Letter to Boston Globe: Narrow View If Transgendered
[WALTHAM, MA] -AS THE PASTOR of a church that welcomes trangenders into its membership and leadership, I am concerned that the Globe seems to cover only transgenders whose lives are lived in extreme circumstances, such as murderer Richard Sharpe or, in the case of ''Especially shunned, especially vulnerable'' (Health/Science, Oct. 15), those who are prostitutes.
When only the extreme cases are covered, the impression is given that this is the way transgenders live. Although I agree with writer Adrianne Appel that job discrimination against transgenders often forces them into poverty, and the high cost of hormonal treatment, therapy, and surgery often keeps them impoverished, I disagree with the implication that transgenders as a rule turn to prostitution; prostitutes are a small minority among transgenders.
Transgenders are a whole variety of people. Some are cross-dressers who identify as male but have a need to dress and behave as female, at least part of the time. Most of these men are heterosexual; many are married. Some transgenders are transsexual, which means that if they have male genitalia, they identify as female, or if they have female genitalia, they identify as male.
Most transgenders lead lives as normal as possible considering their circumstances. They work at ordinary occupations, ranging from blue-collar to professional. Most solve the difficulties of job discrimination and homelessness in the same way others who are not transgender do.
I applaud the work of the Gender Identity Support Services for Transgenders, which seeks to save the lives of transgender prostitutes. I appeciate Appel's article in that it shows what can happen to people when society shuns them, but it is only a small part of the story.
JEAN K. SOUTHARD
Stated Supply Pastor
First Presbyterian Church of Waltham