Alexander looks like all other men. He is 32 years old; he works at an enterprise in Ivanovo. He goes in for sports, he likes to go fishing or pick mushrooms during the weekend. Alexander's life, however, differs a lot from millions of other men: two years ago he was a woman.
When I came to interview Alexander, I saw a well-built man with big hands and good biceps. It was hard to believe that his body belonged to a woman a short time ago. The man's fundamental changes have been recently documented: Alexander is now officially registered as a male.
It took me 28 years to wait for this moment. In my childhood, when I was a girl, I always had a feeling of being a boy. I hated it when parents were making me wear dresses. As a first-grader, I fell in love with a girl. School years were nothing but a nightmare for me. I hardly had any friends. My best friend was a dog. I could not find understanding in the world of humans. Women were especially brutal to me, their never-ending insults made me once commit suicide, albeit unsuccessfully. When a came to a family planning center, it was the time when I realized what exactly was wrong with me. Doctors told me to undergo a psychiatric examination in Moscow. When I came to Moscow, I got to meet several other people like me. I finally found friends and understanding. Fighting was my only way to prove my right for the adequate existence in this world. A fight was an inseparable part of my life. When I was a girl, I drank and smoked. I do not drink now, although I still smoke cigarettes.
Did you become the first individual in the Ivanovo region, who decided to do such an operation?
Yes, I did. Now I look like all other men. Doctors did everything properly: they cut off what I did not need and attached something that I do need. Everything works just fine. None of my girlfriends has ever noticed that Mr. Johnson in my pants is of artificial origin.
Did you have a lot of women?
Oh, yes, I did. But they were not just one-night stands. I've always wanted to have a family, I've always tried to develop a stable relationship. When I finally became a man, I became a peaceful person. Now I do not have to fight to prove my masculinity. The operation became my self-affirmation.
What was the hardest obstacle for you on the way to becoming a male?
To get new documents. It took me a really long time to have them all arranged properly. I was already a man in my new body, but I had to go to women's shower at work.
You have had a unique opportunity to experience human intimacy as a woman and as a man.
No, no, no. I have never slept with a man. One may say that I was a virgin, when I was operated on. I got to know what love is when my body finally matched my inner self.
Do you think you feel or will feel sorry for what you have done to yourself?
Absolutely not, not even a bit.
Have you ever thought of taking your new documents and leaving to another city to start a new life?
My mother suggested such a variant for me, but I turned it down. I wanted to stay here. People like me are not cursed; we do not deserve such brutal attitude. Nature made a mistake, when our bodies were being formed. I made a path to my own new self absolutely alone, without anyone's help. Now I would like to help other people like me. Those people, who knew me when I was a woman, say that I was an aggressive and unsociable person. Now I have found harmony with people around me and with myself too.
According to medical statistics, there are five transsexual individuals among every 100,000 Russians. A surgery to change a person's sex is possible only when doctors diagnose "nucleus transsexualism." One has to be sure that a wish to change sex is not a mental inversion, but a biological imperative, a body's need. This illness "deteriorates" the brain, although it is possible to cure it with surgery.
A technical side of such an operation is not an issue in modern medicine anymore. They are quite frequent in New Zealand, for instance. An operation can be risky at times - it may lead to lethal outcome. An approach to every operation has to be highly individual. Doctors can change a person's sex to the extent that he or she would like to have. Someone will be happy with muscle or breast augmentation, others will feel comfortable after a hormone adjustment. Modern medicine has made it possible to change a person's voice timbre and pilosis type. There are people, who need a profound surgery, a complete bodily change. It is impossible to have children after an operation, although it is possible to satisfy a sexual partner. As a rule, there are more transsexual women, who wish to change their sex and become men. As a rule, women are more persistent in their dreams. However, it is technically easier to make a woman from a man.
Russia does not have a law for those people, who change their sex. That is why it is extremely difficult in Russia to exchange documents at this point.