chapter  21
20 Pages

WOMEN IN THE CLOSET: RELATIONSHIPS WITH TRANSGENDERED MEN

Over the last 11 years, I have had the privilege of being welcomed into the tnlllsgender community in spite of my status as a psychiatrist. I say in spite 0(, not because of, largely as a result of the grave in justices many transgendered persons have suffered at the hands of some of my ill -informed and, at times, harshly judgmental colleagues. I' m disheartened to say that most of these self-identified patients would have been better served if they had been referred to someone with appropriate knowledge and training in this highly specialized area of human behavior. It was clear from my very first fo ray into the transgender community (the ~CrossPort" support group in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1985) that cross-dressing men and their spouses (I wi!! use the shorthand notat ion "spouse" for a ll women in emotionally committed relationships with a transgendered man) were hungry for knowledge and for legit imate, open-minded inquiry into the phenomenon of cross-dressing. What they usually found when they went to a library was anything but open-minded and was often wrinen by "researchers" who had never spent so much as one evening with a support group anywhere in the country, in spite of the facr that hundreds exist (sec Appendix I for a listing of sources for information and support). Papers were written fro m the perspective of a treating health-care professional sitting behind a desk talking to a self-identified patient. Information was then generalized to the population of cross-dressers and their spouses at large, even though the majority of such individuals never seek psychiatric assistance or identify themselves as patients (Brown, 1995).