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FEMALE TO MALE TRANSSEXUALS
editor: William E. Parker
Angeles, CA—"They were all baby
girls when they were born. They
wore pink hospital bracelets with names like Tammy and Elizabeth and
Kathryn…now they are sons, brothers, boyfriends, partners, husbands and
dads." Even in a world of
seemingly endless possibilities, this statement, written by Cherie Hiser and
taken from the preface to Dean Kotula's astounding new book The Phallus Palace: Female to Male Transsexuals (Alyson
Publications, July 2002) seems outlandish.
Unless it's your reality.
for me is the stuff of dreams. I
knew I was a boy—a male—from my first consciously aware moment," writes
Michael, a transitioned FTM, one of 19 men whose first person accounts of their
feelings, motivations, and transitions make up the center section of this book.
It is these stories, and Kotula's remarkable black and white photos,
which accompany them, that force the reader to confront their own perceptions of
gender, and the limitations of society's current concepts of it.
stories provide the human faces to the more intensely detailed, academic and
medical essays and interviews, which lead up to them. Included in this first section are noted gender specialist
Katherine Rachlin's essay, FTM 101:
Dispelling Myths about the Invisible and Impossible, Diane Ellaborn's Seeking
Manhood: An Introductory Guide to Assessment of the Female-to-Male Adolescent,
and Kotula's own exceedingly in depth interview with Milton Diamond, Ph.D..
revealing and moving as the stories are however, as fascinating and informative
the essays and interviews, Kotula takes us one step closer to this subject than
anyone ever has before. There is a
harder reality to this story, one that does not reveal itself clearly in the
amazing, "wow, can you believe it" before and after photographs.
order for these men to leave behind the body they were trapped in, and become
the physical embodiment of their true selves, they must first go through not
just hormone therapy, but agonizingly invasive sex reassignment surgeries.
These are documented in The Phallus Palace through interviews with two of the leading
surgeons in this field: Toby R. Meltzer and James J. Reardon, and through
Kotula's intense and shocking, photographs of these procedures.
portion of the book is almost unbearable. But
in examining these procedures, reading about what they mean, and seeing the
reality of the procedure known as Radial Forearm Phalloplasty, you realize
something very clearly. No one
would go through this, unless their lives depended on it.
These are life saving procedures.
Kotula writes in his introduction to this section, "The knowledge and
understanding that these surgeries were desperately needed and took
extraordinary means to obtain, helped to offset my response to the invasive
nature of the procedures. When I
joined these men in their recovery rooms, I could see the relief and
exhilaration in their eyes, even through the heavy sedation and the aftermath of
it's six concise sections, Perspectives and Viewpoints I, The Men, Perspectives
and Viewpoints II, The Surgeries, Gender Memories, Perspectives and Viewpoints
III, The Phallus Palace leads the
reader through the amazing journey transsexuals must take to reconcile their
inner selves with their physical bodies.
informed, honest, shocking, even confrontational, but ultimately healing, The
Phallus Palace is a bold exploration of the social, historical, medical, and
psychological concerns of transsexuality.
I am that I am
be nothing other than what I am.
62 and 1/2.
much changes, ages, grows, and dies in life,
in every instance I have been a man.
not exactly; I wasn't a man when I was a boy.
sing. I cry. I laugh.
loved and I've felt such hate I thought it would burn me in two.
begged for an early death and I've prayed to live 120 years.
I was young, I was scared of the dark
a lot of other boys.
suppose it took me 18 years to accept the unknown demons lurking in the shadows.
this where I mention I'm single?
—Jericho, page 64
Phallus Palace: Female to Male Transsexuals
To schedule an interview with
Dean Kotula, contact Dan Cullinane at
TRANSSEXUAL RESOURCES IN PORTLAND