Editor’s note: This commentary contains explicit descriptions that might offend some readers.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A “female to male” “transgender” conference attended last week by hundreds of young women, including teenagers, featured show-and-tell breast-removal workshops for females trying to be “men,” and an invitation to a sexual “play party” at a sadistic nightclub here.
The “True Spirit 2002″ conference was sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, the world’s leading homosexual organization. When challenged last week on national television about supporting the conference, Wayne Besen, a spokesman for the group, said he was “proud” of HRC’s sponsorship.
HRC – a high-powered lobby group that has attracted then-President Clinton, his wife and U.S. senator, Hillary Rodham-Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., as speakers at its annual conferences – took out a full-page ad in the TS 2002 program and manned a booth at the event.
The True Spirit conference also included a panel on “How to Do SM [Sadomasochism]” and one devoted to “polyamory,” an activist term for multiple-partner sexual unions. There were several self-described “polyamorous” speakers at True Spirit. The blurb for that workshop (which I did not attend) reads in part, “Polyamory can work, if you do it right, we promise!”
In addition, the program contained sessions devoted to sexual tips for “transgenders,” and sessions such as “[Transgender] Parents and Kids,” “The Invisibility of FTM Youth,” “Testosterone Diaries,” and “Transfag Datebait.”
Other supporters of True Spirit included the homosexual activist parents’ group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians & Gays – whose “transgender network” paid for a welcoming ad in the program book (“We have trans-accepting chapters in 420 cities”) – and Amnesty International. Joining HRC as official sponsors were the New England Leather Alliance, a sadistic group, GenderPAC, and the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, among other groups.
The homosexual-friendly Washington Plaza Hotel held the conference downtown in the nation’s capital. Every year, the hotel hosts a sadomasochism-celebrating event that is part of “leather week” in the District.
Breast-removal slide show
Two cosmetic surgeons who perform transgender “breast reconstructions” spoke at True Spirit 2002, which ran from Feb. 15-17. (I registered and attended several workshops on Saturday, the opening day.) Dr. James Reardon, based in Manhattan, spoke to a large meeting room filled mostly with girls and women in their teens and 20s. He said that just a few decades ago, breast removal operations would have been considered mutilation, but now, “with the FTM [female-to-male] situation it is considered an acceptable medical practice.”
The grandfatherly Reardon, who looks a bit like Orville Redenbacher of popcorn fame, said he has been doing breast removal procedures since 1972. He said the operations cost on average $7,500 and complained that they are not covered by Medicare or Medicaid, and rarely by private insurance companies.
He said the surgery can now be performed on an outpatient basis: Patients operated on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday “can usually be back to work on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.”
Reardon said his clients are “all young people” with “50 to 60 years ahead of them” living as “men,” and that he and his staff always try “to get the best results” for their clients.
I was unprepared to see so many young women desiring this body-disfiguring operation, which leaves long and large horizontal scars under the place where there were once full breasts. (He said the scars eventually fade.) On his Web site, Reardon states that he “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.”
After a short introductory talk, Reardon began a before-and-after slide show of patients of varying chest sizes on whom he had performed “breast reconstruction” operations.
He explained clinically about his goal of seeking the “correct position of the nipple” in creating a male-like torso for his clients.
“We can almost customize this for the patients,” he said matter-of-factly. “We can almost custom design some of the nipples.”
Pointing to one slide, Reardon demonstrated where “where the nipple should be” placed on an FTM-transformed chest. A “mistake is to make it too low, or too high, or too close to the midline [imagine a vertical line down the middle of the torso],” he said.
A collective gasp went up from the audience as he showed one of his bloodier slides – a close-up of an isolated nipple, sitting detached from surrounding skin after being cut away from a breast which was to be repositioned to a flatter, male-like torso. Reardon seemed irritated by the crowd’s shrieks. He said the goal is always to keep the nipple complex alive, and proceeded to show more bloody slides.
Reardon said most of his clients were on male hormones for one to two years before having the operation. Indeed, talk of taking “T” (testosterone) was everywhere at True Spirit. He explained how “chest surgery” is easier and less complicated for women with small breasts, and showed some completed operations from large-breasted woman that still left them with small breasts (i.e., not flat chests like the typical male).
Unfulfilled expectations and ‘half men’?
The New York-based surgeon sought to minimize the complications of transsexual chest surgery, which he listed as:
- Poor healing (long scars);
- Losing part of the nipple from the operation;
- Infection (he said this is rare);
- Loss of pigment in the nipple; he said sometimes this “doesn’t come back,” a problem some transmen (as FTMs are called) attempt to fix using tattoos;
- Loss of feeling in the nipple area.
But even as Reardon downplayed the mishaps, there was evidence all around the True Spirit conference of women disappointed by their “breast reconstructions.” For example, he said he and the other plastic surgeon at True Spirit, San Francisco-based Dr. Michael Brownstein, do accept patients who ask for fix-ups from their operations by less-qualified doctors.
A woman who was very disappointed at the “less than desirable” results of her “top surgery” led an entire session at True Spirit. The woman, Nikolas Alexander – who described herself in the program bio as a “Daddy Bear, Pansexual Pervert” – said, “My body after chest surgery is not what I want it to be.”
“My surgeon (f—-d) up,” complained the hefty Alexander in the workshop entitled “Working With What We Have.” She said that she went from a double-D to a double-A bra size, but said bitterly, “I still look very female in my breast.”
Pointing over her shirt to her still-protruding breasts, Alexander said, “This one [left] came out really nice, … this one [right] came out mangled.”
She said after having the breast-reduction surgery last June, she is “getting sensation … in my nipples, but it’s pain.”
On the other hand, there were many “FTMs” in attendance who were thrilled with their post-operative flat chests and, based on my observations, hundreds more at the conference who would seek such an operation.
I was not able to get to the widely anticipated “Chest Surgery Show and Tell” Sunday, but I did pop into the meeting room where Dr. Brownstein had just given his talk on “Chest Reconstruction,” only to find half a dozen “transmen” with their shirts taken off, proudly comparing their male-imitating torsos.
It sure was a strange sight, knowing that God created these people as females.
Bottom surgery rare
A curious aspect of the True Spirit conference was that even as participants claimed to be “men” in spirit, they are incapable for obvious reasons of making a complete “gender transition” – the politically correct term favored by FTMs to describe their desired metamorphosis.
Reardon said that most FTMs do not get “bottom” surgery which, at its extreme, is the attempt to fashion a “penis” out of skin taken from the person’s arm and attaching it to the woman’s groin area.
He said a key reason why most FTM women do not have this operation, called a “metoidioplasty,” is that it “requires [taking] a tremendous flap of skin from the forearm” to create a makeshift male sex organ.
Instead, many “transmen” wear harnesses that carry padding or artificial penises called “dildos.” (The first session I attended dealt in part with “packing,” for women to create the look of a male groin.)
After barely making it through Reardon’s “Chest Surgey” slide show without fainting, I skipped the later presentation by Brownstein on “Metoidioplasty.”
Meanwhile, Drs. Reardon and Brownstein were busy drumming up business from this year’s True Spirit conference. At his opening day talk, Reardon announced that starting at 1:00 p.m., he would be available for consultations with prospective clients in his hotel room. TS 2002 organizers made room for ongoing “medical exams” during their conference.
Although True Spirit organizers sought to give assurances that they were protecting underage youth from sexualized images, the program for the conference featured a full-page ad for a “Play Party” at the Crucible, a sadomasochist club in a seedy section of the District of Columbia. The ad said that attendees had to be 18 to attend. To get an idea of what “playing” means to sadists, the Crucible’s Web site features a photo of three semi-clad women hanging by chains from the ceiling, with one woman hanging upside-down.
A few booths down from the Human Rights Campaign’s table in the room designated for True Spirit sponsors was one for the New England Leather Alliance, which distributed a small blue booklet on practicing “SM Sex … Safely.” The booklet includes a section on “Blood Sports,” “Fisting” and other revolting practices.
A True Spirit official screened out underage youth at a workshop entitled, “Sacred Body, Sacred Sex” (led by a Wiccan Priestess), but there were plenty of opportunities for the many young people in attendance to be exposed to grotesque and dangerous sexual discussions and imagery.
While I chose to attend another workshop rather than the True Spirit session entitled “How to Do SM,” I popped into it at the end, only to hear a discussion on “gagging.” The speaker, Jan Hall, a member of the National Leather Association, warned, “This is advanced stuff. Don’t try this,” as she counseled the audience to start with beginner sadistic sex practices.
I do not know if there were any minors (under 17) among the many young people that attended the S&M workshop – which would have violated D.C. law, according to a sheet passed out by True Spirit’s organizers. Conference officials asked for IDs from registrants to ensure that minors could not attend the more racy sex-oriented workshops. However, the True Spirit Web site stated, “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.
Despite their professed interest in obeying laws designed to protect underage kids from sexualized talks and pornographic images, organizers allowed a grotesque and disturbing pedophilic painting to be prominently displayed in the busy hallway adjoining four True Spirit meeting rooms. The two-foot-square painting showed a baby boy lying naked on his back being sodomized by the nipple of a baby bottle. All day Saturday, organizers made no effort to remove the painting, which was offered for sale and titled, disgustingly, “Drink Up.”
Attending “True Spirit” made it clearer to me than ever that truly there are “no limits” when it comes to the ever-expanding homosexual and gender revolution. The lesson here is simple: Once you crack open the door to perversion, it swings open wide.
Peter LaBarbera is a senior policy analyst at the Culture & Family Institute, an affiliate of Concerned Women for America. He is also founder of Americans For Truth, which is dedicated to opposing the homosexual, bisexual and “transgender” movements, and a contributing editor to Human Events newspaper.