Table of Contents

Introduction 8

Sex Reassignment Surgery 12

Sugar and Spice 17

A Bad Thing 30

Not Gay 38

Transsexual Panic Attack 42

What Is a Woman? 51

Transition 62

Lannie Gets Her Ears Pierced 66

Wavy Gravy, Transsexual Role Model 71

Last Hurrah 75

Chanel 81

Full Time 90

Telling the Family 97

A Rose by Any Other Name 110

Two-Hundred-Dollar Jeans 117

Spring Cleaning 127

My Spiritual Journey 134

Pride 142

Pollyanna 154

"You'll Never Be a Real Woman" 158

E-mail 162

Saying "Yes!" 172

Advantages of Transitioning Later in Life 178

Prevalence of Transsexuality 181

Why I Had Sex Reassignment Surgery 187

Trannie Lib, One Comedian at a Time 199

How I Changed My Body 203

Thoughts on the Eve of Sex Reassignment Surgery 218

Sex Reassignment Surgery Hurts! 221

The Scariest Thing I Have Ever Done 233

Clean Underwear 243

My Transsexual Lifestyle 248

Stanford Bachelors Club 250

Monkey Brains 262

Inside the Women's Locker Room 269

Online Dating 274

Cranberry Juice 287

The Post-Op I Never Wanted to Be 291

DOMA, FMA, the Olympics, and Me 297

Do-Overs 301

Reunion 309

Dancing Queen 314

About the Author 323

Please enjoy this preview of the first four chapters of LANNIE! My Journey from Man to Woman.

Chapter 2: Sugar and Spice

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice,
And everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of.
What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails,
And puppy dog tails,
That's what little boys are made of.
      —Nursery rhyme

When I was born, fifty years ago in Teaneck, New Jersey, the doctor took one look at my little penis and declared, "It's a boy!" I don't know why he couldn't see that I was made of sugar and spice, and everything nice.

My parents believed the doctor. They gave me a boy's name and raised me as a boy. My mother and father were kind, caring people, and I tried to be the best little boy I could be for them. I was a very cooperative child.

My parents believed the doctor. They gave me a boy's name and raised me as a boy. My mother and father were kind, caring people, and I tried to be the best little boy I could be for them. I was a very cooperative child.

It was pretty obvious from the very start that I wasn't like my big brother Bobby. Two years older than me, he was the all-American boy, into sports, cars, and mischief of all kinds, including hitting me whenever he got the chance. The more my parents punished him, the more he hit me. For my part, I cried easily and loudly, to make sure my parents knew it every time he thumped me.

Quite the opposite of Bobby, I was the bookish, stay-at-home type. My grandmother saved old clocks so that when we visited her, I could sit on the kitchen floor and take them apart. I was fascinated by the little springs and gears, but I could never put them back together again. As I got older, I liked assembling plastic monster models; the Creature from the Black Lagoon was my favorite. One time, my dad, who was a partner in a two-man television repair business in New Jersey, helped me build a Heathkit tube radio.

I didn't question my gender. I just thought, This must be what smart, nerdy little boys are like.

When I was three years old, my dad packed everything we owned into a U-Haul trailer and hitched it to our '56 Chevy sedan. He loaded my mother into the front seat and me, Bobby, and my two-years younger sister, Mary Anne, into the back seat. Then, with us kids screaming and pinching each other the whole time, he drove us all the way across the country to the San Fernando Valley in Southern California. I never saw any of my many cousins, aunts, uncles, or grandparents again.

In our house in Panorama City, a town so small it wasn't marked on the maps, we didn't do emotions. I never saw my parents being physically affectionate with each other, even though they loved each other very much. (They're still married today.) And this tape still plays over and over inside my head: "Stop crying, or I'll give you something to cry about."

We had a typical middle-class suburban California lifestyle. We never lacked for food, clothes, or entertainment, though I did lack somewhat in a father, because he worked long hours to provide for us. My mother, on the other hand, was a stay-at-home mom and always ready with an encouraging word and a hug. In spite of the absence of relatives and the suppression of my emotions, I was a happy little kid. I had twelve years of Roman Catholic education, and I earned straight As without studying very hard at all.

When I was seven, my baby brother Mike arrived on the scene. Bobby and I moved into a big den my dad built a big den onto the back of our little house, so the baby could have his own bedroom. My brother and I slept on day beds and had no privacy except when we were in the bathroom.

The only early sign of my gender mix-up was a short foray into cross-dressing, which occurred just before I reached puberty. I would snatch my mother's pantyhose and bra from the dirty clothes hamper and lock myself in the bathroom to try them on. I didn't know why I did it; it just felt good. With the onset of puberty, my interest in this pastime disappeared as quickly and mysteriously as it had arrived.

Puberty was a turning point in my young life, and it was a turn for the worse. I never had any girlfriends, even though I liked girls. And I never really made any guy friends once I got out of high school. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I became lonely and miserable.

I had my first opportunity to drink in high school. It was a doozy. I played keyboards in a very bad rock and roll band, and we were invited to play at a party for high school seniors at the house of one of my brother's friends. We were only sophomores, so it was very exciting. Somebody gave me my own pint of Sloe Gin, and I drank the whole thing. I would have died that night choking on my own vomit if a Good Samaritan hadn't kicked me over onto my stomach. That was the first time alcohol nearly killed me.

I had a terrible hangover the next day, of course. My parents were quite sympathetic, and they did not give me a lecture about the dangers of alcohol, even though our family had a history of drinking problems. (Not my parents, however. They rarely drank alcohol at all.)

After graduating as my high school class valedictorian, I went away to college at the California Institute of Technology, the brainiac school in Pasadena. Cal Tech's student housing was a cross between dormitories and fraternities. Each house had a unique personality: the Christian house, the nerd house, the druggie house. Two houses were for jocks, which was funny because our varsity team played other schools' junior varsity teams, and we usually lost. I, of course, landed in Rickett's house, which was the alcoholic house. But I really didn't drink much in college because I was too busy with my electrical engineering studies.

In the summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I lost my virginity. It happened this way: I got extremely drunk one night and accidentally slept with my roommate's girlfriend. When he came home that morning and found us passed out in bed together, it was all he could do to keep from picking up the biggest butcher knife in our kitchen and stabbing us both to death. That's the second time alcohol nearly killed me, and I was only nineteen years old.

Cal Tech was difficult academically and depressing socially, so I transferred to the University of California at Berkeley after my sophomore year. I hoped Berkeley would be different, and it certainly was. Classes were much less demanding and the radical leftist hippie Berkeley counterculture was quite a change from Southern California's more conservative environment.

After earning my Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Cal, I moved forty miles south to San Jose, where I worked at Intel, Tandem Computers, and a string of loser start-up companies.

Once I was out of school, I became a daily drinker. I drank myself to sleep every night of my male adult life. My favorite drink was Jim Beam bourbon, but I drank vodka, gin, wine, and beer as well—sometimes all in the same evening. I usually drank at home by myself, but now and then I went out with people from work. I was a happy drunk and people liked to have me around, but nobody seemed to want a personal relationship with me. I don't know how I managed to work insane hours, earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree taking evening classes at Santa Clara University, and still find time to drink, but I did.

Just before I turned thirty, I met a Modesto farm girl, seven years younger than me, who liked me. The first day we met, we got very drunk together. When I woke up the next morning, I was surprised to find myself in bed with her. We dated for about four months and then got married. The wedding was exactly two days after my thirtieth birthday.

I was difficult to live with. When I got annoyed, I withdrew and gave my wife the silent treatment for days. As time went on, I got annoyed more and more often, at pettier and pettier things. She put up with me for five years, until her baby alarm began ringing. For reasons I didn't clearly understand, I simply couldn't see myself as a father, so we parted ways.

I was devastated. At age thirty-five, my life was so empty. Work and booze were my whole world. My mental state was reflected in my two favorite movies at the time: One was Edward Scissorshands, the story of a beautiful, innocent boy who was too freaky to live in society. He had to spend his life alone in a deserted castle high on a hill. He was actually a constructed being, a sort of animated doll, which is why he had scissors for hands. He didn't even have the ability to shed tears. My emotions were so shut down, I could not cry, either. And to make it all just a little more poignant, the boy name my parents had given me long ago in New Jersey was Edward.

My other favorite movie was Leaving Las Vegas, in which Nick Cage goes to Vegas and drinks himself to death. That just seemed like a reasonable exit plan to me.

In my desperation to find something that could bring a little joy into my life, I rediscovered my pleasurable prepubescent pastime: cross-dressing. Wearing women's clothes turned me on, and I was delighted to discover that I could simply walk into stores and buy all the feminine garments I wanted. Thrift stores were good sources of bargains, especially for fancy prom dresses and ball gowns. Then I learned about mail-order shopping, and that was even better, because I didn't have to face a live salesperson.

Cross-dressing felt good, and I didn't question why. Obviously it was a sexual fetish, but if there was more to it than that, I wasn't looking for it. I never felt ashamed of cross-dressing, but I kept it to myself because I didn't think anybody would be interested in sharing it with me.

I started cross-dressing in earnest. Pretty soon I had wigs and makeup, and I was shaving my arms and legs, the whole deal. I thought I could go out in public and pass as a woman, but of course I couldn't pass at all, not at first. Not in too-high heels, too-short skirts, too-big boobs, too much makeup, and a cheap blonde wig which I used to hide as much of my face as possible.

Over time, I gradually learned to improve my appearance. My heels and hems got lower, my boobs got smaller, my makeup lighter, and my cheap wigs went to black and then auburn. I drew attention away from my towering six-foot height by showing off my long, shapely legs, and I gradually pulled my hair back from my long, angular face to show off my beaming smile and my sparkling blue eyes. After a few years, I began to pass more and more. It helped that people didn't pay any attention; they were lost in their own worlds.

When I was dressed as a woman, I went out to movies or the shopping malls. It took all the courage I could muster to abandon mail order to start shopping for my feminine wardrobe in person and en femme. I didn't feel guilty or ashamed of being out in public dressed as a woman, but I did have a great fear of being caught. It didn't seem likely that I would come to any physical harm, or get into some kind of legal trouble, but the humiliation would be unbearable. Hearing whispers and giggles when I walked past people was discomfiting enough. If anyone had actually confronted me, I'm sure I would have died of embarrassment. The worst possible fate I could imagine was that someone would rip the wig off my head and expose me as a man. I used to think, quite seriously, I'd rather be punched in the face than have my wig pulled off.

My shopping adventures started at the Ross Dress For Less and Mervyn's level, progressing after a while to JCPenney and Macy's. I would skulk shyly, slyly around the racks, circumspectly slipping in and out of the dressing rooms in an effort to attract as little attention as possible. I had to like an item an awfully lot before I dared brave the checkout counter. One time at JCPenney, I felt I was being particularly intrepid because the checkout counter was attended by a couple of cute young ladies chattering away like magpies. I was sure they would be able to read me, that is, they would realize I was a cross-dressed man. When I got to the counter, I had to laugh to myself. They never even glanced at me. Nor did they pause in their stream of gab, which was entirely in Croatian, as far as I could tell.

I was terribly intimidated by Nordstrom and, lord help me, the little boutiques. In those places, the salespeople were bound and determined to be helpful and I could not easily avoid them. They might even speak languages other than Croatian! As I came out of the closet more and more, however, I experienced kindness and acceptance everywhere I went. My self-confidence grew. Before long, I was shopping the sale racks at Nordstrom and enjoying the sales associates' attentions immensely. I found that the more classy the place was, the nicer they treated me—which isn't surprising, is it? My fashion sense gradually improved thanks to the helpful saleswomen, while the impact on my credit card grew as well.

Over time, my female persona began to gel as a person in my mind, and I decided she needed a name. I wanted to pick a name that kept my same first initial, just to hold onto that little piece of my identity. Elaine sounded nice to me. It was real (unlike a Morganna, say, or a Tiffany), and kind of classy, like me. I became Elaine when I was dressed as a woman.

This cross-dressing routine went on for quite a long time—about ten years. Then one day, Al Gore invented the Internet. By going online, I discovered that other people like me existed. Apparently I was what they called transgender, and an entire community of transgender people existed. Besides cross-dressers like me, this community included drag queens, who were men (mostly gay men) who dressed in exaggerated feminine presentations, usually to entertain in drag shows; transsexuals, the ones who actually got sex changes; androgynes and genderqueers, who didn't quite fit into either of the male or female categories; and intersex people, who were born with ambiguous genitalia or sex chromosomes. The transgender community, in turn, was part of the larger LGBT (or GLBT) community, which included lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders—in other words: queers, a term the community reclaimed for its own self-identification. Sometimes an even longer acronym was used: LGBTTIQQAAAA, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex, questioning, queer, asexual, androgynous, autosexual, and allies (friends and relatives of the community). Whew!

I found out there were bars and clubs where people like me hung out. I became a middle-aged, cross-dressing club kiddie, and I had a blast: dressing in outrageously sexy outfits, dancing, and making friends in the queer community. I decided Elaine sounded to formal and stuffy for a silly party girl like me, so I asked my friends to call me by the diminutive Lannie.

So now I knew I was transgender, and I was happier than I had been in a long time, but what did it really mean? Why did I like to wear women's clothes? Was I gay? Was I destined to spend the rest of my life clubbing and partying in drag? Where would it all lead?

Chapter 3: A Bad Thing