Counterfeit Bills

I've been passing counterfeit money. Wouldn't you, if the circumstances were right? Suppose you suddenly find yourself in possession of ten thousand dollars in counterfeit currency. The bills are so good, there is little chance that their falsity will ever be detected. In fact, if you do get caught, it probably won't be the pernicious presidents that give you away; you are more likely to betray yourself by acting suspiciously, or by confiding in the wrong person. Will you spend the funny money?

I suppose you have some ethical qualms about passing the bad bills. But why? You won't hurt the person or company who takes them from you, because they will spend them just like real money. And the amount isn't large enough to topple the U.S. Economy, like when Dr. Evil floods the world with billions of dollars of fictitious greenbacks.

Maybe you feel it is wrong to spend the money because you didn't earn it. But if you found the money and it was genuine, would you have the same scruples? Or if you won the lottery? Perhaps you feel it is wrong because if everybody passed simulated simoleons, the whole system would crumble. But you're not everybody, and everybody will not have the opportunity to do it. It's just you. So why not go ahead and spend it?

Still not convinced? I'm not, either. Maybe it's just because I was brought up with a strong sense of right and wrong. I "know" that passing questionable currency is improper, even if I can't explain why. But let's up the ante. Suppose you are starving. Will you spend some of your mischievous moolah on food? I would, and I would be thankful that I had the dicey ducats to spend. If I was starving I would steal to survive—and stealing seems even worse than using the bogus bucks, because at least the next guy can still spend the dubious dough (and with a clear conscience, not knowing it is Monopoly money.)

If you're with me, willing to spend the illegal tender to survive, let's take it to the next level. Suppose you and your husband are unable to work, and you are using the fake fortune to support yourselves and your two darling children. Do you tell your husband that the coin is queer, or do you let him assume it is real? Maybe you think you should tell him because your marriage is built on honesty and openness. Maybe you feel he would want to know. Maybe you think he has the right to decide whether or not to participate in the perfidy. On the other hand, perhaps you don't tell him. You prefer to shoulder the full responsibility for the felony, and leave his hands clean. You don't want him to worry about it. You don't want to increase the chances of getting caught by letting more people in on the secret. The arguments are pretty strong both ways. I think reasonable people would properly make different choices in this circumstance.

Now, do you tell the children? Even later, when they are adults, do you tell them they were raised with faux funds?

I think you, dear reader, will have recognized my metaphor and understand that the specious specie I have been passing is my own self. I've started dating guys without telling them about my medical history, that I have had a sex change. It is wonderful, having a "normal" man-woman relationship without transgender issues complicating the situation. But I feel a little bit like I'm passing a counterfeit bill. I have to giggle when a guy tells me how pretty I am, or how feminine, or how he admires my self-confidence and independence, because I enjoy the compliments but I wonder how his opinions might change if he knew about my past. I squirm some when he tells me that I'm so easy to talk to, "not like most other women"—how simply I could explain exactly why that is, and how he would hate hearing that explanation!

I have to do it. I feel I have no choice. I am starving for affection; starving for companionship; starving to have a "normal" woman's existence. These are necessities of life for me, just like food. These are the things I could not have living as a man, and why it was necessary for me to change my sex and my genitals. I cannot have these things if I tell the guys I meet about my background. I've tried. They don't want to date a transsexual woman. Why should they? Why should they willingly take that burden into their lives? Oh, sure, there are some men to whom it will not matter. But they are few and far between. (And it doesn't matter if I don't tell them, since it doesn't matter to them anyway, right?) Hopefully there are any number of men who are able to cope with the information after they have gotten to know me, and feel that I am a person worth loving in my own right; I am depending on the truth of this, since I am not "deep stealth" and I assume my boyfriends will find out about my past at some point. But if someone is trying to meet strangers on (as I am), "transsexual" is naturally a reason to pass on to the next profile in the list, not a reason to linger.

What is the harm in my little charade? The guys are happy to have such a pretty, exciting, vivacious woman interested in them. They are delighted to find a woman who seems to understand their point of view so well. They enjoy my sharp sense of humor, quick wit, and independence. They appreciate my classy, sexy fashion style. And I enjoy their attention. Everybody wins! Why should I spoil it by blurting out, "By the way, I've had a sex change. I hope that doesn't bother you."

The "counterfeit money" metaphor breaks down on one key point, however. I am NOT a counterfeit woman. I am a real woman, and I am being entirely honest about the person I am today. What you see is what you get. This is what I am here and now, and it is only by referencing the past that there is any possible problem with me. I realize that my boyfriend may not feel that way, and I am sorry about that. Moreover, I know I may suffer for that at some later date, when my history comes out. But this is the only way I know to have a life right now, and it is what I need to do.

Suppose a pair of U.S. Treasury agents show up at your door. You tremble and blanch, knowing they must be on to your kooky cash. The jig is up! But no, much to your surprise, Special Agent Studley tells you, "Ma'am, those bills you have been passing are genuine. They're a new design the mint just started printing, and we misplaced a bundle. Please enjoy spending them. We just didn't want you to worry." How do you like that? You weren't doing anything wrong after all!

—Lannie Rose, 3/2004

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