software developer Lenka Kralova at the age of 38, she discovered that she felt like a woman. In an interview with Refresher, she explained how Czech legislation counts (not) on trans people or what “deviant” practices trans people (including 15-year-olds) have to live with in sexology. She has also advised young people who feel in a trance but are afraid of their parents’ reactions.
Lenka’s entourage reacted in an exemplary manner, she fell on his ex-wife. “A wider and closer circle of friends responded perfectly, as did parents. But I had a huge problem with my wife, who we had been with for fifteen years. She completely broke down, then she just wanted a divorce. She thought her husband was dead.” she said in an interview with Refresher.
Who are trans people?
By correct definition, these are people whose gender identity does not match that assigned at birth. To put it simply, the soul does not correspond to the body. I spent most of my life as a man, then I discovered that I felt like a woman and decided to make the transition.
What does it mean?
Transition is the transition to a new life in the correct gender role. Its goal is to reach a state of satisfaction. It has three phases: social, medical and official. During the social, we start to live the daily life, no approval is required. All you need is strong nerves, courage and the ability to negotiate change with those around you.
In medicine, there are body modifications that help trans people feel better about themselves. But that’s not a necessity, of course, there are people who choose to do nothing at all with their bodies – and that doesn’t mean they are “less trans”. Most people start hormonal therapy, which, in addition to the face, also changes the psyche.
Official transit means recognition by the state – that is, the rewriting of documents, etc. However, the Czech Republic is one of the last countries in Europe to require surgery to have an official gender reassignment. The State dogmatically affirms that it must “do everything”. But this is not a model of the genital organ – as many mistakenly believe, the state demands only the impossibility of reproductive function.
It’s called sterilization to make it more humane, but the correct term is castration. Sterilization is a broader concept. The law requires the complete removal of the gonads – and that’s what the state requires. In trans women, therefore, the testicles must be removed, they can keep the penis. The ovaries are removed from the ovaries, which is a relatively difficult operation.
The state therefore requires such an invasive and risky intervention in the body due to the official. Because of the letter in the citizen, which complicates a person’s life. At the same time, many years have been waiting for operations. And young people under the age of 18 cannot even suffer them by law, they have no options. I am 41 years old, I am assured, and the wrong sex in the documents is actually just a “rush” for me, but for young people, who are in a subordinate position almost everywhere, it is a huge complication. When a teacher tells them to address them by the name they have on their birth certificate, there is nothing they can do.
On March 31, 2022, which coincided with the International Day of Visibility for Trans People, the Constitutional Court swept aside the lawsuit to amend this law. But it was a vote. I believe that over time it will break down and it will be better if it happens in the Chamber.
How do transitions differ between trans men and trans women?
The biggest difference is in hormone therapy, as testosterone is a very powerful hormone with intense effects. When trans men initiate this therapy, in 99% of cases, no one has the chance to find out. You can have a trans colleague at work and not know it at all. Their beards will grow, they may even go bald, their voices will change, their muscles will get bigger. This facilitates their integration into society – this is called overcoming.
In trans women, it’s more complicated, because testosterone is involved in life changes during their body – for example, skeletal changes. It affects overall body size, voice, etc. In trans women, then, it depends on a combination of two factors – at what age they start hormone therapy and how lucky they are with the genes. But this is of course individual. And it depends on who has a good life and who lives hell.
In our society, everything is built only on appearance. For example, if we take all the “controversies” that arouse passions in society, they only concern trans women where “that” is known.
Is the Czech health system lagging behind the transition in Europe?
Like in what. But for example, as far as sexologists solve it, and many practice what is called access control – they test a person in the same way as a high school diploma. This is such a humiliating interrogation. It’s not enough for them to say they feel this or that and ask for help. For example, well-known sex therapist Petr Weiss is famous for asking inappropriate and perverse questions: if a person rubs or slips during sex, what are their masturbation fantasies, what was the best sexual experience. Incredible obscenity. It’s just investigating trans people as sexual deviants. He asked me the question when I was 38, so I suffered somehow, I wouldn’t want to go through that again. But he’s asking the same thing of 15-year-olds, and it’s outrageous.
Sex therapist Hana Fifková, often quoted in the media, also sends her clients to him for testimonials, but you can refuse and say that you want to go to someone else.
Long wait times are a huge problem in our country, and that means once a person arrives at a sex therapist, they usually love everything. There are those here, for example the sexologist Ivo Procházka, who force a person to undress during the examination, then they smell the genitals and people feel that if they refuse, they will close the door to hormones.
The worst require their clients to be examined on a plethysmograph. This is a review to which sex offenders and murderers are sent for legal advice. They will connect your genitals to the electrodes and give you various images, including sadistic scenes and real child pornography, which the police confiscated during the investigation. It’s like a horror movie. The trans people who were there that I spoke to were shocked.
But all sexologists in our country are definitely not bad. Petra Vrzáčková has the best reputation, mainly due to her human and helpful approach, where she tries to help and not get promoted – but it has already been announced and she has a full schedule a year and a half ahead . But Pavla Entnerová and Pavel Turčan from Olomouc or Pavel Tomeš from Pilsen also have good references.
The advantage for tanned people in the Czech Republic, for example, is that in our country most transition-related interventions, such as breast removal for trans men, are covered by the health insurance fund . Hormone therapy is also partially reimbursed.
You’ve already passed 100%, haven’t you?
I probably don’t have it at all, but foreigners still call me a “young lady”. So I think the override was successful – it’s quite a miracle that I started taking hormones at the age of 38. But I would like to emphasize here that transitioning is not a pursuit of looking perfect and that trans people in society deserve respect whether they succeed in succeeding or not.
The only difficulty was with the voice, as hormone therapy would not change it for women. The voice must therefore be trained. There are also operations, but they don’t always go well – they help with the pitch of the voice, for example, but then it can be too creaky. Some people probably have to go through this if they have a really deep voice, but they’re more likely to start training. But it was probably the vocal training that was the most difficult for me during the transition. I only use the deep voice to parody Zeman. (to laugh)
Can trans people change their name to at least some gender neutral names?
They can, but not completely freely. You can only choose from a specific list of names, or they can try to argue with the registries with the help of a forensic expert – however, only one in the Czech Republic specializes in this issue – Jana Valdrová. The registers are state-to-state. They also mandate gender-neutral surnames for trans people – usually ones ending in “ů”, like Jirků.
For example, I decided not to undergo sex reassignment surgery. At the same time, I’m a rebel, so I didn’t change my name to neutral, but kept my original. Being confident and I don’t care what strangers think of me, I live with. But it also means I show my innermost problem in life to strangers who don’t care. At the same time, they have nothing to do with state administration.
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- why shouldn’t we say “transsexual”
- what are the biggest myths associated with trans people
- when Lenka found out she was trans
- how those around him, including his six-year-old son, reacted
- how to start a transition
- what to do when parents are against
- how can we support the trans people around us
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