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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Born Into the Wrong Body
Aired July 24, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DREW PINSKY, GUEST HOST: Tonight, born into the wrong body. Cher's firstborn used to be Chastity. Now Chaz is focusing attention on sexual identity and the confusion, conflict and agony it can cause.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHAZ BONO: It's very important to me that people accept me as a transgendered female.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Alexis Arquette made the transition from man to woman with the help of her famous supportive family. She's here, along with a former reality show contestant, the mayor of an American town and a 13-year-old with his mom. They know something about transgender issues firsthand. Brains tell them one thing, their bodies say something else.
Then, Jon and Kate's sextuplets have got some competition. Meet the new kids on the block.
Next on LARRY KING LIVE.
I'm Dr. Drew Pinsky sitting in for Larry King.
Chaz Bono is not the only high profile case of someone transitioning to another sex.
Actress Alexis Arquette was born a boy. Her documentary, "She's My Brother," was featured at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Dr. Gary Alter is a plastic surgery and urologist and an expert in genital reconstruction.
Both of them can help us better under what this is all about.
Alexis, how do you feel about Chaz's preparing for surgery and how he and she is -- should we call him, him, right...
ALEXIS ARQUETTE, ACTRESS: Yes, he.
PINSKY: ...out of respect.
ARQUETTE: I believe that he came out as a transgendered male. But I also think that -- he said he didn't want to be interviewed anymore about it. Full stop. He is a transgendered male. And I think we need to respect his privacy at this time. PINSKY: So we should just stop talking about it?
ARQUETTE: Well, I think we should talk -- we can talk about the issue. But I think it's really common for people to believe that it's all right to ask really uncomfortable questions to transgendered people.
PINSKY: So people ask you lots of uncomfortable questions?
ARQUETTE: Absolutely. I mean that's above and beyond, you know, the things people say on the street, who you don't know...
PINSKY: Bad things?
ARQUETTE: Yes. And, also, if you're meeting somebody that you know and they're -- it's not a bad thing, they feel often that it's OK to ask you if you're pre-op, post-op. These questions are -- I mean, really, there's only reason to ask about what's in someone's pants or skirt and that it's not -- and that's not to discriminate against them, certainly.
PINSKY: OK. Let's -- let's get away from that a bit...
PINSKY: ...and talk about the issue of being a celebrity and undergoing this procedure.
PINSKY: Does that make it more difficult?
ARQUETTE: I don't think it's more difficult for people who are either raised in families of celebrities or celebrities themselves. I think, if anything, we've been prepared to deal with press and media.
But I think it's more an exposing type thing, because it's not about your work. It's not about what, you know, you want to contribute as an entertainer or your family has. It's only about your very personal identity issue.
Do you know Chaz?
ARQUETTE: I've met Chaz. And, you know, I've always felt that -- I mean you can't judge people on the way they look. There's certainly a lot of people that are a different group of transgenders, which -- and I consider them just as genuine as -- people that choose alter egos and consider themselves no cross dressers, often, most of them, are heterosexual males.
ARQUETTE: And they -- and I just feel like, you know, if someone comes out and says, hi, world, family, friends, media, I'm transgendered, you know, at that point, if they go any deeper, it's really -- it gets a little perverse. It gets a little sideshow freakish.
PINSKY: So we should just leave it as -- well, here's -- here's what his publicist says. This is Chaz's publicist. He confirmed: "After many years of consideration, Chaz has made the courageous decision to honor his true identity. He's proud of his decision, grateful for the support and respect that has already been shown by his loved ones. It's Chaz's hope that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public."
So he's interested in talking about it...
PINSKY: ...to open people up to be more tolerant about this issue, it seems.
ARQUETTE: Right. I'm happy to speak about it to anyone, even if it's somebody who's -- who I don't know. But I certainly -- I have boundaries, limits.
PINSKY: So your personal...
PINSKY: Your personal experience is something...
PINSKY: ...you prefer to keep off limits?
PINSKY: His mom -- Chaz's mom, Cher, had this to say: "Chaz is embarking on a difficult journey, but one that I will support. I respect the courage it takes to go through this transition in the glare of the public scrutiny" -- as we're talked about -- "and although I may not understand, I will strive to be understanding. The one thing that will never change is my abiding love for my child."
That's pretty nice, right?
ARQUETTE: Yes. It's very nice.
PINSKY: That's what you're looking for from your family, isn't it?
ARQUETTE: Yes. But she also said a couple things that made me a little worried. She said she'd strive to understand. I mean, you know, that's all they can -- that's all you can expect from someone.
PINSKY: May I ask you how your family reacted?
ARQUETTE: You know, the thing is, I was in a pretty liberal family. I mean, I wore makeup since I was 12. But they weren't in denial so much as -- their fear was that if I came out as transgendered and lived my life as a woman, that I might receive a lot of flak from people on the street and...
PINSKY: And it's been OK?
ARQUETTE: ...you know, even violence.
PINSKY: Has it been OK?
ARQUETTE: I think, you know, you -- anybody who has seen my reality show called "The Surreal Life" would know that I have a hard time always holding back when it comes to my anger toward people's unacceptance of those who are different.
PINSKY: Well, now, you decided to go ahead and -- and create a documentary about your experience.
ARQUETTE: Yes, I did.
PINSKY: What -- given that you wanted to keep this personal, I'm a little confused...
PINSKY: ...why, if you want this to be personal, you decided to do a documentary.
ARQUETTE: Well, I wanted to do a documentary on just myself and -- and taking the path. I met with Dr. Gary Alter here. And he was wonderful. And I learned a lot.
PINSKY: Are you trying to open the topic up, the way Chaz is, for the public?
ARQUETTE: The topic -- I mean I even -- he did a physical examination of me. I let them film that. But I sort of said full stop. I'm not going to go any further than that, because why -- why would you need to know?
I mean, the fact of the matter is, living as a woman is different than living as a man. But I want to be equal to everyone else.
How do you treat a woman differently than a man?
Open her door for her?
That's kind of '50s. I think that stuff is over.
PINSKY: And Dr. Alter is here with us, is the surgeon that did your surgery. And you courageously documented some component of this on film. And it's called "Alexis Arquette: She's My Brother," is that correct?
PINSKY: Let's take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "ALEXIS ARQUETTE: SHE'S MY BROTHER," COURTESY A&E, INDIA FILMS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember the first time I ever saw a transsexual.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where was it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was in Chicago and we were really little.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I must have been like seven...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Six or seven. So you were probably four or five.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where was it at?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was at a coffee shop and we had to go pee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my god.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: and mom took us to the bathroom and there was this transsexual in there. And mom was freaked out. Mom was like, no, no, no, no, no. Oh my god.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not OK. You can't go in there. Oh, my God. And it really stuck with me that moment because when you started developing and you started finding yourself and...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uh-huh.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- I wondered if that was a traumatic moment for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ARQUETTE: The beginning of my documentary, I was totally at odds because I did elective surgery and needed to be monitored by anybody.
But talk to me a little bit about Harry Benjamin and the protocol.
DR. GARY ALTER, GENITAL RECONSTRUCTION EXPERT: Well, the important thing, I mean -- I think the...
ALTER: ...the bottom line of what Alexis says is that -- is that transsexualism is an identity thing. And it really is not a sexual thing. It's what you feel yourself to be.
She feels -- and has since a child -- to be a woman. So whether she undergoes surgery or not, is so -- somewhat irrelevant.
The public may get some kind of a joy out of knowing whether or not...
PINSKY: Well, wait, but I mean...
ALTER: She had the surgery.
PINSKY: ...it gets a little confusing, I think, for people that are not familiar with this (INAUDIBLE).
PINSKY: So then why do the surgery?
ALTER: The surgery -- to make -- to make you feel more complete.
PINSKY: So some people want it, some don't, is basically it?
ARQUETTE: Some, it's really a desperate thing, where like they have visions of mutilating themselves. They really have...
ARQUETTE: ...a genuine hate for their bodies. And...
PINSKY: Does that go away after the procedures?
ALTER: Yes, it does. Some people come in having tried to castrate themselves.
ALTER: So -- and then, also some people undergo the surgery to be able to have sex like their chosen sex.
PINSKY: And when we come back, we're going to meet a man who used to be a woman. And he has something about this.
Or if you have to say something about this or any other topic, go to CNN.com/larryking, click on blog and have your say.
Stay with us.
PINSKY: Our next guest was on LARRY KING LIVE almost two years ago, when he hadn't quite finished his transformation. Ryan Sallans joins us again here tonight. Ryan was born a female, but at the age of 25 began a long, complicated journey to become a man.
So, Ryan, where are you now with it?
RYAN SALLANS, TRANSITIONED FROM FEMALE TO MALE: I guess I'm what you'd consider a post-op transsexual.
PINSKY: So you've completed the transformation?
PINSKY: You've had the lower surgery?
PINSKY: Have you had anything -- chest and face, Adams Apple?
There are other things you do other than just the genitalia, yes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct. Yes.
SALLANS: Well, I've had the chest surgery, a hysterectomy and the lower surgery, which is a coloplasty (ph). I didn't have to do anything with my Adam's apple or any face construction because testosterone naturally builds that on top -- on top of my body.
What made you want to have the surgery?
SALLANS: Well, how do you -- how would you feel if you didn't have your penis?
PINSKY: Not good.
PINSKY: But we were talking -- discussing before you came out...
PINSKY: ...that some people do decide to have this and some don't.
Can you differentiate why you felt the need to do that?
SALLANS: For me, I felt emotionally complete when I was on LARRY KING LIVE last time. But I know for my physical completeness, I wouldn't be satisfied unless I had the ability to be able to stand and pee. That was very important to me out of everything with the lower surgery.
PINSKY: So in order to be able to stand and urinate, that was...
PINSKY: ...that's how you knew you had completed the transformation then?
PINSKY: So you went ahead and had that surgery?
PINSKY: Are you dating right now?
SALLANS: I've been in a relationship for five years with a -- my...
PINSKY: Significant other?
SALLANS: Yes. Well, she's my honey. I call her my honey.
PINSKY: And did you ever think you were gay?
SALLANS: No, not gay. I thought I was a lesbian for about eight months when I first started dating my partner so.
PINSKY: See, this is where I get a little -- I get a little confused.
That's different than gay?
ARQUETTE: Well, he's a male now.
SALLANS: Yes, so...
ARQUETTE: So sometimes transgendered males -- transmen are attracted to other men.
PINSKY: And I know that a lot of female -- no, male to females I've treated oftentimes still have lesbian relationships afterwards.
That's a common, Dr. Alter?
ALTER: That is common. Yes, it -- what you have to understand is when you get into the situation where you're dealing with transgender, they don't look at sex -- at sex as like we do.
They look more at the person and the relationship, OK?
So a lot of times, they may not be so interested in what sex the partner is, but they're more interested in the person.
So he -- I would call him straight because he's into a female. He's into women, OK? PINSKY: He's a transgender straight male.
ALTER: Right. But it -- but it blurs.
But he wouldn't even call himself straight, OK, because, more importantly, he's into another person that he has a meaningful relationship with.
PINSKY: Got it.
ALTER: And if you ask a lot of male to females that I've -- which I have. I've talked to them.
I said, well, what do look for?
Are you looking for a man or are you looking for a woman?
And commonly I get the response that it doesn't matter so much, I'm looking for a person that I can connect with.
PINSKY: Let's dial it back and talk about your family of origin.
Were they -- have they been accepting?
Have they been supportive?
SALLANS: My brother, who's nine years older than me, was supportive from the get go. My sister has come around. And my parents, it's taken about four years, but I feel -- even since the last time I was on this show, they have swung to a more positive side. My dad actually refers to me as Ryan now, which is a huge step.
PINSKY: Did you ever wonder why this happened to you?
SALLANS: It -- it just happened. I don't know, you know?
PINSKY: But I mean, as a kid, were you ever wondering why me or what is this or -- is it confusing, Alexis?
ARQUETTE: Well, I feel a lot of people -- parents would think I -- oh, I remember you dressing up in the other gender. And I want parents out there to know that it's totally natural for kids to make believe and play games. It does not mean your child is going to be transgendered. And even if it were true, why is it such a horrible thing?
PINSKY: Well, it shouldn't be.
And, Ryan, presently, are people accepting?
Are there -- do people know about your transgendered status?
Do you feel comfortable with how you're being received?
SALLANS: It's kind of interesting into being an F to M because of how the testosterone masculizes you. You wouldn't necessarily have to come out and no one ever -- I could live stealth and no one would ever know that I was born a signed female.
PINSKY: Well, I guess my question would be, so then, what?
Do you -- is it important to you to be identified or would you rather not be?
SALLANS: I personally...
PINSKY: Because it's an interesting question, right, because sometimes you...
PINSKY: ...you want to stand up and say, hey, this is what I've done. On the other hand, maybe not.
SALLANS: I -- I won't run down the hall screaming that I'm trans. But I personally am an out transman, because I think it's very important for people to be able to put a face to the story, to take away that -- that freakish status that has been there in the past.
PINSKY: The stigmatization?
PINSKY: Next, an "America's Top Model" contestant -- we'll find out how she's doing now, in 60 seconds.
PINSKY: Isis King was the queen of the catwalk when she appeared as a contestant on "America's Top Model." Isis completed fully surgery on February 27th and broke off an engagement.
Isis joins us now.
Isis, thanks for joining us.
We appreciate it.
ISIS KING, TRANSITIONED FROM MALE TO FEMALE: Hi.
PINSKY: Now, you...
KING: Thank you.
PINSKY: My pleasure.
You apparently prefer the phrase born in the wrong body rather than transgender. Why is that?
KING: Well, actually, I prefer woman, because that's what I identify myself as. But as far as the whole transition, I prefer born in the wrong body because I was a woman who was born in the body of a male.
PINSKY: Does the term transgender trouble you in some way or?
KING: I just really don't prefer it. I don't know -- I don't know exactly what it is. But as far as like the term transsexual, I just totally don't prefer at all. Transgender, you know, I guess I'm just kind of seeing myself as this is something that I went through and now I am complete.
I'm not saying that everyone has to have the surgery, but for myself, this was my completion and I am a woman.
PINSKY: And you feel very good about this?
You feel like it was a good thing?
KING: Yes, I do.
PINSKY: Yes. So let me -- let's address this.
What was it like back when you were a contestant on "America's Top Model" and you were still transitioning?
What was that experience like?
KING: It was a hard experience, considering, you know, I had to worry about extra things that the other girls didn't have to. But, you know, I still tried to like think about winning the competition and that was the main objective. So I tried not to really think about it and talk about it, although it looked like I talked about it -- talked about it a lot on the show, you know, I just tried to compete and hoped that all the girls would view me the same way...
PINSKY: Well, let's...
KING: ...as everyone else.
PINSKY: Let's take a look at your final day on "America's Next Top Model".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL," COURTESY YOUTUBE/10 BY 10 ENTERTAINMENT)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, Isis, what happened?
You were supposed to go so far. The girl that we saw in those photos last season is not here. She's disappeared in her pictures and she's disappeared in personality. But if you want to be a model, you can. And you're already an inspiration for the gay, lesbian, transgendered, bisexual community. Did I get that right?
I think I said them all, right, (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you did, honey.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you have to know that. But you need to work on those eyes or else you'll just be wah-wah.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Isis, is it true that Tyra Banks was involved in funding the procedure?
KING: Yes. Tyra found Dr. Bowers and, you know, made the whole thing possible between the two of them. So that was a very big blessing for me because I had no idea it was going to happen. So, yes, I'm very blessed to have both of them.
PINSKY: How long did the procedure take you?
What was the recovery time like?
How much did it cost?
KING: Well, the procedure -- the procedure itself was about three-and-a-half to four hours. The recovery time for full recovery was three months. I am just coming up on four months and it's like next week.
And for Dr. Bowers, I think the price is, if I'm not mistaken, have been rose -- are going to rise, but somewhere between $18,000 and maybe $24,000.
PINSKY: When your patients do select to have the surgery, when that's important to them, do you feel like you've done something important to them that changed their lives in a positive way?
ALTER: Oh, absolutely. So positive. I mean many of them feel that they're -- that this is their rebirth. And, you know, for somebody like him...
KING: It is.
ALTER: ...oftentimes the female to males, what they want is their chest surgery. They have breasts and they can't integrate in society with breasts. So a lot of transgenders who are female to males, all they want is the chest surgery and they don't want anything with their genitals. In fact, that's the main -- the largest number for those kind of males.
PINSKY: The female? ARQUETTE: I want to just say, Drew, before we go, because I -- or -- that, you know, I'm really proud to be a transgendered female. You know, it's OK for Isis to feel like a woman. She is a woman. She's a transgendered woman. As far as I'm considered -- her whole life she will always be that. We need to know that we have pride in the people that we are.
Some people pass. Some people, it's very important to them.
To me, when I walk down the street, I'm totally OK with being recognized as a transgendered female.
PINSKY: Isis, last comment?
KING: And -- and I think, also, you know, I know what the circumstances are. But, you know, there are people that feel different ways. You know, I'm not trying to say that I'm not proud of my whole transition, because, obviously, I wouldn't put it public. But, you know, there are some people that prefer this or that. But I know that I've always been a woman. So this is just what I prefer to identify myself as.
PINSKY: And our thanks tonight, and me personally, to Dr. Alter, for his expertise.
Everyone else is staying with us.
Silverton, Oregon's mayor is making waves -- not for his politics, but because of this -- he lives as a woman.
We'll meet the mayor, after this.
PINSKY: Welcome back.
Silverton, Oregon's mayor is the first openly transgendered mayor in the United States. Stu Rasmussen is here with us to talk about his unique situation at city hall and at home.
Also joining us is Michelle Golan, clinical psychologist and contributor to MomLogic.com.
Thank you guys for joining us.
Stu, to you first.
MAYOR STU RASMUSSEN, SILVERTON, OREGON: Yes, sir?
PINSKY: Do you identify yourself -- well, where do you identify yourself in this spectrum we've been talking about tonight?
RASMUSSEN: Well, it's like there's male and there's female. There's short and there's tall. I'm -- I'm somewhere in between.
PINSKY: Do you identify as heterosexual? RASMUSSEN: Absolutely.
PINSKY: So you're heterosexual and so it's like more of a cross dressing, cross...
RASMUSSEN: Well, it sort of gets to be a curiosity, because I appear to be female and like females.
Am I a lesbian or am I a male and straight?
So it just kind of rattles around in your head for a while.
PINSKY: That's why I get confused.
PINSKY: So the people in your town, I understand, think very highly of you.
Have they pushed back at all?
Have they had any reaction to your identification publicly as a woman?
RASMUSSEN: I think we did the transition fairly slowly and people had the chance to go, what's going on with Stu?
What's -- what's...
PINSKY: Which is something I imagine they said before the gender issues.
RASMUSSEN: Oh, yes. Absolutely.
PINSKY: OK. So they're used to you...
PINSKY: They're used to you being a little trickster?
RASMUSSEN: Yes, a little bit. And actually, very few people ask me about it. But my -- my life partner, Victoria, got lots of questions from people -- what's Stu doing?
What's going on there?
PINSKY: Why stop where you stopped?
RASMUSSEN: I got to a point where I've got exactly the body I want. It -- I like what I see in the mirror. I didn't see any need to do anything further. I like -- I mean, it seems like it's a family show, but I -- I like the sexual aspects of being a male and I like the appearance aspects and...
PINSKY: But how about your partner?
RASMUSSEN: I have to be honest and say although I look like I'm 45 years old, I'm actually 60. And that end of the relationship, it's more a -- it's not a sexual relationship anymore.
PINSKY: Is she -- it's a she, yes?
She, Victoria, is (INAUDIBLE)?
RASMUSSEN: She is very much a she.
PINSKY: Is she...
PINSKY: Has she had a reaction to your transformation at all?
Has she had anything to say about it?
RASMUSSEN: Well, this is certainly something we discussed, you know, before doing it. And, you know, it was like, honey, I'd really like cleavage. And she said, OK. So that was about the extent of the discussion. And she'd known I was a cross dresser for years and had sort of put up with my little peccadilloes and...
PINSKY: I see. So she just -- it was something she had come to be accustomed with you and just said this is more of that?
RASMUSSEN: This is more of that. And we are two exceedingly compatible people. We're deeply in love and it's just the coolest relationship on the planet.
PINSKY: Now, Dr. Golland?
DR. MICHELLE GOLLAND, PSY.D. CONTRIBUTOR, MOMLOGIC.COM:
PINSKY: People tend to get a little confused.
PINSKY: I think it's because we -- in this program, we're talking about gender and sexuality as two separate topics.
PINSKY: And they're both kind of on the move here at this desk tonight. And I think it confuses people.
PINSKY: How do they understand this?
GOLLAND: Well, I think what's so important to understand is sexual orientation is different from sexual identity -- is different than gender identity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.
GOLLAND: Sexual orientation is one's longing and romantic and passionate, connected feelings.
PINSKY: Your drives.
GOLLAND: Your drives toward either the same sex or the opposite sex or both sexes or no sex -- I mean or not.
PINSKY: And gender identity?
GOLLAND: And gender identity is an enduring sense of self. I am a female. I feel myself to be a female, right?
But transgendered people have the physical parts of a male, but their gender identity and what they feel inside is female.
PINSKY: Got you.
We're going to continue this conversation with a brave 15-year- old and his mother. They're here. Their moving story about his life, the identity issues that they are both confronting. This is next.
You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.
PINSKY: And welcome back.
We're joined now by 15-year-old Ryan and his mother, Fran.
Ryan was born a girl and went by the name of Sara until recently. Friends use male pronouns when referring to him, but mom still calls Ryan her daughter.
Thanks for joining us, you guys.
FRAN, RYAN'S MOTHER: Thanks for having us.
PINSKY: Now, Ryan, you're 15, is that correct?
RYAN, TRANSITIONING FROM FEMALE TO MALE: Yes. I'm 15.
PINSKY: Do you get disturbed when your mom still refers to you as a female?
RYAN: Sometimes I say he under my breath or -- but, I don't know. I can't really correct her now.
PINSKY: When did you realize you were different?
RYAN: When I was a little kid, I realized that something was just missing. I didn't really feel complete.
PINSKY: Did you say something to your mom right away or your dad?
And if you did, how did you do that?
RYAN: No, I didn't say anything to anyone. I kept to myself.
PINSKY: Was that hard?
RYAN: Not really because I didn't really know exactly what it was. I thought it was a normal thing to feel.
PINSKY: When did you first realize what this was?
RYAN: I think two years ago someone -- I met someone who was transgendered and I was like, well, that must be what I am. That's how I feel.
PINSKY: And Fran, mom, what was your reaction when -- I guess I should say Sara to you -- when Sara came to you about this issue?
FRAN: I have to say I was supportive. I did tell her that there's really not much that could be done about that right now and maybe it's better to kind of put it on the back burner and not worry so much about what your gender is.
PINSKY: Did you know what she was talking about at the time?
FRAN: No, I really didn't understand so much. At first, she came out to me as being lesbian, and that really was not a very big deal to me at all. You know, it's my child. And no matter how she feels, I will always love her and be supportive of her.
PINSKY: But as a parent, it's -- but parenting is a tough job and you can be sort of anxious about being a child -- about having a child. So I would imagine when Sara came to you about this, it provoked some anxiety. How did she present it, and how did you react?
FRAN: She brought it to me by calling me outside to sit on the front porch, and she was crying, sobbing crying, because she feels different. And by different, what do you mean by different? So she expressed to me that she feels that she is a boy trapped in a girl's body. And --
PINSKY: Ryan, was that tough? I imagine that was very painful.
RYAN: Yes. I was crying a lot. I really didn't know how to tell my mom, but I just felt like at that moment I had to tell her.
PINSKY: Do you want to have a surgery to have your gender status reassigned, Ryan?
RYAN: Eventually, I'd like to get top surgery. But I'm not so sure about bottom surgery, just because technology hasn't really advanced that much yet.
PINSKY: And then, mom, how do you feel about that?
FRAN: Yes, whatever she feels comfortable doing.
PINSKY: Do you ever worry that --
FRAN: I just want her to be happy.
PINSKY: I understand that. Of course, we all do as parents. But, you know, it's got to be confusing, anxiety provoking. And do you ever worry that this is a phase and she'll regret having the surgery?
FRAN: I do think it could be a phase. It's when you're 15, you know, the world is a little bit confusing.
PINSKY: Well, and it's --
FRAN: Just for your average 15-year-old.
PINSKY: Fran, it's interesting when you responded that way, several of our panelists here in the studio sort of cringed like saying, no, this is something we lived with for our whole life. So, we'll continue talking about it. As a parent, you can understand -- I can understand why you think well, maybe this will change, maybe it will go away. But it is something that does tend to persist.
I want to thank both of you and wish you the best of luck. Ryan, it's pretty cool having a mom that you can go to and loves you to matter what. So you've got a good situation there.
RYAN: Thank you.
PINSKY: You're quite welcome.
We will continue this discussion right after the break.
PINSKY: And we are talking about the transgender world, and hope you get a better understanding of what this is all about. So, Dr. Golland -- our panel is still here, obviously. I want to pick up the conversation where we left off with Fran and Ryan, which is what to do with adolescents that begin to step up these some to symptemotologies (ph).
GOLLAND: One of the things I would like to highlight is, if your child is a teenager and they come to you with this, you've done something right as a parent.
PINSKY: The fact that they feel open enough to come to you.
GOLLAND: The fact that they feel safe and open and are honest with you, that's enormous. And so you have to really, really accept that they are sort of trying to unburden themselves, and that they feel safe enough with you to do so.
PINSKY: Is it a phase?
GOLLAND: I would say most likely no.
PINSKY: You guys, the panel, agree?
PINSKY: Isis says no. She is still with us.
KING: Isis doesn't agree.
PINSKY: Did you guys ever go through a period where you presented it to someone and they said, oh, it will be OK; it's just a phase? Family, friends?
RASMUSSEN: Actually, my experience is -- it wasn't necessarily with me, but I had somebody that I hired to work in my business who claimed to be transsexual, and she at the time was 17 or 18 and was surgery tracked and ready to go. And two years later, I ran across her, and he had fathered a couple of children and was back as a male.
PINSKY: Well, I've seen some data that sometimes in pyscho- therapy people lose the desire for surgery. Isis, you say, yes, people told you it was just a phase?
KING: You hear that. Especially I'm, like -- I'm African- American. In our culture, let alone being gay, being born in the wrong body is something really not heard of until now. So, of course, you hear things like it's a phase and you're going to get through it. And I'm like, no it's not a phase.
But it's something you have to tell yourself. And that really is one of those things you don't really have to prove to others. You have to figure for yourself that that's just really for you. So, I did that obviously.
PINSKY: I'm going to go around the table now and get some final thoughts. Alexis?
ARQUETTE: It's very important to me that people accept me as a transgendered female. But it's ridiculous to a lot of people and I understand that. Men and women are very, very similar. I think the closer we can get to one another, the more we'll understand a lot of these issues.
SALLANS: I think it's interesting, because growing up a female, if you're a Tom Boy, that's acceptable. Versus growing up and being more effeminate, you're a sissy. That's looked down upon.
PINSKY: Pejorative term.
SALLANS: So it was a little bit confusing for me, because I was accepted as a Tom Boy growing up, but that wasn't good enough for me. There was something else that was not feeling right. I was very fortunate at age 24 to understand that I was transgendered and to move forward with it. PINSKY: Stu?
RASMUSSEN: I actually grew up being a nerd, so I didn't worry about being described as a sissy. Honestly, where I am right now, I'm having more fun than a drunken cowboy with a brand new pickup.
PINSKY: Isis, you get the very final thought.
KING: I'm happy that this topic is coming up more and more, because there are so many young people that even come to me and tell me, you know, that this is the way they feel, but they're scared to tell their parents. I'm happy it's out there more. The more you see it, the more you realize it is normal and that people are born like this, and it will be easier for the next generation to come up and tell their parents, like the young guy on here -- like, when I was 15, I couldn't -- I couldn't do that. I didn't come out and tell my mother until I was 20. By that time, I was already finished college, and ready to move out, and move to New York.
So, you know, I'm happy that the children are able to do that now. And hopefully with this and with more other shows and just being out there more, that it will be easier.
PINSKY: Well, I think you're right. This has been a very, very interesting discuss. I want to thank all of you for being here and being so open.
And now, move over Jon and Kate. We're switching topics entirely. There's a new group of sextuplets. The word sex is in here at least. There's a new group of sextuplets on the block. And they are going to join us here in 60 seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Tonight's hero is a lifesaver. Andrea Ivory survived breast cancer, which was a powerful motivation for starting the Florida Breast Health Initiative. Here's Andrea.
ANDREA IVORY, FLORIDA BREAST HEALTH INITIATIVE: Throughout my ordeal and recovery --
We're going to make a difference and save some lives.
-- I thought about those women who were losing their fight against breast cancer because they lacked access to treatment and awareness about the disease.
KING: So how does your program work?
IVORY: We target single family households with median incomes of between 30,000 to 40,000 dollars. And we take teams of volunteers in. We knock door to door. We provide each household with a valuable information package.
You need to know what's normal and abnormal, including the early detection guidelines for breast cancer. Sites where you can get low and no-cost screening.
Then when we identify a woman that is 35 years or older, our dedicated volunteers make appointments on the spot for a free mammogram.
KING: What's the best way to get young women to become proactive about this?
IVORY: Early detection is key. That's our mantra. That's what we herald as we go door to door. We want to make sure that every woman, first of all, is aware of the importance of breast health, and they know the early detection guidelines for breast cancer. And they also have the tools to remain cancer-free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Dr. Drew Pinsky, sitting in for Larry tonight. Thank you, Larry. Joining us now are the Masches, mom, Jenny, and dad, Brian. They are here. And we'll meet their six children in just a little bit. The Masches have a show called "Raising Sextuplets." It's on We TV. And their children recently celebrated their 2nd birthday.
Here is a typical day for the Masche if there is such a thing as a typical day when you have half a dozen kids. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Wow, they are so cute. Here they are, the parents, mom -- sorry, dad, full respect to the moms, because they lay themselves out on behalf of multiples. I'll ask a broad, sweeping question to start with. How do you survive this?
JENNY MASCHE, "RAISING SEXTUPLETS": Lots of prayers.
J. MASCHE: Lots of family. And for me Diet Coke probably.
PINSKY: Diet Coke.
BRIAN MASCHE, "RAISING SEXTUPLETS": I was going to say good sex and great booze.
J. MASCHE: Brian Masche!
PINSKY: We'll have to get into this a little bit. The cameras are actually rolling.
J. MASCHE: He is so kidding.
B. MASCHE: I'm just kidding. PINSKY: You might turn to that one day. I understand. I will tell you a little bit more when I get to discuss my own history. I have triplets myself, so I feel very bonded to you guys.
B. MASCHE: Absolutely.
PINSKY: Triplet parenting -- multiple parenting is something that bonds parents together very deeply. I feel a great affinity for you guys. I will tell you, Brian, my hair started at your color, and it turned this color after the first six months.
B. MASCHE: I actually didn't have a singe gray hair up until a few years ago.
PINSKY: So I know the show chronicles starting about year one, is that right?
J. MASCHE: Actually, the -- this show?
B. MASCHE: This show, yes.
PINSKY: "The Sextuplets." You had a previous show, right, that was sort of a documentary about your pregnancy.
J. MASCHE: Absolutely.
B. MASCHE: Yes, a one-hour documentary.
PINSKY: Did that go through the delivery and the first six months?
B. MASCHE: Yes.
PINSKY: The first six months I found were the most barely survivable let's call it.
J. MASCHE: Totally.
PINSKY: Although people don't appreciate it, there is always somebody awake. In your case, not just somebody, but usually two somebodies. How did you get through that first six months?
J. MASCHE: It was really, really tough. I think the toughest thing for us was our marriage. We were -- you're exhausted. You have these six little people who are needy 24/7. And we just didn't know how to get along, because it was just was overwhelming.
So, it's kind of a blur now that they're two.
PINSKY: Yes, yes.
J. MASCHE: But I do remember just trying to make it through every minute, you know? OK, let's make it one more minute. OK, one more hour. OK, one more day.
PINSKY: It is survival mode. And when we come back, should the Masches, in fact, be worried now about the presence of TV cameras in their children's lives? That's what they're up against. We'll talk about that next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. MASCHE: Where are you going? Taking a mud bath.
When they're sick, it's just crowd control and refereeing fights and trying to keep them happy. It's a lot of work when you're older.
No, grant, no, no, no, no!
B. MASCHE: All the kids, they got muddy and dirty and nasty. I wasn't having any part of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: We are talking to the Masches about their new show, which features their six children, "The Sextuplets." I've got triplets, so I know something about multiples, but, for me, it's even hard to imagine six babies all at once, probably because I know how impossible triplets are. Given the mess right now around "Jon & Kate Plus 8," a lot of attention on them, a lot of concern about what the cameras have done to the kids. Do you have those concerns? Do you worry about brining cameras into your lives?
B. MASCHE: Dr. Drew, I think we have a little bit differing opinion. I'm not quite as worried as Jenny, I think. Our situation is very different. Our cameras are only around five days out of the month, about six to eight hours a day. They work completely around the children's nap schedule, around their feeding schedules.
It's really quite different. In fact, I think really the only thing that we have similar is the fact that we are parents of sextuplets.
PINSKY: So the Jon and Kate series, they follow them all the time. Is that right, or for the most part? Yours is a very isolated, contained.
J. MASCHE: That's their job. We have full-time jobs. This is kind of like a fun documentary on the side.
PINSKY: So thus far, you have no ill feelings about the experience?
B. MASCHE: Not at all, no.
PINSKY: What do you say to people -- let me ask a tougher question -- to people who say that is exploitative to kids to put them on TV like that? J. MASCHE: I don't think that I don't feel that way at all. My kids are my life. I felt for one second that is was exploitive, we wouldn't do it. But for us, I know that growing up, since I was ten years old -- we had all these documentaries growing up as a family, with professional footage. I think I would think it is really cool. It is an opportunity that very few people get to experience.
PINSKY: Nothing is being taken away from them as a result of the cameras?
J. MASCHE: No.
PINSKY: Are you paid for it?
B. MASCHE: Yes, there is a modest compensation. Obviously, you don't get compensated for interviews and news events. But there is compensation involved for the series.
PINSKY: I hope so.
J. MASCHE: You have to have a little. That's partly what helps me so that I'm working 12 days a month, instead of 17 days a month.
PINSKY: You are the primary bread winner.
B. MASCHE: No, we both are.
PINSKY: And you are a physicians assistant.
B. MASCHE: And I'm in pharmaceutical sales.
PINSKY: OK. So you're both -- how do you balance work? Do you have difficulty determining who stays home and who works?
B. MASCHE: We have been pretty lucky. We have a really great support structure with family and friends. She works nights at the emergency room. I work during the days.
PINSKY: Wait a minute, I got to stop you. The singlet -- we'll speak disparagingly about the singlet parents out there for a second. The singlet parents out there think, OK, well, somebody stays home and somebody goes to work. With multiples, you are never man-to-man. You are always in a zone.
B. MASCHE: Zone defense.
PINSKY: It's a zone defense. But the best -- you go below four on six and it starts to get unsafe. So who is in there with you all the time? Is it just family or is there community that comes in?
J. MASCHE: No.
B. MASCHE: Just family and friends. In the very, very beginning we had people from our church that would come over and help out.
PINSKY: Think about it, normally, when people have a singlet, there's two parents or a parents and one child. You need 12 people.
PINSKY: You laugh --
J. MASCHE: You get really good at it. I'm home alone with them during the day. I can do it.
B. MASCHE: I can handle it in the evening.
J. MASCHE: We have safety measures. You have doors that they can't get into. You have doors that are locked. You have a backyard that has a wall, so there is no way to get out.
PINSKY: I understand what you are saying. We used to do that. Fence everything and pad everything. Turn them lose. Aren't you worried that people would become critical? Say, you are not doing enough parenting, not involved enough?
J. MASCHE: We are there 24/7. I'm with them, all six of them -- I don't ever get anything done until they go to bed.
PINSKY: You are looking at the sextuplets in the green room. I want you to meet Savannah, Bailey, Molly, Grant, Hope and Blake when we come back. Stick around. You'll see firsthand and we'll experience them right here in the studio. Be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. MASCHE: Be careful, honey. No. No. No. Wait, you are sitting on your sister.
I don't think this is going to work.
B. MASCHE: OK. I will put them on speaker.
J. MASCHE: Hi, Savannah.
B. MASCHE: Cole and Blake.
J. MASCHE: Mommy's stuck. I have babies hanging off of me everywhere.
B. MASCHE: What's the matter, Molly? Molly, don't squish yourself behind there. Why are you doing that?
There you go. No. No. You have to keep your hands away. No. No. No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: We are talking to the Masches about their two year old sextuplets, and their show called "Raising Sextuplets."
With us now are Savannah, Bailey, Molly, Grant, Cole and Blank. I think I have Grant and Blake, don't I?
J. MASCHE: You do.
PINSKY: They are so beautiful and so happy. Look at them, they are fantastic. They're absolutely spectacular. Obviously a lot of attention on extreme parenting. Did you guys have any opinion about Octomom?
J. MASCHE: I think it is overwhelming. I can't imagine --
PINSKY: That is a different situation.
J. MASCHE: Totally different.
B. MASCHE: Different.
PINSKY: Imagine that many kids and being a single parent.
B. MASCHE: I don't know how she's going to do it. I really have no idea.
PINSKY: Look how beautiful these kids are. They are so well behaved. I would like to do something for them. How about bringing out a birthday cake to celebrate their second --
J. MASCHE: Whoa.
PINSKY: Mom, we are not going to help you with the weight loss. You haven't had to lose any weight. You lost everything on the table.
J. MASCHE: Yes. Exactly. Thank you so much. This is such a treat.
PINSKY: You guys deserve a little bit. Thank you for joining us here. I appreciate that.
J. MASCHE: It's such a pleasure to meet you. Yours are 17. I have hope.
PINSKY: They're 17 years old. One of the best thing we can do for multiple parents is show is them you can get through it. You can survive it. You can be happy. You can have a marriage that works and makes you happy, and kids that are great and healthy.
Dad, one of the things that happens -- speaking of all the weight and all the carbohydrates here -- that multiple dads tend to gain more weight.
B. MASCHE: Yes, it did happen, actually.
PINSKY: It's a funny thing. It is a nesting phenomenon, where dads gain weight during the woman's pregnancy. Multiple dads are particularly bad at this. How much did you gain?
B. MASCHE: That's addressed in our show. I gained about 35 pounds. I have taken ten off. So I got about 25 to go.
PINSKY: So mom has lost -- hasn't gained a pound, and dad gains 25.
B. MASCHE: I know.
PINSKY: You have to be around to put these kids through college. Lose that weight. Is there one piece of advice somebody pregnant with multiples now should hear from you guys?
B. MASCHE: You can do it. You can do it, no matter what.
J. MASCHE: You are going to hit walls. You are going to hit daily walls. You just take every single hour. Don't look ahead at tomorrow. Get through today. If you get through today, then you'll be able to get through --
PINSKY: In terms of maintaining your marriage, any particular --
B. MASCHE: We have a few rules.
J. MASCHE: We have lots of rules.
PINSKY: Which is?
B. MASCHE: Like don't let the sun go down on your anger. Always go to bed in the same bed together. Don't spend more than three days apart from each other. I don't have female friends that I spend time with alone. She doesn't spend time with male friends alone.
J. MASCHE: We meet with our pastor and his wife on a regular basis, just to have somebody hold us accountable.
J. MASCHE: And date night.
B. MASCHE: And date night.
J. MASCHE: Huge thing, date night. You have to have that.
PINSKY: When you leave, did you have difficulty leaving the kids behind?
J. MASCHE: It is still difficult.
PINSKY: They will start hanging on to your legs.
B. MASCHE: We realize that we have to be healthy for each other. If we are not healthy for each other, there is no way we can be healthy for these kids.
PINSKY: You really are the foundation of this family. They need to learn going and coming.
J. MASCHE: Yes.
PINSKY: You can go and come --
PINSKY: By the way, thank you for giving me the -- Blake wants daddy. Thank you for giving me the kids who don't like cake.
J. MASCHE: That is very unusual.
B. MASCHE: Come here Blakester.
PINSKY: You're my buddy. Well, you guys, thanks for joining us.
J. MASCHE: Thank you so much.
PINSKY: "Raising Sextuplets," We TV. Thank you for letting us be a part of your life, even for just a few minutes. They are beautiful kids. Congratulations.
B. MASCHE: Thank you, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: I want to thank Larry for letting me sit in for him tonight, and his staff for making this always just a wonderful experience. Larry, thank you personally. Now it is time for "AC 360." Anderson?