Stephanie Loveless sings for her sex change – and her survival

By |2018-01-15T18:22:39-05:00July 13th, 2006|News|

{ITAL “Let her cry, for she’s a lady;
Let her dream, for she’s a child;
Let the rain fall down upon her;
She’s a free and gentle flower growing wild.”
-“Wildflower,” performed by Skylark, words by D. Richardson and D. Edwards}

FERNDALE – When speaking to Stephanie Loveless two traits quickly come to the fore: an eloquent intelligence and an intense vulnerability. Speak to her a little longer, and both become quite endearing as the words to “Wildflower” begin to float through your head. Loveless is just that: a wildflower. Hers is a dignity that is anything but quiet. Through her music and her message, she pleads for acceptance and love, all the while unknowingly changing the world with her gentle manner and steely determination to not just exist, but to grow.
But it wasn’t always like that for Loveless. She stagnated herself for years. Born Tom Ness, as a man Loveless grew up, married the lovely Sue Trescott, ran the radical rock-n-roll publication Jam Rag for some 20 years and even ran for Congress in 2000 on the Green Party ticket. But if Loveless was being true to her political ideals, she wasn’t being true to herself, and the self-denial manifested itself in a myriad of ways, including masochistic desires and verbal aggression.
“I used to have these horrible, horrible temper tantrums, and I’d be verbally abusive with Sue,” Loveless recalled. “And if you said to me, ‘Well, the reason for that is because you have this frustration inside,’ I would have probably punched you. Then, all of a sudden, when I realized what was wrong, everything in my life suddenly became crystal clear. … I had so thoroughly closeted myself. From my very early years, up to about age 10, I didn’t do that. But I remember, very specifically, in sixth grade thinking, ‘If people ever find out what I’m really thinking I’m going to be in big trouble,’ and that’s when I put Stephanie away. I tried to bury her, and I thought she was gone. But these things don’t go away. Now, I’m really in awe. Thirty-five years later she clawed her way to the surface and kicked Tom’s ass.”
It’s now been over two years since Stephanie’s resurrection, and she remembers the exact moment well.
“It was an epiphany, and I guess that is not atypical for the trans experience,” she explained. “For me, the problem was that I was so ashamed. It was one thing to come out as being bi – that was a gradual accruing of confidence and pride over 20 years – but it took a long time before I could tell people about being trans. But Stephanie wasn’t going away. She manifested herself through really intense masochistic experiences. I had this need to go out and be beaten up, and, primarily, forced feminization. It always ended up back at that. I mean, I didn’t even realize what was going on, but it always ended up back at me wanting to be forced to be a girl. And through that, in December 2003, I was doing some really crazy stuff. I met this full-time transsexual woman and through her example, I learned that I didn’t have to be ashamed. I could be proud of the woman inside. Before then, I had just never considered that maybe I’m right and everybody else is wrong.”
Still, finding her true self hasn’t been the answer to all her problems, for coming out as trans often signals the start of a whole new set of frustrations.
“People need to understand this impossible trap that girls like me are in,” said Loveless. “Either we can have our problems on the inside, and that leads to all kinds of horrible things like the temper tantrums and that sort of thing, or we can come out, and once you come out, normality is over for you. You’ll never be normal again. Just walking down the street, the extended stares from people as they try to figure out who’s a boy or a girl, or always thinking, ‘OK, do I dare go use the bathroom?’ Plus employment issues, everything – there’s a thousand constant daily reminders that you’re not a part of the human family. Even nice people are trying to be accepting, and that’s a reminder. [They’re saying] ‘Look, you’re different, and that’s why I’m being nice to you. But you’re still not one of us.’ … It’s a very lonely world for T-girls. Very, very lonely.”
Solace, for Loveless, will come in part through sexual-reassignment surgery, something she desperately seeks. She’s received the necessary signatures from two separate psychologists and met all the all the other prerequisites. All that’s holding her back is the money. The procedure costs about $10,000 in Bangkok, where Loveless plans on having it done. To help meet that goal, she’s using the connection to music she rediscovered upon finding Stephanie as a vehicle. Her first CD, “Steffie Sings For Her Sex Change,” is available now, with all proceeds going to the obvious. She’s also looking for a band and a manager to help her polish her act.
“I had been writing all these songs and singing, and we started recording and then one day I got a call from my psychologist saying, ‘Well, look, I’ll give you your letter and you can be on the plane tomorrow if you have your money,'” said Loveless, explaining the recording’s impetus. “But my tomorrow still hasn’t come. … Maybe I’ll find my sugar daddy through this article.”

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.