The Bittersweet “Change Of Gender” Court Ruling: It Came With Even More Cyberharassment
This is the third of three parts on referring to what California calls my legal change of gender. This is an exercise in cathartic writing for me explaining not only why my change of gender, but also explaining why I haven’t been as prolific in my writing since last summer, nor as active in civil rights work. After these three blog articles, my intent is never to write about trans surgeries again — at least my trans-related surgeries again.
This is a fairly long, personal post about a personal experience — if that’s not the kind of post you enjoy reading at Pam’s House Blend, then you should probably just skip over this post. In this post I identify a cyberharasser by first name, and give things to ponder for those who are considering using my surgeon — Dr. Tuan Nguyen — for any transition related surgery.
Sandeen believes she is female now, was female before her castration, and no matter what happens will always be female. She simply is…female. In fact, the only reason she opted for castration was so she could side step California’s definition of sex reassignment and have her birth certificate changed. How’s that for lunacy. Autumn Sandeen does not believe that any form of surgery makes one male or female…but she does think that a birth certificate does.
Autumn misses the whole point. For every single post op transsexual I’ve ever talked with, not one felt they were truly female until after their sex change operation. Benjamin talks at length in his book about this trait in transsexuals…the feeling of not being complete and wanting to be and function as a member of the opposite sex. It wasn’t until after our SRS, when we looked in the mirror and saw a female form that we felt we were now finally female. But, not Autumn Sandeen…no way. When she looked in the mirror she has always seen a female. She has always been female. Even now when she looks in the mirror and sees a castrated male form looking back at her she is assuaged…she is comforted…and, lo and behold…she is affirmed.
She is also a male eunuch…delusional…and crazy as a fucking gourd.
As I said in part two of this series, for me it’s not clear whether or not I should be sharing the story I’m going to share in this post. However, I want my peer trans people to know what can happen to trans people when they share their personal stories online — the level of hate speech, and sometimes even hate action, one can experience in sharing one’s own personal transition story.
I still hold that it’s best when more of us trans people are out of the closet. That’s because as we become personally known to more members of society we become more accepted in society — just look at how lesbian, gay, and bisexual civil rights have progressed since the Stonewall Uprising. Their visibility, especially to their friends, families, and coworkers, has moved society towards greater acceptance.
But what’s good for a community isn’t necessarily good for an individual. It’s not only discrimination and hate from some in broader society we trans people face when we’re out — even when just out to our friends, families, and coworkers — but when we’re more visible we can also be on the receiving end of serious hate from within our own populations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming people. But let’s be clear: being out to friends, family, and employers/employees is a much different animal than being out to the internet.
We, as individuals, can face a great deal opposition and oppression from many sources in the struggle for ordinary equality for our population. And sadly, some in the population of transsexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming people want to oppress those whose trans experiences aren’t the same as their own personal trans experience.
So from that personal perspective on civil rights, on being out and proud as trans, and on the costs sometimes exacted for being out and sharing one’s own personal narrative of trans experience, let me tell a personal story of cyberbulling/cyberharassment resulting from me telling a part of my transition story.
[The story told below the fold.]
In the Pam’s House Blend post What Genital Reconstruction Surgery And When, I initiated a conversation about what surgery I was planning to have as an affirmation of my gender identity, along with an explanation as to why I wasn’t having the surgery that’s usually associated with the term sex reassignment surgery. Most of the blenders who commented in the comment threads got the joy I was feeling and congratulated me; some, as I mentioned in part two of this series, considered the bilateral orchiectomy I was having as insufficient.
One of those who considered my story to be not the story of one of being a woman was SA-ET of the blog Enough Nonsense— one who I mentioned earlier in this post has identified herself elsewhere on the web as Susan. Susan is a woman of transsexual history.
I wonder sometimes what these fruit cakes envision life as when they get older…[I can just see] Autumn Sandeen, when someone finally bites the bullet and shouts to her, “Take off that silly, stupid beret, you crazy fucking tranny!” It’s entertaining at times to wonder what these trans females will think about their lives many years from now after never having been able to experience what it’s like to be female but to have always been seen by everyone they’ve ever met as a sex change…a trans female…complete with snickers, giggles, and soto voce remarks.
Or another one captured here…
This past week, Pam’s House Blend, a major GLBT blog owned and operated by Pam Spalding, an African American lesbian woman, ran a series of articles, written by the so-called “transsexual” Autumn Sandeen, an ex-US Navy male born person who apparently would now prefer to be known as a “trans” woman, a “transgender” woman, a “transsexual” woman, or even just a plain everyday woman, albeit that this person has had no surgery to become such, and albeit that this person will likely never have the surgery to entitle “her” the term of her. In the Loony world of the transgender any person can not only define themselves in any gender they want to assume (in the guise of a so-called identity) but society as a whole is apparently charged with the obligation to recognize their delusional Loony world view whether they believe it to be fact or not.
Nothing horizontal about it, Autumn. Cut it anyway you please. Ban us from PHB and the debate. Nothing will change. A castrated male is not a female…
In other words, Susan doesn’t consider me to be her peer — horizontal in either community or population — and she doesn’t consider me to be female.
And in my opinion, she acted as a cyberharasser in what I believe was a deliberate attempt to harm me because of that thought: she contacted my surgeon, and then published a response from my surgeon’s office manager.
As I wrote in part 2 of this series, here’s some defining of cyberharassment:
Cyber stalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk someone which may be a computer crime or harassment. This term is used interchangeably with online harassment and online abuse.
…As noted by Gilbert (1999): In real life, stalkers usually stalk in proximity to their victims — they want the victim to see them and know they are there — they feed on the victim’s reaction. On the internet, proximity takes on a new meaning (Ogilvie, 2000).
Obviously, there are important differences between the situation of someone who is regularly within shooting range of her or his stalker and someone who is being stalked from two thousand miles away. While the previous examples can be viewed as offensive and threatening, they can, nevertheless, be viewed as distinct from “traditional” stalking in that they remain in cyber space. While emotional distress is (appropriately) acknowledged in most criminal sanctions, it is not considered as serious as actual physical threat. Thus, while links between stalking, domestic violence, and feticide have been empirically demonstrated “in real life” (Burgess et al. 1997; Kurt 1995; McFarlane et al. 1999), much cyber stalking remains at the level of inducing emotional distress, fear, and apprehension. However, this is not to say that causing apprehension and fear should not be criminally sanctioned, or that the cyber and the real are somehow inherently or intrinsically disconnected (Ogilvie, 2000).
Wikipedia offers an added component of cyberharassment:
Encouraging others to harass the victim. Many cyberstalkers try to involve third parties in the harassment…
So this is how Susan began her Enough Nonsense blog post An Email To Dr -Nguyen in response to my Pam’s House Blend post The Ginchy Letter I Received Via Snail Mail On Saturday:
I’m just sorry, but if there is a surgeon out there doing castrations and calling them sex reassignment surgeries, I’d like them to tell me that’s their position…so I can contact the local medical board, and any other certifying boards they may belong to. Castration as SRS is simply ridiculous. So, I wrote the surgeon Autumn Sandeen says wrote her letter and asked him…twice. The second e-mail is below. I’ve not gotten an answer yet. Perhaps some of you would like to write you own letter to Dr. Nguyen…
Here is the text of the letter Susan sent to my surgeon — a kind of letter she expressed a desire that other women of transsexual history would also send to Dr. Nguyen:
A couple of days ago I wrote with regard to one of your patients, Autumn Sandeen, indicating she had published a letter from you stating that “She has had appropriate surgical treatment and has completed her transition to be female.” Ms. Sandeen has said on a public blog that she received an orchiectomy from you. You can see what Ms. Sandeen says is your letter at this link –> http://pamshouseblend.shadowproof.wpengine.com/2011/09/06/the-ginchy-letter-i-received-via-snail-mail-on-saturday/. In the letter Autumn Sandeen published, she claims that you have stated that “under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States” she has had “appropriate treatment.”
I will ask you again, do you consider an orchiectomy a type of sex reassignment surgery?
As a Fellow, is it the position of the American College of Surgeons, that an orchiectomy alone constitutes sex reassignment surgery?
Should I contact the American College of Surgeons to garner a reply?
I, in no way, am asking you to specifically comment on Ms. Sandeen’s case.
I am only interested in answer to the two generic questions above.
I actually remember laughing at the letter that Susan sent to Dr. Nguyen. My thought was that by peppering my name in that e-letter three times it was clear that Susan’s comment “I, in no way, am asking you to specifically comment on Ms. Sandeen’s case.” would be taken as a transparent lie. Especially considering I’d told Dr. Nguyen’s office manager Russann Royce that 1) I was going to blog on my surgery experience, and 2) that I had cyberharassers that were following my surgery story.
To my incredible surprise, there was a response from my surgeon’s office to Susan, and Susan posted the response on her blog in the entry Response Received From Autumn Sandeen’s Surgeon. Excerpted from the post:
In the past several days, I have sent two e-mails to the surgeon that Autumn Sandeen says did her affirmation surgery. Today, I got a response from Dr. Nguyen Office Manager. Below is the exchange…
Dr. Nguyen has been in surgery all week and was reviewing his emails today. In answer to your emails, he does not consider an orchiectomy to be a completed sex change. In the case of orchiectomies, the passport document that we use indicates that the patient is transitional. If you have seen a form from our office with incorrect information on it, it is more than likely because I mistakenly used the incorrect template. Obviously we try to make sure all information is correct, however mistakes do occur. If a patient sees that she or he has incorrect paperwork, we are more than willing to make corrections. I hope this answers your questions.
Lake Oswego Plastic Surgery
By the way, I wasn’t courtesy copied (cc’d) on this email from my surgeon’s office. I read that statement of my surgeon’ opinion on my surgery online at the Enough Nonsense blog after a tip from a blender directed me to it.
In other words, my surgeon and his office manager labeled my transition incomplete to a complete stranger — a piece of information they didn’t tell me over the phone when I was setting up the surgery, or face-to face when I was in their office for the surgery. I feel like my surgeon and his office manager forever labeled me as incomplete in that e-letter to Susan…labeled me an incomplete monster…labeled me indirectly as a deceptive liar for believing the text of the surgery letter they had sent me. It felt unnecessarily cruel.
And in that statement to Susan, Dr. Nguyen and Russann Royce functionally invalidated the surgery letter they’d sent me just days earlier.
I hadn’t claimed that I’d had sex reassignment surgery — except once in stating that in the narrowest legal definition of that being a surgery that allows one to change one’s legal gender in California — because there is a more prominently used medical definition of sex reassignment surgery. Still, if I knew what Dr. Nguyen was going to first indicate “[Autumn Sandeen] has had appropriate surgical treatment and has completed her transition to be female,” and then retract that statement in a e-letter to a cyberharasser — without first telling me that they’d made a mistake in the template of the letter they sent me…well, I would never have employed him as my surgeon. Again, what Dr. Nguyen and Russann Royce accomplished with their letter to Susan felt incredibly cruel.
And to the misdirection of Susan’s comment “I, in no way, am asking you to specifically comment on Ms. Sandeen’s case,” she obviously took the answer from Russann Royce as a comment on “Ms. Sandeen’s case.”
Well, it’s official…Autumn Sandeen’s own surgeon does not consider her having had a sex change. Autumn Sandeen, it appears, is a liar and a fraud, by continuing to say that she has had gender affirmation surgery/sex change when her surgeon says she has not had a completed sex change if all she had was an orchiectomy. Of course, we all know that. I would tell Sandeen that to her face, but she has banned me from PHB/FDL.
Russann Royce gave Susan a statement that Susan used to call me “a liar and a fraud”…specifically because I posted a copy of the surgery letter Dr. Nguyen sent me — a letter I posted as part of the blogging about my surgery. It was part of the blogging of my surgery that I told the office manager I was going to do as part of sharing my surgery with my target audience of cissexual lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
I have no idea what Susan looks like as I’ve never met her face-to-face — I can’t imagine even she believed her statement of “I would tell Sandeen that to her face” to be a literally true statement. Having never met Susan personally, I’m absolutely bewildered why my orchiectomy and legal change of gender was of so much interest to her that she engaged in cyberharassment — cyberharassment per the definition I referenced earlier in this piece.
As I reported in my post My Bittersweet Sex/Gender Court Ruling: The San Diego Court Appearance, California has ruled differently — California considers me female, and I’m in process of changing my California birth certificate. And, that’s even with Susan, my surgeon, and my surgeon’s office manager painfully undermining one of the main reasons for me having my surgery.
After three days, Susan took down the original version of that post with my surgeon’s office response letter, and posted what I considered a very weak apology — an apology I still reject as inadequate.
I have stated on many occasions that just because someone can do something doesn’t, in any way, mean that they should do it. It is within that premise that I find myself in this morning. The post that formerly occupied this space referencing Autumn Sandeen has now been removed from my blog and archived.
I was always taught to apologize for things one has done to another…apologize for things they feel ashamed of. In this case, it is apparent to me that I have caused an undue stress upon Autumn that I should have recognized and been more sensitive to…unfortunately, I failed to do that. My feelings on the bigger picture that this now deleted post addressed have not changed; I’m sure those Autumn hold have not changed either.
Nonetheless, I do believe that there is a proper way to conduct oneself in such an exchange of differences of opinion and do not believe that I conducted myself to those standards…certainly to a standard I’m not proud of.
I’m quite sure there will be those who read and comment on this blog regularly who will perhaps not understand my seemingly abrupt change of position. I can’t help that. I have to do what I think is right. Not only will this post and comments have been deleted but I intend to apologize to Autumn personally via e-mail.
Susan said she was sorry, but offered nothing else but typewritten words for real harm she caused me. I still reject the apology as inadequate because she can’t undo the harm with mere words. And, of course, she called me “a liar and a fraud,” and didn’t bother to publicly apologize for that. The harm she did, with the assistance of my surgeon and his office manager to me was real; her actions were the impetus for functionally voiding my initial surgery letter. Their collective behavior caused me months of stress and depression.
And, of course, my positive feelings about my surgery and choice of surgeon vanished.
I received this message on my phone from Russann Royce in response to a phone message I left for them indicating how angry, frustrated, and hurt by their sending any sort of a response to Susan, especially after telling them I had cyberharassers; especially a response that the surgeon and her should of seen as so potentially devastating to me.
In my opinion, the statement read by Russann Royce just added to my feelings that my surgeon and his office manager behaved cruelly. Their behavior of answering Susan’s letter was simply inexcusable, and they really didn’t adequately address what I feel was their cruel behavior towards me.
Dr. Nguyen seems a technically excellent surgeon, but I wouldn’t recommend him as a surgeon to any of my trans peers. That’s because in my case, I don’t believe he and his office manager treated me with basic respect…I don’t believe they treated me as a human being.
As I said in the second post in this three part series, I’m not sure that the cyberharassment story of this post is worse cyberharassment than the one I outlined in part 2 of this series, but the experiences I’ve outlined in this post impacted me more personally — the situation was much more emotionally painful — than the experiences I outlined in part 2.
After my legal change of gender in May, the effect that he cyberbulling diminished to me — what my cyberharassers wanted to accomplish in blocking my legal change of gender failed. I’m now feeling okay about the outcome — not great, but okay. The bittersweet path to that May court date led to a bittersweet, less joyful outcome than I expected it would be when I began what is the very last part of my transition from male-to-female.
But that’s okay. What I wanted to accomplish with my surgery and my legal change of gender actually was accomplished — and that really is the bottom line.
* Part 2 of the series: The Bittersweet “Change Of Gender” Court Ruling: It Came With Cyberbulling
* Part 1 of the series: My Bittersweet Sex/Gender Court Ruling: The San Diego Court Appearance
* What Genital Reconstruction Surgery, And When
* Ow, But Yay
* My Primary Care Says I’m Recovering Well From My Orchi
* The Ginchy Letter I Received Via Snail Mail On Saturday