Sunday, 30 June 2013

a word to N...

A blog is like a personal diary or at least this one is. It is written from my perspective and chronicles my attitudes, fears and joys at a particular junction of my life. It does not pretend to be the news because it is sometimes used to vent rather than to try and stay 100% factual and yes it can be like navel gazing at times.

I write what I feel at the time and it has been my therapy.

The fact that it is a shared document does not change the previous statements.

Last night N and I went out for coffer and dessert and for a few hours we talked and walked. It was a very nice evening during which our previous relationship was discussed.

This blog also came up as a topic.

A few days ago I mentioned in this blog that I was coming clean. I said that I was a woman and that I knew it in my bones. I don't know if this is 100% truth either because it is based on conjecture and perception. It comes from the mind of a person who suffers from gender disphoria.

People who have followed this blog know that I have done about faces and gone down some blind alleys in an attempt to try and understand myself and those errors get documented and remain there for all to see.

N has now read my blog and I want to tell her in this post that I am sorry. I have no business telling someone that I am attracted to them and that I am very certain that I will never transition. I can only say that I will fight it with all my strength.

I understand that my mind plays tricks on me and that my GID ebbs and flows like the tide and when I am in male mode and next to someone I still have feelings for I am apt to say things I should'nt. Until I have a clear plan ahead that offers me firmer footing, I will refrain from exposing anyone to any of this.

It's probably also best that I make that I remain permanently on my own so I can more effectively dose out my crossdressing to treat my GID. No good can come of mixing my problems with the entirely normal expectations of a female companion.

But I do want to thank her for the lovely evening once again and to apologize if she thinks I was deliberately trying to deceive her.

I seem to have far more expertise, it seems, at deceiving myself.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

a trip to the doctor

I went to see my GP yesterday and I went, for the first time ever, as myself. I went as Joanna.

I never thought I would ever be presenting as Joanna here but then a lot of things have changed in my life. Carolin, his receptionist, told me I looked natural. I had warned her I was coming dressed and I suppose she was expecting a drag queen. Instead, she got a middle aged woman in sensible heels.

She and my doctor both know I have GID.

I went in to have my T levels checked for the first time ever. While I understand that there is no proven direct link between GID and testosterone levels, I needed to know whether mine were high or low. But I also came to discuss with him where I am these days and what my next steps are.

I told him about starting group therapy after he asked me if I was getting help with this. I am one of his three trans patients in a practice of over 1500 people. One transitioned 20 years ago, the other is 58 married and struggling and the other is yours truly.

He told me I am a very strong person and that I will find a way to manage this. I told him that due to where I am in life and my trepidation about my kids, transition will be an absolute last resort.

I will manage by living as a woman.

He thought, as I do, that time will give me a way forward. If nothing else, it feels good to be OUT. I am out to everyone that matters to me and that is liberating beyond words.

Another milestone reached.

Friday, 28 June 2013

coming clean...

I need to clarify something.

I am transgender by circumstance only and not by choice. I am transgender because I am stuck in a no man's land and not because I want to be this way.

Why would I want to be stuck as a partial male and not quite a woman? Why would anyone?

I don't care to play dress up like a weekend CD and then go back to being male. I am a woman and was always meant to be one. I know it in my bones and in my heart of hearts. But this is no longer a question that requires answering.

The questions that linger are: can I live the rest of my days as the woman I am in the body of a male and continue to play a role for the sake of my career and my children AND if not how much resolve do I have to face such a huge upheaval.

This I do not yet know.

I know I have been hiding behind theories in order to deflect focus from reality. I enjoy being a woman because I am a woman. The closer I have been coming to the woman I am, the closer I have been approaching true contentment. This is why things are going so well in comparison to my previous existence.

However, my natural instinct is to want to resolve things quickly. But, just like my son's anxiety, some things take time to resolve and require patience. I have learnt much about patience in dealing with my son.

I will be applying that new found patience towards my own situation and let things move along slowly as they should.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Pink Fog

The pink fog sneaks up on you sometimes.

This morning I was riding the bus and a transgendered woman (probably in her early 30’s) got on the bus. She was on hormones but you could see she was still in that in between stage where the hair is not quite grown in and the HRT had not done all of its full work yet. She may or may not need FFS.

I recognized her immediately because all transgender people are blessed with T-dar.

I started reflecting that she could have been me a few years back. Back before I got married.

After my father died I could have sat myself down and tried to understand myself. I was 33 years old and I knew there was something there but I refused to face it. Instead I let a few months go by and decided that I needed to move on with my life and find a partner to settle down with.

My father’s death had completely floored me.

One day he was spitting a little blood into a handkerchief and 4 months later we were burying him.

He died at home surrounded by his family on a sofa. He weighed probably not more than 75 lbs at the end.

I was the one who injected my father with the overdose of morphine that stopped his heart. It took me a while to get over that.

He was being visited once a week by the hospital nurses who would administer his morphine. There was nothing that could be done for him as the cancer had spread from his lungs to his brain and then to his lymph nodes. He was in constant pain and when the he fell into a certain breathing pattern I was to administer the overdose.

I remember it like it was yesterday. January 5th, 1995 at 7:10 pm.

He could not eat for 3 months. All he could ingest where some cans of ensure and even then he wasted away to nothing.

He was 60 years old when he died.

I put away all ideas of facing my pink fog and just told myself to do what I had to do.

I was introduced to a co worker of my younger sister 3 months after his death and a year after that I was married. By age 35 I was a father to my daughter and by age 37 a father to my son.

My marriage was not good and by age 45 my gender issues boiled over.

I had a tear in my carotid artery which caused a stroke. My 10 day stay at the Montreal General hospital saw my then wife visit me for an hour. I knew things were bad but they were worse than I had suspected.

I was put on blood thinners for 4 months and today I am fine.

The divorce happened in the fall of 2008 and it was the right thing to do for both of us.

N who was a woman I was dating back in 1987 for a summer came back into my life and we lived together for 3 years. We have been apart for over a year now.

I have two beautiful children who I love and yes I still suffer from the pink fog.

I live life one day at a time because I understand more than ever that time does not belong to us and one day we are here and the next day we are gone.

Yes that transwoman on the bus could have been me but I have my own life to lead now.

I will celebrate who I am and accept that I am transgender and while I have not closed the door to transition I will not rush things and just let things be what they will be.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

approaching neutral ground

Last night I had some difficulty sleeping and I was mulling things over in my mind.

I seem to have arrived at a point where I am going to let my prayers and reflection guide me in the right direction for the long term.

I am slowly removing biases against the idea of transition but just as I will not be cajolled into it, I will not push it away either. I will remain neutral and decide what needs to be done when the time comes.

If my mental and physical well being depends on my transitioning, then I will do so.

Conversely I have lived all of my life as a male. If I were 20 years old today I would more than likely transition with very little concern about others but now things are different and I must consider how my actions impact those I care about the most.

So I will proceed with caution but with my blinders removed. What needs to happen will happen and I will continue to remain happy and balanced as I am doing it.

No matter what happens from here on in I am already happier than I have ever been if for no other reason than acknowledging that my feelings have always been real and legitimate and I am not to blame for them.

It is true that part of me is still embarassed at the idea of transition. That by caving in to it I am failing as a man and as a father. I cannot help the way I feel and I need to deal with that first and foremost if I am going to proceed with a clear head.

But at least I now know that this is the way I was created by God and He will help me figure out what to do.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

redefining gender disphoria

Anne Vitale gave a talk to the National Transgender Health Summit at the University of California at San Francisco in 2011 and in her slide presentation she included a revised definition of gender disphoria which really struck a major chord with me. She was giving the presentation to other psychologists specializing in gender:

“Instead of DYSPHORIA or that you are treating someone who is merely unhappy, think in terms of repairing the damage caused by living under the burden of unrelenting feelings of forced existential displacement from a gendered world openly alloted to others but explicitly denied your client. Someone who has been living --often for decades-- trying to live a normal life under the burden of chronic gender expression deprivation related anxiety. Some one who is now burdened even further by their well intentioned efforts to live a nomal life congruent to their assigned sex at birth”

That really nails what my problem is at the root. I will reemphasize the part that most hits home....

“trying to live a normal life under the burden of chronic gender expression deprivation related anxiety”

Yes that is exactly it. That is exactly what I have always suffered from and that repression has cost me dearly.

Let the treatment begin...

I know two things. One, I need to be challenged and two, I cannot do this any longer on my own.

I have done everything I can to try and understand myself but now I need to figure out whether I am in deep denial about my gender issues and how to find a need a concrete way forward.

Living like a hybrid is not really something I desire as a final solution but, if it must be that way, I will have at least explored all of the options at my disposal.

The hospital group setting will be composed of my peers and will be moderated by Helene who has many years of experience with the Montreal General Gender Clinic. Already in our last two meetings she has picked up on my roadblocks towards my finding peace with this issue.

I desperately want transition to be off the table but I cannot do that without doing the hard work required to look deep inside myself and understand what I must do to find rest.

I don’t understand why I cannot be happy labelling myself as transgender because I should be. Perhaps the nagging doubts will be eliminated in this last step.

One thing for sure is that I have done all of the reading and homework I can do on my own. Some of it has confused and derailed me but most of it has been a kind of saving grace.

Now it’s time to look deep inside myself and ignore everything else. What do you want Joanna? What will leave your mind at peace?

Interestingly Helene has told me that not all of her patients opt for transition and some of the ones that do choose to delay it due to family reasons. So it’s not a GRS clinic they are running. They want to help people find a resting point.

N knows that I need to do this because she thinks I am in denial. I don't know how to answer her.

All I know is that I am more than ever looking forward to starting with the group in the fall.

Monday, 24 June 2013

finding my way back

I began writing this blog during a period of my life when my guilt was boiling over.

I had been left by a woman who thought I had verbal abuse issues, my marriage had broken up years before due to my omission of my gender issues and my kids had not been tended to adequately. I was unclear (and maybe still am) as to how much I am to blame for my gender issues.

Was I indulging a sinful habit or was this the way I was created and I was merely using crossdressing as a tool to manage a pre existing condition?

The fetish argument fell away after I began analyzing my life and realized that I hadn't been much of a crossdresser since my yearly indulgences were always rewarded with a massive purge.

So if I wasn't a transvestite or crossdresser or fetishist then what was I?

I then stumbled onto AGP theory and fell victim to its spell for a time. That theory has now been discredited as it does not speak to my experience.

So I am left thinking that I may fall into the Harry Benjamin scale of maybe type IV transsexual, perhaps somewhere between tranvestite and transsexual. The definition is only important in the sense that it helps me to remove culpability from my shoulders. Because I grew up with guilt as a way of life. Everything is your fault and you are responsible for your own actions.

I have finally understood that I have something that I did not create but that I am responsible for somehow managing. In every other area of my life my incredible self discipline has served me but not here.

This is beyond my understanding. Does God condemn me if I feel pressured to transition? Does it matter that much what envelope we come in? Am I sinning by succumbing to this temptation. I do not yet know but many people are born with conditions that require treatment. Why should this one be any different? Is it not also a medical condition?

Even if it isn't it makes little difference since regardless of the origin I am dealing with something real. The lack of resistance and my espousing my transgender nature has produced a much happier person. But might this last step produce a final eureka moment of final peace with the removal of all trace of disphoria? How long can I keep living a double life?

Yet in spite of my reflecting on it, I am far from being convinced that transition is the answer.

Yesterday morning I attended mass at the cathedral and afterwards my new friend Ginette and I spent a good hour and a half chatting over coffee. My soul was once again fed as I revelled in my natural femininity. But is this an elaborate playing pretend or is this my natural state? How could I ever face my children or my mother as the woman I now present to the world?

I believe that this has now become a management issue. I have overshot and now need to come back down to earth and put the uncoiled spring back in the box. I am on the cusp of reuniting with a woman I may be able to spend the rest of my days with so I need guidance.

Help me God to find my way.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

the future...

N and I met on Friday afternoon for drinks. We met up at a lovely bistro with a terrace in the back which was shaded by mature trees. A trendy new place that has only recently opened in my area.

The conversation flowed well and we were able to skirt our main issues for a little while but then we eventually got the crux of the matter.

N says she left me because of my verbal abuse. She perceives my outbursts like that but in truth I don't quite see it in the same manner. Still she has made her point and I take what she says very seriously.

For me this is not the main issue. My GID has put me in a situation where I fear being with her due to my dressing frequency being potentially intolerable for her. I will probably also feel constrained by having to hide from her.

Alone no such issue exists.

I am also concerned that in 6 months, a year or in three I will need to transition because my current management is no longer effective. I know you can't live your life for the future but she is asking for certainty that I will never transition and I cannot promise that.

Even if my desire and willpower are there, I may find myself in the future buckling under the pressure. For me it's like promising I'll never be struck by a bus. I simply do not know the answer and I desperately do not want to hurt her. So even if we have feelings for each other we cannot go further at this point.

I know that group therapy will not be a cure all pill that resolves everything in short order. It is a tool amongst others and it should help. Taking estrogen or anti androgens may help my GID but by ingesting them I am only worsening things for N and I.

I am also scared that my body will like the female hormones and start me on a journey that I may not be prepared for.

Truth be told, I should not even entertain anything other than a friendship at this stage. There are days when I am certain I will go full time and others when I feel I can stay this way for good. That waivering is best experienced alone.

I also need to focus on my kids and the critical high school years. My son's anxiety is responding well to treatment but I cannot let my vigilance subside. My daughter also needs guidance and tutoring in math next year.

So it is an interesting situation that I will handle, as always, one day at a time.

After our date, I hugged her as I tried not to show how conflicted I was. I drove away slowly and cried all the way home.

Friday, 21 June 2013

affirmation...

"I love her high heels" said one Starbucks girl to the other while pointing to my feet while on their break. I was innocently waiting for my machiatto. They were not older than 20 and their admiration for my best pair of black patent pumps was giving me great pleasure.I turned around and said "oh thanks!"

I live for such validation from other women but I have never known why.

It just is and likely always will be. We are funny creatures us disphorics.

The absolute warmth that I experience when my presentation as a woman is validated is like passing a test. I have, at least for that day, had my womanhood approved by the toughest litmus test of all; namely young genetic women. Why this is so life affirming is rooted in the mystery of my condition but without further analysis I bask in my moment of feminine glory.

Its never felt better than now because now I can experience all of this without self blame and guilt. Joanna is who she is and she will not be denied.

Affirmation like this is serving as my stop gap measure in order to prevent my life from exploding into a million pieces. I will accept my ability to pass as a gift which counteracts my illness and helps me to cope.

I am meeting N tonight for drinks. Let's see how that goes....

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Let's be kind...

I don’t want to start little brush fires with my blog postings. At least not intentionally.

I understand that the call to transition is not a choice and at a certain point in time you do something about it or you just go mental. Every person who I respect and have corresponded with about this topic has told me the very same thing: Do not transition unless you absolutely have to because it is not easy and it is not a choice.

Still, I often feel stuck in no man’s land.

I am not a weekend crossdresser who likes to go to gay bars and pretend to be a girl. There is something in me much deeper than that and it has forced me to take on a separate identity as a part time woman so that I can manage it.

Am I a transsexual in denial? I deeply, deeply hope that I am not.

As a quick side note, I was recently at a site of someone who thinks that crossdressing is sinful. This person, who was a self proclaimed fetish dresser, is also the Pastor of a church and he quotes Scripture at length on his site. I took issue with his webpage only because I did not want some young searching transgender to come upon it (like I might have done many years ago) and think they were a perverted sinner.

Because here I am at 50 years of age using crossdressing as my only lifeline to avoid transition. It is the only lifeline I have left and you better believe I will use it. I go grocery shopping and have coffee with other women and that makes me a sinner? I hardly think so.

There are all kinds of people in the world and all kinds of ideas about what the person next to him or her should do or not do.

I suppose the message of this post is that we should try and respect each other because gender variance is a very confusing topic. Each of us is confused about what we are at some point or another in our lives and the best message to hear when we are passing through trying times is to hear the words: “I feel for you and understand that this is not easy”.

We need to have empathy for each other.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Late transitioning

The entire concept of late transition baffles me. I am stumped how someone waits until their forties or fifties to decide they were always a woman and need to do something about it.

How does this process happen? Why are they not consciously aware of this much sooner? And conversely, why are early transitioners so sure at a young age that they need to act fast.

How much of this is true biology and brain chemistry at work and how much is socialization and particular family situation? How much is related to morality or religion? How much to the child’s ability to verbalize their angst or to deny it even exists?

I am truly confused.

I know that some will argue that late transitioners are not true transsexuals, but if they are not then what are they and why are they willing to risk EVERYTHING on swapping genders midway through life?

It is truly mind boggling.

I have always known there was something wrong with me. I was fidgety, nervous and shy with some gender incongruence thrown in for good measure. It’s always felt like hard work to present myself as what I am supposed to be.

Does all this work like water building up pressure behind a dam until finally there is a breach? Is this what they call your bell going off and when do you know it’s not a false alarm?

It’s all very confusing to me and unfortunately there is no manual and no handbook.

You are left to your own devices.

I am trying to understand why in my twenties and thirties I was able to live the way I was because in retrospect I don’t understand it. I no longer relate to the person I was and how he was able to function.

I have lost communication with who I was so I am afraid I will never know the answer.

Ain't life grand?....

Last night after going to a short get together for my boss who is transferring to another office for 2 years, I met N and we had dinner. It was a very pleasant time together and the conversation flowed well. Of course we both expressed trepidation because neither of us had been in this situation before; namely, trying to figure out what we mean to each other a year after a spectacular break up.

She certainly brought up some issues.

For one I am partially asexual in that my libido is not the greatest to begin with. Secondly I suffer from what many transgender and transsexuals have to deal with in that in order to be intimate with a woman I have to fantasize about my own femininity (note the non reference to Ray Blanchard’s term).

She is aware of this and is not happy about it and I feel bad because I am not physically able to repair that part of myself. For better or worse it’s the way I am made.

So as nice as the evening was, I reflected last night as I was trying to sleep, how narrow my chances are to be in a stable relationship in my current state with someone who would want someone normal and conventionally male.

I am not a normal male and never will be. She will always feel disappointed and I will always feel bad that I can’t deliver what she desires and deserves.

It’s actually a recipe for unhappiness for each of us.

So as we left each other last night we decided to not start anything until I start group therapy in the fall.

Interestingly she asked me why I would not just cave in to transition and see if I might not be happier as a woman. I continue to argue my way out of that option in front of her because I am scared to death and fear deep down she may be right.

I just don’t want to turn my life upside down to find out.

I am starting to understand how transsexuals feel in that they are slowly being lead down a road towards the inevitable in that no matter whether you veer right or left, you are in the end left with little choice but to transition.

I never thought that I would be facing such a scenario, but here I am and my biggest fear is finding out that I am in reality a woman.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Compromises to make things work...

I often feel that I could indeed make a go of it as a woman but I am also realistic and need to admit that I have lived far too long as a man for a major change to be truly viable. The biggest transition thus far has been in my thinking and I now truly see myself as a woman when I am out and about as Joanna.

I am (at least partially) a woman in my soul and that is what counts. The body parts are what they are.

That absolute comfort in being who I am has spilled well into my attitude when I am out in the world as Joanna. There is a warm comfort in being myself and that has spilled into the life of the man I work and present to my children as.

Might there be days when I regret not carrying through into a full transition? Perhaps yes but life is not about doing what we want but about doing what we need. Right now I am following what I NEED to do. I need to tend to my son and need to work at this company to make a good living.

Joanna is having her life too and while her life is not perfect, she also has what she needs.

I met a new friend at church the other day and after Mass we decided to go for coffee. She is a single woman in her 60’s and for her I am just another woman. The conversation flowed and we had a nice time.

I think this way of living will have to suffice for me. It may not be the perfect solution but nothing in life is perfect.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

the Jaimie Veale study....

l know I have said lately that I would refrain from plunging back into the latest thinking on gender, but Jaimie Veale's study does provide much comfort to transgender people so it is worth mentioning. Jaimie who is herself an early transitioner, completed her study as part of her master's thesis and used over 2000 internet respondants to try and shed new light on our understanding of gender and it's apparent fluidity.

She uses a much larger sample than Ray Blanchard used in his original work at his Alberta gender clinic and comes up with a fascinating cross section of gender expression which astonishes in its variety. What is particularly notable here is that the respondents were not queued for gender surgery and so had less incentive to lie in order to be allowed to transition.

So although Blanchard's sample was more personally and intimately interviewed, the sample was only in the hundreds and only included those who were enrolled in his program.

Not surprisingly, Veale has found that it serves no use to categorize transgender people by whether they transition early or late or by pre transition sexual orientation. She has found that gender variance is indeed a spectrum or rainbow and not a static set of groupings and in doing so further discrediting Blanchard's paraphilia or target error theories.

Simply put, there is everthing under the sun when it comes to gender variance and besides the more extreme kinds of gender disphoria necessitating immediate intervention via full physical and hormonal transformation, there are many who find a baseline using less extreme measures.

Of course transgender people will rejoice in the findings because we are removing the idea of true transsexuals versus paraphilic perverts in dresses axis. I as a self diagnosed advanced but not quite transsexual trans person, find solace in her findings and further puts the final nails in the twisted thinking of Blanchard and company who essentially propose that transexuals are either gay men or perverted paraphilics.

Of course the origins of gender incongruence are still not understood and that may have to wait a while yet. At least Jaimie's work begins to return us to the tone of the original work by Harry Benjamin where there is no judgemental language or crack pot theories but instead purely reporting (with empathy I might add) the lives of gender variant people.

To find out more about the study simply Google Jaimie Veale trans study.

therapy and the future...

I met N again last week because I think she wants to still explore what chances we have together. She knows I am starting with the group in September and need to close all questions regarding transition. I told her I need to do this and she agrees wholeheartedly as she will not stay with me if I become a woman.

I don't blame her one bit.

So in essence we are in a form of suspended animation.

I desperately want to close the door to transitioning but I don't want it sneaking up on me in three years and have it destroy any relationship we may build over that time in spectacular fashion once again. And as my taboos regarding transitioning continue to fall by the wayside, there can be no better time to find out who I am than now.

Am I the woman I sometimes suspect I am or a transgendered male who can treat his GID through cross gender expression? There are days where I waiver back and forth and until that issue is resolved I cannot move forward with calm certainty.

The group will not tell me what to do but will provide the venue for my thought process with the advantage of live feedback and challenges from my disphoric peers.

Tomorrow evening I have another laser appointment to further clear my chin of hair and in spite of the discomfort involved I am looking forward to it.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Being in between things...

It’s quite an interesting period I am going through now.

I am peeling away layers of old paint in my psyche but that does not mean I am ready to embark on transition. My aim is to achieve congruence and balance and as I have very often stated here I want to come to an equilibrium that works for me.

One of the annoying aspects is the impracticality of leading a double life. Changing clothes back and forth and removing and re applying makeup makes for a schizophrenic existence that I am not sure I want. But even that is not good enough reason to make a major life change.

It must be based on NEED and not want.

I am probably in the in between stage where I am slowly accepting the possibility that transition would work well for me and trying to be happy as a part time male. In essence I have reversed myself and become a woman who plays male for her children and for work.

But I am not sure of that. It’s just a theory.

What I have discovered over the last year is that being me is more like a female and playing a male requires more work. My ability to be open, social and happy seems to be stronger when I am Joanna. I am naturally tense as a male probably because it is not my normal state. It’s like putting a square peg in a round hole.

I have no basis for physical comparison since I have never take hormones but the change in mental processing is markedly different. I can truly relax and be myself as Joanna.

My ex spouse confided to me that my daughter expressed fear about a potential transition on my part. I had never spoken to my daughter directly about this so I called her to inquire where this was coming from. It turns out that it was her own idea to just express one day to my ex spouse. But putting it out in the open gave me the chance to allay any fears that my daughter might have had about transition.

As it turns out I don’t think she would have as much trouble as I might fear except that there would naturally be an adjustment period. Like everything else in life, it would take time.

Time is what I am letting happen and with it more answers will come.

I've got it!!...I think what is currently happening is that i am slowly melding me into a whole person. Whoever wins in the end will either be a man or a woman.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

my last line of defense?

I have been hoping that I am going to be just fine staying exactly as I am and just adjusting to the reality of life as a gender variant person. The state of flux of my life is coming from not being entirely at ease with the new arrangement and speaking to Helene the other day showed me that my vocabulary is still full of dos and donts.

So the session did reveal some cracks in the foundation.

I also told her that I fundamentally do not believe in the idea of changing sex. In other words, it was a non starter for me that I would ever succumb to a transition. Doing so would amount to a personal failure; failure to live up to my role as father, brother, son and male role model for my own son.

So even if that gender incongruity has always been with me, giving in to it would amount to a lack of resolve and strength on my part.

Helene picked up on my use of language and lauded me for living for so long with that misalignment. She also pointed out to the truth in that I cannot be a whole person until I come to reconcile the discomfort with my birth gender. Only then will I feel completely at peace.

This is why I must enter into therapy. I need to come to hit a solid floor that I can walk on.

I know others are happy with their weekend outings once a month but I seem not to be among them. I don’t understand why because many years ago the type of life I lead now would have had me thinking that this would be more than enough to feed my feminine side. But it appears that the more I succumb to it the more it wants and the more I feel I need to fight the temptation of caving in to it.

Eroticism had been the block I had been using to stop progress and I know it. Back when I fell for Blanchard’s theories it was a bit depressing to think of myself as a paraphilic but it at least helped to keep the lid on the idea of transition.

These days I will have an empowering outing as Joanna and then before removing my clothing I will masturbate to the idea of my being a full time woman and being happy. This will typically introduce just the right dosage of guilt to keep a lid on things and have me happy to go back to being male for a while. It was the same thing that kept me throwing out my clothes and holding my breath for months when I was younger.

But it’s starting not to work so well anymore.

I am worried that removing that last protective layer might have me contemplating something I deeply do not want to do.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Kate Bornstein speaks. ...

Here is a wonderful excerpt from Kate Bornstein's book titled "My Gender Workbook". It's a little story about when she went to a Catholic retreat and a priest, who didn't know much about trans issues, gave her the following advice:

"Well I'm certainly not qualified or experienced enough to give you any specific advice about a sex change, but I can tell you this: your comfort level is somewhere down around your ankles, and you need to do something about that". He went on to tell me that I should do at least three things a day to make myself more comfortable, and then he said, "Al, you need to learn to treat yourself like you would treat an honoured guest in your house". That was about twelve years ago, and it's still some of the best advice I've ever received. Whenever I'm beating myself up about gender stuff or anything else, I can usually get back to the point of treating myself like an honoured guest"

That is so great that I just had to post it!

group therapy...

I had a good session with Helene yesterday.

It was positive and confidence building for me. She strongly encouraged me to get to the bottom of everything by signing up for the group therapy sessions which start in the fall. I have decided to take her up on that offer.

This does not necessarily mean that I need to enter the formal program either. I can for example only sign up for the group and forego the individual sessions with Helene. They meet once every 2 weeks on Wednesdays between 11 30 and 1 pm. The cost is $50 per session so its not astronomical.

In Helene's experience, people progress further in finding answers to their gender issues in the group setting than in the individual sessions. I will see how that goes. Interestingly she insisted on staying away from the word transsexual and instead opted to talk about gender disphoria. She stated that the term has a connotation for many and carries a stigma that would frighten many (myself included) from seeking therapy.

It's not a cheerleading club for transition that they are running but instead a program that helps people come to terms with their gender issues.

Among the group are people who have never crossdressed and others who are well into hormones and living full time so it is quite the cross section of gender misfits.

Interestingly when I brought up the issue of my recent meet up with N she alluded to the possibility that I am seeking out people who are ashamed of my being trans as much as I am. She noted in some of my use of language that I still have work to do in coming to terms with who I am.

 I know she is right and as much as I have dramatically improved my sense of self, I still have a ways to go before I find my baseline resting point. When I pointed to the impression that my disphoria was worsening with age she had a different perspective. She noted that the gap between my male life and my female life was widening.

This larger canyon is making it more difficult for me to bridge the gap. As she was speaking I realized that she was right. I am having trouble reconciling and living a double life is very challenging.

The session reinforced my resolve to get to the bottom of everything since, aside for the 4 month session back in 2007 with an apprentice sexologist at the hospital, I have never been in long term therapy for my gender issues.

I think the time has come.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

rock and a hard place once again

Well I've waded into interesting waters once again.

I met N for coffee and after not having seen her since last January she was a sight for sore eyes. We spoke at length about where each of us was in our respective lives and the conversation flowed well.

At one point it was my turn to bare my soul about where I was with my gender issues and before I knew it I started to cry. I had been telling her that I was in a really good place these days and here I was bawling my eyes out in a cafe.

Back in January I had bought her flowers expecting some sort of reconciliation. When things didn't go the way I expected, I closed the door on her before she could close it on me. This time it was different and we spent almost three hours catching up; at the end of which a door seemed to be opening.

But of course there's a catch.

N is tolerant of my dressing but never wants to see it or participate. The question of indulging versus management even came up. If I am caving in to my desire to dress, what percentage is true need versus over indulgence.

There's the rub.

Living alone has allowed me to find a freedom to dress and manage my disphoria to my liking but in order to return to a relationship with N I would need to curb it. The problem is that I have attained a level of comfort with my cross gender expression that I like. So once again I am forced to choose and truth be told I am not sure to what extent I can now return to suppression.

So I ask myself this simple question: Have I passed a point of no return? Also to what extent should I even suppress in order to meet someone's idea of what a man is even if that expectation is entirely reasonable? Not an easy question but par for the course for my somewhat complicated life.

I'll have some reflecting to do over the coming days and weeks to be sure.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Keeping things in perspective

Well after some back and forth emails and texts, N and I are back on for coffee this Sunday.

I have no unrealistically high expectations unlike back in January when I clearly had not yet healed from the split and not done the work that my gender issues clearly demanded.

I know I have thought a lot about our breakup over the last year and even as I thought that a person like me had no business burdening someone with my gender confusion, it was my anger that finally drove her away.

The anger was primarily coming from from unresolved issues and frustration over my divorce situation with my kids. I have now fully embraced my transgender nature and have no plans to transition.

My cross gender expression will be the tool I use to manage my disphoria.

Does this mean that N and I still stand a chance?

This remains to be seen and as I am cautiously optimistic, I understand that due to my new found internal peace I will be ok even if we are not able to reconcile.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

I really should know better...

I had to contact N for some tax issues and we ended up emailing back and forth about it. At one point (and I am not sure what made me do it) I told her that I missed her and that I thought we should meet for coffee.

Well it was back to old times and before I knew it I was embroiled in a series of texts and emails that had me scratching my head. It started innocently enough and then proceeded to me being asked why I missed her and why I contacted her again.

It made me feel like the old days when we used to fight.

Truth be told I was probably using my rose coloured glasses again and because I had started to feel so good about things lately that I could use that positive energy to re ignite something that was never really all that good I suppose.

I don’t really understand romantic love at all. I wear my heart on my sleeve all the time and I am very honest. I am also latin tempered and that can get me into trouble. I was shy and withdrawn growing up and although I am very sociable I am basically somewhat of a loner. I am also finicky about who I consider a friend because basically at the root I am a bit of an intellectual snob. Pedestrian and uninteresting people bore me and when N used to acclaim that her friends were so amazing I was hard pressed to see what she saw in them. Maybe its me I don't know...

The one time we met an interesting couple (he was a college professor and his wife also highly educated and interesting) the evening turned out to be very much to my liking but she found them to be bores. I was left scratching my head once again.

I think the problem is that we were never really and truly friends N and I.

And now I am left with the same dilemma that all trans people have. How much can you be yourself and still conform to the standards of acceptability in order to attract a mate. But the truth is that my 2 major relationship failures have left me disappointed and confused. And now that I have truly accepted myself I am not going back to shoe horning myself into someone else’s idea of what a man should be.

For better or worse, I am who I am.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Some words from Harry Benjamin...

I wanted to post a rather brilliant excerpt from Harry Benjamin’s Transsexual Phenomenon published in 1966. This particular part speaks much to my own confusion in centering where I am in the spectrum of things and why I need to fine tune my thinking in order to find my own balance:

“Coming back to the differences between transvestism and transsexualism., another simpler and more unifying concept and a corresponding definition may have to be considered. That is, that transvestites with their more or less pronounced sex and gender indecision may actually all be transsexuals, but in varying degrees of intensity. A low degree of largely unconscious transsexualism can be appeased through cross-dressing and demands no other therapy for emotional comfort. These are transvestites (Group 1).

A medium degree of transsexualism makes greater demands in order to restore or maintain an emotional balance. The identification with the female cannot be satisfied by wearing her clothes alone. Some physical changes, especially breast development, are requirements for easing the emotional tension. Some of these patients waver between transvestitic indulgences and transsexual demands for transformation (Group 2). For patients of a high degree of transsexualism (the "true and full-fledged transsexual"), a conversion operation is the all-consuming urge, as mentioned earlier and as a later chapter will show still more fully. Cross-dressing is an insufficient help, as aspirin for a brain tumor headache would be (Group 3). It must be left to further observations and investigations in greater depth to decide whether or not transvestitic desires may really be transsexual in nature and origin. Many probably are, but the frequent fetishistic transvestites may have to be excluded.

If these attempts to define and classify the transvestite and the transsexual appear vague and unsatisfactory, it is because a sharp and scientific separation of the two syndromes is not possible. We have as yet no objective diagnostic methods at our disposal to differentiate between the two. We - often - have to take the statement of an emotionally disturbed individual, whose attitude may change like a mood or who is inclined to tell the doctor what he believes the doctor wants to hear. Furthermore, nature does not abide by rigid systems. The vicissitudes of life and love cause ebbs and flows in the emotions so that fixed boundaries cannot be drawn.

It is true that the request for a conversion operation is typical only for the transsexual and can actually serve as definition. It is also true that the transvestite looks at his sex organ as an organ of pleasure, while the transsexual turns from it in disgust. Yet, even this is not clearly defined in every instance and no two cases are ever alike. An overlapping and blurring of types or groups is certainly frequent”

When you are not positive about where you stand you just have to dig a little deeper....

I'm getting used to these little thuds...

I don’t want to negate anything I said in the previous post with the exception of wanting to be a woman or aspiring to be a woman. That is a fallacy because I am a man and will always be one but I suffer from gender disphoria and that makes my brain think things that sometimes I shouldn’t.


Yes my mind wants me to go to certain places but it doesn’t mean it’s realistic or ultimately desireable.

Where I really want to get to that balance point where my gender variance is just a comfortable part of my expression and right now after decades of suppression I know I am overshooting. The headiness of days when I get to express my femme side makes me post things that are not or should not be in my sights as a target.

The reason I know this is true is because I fall back down to earth the next day and reality is there too.

Make no mistake in that I am still content with my management plan but because I am so buried inside my head these days I can become deluded and confused at times.

One step at a time I tell myself. Things will settle down.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

practical steps

I only have one thing left to do now and that is to allow time for prayer and reflection in order to sort through my thoughts. I know I am still looking at a few years until I settle on a definite game plan but in the meantime I will do some practical things.

 For one I want to completely clear my face of all hair. After 6 excruciating laser treatments its already quite sparse but I still require some foundation to cover what's currently left. This is a must if I ever want to really live full time regardless of whether I opt for HRT or not. It hurts like the devil so I have decided to proceed in mini sessions. This month I will further clear my chin which is the area most in need of attention and has the thickest growth compared to other areas.

 I will also continue to experience as much real life as a woman as I possibly can by trying longer and longer periods as Joanna. This year will see my first entire week spent entirely as a woman. This will be another important test for my feelings and challenge my resolve.

For the record, I have no preconceived notions as to how I should feel and will be satisfied to learn that maybe staying as I am is the best option. Conversely I will not deny a strong pull in the opposite direction if it happens. After this will be my first time ever dealing with my gender issues with all blinders off. In the meantime my kids will be either have completed high school (in the case of my daughter) or close to completing (in the case of my son). I will be sensitizing them slowly over time even as they are already quite aware of my issue. The difference of course is that they haven't yet seen it up close and personal.

I will also be speaking confidentially to HR people in my field to inquire about their trans policies even if I really know the answer. My own company has given me the green light but I am not sure I could transition there.

These are all practical steps which need not lock me in to any scenario. It's been beyond illuminating getting here and sometimes I shake my head in disbelief. I am interacting with other women as the woman I aspire to be and have always felt deep down that I was. I think that this is why I have taken to everything so well once I removed my self imposed road blocks.

 I continue to gain new contacts and friends who only know me as Joanna and that success spurs me on to more. I have become at least in spirit the kind of woman I've always wanted to be. However I cannot overemphasize the need for baby steps. I need to eat the elephant one bite at a time.

This is another reason I don't want to enter the hospital program since it has set milestones and a fixed timeline. Other people's schedules don't interest me especially since my ultimate goal is not GRS but instead stability and peace at a plateau that works for me.

Joanna will make her own decisions

Saturday, 1 June 2013

the discourse breaks down

The more I have delved into the gender blogs and websites the more I realize how much effort and time is spent on people staking claim to a particular definition that they feel applies to them.

We see terms bandied about like transgender, tranny, drag queen, HBS TS, androphilic TS, autogynephilic TS, type I and 2 transsexuals, crossdresser, transvestite, gender queer, gender nonconforming, etc.

What is very interesting about all this is that unlike a real science like physics or biology, the science behind divergence from the traditional gender binary is barely in its infancy.

Researchers like Benjamin, Blanchard and company have provided study results based on interviews and treatment sessions with countless individuals and yet after decades of postulating no conclusive and universally accepted ideas exist.

This is very telling.

It points to the fact that the science (or pseudo science) has left a vacuum which has been filled with personal ideas and definitions of individuals on countless websites and blogs. Human nature being what it is it results in infighting among gender variant people based on the ideas of self justification and who is most legitimate.

I myself have my own ideas based on all my reading over the last 20 years but I have no conclusive proof because quite simply none currently exists. So we are left with long diatribes, arguments, poisonous attacks that serve nothing other than lower the civility of the discourse.

This why I left the science behind and have begun focusing on my own contentment in dealing with my gender issues. Interesting analysis that I run into will still be posted here and there but that's about it.

What is perhaps refreshing is that the younger generation has begun to abandon much of the old literature and instead begun to focus on what feels right for them. I think that this is the way to go because if they go to the wrong website they can become mighty confused about where they fit in into this already confusing subject.