Thursday, 29 November 2012

telecon with Helene...

Helene called me back today after receiving my message regarding my not pursuing the therapy. She wanted to understand my reasoning which I was only too happy to explain. After I had gone through the same series of points I outlined in my previous post, she understood and agreed with my logic. Interestingly near the end of our discussion, she described me as being gender variant which is a description I use in my blog title but never really took overly to heart. Perhaps it’s a good fit because I am not so disphoric that I need modify my body but just female enough for that side to require a substantial outlet. However, I don’t need to define myself to such a degree in order to be satisfied.

She reminded me about the lawyer Micheline Montreuil who lives as a woman but has never undergone surgery or even taken hormones. I suppose that would be more of a role model for a person like myself.

Change of strategy

I have been reflecting about the prospect of entering therapy and last night I made a conscious decision to forego it. It was based on the following thinking:

• I don’t need to have SRS or even take hormones
• I can live as a female without doing either.
• I want to continue to provide a male role model for my son.
• My disphoria is not debilitating enough to propel me to change anything.

Plus what would the therapy do for me at this point? Probably not that much with the additional challenge of sitting in group sessions with aspiring transitioners who might tempt me to do something I would later regret.

The rethinking was also prompted by a meeting I had a couple of nights ago with Ana Alva, who is a transsexual woman barely over 30 years of age. She works at a trans drop in center run by the government and helps others in their struggles. She actually had some reservations about the program run by the hospital and during our conversation I began to realize she might be right. Leaving our meeting that evening I mulled things over. I finally left a message for Helene last night informing her of my decision to forego the therapy and possibly contact her later should my need to enter it arise.

Right now I feel this is the right thing and I feel bolstered by a surge of positive thinking I am having the last 2 days. Yes my recent posts have seemed erratic and contradictory, but I feel that the questioning and struggling is starting to pay dividends. I am actually formulating a way forward slowly; one that will allow me to deal with my disphoria in a positive way and have it infringe as little as possible on my current way of life.

Were I to be 25 years old again I might have opted for what Ana has done, but at this stage I need to live in reality. What is past is past.

However I will be calling Helene in the future when I require someone to talk to regarding my GID.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

first therapy session

Yesterday's meeting with Helene (my new therapist) went well. I find her kind and inviting. She was also, not unexpectedly, well versed in the latest literature on the subject of AGP, GID et al. and is more up to speed on the latest thinking. She actually told me that Ray Blanchard has progressed in his ideas since his early 90's writings - something which surprised me. She also (quite rightly) told me she was not there to decide anything or convince me of anything and that I should not trust her until she has earned that trust. She was also shocked that I had progressed to where I was with little to no help. Helene thought I had been on hormones for years but I quickly dispelled that while taking it as a distinct compliment.

So I am there for group and individual therapy and that's all; I know I need to clear up my thoughts and to do that I need help so that's good.

By now I feel that my crossdressing is a symptom of a desire to be feminine and, as jingles commented recently on one of my posts, a way to get a sense of well being. Over time my mental definition of my behavior as a fetish activity has been destroyed. I now believe I was using that connection as a way to attempt to control it. After all if it was only fetish then all I need do is dampen my impulses. But then in failing, my efforts were rewarded with constant frustration.

But putting my dressing into the context of GID, it raises the stakes. While it removes the culpability and shame, it introduces a new complexity in the level of management required. It can only be effective when I have exorcised all of my demons; the do's and dont's I have ingested all my life. With those barriers removed I can look at my disphoria with more objectivity; hopefully all the more in a group therapy setting where your sacred cows are openly questioned by others.

So I left the session with Helene heartened and positive.
I followed that up with this morning's discussion with HR. It went extremely well and it was explained to me that, should I feel the need to opt for transition, the company would stand behind me.

It was very cathartic to be able to hear that.

Monday, 26 November 2012

the way forward....

Today I meet the gender therapist and, depending on how the discussion proceeds, I may embark on a 2 year journey to find gender congruence. There is a cost for this because while Quebec pays for surgery, the treatments preceeding SRS are not covered by the health system.

However, my aim is to come to a point where the disphoria is more manageable. That could imply living full time with limited hormone usage and no need not proceed any further. I am hoping this is a worst case scenario so that I can continue to play a male role in the life of my son who incidentally is having strabismus surgery this coming Friday to correct a slight misalignment of his eyes.
He is my primary concern in my gender struggles. He is sensitive and has already displayed discomfort at the idea of my crossdressing. I had not intended to divulge anything at this stage in his life, but my well meaning ex-gf urged me into candor in front of both my children. In some ways I dont regret their exposure to this issue but I also now know their comfort level: dad dresses but we dont want to see it. This is highly acceptable to me in fact. However in discussing trans issues one day upon seeing a program on television, they let me know that they would be extremely perturbed were I ever to consider SRS.

So I am left with a delicate balance to follow. And should there be medication required, my understanding of hormones is that besides limited breast development, softening of the skin and some body hair reduction, there are not drastic changes in the physical sense especially if a small dosage is administered. So while this is a scenario I do not favor, I am preparing for that possibility to arise but only if it helps still my disphoria.

Conversely there is the status quo of living part time in female mode and adapting to that. This is my preferred option but it requires tweaking. The therapy will maybe serve a purpose in this scenario as well.

Work is also an important consideration and thus I have decided to have a preliminary confidential discussion with the head of HR to guage their reaction. I am limiting this discussion to the head of the department who is someone I have known for 10
years and trust.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

something that needs addressing

Let's be clear. I have never been a fetish transvestite. The reason I think this is because the innocent crossdressing of my early youth was so completely devoid of any sexual overtones. It was only as I got older and it came unannounced that I became horrified and disgusted. There begins the cycle of embracing and purging that so many of us are familiar with. Other people just like me have transitioned or at least lived full time: Virginia Prince. Anne Lawrence, Susannah Valenti and others who may not have fit the mold of the classic TS model.

Maybe I should just be satisfied with this scenario and deal with it as I must since I think given my age and my life situation, it would be best to leave my body alone.

What is left now is to get just the right amount of professional help to aid me in my own thought process towards a measure of mental peace around this issue. To be happy somewhere between the closeted crossdresser and the transexual.

I am indebted to the treatment I underwent 5 years ago in helping to achieve self acceptance. Now I need to put a stopper on the desire to do something unnecessary and potentially wreckless. Whether it's paraphilia or not it no longer matters. It still needs to be treated somehow in the absence of an outright cure.

I would like to one day understand where this early fascination came from for me. Not because it will change anything but because it will be welcome information and perhaps vindication for someone who felt so bad for so long about doing something so unimportant.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

the tipping point

What is the tipping point? What is the trigger that tells the trans person: that's it i'm a woman and it's time to do something about it. We have all known people who lean heavily towards the opposite gender both in mannerism and affinity of thought and yet they have neither the forethought nor the inclination to tamper with their bodies. Must there not be something in the trans brain that is unique; something in the wiring? Because in the end no human being is exclusively male or female but a mixture of both. Therefore it is possible there is some faulty wiring in the brains of people like myself. Whatever it is, it does not let us rest until we've dealt with it. We crossdream, crossdress and we have SRS in an attempt to deal with this disconnect.

Has nature made a mistake? After all we are born either genetically male or female (i am discounting intersex). I was also born with a combination brain of male and female so why should not that be good enough?

I have problems with the argument that if one is a woman in their brain, one must change their body to match. I have trouble agreeing with it and yet its calling me right now to some extent. Like many late transitioning people I am getting that sense of urgency about dealing with my disphoria. When I come home from work I change into women's clothes and yet I am the same person but things feel just a little bit better. But then its not about the clothes.

Last night I came home after running some errands. I had been dressed like any other woman except that I had worn a skirt and heels. One of the vestiges from my AG past that has remained with me is masturbation before removing the clothing. When I was young it would come uninvited and now I need to force it because the dressing does not have much sexual significance. So last night I consciously refrained from masturbating and simply removed my clothing and makeup and slipped into my pajamas. That release used to be my trigger for a surge of guilt and then a purge. Now there is simply a soft landing to earth after that evening's heady aspirations of becoming joanna full time. The guilt is gone and the well being remains. I don't know why I have continued this practice but as of last night I have decided to discontinue it. I need to make sure that my identity as joanna is not related to exclusively sexuality, even if instinctively I know this already to be the case.

The masturbation used to be my escape back to maleness and maybe I have continued it as protection from the encroaching tide of my female persona; a way to keep joanna at bay. I only have anecdotal evidence that late transitioning transexuals have this type of history; some of this contained in Anne Lawrence's site. I used to also think that this type of behavior disqualified you from being a true transexual woman. Now I am not so sure.

Still much work and much reflection to come.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

confiding in my mother

I had a conversation with my mother today over the phone. I had called her last night and left a message so she was calling me back. We spoke for a few minutes about my kids and my ex-wife and then the focus turned to me and how I was doing. I confided that i've been struggling and that I needed to see my doctor about my disphoria.

She really does get it now my mother. After the initial shock of 4 years ago wore off, she started to see that this is a deep and complicated issue. She's also seen enough Dr. Phil shows et al. to get a sense of how families struggle with this unwelcome gift. How sometimes the stories turn sour and in others everything works. Mike Penner became Christine Daniels only to revert back and then commit suicide. Lots of ugly stories like that one. Sad also because they could be prevented with the right amount of social education and putting the right systems in place to allow more seamless transitions in the workplace.

So as we talked and I mentioned the possibility that my own tale might lead to transition, she took me seriously and listened. And while I fight it tooth and nail, if it came down to my mental health being compromised, I would inevitably take the path of least resistance. I'd rather parent my kids as a balanced woman than as a hopelessly disphoric male.

My mother understood me even if it's not entirely what she wanted to hear. I love her very much.

got disphoria??

I read the following on a gender disphoria board discussion and it freaked me out ever so slightly:

"I figured out my GID around 44. Before then, I just knew that I was "different" in some way, I did'nt fit in with a lot of people, and I was'nt like most men. After 44, I was able to finally put a label on it - GID. Since then, I have experienced the ebb and flow of GID. Some days it's not even on the radar, some days it's almost overwhelning. I identify as androgyne, but I've also allowed for the possibilty that my GID may come to a point where I have to do something about it. Even though I've dipped my toe in the estrogen pool, for now I can quench my GID with crossdressing"

Except for the estrogen reference, this is me exactly! even right down to the age. I am increasingly certain now that I do suffer from GID and from everything I have read it's only going to get worse with age. I need to address it post haste. My doctor has already gotten back to me and he will set up an appointment soon.

I don't really understand why GID becomes so consuming with time but it probably is brought on by a combination of avoidance, decreased testosterone levels and the realization that life is short and we cannot continue to live a lie all our lives. We cannot pretend anymore just to measure up to society's expectation of what we should be.

This does not change the fact that I don't want to transition even if I am a woman. By seeing my doctor I may be able to devise a way even if it means going on a low dosage of hormones. Although I doubt that would be permitted without more gender therapy which is next on the list of to dos.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

hell bent on self destruction....

Perhaps some of my posts talk about my female persona in a way that might give the impression that I am putting on an act when I'm being Joanna. In fact quite the opposite is true in that I am being myself in the purest sense by lifting the mask that I've learned to wear over my lifetime. I become less inhibited and open up to people more and feel a true sense of freedom. I'm not being an actor in a play but simply letting my inner femininity shine through. It's been very liberating to do that.

On the other hand there's something not right. I can't put my finger on it yet but this is all too compulsive. So I'm either a woman in denial or a compulsive crossdresser. Either one of those choices suck because I want to be neither. I want not to need to crossdress. But I've tried everything and living alone and giving myself permission to dress has created a monster. Women don't need to crossdress, they just get dressed.

And meanwhile I'm stuck in a TG wasteland with nowhere to go and at the root dissatisfied with the double life. I should be happy to have found balance but I am not really enthused. At least living alone is proving to be ok as well as setting my mind on the idea that this is the best thing for a person like me.

Anne Lawrence thinks she is ill and her solution was to transition. Strange recipe with someone who self diagnoses as having AG. The whole thing is mighty confusing to me as Anne goes to great lengths on her website to show that many late transitioning transsexuals have AG. So where does that leave me in finding some peace? Not sure.

Today I had horrible disphoria - so bad that I emailed my doctor to let him know I need to see him early in the new year about this issue.

It's like one of the transitioners that I know who used the phrase to describe her own situation ",it was either a bullet or a dress". That phrase has stayed with me for months now because sometimes I feel it applies to me. Almost as if fighting were futile in the end. How I hate being this confused.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

my public identity as Joanna

Irrespective of my internal turmoil, I am relishing the public persona that is Joanna. The merchants and friends who only know me as a woman are helping me to bring validity to my female side. This morning as I arrived at the cathedral for the 8 am mass I was greeted by a lady who stands outside asking for some help. She has seen me elsewhere but now knows and expects that I will be there on certain Sundays. She sees me coming and calls out my name. We have a little chat and I give her some change from my purse. She's just one of the people who don't know there's a male underneath the clothes and makeup.

Then after the service I go to a little Starbucks closely where the barista asks me about my kids and my husband. She's very pleasant and I appreciate the banter realizing how different it is between two women.

I don't ever want to take that for granted. Today I prayed that I will find some peace and balance, for the my father whose been gone for many years and for my children.

beyond dressing up

There was a time when my dressing up was just about that; ie. going through the exercise of putting together a presentation so that I could go about my business undetected and unread. But with the purge that followed there was no afterword, no attempt to figure out where it was all stemming from. What's been revealing about this period is that in allowing myself to dress I can move past the mechanics of the clothes and makeup and into the feelings that impel me to present as a female. It is a movement away from the surface and into deeper exploration.

After all, our psyche has a lot to say to us if we listen. The problem lies in moving past the static of our upbringing, prejudices and programming and examine the pure thought underneath. Not an easy task because a lot of elements are virtually hardwired at this point. Like a painter removing old layers of paint we can begin to lift off layer by layer all of this baggage.

This has been for me the biggest challenge and the reason why my posts waiver in intensity and intent. Sometimes I am sure where I am headed and then something happens that day to change my course.

It is essential that I move beyond the dressing up to the growing up of real life. Otherwise this becomes a pointless game of hiding who you are and playing adult pretend. I am too old to play those games and too disinterested. The crossdressing serves its purpose for now in diffusing the intensity of my disphoria. It may not be the most desirable solution as a final result in how I lead my life.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

the battle rages

There's a battle raging for control of my gender identity. I am increasingly feeling like a woman and may come to that conclusion. That need not change my plan of attack since for me it's more about what's between the ears than the plumbing between your legs. I can live my life honestly as a female without surgery. I no longer care about what a potential life partner might think as it is my life. As I have said, there will be no search so why worry about it? Best to be true to myself and come to a happy equilibrium.

There is one thing though that makes me curious. Might the blocking or elimination of testosterone in my body make me feel more like the person I was meant to be. It's not about breasts either, it's about feeling grounded and content and in congruency between mind and body.

dinner with the crossdresser and his wife

I am not in the habit of meeting a lot of trans people in person. My history with such encounters has been mixed but since this is someone I had corresponded with (albeit sparingly) over the last 6 years or so I decided to accept an invitation to dinner. I had met this couple once before accidentally in a dress shop last summer when I was still with my gf and we made loose plans to meet up at some point in the future. Last night was to be the culmination of a few weeks worth of planning.

I met them at their hotel and we walked over to our restaurant which was within walking distance - a very modern looking continental tapas bistro.

The conversation flowed and as we compared notes on our experiences and the childhood origins of our crossdressing, I began to realize just how different we are. If there is a spectrum to the transgender world then she is near the beginning whereas I seem to be somewhere between crossdresser and transsexual. She was more drag shows and clubs and I was June Cleaver doing her groceries and going to the mall. Whereas I have been making friends with women, she has been meeting other gurls in gay bars.

It was a startling difference of approach and internal feelings and it brought home to me how far I am from the conventional crossdresser stereotype. I told her all of this and we understood each other to some extent and yet we couldn't be more different. In the end it was more about three people having a social experience than about finding common ground. When I mentioned autogynephelia theory or Ray Blanchard I got blank stares. I was ok with this because they were a perfectly lovely couple but on the root issues we could not relate and I was not going to reveal my current angst in detail. This is a person enjoying and revelling in the joys of dressing and happily doing so maybe once a month. I am dressing daily and struggling with disphoria.

It was a really fun evening but the stark contrast between us stayed with me well past arriving home.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

more work to do

I was on a crossdresser board this morning and read the following passage in response to a query about managing and controling crossdressing desires:

"the only way to control is to make it a conscious choice instead of letting it remain a compulsion. To do that you need to get in touch with yourself and your feelings and not be ashamed or afraid of them. Once that happens you control the reins of the process"

I think there's a lot of truth in that statement even if does not offer a perfect solution. I suspect that I may not really be as accepting of myself as I think I am. My worry about a mythical future partner being critical of who I am instead of embracing all of me - crossdressing included - is clouding my thought process. Until I can rid myself of all vestiges of my shame, I won't be truly free and able to become perfectly whole. I have come so far that I sometimes lull myself into thinking that I have arrived at my target when clearly I have'nt quite gotten there. If this is an integral part of who I am (whether disease or gift) I need to claim it in it's entirety. I need not see it as a blessing necessarily but not as something to be ashamed of either. I will also keep working on my neediness for companionship as it is
clouding my judgement and my ability to repair my psyche.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

all about the tone

Readers of my blog will undoubtedly note that I am in a period of questioning and flux. Therefore the tone can be rather negative a lot of the time. I don't mean for this to be the case but I am hard pressed to find positives at times to the self acceptance that I'm trying to adhere to. Each step forward brings a new series of questions and trepidation about what to do next. It's like tiptoeiing through a minefield and hoping that you still have all your limbs on the other side. How far does one take this and what should be your limit.

Today I found myself staring at a woman in human resources. Her name is Therese and she's quite striking. But then a feeling of hopelessness went through me when I thought the better of what I was thinking. It was an exercise in futility knowing full well the uphill battle I would be facing were I to enter into anything resembling a relationship. So the desire must be stripped away completely and be quenched with something else. Because my construction as a human being goes against the natural flow of relations between females and males. I seem to be both and neither which leaves me precisely nowhere. It is during these moments that your desire to rid yourself of your "specialness" that the trans community tries to sell you on crescendos. That special nature is more of an affliction that must be managed. Holding my breath and hoping it goes away has been an abject failure so barring that I am going to keep fumbling my way through and counting on a eureka moment to be my saving grace.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

scratch that previous post...

Sometimes this situation has me thinking stupid. I'm messed up and tend to get ahead of myself. There will be no living full time as Joanna. What WILL happen is just the right amount of crossdressing which keeps me from jumping off a building. I've got an illness and I need to treat it as such. Fantasy scenarios happen when you don't have your head screwed on right. What I'd give to be normal and get rid of this infernal bullshit problem.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to the days when I didn't accept myself and could hold my breath and not cave in. Thank God I've got something bigger than myself to worry about. Without my kids I'd really be in a pickle.

revealing year coming...??

I feel (rightly or wrongly) that the following year will be pivotal for me in putting everything in perspective. Already only 4 months on my own has taught me a lot about myself and how my trans nature fits into the grand scheme. Hormones and certainly surgery appear to be off the table, however my living full time as Joanna could (and that's a big could) have me working as Joanna. The advantage being that I can still be a dad to my kids but also be true to the woman I am.

I would have to be certain and do my homework way in advance but it could be feasible. After all people at work need not know how far I would go in the process but merely respect that I'm transgender. I would have a private consult with HR and gauge the company's receptiveness. I do work for a very professional firm that values my experience but I would take nothing for granted. I would need a very clear green signal that all would be fine.
Alternatively, I could approach a new firm with the express idea of informing them in advance that part of my reason for switching to them would be for the purposes of having a smoother transition. Notice I do not say smooth!

Right now all this in pipe dream mode but I do reflect on it as it may become real at some point. Were I to dismiss outright I would miss the opportunity to do the valuable ground work. As an example, the work I have done on my voice is currently paying dividends. Same would apply to other areas such as hair removal (which I am currently completing). Planning, planning, planning is the way to go even if I end up not working as a woman.

All this reading has taught me at least that. As I have said before, this does not mean I will bulldoze through an agenda which I will regret later. There are far too many sad endings to our stories as trans folk.

guilt as cancer

When I think about all the years I spent feeling bad about myself I get depressed. The simple fact of following my nature and dressing up as a woman became this huge deal. There's no doubt in my mind now that guilt is one of the most insidious killers of the spirit. The negative feelings that threaten to drown your sense of well being are like a shroud to your sense of well being and happiness. I am only now beginning to remove that veil of negativity.

What an incredible waste of energy.

Monday, 12 November 2012

don't search. just be happy...

I used to search for love and understanding. To my own detriment,I never really received what I needed because I never offered the entire truth to anyone. I am entirely to blame for this because I now know that my parents would have been receptive if not a little bewildered by a son who should have been born their daughter.

Years later I was not forthcoming with my wife either. Not her fault if she did not have all the information. The fact she divorced me over this is par for the course for many of us, but other issues were present that would have tipped the scale regardless.

My recent 3 year stint with my gf also proved to me just how complicated things can get even before one adds the trans issue to the mix.

So I sit here today with a better understanding of myself and of how the world works. Not only am I more sure of what I don't want but also painfully aware of what many genetic women don't want - it's safe to say most would not choose a gender confused male. To make matters worse I am sexually abnormal as I am mis targeting due to my autogynephelia. In light of this and knowing that desire leads to unhappiness when not fulfilled, I have decided to be happy on my own. We are born and we die alone and there is nothing wrong with this fact. Were I to spend the rest of my life looking for that needle in a haystack, I would be doing myself a disservice and expending energy looking potentially in futility for something I might not deep down really want. Life is too short and fragile for this and I have't the energy. Therefore it will not be spent.

I will find contentment within my mind and heart. The rest of the energy will go towards my children and friends and colleagues who value my friendship. In the end, finding a romantic partner has proven to be a hit and miss proposition for many people I know. Looking for love has not worked for me either. Therefore I will not look.

Neither will I close the door if it ever comes looking for me.

sometimes it's heart wrenching

I sometimes go to a blog called calie's chronicles written by a MTF who though clearly transsexual has opted not to transition due to family and career concerns. It's often a tough read and I greatly admire Calie's resolve in her attempts to deal with the sometimes very severe disphoria she experiences. I was struck by a recent post of her's in which she decried the gang mentality of some members of the trans community. She outlined the following 4 axioms that some of these members adhere to:

1) there is no link between crossdressers and transsexuals
2) all crossdressers are perverts
3) if you don't transition early you're not a true transsexual
4) late transitioners are men without penises or testicles

These axioms are not espoused by calie (nor by yours truly) and it's facile to categorize all trans people into set categories for the sake of branding. I also greatly admire her altruism as it is clearly he'll for her not to have succumbed to the temptation to follow her needs. Whether she has done the right thing or not is not for me to say. This road is hard enough for each of us to travel and I would not presume to offer advice on that front.

An interesting read nonetheless and very inspiring.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

of crossdreamers and crossdressers

We are cousins; we belong under the same transgender umbrella. Although if my understanding is correct most crossdressers crossdream while few people labelling themselves crossdreamers seem to crossdress. The common thread being that our masturbation centers around self visualization as women.

I cannot imagine myself not crossdressing because it is my outlet for the internal feelings I have. Without it I would be truly frustrated and lost. So I can scarcely imagine how crossdreamers who don't dress up manage their feelings of attachment to the feminine. This is not meant as a critical statement but just an observation. The mind searches to connect to something that it aspires to even if that desire is unattainable and fleeting.

For me this has been the clothing, the shoes and the makeup. This has been my escape valve and giving it up at this point (much as I might want) appears to be wishful thinking. I have found it more therapeutic to accept and practice it in order to make life manageable and more liveable. That the psychiatric community sees it as paraphilic does not change it's validity for me since it is a lifeline to MY normalcy.

The crossdreamer who does not dress must then only rely on masturbation and visualization techniques (I am presuming). In both our cases neither solution is entirely satisfactory since we are both trapped in between genders. It's whatever works for each of us to stay sane and functional and I am not surprised that some attempt transition just to quiet the constant pull towards the opposite gender. One just succumbs to the finger tapping on our shoulder that rarely stops needling us.

Giving myself guilt free permission to crossdress has been a godsend in my attempts to keep my life in balance. The degree to which it is all consuming is where my self control techniques come in and that is something I'm still perfecting.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

my aunt's visit

My mother's sister is visiting from Europe. I had not seen her for well over a decade and having her here for 15 days has been great. She reminds me of a calmer version of my mother. Back when I came out to my family I sent her an email explaining things and she was very matter of factly about it all. It did not faze her in the least. I was always very appreciative of that and it made me admire her all the more.

So when she, my mother and I were having coffee today, the topic of being transgender came up. I was able to discuss things openly and honestly in a way I never imagined I'd ever be able to do. In my discourse with my aunt, my mother was also able to learn new things about my being trans and get a new perspective by watching me explain the details of my childhood to another person. My mother understands more than ever that it was a difficult thing to keep hidden but that I also held no blame for my parents as I myself chose to keep silent for fear of their judgement. After the talk I felt I had attained another plateau of comfort in feeling I could discuss any facet of this issue and have either of them be receptive and open about what I might have to say.

I'll miss my aunt when she leaves as I have always felt closest to her than any other of my relatives. A special lady.

Friday, 9 November 2012

learning process

Going from the occasional crossdresser I used to be to 'woman in training'(?) has been very illuminating and interacting with other women by being taken into their social circle has been extremely helpful; not only because I am feeling welcomed but also because I am being offered an up close glimpse into the relationships that women form with each other. Even something as simple as an interaction at a store cash is radically different between 3 women than between the same number of males. That privilege has been very affirming and also allowed me to see just how comfortable I am as Joanna.

My last jaunt through a mall I regularly visit had me exchanging dialogue with other women merchants in a way I had never experienced as a male; and I must admit that I like it and value the lessons it's teaching me about myself and others. That coming out of my shell as Joanna has given me a boost of confidence which is spilling over into all facets of my life. Even in my male mode at work I seem to benefit from the energy I have been given.

Will these experiences eventually have me embracing and preferring my female side? That is a distinct possibility which I will not fear. Since I am not out to talk myself into anything I will just let things go where they must both naturally and organically.

of androgyny and courage....

Yesterday I followed a link that Stana over at femulate put on her latest posting. It led to a radio interview with an androgynous model named Van Burnham who tried to transition back in 2009. Although she appears much more female than male (likely the combination of her genetics and any hormones she may have taken) she talks about belonging to neither gender and is clearly comfortable existing in a netherworld between both. She passes for a woman in a heartbeat and (in my humble opinion) would have trouble passing for a man.

What I like about the interview and my brief viewing of a couple of her YouTube videos is how much herself she is. I think this is so critical for a gender non conforming person since the world can and will make your existence difficult at some point. Being this young and so much your own individual is exemplary and I for one admire her for that.

I wish I had been as self assured at her age and more able to understand and accept my own gender variance. I am not so much lauding androgyny as a model as much as praising her courage and serving it up as inspiration in my attempt to live my own gender hybrid model.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Obama wins

I'm not going to try and insult any of my American sisters of the republican persuasion but I'm pretty glad that president Obama is getting a chance to finish the work he started. It's obviously a very divided electorate between the rural red and the urban blue and the gap seems to be widening. The democrats are at least more embracing of social change and acceptance of diversity. Let's hope there are more advances for the transgender community but also a coming together of the two factions. White rural America is getting smaller and they need to get with the program.

An unfortunate problem for this president is that in 2012 there are still people out there who still have trouble with an African american in the white house.Scary stuff from where I sit in this day and age.

becoming whole

I am realizing more and more what I need to do now: which is to find a true balance and become a truly whole person. For many decades I was not able to feel whole due to a denial of the female side of my nature. Keeping that side at bay took enormous effort and led to deep dissatisfaction. The more I tried and failed, the more guilt and shame I felt over being weak and powerless. The part of me I now call Joanna, was to be destroyed and denied any existence because she represented an abomination. She was keeping me from leading life as a normal male. The gender therapy and reflection that ensued allowed me to come to a better understanding of myself and to achieve a higher degree of self acceptance.

Now, in spite of embracing my nature, I am increasingly aware that there may be a limit to that acceptance; that being my coming to the slow and deliberate conclusion that I may not be a true transsexual. I don't have body disphoria, don't hate my genitals and can function as a male without distress or depression. As long as I don't deny my female side I can find happiness, joy and self love; I need no longer feel that I am a failed person.

Recently I have been going through relationship turmoil and self doubt regarding my gender while at the same time indulging in a honeymoon phase over being able to dress daily as a female. But as I establish a new normalcy, all of this will morph I into my new baseline. I may dress more or less but the important thing is that I not feel impairment in leading my daily life. The clothes I wear will be irrelevant since it will just be me in the clothes; and that ME will be a whole person and not a gender stereotype.

Reading, reflection and prayer are guiding me in the right direction. I have many of you to thank for the very thoughtful and insightful posts that are helping me to think all of this through.

Monday, 5 November 2012

being ME

Funny when I think back to 20 years ago: a time when I was nowhere near admitting that I was transgendered. I kept it buried deep in the recesses of my mind, holding back on the crossdressing for months at a time only to have it return with a vengeance. Eventually the pressure would build and I would be compelled to indulge it, feeling terrible afterwards and then throw the clothes in the trash. That cycle is something a lot of trans people are very familiar with. I now realize that this was my way of dealing with the repressed feelings I had. Since they had to go somewhere they were channelled into the equivalence of a couple of weeks worth of crossdressing per year. It was all very tame as I would go out to public places and enjoy the feeling of being an imaginary woman for a few brief hours.

Yesterday I reflected on this as I spent an entire day as Joanna. I went to a few shops, tried on a few things as I interacted with sales ladies and spoke to coffee merchants as if it were the most normal thing in the world. I realized how far I had come from that young man in a dress who would sheepishly walk in the mall hoping not to be “read”. I was addressed as a woman and treated as one. It was affirming and wonderful and made me realize that I am now very comfortable public; more than I ever thought was possible.

How does one get from where I was to where I am now in 20 years? From keeping it all bottled up to feeling like I might be on the verge of wanting to live full time as a female? That very thought scares the hell out of me but also brings me solace. It’s the pull of being raised male and doing what you’re supposed to versus being the person you’ve always really been but were afraid to be for fear of failing expectation. I married at 32 thinking that it would bring me to where I should be as a male in life but that only delayed the inevitable battle that needed to be faced.

The coming months will bring more reflection and change I suspect. I am by nature extremely cautious and a planner so no worries about jumping into anything but this desire needs to be dealt with and living a double life may grow tiresome. Remaining the equivalent of a crossdresser may be unsatisfactory because I don’t want to crossdress; I just want to get dressed in the morning and not think about it again. I want to be ME – whoever that is....

Sunday, 4 November 2012

realizing you're really a woman

The book that quiet voice pointed me to has been nagging at me over one issue in particular. Aside from it's harsh tone the writer subscribes to a bulldozer "my bell has wrung therefore I must transition" mantra. She also insists that women are born and not made (which I don't necessarily agree with) but if you have lived your entire life to date as a male, have a spouse, kids and a career it's not that obvious. Do you proceed exclusively on the basis that you are a TRUE woman?

I admit I have a problem with that. How about the idea of thinking of others before yourself? A few posts back I wrote about the website of an early transitioner who thought that late transitioners were basically men in dresses and how once you had a family you were being selfish by expecting the world to stop revolving and accept you as a woman. I am not sure about the men in dresses bit, but I do agree with her about the second part. So if the writer's litmus test for really being a woman is ramming through the entire list of challenges (which she details in great fashion), then I am clearly missing something. Its all very well to realize who you really are and proceed to correct things but if the collateral damage is substantial plenty of people would think and rethink and then rethink some more. Some might even choose not to transition because the price is too great and not necessarily out of fear but out a sense of altruism.

Maybe I'm not a TRUE woman and so I don't get it. And I'm not saying one should not transition with children or a spouse (if she'll still have you) but what I am saying is that the overall governing concern should be your primary responsibilities in life because like it or not you lived 40 years plus as a man. Hard to erase that.

I will no doubt offend someone's sensibilities by saying all this but I really don't mean to. I know this is a thankless condition and it takes no prisoners.

the doldrums are subsiding

It's been 4 months now that I've been on my own and I am finally starting to feel normal again. The breakup was difficult and I was even doubting whether I had made a mistake by not trying to get her back. I texted her recently to see if there could not be some potential continuation without living together but during the exchange of texts I realized we'd be going back to where we left off; ie. a bad situation. Plus I need to get to know myself and in order to do that I need alone time. My kids, friends and job will fill any void I might feel. I needn't worry about that. Example:I was treated to dinner on Friday night by my ex wife and kids and then last night by a long time work colleague and friend so a very pleasant way to celebrate turning 50.

So in finally starting to feel really positive about life again I will try and indulge in less melancholic thoughts. My transgender nature is always going to be there so her and I just need to be better bedfellows. Instead of fighting upstream I need to harness what's good and positive about being the way I am and blend it more successfully into my everyday life. I think once this is accomplished the thoughts about transitioning will diminish and I can just get on with living.

Today is my Sunday so will spend it as Joanna starting with a visit to morning Mass for a little divine guidance.

Friday, 2 November 2012

those subtle changes

Years and years ago when I first took my first tentative steps into the world dressed as a woman I was painfully self aware but also fascinated by what I was able to accomplish. I was actually out there dressed as my own feminine ideal - wow!! But then slowly but surely it began to morph almost imperceptibly into just feeling normal. It has been continuously doing this without fail since the beginning except that over the last few years it has gone into exponential mode. The changes have been markedly noticeable.

I know this is tied in part to self acceptance and maturing but also by my repeated forays into the world and reflecting on why I need to present as a woman. Slowly the puzzle is unraveling I feel and it is telling me that perhaps being a woman is MY normal. And while that titillating excitement is now gone it is being replaced with incredible, peace, comfort and sense of rightness that I'm having trouble ignoring. I will now be moving to the next phase of testing the novelty of it all and see whether I am indeed happier as a woman and gauge my feelings as I go. Eventually I expect to have an answer but for now I will bask in that rightness.

birthday girl

Well it's my B day and I must say in spite of the confusion in this little head of mine I feel pretty darn good. I will be going to dinner and my ex tonight; something that has not happened since we got divorced. I think it will he good for my kids and good for our future cooperation as parents to our 2 great kids.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

playing house

Quiet Voice made me me think of something when she responded to some of my posts. She made me feel like this is a game and I'm playing house the way little girls do; only I'm playing woman. She makes a valid point in that if I am not a woman then I am trans and I should just learn to make that work for me and celebrate it.

And this indeed could be the end of the discussion for me except that something still feels wrong. I'm too advanced where I am now and yet falling short of being a woman. I am indeed in no man's land. This is leading to dissatisfaction in the sense that 'playing house' is not a workable solution. It's playing pretend every night and in the long run will likely drive me insane.

And yet I am not going to go for transition mostly because I'm scared. I have read chapters 2 and 3 of the book she referred me to and I did find one thing that irked me: it's intransigent tone. Mind the barricades because I'm storming through because I am a woman and nothing will stop me from achieving my goal. Nothing? What about kids, job, family for starters. I also am not sure about the assertion that women are born and not made. That in itself argues that nature has made a complete mistake and put a woman's brain in a male body. But there is no proof or at least insufficient proof that this is true. Science has only begun to scratch the surface on this one but the writer speaks it as if it were Gospel. It is the truth as she sees it and that is all.

Nevertheless someone's own opinions do not solve my situation and until such time as I can no longer balance my ying and yang gender act, I will tow the same line even if not entirely happy with it.