She must be in denial, right? It’s either that or you may have made a great big mistake, right?

Well neither really, at least according to an M.D. like me. For me, crossdresser describes an MTF trans person who lives his life primarily as a man. And a transsexual is an MTF trans person who has decided to live as a woman. So, to me, my TS sister, you and I live different lifestyles, but are we deep down different people? I think you sensed it yourself: we’re not. We’re the same kind of lovely-yet-not-naturally-effeminate, now-nonplussed-but-originally-fetishistic, bi-but-started-out-straight MTF trans person. Two people living with the same intersex condition, blessed with the same bigendered brain, separated perhaps by degree only.

‘So enough political incorrectness,’ you say. ‘If you feel such kinship for a TS like me, do you see a little breast aug and SRS in your future?’ You know, honestly, Katherine, I feel the allure and can’t rule out the possibility. But the circumstances in my life being what they are, transition and surgery don’t seem likely to leave me any happier than I am now.

Assuming I couldn’t or wouldn’t want to convince people I was a six-foot genetic female, mainstream patients might start to steer clear of me and I’d probably find it difficult to maintain my private practice and have to find less appealing hospital or clinic work. But far more importantly to me, I have a smart, fun, super-cool wife, who I would lose along with my six and seven-year-old kids. And I doubt if I could ever find a better partner, male, female, or trans, than Melissa’and I know a thing or two about this, as you no doubt gleaned from Alice in Genderland.

I could imagine how circumstances in my life might have added up differently, as surely yours have, leaving us with the paradox of being two very similar people just trying to be practical and ending up on two increasingly divergent paths.

I’ll leave the last word to one of the wise gay people who inspired me as a trainee at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. ‘Ideally,’ my colleague Tim told me, ‘we’d like to see everyone come out, for themselves and the community. Still, we advise each person to take it only as far as makes sense in his or her life.’ So if we apply that to us trans people, we’re better off figuring out what works for us as individuals rather than following any one party line. And that, my friend, is precisely what you and I have done.

Here’s to us,
Alice Novic, M.D.

To learn more about me than you’d ever dare to ask, please see my smart, sexy memoir, Alice in Genderland: A Crossdresser Comes of Age.

Also, if you wish to eMail Alice with Questions, Comments or Topics for Future Through the Looking Glass Articles, feel free to send her an eMail at or to Post any Comments below.