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Educating Public About Gender Crossing

March 07, 2001

I want to thank Mary McNamara and the Los Angeles Times for publishing "Era of the Gender Crosser" (Feb. 27) and "Fitting Into Their Own Skin" (Feb. 28), which reported on transsexual and transgendered persons. By educating the public, you did a tremendous service to the transgendered community and society at large.

Discrimination against transsexual persons is still legal and prevalent today. Medical coverage of gender-related conditions is still uniformly denied to transsexual persons. There is no medical reason for this exclusion today, exclusion rooted in the ignorance and bigotry of the past. Hopefully, with the education of society, this community can finally be given the recognition and civil rights that all Americans enjoy.

KATHLEEN WATANABE

Irvine

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Because of your informative and sensitive reporting, the medical term "gender identity disorder" seemed all the more jangling and ill-chosen. Isn't it time the medical establishment came up with a less offensive label? "Disorder" implies that something is wrong and needs fixing. How about a less loaded term like "gender variance"?

DAVID NELSON

Santa Barbara

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In the article, you say that these people have changed their sexes. They have undergone major, and sometimes quite skillful, plastic surgery. This has changed their appearance but certainly has not changed their sexual identity. Their DNA has not changed, their chromosomes have not changed, and their skeletal characteristics have not changed. An expert looking at any of these would conclude that the person was of the same sex that he/she started out as. When a male undergoes this operation, and subsequently conceives and bears a child, I might be convinced otherwise.

RICHARD A. PIERCE

Burbank

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In "The Era of the Gender Crosser," Mary McNamara comes dangerously close to name-calling. After describing the problem of so-called "bigotry" in the gay and lesbian community, she leaps immediately to selectively quoting one of my articles on the subject of transgender operations.

I am not a bigot, as I have said several times in my articles on transgendered people. As I wrote in the follow-up article to the one she quoted, "I acknowledge every transgendered person's right to go by another name, take hormones, undergo plastic surgeries, and, most of all, pursue happiness and enjoy life, liberty, and equal protection under the law."

I don't share the prevailing orthodox opinion that transsexuals are members of the opposite sex simply because they have had surgery and have taken hormones. They're not. That is not bigotry. It's merely a statement of biological fact.

NORAH VINCENT

New York City

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