This letter from me appeared in the Portland Mercury on May 1, 2008.

RE: the letter from "Douglas" [Letters, April 24]: Like you and me, Thomas Beatie has an innate sense of gender identity, and a mental map of what his brain thinks his body should be. Unlike you (I assume), Beatie and I have bodies whose topography is at odds with our self-knowledge. Like you and me, Beatie dresses and acts so as to reinforce his internal identity: That's gender presentation, and everyone does it (usually without thinking much about it). Unlike you (I assume), Beatie and I have also had to take certain steps to buttress our gender presentations by altering our secondary sex characteristics. The only difference between Beatie or me and the next guy on the street is that it's taken a little more effort for the likes of us to make our presentation match our identities. When you meet a new person, you observe their gender presentation and categorize them as a man or a woman accordingly. You don't categorize them by looking at their penis, at their vagina, at their chromosomes, or by asking them to prove their ability or lack of ability to reproduce, or the lack thereof. I assure you that our masculinity does not in any way diminish yours. Only you can do that.

--Tim Chevalier