Editor’s warning: Some descriptions in this story may be too explicit for some readers.
WASHINGTON – The nation’s largest homosexual lobby group is sponsoring a conference this weekend for “female-to-male” “transgenders” that will include sessions on “chest surgery” for young women who want to have their breasts removed in their quest to become “transmen.”
The Human Rights Campaign has signed on as an official sponsor of the “True Spirit Conference,” which is scheduled to be held at a hotel in the nation’s capital Feb. 15-18. In a TV talk show debate Wednesday, HRC spokesman Wayne Besen said he was “proud” of his group sponsoring the event and defended the “chest surgery” sessions for women seeking to remove their breasts.
Besen made his comments on the Fox News Channel’s debate show “Hannity & Colmes” after being challenged about HRC’s role in the transsexual event by Peter LaBarbera, senior policy analyst for the Culture & Family Institute of Concerned Women for America, who was also a guest on the show.
On the Fox program, LaBarbera asked Besen, “There’s actually a doctor coming from New York who is talking about ‘breast reconstruction’ – chopping off the breasts of these girls because they want to become men. We think that’s dangerous. How can you justify teaching that as normal in the schools?”
Besen replied, “First of all, we’re very proud of supporting this type of conference. As Peter said, there are doctors and medical professionals there to deal with this particular issue. He ought to get educated on it.”
Sadistic sex, polygamy workshops
The True Spirit conference also includes a panel on “How to Do SM [sadomasochism]” and one devoted to “polyamory,” an activist term for multiple-partner sexual unions (“Polyamory can work, if you do it right, we promise!” says the True Spirit website.) In addition, the program contains sessions devoted to sexual tips for “transgenders.”
HRC – which has always cultivated a “mainstream” image – has been under heavy pressure from “transgender” groups to endorse their full agenda. It has responded by stepping up its “transgender” activism, even as it rejects pro-”transgender” provisions in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, its top Capitol Hill priority. HRC and allies like homosexual Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., fear including “transgenders” in the bill would jeopardize its passage.
ENDA would add “sexual orientation” (but not “gender identity,” as “trans” activists seek) to federal employment non-discrimination law. Interestingly, HRC supports pro-”transgender” language in state versions of the ENDA bill and even supported a successful effort in San Francisco last year to win taxpayer funding for “sex-change” operations for city workers.
At last year’s True Spirit conference, at least one speaker railed against HRC for not signing on as a conference sponsor, according to pro-family writer Guyla Mills, who attended the event.
Mills said most of the girls attending last year’s “chest surgery” workshops at True Spirit were in their 20s, but some attending the conference were teen-agers. At one point, Mills said she heard a discussion on how teens could bypass their parents’ authority to obtain masculinizing hormones.
At this year’s conference, organizers will be checking IDs for underage youth, who will be forbidden from attending the more sexualized workshops. However, the True Spirit website states, “The following topics will not have age restrictions: Surgical, safer sex, dating/intimacy, health, personal safety.” In other words, minors could still attend sessions devoted to sexual issues and self-mutilation.
The website describes True Spirit as “an annual conference for all gender variant people on the masculine spectrum or the transgender experience and significant others, friends, families & allies (SOFFAs) of all gender variations and sexual orientations.”
Doctors on hand
Organizers boast that at least two doctors will be on hand at True Spirit to discuss “top” (breast removal) and “bottom” (creation of a makeshift “penis” from a vagina) surgery. The website states:
In conjunction with Whitman-Walker Health Center, medical exams will be available either on-site or within a short distance from the hotel. Many surgeons will also be attending [True Spirit] and will be conducting free consultations for chest and lower surgery, as well as be available throughout the Conference weekend to answer questions.
One of the doctors slated to speak at True Spirit is Manhattan-based plastic surgeon Dr. James Reardon, whose website contains a section for “female-to-male” transsexuals desiring “chest reconstruction.” [Editor's note: Internet sites dealing with transsexual "surgeries" are not for the squeamish; some pages contain before-and-after photos and detailed descriptions of altered genitalia, etc.] In a section of Reardon’s site under the heading, “Are you ready for the Chest Reconstruction stage of your transition from female to male?” it states:
Together with a therapist, Dr. Reardon is seeing younger patients who are making these gender decisions earlier in life, preferably before entering college or their careers. The adolescent patient requires in-depth psychological evaluation, frequently with a second opinion, and will certainly benefit from parental support and interaction in the decision making process.
Catering to those who purportedly suffer from “Gender Dysphoria,” – the medical term for persons who have confusion or discomfort about their birth sex – can be quite profitable. Dr. Reardon’s site says the cost for a “chest reconstruction” is “$5,000-$10,000 depending on the complexity of the case.”
Another speaker at True Spirit is Dr. Michael Brownstein, a San Francisco-based plastic surgeon who does both “top” and “bottom” operations for “female-to-male” transsexuals, as well as those for “male to female” transsexuals. Brownstein’s website contains testimonials of “FTM” transsexuals, and photos pre- and post- “top surgery.” One such writer, “Frank,” praises Brownstein for performing the “miracle” of removing the breasts that she despised, saying, “I have the male chest I should have been born with and I know that, given time, any casual observer would never suspect I *wasn’t* born with it.” [emphasis "Frank's"]
Besides HRC, other sponsors of the True Spirit conference include the New England Leather Alliance, a sadistic sex group, GenderPAC, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, and the National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Centers.
The following are verbatim session titles and descriptions, some of which are excerpted, for some of the workshops offered at this year’s True Spirit conference. They are taken from the True Spirit website’s list of workshops. Several panels were too racy to print on a family-oriented newssite:
Beyond Bathrooms: Trans Issues in Gender-Segregated Communities
Beyond Binaries: Youth and Gender Identity
How do youth come to define and understand themselves within a dichotomous world? What happens when there are choices beyond male/female? What societal factors permit the emergence of genderqueer youth? In this workshop, two queer youth will provoke a discussion on binary gender. What are the experiences of transgendered youth today? Why do some enforce binary gender upon themselves? We will discuss the relationship between gender, labels and youth identity.
Bluring The Lines: Creating Our Own Identities
This caucus provides a space for anyone who feels the “male” or “female” labels do not quite work for their own identity to express themselves, be heard and see they are not alone.
Breaking the Sweat: The Fine Art of Cruising and Flirting with Women
Tips, techniques and general inspirations for meeting and mating with the ladies. Bring questions, scenarios and fears to this fun, friendly and interactive forum.
Chest Reconstruction – Dr. Michael Brownstein
Two Techniques, One Result: Discussion of the techniques involved in the double incision and keyhole; or subcutaneous mastectomy. Includes indications, limitations and anticipated results of each. Presentation will include newer photos of both procedures.
Chest Surgery – Dr. James Reardon
Dr. Reardon, a New York City-based surgeon who specializes in chest reconstruction surgery for FTMs, will present a slide show and discuss different kinds of chest reconstruction surgery options.
Chest Surgery Show and Tell
Come strip to the waist and strut your stuff. This perennially popular session will invite guys [female-to male "transmen"] to come to the front of the room and briefly share highlights of their surgery experience and/or reflect on their relationship to their new chest.
Femme Boy Caucus
Femmephobia and Misogyny in FtM Communities
… In denying the existence of our female bodies, how do we contribute to our own oppression and reinvent misogyny in a queer context? …
It seems that FTMs on hormones have a really different relationship to their genitalia. …
Getting the Balance Right: Embracing the Male and Female Psyches
Getting to the Point: Injections
Afraid of those big, sharp needles? Not sure of the best place to inject [hormones] or how to do it safely? Join a health care professional and others who have experience with injections. Learn tricks of handling these sticky situations and overcoming fears.
How to Do SM [sadomasochism]
If you think [SM] looks hot, it is! Learn how to start out and be safe.
How to Make Your Own Packy, Packer/Harness and Binders
Are you tired of sweaty bulky binders? Does your packy [padding for females to create the look of a penis] fall out of your shorts all the time? Are you also too broke to buy fancy products that would make you more comfortable? Or maybe you just need to save for surgery. Either way, this workshop is to share sewing and design skills so you can make your own binders and packers from inexpensive materials that can be picked up anywhere. Small donation requested for materials. (All can attend and watch even without donation.)
Do you have lots of people living in your body? Are you literally a man trapped in a woman’s body – or something else entirely? Are you a tranny whose alter-ego seems to have a mind of its own? Come talk with other trannies who’re multiple and multiples who’re trans.
For those of us who are committed to loving more than one person in an honest, aboveboard, and open-hearted way. We’ll talk about insecurity, jealousy, boundaries, negotiation, and Shiny New Lover Syndrome. Polyamory can work, if you do it right, we promise!
Sacred Body, Sacred Sex
This workshop focuses on the way we are learning to re-see ourselves. How our society has limited our image of ourselves to only two genders and how we can meld our mental/emotional image of ourselves with our body image. We need as a community of consenting adults to celebrate our sexual pleasures and fight any form of sexual repression. …
Join two transguys in a thoughtful discussion of issues connected to taking T [testosterone]: including finding and working with medical providers, adjusting dosages, the range of administration methods (injection, gel, pellets and the patch), realistic expectations, overall health concerns and dealing with the many changes T brings.
TG Parents and Kids
Parents and children discuss issues including: living in trans/queer families, social issues for children regarding fathers giving birth to their children, adoption and insemination challenges and concerns, similarities and differences to queer parenting and families, educating and working with daycare providers, teachers, pediatricians or other professionals about our unique family structure(s), and many more topics.
[Breasts] to Pecs: The Emotional Journey (Smaller Group Discussion)
A follow-up to the Chest Surgery Show and Tell, this workshop will have a panel address specific surgery issues, such as choosing a surgeon, the logistics and emotions of preparing for surgery, the support person’s role and experience, and other issues related to this monumental step in gender transition. …
We’re here, we’re queer … now what? Meeting men and dating as a gay/bi/queer transman can be a significant challenge. …
Trans-Trans Intimacy & Sex
Trans-Youth Access to Care: Barriers to Trans-Medical and Mental Health Care
A discussion of the barriers to care that trans-youth and their partners encounter. Age barriers to providing services to trans-youth are perceived to be numerous. Being young, not having one’s own insurance plan, adequate employment and/or other financial resources, or even a car or transportation to medical appointments can make medical care nearly impossible for some youth. … Issues of parental consent, barriers and access will be primary issues.