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Leach: Reflections on Surgery


Yes! It is true that I lied to them on some points, but isn't that what emotionally ill patients do? . . .  I wanted them to see my emotional desperation; to accept my reality as their own, so they would accommodate and sanction the unchangeable surgical alterations. . . .

My psychiatrist warned, "Jennifer, the post-operative phase is the most crucial for many transsexuals because they don't have the support system necessary for all that lay ahead. But, that is not the case with you, since your support system is strongly in place, leaving us with the united view that your post-operative situation and resulting prognosis is most favorable."

. . .

I wanted to tell her about the previous two years of "playing the part to the hilt! I was intent upon making sure that I got what I wanted from them; to convince her (and the others) that though my plight & pain as a bonafide male transsexual is very real... I know that it feels like it is, but when you're mentally ill, your reality is not necessarily that of others who are emotionally well, or intact-persons.


I wanted to scream at her,

* You haven't suspicioned any of my stories, especially those currently happening in my life. 

I wonder if Leach is suspicious of everything his clients tell him? What an awful therapist experience that would be!

* You didn't once suggest that I get on some kind of medication to more effectively deal with my emotional anguish. Why? 

This is not true. According to Leach's letters, both his endocrinologist and psychotherapist considered medication.

* Your sociological and psychological training has caused you to treat us all the same, giving us a ‘‘one-size-fits-all - solution.' 

Also not true. If the solution was one-size-fits-all, they would not have spent some much time and effort to understand Leach's individual needs. Rather, Leach gives a monolithic solution by fitting every single transman, transwoman, genderqueer, fetishist, bigender person, and drag queen all live according to their genitals.

* You readily believed my stories, some of them actually being the experience of others I have known; the remaining ones my own experiences and perceptions/magnifications, so you'd feel sorry for me, saying, "Oh, this poor dear! We must sanction this surgery, for fear that suicide might be the seemingly only other choice for this patient."


What is required is for us to live as a "full-time woman each and every day for at least one year's time, prior to the surgery. Yes, I showed up in their offices fully dressed as Jennifer, telling them that each and every day I loved my new role and place in life. And that was true.

Elsewhere Leach says that he was living as a transexual each and every day, obviously not realizing the difference between being bigender and transexual.

I had no real support system to sustain me following surgery. It wasn't that I didn't try to put one into place; it's just that finding emotionally well men or women to support you in your decision to abandon your biological sex...fails to meet their expectation of a person they'd love to spend time with or befriend. Some of the new female relationships I was developing while shopping and carousing in women's environs were only superficial at best; to their distinct advantage since I was there to prosper their business.

One such venture at making a friend was with a kind, enthusiastic woman named Ruth, a charismatic cosmetic sales representative. . . .

I told my psychiatric care givers that I was divorced. They had the verbal information, date, and supposed fall-out from the divorce proceedings –– events that never really happened, except in my worst nightmare, or possibly a preview of dreaded things to come. They were advised of her newly developing romance with another man, and her delight to be finally free of me. They were told that our parting actually was quite amicable; that we did see each other regularly... though such a pleasant outcome would never have occurred, except in my wildest transsexual fantasy!

They were told that my children now referred to me as "Aunt Jenny." How ridiculous! Yes, I know, they were wanting to believe me.

I doubt any psychotherapist wants to be lied to. In Flight, Leach's psychotherapist supposedly says, when sensing he's having doubts, "you have to be sure or you'll make a fool out of both of us." Doesn't sound like she wants a lie.

Questions that beg an answer are:
* Why did they not ask for and expect verification of my stories through a direct dialogue with my "former spouse," or ask for me to present to them at least a copy of my divorce papers? 

I do not know if this is true or not. Leach says he forged a divorce certificate for the therapists. I assumed he showed it to them. Perhaps he's mad that he went through all his effort at forgery and did not get to use it or perhaps he did it voluntarily and wanted it required. For all therapy, except group therapy, there is no attempt at contacting anyone except the client.

* Why was I treated with such undeniable and unquestioned integrity? 

Because they respected him.

* Why did they not ask for at least several letters of reference from other friends?

* Why did they not at least ask for one other person to verify that I was really living full-time as a woman? 

Because therapists are not babysitters. There are not the police. They were there to help Jerry but he did not want their help; he wanted what he individually decided was the solution.

* They never asked for a letter of recommendation from the male lover I had told them about.

I gave him the name of Don. Not a Don-Juan to be sure; just a plain man, who had fallen in love with me and had proposed marriage following my sex-change. That was my story and I was sticking to it!

There was not one blood test, chromosome study, or any such medical measurement to determine or validate my condition.

There is no anatomical test for transexuality. What is he asking for?

All the endocrinologist and urologist needed to know was that the Psychiatric team were in total agreement that sex change was the irrefutable best course of action for me; that female hormones and surgical correction was my right and best choice.

"Irrefutable" is not true. It's not like a homicide trial where they require evidence without a shadow of a doubt. They are there to help people, but they can only help those who accept it and cooperate. By lying to them, he broke the system and should have expected the negative consequences.