Wednesday, 27 February 2013

some guidelines to follow

What’s left for me to determine now is this: is it possible for someone to truly be dual spirited and live this way for the rest of their lives? This is a question I have not answered adequately and until I do I will not be truly comfortable with my current lifestyle.

I feel I am struggling instead of just living one day at a time and discovering myself as I go. This is unfortunately part of my nature. I seem to need certainty and control, but there is none of that here instead a lot of greys.

It’s interesting to note that after a particularly wonderful day like yesterday, when I was able to spend the day fully en femme, I still come down to earth with a small thud. Yes I am giving myself a break and trying not to be too self punishing but the elements of small guilt are still there. That’s not going to be workable if I feel bad about being who I am. Therefore there is still work to be done.

I mean its simple right? My GID is going nowhere and there is (to my knowledge) no known cure. So I need to manage it and the only way I know how is to cross dress. Without this escape valve I would be far more tempted to transition. The pressure would just build and build.

So I am in a period of discovery and am on an ocean with no known port of call to aim for. I have only a set of guidelines I am following (not in order of importance):

• My GID is not curable
• I need to less tough on myself and be more forgiving
• I need to let go and let God work in my life
• I need to have my kids welfare be my main focus
• I need to find balance my male and female sides
• I need to fully give up on the idea of a relationship

I am having the most difficulty with the second and the last one.

The second one will take a bit of time and I will eventually succeed with it.

The relationship instinct is like a reflex because its human nature to love and be loved. My situation, however, is just not workable because it runs counter current to the expectations of the opposite sex. I would be spending a lot of time compromising and justifying my natural instincts and activity to someone who would be incapable of understanding. Even someone as sympathetic as my ex girlfriend could not live with a person like me as I fell short of her expectations for a normal male partner.

I will eventually let this last one sink in as well.

Friday, 22 February 2013

keeping up appearences

I had my yearly physical yesterday. My doctor knows I'm transgendered and so , besides taking my blood sample and checking vital signs, we discussed where I am in life with all this. Interestingly he immediately zeroed in on the main crux - my marriage ended over this and now a second one (at least partially). He wanted to know if I intended to spend the rest of my life alone. I started to almost cry as he had really nailed it. I guess I have not really given up hope entirely about finding companionship. After composing myself for a moment I answered that if it came down to my mental health or suppressing my trans nature to be with a woman I would choose to stay sane.

I am still working at voiding myself of the pairing instinct in order to become truly whole. This work needs to be done in order to fully understand myself. Because even if I have abandoned the idea of physical transition, I am still weighing life transition. I might one day desire to live and work full time as the woman I am.

The truth is that as I spend more time living as joanna I am noticing an interesting phenomenon - it's always been hard work for me to be a male. I have had to actively work at creating a facade to meet expectation. This does not happen when I am joanna because I AM joanna. Admitting that you've been a failure as a male is not something to feel ashamed about. After all I've never been wired for it so I had to work extra hard in order not to let others see that I was really female. The problem these days is that I'm tired of working at that facade.

Case in point:

Last evening there was a happy hour for an employee who was leaving the firm. Whereas I never attend these events I accepted this one as I felt I should and this employee had been 8 years with the firm. We ended up at a trendy place with lots of beautiful people and even more beautiful waitresses.

Suddenly I was that awkward boy at the high school dance all over again wishing I was the pretty girl in the dress and heels. Sure enough a well endowed tall bombshell of a waitress approached me to ask what I wanted to drink. She was in a tight fitting black dress and matching pumps. I wished I was her even as I was taken by her striking image. I socialized awkwardly with people half my age and although I was glad I went and enjoyed myself, I was struck by how much effort it takes to play the male me.

The evening stayed with me as I drifted off to sleep last night. My doctor wonders how I am going to balance life between two worlds. I told him I did not know either but that I would find out one day at a time.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

a question of balance

Who’s in control – is it me or the crossdressing? Right now the answer is more the latter.
Although I have accepted my right to cross dress as being a fundamental requirement in effectively dealing with my GID and quell any thoughts of transition, I still need to rein it in somehow so that it does not control my life.

For a number of months now I have been coming home, immediately converting to Joanna mode and heading out the door. Although I have seen hopeful signs that this is starting to slow down (for example yesterday I left work, ran an errand in male mode and stayed that way for the rest of the evening) it has still been the overwhelming thing on my mind besides my children.

So there is work to be done because if I am going to accept this behaviour as part of my norm I need to be the one who pulls the strings and have it less feel like feeding a nicotine habit. Make no mistake that cross dressing can become addictive as it is fun and challenging, however it can pretty much take over to the exclusion of everything else if you let it.

So this is my next challenge and I am hoping that I can meet it.

I am beginning to understand my brain patterns better now and am observing the ebb and flow of my emotions. Hopefully this will give me insight on how to optimally balance my behaviour so that it is me deciding when the hunger should be fed.

I am also hoping that the last 7 months are part of a honeymoon phase with my cross dressing that I never had. I spent over 4 decades trying to suppress what for me are natural instincts and have now removed the lid of the genie bottle. It is understandable that such a thing should happen. I need to give myself a break and permit myself to re adjust and find new balance.

Of course not having other distractions has not helped either. I live alone and it is easier to turn to my dressing as a diversion since I now know people exclusively as Joanna. It is a way to socialize while at the same time indulging one of my great pleasures.

Still, as I have said, there may be hopeful signs of late that I m have satiated the tiger. I now hope and pray that my own sense of logic and intelligence will help me to dose out the cross dressing activity in more measured and strategic batches. This way I will feel that I am in control of it instead of the opposite.

Let’s see what the coming gmonths bring.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

becoming more certain all the time

These days, I am very firm on the idea of never transitioning and it is related to my renewed sense of self. I am now defining myself in a way I had previously thought impossible and can be more emphatic in this certainty.

Of course it helps that I don’t require surgery or hormones to present as a woman but it’s more than just that. By allowing myself to be and present more female in my daily life, I have learnt to understand why I still appreciate my other side and have begun to forge the dividing line between the two aspects of my personality that make me who I am. This would not have been possible without letting Joanna have her way for a while and truly breathe. I have finally found a peace of mind that I have never before known.

In spite of its inherent challenges, I am more positive about life because this one unsolved area was my Achilles heel. It had been the one mystery I could never solve because I never allowed myself to.

Transition may be a way to find peace for many but so is not transitioning. I was not sure which way I should lean for a while and this blog revealed that uncertainty in its dialogue. My relationship woes with my girlfriend were also helping to muddy the waters and the anxiety I experienced from that was highly palpable. It was not until I spent some time on my own that things started to clear up for me.

The next steps will be more concrete. I want to take a mini vacation as Joanna and experience 3 or 4 days on my own fully living the feminine experience as a woman. This is something I have done in spurts in the past but it has not surpassed one day at a time.

I am truly looking forward to the spring this year.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

another blog I like

I found a new blog yesterday that really touched me. I think it’s because it’s written by a person who expresses herself in ways I can really relate to. Her name is Charlotte and she is struggling to find peace and balance while living with her gender disphoria. Like me she is divorced and has two children that she loves.

http://lottiesjournal.blogspot.ca/

Charlotte sounds like a lovely person and I very much like the way she writes. It’s written in a very self effacing prose that really shows who she is underneath.

She has (as most of us do) a coloured history of malfunctioning relationships as she tries to reconcile her sense of identity with an attempt to form bonds with females who cannot cope with people like us. It’s simultaneously sad, touching and hopeful in how she deals with daily survival and love of family while grappling with a misconnection between body and mind. I intend to follow Charlotte’s blog from now on and see how she forges ahead with finding a semblance of normalcy in her life.

I also find a parallel to my own life in how she is hoping to find an alternate solution to outright transition; love of her two daughters being paramount in her decision to refrain from doing so.
Nobody ever said life would be easy. It’s just a little bit harder when you start off at a disadvantage and having this condition confuses us for the longest time.

On another note I happened to be on YouTube last night and came upon a video of two transgender women talking about what they called “autogynephobia”! I could not help but laugh a little because it was clear that they had not done any homework at all. Here they were deriding Blanchard without even the remotest understanding of what he was theorizing about. I’m not defending the theory but there are aspects that have merit and the critique I heard was completely off the mark. We need to understand before we criticize.

Also while on YouTube I came upon Paul McCartney performing “Blackbird”. Not only is it a beautiful song but I think it fits transgender people well. To borrow a phrase from the song: “All your life you were only waiting for this moment to be free”

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

the way I am...

I am, by my own admission, a complex person. In the negative connotation this can mean complicated and liable to over think and tend towards a kind of masochism. When I was young I was nervous and shy and not particularly confident and it took me many years to try and overcome these issues. To this day, although some people might not agree, I am still a shy person. I have just learnt to compensate for my shyness in order to function in my line of work where it cannot be on display. I do often need to speak in a room full of people. I believe that I am now good at it but it has taken effort on my part to get there.

On the positive side I am a thinker and I enjoy that. I am educated and relatively well read and have an analytical mind. I need to understand things before accepting them at face value. Although I am a spiritual person and believe in God, I am not particularly religious in the conventional sense. I don’t follow the dictates of the Pope or hang on the latest pronouncement of the Catholic Church on some issue. In fact, my understanding of the fallacies of human nature prevents me from getting overly attached to any group. I always have been, and am to this day, my own person.

I am, by in large, a bit of a loner because my disdain for small talk and what the masses think is important have necessitated a kind of estrangement from popular culture. One both suffers and benefits from being this way because although you sometimes feel that you are benefiting from certain intellectual advantages you are also setting yourself apart from others. I certainly don’t laugh as readily as some do or delight in trivial things as much and that sometimes leads to isolation. This is the nature of life in that there are often two sides to everything.

My father was an intellectual and my mother a pragmatic woman with an intrinsic wisdom about life and its challenges. That combination instilled in me both a studious mind and an appreciation for the grittier realities of life. I was taught how to think but also how to fend for myself in the day to day rigour that one requires to keep one’s boat steady and afloat. I owe them both an immense amount of gratitude.

Sometimes I wonder if that particular combination of strong omnipresent mother with slightly distant intellectual father combined to forge the sociological component of my wanting to be a girl.
I’ll never know the answer but I can’t help but think about it sometimes. I suspect it’s the way I’m wired.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

more thoughts on autogynephilia

In my opinion, what confuses an autogynephilic male the most is experiencing the emotional joy of his “femaleness” while having a sexual release as a male. This is a reflex which, while being in tune with our biological nature, runs counter to the wiring of our brains.

How many times do we hear the stereotype of a man, upon finishing intercourse, wanting to get up quickly and say “ok what’s for breakfast?”. The woman still wants to cuddle and prolong the emotional connection with her mate while the man’s brain is already somewhere else.

This is also what happens in a sense during the orgasmic excitement of presenting as our female selves. It can be a very odd mix of emotions and I can almost understand why people like Anne Lawrence might want to equate it with a kind of alternate sexual orientation - thereby making it easier to include it with a host of paraphilias. She even authored a paper called “Becoming What We Love” in which she argues for a more subdued and less stigmatizing explanation of autogynephilia that does seem at first glance to be persuasive. She goes on to say that there is more to the condition than pure sex and there are aspects of traditional love for the female etc in an effort to explain why late transitioning non homosexual transsexuals still maintain their desire for GRS after no longer exhibiting sexual excitation when dressing as women. This for me is the “Gotcha!” moment where the paraphilia argument really falls apart. I have dismissed this type of thinking altogether.

I believe that the alternate brain patterns of the transgender brain confuses us because our male component (if you will) has moved on after orgasm and the guilt and shame of our upbringing is now allowed to kick in with full force. This keeps us in that vicious purge cycle which most of us experience in our early years before the female component of our nature has really begun to kick in.

As the body begins to reduce production of testosterone after age 40, we are (in this way at least) less male and thus less likely to be driven by sexual instinct. Our female side can now play a larger role and indeed most transgender people find that their cross gender behaviour is more about being who they are with increasing age. Not surprisingly, we start to see more transitions at this later stage of life when we know ourselves more intimately and can see that it was not sex after all driving our connection to the feminine.

At age 50, I now find it less jarring to orgasm while dressed as a female. I no longer throw clothes away knowing that I will be right back in them the very next day. Guilt is a red herring here because there is nothing to feel guilty about. We are male bodied and having an orgasm during masturbation is perfectly normal. The difference is that we are doing something that has been engrained in us as being taboo from our earliest memories. I am still attracted to females and don’t consider myself asexual. Even if my performance is affected by my gender disphoria, I don’t picture myself in the role of the woman during intercourse nor is my main motivation for dressing to masturbate to my own image as a female. I do however, at times, experience the joy of being Joanna in a way that is sexual in nature. This is not the same thing as an alternate orientation as proposed by Lawrence and Bailey and why I disagree with their conclusion. It is not the driving reason for my cross gender behaviour but only a small part of it. However it was the part that confused me for the longest time.

As human beings we yearn to love and be loved and that applies to GID sufferers as well. The difference is only to what degree we are plagued by the disorder and to what extent it controls our daily experience. I don’t believe that gender reassignment will work for a person like me because I am too much stuck in the middle; I have one foot firmly in both camps. However, I have most of a life already lived in one so this is where the rest will be lived but with a respect and cherishing of the other side of my being that was never permitted to flourish.

I am more convinced than ever that (couple with sociological factors) there is something biological to the way I am. If you tried to reproduce it in a laboratory you might fail but here I am nonetheless and so are a myriad of others like me. We are just part of the human mosaic and should not be stigmatized for it.

Friday, 8 February 2013

the meaning of love

I am fascinated by love. I think I should be more specific in saying that I refer to love in the context of a romantic relationship. You see, I thought my wife loved me and then I thought that my ex-girlfriend loved me. But to what extent was that true? I know that recently I asked my ex-girlfriend to remove some Facebook photos which were tagged with loving comments because in light of our breakup they now seemed hypocritical to me. She defended the photos staying put by claiming that this is the way she felt at the time. So that’s what love is like the tap on the faucet that one just switches off? It is this type of response from her and other discussions that made me finally start to take the bloom off the rose in my view of our relationship. I felt duped and betrayed. How could she so easily do an about face when I had not?

My ex-wife was much the same thing. I was in the hospital for 10 days in emergency with a tear in my carotid artery. She came to visit me for an hour in all of that time – prompting grumblings from my family. They even offered to bring her to the hospital and look after our kids but she declined. It was the beginning of my realisation of how bad things had gotten with us.

So my feelings about romantic love are not very upbeat I am afraid. I know I love my children, my mother and my siblings but the rest I am far less sure about. In fact knowing how many friends and colleagues are either going through the motions or staying together comfortably for the sake of the status quo or the children, I am far more cynical about the possibilities that a true love can actually exist.

There are exceptions like the blog called “Yes She is my Husband” which honestly astounds me with its true representation of what love truly is and can be. Here is an example of love that transcends physiology and is actually based on loving an individual for who they are. Really quite something considering I was removed from a marriage for simply crossdressing and my recent girlfriend not long ago in an email referred to me as a “man in a dress”.

Don’t get me wrong, I am realistic about things and understand I should not have expected my partners to stand up and cheer for how I am. I just thought that there are worse things out there than a man who dresses like a woman a few times a week.

So my faith in relationships has taken a serious hit and as I have said before I am past the point of having stars in my eyes about how life could be. It’s just that now that I have forgiven myself for being the way I am, I now realize that it’s not such a dramatic thing in the end. I was not then nor am I now seeking to transition.
So forgive my cynicism. You may be one of those fortunate ones out there but my experience tells me that it’s at best a crap shoot and the only person you can count on is yourself. Searching has led me nowhere and that is what I am committed to following as a modus operandi. Do not hope nor search and let life flow along with you staying as balanced and content as you can. If it’s meant for you it will come, otherwise let it go.

complete honesty

We need to be totally honest with ourselves about who we are. Without complete honesty and a lack of guilt of shame we cannot continue to lead healthy lives. Let’s face it our transgender nature is not going away any time soon so we might as well get on with the program as things are. By being honest with yourself you can be honest with others and in the process feel a sense of relief that you are living life without anything to hide. This is probably the biggest hurdle we face as transgender people.


When the time comes to tell someone it should also exclude a sense of shame or guilt about who you are. After all we did not choose to be this way. We did not choose to be this way anymore than we chose our eye colour or our height. But for decades we persist in thinking that through behaviour modification, we can eradicate all traces of our condition. Eventually the message gets through but not after having suffered the slings and arrows of self doubt and depression that comes from failing to adhere to our own self imposed prison of discipline. “We must never dress again” we tell ourselves but things only seem to intensify with time. It’s only when we realize that we don’t need to fight our own natures that we can actually tend to facing who we are in a realistic manner.

If I want to accomplish anything with my blog it’s that – to impart to any who read it that you are not alone and that you should not feel guilt for being who you are.

I could now never be with anyone who does not accept who I am fully. This does not mean that I would not compromise my behaviour slightly in order to please that other person. However I would not apologize for needing to dress and express who I am even if that person did not desire to participate in my activities as Joanna.

As a result of all this reflection, I am even closer to defining my limits and where I sit on the transgender scale. I am not a closet dresser content to stay at home, nor am I the once a month outing crossdresser who goes to meetings or drag shows with other TGs. I am more of a gender variant hybrid between male and female who (very likely) will remain biologically male but will express myself in the world as both.

It’s becoming simpler to find my comfort zone and in so doing I am honing in on my true sense of self.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

equilibrium

I have been on my own for 7 months now and during that time have rarely passed up on an opportunity to dress. However, tonight it's cold and I don't want to go out; which is why I consider this a small victory. Might I be arriving at an equilibrium point that thus far had eluded me? Only time will tell.

After so many years of denying myself the right to dress I have now lived a situation where no one is here to hold me back. I had been behaving, however, as if that opportunity would soon disappear so I had better make the best of it while the going is good. Which is why I consider tonight a victory for my mental balance and sense of well being. I know who I am (dress or no dress) and I can be me regardless of my attire. I am not going to stop dressing female but I will be more judicious in when I do it. All the while devoid of guilt or shame.

That sense of security in that I can dress tomorrow or the day after is comforting. Who knows, there may be hope for me yet.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

telling our SOs and misc....

This morning at work I ran into a work colleague I had not seen for a while as I am employed at a firm that has over 700 people at this particular location. He had gone through a health scare and like me is also divorced. In fact he still has a brain tumour in his head that he is coping with. He is in his late forties.


We are not close friends but every time I encounter him, I am struck by his positive attitude and his smile. It is like his close shave with death has empowered him to live his life truly one day and even one minute at a time. For indeed we never know when our time is up.

We also spoke of our similarity in having teenage kids and of being on our own. It was nice to be able to compare notes and realize that we had similar experience in not being able to find understanding partners when they themselves had never had their own children. Of course he does not know the added complexity that I am transgender but that’s another layer entirely.

It was so nice to have started my day by overlapping with him.

I also visited a website last night called “A Woman Called Sophie”.

http://sophielynne1.blogspot.ca/

I always find blogs like this one very interesting and often inspiring as they often parallel my own experience as someone who was married and struggling with keeping a secret about my nature of who I was. I was particularly drawn to a May 2012 entry regarding her coming out to her wife of nineteen years. She writes of the night she tells her wife:

“She asked questions and I answered them. I did my best not to overwhelm her with details. She didn't ask for pics and I didn't volunteer them. I told her that I didn't know where in the gray area of gender that I belonged and that I still needed to find that out. I told her that no one knew but my therapist, my Sisters, and one other person, and that I needed to keep my feminine side secret to keep my jobs”

I do often find it interesting to what extent some TGs know they are going to be rejected but then when things turn out slightly better than expected they hope to go further down the transition path. FFS, hormones, ear piercing, etc. In this case Sophie is now on HRT and the marriage appears on its way to ending. Of that I am not surprised. Nor should any TG be surprised when we marry someone under false pretences. It’s almost always in earnest that we marry hoping to fix ourselves to fit in but it almost always ends the same way. I have only read a few exceptional blogs where the woman is at best tolerant or on occasion actually fully supportive (often when she herself leans towards bisexuality).

Ah what a tangled web we weave.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

of Zucker and repairist theories...

Ken Zucker does reparative therapy on children under 10 years of age to dissuade them from adopting an identity counter to their birth gender. For many parents who are trying to do the right thing in raising their children this becomes a viable path to explore. For others it means allowing their child to explore who they are and after consulting a therapist letting the natural inclination of the child to govern. If their child shows sufficient tenacity in their choice of gender identity then they are allowed in some cases to transition. I must admit that I do find some validity in both approaches although Zucker's reparative approach is more about repressing the child's natural inclination which may or may not represent a phase. Every parent wants the best for their offspring and desires for them a healthy and productive life and with this issue being so elementary to their core identity it needs to be focused on with great care. To make an error here could represent dire consequences in the life of their child and making an error in favor of one gender or another increase the chances they will suffer social stigma, depression, etc. So not an issue to take lightly.

I remember well my own initial steps towards the other gender and how they were discouraged. How I became a tranvestite (call me whatever you want) is still a complete mystery to me but it would be interesting to see what would have occurred had my mother not discouraged my gender play at such a tender age. Might that have actually quashed my later fascination with dressing up and satiated it early on? I will never know the answer to that question. But the question does enter my mind on occasion as I try and piece together my strategy for the next stretch of my life. All of my reading, my gender therapy as well as discussions with other trans people have not provided any more clarity since this is such a personal and ultimately private experience.

It is the ultimate question is it not? Does one go with their natural inclinations or does one suppress to fit one's birth gender. A question I am still wrestling with and likely will be for the rest of my life.