Wednesday, 31 July 2013

going forward

N and I are making a go of it. We want this relationship to work long term and, in order to do that, there needs to be trust and understanding on both sides.

We love each other and that’s a good start. I am a gender disphoric and she knows and accepts this and I come with responsibilities with my children in tow.

She wants to be respected and treated as an equal in this relationship and she wants no more silent treatment and no more verbal abuse. I am working towards this goal very diligently to make sure that does not happen again.
I am also starting to re think the sessions with Helene in the fall.

Will they add value? because, as God is my witness, I have absolutely no intention of doing anything to my body. No one can really help me with my management of my disphoria so I am not certain that I will gain from exposure to this group other than to impart my own particular viewpoint on to its members. Maybe I am wrong but this is the way I feel at the moment and I may change my mind again in September and try the sessions anyway.

For the time being however, my focus is on the verbal abuse sessions and they are going well. I plan to continue them until I am convinced that I am making concrete progress. Of course it’s hard to measure since the sources of stress have effectively been removed and indeed that is part of the solution. No one wants to be pinned into a corner like a wild animal because the reaction will never be pretty.

Cohabitation is out for now. N and I need to rebuild our trust by seeing each other regularly and establishing a calm pattern of stability that reassures each of us that we can have long term durability as a couple. Instead of announcing to the world that we are back on, we will simply quietly see each other and see how it goes.

Based on what I am seeing right now, I am very optimistic.

NB: This is my 300th post and whoda thunk that I'd still be writing this blog. Certainly not me.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

deception

The search for the origin of my gender disphoria now effectively over, I am focusing on my management techniques.

Joanna is a known entity. I am a divorced woman in her late forties and have a network of friends and merchants who are happy to see me and talk with me in that form. It's my pleasure to oblige them as it feeds that part of my soul that I had been trying to starve.

Many of these relationships were inadvertent. I wasn't originally trying to decieve but simply blend in but in succeeding beyond my wildest dreams, I found that I was able to tell the truth about my life and only lie about my birth gender.

By doing this I avoided the potentially awkward trans conversation that would ensue and with people who really need not know. I suppose a parallel example would be the stealth transsexual who, rightfully, decides to omit that she was born male.

Her objective is not to deceive but to live as normal life as possible in her chosen gender. In the same way, I find my approach leaves me with a rewarding experience which involves interrelating with people for whom my birth gender need not matter.

I am simply a nice lady that they enjoy speaking with or, in the example of Sabrina, an older person who can offer her some genderless life advice. I have convinced myself that this is not malignant deception but instead omission when I have crossed a bridge and it's too late to turn back in order not to have people think I have a hidden agenda.

Let's face it, I am getting a far richer experience when I am being perceived as a woman by other women. I know what it feels like when that doesn't happen and the payoff is just not nearly as rich and intimate. Women are much more themselves with other women. Men have another level of comradery but it's not as textured or profound.

Conversely, when I am asked if I am transgender or transsexual by a well intentioned person (which rarely happens I must admit) I gladly do my part for our community and act the good spokeswoman.

Friday, 26 July 2013

.....no foul

Apologies if my last post insulted anyone's sensibilities.

I was trying to touch on the idea of avoiding transition through more liberal gender expression for those of us who might not be full transsexuals.

I would never presume to speak for those for whom there is no choice in the matter of whether they should or should not go all the way.

At a certain point you do need to make a choice what gender you will inhibit, unless you are an artist or employed in some field where your gender presentation and it's fluidity is not an issue.

I was perhaps being a little Utopian with my ideas but indeed it is sometimes nice to dream...

Thursday, 25 July 2013

do no harm....

As AQV reminded me, the world would indeed be a better place if everyone accepted themselves for who they are and if society just let them do it. The latter of course is the biggest hurdle and some of us spend decades trying to come out from under the weight of expectation. The lucky ones are able to do it early but, for the rest of us, it becomes a struggle until we come to full self realization often decades later.

Such was my problem and the problem for many who grew up under very dogmatic rules tied solely to convention. Boys must wear this and girls must wear that we were told; end of story.

By the time we realize all of this, some damage is already done and the price of suppression is often high. Marriages are lost due to concealment of something that, for other women, could be at worst benign behaviour. But we hide because disclosure is seen as the ultimate unthinkable in light of this horrid perversion of ours.

In retrospect I now think: was I hurting anyone through my cross gender behaviour? The answer I ultimately came up with was no. I never have.

In fact I hurt mostly myself through the act of suppression.

Just as the transsexual who comes to a realization that their body does not match their mind, I could have accepted that my cross gender behaviour is simply part of who I am and be done with it.

I don’t presume to speak for everyone when I say that there are no doubt many like me in the transgender community who might do well just to accept that cross gender behaviour is all they require to lead happy and fruitful lives. The need for body alterations could be averted because happy is mostly in your head and not in your genitals.

Dress as a woman 24/7 if you desire. It’s your life.

Since true transsexualism is exceedingly rare, it would perhaps be better to allow for looser guidelines for cross gender expression in children rather than diagnosing them as transgender and giving them testosterone blockers. I actually believe that the proclivity for cross gender expression is not contagious and only occurs in a relatively small percentage of the male population. The ones that don’t outgrow it will either be cross dressers or transsexuals and there is no crime in being either.

But it is perhaps easier and more expedient to be diagnosed with a real condition than to deal with guilt. I know because I was caught in that very same vice grip for a while.

There are those of course who think that what I do is an abomination and, in truth, not possessing this compulsion would have spared me some pain growing up. But I know my heart is pure and my intention is only to feed my soul in this very peculiar way.

I don’t need to know where it originates to know that it’s right for me.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

freedom of expression

“So much of gender, I'd say most of it, is just that -- a display. A set of very small, disconnected behaviours that give the illusion of a whole identity. Sure, you'll never know what it's like to have a cis female body, but you can certainly own your femininity in the same you can own your taste in music, your sense of fashion, etc. Not to trivialize gender issues or imply that people don't have an innate sense of bodily sex, but I'm just talking femininity in terms of behaviour and the feelings that come with that behaviour”

Lindsay sent me this comment which was posted on crossdreamlife and I admit that it did strike a chord with me because much of my own history is coloured with the shame of needing to express my own brand of femininity.

Although the above statement is something you may agree or disagree with, it does try to convey feelings which are more tied to gender expression than to identity and, while I understand fully that I am a man and can identity as one, I can at the same time acknowledge the strong pull towards expressing something which makes me feel whole.

I have expressed in this blog my confusion about whether I might truly be transsexual and whether my gender disphoria would not be best treated permanently through transition. But would a more liberating attitude towards my gender expression, one that is free of suppression, shame and guilt, be the only thing that I really need?

I am hoping that this approach helps reduce the gender discomfort I have lived with most of my life.

Since I am currently happy with my ability to express myself more fluidly, this might be as good a barometer as any to justify this approach. I hope to be able to come to the very same conclusion after having tried Helene’s group in the fall.

In the final analysis, your gender identification is your own and since no one perfectly conforms to the binary norms, its up to you to make your model work for you.

Even if I do not fully understand my need to express gender variance, I can proceed with the knowledge that its something that helps me and simply be happy with that.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

no it's not quite the end....

My need for this journal is waning a little bit.

No I don't have all of the answers but with the reduction in angst is coming a proportionate disinterest in posting as frequently. This does not necessarily spell the end for this blog but I have no interest in chronicling every banality that I encounter in my daily experience either. In other words, don't look for me to describe in great detail the colour and shape of my latest Joanna purchase because it just won't happen.

I am coming to terms with the fact that, with the demise of my guilt, I am now left purely with the more pragmatic managenent issue of doling out my dressing in measured but frequent proportions.

Having acknowledged to myself that this is something I need to prevent me from slipping into a pink depressive fog, I need not beat myself up any longer over it.

Like Popeye very succinctly said: "I am what I am".

The overlap with all of you being so buoyant to my spirit, will almost guarantee that I will continue to share my ideas with you.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

what the doctor ordered....

It's starting to feel like my work is almost done.

It's the homework that I should have done many years ago but refused to undertake perhaps for fear of finding something sinister hiding underneath. It's the treatment of a scab that was left dangling and uncured until I came back to tend it to it properly.

If I had not spent the last year in a figurative purgatory trying to understand myself, I would be a lot worse off right now.

The timing was as good as any.

What remains now is to dose out a guilt free application of cross dressing to prevent my gender disphoria from reducing my quality of life. The more I have given validity to this important tool, the more I have begun to feel better about the idea of never transitioning.

My refusal to accept that my disphoria was real and that my instincts were leading me in the right direction all along was causing my suffering. The elimination of the guilt that was behind it all, was what the doctor ordered.

I believe I can do this now.

Friday, 19 July 2013

you shall overcome.,.

It's funny how my outings as Joanna have markedly improved due to the elimination of two major obstacles: lack of confidence and guilt.

When I was younger and as recently as a few months ago, one or both of these monsters would conspire to rob me of my ability to feed my disphoria in a positive way.

It was like trying to drink orange juice from a partially plugged straw thus never benefiting from the experience in a full and satisfying way. This has now dramatically changed and I can not only relax fully without worrying about what others might think but also bask in the calmness of a guilt free experience.

I know this took me many years to achieve and yet it seems so obvious in retrospect. The simple act of doing what comes natural to you has a power like no other and for the first time ever I am able to draw life from this source.

I have overcome my two worst enemies and I could not be happier for it.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

perhaps a way forward..

I am fairly certain that the best approach is to view or, perhaps more appropriately, trick myself into thinking I am both a man and a woman. If I can have that fluidity present where, in the absence of guilt, I can move freely between gender presentations, then I can make a go of it without any form of physical transition.

N and I exchanged a series of emails today over these questions. We still love each other and want to make a go of it as a couple.

What had scared me in the beginning was that, upon seeing me dressed a few times, she started to express that it was beginning to affect the way she saw me as a male. That confirmation made me recoil into hiding mode where I would avoid contact with her as I was entering or leaving the house as Joanna. I began to feel scared and perhaps a little bit rejected.

I misunderstood her because she reiterated today that I should not underestimate what she is capable of. I take her at her word that she means it.

I know that over the last year I have worked the hardest at overcoming my own self rejection and moved from self-identifying as an AGP paraphilic to a new and better understanding as a borderline transsexual. This discovery has removed much culpability from my shoulders and allowed me to breathe as I have never done before.

You cannot accept the love of another if you do not love yourself. I was not able to fulfill that basic and fundamental Commandment until I had made my voyage of self discovery.

I also explained to N that if we are to have a healthy relationship where transition is even further off the radar, Joanna needs to have her own friends. People like Leticia and Sabrina who feed me as a person and take my cross-gender expression onto a stage of more fruitful human interaction, need to continue to be part of my life. I can no longer be a solitary mall walker and since the bar scene is not my thing, the worst thing she’ll need to worry about is my having a coffee after Sunday Mass with one of these aforementioned ladies.

In return for her confidence and trust, I can be a better and faithful partner to her, knowing that we are each able to enter into a union as the people we truly are inside.

With a higher degree of comfort and N’s support for my GID management plan I should be able to reduce my level of stress and become a kinder and more supportive partner to her.

Let’s see if we can make this work.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

one foot in front of the other...

This morning I went to the passport office very early as my son needs to have one if we are to enter the States for a few days in early August.

As I waited in line, a transsexual woman who I estimated to be roughly my age, walked past. She looked self assured and comfortable in her own skin and if it weren’t for slight vestiges of facial and corporal masculinity, she might have escaped my detection.

I admit to feeling a slight pang of jealousy as she walked by and I could not help but imagine that, as hard as getting there must have been, her demeanour showed a self assuredness that I found quite admirable. She had (at least on visual inspection) arrived at a place where I had not: complete internal peace with her gender identity.

It made me realize that there remains work to be done for me as the ebbs and flows of my disphoria continue to have me think different things on different days. This is why I know I am not yet there. I want desperately to settle into a permanent state where I no longer need to reflect on my gender. I, perhaps unrealistically, want the disphoria to stop.

But will the management technique of liberal gender expression only encourage me towards eventual transition?

One thing is for certain: suppression has never worked for me and it’s too late to go back. It’s too late to put the proverbial genie back into the bottle.

I am trying to understand now how I did it for all of those years before. How was I able to carry the load of suppression all the way through to my 40’s with only bi-yearly mini cross dressing binges? Was it the increased testosterone in my body or was it the distraction of raising 2 young children while repairing an older home?

I have no answer.

I can definitely now relate to the stories of older transgender people which I read about when I was younger. Their websites were candidly explaining to me how they waited so long to be themselves but could not or would not admit it until they had their own personal epiphany.

But here I am still reflecting on the idea that transsexuality at its core is a disorder. One is not born a woman and performs a correction but instead something happens to you (most likely in your mother’s womb) that leaves you with this imprinted condition upon your birth; this disconnect between body and mind which you are left to grapple with. I deeply wish that science had indeed found a genetic marker or some brain abnormality that could provide definitive proof that there is something measurably different about transsexuals. Having this type of proof would be far more reassuring than the exclusivity of trusting your own instinct. Because your feelings can be manipulated into thinking you are something you are not. At the same time I understand that my way of thinking could block my own self acknowledging that I myself could be a full blown transsexual.

I have no problem with the idea that type V and VI transsexuals are positive when they say that they are women. They believe it with all of their heart because it is only this type of conviction that would allow you to modify your body in such a radical and unthinkable way. Their continued mental health hinges on physical transition. At that point, the argument of whether you are or are not truly a woman is rendered irrelevant in light of radically improved life quality. The burden of proof having been met, they have done the right thing and have literally saved their own lives.

Are there mistakes made sometimes? Yes but they are usually screened out in within the confines of the formal screening programs that are put in place. Assuming you are dealing with a reputable therapist who works hand in hand with a hospital gender program, the chances of error are greatly diminished.

I sometimes feel that by virtue of my own personal road blocks, it will take me some time to uncover who I really am at the core. I just have to give myself a break while I am doing it and let God continue to work in my life to repair my damaged psyche.

Monday, 15 July 2013

solving your conundrum...

Gender presentation and identity are extremely important to society and it is mandatory that you choose a gender role in order to adhere to expectation. The higher you are in the echelon of that society the tighter this rule will apply.

But there are people who are not entirely comfortable in either gender role and are perfectly at ease saying so. They call themselves gender queer and they leave you with an impression of androgyny which often confuses those who interact with them. It is a deliberate blurring of the lines to send the message that they subscribe to neither camp entirely. They dance to the beat of their own drummer so to speak.

People like me, who have had trouble espousing any type of gender variance or fluidity, have a history that is chequered with quasi schizophrenic behaviour. The reason for this is our natural instincts to express ourselves outside the gender norm were met very early on with rejection from our peers, educators and families. From there it had to go underground or to outright suppression because we are trying to somehow repair ourselves.

We dressed to feed our need for gender expression but then threw things out in disgust once we had contravened the prime directive not to be abnormal; but abnormal by whose rules?

We built a life based on deceit, hiding and suppression solely on the notion that what we were doing was somehow morally bankrupt and even sexually depraved.

For full blown transsexuals (HBS types V and VI) the solution to their debilitating disphoria has been to transition since there is no ambiguity for them as to their identity. They consider themselves women. Their struggles typically happen early in life and they soon realize they have a complete psycho sexual inversion.

People like me, somehow stuck in the middle, need to come to terms that this disconnect will never be remedied and that our intermediate state is permanent. It’s a conundrum precisely because your chances of displeasing society and a potential life partner are many degrees higher. This is the price to be paid for being different in this life.

But there is a way out and it is the way I will be using henceforth to avoid transition.

Complete embracing of your nature as a transgender person is the first step. This means doing away with all guilt and personal blame for how you were born (which is no small task). Next is thumbing your nose at people who would want to shame you into what you are doing is morally wrong or sick. You are who you are so why not celebrate it? People who are disgusted by you need not be your friends because they are judging a book exclusively by its cover.

People who do not accept you for who you are need not be part of the equation of your life. You have a choice to keep yourself imprisoned or to set yourself free. You are the holder of the key to your own cell.

So I am slowly moving away from the schizophrenic behaviour that has governed my life in favour of creating a brand new person who celebrates his gender variance. The alternative is to perennially be a self deprecating disphoric.

It is the only way out of my conundrum.

disclosure

I was not able to stay away very long.

I think I need this blog and it’s become my main source of therapy. I have also been greatly bolstered by the feedback I get from all of you.

Yesterday, I was at my youngest sister’s house and we were able to converse a little after not having seen each other for several weeks. She has been my biggest confidante among my siblings over the last five years as I have battled with my gender issues. She also helped get me through my divorce by always lending a friendly ear and being a sounding board when I needed to vent.

She knows I am a borderline transsexual and so does my brother in law.

It has been good to be so OUT within my family and friends and I cannot think of a single person who has outright rejected me over the news that I am transgendered. In fact most people have told me that they see me as the same person irrespective of the news. In fairness however, most have never seen me dressed so the information they possess about me remains very much in the realm of the theoretical; they can be spared the jarring visual effect that seeing me in a dress would potentially give them.

That is all fine with me as only the act of disclosure has made all the difference in the world.

2 weeks ago I was sitting in room facing a hospital psychiatrist and 2 assistants as they interviewed the entire family over my son’s anxiety. The process involved him first being interviewed alone with the rest of us being invited in at a later stage.

About half way through, the fact that my son knows about me was brought up by my ex-wife. She very much resents that my children know and she used this opportunity to let her opinion be known. I politely disagreed and stated that it’s best that they be informed about their father. The head psychiatrist agreed with my assertion although he contributed by saying that perhaps there could still be some stigma for my son and this could have played a contributing role in his anxiety.

It’s possible that he is right because at this juncture of his young life, where his own burgeoning sexuality is being fleshed out and explored, the news that his father is gender conflicted can’t be the most welcome of announcements.

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing yes but I also grew up with a high degree of uncertainty and pressure and was able to deal with it on my own without any disclosure. I don’t believe that this knowledge will ultimately be detrimental to his normal development as a male.

Needless to say I am very glad that neither of my children shows any signs of gender conflict.

Friday, 12 July 2013

time to take a little break...

This blog is going on hiatus for a little while. Maybe it will be for good but I am not certain.

Thanks to all of you...

thoughts on a Friday morning....

I hope this blog does not appear to be only about navel gazing, because if it does I certainly don't mean it to be.

I started it as therapy and the only reason I made it public was because I wanted to get feedback from those who might be in the same situation as well as helping others by sharing my own struggle with gender disphoria. This blog would not exist in the absence of my gender issues.

Without trying to be critical, I have noticed that some in the trans community write blogs which chronicle their life as it happens. They talk about the people they meet, the parties they attend and the clothes they have purchased.

I wanted this blog to be a little more existential and get more into the meat of where this brain disconnect between physical and perceived gender comes and how to grapple with it.

On another note, I have noticed that as my disphoria ebbs and flows, I am sowing seeds of doubt whether I can be with N or with anyone else for that matter. After all, why would I expose anyone to the risk of a transition? No matter how vehemently I insist now that it won't ever happen, can I be sure I will feel the same in 2 years or in 5?

She wants and deserves a guarantee but how can I do that when this condition is so treacherous and ever changing? We talked about this subject last night as we walked her dog. I was showcasing my best and most convincing arguments but somewhere deep down there is a seed of doubt.

She is very right not to want to kiss me or even hold my hand. She is scared and I was reflecting this morning whether we shouldn't just stay friends and I can be left to my own devices with the knowledge that I will have spared another person from the risk of my gender highwire routine.

I am so desperately scared to be a transsexual, that I do not want to even entertain the possibility. That may be denial and Helene's group will hopefully challenge me in that area and help me to achieve a higher level of certainty about never transitioning.

Changing direction yet again, I had my first session yesterday for my anger/verbal abuse counselling. Sheila seems nice enough a person and I filled the hour with my thoughts and my history as there was much to tell. My next appointment is July 30th and she has told me that there is hope that she can help me develop techniques that will help me communicate more effectively during periods of conflict and thereby reduce the risk that I will not verbally hit below the belt.

Whether N and I can make a life together as a couple or not, I will carry through with this counselling and see what it does for me.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

what the heck IS normal anyway?

I was thinking about my situation last evening. There is no known cure for what I have and if I am, as I am starting to suspect, a type IV transsexual (according to the Benjamin scale) that puts me in a precarious situation; but one which I am trying to work out within the confines of my present reality.

This means no hormones and no surgical intervention of any kind.

But then I thought about what becoming “normal” would really mean for me. Type V and VI would get surgery and live out their lives as normal women (hopefully in stealth). Types 1 and 2 could hopefully get by with their cross gender expression and go back to happily feeling like (at least somewhat) normal men.

With type III and IV thinks get a little murkier.

In order to be normal this would presumably mean that I would no longer have a need to express any cross gender behaviour, ie. no more dressing up and no more pretending to be a woman in public.

But who gets to decide what normal is? There are so many variations in society and so many people with all sorts of individual realities.

It made me realize that what I had been mostly suffering from was the stigma of not measuring up to some ideal standard of normal.

Well guess what? Not a lot of normal out there and everyone has a story.

I just have to hunker down and find a routine that can work for me; one where I can still be a faithful partner and a father and employee and that’s it. Once you’re free of guilt and can see clearly it just comes down to scheduling and balancing your life.

Whether N and I can successfully find a way as a couple remains to be seen. For one thing, she cannot live in a situation where my kids are living with me and I will never close the door to them. This means that if one or both needs to stay with me during their college years my door will always be open.

I am not enamoured of her pet situation with a geriatric cat and a dog with some behavioural problems.

So the only way would be to live apart and truth be told that is not the worst thing that could happen. So let's see what the future holds.

Normal indeed....

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

transsexual versus transgender part 2

I was at a blog called “Transsexualism: A congenital disorder” and came upon this comment from an anonymous poster in agreement with the transsexual woman who authored the blog:

“What a 'spot on' blog. I suggest this should be 'required reading', for anybody and everybody looking for a clear and reasonable understanding of the clear and present distinction between a real yet treatable, medical malady and what is demonstrably a lifestyle choice”

This is an example of the kind of comment I was referring to where someone who is transsexual feels the need to disparage transgender people as exercising a lifestyle choice.

This is clearly an error in judgement and lack of knowledge about the other camp.

The transsexual has no choice but to transition however the transgender equally has no choice but to express who they are. There need not be any reason for these comments but there they are.

It seems ludicrous that these two separate groups should need to be in a battle at all. It’s as if the identity of one camp depends on the destruction of the other to remain intact and pure.

The explanation for this behaviour lies in the melding of both camps by people looking to unite all gender variant people into one pot and in so doing creating unnecessary tension.

Much like the inclusion of the T in the LGB camp is a bit of a stretch, it is sometimes preferable to leave the two camps of transsexual and transgender as separate and distinct.

The person who thinks I am practicing a lifestyle choice is clearly mistaken because my choice would have been not to have this condition in the first place. The fact that she equates my having a choice NOT to transition with choosing to be transgender makes absolutely no sense at all.

Why anyone in their right mind would choose to be transsexual or transgender is completely beyond me.

It’s something one comes to terms with and never ever chooses; an important difference.

The difference one year can make...

At the end of the day it has really always been about gender presentation.

I don’t hate being male and have only ever wanted to have more fluidity of gender expression. It’s part of who I am and to achieve it I need not do anything to my body.

It was something that came naturally to me right from the very beginning and had I always been able to do that freely and openly at the outset there would have never been an internal conflict. There is something feminine in my nature which draws life when I am cross dressed. Where that comes from I have not a clue but it does not matter.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

I think for many people currently labelling themselves transgender in our society, this is their true dilemma. Males have traditionally had a far more restrictive set of rules placed on them as to how they can dress and behave and, when that criteria does not fit the individual, there can be psychological damage done; especially when their natural inclinations are sacrificed at the altar of societal expectation.

As the eldest son in a deeply devout and orthodox family, those expectations were quite high and I did what I was told.

However, I can now breathe as I have never been able to do before, knowing that I am loved by God as I am and can express myself where my inclinations always took me without fear. That does not now nor did it ever make me a sinner.

I hope to now be a better partner to my beautiful and intelligent N (if she’ll still have me) and a father to my two great kids who I love dearly. I can be those two things AND express myself as Joanna.

Am I still going to go and see Helene in the fall? Yes I think I will. I am curious as to how others are grappling with this and Helene actually wants me there as she seems to be fascinated with my ability to express myself and with how grounded I am. She thinks I will have a positive influence on the group.

I began this blog on July 31st 2012 and I can really feel the difference that one year can make. The progress has been extremely measurable and I have many of you to thank for your encouragement and your support.

Thank you.

Monday, 8 July 2013

transsexual versus transgender

The transsexual versus transgender arguments that I sometimes encounter on the web have always baffled me. I never saw a need for them and I still don’t.

There are likely people out there who are really transsexuals and have never transitioned and we certainly know of people who were really transvestites, crossdressers or disphorics who transitioned only to later realize that they had made an error. Some maybe adjusted to their reality but if they had it to do over they may not have carried through with the operation.

The fact is that science is not currently able the make the distinction between them.

The main driver seems to be the personal conviction of the individual who is suffering often debilitating disphoria and, because changing your gender is so inconceivably horrific to most people, there has to be something there far beyond personal whim driving this directive.

This is why I so strongly support the idea of transition for those who feel there was no other option for their survival.

People like me are somewhat stuck in the middle. We seem to have been born with more disphoria than your average crossdresser but less than a full blown transsexual. I am still disphoric but to a lesser degree and if I am able to get past the horrible guilt most of us experience I might be able to get by with only cross gender expression.

Others are different and indeed everyone has a personal story.

Harry Benjamin noted the differences he observed and categorised people into groups; ostensibly reflecting the severity of their disphoria. You will note the absence anywhere in his book talking about who is or isn’t really a woman. This just is not a measurable thing. It wasn’t then and still is not now.

Helene Cote recently told me something analogous when she told me they don’t use the word transsexual anymore at the hospital and strictly refer to gender disphoria only.

So I see no point in disparaging each other.

In the end we are all people with something we did not ask for and we all deserve to be respected for our decisions in life. How each of us deals with our particular level of disphoria is highly personal and should be considered so.

Acceptance and balance is key...

N and I went out for a bite to eat last evening. Once again it was very pleasant and we talked at length.

At one point she looked at my fingernails and said: “you still have bits of nail polish on them”

She then looked me straight in the eyes and said very earnestly: “that’s not why I left you know”

“I know” I said assuredly to show I was acknowledging she was being genuine.

In the end it was not my being who I am that’s ever been the problem but the combination of my personal battle with my disphoria coupled with the other issues of her pets and my kids. When things threatened to spill over the stress manifested itself with my outbursts of verbal anger.

There is no cure for being transgendered. I know this because I have tried everything and, other than ending my own life, I know of no other remedy for this condition. There are however methods to curb and control the disconnect that exists in your brain and to espouse your nature in a positive way.

There is also nothing wrong with being transgendered. Even as I see it as a condition or an abnormality, I need not have spent so much energy suppressing it because by doing that I also dampened some of the good elements of my personality and part of my happiness.

No one has tried suppression harder than I have and am very intimately familiar with its side effects.

Having accepted how I am has seen an increase in personal joy and internal peace that I have never before experienced. This is how I know I am on the right track. God has made me this way and I need not spit in the face of this reality even as I do not understand the reason for it. Spending your time bemoaning your fate and wishing things were different will solve nothing and suppressing your natural instincts is definitely not the way to go.

Embracing my nature with a perfect balancing of my ying and my yang is the only way to go forward from here.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

whole and balanced

One of the major changes that's making things work for me has been getting Joanna out and about and social with people. I believe this is a pivotal element that had been missing from my outings.

My escapades were starting to feel very empty and boring and since my overlap with the trans community has been less than stellar, meeting new people has boosted my female identity tremendously.

I know it sounds and feels strange to have another identity but it seems to be my only way to make peace with my disphoria.

What's left now is how to fit Joanna into an even more constructive way into my life without her needing to necessarily take over.

I am already seeing signs that this may work because as each outing becomes more valid and constructive to me, the faster I can satiate the beast that is my disphoria. In other words, by drawing more protein I can shorten my time out as Joanna and thereby balancing her presence in my life.

There is also the issue of distraction.

When I am out with N or my children I become distracted with other things and my disphoria ebbs. So there are ways that I can exert control and I need not feel guilt because I tend to want to need to dress more when I am alone.

With the guilt and my obsession in finding a culprit for the source of my disphoria almost gone, I can start to think clearly about how to move forward.

I am perhaps more than ever well on my way to becoming whole and balanced person.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

coping strategies...

I am on to coping mechanisms and strategies now and moving away from "origin" analysis. The former will be helpful while the latter will be futile and serve no purpose.

AQV quite rightly reminded me of this in an email.

I plan to attend Helene's group in order to find coping methods for my disphoria and possibly learn how others manage theirs. I already know that for some the answer will lie in transition but I have decided that this path would be unwise for me.

Even if I am already far more emotionally balanced than I was regarding this issue, I suspect there is still more work to be done than I might now estimate. If the result produces a better me, then I am all for engaging in the process.

Next thursday morning I have an appointment with a psychologist to discuss my verbal abuse. I promised N that I would do this and it can only be helpful if it gives me additional strategies to cope with emotional stress when and if it returns at the level I experienced in our darker periods.

She was very pleased to hear that.

Friday, 5 July 2013

what's next?....life I suppose...

Understanding oneself can take half a lifetime. It certainly has been the case for me.

I remember as a very young child putting on my mother’s heels and playing with my sisters and then very swiftly having the carpet pulled out from under me by my well meaning mother trying to avoid the catastrophe of her son being different.

From there it went underground and the privacy of my room. When no one was home the first thing I did was go into my mother’s closet.

It would have been helpful of course to understand where these emotions and the drive to the feminine were coming from but I would never find any true answers. I was able to piece fragments together but my research did not really begin in earnest until my mid forties. I delayed it all due to my total denial about my condition.

I believed I was a flawed and perverted person and was easily led to fall prey to the ideas of Anne Lawrence, Ray Blanchard and Michael Bailey. For a time, it seemed to fit my behavior until I started reading more about non disphoric fetishists and realized that their experiences and mine were completely different. Once that avenue was closed, I was able to find my answer in the work of Harry Benjamin, whose work I appreciate more and more upon re reading.

Does it bother me that I might be a borderline transsexual? No in fact I am actually bolstered by merely being able to identify what I have as a condition and not as a character flaw. Because of the way I was raised and the discipline I was able to exert in every other area of my life, I never understood why this one appeared to be immune from my efforts at eradication.

Merely understanding this has been a breath of fresh air.

The next challenge is to try and figure out if a person like me can love a woman and have her love me back just as I am. I think N and I might be close to getting there and because I have removed so much guilt and stress from my life I believe I may be able to love her as she deserves to be loved.

We are taking things very slowly and as we walked and talked last evening we are simply enjoying each other’s company.

On another note, my son's anxiety is slowly taking a turn for the better and I am very bolstered by this. We were at the hospital the other day and he spoke very eloquently to the doctors evaluating him. I am very proud of him...

Thursday, 4 July 2013

the Benjamin scale

Here is the definition of a type IV transsexual on the Benjamin scale:

TYPE IV - Transsexual - Non-Surgical

• Gender "feeling" : Uncertain Wavering between TV and TS. May reject "gender".

• Dressing Habits and Social Life : "Dresses" often as possible with insufficient relief of gender discomfort. May live as man or as a woman.

• Sex Object Choice and Sex Life : Libido low. Generally asexual or autoerotic. May be bisexual.

• Conversion Operation (SRS) : Attractive but not required.

• Hormone Therapy/Estrogen Therapy : Needed for comfort & emotional balance.

• Psychotherapy : Only as guidance, most often refused and unsuccessful.

• Remarks : Social life dependant on circumstances. Often identifies as "transgenderist".

This describes me almost perfectly.

As far as estrogen therapy goes I am not sold on the idea because it would tamper with my brain chemistry, make it harder for me to pass as a male. My saving grace here has been my ability to pass as a woman without the assistance of hormones. Once I removed guilt and shame and I allowed Joanna to blossom then I started to become more satisfied with my dressing outings.

In other words, it helped my gender disphoria.

The problem with this type of transsexual is that they are perennially on the fence and so it will take a management plan to keep my disphoria in check. I think I am slowly achieving such a plan.

I have been very appreciative of the help I have been getting from my readers while I have struggled and posted about how to get where I need to.

Please continue to post because not only are you helping but I am at the same time greatly enjoying the dialogue.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

progress..

In spite of the discrimination that still exists, its never been a better time in history to be transgender or transsexual.

I know I can see a dramatic difference in how we are treated today by society at large and by the media and it's a far cry from when I was growing up in the 60's and 70's. Back then men either wore dresses to instill laughter or were portrayed as lurid and decadent transvestites or bizarre drag queens in films and TV shows.

Young transgender kids are being diagnosed early and, in many cases, allowed and even encouraged to be themselves by sensitive and caring parents.

By contrast, in the Catholic Spain of the 60's being a trans kid was virtually a prescription for exorcism.

I dared not ever divulge a word about my penchant for dresses and make up to my parents even as I understand now that they might have been far more sympathetic to my situation than I estimated.

Still, my own understanding of what I had was far from what I know today and the science behind it all was in its infancy. Interestingly, we have not progressed significantly from Harry Benjamin's 1966 Opus which is a shame. If anything we have had the opposite where crackpots like Ray Blanchard have postulated mean spirited and caustic theories meant more to stigmatize than help transgender folk discover themselves.

So what have I learnt? Trust your own heart and mind and know that you were made this way for some reason; perhaps not yet divulged to you yet. Love and accept yourself because you have little choice. Guilt and shame will destroy you slowly if you let them.

The blind, ignorant and mean spirited will always be with us but hopefully in increasingly lower numbers.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

we talk some more....

I have been greatly bolstered by my blog followers of late and have received some wonderfully supportive comments that are helping get through this critical period in my life.

I say critical because I need to put to rest the idea that I will ever transition and I am closer than ever to entrenching that idea in my head.

I understand very well that Joanna is not going anywhere and that she represents my only lifeline in keeping myself balanced and in control (in as much as one can exert control) of my GID. The trick is going to be finding just the recipe of cross gender expression.

Yesterday, N and I took a walk in the old part of the city and we talked about a potential future together. We talked about the things I said in my blog and I explained that a lot of the statements I made were accurate but were also peppered with spur of the moment emotions and impressions. They are reflections of reality or sometimes wishful thinking which allows it to be my vehicle for personal therapy. If I can’t reflect on these things here, where can I do so?

I was lauded by some of you for sharing my blog with her, and while I knew there would be fallout, the frank discussion about where I am in my life needed to be done. Neither of us can afford to be deceived at this point in our lives.

She knows and accepts Joanna needs to exist and that my condition is not a choice. She has always accepted this even as I myself was struggling with my own self acceptance.

Her problem lies more with my treatment of her while we were together and I was living the struggles of dealing with my ex spouse, parenting my children from a distance while trying to come to terms with my gender issues. It was a maelstrom of stress which had me saying things I should not have said.

I had lost confidence that we were on the same side and that began to erode our relationship.

As a prerequisite to any potential return to couple hood, she wants me to seek therapy for verbal abuse and I will do so. It will actually do me good regardless of whether we can reconcile or not. I know for a fact however, that the sources of the stress I was experiencing are being dealt with in a more effective way today than they were and this last year on my own has been very therapeutic.

Last night she also acknowledged to me that she had made mistakes which were not helping things. I greatly appreciated this admission.

N noted that I had started to build a separate life as Joanna which she found a bit troubling. But I explained that my cross gender expression cannot be done in complete isolation any longer and the people I have met over the last year have enriched me as a person. People like Sabrina and Ginette, who only know me as a woman, have made my life more interesting and I have been helping them as well; one with her loneliness and the other with life guidance that only a person twice her age can provide. It certainly beats walking alone in a shopping mall and I don’t think N need feel threatened by my encountering these acquaintances for coffee here and there.

My attempts at connecting with the trans community in the past have been hit and miss. Actually they have been mostly miss. By encountering non transgender people as Joanna I have been able to feel better about myself and know that my female identity can have more of a purpose than going dress shopping.

I need this to be able to continue in order to feel whole.

N understood after I had explained it to her and she acknowledged that it must be lonely always going out dressed on my own.