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IAMA victim of Aversion Project of South Africa, a forced gay-to-straight treatment program during the apartheid era. AMA

May 20th 2013 by 6287863300 • 28 Questions • 708 Points

For those who do not know what the Aversion Project of South Africa about, these are some reference http://aubreylevinvictims.wordpress.com/tag/aversion-project/

I was just turned 18 when I joined the SADF in 1985. Shortly I found that I was bissexual and began to engage in homosexual relationships with others. About a few months later the authority summoned me to enquiry and requested me to have the "treatment". They forced me to recognize I was a homosexual before my parents and colleagues. They applied electroshock treatment on me. The electroshock treatment last for over half a year, which failed to "cure" my "disease". Then they administered medication on me without telling me what that was actually about. When the effects of hormones therapy became irreversible, they presuaded me through continued counselling that only a change of sex can cure my disease. They pushed me to the operation table to have the gender reassignment surgery.

I was discharged from the military after the surgery, at the age of 21, with no psychological and medical follow-up. They changed my birth certificate and gave me new identity papers to recognize my new gender identity as a female.

I felt shame, anxious, depress after discharge from the military. I did not know how to live with the new gender role. Having been seen by my parents and others as a freak, I leaved my home and went to Johannsburg. As a woman with only secondary education, it was difficult for me to find a good-earning job in the male dominated society of South Africa. I found a job of waitress in a restaurant, which hardly supported my living and continued medication of hormones. I tried very hard to adapt.

I met my first husband at the age of 23 and married him a year later. He was not good to me and we divorced 3 years later. I met my second husband at the age of 29 and married him at 31. The second marriage also did not work and we divorced in just 3 years. At the age of 36 I met the present husband and married him a year later. I am now 45.

Here is the proof http://i.imgur.com/G60CNrc.jpg

EDIT : In regard to the allegations that the proof is fake or this post is fake, I have no response to the allegations. You can choose to believe it or not. In regard to all the supports, thank you very much for your encouragement.

Q:

Why didn't you just lie, and tell them you were cured, so you didn't have to have the operation. Genuinely curious.

Do you have breast implants?

You mentioned that the hormone treatment cause irreversible effects - what kind?

Thanks for doing this AMA. Has to be a hard subject to talk about.

A:

They continued to show photos of nude man to arouse a "patient" and then use electricity to shock the patient when he arouse. A patient was considered as being cured when he no longer arouse when seeing photos of nude man.

No I did not have any breast implants.

After about half year of hormones treatment, I became impotent and hardly had an erection. Moreover, my breasts grew as a girl and after about a year of hormones treatment they grew to about B cup size.


Q:

Have you ever see A Clockwork Orange?

A:

yes, and so...


Q:

And so, all you would need is to be given some kind of psychoactive drug at the same time, and then what happened in the movie is just like what happened to you. If this treatment occurred in the UK, then you would have received a massive payout for it and it would be big news for years, unless the treatment was religiously motivated. Brainwashing is kind of a big deal.

Were the hormone treatments administered at the same time as the photo/shock treatment?

A:

No, the hormone treatment was administered after the electroshock treatment failed to "cure" my "disease".


Q:

Have you ever fully adapted to "being" a female?

If given the opportunity, would you reverse the gender reassignment surgery?

What does your husband feel about all this? How did you first bring the topic up?

Did this cause your first two marriages to be unsuccessful?

A:

After 24 years I have already fully adapted to being a female. However, it took me for at least 8 to 9 years to fully adapt to that. In the first few years I always thought of if given the opportunity I would reverse the gender reassignment surgery. Sometimes I even hated my body and felt ashame when looking at myself in the mirror. I felt difficult and uncomfortable in living as a woman and dealing with the unfairness others were treating me. It took about 8 to 9 years when I finally realized that I am now a woman and have to try my best living as a happy woman no matter I want it or not.

I hided it up from my first 2 husbands. I lied to them that I had my ovaries removed so I cannot give birth to baby. They did not know the truth all along.

For the present husband, I choose to be frank and honest to him and told him at the very beginning when we started dating. He was shocked at the beginning but chose to continue our dating after a few date of thinking and finally accepted what I am.


Q:

Have the doctors or the SADF ever been held accountable for their actions? And on a somewhat related note, do you feel that the equality clause in the bill of rights has made any changes for homosexuals in South African society?

A:

The head of the Project, Dr. Aubery Levin, was held liable for the tortune done on the victims only in the recent years.

I do think that the attitude of South African society to homosexuals are changing, to a more positive directions. At least the South Africa is amongst the few countries in the world that legalized same-sex marriage and have enacted anti-discrimination legislation on the subject.


Q:

Whoa, is that the same Aubrey Levin who was charged with sexually assaulting men during psychiatry sessions in Calgary?

A:

yes


Q:

How did you cope with the sudden gender change? Did they not give you a choice to have the operation?

A:

Yes and no. That was like something of hypnosis and they again and again presuaded me through "counselling" only a woman could have a normal relationship with a man and homosexual was evil and that the operation would be the best for me. They threatened me that if I did not have the operation the "treatment" would be continued until I was "cured". I agreed to have the operation "voluntarily" under such conditions.

Indeed, I never thought about what did it mean being a female and what the life of a woman would like. After the operation I did feel a little bit happy with that I could love a man as a "normal" woman. However, immediately I also felt difficult to adapt to the gender change.

In the first few months I thought it was only because I was not effeminated enough that other treat me as a freak. In order not to be seen by others as a freak, I tried my best to act and tune as a female. It took only a few months for me to do that. However, when I was completely passed, I began to felt the life as a woman is not easy, especially South Africa was still a male dominated society by that time. As a white woman I still enjoyed some privileges during the apartheid era, but the privileges as a white man was completely lost. I felt very upset and unhappy about that in the first few years.


Q:

Why couldn't you have just told them that you did not have the urges any more and just hold it in, and not let them know?

A:

After about half year of hormones treatment, I became impotent and hardly had an erection. Moreover, my breasts grew as a girl and after about a year of hormones treatment they grew to about B cup size. Instead of hanging half way out, I thought it was better to go all the way out.


Q:

Did you have any contact with other people in the program?

While not in any way condoning it, I would assume suicides did occur among participants in this program. Do you know anything about the rate?

Do you know if the SADF officials tried to cover up their negative results (I assume they would've had quite a few)? If so, how?

A:

I have communication with a few of others in the Project, who were all colleagues I knew in the past. Fortunately noone of them committed suicide, but I do heard about a few of the people in the Project did suicides. I also heard about some people died in the surgery.

The SADF officials did cover up the negative results. Though they had formally made an apology to all victims in the late 1990s, the whole details of the Project was still covered up and there were many details which were still not known to the outsiders up to today.


Q:

Wait, so the authorities found out you were bisexual:

  • gave you electic shocks
  • gave your hormone treatment
  • then turned you into a woman

How did that help anything from their perspective? 'Uh, Sarge I think that one of our guys likes meat and tuna' ... 'There's only one thing we can do with this guy Private - turn him into a woman'.

Please correct me if I have the wrong end of the stick here.

A:

No, they found out I engaged in homosexual relationships with others and so need to be cured.

They first wished to cure the patient through electroshock, through aversion therapy. When that did not work they gave the patient hormones treatment, and then gender reassignment surgery. Their thinking was that only homosexual relationships were evil and a normal person should only either be a man who loved women or a woman who loved men. Therefore if a male patient loved men and could not be cured through the aversion therapy, they would help to "recitify" his sex to make him/her "normal".


Q:

How did the authorities find out about your homosexuality?

A:

They caught me whilst I was having a kiss and hug with a colleague.


Q:

So, "that's my cousin" excuse wouldn't work out?

A:

What about if your "cousin" didn't say so.


Q:

That's one asshole cousin...

A:

I did not blame him as we were both young and I also told the truth.


Q:

Did the colleague have to go through the same treatments you did?

A:

Yes, I knew that he did have to go through the same treatments but I hadn't any contact with him after discharge from the military.


Q:

Had you ever previously considered gender reassignment surgery? Did you know much/anything about the process beforehand? How much information did they give you prior to your surgery and do you now consider it to be mostly factual information?

Also you mentioned this was during the apartheid era. What is your race, and do you think race played a role in your treatment?

Edit:clarity

A:

I am white. At the apartheid era only whites would be admitted in the military in South Africa.

I had never considered gender reassignment surgery and knew nothing about the process beforehand. They had not gave me any information about that. What they told me was only that after the operation I would have a body of woman and could engage in normal love with a man. They said that was only a minor surgery and was reversible. Remember that was the 1980s when there was no internet.


Q:

As a South African I know electrocution was used extensively during the apartheid era especially to black people and prisoners. Did they ever explain to you how they thought the electricity would shock you straight and what was the routine they used during the electro shock therapy ?

A:

They showed me photos of nude men, and used electricity to shock me whenever I arouse. Then they showed me photos of nude women. The "treatment" was repeated again and again. They thought this would implant some message into the brain of the "patient".


Q:

You've already answered all the questions I had, but I wish you and your husband well.

A:

Thank you very much.


Q:

Were you able to find any support, networks, or others who went through the Aversion Program?

Have you maintained any contact with family?

Have you ever had sex with a woman, as a woman; or did you find that as a woman you are primarily attracted to men?

A:

There is a support group of victims of Aversion Project and I have communications with a few who have participated the support group. I myself have not joined the support group as I think I am now living happily.

I have maintained contact with my family. They already accept what I am and are fine with me.

As a woman, I never had sex with a woman. Though I said I was bisexual and had sex with girls before, I was sure that I was more attract to men than women.


Q:

Do you have a preference from being a guy or a gal? Also, how well do you think they did on the procedure?

A:

Now at the age of 45 and after 24 years living as a woman, I do not have a preference of dropping all I have now and have the gender reassignment surgery to turn back to a man even there is a choice.

Of course not as good as the techniques nowadays. However, the nerves are still retained and I still have feelings during sex, though orgasm is very rare.


Q:

And if you don't mind my asking, can the vagina of a transgender stretch like someone who was born with it, or..? I have very limited knowledge of the procedure, so I'm not sure where the "lady parts" come from.

A:

The vagina comes from the the penile and scrotum skin. There was a lot of literature in gender reassignment surgery on the internet and you can search by yourself.


Q:

I saw you said that the head of the project was held liable, were you offered any compensation? Or was Dr Levin charged in any way? Such a massive crime surely can't go unpunished.

A:

We are not offered any formal compensation. However, some victims, like me, have petitioned to the SADF for subsidiary and payment of continued medication and are receiving some financial assistance from the SADF.

Dr. Levin was charged in Canada and was sentenced to prison some years ago.


Q:

Though as far as I know Levin was imprisoned in Canada because he was convicted of sexually assaulting male patients in Canada. (How ironic...) He's never actually been convicted for what he did in the SADF.

One might well ask why the Canadian government let him in when the TRC said he committed gross violations of human rights.

A:

Yes, he was not actually charged with the things he done in South Africa.


Q:

Could you ever forgive them for what they did?

Also what is the main difference you have found in how others have treated you? Do you feel pressured to fit into a certain "role" when in society, or when dating a man?

Do you still not ever see your parents?

I can't say how brave I think you are, you show how strong we can be.

A:

After 24 years, I think I have already forgiven them for what they did. I do not blame them any more.

South Africa was still a society dominated by white men in the 1980s and 1990s (and may be still the case nowadays). Being a male before, I did feel others, both men and women, did treat women as inferior. Other men and women tend to treat men as more clever and capable and listen more to men. Whilst my brothers were getting employment of higher earnings, I could only find a job as waitress. And I found out that thought we wer just doing similar work, the waiters working in the same restaurant did have higher salary than the waitresses. When women were with men, women were expected to keep silence and not to express her own ideas and be obedient to men. In the first years or two, whenever I was "outspoken", or talked or act rudely, other men and women looking at me in strange.

I did feel pressure to fit into the female role. Before as a man, when I was dating another man, he never expected me to be gentle and obedient. And as a woman, when I was dating a man, I did feel the pressure of acting as a good little girl and be caring and obedient. I feel the pressure of dressing pretty and feminine. As time goes on I realize most of the men like and wish to befriend women who are more feminine in manner and outlook. Unconsciously I more and more fit into the role which the male is expecting on female.

Further, as a woman I feel harder to refuse the sexual requests of man and the saying of "no" by a woman not always mean "no" to man, whilst as a man, I always have the respect from other men.

I have keeping on constant contact with my parents now as they already accept me as what I am.


Q:

Are you still bisexual after the gender change?

A:

No, I never had sex with a woman after the gender change. Though I said that I was bisexual and did have sex with girls before, I was sure that all along I was more attract to men than women.


Q:

Have you ever experience gender dysphoria?

A:

You mean before or after the surgery? Before the surgery the answer is no. And after the surgery the answer is yes and for so many years I did think about having gender reassignment surgery to turn back to male.


Q:

Since you considered yourself bisexual, have you had any relationships with other women since the surgery?

Also, would you have to have any before and after pics?

I am not trying to be rude, I have just never heard of this, and am fascinated.

A:

No,I never had any relationships with other women since the surgery. Though I was bissexual and did have sex with girls before, I was sure that I was more attract to men than women.


Q:

Not the OP, but: in those days there was conscription of all white males into the military. It wasn't voluntary.

A:

In those years, all South African white men were need to serve in the military compulsory for at least 2 years, usually at the age of 17 or 18. I served in the military for nearly 3 years.


Q:

Do you still stay in South Africa?

A:

No, I am now living in Abu Dhabi, UAE. My husband is working in UAE.