Transsexual women breaking down barriers

3 Jan

Is there any group of people more misunderstood than transsexuals? Many people for years, and even today, have operated under the assumption that transsexual people were sick in body and mind and incapable of leading full or productive lives. Many regarded transsexuals as little more than a punchline to a joke or perhaps a sideshow. For years the media went along with this and ratings gluttons like Jerry Springer did little to dispel the image. In fact he wanted to make the image even more extreme and depraved to line his own pockets. While he was the biggest ratings hog at the hands of the trans community he was not the only one by far as Sally Jessy Raphael, Rolanda, and scores of others jumped on the bandwagon to keep up.

Who is a transsexual? It may be your airline pilot, butcher, teacher, a fire fighter, or minister. Transsexual people are quite frankly everywhere and doing more than ever before thanks to women that have fought to break stereotypes. While this article will focus on some significant transsexual women, it in no means is meant as a slight towards transmen. There are just far too many people to discuss. What I will do however is provide a brief sampling of of transsexual women that have tackled fields generally closed to transsexuals at the time of their gender reassignment. While I believe the contributions of each are important, there are literally dozens of successful transwomen for each I mention in this piece. Open your eyes and mind and see if perhaps you know any of these people, and appreciate the importance of their accomplishments.

Christine Jorgensen is probably who most people over the age of thirty think of when they hear the word transsexual. Jorgensen was considered the best known transsexual around the world for better than a decade after her 1952 reassignment surgery in Denmark. It is oft believed that Jorgensen tipped the press off as to her procedure to garner attention with the hopes of spring boarding an entertainment career. If that was the case it worked as she performed a stage show in which she embraced both her female and male identity. Whether this was the case or not is irrelevant as she opened the publics eyes to this phenomena, and while certainly not the first to successfully navigate reassignment surgery, she was the first to promote it globally.

Candis Cayne who stars as Carmelita on televisions “Dirty Sexy Money” not only plays a transgender character but is transsexual herself. This is a breakthrough role for Candis personally as well as transgender people everywhere as she is the first transsexual person(First openly transsexual person at least) to regularly appear on a major network show in the United States. Born Brendan McDaniel, Cayne was a regular in the New York City drag Scene before and during a grueling ten year transition. Cayne had resigned herself to probably not working as an actress after transition, however once she felt comfortable with herself the role of Carmelita presented itself ending a drought of acting work which stretched for a few years. Although Cayne expresses being overjoyed with the role and exposure she states she one day hopes to play the role of a woman, not a trans woman.

Jenny Bailey is currently a civic leader of the Cambridge City Council in Cambridge England and served a mayoral term from 2007-2008. Ms. Bailey was the first transsexual mayor in the United Kingdom having been elected eleven years after gender transition. Ms. Bailey is currently in a relationship with Ms. Jennifer Liddle another male to female transsexual who served as mayoress, another U.K. first. Ms. Bailey was previously employed as a telecommunications engineer and is a graduate of Lanchester Polytechnic institute.

Several transsexuals have successfully braved the waters of politics aside from Ms. Bailey. Georgina Beyer was the worlds first openly transsexual member of Parliment serving the Labour Party in New Zealand from 1999-2007. Aya Kamikawa was Japan’s first transsexual elected to municipal office. Although the government stated she would be considered a male, Ms. Kamikawa stood fast and continued working and living as a woman and still refuses to designate her “sex” on any document. Shabnam “Mausi” Bano was India’s first hijra (Transsexual) to be elected to public office despite only two years of primary education. Undaunted Ms. Bano who speaks twelve languages fluently ran and won on her first attempt and helped form the “Jeeti Jitya Politics” (JJP) which is regarded as the Hijra Party. In the U.S. Susan Stanton was the city manager of Largo Florida, a job she attained while a male. During her tenure she sought out gender reassignment surgery and suffered the termination of her contract. The case is still under litigation.

The world of sports is no stranger to transsexuals either. Renee Richards played women’s tennis in the 1970’s and is believed to be the first transsexual professional athlete. In more current times Canadian Michelle Dumaresq is Canada’s downhill mountain bike champion and competes on the pro circuit. Nong Tum is a champion kickboxer in Thailand and the subject of the movie “Beautiful Boxer.” She has won twenty ywo professional fights, eighteen by knockout, and is a household name in her home country. Mianne Bagger may be the best known transsexual in professional sports today. Ms. Bagger plays primarily on the Ladies European Tour and the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour. Although she has yet to earn and LPGA card, she is still known around the world.

In the medical field there may be no better known transsexual than Marci Bowers. Dr.. Bowers took over the practice of Dr. Stanley Biber, a pioneer in the field of gender reassignment, in Trinidad Colorado and became the first transsexual in the world to perform the gender reassignment procedure. Dr. Bowers is regarded among the elite surgeons in the world performing reassignment surgery and also practices as an OB/GYN.

Again I stress there are many more transwomen in the world out there making a difference and living full productive lives. These ladies mentioned above have just openly achieved a level of success which merits special attention and helps dispel the myths of what a transsexual woman is and is not. Remember for each person you know of that is openly transsexual, several more are quietly getting it done behind the scenes.

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