Sunday, 31 March 2013

living honestly

You can't be partnered to a fraud and that's basically what I've been for most of my life. Being truly myself is something I am still working on today and deconstructing the false reality you have fabricated requires time and effort.

Yesterday I got together for a drink with my closest friend of almost 30 years. He now knows about joanna but has never seen her. God bless him in that he told me he would not have any trouble seeing me in that mode. We are both divorced and he is testing the waters with the online dating scene. We shared our ideas on this topic and I expressed my opinion in that I am forgoing this process altogether. I really made him more aware of what a dilemna I am up against. I don't think he fully understood it before.

Last night at home I thought about it some more. I realized that although I will have my lonely days and get down sometimes, I really must stick to my game plan of just living and being me. I am still not certain who that person is yet so until I figure that out, the best thing is to remain alone.

Besides, I am not convinced that suppressing joanna is something I can do anymore to the liking of conventional women. Finding that elusive partner that not only accepts but celebrates Joanna would be an frustrating and energy sapping exercise.

I need to live my life and I don't want to defraud myself with illusions. But I am noticing slow but steady improvement in regaining my life balance and finding out who I truly am. It will just take more time.

Happy Easter to all of you!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Good Friday...

Yesterday was Good Friday and I was weighing going to the mass. It's traditionally a long and solemn service. I am not a lapsed catholic but I don't follow church doctrine to the letter either. The message I ingested over my lifetime was that I needed to fix myself and God could never accept me as I was.

That was what I ingested, but I no longer think that way. Man interprets God and messes it up everytime. If you're gay, lesbian or transgender you are by your very nature a sinner and must recant and repent. But if God made me this way why he not find me lovable. Of course this is precisely the point and why I no longer let misguided religious fanatics get in the way of a relationship with God.

It took me years to forgive myself for being the way I am and the whole time God loved me just as I am. Man, woman, both who cares; we are all children of the same creator and we are equally loved. This simple message brings great healing and internal peace. Why didn't I realize this sooner is an unfortunate symptom of my upbringing coupled with my own limitations as a human being.

But we can change, grow and develop. This fact now brings me great comfort and joy as I embark on the journey that is the rest of my life.

I ended up meeting Sabrina at 3 pm from our originally scheduled 1 pm so finally I never got to the service. I must say I have not missed many of these services over my life so I am sure I am forgiven. She is a lovely girl and we spent a very worthwhile 2 hours together.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

where I'm standing

I am fascinated with my ever increasing comfort presenting as Joanna.

This Friday I will be meeting Sabrina for coffee. She is a young lady I befriended at a Starbucks some months ago. We would engage in banter as she prepared my coffee and I shared some of my feelings about my son’s then impending anxiety problems. She was also an anxiety sufferer, so as it turned out, we had even more to talk about.

Last time I was there she told me it was her last day and we ended up exchanging cell numbers.

At times it feels like my life is slowly but surely building towards full time living and, although it may not become a reality, I am prepared that it could go that route. My children would be older and almost on their own and I could still play the male role in their presence; especially if I have neither hormone therapy nor surgery. So this leaves me a lot of elbow room when it comes to life options.

So I have definitely crossed a divide where I now have not the least bit of hesitation presenting myself as a woman to the world. I should never have had the slightest hesitation either because every time I attempted it I was always successful. It was only when my confidence took a hit and I showed my discomfort that people took notice that something was wrong. I know better today and have slayed that particular dragon.

So my life is wide open and as I finally shed myself of the last vestiges of depression from my break up with N, I can really begin to see a life full of hope and potential.

It really feels good to be where I am right now. No life is perfect but mine is so much better than it’s ever been before.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

my son's anxiety

My son’s battle with anxiety is very frustrating. He is being put on Celexa in order to bring his anxiety down to a manageable level. After that the cognitive behavioural therapy will be the long term solution; essentially teaching him to manage his own mental process.

The human brain is such a delicate and mysterious organ. We can talk ourselves in and out of things so easily and the fledgling confidence level of a young adolescent is tenuous at best.

I am trying to stay positive and bolster his confidence as much as I can. This is the only tool I have in my arsenal at the moment. If this were a physical injury it would be easier to handle and I would gladly take his struggle upon my own shoulders but I cannot. All I can do is be supportive and try and see him through this. I expect it may also be a long battle, although I am praying it’s not.

I draw a bit of a parallel to my life long struggle with gender issues. I am glad he does not have what I have and would have wanted to spare him even his anxiety.

Life unfortunately does not work the way we want and somehow each of us ends up with our own personal struggles to tend to.

Monday, 25 March 2013

man, woman or both...

I think that in the end all I am looking for is for congruency between my mind and my body. This need not lead to surgical intervention or hormones but I am hopeful that it can be achieved through an adjustment of lifestyle.

I believe that I am currently on the right track towards achieving my appropriate level of congruency.

None of us is truly one gender but instead a combination of both. The caveat with the transgender is that there is a sharp contrast between our perceived gender and our biological reality. For many this necessitates GRS in order to correct this perceived error of nature.

But what about the rest of us who are not entirely comfortable with the idea of surgery or hormones and are not certain that such a drastic change is the way to fulfillment or happiness?

I think the answer lies partly in our willingness to buck the trend and live in between genders. This is no easy task in a world that demands that we conform to the standards of one or the other. That expectation, once ignored, can bring discomfort, disdain and rejection from others. Small wonders that gender non conforming people opt for transition to the other gender instead of existing in a netherworld.

But what is wrong with gender non-conformance?

If one removes the pressures brought on by social dictates one realizes that it can work. You need to accept however the idea of rejection from people who don’t understand you and partners who don’t want you because you represent neither man nor woman entirely.

But that idea of a third gender is gaining ground with me. It’s essentially how I feel.

When I present as a man I don’t mind doing so and when I present as Joanna I am also happy to do so. They both bring me happiness and while I might admit my life would be easier in one role or the other, there is almost a poetic elegance in trying to embody some of each.

At least this is what I try and tell myself when I weigh the pros and cons of complete transition to womanhood.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

same road for a while.....

It's amazing how my personality has blossomed once I started to relax and be myself. Don't get me wrong - I know that maturity has a hand to play in this. However, when you are carrying a weight on your shoulders all of your life, putting it down feels really good. I did not know better before because that load was something I carried as part of my everyday existence.

Now in retrospect I see it all.

At least I'm not so old that there can't be some quality living left in me. Even if my main focus is the welfare of my children, I can't provide for them properly if I myself am not balanced and happy.

My mother (God bless her) told me the other day that if I were young and did not have children, she would do everything in her power to assist me to transition. Not bad for an enlightened 76 year old. She really gets it now and sympathizes with my life long battle with disphoria.

So now I just continue status quo until something else needs to happen. If nothing needs to change, I will do nothing. My life will be lived as a series of fine tunings and adjustments.

I will definitely, definitely not look for love either. If it's meant to come for me I will welcome it with open arms. It just can't be at the expense of everything I have achieved with Joanna. I feel that if I let her wilt, then the rest of me will go with her. I cannot allow that to happen and why there cannot be a search. Right now I am neither fully male nor fully female. It would be an understatement to say that this is just not for everyone.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

thanks for this Anne...

I have been harsh with Anne Lawrence for sticking to Blanchard’s theories on autogynephilia but it must be said that in reading her essay entitled “Men trapped in Men’s Bodies” I have come to a better understanding of her own translation of the theory. Here is an excerpt;

“It would be a mistake to conclude that if autogynephilic transsexuality is in large part about sexual desire, then it is somehow suspect, or is less legitimate than homosexual transsexuality. Although the focus of this essay is not on homosexual transsexuality per se, I do want to say enough about it to dispel any mistaken notions that homosexual transsexuals are the "real" transsexuals, or that their motivations are exclusively non-sexual. Neither is true. By definition, transsexuals are those who undergo sex reassignment as a treatment for gender dysphoria. The gender dysphoria of autogynephilic transsexuals is every bit as real as that of their homosexual counterparts. And it matters not a whit if that dysphoria stems in whole or in part from an inability to achieve sexual satisfaction in one's existing body or role. Autogynephilic transsexuals have just as much claim to being "real" transsexuals as their homosexual sisters”


I am not necessarily in complete agreement with that entire statement (mostly due to my uncertainty about sexual desire being the primary driver for autogynephilics). However, I have said and continue to strongly believe that there is no difference between androphilic and autogynephilic transsexuals other than sexual orientation. The reason androphilic transsexuals transition sooner is obvious as are the reasons autogynephilic transsexuals transition later. I have noticed however that young autogynephilics are also starting to transition younger these days due to access of information and increasing sensitivity of society around this issue.

Both groups suffer from gender dysphoria and based on the severity of the impairment brought about there will be a decision to transition or not.
GID is either debilitating or it is not. If it is you will transition. If you are autogynephilic it will likely be later and if you are androphilic it will likely be sooner. Other factors will be level of education, economics, family values, religious beliefs, physical appearance before transition, etc. This is why every case is different.

Transsexual exceptionalists would have you believe differently because only they are “true” transsexuals. This is cleary false.

I have no personal stake in any of this since I know I am a latent transsexual but have no plans to transition. Were I 20 years old today with access to all of the information I now possess its more than likely I would be on my way towards HRT and corrective surgery.

I am interested however in truth because younger people reading misinformation can lead to tragic consequences such as suicide. It’s a very difficult road we travel and I have been around long enough to know that suffering in silence can be devastating.

If I can help someone else today by telling them a basic truth, it will be more than ample reward for me.

my transition

Have I effectively transitioned? - In a sense yes. However, it has been more of a mental transition than a physical one and, for the purposes of how I intend to live my life hence forth, the best kind.

I was thinking about this the other day while having a coffee with Leticia.

Leticia works at a dress shop in a north end mall and I met her quite happenstance while browsing in her store one day. She is from South America so we hit it off right away. She now knows me as the mother of 2 teens and because she has 3 girls of her own we’ve had had much to talk about.
So there I was the other day sitting in that same mall over having a heart to heart with her about my son going through his recent bout of anxiety. And then it really struck me – how far I had come in my comfort and presentation as a female. So many people now know me as a genetic woman and don’t know anything different proving that so much is about presentation, expressiveness and gestures. But much more than that it is about how you feel and perceive yourself to be. It’s never been about breasts or a vagina.

This is where it begins to click into place for me.

I was under close scrutiny for an hour with Leticia. Yes I am tall and have large hands but she understands that I am a woman and treats me as such. Her eyes give no hint of hesitation and she addresses me in the feminine tense at all times. I relax even further understanding even more that I am not really putting on an act for her. I am simply reflecting my true self to her and she welcomes the aura that I am projecting.
I have come a long way since my fledgling days as a fearful young cross dresser; but it needs to be this way. The process of self discovery is long and arduous and the lessons take time to absorb. Here is what I have learnt:

• Be yourself
• Love yourself as God has created you
• Accept with humility and dignity your gift of the feminine and embrace it
• Never ingest and internalize guilt or shame
• Understand that you have a right to be treated with respect and dignity
• Be proud of who you are
• Strive to be a role model for the transgender

The last one I have not yet begun in earnest. In my eager attempts to prove that I could present a believable and passable image to the world, I negated to reveal that I was not a genetic female to my acquaintances. I also told them that I was a wife and mother when I had a chance to do otherwise. In the future, I plan to proceed differently and begin to wear my transgender nature as a badge of honour.

I no longer have anything to prove to myself. I am almost at the end of my long road to freedom of spirit and it feels good to finally be me.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

a time to trust

Time to let go of the reins.

I've been fighting upstream all of my life; trying to control everything. I have never accepted myself as is. That has now started to change but ever so slowly.

Its also time to trust that God has a plan.

It starts with absolute acceptance of who you are and have always been. Its not about a vagina and breasts either. Who you are is between the ears. My brain tells me I'm a woman. It does not matter because who you are is so much more than about gender. Being who you are involves risk in letting people see the real you and not a fabricated caricature.

To a large extent my life has been about living up to expectation and pretending. But there have been choices made. I was married and I had children. I have a good career. I need that part of my life to remain healthy and vibrant. I need to see my kids to adulthood.

The lesson I just learnt in my 3 year relationship is that its hard to be who you are and fit to someone's expectation of a male while trying to parent children unwelcome to your partner. Some of the compromises I made I will never make again even if that likely means I'll be alone for good.

We are human beings and we are highly adaptable creatures. Also life is short and full of delusions. when we are young we feel falsely empowered but we learn through the hardships and unpredictability that not all is as it seems. We are humbled by the fragility of everything around us and begin to appreciate the little miracles of the mundane; we are healthy, we can move and we draw breath every day.

I am indeed fortunate and try to remind myself of that fact when I get down.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

life as a woman

Living as a woman has been an incredible eye opener for me. It has permitted me to move into a new area of gender balance, given me insight on how women are perceived in society and allowed me to see how they relate to each other socially.

It all happened so slowly and fluidly that it snuck up on me.

I have been slowly but surely increasing my exposure as joanna while gaining more and more contacts and acquaintances. Accompanying all this has been a new level of comfort, security and confidence; far beyond anything I could have imagined.

As I am writing this I am waiting for my car to be serviced. At my dealer I am also known as a woman and although the car is registered under my male name I simply pretend to be my own wife when I bring the car in. These are the methods I am using to retain my female identity in the world without compromising my job situation or scandalizing the life of my children. It's allowing me to keep my sanity intact.

Life balance, life balance, life balance.

My son is currently suffering from anxiety. It's so dramatic that he feels nauseous and can't even attend his morning classes. First year of high school for some kids can be stressful. My daughter who's two years older, did not suffer the same fate. My children are both different.

I can only imagine the additional level of anxiety he would be experiencing were his father to be in the middle of a transition. I know I am doing the right thing in keeping the status quo.

Could I live comfortably and happily as a woman 24/7? I think so yes

Do I need to live 24/7 in order to be happy? No I don't think so.

Is it sometimes challenging to keep this balance going? Yes it is

Would I go back to living to a life that repressed my female side? Definitely no

So this is where I sit as spring of 2013 approaches.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

you are not to blame

When it finally started to sink in that I suffer from gender disphoria and am not a fetishist, everything started to fall into place for me. I had tried everything and my habit of desiring to emulate a woman was not going away. So what was my problem? The answer was simple: I suffer from GID.

Once I understood that I was not to blame I could shed the shame and guilt and actually begin to explore the feelings behind my attraction to my femininity. This is the key discovery for every gender disphoric. It is the epiphany that allows us to begin scratching beyond the surface or looking behind the proverbial curtain. It took me a long time to accept this piece of information but I am not entirely sure why. I suspect that my religious upbringing coupled with the guilt that accompanied the sexual arousal patterns of my crossdressing past that helped muddy the waters. This kept me in constant state of penance and mea culpas everytime I succumbed to the urge to put on a dress.

But how could this be? I had no other vices; nothing I couldn't kick if I really wanted to. Again its simple: being trans is not something one asks for. You either are or you're not. What remains is understanding how you proceed the rest of your life with your condition. Will you sink or swim?

I am swimming right now and hoping that things get clearer and clearer all the time. I keep myself honest and try to dig deep all the while remembering that I am not to blame for my condition but I will be should i fail to manage it.

The only known current treatment for gender disphoria is HRT and I don't want to go that route so I have abandoned the gender program at the hospital. They are just running a series of red lights to ensure that transitions are earnest and genuine but if have no plans to transition the program becomes unnecessary. I will instead focus on getting psychological counselling from time to time as needed.

I always try to remember that while I am not biologically a woman, my brain tries to tell me that I am. You need to find your own way to grapple with that daily incongruency and if you find one that works, then go with it.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Seeing the positive

I am struggling sometimes to figure out how to turn my gender disphoria to my advantage and make it seem like less of a life handicap. My historical negativity towards GID is of my own making of course as I have spent so much of m life trying to rid myself of these feelings. One thing is acceptance and quite another to actually see the condition as a positive.

I have read some transgendered people’s evaluation of their gender disphoria as a gift and I can somehow understand why some might want to. Maybe the idea of possessing a gender duality appeals to them somehow. I am perhaps getting closer to that level of appreciation but I am not quite there yet I’m afraid.

People are born with all kinds of conditions and manage to live productive lives. The problem with gender issues is that they tend to gestate for long periods of time and the sufferer does not understand the full ramifications of their condition until well into adulthood. If you’re born blind or without a leg you can adjust to that reality and get on with your life, but conditions of the mind are more fluid and evasive.

If one wants to get closer to a comparison you can look at conditions such as schizophrenia or chronic depression where it becomes a daily struggle with your thought processes. You have good days and bad days and there are times when you think you are able to grapple with your feelings and others when you just want to be dead.

The fact that society has not been geared towards a better understanding of conditions of the mind only exacerbates the problem. It was not that long ago, for example, that people were being lobotomized as part of their psychiatric treatment. This barbaric practice went on until the early 1960’s so it is has not been that long since the world has caught up to the reality of how to treat pre-natal mental conditions like GID.

Even as the establishment understands the reality of gender disphoria, society has only begun to catch up with more sensitivity towards the plight of the transgendered. It has not helped that documents like the DSM manual have virtually considered it a mental illness and people like Ray Blanchard and Anne Lawrence have been spending time categorizing us into sub groups of paraphilics.

It has made self acceptance virtually impossible and for an older sufferer such as myself, who lived during the pre internet dark ages, the harrowing fear of disclosure was more fearful than death itself. It is a small wonder that not more of us are not dead or in mental institutions.

The long road back to a sense of well being begins with an understanding that we are simply people with different brain chemistry but deserve to be appreciated and loved just like anyone else. I tell myself this everyday as I work towards removing all of the trappings of guilt, shame and rejection one layer at a time.

Monday, 4 March 2013

the dreaded spectre of exceptionalism...

I have said this before and I know that some people hate me for it but I don’t believe in transexuality in the sense that one is really is a woman born in the wrong body. I do however believe in gender disphoria as a very real condition. In other words, the extreme disphoric needs to transition in order to stay sane but not because he was always a woman; If he were a woman he would have been born a woman. I of course exclude hermaphrodites or others born with both sets of genitalia for example.

GID is a pre existing condition that requires treatment and the fact that the treatment sometimes requires GRS I have absolutely no problem with. Whether GID is brought about by a wash of chemicals before birth or whatever the reason, it is very much a real thing.

I firmly believe that all transgender people suffer from disphoria with the only difference being the degree that the feelings are present and are debilitating. This is why we see such a wide variation in the way transgender people lead their lives.

So it’s not like there are the true transsexuals and then everyone else. There are only GID sufferers.

Many exceptionalists state that they knew early on and then proceeded to transition before the age of 25 and voila they corrected the error of their genetic birth. But usually there is more to the story than that because your sexual orientation and family sensitivity to the issue play a massive role in the process.

If you are a 12 year old gender disphoric and are attracted to girls you have a problem. You have a conflicting dichotomy and a dilemma that is not obvious from your vantage point. You desperately love women but you also want to be like women. If you ever transition you are far more likely to do it later in life only after you have struggled to rid yourself of your disphoria so you can try and lead a normal life. This is because when many of us were younger we earnestly believed that our condition was curable or in some cases was merely a fetish.

If you like boys to begin with, things are a little different. Given a choice between being a gender disphoric gay male and a straight woman, the choice becomes a little less complicated. I would definitely choose the latter and would have asked my parents long ago for the operation.

What bothers me is that there are websites out there that go out of their way to disparage late transitioners on the basis that they married and had children. Well guess what? So did a lot of gay males trying to cure themselves but that did not make them any less gay. In both cases you are dealing with denial and denial can be a very powerful thing.

I don’t deny anyone the right to transition and am an ally in their right to obtain the surgery if they feel they need it. What I am not in favour of is discrimination within our community because essentially we are all suffering from the same condition.

I don’t think that disabled people spend as much time and effort arguing amongst themselves as transgender people do and it really is a shame.

the well meaning but obtuse...

My sister C is a lovely person. She is full of love for God and family and is very well meaning. I love her dearly.

We were close when we were younger because we are back to back in the family pecking order and we were able to share a lot of our feelings and ideas when we were younger.

This is not so much the case today as we have drifted apart due to physical distance (she lives 3000 km away) but also with the varying experience of life and where our respective journeys have taken us.

She has been (in her own way) trying to help me deal with my GID in the only way she knows how; namely through the forwarding of information she finds on the net and through her prayers for me. Occasionally, the link she sends points to a very valid website (such as Cris Pagani’s) but often she points me to some religious crackpot who has made up their own reality and neither understands firsthand the condition nor cares to. They simply spew their own drivel to anyone who cares to listen; hopefully not some young confused disphoric who tries to hold their breath. I can tell them now that it wont work.

Like many well meaning and dogmatic religious people, she is not able to fully comprehend the complexity of this issue and she struggles to understand how I cannot have a greater control over my behaviour. She goes after the crossdressing not understanding that it is my only lifeline in suppressing my desire to transition. Without it I would already be going literally insane by this point.

It is not about the crossdressing but about the GID and she misses the boat completely.

If one accepts the fact that GID is a condition one is born with, and after decades of reading and personal reflection I certainly do, then one is only left with how to grapple with its effects. It typically worsens with increasing age so the disphoric needs to find ways to prevent the condition from taking over their life completely. In its extreme form, the GID sufferer will commit suicide rather than spend another day in their incorrect gender. Of course the well meaning civilian will never comprehend this and, if they are already predisposed to believe that these conditions are a life choice, will not accept that you cannot simply stop your behaviour altogether.

Approximately one in four transgender people have attempted or commit suicide. This is a startling, mind boggling statistic but it does not surprise me. The amount of societal, family and personal rejection one experiences can be devastating. My own lifeline has been the type of upbringing that my parents gave which gave me some tools to grapple with the effects of this condition.

Make no mistake that, although I myself have no current plans to transition, I fully support anyone who feels they must do so to save their own lives. This is a very real condition which, if it were any more advanced in me, would oblige me to begin my own physical transition in order to buy some mental peace.

Controlling your thought process

I was telling my children yesterday about how important it is to control your thought process. Thinking positively and feeling good about your abilities goes a long way towards establishing your self confidence as a human being.

I was saying all this in the context of trying to deal with my son’s recent battle with anxiety.

I am trying to help him along without appearing preachy or condescending. After all, I lived with a fair bit of anxiety for most of my life. Having gender disphoria and not feeling like you could discuss it with anyone was quite the handful for me. I also tend towards a natural level of innate tension which hums along within me at all times. I am just accustomed to it by now.

Having my son know about my crossdressing has helped me to explain my life experience in a very up close and personal way. He now better understands how his father dealt with a heavy personal issue and was able to come to grips with it over a long period of time. His own anxiety, which is partially fed from his burgeoning foray into puberty plus feeling isolated in a new high school, will hopefully not take decades to resolve. So there is some positive in him having been told sooner than I wanted about my struggles with my gender identity.

Both my children have also been made aware of the importance of understanding that people are born with many conditions. Whether you are gay, transgendered, handicapped, etc there is grace and validity in the full spectrum of the human condition. This is another great plus for me in having them know about me.

God has given me some wonderful gifts but I have also been given some challenges. I can turn those challenges around in a sense to now help other people. For now this is my children and some others that I have shared my thoughts with on websites or through this blog. If that sounds presumptuous I don’t mean it to. I really want to share with others some of the insight I have gained over the last 50 years that I have been on this earth.

Dealing with my GID in a positive way has been like removing a splinter from my foot. You get used to having that splinter buried in your skin and living daily with the pain. It’s only after you remove and it and you realize what life can truly be like.

It really is a remarkable difference even as I am aware there is still more work to do.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

there's surely a meaning...

I was looking over really old emails between myself and N from 2009 and they were making feel a little nostaligic. The tone of the texts were so full of promise and happiness. They were full of what could have been.

It's so interesting where life takes us sometimes. We just never know where we're going to land. It's like being in a movie where the plot shifts and turns and nothing seems in any way predictable.

If you had asked me decades ago where I pictured my life going, I would never have imagined where I would be today and how much my disphoria would have had a hand in shaping my destiny.

I watched a brief film about the life of Katherine Cummings this morning and it made me feel sad. She loved her family but her disphoria was too powerful. So faced at age 52 with suicide versus transition, she chose to forge ahead with her GRS. There was a poignancy in the video and a measureable loneliness in her that came through as she spoke.

If there is a meaning to our suffering, then I suppose it will have been worthwhile in the end. Sometimes its not always clear that such meaning exists for me.