Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Foreword to Anne Lawrence's new book by Ray Blanchard

I include the opening remarks to Anne's new book without commentary:

"One day, around 1987 or 1988, I spent the afternoon in a reference room of the Robarts
Library of the University of Toronto. I was trying to find a word—or failing that, to
invent one—to denote a phenomenon I had gradually apprehended during clinical
interviews with many biologically male patients interested in sex reassignment surgery.
That phenomenon was the tendency of certain males to become erotically aroused by
the thought or image of themselves as females. The word I finally invented, after fruitless
searching through various kinds of dictionaries, was autogynephilia . I could
scarcely have imagined, on that long-ago day in that quiet room, that I would be writing
the Foreword to a complete book on the subject 25 years later.

My early writings on autogynephilia were published in specialty journals with
limited circulations. They were intended for a small readership of clinicians who
specialized in the assessment and management of gender dysphoric patients. The
general availability of the Internet in the home and workplace was still several years
away, and access to print journals for people unconnected to major universities was
difficult. I therefore had no expectation that the readership of my autogynephilia
papers would ever extend beyond the small group I had originally envisioned.
One person who did manage to fi nd and read them was the author of the present
volume, Dr. Anne A. Lawrence.

She was open to my ideas, which—although actually rooted in eight decades of prior clinical thinking—were bitterly opposed as heretical
innovations by the increasingly politicized transgender community and the clinicians
who served it. My ideas included the notions that gender identity and sexuality are not
separate and unrelated phenomena but rather two sides of the same coin; that there are
two major, etiologically and phenomenologically different types of male-to-female
transsexualism; and that neither of these types is sui generis —rather, one is related to
ordinary homosexuality and the other is related to autogynephilia.

The contemporary dogma in the transgender and allied health communities was that male-to-female
transsexualism is caused by a feminine gender identity—a proposition that is obviously
and utterly circular without some auxiliary hypothesis such as neuroanatomic
intersexuality. On this orthodox view, gender identity is about one’s sex but not about
sexuality, and to connect it with an erotic preference like homosexuality or autogynephilia
is conceptually (and politically) incorrect. Dr. Lawrence did not merely accept my ideas; she pushed them towards their logical conclusion and, in a 1998 essay published on her Web site, startled even me with the audacious title of her essay, “Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies: An Introduction to the Concept of Autogynephilia.” And so it was that the word autogynephilia began its slow escape from the library.
Challenging the emotionally invested beliefs of any group often has its price, and
Dr. Lawrence began receiving hate mail shortly after her views became known.
Worse consequences than hate mail awaited J. Michael Bailey, who published a
book dealing in large part with autogynephilia in 2003. This book, The Man Who
Would Be Queen , so enraged some male-to-female transsexuals that a small group
of them made a coordinated and sustained effort to get Dr. Bailey fired from his
university faculty and ruined professionally. The events of this extraordinary campaign
have been documented in a long and meticulously documented essay by medical
historian and bioethicist Alice Domurat Dreger.

In light of this history, it is remarkable that Dr. Lawrence has written a book that
describes autogynephilic transsexuals in a way that differs in important regards
from the way many in this group wish to see themselves or wish to be seen by others.

Her motives for completing this project are twofold. First, she is convinced that
psychologists, psychiatrists, and other helping professionals can provide better care
to autogynephilic gender dysphoric men if they understand the nature and
significance of autogynephilia. Second, she believes that there exist many isolated
and confused autogynephiles who would be comforted and reassured by the knowledge
that there are others in the world like them and that, in the long term, autogynephilic
transsexuals would lead mentally healthier lives if they had a
self-understanding based on objective reality.

The book with which Dr. Lawrence’s volume is most readily compared is Magnus
Hirschfeld’s 1910 classic work, Die Transvestiten . Both books include multiple
autobiographies written by persons who might nowadays be grouped under the
umbrella term “transgendered,” both also include direct clinical observations of
transgendered persons by the authors, and both contain substantial sections of theoretical
interpretation and conjecture. If I were forced to recommend to someone that
he or she read only one of these two books, I would—despite my deep admiration
for the great Magnus Hirschfeld—recommend Dr. Lawrence’s volume. Men
Trapped in Men’s Bodies is more focused, organized, and clear. It is simply a more
efficient and accessible introduction, for modern readers, to the phenomenon of
autogynephilic transsexualism. It does not, and does not attempt to, provide an
account of homosexual transsexualism in natal males or females—a topic that
would properly require a volume of its own.

Some days of one’s work life one remembers with a shudder of horror, others
with pleasurable memories of satisfaction at a job finally completed. Today, as I sign
the Foreword to this excellent book by my friend and colleague Anne Lawrence, is
like the long-ago day when I shut the last of the dictionaries and decided simply to
invent the word I needed— autogynephilia" .

Why suffer?

Why suffer? Indeed that is a good point and I think I have addressed it in many of my blog posts.

Firstly, to address AQV’s comment, a 3 year old cannot be a paraphilic so this is one of the main reasons I absolutely refuse to buy into the autogynephilia arguments that Blanchard and Lawrence use to explain late transitioning non homosexual transsexuals. I, as a very young child, had a connection to something which was innate and natural to me and it won’t be cheapened with sexual arguments of paraphilias and target error. That’s a blind alley which does not compute with me at all and never will. Whatever the source of my gender confusion, it is not grounded in abnormal sexuality akin to pedophilia or sadomasochism – sorry. The research backs me up in that all transsexuals fantasize about feminization whether they admit it or not and the tendency in front of therapists has been to deny or downplay this aspect in order to appear more legitimately suited for transition. I am 100% with Jack Molay in that I think there is a biological source at play here.

I always go back to the same argument. My life experience tells me, now backed up by more and more research and by the work of specialists like Anne Vitale who has worked with over 500 GID sufferers, that the discourse should be about gender disphoria only. It does not matter what your sexual orientation is it only matters how severe your disphoria is and how much it hampers your ability to live day to day; the more severe the more debilitating your life will be.

I suffered originally because I blamed myself for being abnormal. I had no literature and no internet when I was a child and so I suffered in silence because I was a boy who should not want to enjoy the feeling of wanting to be a girl; or so I was told.

Once puberty came I suffered from guilt due to having inadvertent orgasms while I was enjoying my time spent dressed as a woman. It cheapened the experience and the purity of what I was feeling but now I understand that I was filtering all through the psychology of a male experiencing his burgeoning sexuality. At the time it just felt dirty and weird.

Now that I have explained most of all that to my satisfaction, why suffer now?

I have suffered because I have been confused about what to do next and I have agonized about whether the path to live more and more as a woman is the right one. There has been some worry about affecting my children and there has been some regret about what it would do to my chances to find a life partner that would accept me for me. It’s like being stuck in a no man’s land where you are neither entirely man nor whole woman.

But the shroud has been lifting ever so slowly and as I come to realize that this difference of mine need not handicap me.

I am dropping the literature which has been as helpful as it’s been misleading to concentrate on self reflection and the healing which needs to continue to take place in my life. Once this process is done the suffering will also cease.

But make no mistake in that the suffering now is much less severe than what I was used to before.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Easy does it...

I received a series of comments from Robyn P, AQV, Marian and Pat that had me reflecting today and yesterday. Thank you all.

I know I take everything much too seriously and am the worst kind of self critic. It is my nature.

How does one come to terms with their transgender nature and make it work for them? This is my challenge. The internal conflict has been showing up in my blog postings as I go through my thought process of how to settle into a comfort level with my gender identity.

On the one hand I enjoy every minute of my time as Joanna. The guilt is gone and I can bask in the internal peace that it brings. On the other hand I am still conflicted of how that new reality of feeling should find a practical and permanent role in my life.

This conflict sometimes has me thinking I must choose one life over the other; ie. live as a woman or live as a man. Shit or get off the pot because you can’t do both. But isn’t that what being transgender is? Having a foot in each camp in some sense?

My conflict had me overshooting the other day and declaring that I’m a transsexual.

My dressing frequency has gone from twice a week while I was with N to now daily. This is what had me reflecting about where I want to go with this and whether I shouldn’t just go ahead and live full time. This may in fact be what happens anyway but it will do so in its own time.

So where does the anguish still come from?

I think partially it comes from the fact that I am still coming to terms with being transgender. I have come from a position of outright self rejection to a place of acceptance but that process has not yet come to a complete fruition.

I have been reading too much which can be informative but also confusing in that you assimilate a lot of misinformation in the process. The experience of each person is unique and personal and in the end it is YOUR journey and not someone else’s.

The work of Blanchard and Lawrence has only been useful in helping me understand some of the case study work on other transgender people and realize that I am not alone in my struggle to find peace with my gender identity. Whether I agree with their conclusions is another matter entirely. But AQV is right in that much of the existing literature is mired in a kind of gender politic meant to suit its own purposes. Your personal journey need not be touched by it.

I was not looking for validation from others in doing the research but only to understand myself and my motivations better. In so doing, I got a bit lost in the techno babble of the definitions.

“Just place one foot in front of the other Joanna. That’s a good girl!”

Sunday, 28 April 2013

perhaps clarifications are in order...

Perhaps clarificatons are in order.

I am not a casual crossdresser. I have a rather advanced case of GID and as Anne Vitale and others agree its not about anything else other than gender disphoria. By their definitions I am a transsexual because I suffer from GID and have for my entire waking existence.

I was attracted to girls from the age of puberty but was sensitive, intelligent, creative, shy and a bit of a loner. Sure I do not fit the androphilic early transitioner model that some people refer to as a classic transsexual.

Plenty of people like me have transitioned: Jan Morris, Kate Bornstein, Chloe Prince, Anne Lawrence, Kay Brown, Jennifer Boylan.....the list goes on. All of them have lives as women; whether successful or not I can't say but they didn't transition for fun. Whether you label them transitioned AGPers or not it does not affect their daily reality so it becomes almost a moot point at this stage.

But I do not base my destiny on other people.

I struggle every day with something that, unfortunately, increases in intensity as I age. I wish I could be content just dressing once a week and go back to living the rest of the time as a man. I seem to however to have passed a point of no return. Even as I labelled myself a transsexual as per someone else's definition (one can argue the validity) it changes nothing of my day to day existence. In other words, being or not being transsexual is a term which will not aid me in grappling with my GID.

It is almost not important to me at this stage what I call myself but my previous post was to illustrate more that I have moved into new territory in my self awareness and that I need to deal with the here and now. My life is not a textbook on transsexuality. The question is this: can I continue to manage my GID doing what I am doing now: ie. dressing up and living a sort of dishonest double life? This is the only question.

Transition will be a last resort when I have run out of all others.

As far as sexuality goes what difference does it make when you can't perform normally as a male anyway? That is the least of my worries.

Friday, 26 April 2013

facing reality

It is no longer much of a mystery to me that I am actually a repressed transsexual. I have come to this conclusion very slowly and very deliberately and I now know it to be true. The only question that remains is what if anything to do about it on a practical level.

Kay Brown, an advocate for the Blanchard model, defines an autogynephilic transsexual thusly:

“The prototypical autogynephilic transsexual was accepted as a boy as a child.  She was often a “loner”, finding her hobbies and reading to be more rewarding, but still willing and ready to participate in rough & tumble play.  She often envied girls and observed them more often than most masculine boys.  As she entered puberty, she began erotic cross-dressing in private, often masturbating while dressed, usually with lingerie.  She found this shameful and hid her cross-dressing as best she could.  She entertained thoughts of living as a woman, often in very idealized situations.  As a young adult, she dated women, often finding it necessary to imagine that she was female to “perform”.  She typically hid this fact from her dates.  She fell in love and found that the previously growing desire to live as a woman abated for a while.  She married and had children.  Her need to cross-dress and use autogynephilic ideation grew, as the first blush of their romance matured into committed love.  She agonized about it obsessively, trying alternatively to push it out of her thoughts and trying to appease it by cross-dressing.  At one point, perhaps in her early 30s, or in her late 50s, a set-back or other significant personal change brought all of these feelings to the fore… and she made the fateful decision that she could no longer ignore her sexuality.  After having tried to ignore the cognitive dissonance between her successful social identity as a man, husband, and father, and her obligatory autogynephilic image of being female, concluded that the female image is her “true” image.  She then made steps to begin counseling with a gender therapist, obtained prescription for feminizing hormones, and then began the painful steps to living full time as a “transsexual”, since she didn’t pass very well and had too many social connections who know of her previous status as a man to be truly stealth.  She had SRS within a short time of nominally living as a woman, as she was impatient, feeling like she had waited long enough in her previous life as a man.  Her wife may or may not have demanded a divorce.”

With the exception of taking feminizing hormones and reference to not passing very well, this is exactly my life. I am also not going to rush into SRS.

I did not need Kay Brown’s description to define my position I merely include it as a reference to otherwise state a personal truth. I came to my conclusion organically and slowly on my own. My thoughts and reflections over my lifetime and more specifically over the last 10 months have placed me squarely where I am. It is the first time I have said it on this blog and I now know it to be true.

I am a transsexual.

But knowing it and doing something about it are two different things. My bell has gone off and I am rushing to live my life as genuinely true to my female nature as I can muster but I am petrified of tipping my life upside down. I require instead a calm and steady reserve.

Now continues the task of seeing whether my ability to pass as a woman and my slow deliberate transition into a new life as a female will suffice without requiring surgery or hormones; at least for the time being. I still need to pass as a male while my kids are young and continue to work in my current field as a male.

I had already begun to transition but in my own way and now I continue forward.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The taste for life....

It’s funny how I am becoming more emotional these days. Everything has been magnified.

I cry more easily but I also anger more easily. But it’s not anger from internal rage or depression it’s just that life tastes fuller to me because I experience it with a fuller palette which is available to me now.

When you have disphoria it’s like living life under a cloud which dampens everything. Simply dealing with it in more concrete ways has made all the difference in the world to me.

The freedom to cross dress without shame or guilt has freed me as a person and literally saved my life. The pressure to limit myself was simply too much to bear for all those decades. Eventually something had to give and, ironically, it ended up being a stroke which became my saving grace.

So everything tastes fuller and better and now I can concentrate on living life to the fullest.

The initial need for co dependence which I was experiencing after my break up with N is finally gone. I now realize more than ever that the only way to have a relationship with another person is when that person feeds your soul and makes you want to be better for them. They bolster you and support you and instead of trying to fill their own voids with your presence, they consider you a compliment to their lives. Unfortunately, the longer I live the more I realize that people with true insightfulness and ability to truly know themselves are a rare commodity. You don’t find people like this, instead they must come to you and they way this happens is by example of how you live your own life you will attract like minded individuals. If this does not happen it will not matter because I am now prepared to carry on with the comfort and knowledge that I can go it on my own; I won’t be alone because I will have the support of friends and family by my side.

Whether there is transition on the horizon or not is not really important. I have already reached a place where I can safely say that I appreciate myself for the person I am. God does not make junk and I can look at my transgender nature as a beacon for others to show that we can rise above a challenge and actually celebrate a special difference. I would not have called this a gift in the past but now I am not certain I would have it any other way.

Monday, 22 April 2013

How I feel inside...

Robyn P sent me some comments so I thought I would address some of them in this blog entry:

I try and analyse how I feel when I am out as Joanna. I try to put my finger on why I want to present as a woman and why I enjoy it so completely.

There is comfort and there is joy and it’s undeniably a positive experience for me. Yes I enjoy the clothing: the earrings, the heels but there is more to it than that; and certainly more than a sexual experience.

I don’t think it rests in my having had a bad childhood either. I had a normal childhood with loving parents who encouraged me to behave as a boy. I don’t recall being dressed up or emasculated in any way. I always felt an affiliation to the feminine although I was not effeminate per se. I knew how to behave as a boy but I was more sensitive than most boys.

I am an artistic person and there is a creative aspect to creating a feminine presentation.

Why do I need to present as a female when I am her and she is me? Because part of feeling feminine is undeniably tied to the way one dresses. It need not be flashy either. When I go out this summer I will wear shorts and a tee shirt and ballerinas. I might add some make up and some earrings and that’s about it. We are after all sexual beings even if the activity is not sexual. The accessories sometimes connect us physically to where we are mentally and serve as a reminder.

I believe that I am somehow two spirited. I cannot explain it concisely but this need exists which does not require the eradication of the other side. To be Joanna I need not kill the male side and as much as I might relish living as a woman full time, I have too many family and work obligations that necessitate that I present as male.

Yesterday I saw my friend Vicky who works at the Estee Lauder makeup counter. I was supposed to have coffee with her and finally we could not but in discussing with her I could feel the comfort and the warmth inside when I am being perceived, recognized and treated as a woman. It feels to me like my natural state and perhaps it truly is.

My mother told me recently that if she had known about all this early on I could have made that transition early and lived my life as the woman I was perhaps meant to be. But it took all this time for me to recognize what everything meant and sorting through the mixed messages and expectations thrust upon me as a child. I was too afraid to be different; to be what I thought was a freak. Today I would perhaps more quickly have been identified as transgender and have had the support of those around me and I would have spoken up upon seeing it.

I won’t live in regret but just move forward knowing what I know now and enjoy finally being myself.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

living alone

Living alone really does have its advantages.

You get to do things when you want and how you want to do them. You grab meals when you want (with less prep time and clean up) and you can pick up or drop something at a moment's notice. You are on your own timeline.

There's also a lot of time to think.

You reflect on what you want to do with the rest of your life. What your goals and aspirations are and what you really value going forward. You get to truly know yourself.

Had I not had this opportunity, I would not have been able to heal my damaged psyche. What I thought was already repaired, was actually still very much in need of tending to.

I also get to truly decide how much of my life spent as Joanna is important to me. What is my balance point and will I want to live full or part time.

Without the solitude, I would not be able to truly reflect on these things and so I am grateful for what I thought I would be afraid to experience. Fear has been replaced with curiosity and discovery.

I have never gotten to know myself as well as I do now.

Friday, 19 April 2013

thoughts on a Friday afternoon...

There’s no more origin analysis left to be done. Once you have eliminated the guilt and shame there is only management left.

I am no longer interested in the source of my disphoria because I realize that it can only now become a futile academic exercise which, in this particular case, has very little to go on in terms of hard evidence.

As I learn to adapt to my new life both as a single person and an accepting transgender person, I am finding with the passage of time some peace finally settling in.

The last 9 months have brought me much gut wrenching self analysis. I have often talked aloud to myself during this period; wrestling with both my emotions and my intellect. There has been some “why me” self pity but along with that much needed growth.

The fog of denial that we live with daily invariably stunts our growth. In the absence of truly facing the truth there is a constant hurt and confusion and loss of self esteem which perceived failure often brings. If you are to blame for how you are and you fail to measure up then you are weak and unable to meet the challenge.

I am also increasingly comfortable with the idea of living alone. I am filling up my time with activities and my children still command my attention. It’s perhaps not an ideal situation but at this stage of my life and knowing what I know about myself, companionship for its own sake simply won’t do. It would require someone that truly fascinates and inspires me to be a better person and who fills my soul in order for me to change my current status. This person would invariably also need to be very understanding of the reality which I live every day; so I have set a tall order but selling myself short just won’t do. I will not now nor will I ever entertain the online gaming that people currently use to pair up. I have neither the appetite nor the energy for it.

I just want to live.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

a nice experience

Yesterday I was at the local mall getting a couple of things when one of the girls employed at the luggage shop stopped me in my tracks. I have seen her smile at me before and I had greeted her a couple of times in the past. This time she smiled again and I stopped to comment on how nice the day was.

She smiled and leaned over and said “do you mind if I tell you something?”

I responded “not at all please go ahead”

“I think you’re really cute and so much more feminine than regular women. My cousin works at the food court and she also finds you very cute!”

For a second I was taken aback since I know I pass with the other ladies I deal with in the mall but apparently not with her and her cousin. In the past I might have tried to cover up and say she was mistaken and that I was a woman or take offense and blush but this time I smiled right back and said to her:

“Thank you so much you are so nice”

I then proceeded to give her the shortest possible mini education on transgender people; basically saying that this is the way we are from our earliest memory and we need to be who we are.

Being not older than perhaps 20 years old, she understood this already and commended me again on my courage to present myself to the world as who I am. I thanked and squeezed her arm in an affectionate manner as I started to walk away.

She said in a very genuine manner: “come in and see us sometimes”

“Of course" I replied, knowing very well that I will.

This was a very positive experience for me and ties in to my previous post about presenting to the world who I am. I know the other ladies know me as a woman because of the questions they ask me about my husband and my kids but this allowed for another level of interaction that I found very satisfying and almost therapeutic to my sense of being as a transgender person.

That sense of pride in myself and in not caring how I am perceived by others has really taken root in me and this experience really showed me just how much I have grown as a person and in my acceptance of my transgender nature.

What a great way to end my day.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Blown away again....

Brilliant analysis and writing and more evidence that we should not be looking at transsexual classes but instead only gender disphoria period! thanks Anne! (this is my last post from her brilliant site):

"It is with dismay that I continue to encounter individuals with gender identity issues using the terms Primary and Secondary Transsexualism as diagnostic indicators. The terms show up repeatedly in Internet chat rooms, in the Internet news groups, in my email, and by individuals presenting to me in my private practice. The individuals who self-identify as Primary Transsexuals are usually using the term to mean that they are "Benjamin Type VI, true transsexuals." Those who self-identify as Secondary Transsexuals are usually trying to diminish their condition and to find some way to deal with their gender dysphoria without having to face the possibility of transitioning. As we shall soon see, neither term has ever had anything to do with severity or prognosis. There is no hierarchy of transsexualism. There are no Primary Transsexuals or Secondary Transsexuals. There are only gender dysphoric individuals who need help.

Never-the-less, important information about the variations of behavior within transsexualism has come to light from the efforts of those authors who thought the severity of gender dysphoria was quantifiable. But before we get to that, here is a short history of these classification attempts.

Sex researchers have been trying to classify people who display gender-variant behavior since the early part of the Twentieth Century. They started by naming the more obvious subgroups such as male cross-dressers and effeminate homosexuals. Later as more individuals came forward seeking help regarding gender rather than sexual orientation issues, a host of authors tried to come up with umbrella terms to distinguish those male individuals seeking sex reassignment who display, what is referred to as "innate" or "core" feminine behavior from those who display behavior that is indistinguishable from non-gender-dysphoric males. As a result, we are left with an array of awkward terms ranging from automonosexualism (Rohleder 1901), homosexual and non-homosexual transvestism (Money and Gaskin,1970-1971 ), primary and secondary transsexualism (Person and Ovesey 1974a and 1074b; Stoller, 1980; Levine and Lothstein, 1981) and now androphilic transsexualism and autogynephilic transsexualism (Blanchard, 1989a).

The terms Primary and Secondary transsexualism came to be the most commonly used. Meanings for those terms were those described by Ethel Person M.D. and Lionel Ovesey M.D. in two papers published in the 1970s (1974a, 1974b).

What has interested clinicians most about Person and Ovesey's study was that they clearly showed that, along with what everyone considered to be the "classic" effeminate homosexual transsexual model, there existed an even more prominent group of non-homosexual genetic males seeking sex reassignment. Although for some it seems counter-intuitive, Person and Ovesey designated the non-homosexual group Primary Transsexuals and the homosexual transsexuals, Secondary Transsexuals. Looking beyond the terminology, here is what they came up with.

Essentially, Person and Ovesey define a Primary Transsexual as one who is functionally asexual and who progresses resolutely toward a surgical resolution without significant deviation toward either homosexuality or heterosexuality. They define a Secondary Transsexual as one who is a homosexual and effeminate from early childhood into adulthood. Within the Secondary classification they identified two sub-classes: Homosexual transsexualism and Transvestitic transsexualism

In discussing Primary transsexualism, Person and Ovesey note that of the 10 non-homosexual transsexuals in their study sample, 9 showed no evidence of effeminacy in childhood. Each member of the sample was clearly identified by both male and female peers as a boy and was never referred to as being a sissy. They participated in rough-and-tumble behavior as required and did not engage in girls' activities any more than the other boys in their peer group. All 10 of the sample were socially withdrawn in childhood, loners who read a great deal, watched television or occupied themselves with private hobbies. Each of the sample admitted to being envious of girls and fantasized being a girl, but the authors note that none of the sample actually believed he was a girl.

In the second part of the study (1974b) the authors report that the homosexual transsexuals they studied resembled the clinical and then-perceived stereotypical transsexuals. These genetic males were effeminate from earliest childhood. As children they preferred girls as playmates, avoided boyish pursuits and were "mother's helpers." Crossdressing began in childhood, initially for narcissistic satisfaction, but later at puberty to attract male sexual partners. Cross-gender fantasies were frequently tied to identification with movie actresses and drag queens. The authors note that the homosexual cross-dresser wants to be noticed and to this end often wears flamboyant and colorful clothing and engages in theatrical endeavors.

Also included in the Secondary classification, were those cross-dressing transsexuals who were characterized as never being effeminate in childhood but instead were appropriately masculine, and occasionally exceedingly hyper-aggressive and hyper-competitive. They neither played with girls nor engaged in female pursuits. They fantasized about being girls when cross-dressed, but valued their assertiveness and maleness.

Given the number of later authors who attempted to classify transsexuals as either primary or secondary, it is obvious that they also believed that one form of gender dysphoria was more significant than the other. However, these authors differ radically from Person and Ovesey over which sub-type should qualify for which classification. For example, Stoller's primary transsexuals fit the description of Person and Ovesey's secondary transsexuals. Stoller further asserted that Person and Ovesey's primary transsexual should be referred to as secondary transsexuals. The following year, Levine and Lothstein (1981) described a condition they called "primary gender dysphoria" in genetic females. Neither Person, Ovesey nor Stoller agreed with Levine and Lothstein.

Given these important differences of opinion, Primary/Secondary terminology has largely been dropped from the literature. It has instead been replaced with sex researcher Ray Blanchard's more descriptive and non-hierarchical Autogynephilic and Androphilic transsexualism. (More on these classifications in a future work.)

Conclusion

Despite efforts to classify transsexualism hierarchically, neither sexual preference nor a history of feminine behavior have been shown to have any bearing on whether or not an individual will or will not profit from treatment. The work of Person and Ovesey was helpful in describing the range of behaviors and orientations to life that transsexuals may experience. From this we have learned that transsexuals can be widely different from one another, yet show a common need for their condition to be understood and helped. There are no primary transsexuals or secondary transsexuals. There are no true transsexuals or "wannabe" transsexuals. Being gender dysphoric in a society that barely acknowledges the existence of such a condition requires the development of coping mechanisms. Some coping mechanisms are more overt and obvious than others. But no matter what the individual does to survive, one thing is certain, everyone who suffers from gender dysphoria must eventually come to terms with his or her situation"

More from Anne Vitale...

I am fascinated by Anne Vitale' essays and I quote here again from one of them. It really pin points to exactly where I am these days most especially in the closing sentences:

"Gender Identity Disorder is a real and serious problem. Although we don't know all of what may be the cause or causes of the disease that these individuals feel toward their assigned sex, we can be reasonably certain that it is connected with either a congenital irregularity, an irregularity that occurs in the first few years of childhood or some combination of the two. We also know that every individual's sense of gender, once established, is unchangeable over the individual's life time. Men do not suddenly think they are women and women do not suddenly think they are men. This is true for transsexuals as well as those whose sense of gender does correspond to their genitalia. Most transsexuals report being aware of their condition from the age of four to seven. The only variable is the individual's ability to tolerate the inherent anxiety of feeling missexed. If the individual's gender dysphoria is a relatively minor one, cross-gender lifestyle changes in periodic dressing and behaviors may be all that is necessary to ease the anxiety. However, if the individual's dysphoria is profound, a life style change may be insufficient. In this latter case, gender expression moves from a lifestyle problem to a life-threatening imperative"


Right in keeping with what I have been thinking about my life. The question remains to what degree is my lifestyle change going to do the trick....

more experimentation and work required

I am in an interesting place these days. Now plainly aware that I never really was much of a crossdresser, if I add up all my time spent in a dress over my fifty years of life it would all amount to less than a year which is 2% of my time on this planet.

Over the last 9 months that frequency has increased to 30 to 40% of my waking hours. So the exploration of my gender has truly begun.

Through my formative years I repressed and tried to think of other things besides my disphoria. I tried to be as male as possible and never conceded much to my natural pull toward the feminine which was present from the very beginning. Much like other disphorics, I manned up as much as I could and to a great degree succeeded.

I remember a few years ago telling the priest who married my ex wife and I that I was transgendered and he revealed to me that he thought I might be gay. This was surprising to me at the time but in retrospect I suppose he was picking up on a vibe that I was unconsciously communicating.

Last night I was out and about and having no trouble communicating with people and enjoying my time.

I ask myself more and more these days one question:

“Is this really being myself or is this an elaborate exercise in part time pretend?”

In truth I don’t know what being myself actually is at least not in the context of gender and its natural expression. I spent so many decades elaborately conforming to an expectation that somewhere in that process I lost myself. So I need to find out who I am and the only way I can answer that is to continue to do what I am doing; continue to push the envelope of time spent as Joanna to discover the answer. In the absence of any shame or guilt, I can now analyse my thought process much more cleanly. My self esteem has gained a huge boost and for the first time in my life I don’t feel like I’m repressing. The enormous weight has been steadily lifting.

I also increasingly don’t care if I am discovered while I am out in the world.

I am out to my HR manager at work, to my children and to my family and close friends. They have not all met Joanna in person but they have seen pictures or know she exists.

When I come home and remove the makeup and the wig I am still her and she is me. I am the same person and, aside from my voice and more feminine mannerisms when I am Joanna in front of others, there is no difference between when I present as male or female.
If I had breasts, grew out my hair and had 3 more sessions of laser I would look like a woman all the time to everyone. There would be no huge makeup effort or elaborate outfit required. I don’t need much window dressing to be presentable as a woman.

Yet I know I have a personal objection to my own potential transsexualism. Even as I strongly support the rights of others to undertake this process if they need to, I don’t allow myself to think about that possibility for myself.

Perhaps it is that engrained idea in my head that says “God made you a boy so now deal with it!”

It’s almost as if I think that by caving in I would be losing a fight that I have been embroiled in all my life and defeat would mean failure. My kids would be sad to lose a father and my family would need to grudgingly accept a sister that they don’t think I should become. I know this because I have been told as much even if I know they would still love me and accept me if they had to.

But ultimately the question I ask myself is: Is my mental health being compromised at present by not embarking on a transition?

At the moment the answer is no due to my ability to live and present as Joanna and hopefully it will remain this way for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

the evil twins...

Anne Vitale is PhD who has dealt with over 500 disphoric patients in her over 30 year career as a therapist. She posted this 1996 essay on her website about guilt and shame – the evil twins which kept me enslaved for the majority of the life I have lived to date. I just had to post it!

“My handy, online edition of the American Heritage Dictionary (3rd Edition, 1992, Houghton-Mifflin, Softkey International, Inc.) defines guilt and shame as follows:

guilt n. 1. The fact of being responsible for the commission of an offense. 2. One that brings dishonor, disgrace, or condemnation. 3. A condition of disgrace or dishonor; ignominy. 4. A great disappointment.

shame n. A painful emotion caused by guilt. 1. The fact of being responsible for the commission of an offense. 2. (Law) Culpability for a crime or lesser breach of regulations that carries a legal penalty. 3. a. Remorseful awareness of having done something wrong. b. Self-reproach for supposed inadequacy or wrongdoing. 4. Guilty conduct; sin. Strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace.

Guilt and shame have long been significant components in psychotherapy. This is true no matter what the underlying issue. The reasons can be traced directly to our culture's use of both of these emotions in complex programs of moral and social control. Sometimes they are used constructively and sometimes not. Pathology occurs when there is too much or too little of these unfortunate twins.

Excessive guilt and misplaced shame are what therapists typically find when working with individuals struggling with gender identity issues. For example, in my practice, callers setting up the intake appointment go to great lengths to avoid using such words as cross-dresser, transsexual, or transgendered to describe themselves. Fortunately, they give enough clues about why they want to make an appointment without my having to ask them directly.

If one is able to look at gender dysphoria objectively, free of any social connotations, feelings of shame over crossdressing or being gender dysphoric appear to be inappropriate. Most of my clients are upstanding, law abiding, hard working, honest, and productive citizens. Typically, they are highly educated, hold medium to high level positions in corporate or government organizations, and are well respected for their abilities. If they have children, they want to be good parents. Typically, they are the very model of what society professes to value most in its citizens.
Now if we look at these same people with the same objectivity, this time to understand their feelings of guilt, a person would probably find much to judge negatively. A typical gender dysphoric's life is strewn with lies of omission, half-truths, surreptitiousness, broken commitments, and gross manipulation. All of which most gender dysphoric individuals are painfully aware of.

Consider this: from the first moment of defined existence, a person is identified and then classified as either male or female. This classification by sex assigned at birth influences every moment of a person's life thereafter. The very essence of socialization -- how each of us relates to our parents, friends, spouse, lovers, our work, our religious and philosophical beliefs -- everything we are, is contingent on assigned sex. I think you can imagine the enormous challenge a person with Gender Identity Disorder faces trying his or her best, every day, every moment, to live up to an assigned sex he or she has no innate affinity to.

Most gender dysphoric individuals are aware of their world. Given their condition, which they accurately perceive to be outside the experience of most people, they are often hypersensitive to what society defines as gender appropriate behavior. In a complicated attempt to conform, most gender dysphorics make dedicated efforts to gain positions of social value. Initially this is done to convince themselves of their normalcy. When that fails, it is done to convince others. Marrying and having children are often an extension of these efforts. Unfortunately, even these good intentions eventually become something to feel guilty about.

Surely it is alright to be female and surely it is alright to be male. Yet many of my clients come in feeling that they are among the lowest of the low. For decades they have kept within themselves what they believe to be one of the worst secrets imaginable. Long before they give anyone a chance to evaluate their dilemma, they often view themselves as being sick, perverted, queer, or even out-and-out freaks. They are convinced that if they openly express their inner gender feelings, they will be considered uncaring and selfish. Worse yet, they fear, with some justification, that they will be ostracized by the people they love the most.

We all know that society's message is clear: stay within the boundaries of behavior allotted to your assigned sex or face possible banishment from all that you know and love. The reasons for this social dictum are very complex and outside the scope of this note. However, I believe it is safe to say that it has something to do -- at least in part -- with sexism. In our patriarchal culture, the control mechanism for males is shame. It is expressed through deprecation of all behavior that is not certified masculine. Accordingly, shame expressed by genetic males who wish to be female far exceeds that experienced by females who wish to be male.

The irony for most male-to-female transsexuals is that as males they are forced to participate in institutional sexism from deep within its ugly bowels. All male children learn early that being male is a privileged state. Furthermore, they learn that they are expected to contribute and commit to its continuance. Typically, male-to-female histories reveal that as boys, no matter how much they envied the girls and wanted to be one, they still found that being male had its inherent advantages. Unfortunately, boys also learn that to be accepted by their peers and eventually advance from boyhood to manhood, they must denounce all behavior that is considered feminine. This forces gender dysphoric boys as young as five or six years old to go underground with their desires to be female. To compensate for this deception, they typically make superhuman efforts to at least appear masculine. My male-to-female client load currently contains eight fathers, a motorcycle gang member, a Viet Nam Medal of Honor winner, an ex-submarine Captain, and a foreign revolutionary.

Guilt and shame represent deeply ingrained concepts, so ingrained that it is common for each of them to outlast gender transition. Even though most post-transition transsexuals are glad that they are now free of the dysphoria, shame continues to plague some individuals. The most common manifestation of chronic shame is internalized transphobia: a self-loathing and belief that they are sexually perverted. Transphobia is so persistent that on occasion I have found it present twenty years after what would otherwise be considered a successful transition. Yet with hard work and a realistic appreciation of the newly assigned sex, even this deep seated shame can eventually be eased and even turned into pride of accomplishment.

Guilt, on the other hand, is easier to ease in post-transition transsexuals. If the transsexual's new life has a sense of authenticity, guilt has a way of easing almost on its own. The key is acceptance, and acceptance comes with time. Parents routinely accept their new son or daughter. Similarly, siblings make genuine accommodations for their new brother or sister. Individuals return to society as responsible doctors, lawyers, parents, spouses, and active business and community leaders.

The good news is that post-transition transsexuals routinely go on to reconstruct their lives in ways that far exceed their expectations. It is getting through transition that is difficult, and much of transition is dealing with the unfortunate twins of guilt and shame”

Chris Pagani speaks...

I wanted to literally post a section of Chriss Pagani’s website where she deals with disphoria because I agree with what she says. She also suffers from GID and lives somewhat more of the time as a female than I do. I consider her text on gender disphoria and transsexualism one of the best I have read on the web and one of the most blunt. She writes:

"Discussing therapy for Gender Identity Disorder and gender dysphoria in and of itself raises the hackles of some. First, there are sincere but misguided religious people who don't understand the difference between a medical condition and a behavioral choice. I can't help these people much: If a person wants to think a baby born blind or with cancer is punishment from God and not a victim of a medical condition, they are likely to think Gender Identity Disorder is a behavior instead of biologically based, too. They want to see the world in black & white and they aren't really interested in facts.

But they aren't the only ones who bristle at this discussion: A few of the more radical transsexual activists claim that there is no such thing as the medical condition known as G.I.D. and that they should instead be treated the same as homosexuals -- i.e., the medical diagnosis should be stricken from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. After all, they say, there is nothing wrong with them as transsexuals any more than there is something wrong with a person because he/she is gay. As you can see, they half-agree with the religious fundamentalists while reaching an opposite conclusion. Unfortunately, they are just as wrong as the religious extremists. Transsexualism and homosexuality are (probably) biologically-based (although not necessarily genetic) but they are very different in that homosexuals usually just want to be left alone and not abused whereas transsexuals need the help of the medical community for hormones and surgery, plus the legal community assistance, including the courts, in order to change identity information.

The final argument marshaled against the use of normal treatment methods for gender dysphoria has to do with one controlling one's own life. The thought is that if you want hormones, you should have hormones. It is nobody else's business. Perhaps if hormones and surgery were the right answer in every case and always solved the problem then I would agree, but I believe that the most recent evidence indicates that at least some cases of gender dysphoria (discomfort with one's birth gender) are cyclic in nature. This is because such dysphoria can be a side-effect of depression or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Anyone who has been in "the community" long enough is familiar with the "purges" that so many go through - the throwing away of everything related to the dysphoria (clothing, makeup, etc.). People sometimes do this from a sense of hopelessness, but I suspect that at least in some cases they are doing it due to a change in brain chemistry.

It is very common to hear these people earnestly exclaim, "I can't believe I ever felt like that! I'm not a girl! That's got to be the stupidest thing I ever did." And they mean it! This strongly suggests that there is a change in brain chemistry going on, based on their complete change in perspective. Unfortunately, these cycles usually continue to repeat themselves unless medications are taken to keep brain chemistry in balance.

How, then, may we determine who can be helped by hormones and surgery, and who will be harmed? Do we give everyone a sex change who wants it, knowing that at least some of them will regret it later? Are we really willing to accept the despair and suicide of so many in order to have surgery-on-demand?
Transsexualism does indeed exist, and you - the reader - may be one of them. But it is very difficult for you to determine this entirely on your own. Perhaps you go through cycles of comfort and discomfort with your birth gender. Or maybe you use crossdressing and fantasies about being the other gender to relieve stress or depression. In any case, if you are suffering from depression or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, your ability to rationally think through the issues of gender change is impaired. And that is why competent, professional therapy is needed.

I support the individual's right to present themselves in the gender they choose and I believe that transition is the best route for many. Anyone who considers themselves a conservative or libertarian should agree with me: It just isn't anyone ELSE's business! I support transition, hormones, and surgery for those who can benefit from this treatment, as long as they aren't hurting themselves or others. For persons who meet all of the criteria for Gender Identity Disorder, such steps may be the only way out of a constant cycle of anxiety and depression. But it is important to realize that not all gender dysphoria is Gender Identity Disorder"

rejoicing in ignorance...

Despite being a practicing Catholic, it never ceases to amaze me how much my church (and for that matter most churches) affiliate themselves with positions on issues which often border on ignorance or outright stupidity.

I was recently viewing a website where GID was being discussed in the context of healing disphoric children before they became dreaded transsexuals, crossdressers or other such deviants. They made references to studies which pointed to approximately half of gender disphoric children having other illnesses such as OCD, depression or anxiety. The site was affiliated with a center for Catholic support for the family.

I had a normal childhood with good parents and I have tried all my life to rid myself of feelings that were always there. I don’t believe I ever suffered from emasculation trauma or forced feminization by an adult. Today I am a high function and well educated adult and yet I suffer from GID.

These well meaning therapists blinded through their religious conviction can’t see past their own nose. They do not suffer from disphoria themselves so are not in a position to really relate to a person like myself who suffers from it.

But people like Kenneth Zucker and company who try and pursue reparative approaches are not likely to be dissuaded in their opinion by a person like me.
It’s very much like my dogmatic sister who has been sending me links to articles written by idiots who have no direct understanding of what it’s like but are more than happy to tell you what you should do to cure yourself.

Don’t misunderstand me; I am not opposed to screening prospective transsexuals or children with GID before prescribing androgens to block their puberty. If there are legitimate pathologies at play then let’s deal with them and help these children.

But for the love of God we also need to acknowledge that there are legitimately people on this planet for whom their biological gender identity does not always line up with their mental gender identity. There need not be anything wrong with them other than this particular aspect. They can have SRS and ultimately lead richer and more balanced lives because of it.

Even in the studies cited on the site I visited, they could only point to half of the study sample suffering from other ailments. That left a sizeable sample where the source of the GID could not be traced or explained.

Not to worry as true believers need not be bothered by facts. After all they have God on their side. Once these organizations acknowledge that even once case was legitimate then that spreads the seed of doubt in many others. The dogmatics cannot allow that to happen because it just might be contagious.

Belief without intelligence is just blindness.

Monday, 15 April 2013

an interesting Sunday...

I ended up meeting two people for coffee yesterday.

The first was Sabrina who I met when I frequented a Starbucks in the old part of the city. I would go to Sunday Mass and I would go over and get my coffee immediately afterwards. She was the barista and we ended up having some nice chats; one of them extremely informative as she shared her bout with teenage anxiety. When I learnt she was leaving that location we exchanged cell numbers.

Yesterday we met and had a very nice talk. She is a very mature girl who, besides dealing with anxiety, has suffered from some parental issues and has come out of it stronger and I would almost say the better for it. Sometimes in life we need adversity to allow us to grow and she has had her share by her tender age of 25.

I almost feel like a mother to her and she has told me as such. In fact she texted me after meet up: “I hope I can turn into a strong woman and devoted mother like you one day” which touched my heart enormously and validated my identity as a woman. Her relationship to her mother is somewhat strained so I will gladly help guide her if she will have me as a sort of mentor. I am twice her age and have been through challenges she has yet to face. I look forward to our next meeting.

Leticia called mean and wanted to meet up for a bite. She works at Sears and we also met up during one of my Joanna dress shopping forays. So after leaving Sabrina I made my way slowly to the north end mall where she works.

Leticia and I get along well. We are both of Hispanic origin and the conversation flows well. We talk about lives and our role as mothers of teens.
So my life as Joanna continues to develop in this fashion; going into a place where I had not imagined I could go before. It’s giving me a taste of real life experience to see if full time living would ever be possible or even desirable. It’s also fully reversible in the sense that I am not committing to any physical changes which I could regret at a later time.

But I am becoming more entrenched in the idea of a gender variant approach to my life. I am also feeling quite empowered these days; which is good. Perhaps it is the onset of spring.





Sunday, 14 April 2013

blaming God. ..

As a practicing Catholic I will speak on a subject that some of you may bristle at. If you don't believe in God or have always had a more lucid vision growing up you probably won't relate to my words.

My formative years were spent in a very religiously observant family. Being gay, for example, was seen as something aberrant and even as a choice by the individual. I did not know better because these were the messages I was receiving and ingesting. I knew I was different and I became increasingly frustrated at my inability to conform and be "normal".

I think I blamed God.

How could this happen to me and why was I not being assisted in eradicating this anomaly. Why was I not strong enough to defeat this desire to be a woman? So I fought hard. I fought and ignored and purged and purged some more. I pushed back as hard as I knew how. God was not helping me in my efforts to comply and be normal; all the while the feelings getting stronger and harder to ignore.

It all blew up in my face 6 years ago.

What I have learnt in that time? It was not God that was to blame for my suffering. I was suffering the slings and arrows of my own repression. God made me perfect and beautiful and I chose to ignore it. Instead I ingested intolerance and bias borne of the stupidity and ignorance of humankind.

So my focus has changed.

I am at peace with myself and with God. It should have happened sooner but on the other hand I had kind and loving parents who, had they understood the nature of my situation, would have loved and supported me regardless. The choice to remain silent was entirely my own.

My relationship with God has been renewed and although I am not a dogmatic Catholic, I have an internal spiritual life. I have learnt to love others more as well because when you have a splinter in your own soul, the effort required to tend to it distracts you from looking outward.

I am a renewed person.

Friday, 12 April 2013

a brief respit from self analysis....

Its interesting how my brain is bouncing about from day to day as I figure things out slowly. There are days when I'm thinking that I may eventually end up fully transitioned and others where I am certain I will not. The only difference being that one scenario involves physical transition but not the eradication of my female identity.

I am coming from a position of massive prejudice against any body tampering on religious grounds. That bias which is rooted in my strict Catholic upbringing is being removed so eventually I will be able to make a more objective assessment. This is why for example I delved very masochistically into AGP theory.

But its proven to be a dead end.

In the end I need to go by feel. I need to search my feelings and decide how to proceed. My life is about emotional happiness and is not a course in pop psychology.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

additional AGP observations and thoughts

I’m going to return to the subject of AGP again briefly....

Over at Crossdreamers site, I was participating in a thread where the blog posting centered around transsexual versus non transsexual AGP behaviour.
For reasons I have explained before, my GID for me is certainly more than about sexual eroticism but what struck me is that some AGPers are only interested in the phenomenon as a purely psycho sexual experience with the disphoria coming as an adjunct.

My belief is that that my disphoria was present first (and very early on I might add) and upon entering puberty I first experienced sexual overtones in my identification to the female. In my desire to be like any other normal boy and in conjunction with the societal message that being male is a good thing, I experienced guilt over my arousal and the guilt-purge cycle began in earnest.

Now for some AGPers their female identity remains entrenched in a psycho sexual experience and is never expressed in any physical form such as cross dressing. In other words, there is never any physical manifestation of a female identity but only the dream of having a female body and being penetrated by a male for example. They claim no transgender identity as such.

What makes all this interesting is that in light of Anne Lawrence’s interviews with both autogynephilic and androphilic transsexuals is that what everyone seems to be calling AGP appears on the surface to be a shared phenomenon. In other words, feminization fantasies can be present in almost any type of person. You don’t need to be transgender or transsexual to experience them.

So are we confusing what AGP really means and are people misdiagnosing themselves? Blanchard, Bailey and Lawrence were talking about this theory in their attempts to explain heterosexual late transitioning males who fantasized about being women. Now it seems that somebody who finds wearing his wife’s panties or enjoys bondage while dressed as a female is self identifying as AGP.

Let’s remember that in the literature AGP is referred to as a mis targeting or as an alternate sexual orientation and that Anne Lawrence, who admittedly suffers from this condition, claims there is validity in one’s desire to transition based solely on these grounds.

I don’t give much credence to the AGP theory because it tries to discredit the genuine transgender identification of disphorics like myself in favour of a purely sexual phenomenon. The explanation stretches very thin when trying to explain early life and later life experiences of people like me.

What I find even more heartening is that some posters over at crossdreamers, who identify as AGP but have no transsexual or transgender identity, are using their own experience to try and negate the disphoria connection altogether. They have no desire to transition and in that sense don’t technically belong in the AGP discussion in the context of Blanchard’s original theory.

More thoughts on life as a part timer...

I read recently on Femulate.org about the experiences of Rhonda - a married MtF living part time who now, in a second life after retirement, is working full time as a woman. She has undergone no physical transition but she looks very passable and dresses age appropriate.

It got me thinking about how my own life has been morphing and giving breathing space to Joanna and how I trying to make that work for me as I explore this important side of myself that was suppressed for so very long.

My recent overlaps with other women have been paying off exceedingly well and it turns out that when I thought I wasn’t passing as a female I actually was. Upon discovering this I have relaxed all the more and am now passing far better. It should be noted that I define passing here as being treated and addressed gender appropriate even if you have seeded doubt in the mind of another person. But I do remember the expressions of people once they had read me when I was younger and this is now a thing of the past.

One thing that has helped enormously is my voice. It works so well that on the phone I am always addressed as Madame and my visits to stores, restaurants and to my local garage (where I am known as a woman) have been no less than stellar experiences to date. I am even now a regular at my local drugstore cosmetic counter where I was recently given an invitation to a ladies makeup evening.

I also now count a half dozen ladies who only know me as a woman and who I meet me for coffee and discussion.

So I have a life as a part time woman to the degree that I am able given my circumstances and it has been revealing and eye opening to say the least.

Here are some of the things I have learnt or confirmed that I knew anecdotally:

• Women are nicer to each other and smile more
• There is an understanding between women and less posturing between them
• Women give you the once over more than men do to each other
• Women are more open to each other and share personal thoughts much more readily (this is much like the way I already am)
• Women tend get approached more by salespeople in stores to see how they can be assisted. For example in tech stores or in hardware stores where men are in the majority as customers
• Some men are not the least bit shy about approaching a woman and complementing her or even asking her out

I must say that the last one I am the least fond of and when it happens I have been able to handle the situation with some diplomacy. I do wear a wedding ring to hopefully avoid these occurrences as much as possible.

Interesting learning and adaptation experience to say the least.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

plain old bad science...

The bad science of Blanchard, Lawrence and Bailey has been discredited in my eyes. It took me a while to sort through it but two critical issues and their treatment of them did the trick. Namely:

• Apparent sexualisation in prepubescent boys as young as 3 or 4 years old
• Continued identification with the female once sexualisation has waned or is wholly absent

I have read papers written by Anne Lawrence who postulates thusly:

• Points to supposed penile stimulation in very young boys as proof of sexualisation with thoughts of feminization
• Sexualisation wanes in AGPers much like the love between a couple becomes less erotic and more comfortable over time; ie. Love grows but sexual activity is reduced

On the first point:

I was once 3 years old and my memories of wanting to be feminine had nothing to do with sexuality. I enjoyed playing dress up with my sisters and wanted to wear my mother’s shoes (much to her chagrin I might add). Sexualisation came with puberty and once my lessons in socialization where wholly absorbed, my guilt and shame over my feelings began a cycle of purging and denial. I was experiencing my femininity through a male filter and this confused me to no end.

On the second point:

The gender disphoric’s persistent connection to a feminine identity in the absence or reduction of sexualisation is sufficient proof that this connection is valid and innate. In my own case this identification has actually intensified with age and I now find myself needing to live as a woman as much as possible in order to balance my mental health. This is further proof that the mistargeting or alternate orientation theory of AGP is not a valid explanation. We are not a bunch of paraphilics.

For a time, I was willing to buy into AGP theory when I was in the process of dealing with my shame and guilt. Now that these are gone, I can deal with these issues more clearly.

Over time AGP theories will be proven to be completely wrong; most especially if someone one day finds a biological marker for GID.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

coming to terms with everything...

I have now come to a point in my personal struggles with my gender disphoria when I am at peace with it. I no longer have anything to prove or legitimize to myself and hopefully my way forward will be filled with a more positive outlook as I now have an identity as a woman that I am pleased with.

My demeanour, confidence and level of contentment have dramatically improved as I have begun to solve the riddle that has been my life.

I am dealing with my reality as it is now. If I were 30 years younger and with the same knowledge I have today I might be very tempted to transition. I am happy as Joanna and I feel often that I would enjoy my life as a female. But the present compromise works.

I have learnt more about myself in the last nine months than during the previous 49 years combined. The introspection and the solitude have permitted me to wrestle with my personal demons.

I have even almost solved the riddle of wanting companionship but this one will be the longest to come to terms with. As I have said a number of times now, there is no point in searching for that which by necessity must come on its own or not at all. A gender disphoric does not advertise and to be truthful my heart is just not into a long, laborious and potentially fruitless search.

In my previous life my search for a life partner was forced and inorganic. I have now learnt that embarking on such a journey without understanding who you are is at best a pointless exercise. I am also proud of who I am and would never settle for less than someone who appreciates me for who I truly am. A tall order it may be but the alternative of the single life is not the worst thing that could befall a person and I intend to fill the vacuum with activities and friends.

This blog will continue because, besides being highly therapeutic, I have enjoyed the discourse and the comments I have received. I also hope it helps others who might be in the process of discovering themselves.

No one should live under the kind of internal pressure that I grew up with. If I can help one person then this public testament will have been worthwhile.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

I bring an olive branch

I have no quarrels with fetishists, transexuals, autogynephiles or anyone else.

I am just trying to be comfortable now in finding a method to deal with my disphoria. If my posting has insulted anyone's sensibilities then I apologize. Part of my soul searching required to try and analyse myself and delve into the literature.

However in the end there is no perfect diagnosis and no perfect solution that covers all cases. There is only the solution that works for you and allows you to live with the least amount of brain dissonance. There is presently no genetic marker or test that predicts disphoria or transexuality.

We have in the end the word of the sufferer who, in the more extreme and clear cut cases, will scream from every mountain top "I am a girl!!!" There is a whole other group that struggles with their education, socialization, religious dictates, etc in order to finally arrive at a compromise that makes sense to them.

The other day I visited the website of a de transitioning MTF who, after living successfully and in stealth for over 32 years, decided to become a gay male. She had transitioned in her early 20's and now in her 50's decided to go back. Only he understands this and even though she is a minority among another minority her solution is relevant because it is her own.

No therapist can lead you where you don't want to go and no matter what you decide and are content with, this will be the right decision. I agree with wxh in that gender guidelines are mostly social constructs that we are mandated to follow.

I did what I was told but it went against my natural instincts and my soul. Call me male or call me female. I am done with my own self dissection.

Time to start living.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

a delicate balance..,,,

Its a delicate balance my life. I am juggling parenting, gender presentation and work.

I must keep an even keel and not let my disphoria get the best of me. Whether I would personally be happier or not is not the issue. For me its about what is the best solution given my existing situation.

Sure I could uproot my life and the life of my children but at what cost? And what guarantee do I have that my quality of life will remain stable or improve?

Make no mistake in that I am having trouble managing my GID. There are days when I just want to give in to it. On those days I think of Renee Richards and other regret stories for comfort. My understanding of her case is that she was very similar to Virginia Prince; another autogynephilic male who was allowed to transition fully.

I may be one of those cases and unless I feel literally feel suicidal, I will not embark on a transition path. Mind you, I am already following one in that I am living part time which is something I never would have dreamt of doing.

Let the reflection, introspection and experimentation continue.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

let's get something clear....

Over at Jack Molay’s crossdreamers site there is a new article on the love lives of non transsexuals.

http://www.crossdreamers.com/2013/04/the-love-life-of-non-transsexual.html

The article deals with the complexities of finding acceptance (or at least tolerance) of crossdreaming behaviour within the context of a relationship with a woman.

This is of course the dilemma of every autogynephilic who is both attracted to women and to the idea of being a woman. Where Jack and I both agree is that there is more than eroticism at the core of people like us that draws us towards the feminine. I am personally convinced that there are both nature and nurture components at play.

At the end of this article there is the usual commentary from people who only identify with the purely erotic nature of their cross gender behaviour and do not draw a personal connection to any inherent transgender feelings (whether caused by nature, nurture or combination of both).

For me it is clear that there are two groups represented here:

• Those for whom the dressing is exclusively a sexual turn on
• Those who understand that they are part of the transgender spectrum but are not advanced in their disphoria to attempt a life change in the form of transition

I have continually stated in this blog that I do not believe that there is any difference between transsexuals other than innate orientation and it is this fact that often determines whether you will transition and how early in life you will do so.

An androphilic transsexual has much more to gain by transitioning than an autogynephilic because their gender change is actually beneficial to their cause. The autogynephilic has more of a dilemma.

But regardless of whether you are a transsexual or not you can still suffer from what we currently term autogynephilia and grappling with this challenge is often a life sentence. In the end finding a partner that comprehends and is able to look past the condition and purely at the individual is a tall order at best.

For me the erotic elements which showed up during my puberty phase horrified and confused me. I desperately wanted to be normal and did not seek them out. What I desired was to express my femininity but not orgasm. This is where I make the distinction between the fetishist and the transgender. The fetishist has no investment in any feminine feelings within him and purely enjoys the erotic aspects of his dressing.

There is nothing inherently wrong with fetishistic cross dressing per se but the error in cross pollinating the two groups can lead to confusion and unnecessary arguments.

I would argue that autogynephilia as we now define the term more describes the type of person that Jack Molay and I are rather than a typical fetish transvestite. They are actually not suffering from any condition but are exhibiting a behaviour that is both pleasurable and erotic for them but devoid of any gender confusion or turmoil. In other words, there is simply no gender disphoria present.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

closure almost...

No matter what happened between N and I, there is only my desire for the best for her. You can't build a relationship on chemistry and very few elements in common. In addition no one needs the extra burden of gender disphoria to boot.

So now that the fog is lifting and I can see beyond my own nose I really hope that she finds someone to love her in the way that she deserves.

It's taken me 9 months now to get to a point where I almost don't think about her every day.

So my healing process has really started to take root. I am focusing on my mental health and catching up on my passion for music to help me in my reparation. People can live alone for long periods and I am starting to understand this first hand.

I think I will be able to adjust even better as time goes on and replace a relationship with many friends and activities. I hope Joanna gets to click her heels here and there too and start having some fun.

Anyway N is a smart, talented and beautiful woman who deserves good things. Actually I think we both do.

complete honesty?

I am virtually fearless now. There is no dress shop, shoe store, restaurant or coffee shop where I won't present as myself. There is the soothing comfort that comes with being true to yourself that acts as a shield against your previous fears. Once the tigress has been uncaged she must run and be free. Suppression will not be allowed to win the day.

It feels odd to say that - "as myself"..... I've been petrified of owning that phrase because it previously was synonymous with failure.

But does "myself" mean eventually living full time? Can I make it to retirement as a hybrid? I am going to do my best to make that happen. Firstly I love where I work. I have been there almost 11 years and making such a radical transformation at this stage would be very hard on my psyche. Secondly and more importantly I don't want to upset the apple cart for my kids. Their life to date has already been challenging enough with the divorce. My son's recent bout of anxiety and his innate sensitivity make it even harder to even consider such a drastic move.

How am I going to feed my desire to transition? I will expand Joanna's existence even more and fully take advantage of my time spent as a woman. I am making friends and expanding my social circle. This has up to know involved my lying to people as I attempted to prove to myself that such an existence was even feasible. After all, I have never taken hormones.

In any event I always tell people the truth about myself, my feelings, my family, etc. with one noteable exception - that I was not born female.

But is that important? If I am being my true self with them is that technically important? I continue to debate this internally as I live one day at a time. It will be hard to do an about face with these people. Indeed, there is only one in the dozen or so contacts that I keep in touch with who knows the truth.

I lived in dishonesty with myself for so long. Is this something I want to continue to encourage in a new form?

This girl has some thinking to do....