Los Angeles Times Article on us.

Fitting Into Their Own Skin

For some, the emotional freedom gained by gender transition has been worth the complications.

February 28, 2001|MARY McNAMARA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

For many of the hundreds of transgender men and women in the Los Angeles area, recent social and medical changes have lightened the burden of living outside the mainstream. Bengtsson found support where she assumed she would meet rejection; Mike Hernandez, a lawyer who transitioned from female to male 10 years ago, has watched the emergence of a true community with increasing hope and serenity; and for Mona Rios and Boe Randal, parents of a 10-year old daughter, the discovery that they were not alone has profoundly changed their lives.

Throughout history, there have been men who lived as women and women who lived as men, but it wasn’t until 1952 that the well-publicized “sex change operation” of Christine Jorgenson brought the concept of transsexualism into the American consciousness. For subsequent decades, transsexuals were considered shocking figures–at best, mentally conflicted; at worst, morally corrupt.

But in the last 10 years, as treatment of gender dysphoria has evolved, the once closeted and isolated population of transsexuals in this country has become more open and unified. In the wake of the gay and lesbian liberation movement, this newly dubbed “transgender” community has grown in number, diversity and social presence. Brought together by the Internet and emboldened by alliances with the gay and lesbian community and their own increasing numbers, transgender people are forcing society to reconsider, once again, its definition of gender, sex and civil rights.

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Book review

Most often interesting and fast-moving

on March 14, 2013

“Candid Confessions” is a revealing memoir in which we are presented with a person whose upbringing was so dysfunctional it engenders a certain amount of sympathy on the part of the reader. The author is a gender variant individual whose struggles to overcome her inner demons became the basis for her life direction. This is an often interesting, fast-moving and extremely raw thriller, written in the language of the streets. Although it could have been better edited, I enjoyed it for what it was, a first person tale of a violence-filled and drug-addicted existence. The writer is an individual whose code of conduct was modeled on the stormy, addictive, abusive and often criminal activities of her parents. Sad to say, her maladaptive life skills were further honed on the seamy streets of downtown LA as a sex worker and polysubstance, drug-seeking addict.

The author has long struggled to come to terms with her poor upbringing, co-dependent nature, habitual drug taking, alcoholism and criminal recidivism. It would be a gross understatement to say that she didn’t always make the best decisions. In fact, she often made such poor choices and hurt so many innocent and not-so-innocent victims that she served extensive time locked up in California jails and prisons for criminal activities. Some of her crimes concerned substance abuse violations while others were of a more violent nature, of the type that make headlines in the tabloids and cause the reader to gasp in disbelief. In search of happiness, redemption and a solution to her incessant and recurrent problems, the author eventually got involved in what appears to have been a religious cult. When that didn’t work, she eventually went full circle, going back to drugs and immersing herself in the porn industry. Descriptions of arrests, incarcerations and a life on the run pepper this book.

Where this book sometimes falls short is that the author, although acknowledging some of her mistakes, does not appear to take full responsibility for the harm she has caused others. By and large, she presents herself as a victim of circumstances who has somehow finally gotten her life into balance at present. However, as she does not appear to have ever sought or gotten professional assistance in terms of her psychological problems and substance abuse issues, one wonders if her current stability is somewhat precarious and illusory. Given that the best predictor of future behavior is the past, we see a new life possibly built upon a flimsy foundation. Continuously seeking deliverance from the stain of her background and the drug and gender demons with which she struggled, at the book’s conclusion the author appears to have finally become involved in a successful relationship and is ostensibly clean and sober. However, one wonders when her demons may strike again. Hopefully though, she will somehow make it all work.