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As a transsexual woman, I suppose I should be grateful for Dave Wielenga's article, seeing as it was positive and all ("How Jesse Became Jessica," Aug. 2). However, I'd like to ask that next time you write an article about someone who is transsexual to . . . um, oh, I don't know . . . include an actual transsexual in the article. I'm not trying to be some elitist transsexual snob, and I'm taking nothing away from Jessica, but this person is nota transsexual by the clinical definition. I guess I shouldn't blame Wielenga, as Jessica "herself" is in many ways like a transsexual but truly does not fully grasp what this word means.

Being transsexual is about your brain sex (your internal feelings about who and what you are), not matching up to your external or body sex. Despite the extensive work Jessica has had to modify "her" external appearance, "she" insists "she" is merely imitating a woman. A "gay boy" with boobies is not a transsexual. Transgendered, yes; living full-time as a woman, absolutely—but not transsexual. Those who are truly transsexual feel at odds or incongruent with their external sex, a problem Jessica doesn't have. "She" seems to be relating her gender with sexuality, which is a common misconception for most people. (I have always felt bisexual, found myself attracted to both sexes, but I never questioned that. It was about my being uncomfortable—to the point of a nervous breakdown—living as a man.)

I don't have a problem if that works for Jessica (it would be hypocritical to condemn "her" lifestyle). But with all the misconceptions about transsexuality and transgenderism as a whole, I do have a problem with construing that viewpoint as a consensus for all transsexuals—because, I can assure you, it's not. Basically, I don't want John Q. Straight to read this article and then think I'm trying to imitate a woman. That's not where I'm coming from, and I would think most transsexuals, whether M-to-F or F-to-M (and yes, they're out there in the same numbers; they just aren't detected as frequently) would feel insulted.

I know there are a lot of labels to keep straight—transsexual, transgender, transvestites, drag queens and she-males, oh, my! But the straight (and even the gay) community tends to round us all up and stick on one catch-all label.

Jessica seems like a nice person with a great attitude, and I can certainly empathize with our shared experiences. But I'm going through the medical and psychological treatment for this disorder (known as "gender dysphoria"), and I wanted to be sure I was transsexual before jamming hormones into my body willy-nilly, and I wanted be treated by a reputable health professional. I've had to take a lot of tests, see a lot of doctors, and jump through some hoops. Even though I still have to finish my electrolysis and save for my surgery, I have already been able to change my driver's license with the state's blessing so that I am recognized as a female. I tend to believe that if Jessica believed "she" could afford going through the proper channels, "she" would probably not be able to get a doctor's okay for hormones because "she" doesn't meet the criteria.

I live as a woman because that's how I feel inside; it comes from a very organic place. I have a mother and two sisters I deeply respect, and I would never want to dishonor them by being some fey, fake caricature. My feelings of femininity have always been there, even before I knew what these feelings really were. I have felt "different" as long as I can remember. So, basically, I stopped imitating a man.

Debra Benham

What the fuck was that story all about, and why should we care why a man would want to become a woman? That was one of the stupidest, if not the most insipid, stories you have ever covered. If you were born a man, then you should remain that way. I don't think you see women doing the opposite, do you? Becoming a man? But I am not advocating anything.

Dennis Huffman
via e-mail
This is a formal complaint against a piece of trailer trash who addressed my granddaughter, Ashley Bee, as an 18-year-old whore (Rich Kane's "Sublime to Ridiculous," July 12). How dare this imbecile use this kind of language on a talented young artist. This is not a review, but rather a vicious attack on her character. We had a large group of Ashley Bee fans at the Coach House on July 3, and after each song, there was thunderous applause from the sold-out crowd. The Coach House is a great venue for major and rising stars, such as Ashley Bee, and I hope in the future they will ban such trash as Rich Kane. Alexander H. Elder

Rich Kane responds from his double-wide:(1) FellowWeekly critics Dave Wielenga and John Roos can vouch for me: what you heard from the crowd was not the sound of thunderous applause, but the pop-pop-popping of people puncturing their own eardrums so they wouldn't have to endure another moment of Ashley; (2) the sold-out crowd was there to see the truly talented Flatlanders; (3) the word I used was "strumpet."

Anaheim's city government is full of bigotry and old-boy mentality (Gustavo Arellano's "Food Fight," Aug 9) If Arellano thinks the Anaheim Planning Commission has any concern for the smaller Mexican markets, think again. It certainly wasn't concerned about smaller businesses when it allowed Wal-Mart into the same center they are fighting to keep Gigante out of. Elizabeth O'Hara
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