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The man who became a woman at 45 tells her story

Anjana Basumatary

Jessica Lynn talks about her story of transformation

Jessica Lynn, 52, an international speaker and lawyer, came to India to educate people about the transgender community. A transgender woman, shares her experiences with The Observer on how she dealt with depression till the time of her transition, and how she fought for her rights as a transgender woman. Excerpts from an interview:
Q: You have been giving talks in various institutes in Bengaluru. What do you think stops people from talking about their sexuality? What was in your mind when you were young?
A: Transgenders don’t like to talk about their sexuality even if they can because they are scared. When I was five years old, I felt I was the only person born like that and my parents would probably kick me out of the house if I told them I wanted to paint my nails and dress up like a girl. I was terrified thinking I would have to beg for money. So why would I go and tell my mom and dad? The older generation does not seem to care about the transgender community; they will probably us ask to get out of the house. Young people… need to educate others. It will take time, but we need to keep educating.

Q: What did you go through when you wanted to come out?
A: I knew that I wanted to be a girl when I was five years old. To distract myself from all those thoughts, I involved myself in different activities: Drawing, collecting stamps and watching TV….  I started drinking when I was 13. Coming out gets harder when a transgender grows older. I told my girlfriend when I was 17. But later she was killed. Then I started taking drugs and alcohol. I informed my parents when I was 44 because I couldn’t live as a man anymore. I was suicidal; deprived of sleep for five days; and would walk like zombie. I used to take anti- anxiety pills prescribed by a doctor in California. One day, I called a friend and told that am going to take pills and in turn, he informed my two brothers. One of them called police. They rushed me to hospital, where I almost died. Later I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital where I was treated for 10 days. There I was told by doctor that I won’t survive as a man anymore…. At the age of 45, I had a sex-reassignment surgery.

Q: It has been proven that during depression, keeping emotions within can devastate a person both physically and psychologically. What health issues did you face during that phase of your life?
A: If a person has stress, he gets ulcers. I have been suffering from ulcers all my life… and would pass blood in the stools. I used to bleed constantly…, and would cry all day as my lower abdomen pained every time.

Q: Your website says that when you were young, your parents knew about your sexuality; but the psychologist they had consulted asked them to raise you as a boy. Why did he ask your parents to raise you as a boy?
A: The psychologist was John Money.  In 1970, he worked in John Hopkins University. He is considered an evil in the transgender community…. He believed that if a boy child was raised as a girl, they would be happy. During a medical experiment on twin baby boys, he accidentally cut off one of the baby’s penis and asked his parents to raise him as a girl. No one questioned his concept as he worked at John Hopkins University and was a proponent of the theory of “gender neutrality”. He asked my parents to raise me as a boy.