Aug 13, 2001.

Dear Ann:

I was happy to see a reasonable point of view expressed in your response to "A He or a She in New Jersey." The writer was upset because a man, dressed as a woman, had used the ladies restroom. You said the person could have been a woman who simply looked masculine, or he could have been a cross-dresser, in which case he should use the restroom he is most comfortable in.

This man also may have been a transsexual -- meaning he was born male, but is living as a female. Transsexuals have a very difficult time coming out in our society. They often lose their jobs, their spouses, and their children, friends and families. Transsexuals receive little or no health care for their condition, and the only "cure" is a sex-change operation. Their suicide rate is alarmingly high.

I am a preoperative male-to-female transsexual. I am not a sexual deviant or a child molester. Transsexuals are average people trying to achieve some degree of normalcy and happiness in their lives. Your readers may sit next to us on the bus or work in the same office and never know. Fortunately, in Portland, Ore., transsexuals are protected by city and county ordinance. We are permitted to use the bathroom that fits our gender presentation. Thank you for your compassionate reply.

Love from Henriette in Portland, Ore.

Thanks for an informative letter. Again, Oregon is ahead of most states when it comes to enlightened legislation. Vermont is also one of the more enlightened. Read on for more:

From Houston: I don't want any man following my daughter or my wife into the ladies room, no matter what he is wearing. A man who has an abnormal fixation on wearing women's clothes should wear them at home. If everyone were allowed to express their sexual preferences in public, a person could bring a sheep to a restaurant for a romantic dinner.

Dutchess County, N.Y.: I am a cross-dresser. When I go out, I do not wish to embarrass anyone or make them uncomfortable, but I use the ladies room because I could be beaten up in the men's room.

Dallas: Your response was an invitation to rapists, perverts, pedophiles and sexual predators. Society is not ready for unisex bathrooms. If you have male equipment, you should use the men's room. Period.

Chicago: Some transgendered females still look like men in women's clothing and always will, but they live full-time as women. They should absolutely use the ladies room since they are no longer men.

Los Angeles: I am a cross-dresser who wishes to say "Bravo" for your intelligent response. In your single column, you have reached more people and opened more minds than you will ever know. Thank you.

New York: I am a tall, heavyset woman. I never wear dresses unless I have to. I also have hair on my face due to a hormonal problem. My hair is long, but that isn't enough. I have received some mighty strange looks in the restroom.

Any City, USA: Way to go, Ann! My partner and I are lesbians. I am very feminine, while she is very "butch." When she uses the ladies room, many women mistake her for a male and make ugly remarks. One older woman hit her over the head with her handbag and called her a dirty old man. Please continue to try to educate these ignoramuses.