Saving Private Calhoun
Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "Private Lives," in the August 27 issue:
What happened--did Ms. Calhoun take a nice pill last week? It's difficult to believe she actually has a family, much less can write movingly about one of her ancestors. But once I got over my shock, and trying to ignore the name at the end of the column, I enjoyed her "Private Lives" column. More accurately, I enjoyed her grandfather's writings.

I'd like to see more sentiment and less bile from Ms. Calhoun in the future.
S.R. Johns
via the Internet

Sex and the Single Girls
Fine job on the feature on sex-change artist Dr. Stanley Biber (Harrison Fletcher's "Sex Machine," August 27). One statement struck me as a bit incongruous, though: "True transsexuals, Biber says, are not attracted to members of the same sex." So...lesbians are not women? Seems homophobia really is pervasive--even in the world of sex-changing!

Mardi Clark
Tacoma, Washington

I just finished reading your article on Stanley Biber and wanted to thank you for the way in which the subject was treated. I was not a "Biber Girl" but rather one of the first ones ever done in the now-discontinued program in Texas (in 1974, no less!). I have met Dr. Biber and many of his girls, and I know that he is well-loved and respected in the community.

It seems that all of the right-wing cheap-shot artists come out of the woodwork whenever this subject is broached, but until you've walked a mile in my pumps, no one knows the heartbreak of waking up every morning with the dysphoria of having the mind and body not in agreement. Physicians like Dr. Biber allow the mind/body to finally be in agreement.

I transitioned nearly 25 years ago, at the age of 29, and my only regret is that circumstances prevented it from happening earlier. I have had the pleasure of meeting the occasional parent(s) savvy enough to recognize the problem in their teenage children and support them in their decision rather than assume that it was a passing phase that they would grow out of. This is not to say that there aren't some kids who go through a passing phase who shouldn't do it, but there is a big difference between being supportive after the psychologists and physicians have made an exhaustive diagnosis and being righteous and dictatorial in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Thanks for a story well done. Due to the fact that I am in a rather high position within my company and prefer to keep my chromosome count to myself, I ask that my name be withheld. Hopefully you understand.

Name withheld on request
via the Internet

In "Genital Hospital," we are asked to take a trip down memory lane and reflect upon the remarkable career of Dr. Stanley Biber as he approaches retirement. There's only one problem: Never in Harrison Fletcher's article are we given photographic examples that document the legacy of Biber's body of work. Many Westword readers have probably never actually met a transsexual. I think that if Westword readers could see a collection of, say, before and after pictures of Biber's work, then they might have a better idea of just what transsexual surgery can, and cannot, accomplish.

Proponents of the surgery are asking us to believe that the transsexual is a tortured soul trapped in a body with the wrong sex organs. With a snip, snip (just like writers cut and paste when they write letters to Westword on their word processors), presto-chango and abracadabra, the tortured soul is given a body with the correct genitals.

I have had the opportunity to bump into a couple of Dr. Biber's "monsters" over the last twenty years in the Denver area, and I would like to share with you my impression of the effectiveness of Biber's surgical talents. My experience has always been with men changing into women. I can find no delicate way to say this, but from outward appearances, these women still basically look like men. While I have never seen them with their clothes off, I can assure you that these people still have a man's buttocks, stomach and legs.

But don't believe me. Many hobby stores in the Denver area carry model kits of both the male and female anatomy. When put together, the invisible skin can be taken off the model and one can play with the internal organs. Even a cursory examination of these kits will provide clues as to the similarities and differences between the male and female bodies. What becomes obvious is that males and females have vastly different skeletal structures. Remember what the Kinks sang so many years ago? "Talks like a woman but walks like a man."