A break with tradition where I do a serious post, proving I am not a 24/7 asshole. This is rather a sad transgender story, a half-hour documentary on the transition from Les to Sherri, at age 69, and now in his early 70s. Ignore the over-saccharined sound-track, which is completely over the top.
When growing up, Les (as he was then) started cross-dressing as a young boy. His mother was supportive of it, but his father was not, and he describes his father as having “a violent temper” (it is unknown whether other family members were the recipients of this temper). He had two siblings, a sister and a brother, favoured by his mother and father respectively.
At school, Les was picked on by other boys. It is notable that Sherri (as he is now) is quite small of stature, and this would be at least one factor in being bullied by the other boys, and perhaps too he was ‘soft’ in nature, which is another common reason for boys to bully other boys. Two of the girls at school were nice to him, Maureen and Sherri, and he later adopted Sherri as his post-transitional name.
As an adult he moved to a cabin in the woods, living by himself and cross-dressing, as well as working as a welder at the time. A work colleague discovered his cross-dressing, and Les was fired from the welding job.
Sometime during late middle age, Les looked into ‘Gender Reassignment Surgery’ (GRS) and got full GRS in Thailand about three years ago. Sherri was rather pragmatic about the surgery, saying he “knew what he needed” and was neither happy nor sad about the surgery. He disagrees with the transgender me-me of “in the wrong body”. He says he is “in the body he has always had”.
Sherri then goes onto say (around the transition time) that he was “a straight girl, not gay” and he changed from a “straight guy to a straight girl”. And therein lies the clue to Sherri’s transition.
As a child, beaten by his father – possibly to ‘beat the gay out of him’ or the cross-dressing at least, which was then always associated with homosexuality. He grew up in the 1940s, and this was the immediately post-war period, and cross-dressing was always considered homosexual. As a side note, the extremely late transition, it is wondered if the homophobic father was dead by then, prompting the decision for Sherri to go ahead with the surgery. Another clue about the internalised homophobia and resultant repressed homosexuality is Sherri’s description of the full surgery: “breasts and lower parts” – he cannot say ‘vagina’.
This transition, the surgery, was not because he was in the wrong body, not because he truly imagined himself to be a woman, it was because of extreme internalised homophobia, he could not act on that desire ‘as a man’, even though it seems he was attending gay square dance groups before the transition, as a sort of half-way refuge.
Just before his transition he met Sonny, and although Sherri kept his distance (because of “male parts”) he did not pursue an intimate relationship with Sonny until after the transition, which seemed to be a highlight of his dating. Sonny was a “farmboy” from Oklahoma, and ex-navy, and somewhat homophobic.
Although Sherri did not tell Sonny he was male, I think it would have been rather obvious (in the de-wigging and de-frocking scene just after this story) which showed the typical male large upper body, no hips, V-shape (and major male-pattern balding). Given that Sherri lived in a small town (major currency: gossip), it seemed to be the rumours that got to Sonny, and Sonny broke off the relationship. Supposedly because he found out Sherri was male, but I think it was just the public knowledge of their relationship and his internalised homophobia.
Sherri really does not seem to get any real thrill from the make-up application, he seems to wince as he applies the make-up, a somewhat subconscious gesture of ‘doing what he has to do’, in order to live his life attracted to males. And it is particularly sad that he has lived most of his life in that homosexual denial, only acting upon it in old age.
Sherri’s story is not of ‘transgender’ but about rampant homophobia from the community, internalised homophobia with the subsequent repressed homosexuality. No one should have to go through major surgeries to act upon their homosexual urges.
I hope that Sherri can now find happiness, as he does look somewhat broken and defeated. I do really feel rather sad for him.
An endnote, to have a go at the documentary makers – who the fucking hell wears satin at a cabin in the woods?