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Showing posts from July, 2014

trauma

Every fragment of worry, guilt, fear and shame has been completely eradicated from my system. My appetite for a scientific explanation for the way I am has had to satisfy itself with little bits of scattered information about brain scans that lead inconclusively to nowhere for the moment. But I am still hopeful that proof will be found.

I won’t hold my breath in anticipation however.

When I am out I feel good and am at peace with the world. Whether I’m in church or at the mall or in a coffee shop or at the grocery store, I am at peace with myself when dressed as Joanna. She is the person I would be if I were a woman; a variation on myself that dresses and speaks and gestures just a little differently from the male me.

I am also at peace being a male and enjoy that role as well. He is my foundation and the person I have learnt to be all my life. I would not want to give that up to be Joanna full time and I know that at my core now.

I suppose I needed to reflect on transition for a whil…

Causes of transgenderism?

Here is a very short article from Rolling Stone written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely:

"What causes people to be transgender in the first place? The prevailing theories used to be psychosocial: That early traumas like dysfunctional family dynamics or childhood sexual abuse were responsible. "That is absolutely not true at all," says Dr. Johanna Olson, medical director of the Transgender Clinic at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "But I still get people in my clinic who are trying to unravel what the traumatic incident was, that caused their kid to be trans."

Rather, a growing body of research is pointing to biological origins. The 2008 discovery by Australian researchers of a genetic variation in transgender women—their receptor gene for the sex hormone testosterone was longer, making it less efficient at communicating signals—set off speculation that insufficient uptake of male hormones in utero contributed to a "more feminised brain." And the brains …

choice

Stana's post from today had me reflecting.

No one chooses to be transsexual or transgendered and it is simply thrust upon you at an early age. With that knowledge it's up to you to sink or swim. I have chosen the latter.

It's interesting that much of the prejudice thrust upon the gender variant presupposes choice. People who are the most ardent attackers take the position that one can repair themselves.

However if one understands this condition to be likely a mixture of nurture and nature (with predominance on the latter in my view) the damage that can be done to the person can be substantial. We all know that a "pray the gay away" approach does not work but many people in the general population do not subscribe to this view. If the young person ingests the message that they can repair themselves you are sending two messages:

1) If you fail it's because you're not trying hard enough

2) Being the way you are is undesirable

When the young person takes thes…

what all of this work was for

My life has been a model of self discipline.

Born the eldest in a family of six children to a kind but slightly distant intellectual father and emotional mother; I was expected to conform. We grew up in a loving home and went to church every Sunday. This is what one did in deeply devout and overwhelmingly Catholic Spain.

From a young age I knew I was different but I hid it. I followed the script and tried my best to live my religion. I believed in the dogma I was taught but I was also given a critical mind which made me question the things that made no sense to me. I needed to analyse and make sense of the world around me. As I grew older that critical thinking became part of my modus operandi and I reconciled the teaching I received with my burgeoning sense of logic and reason.

My biggest challenge was my gender dysphoria.

I couldn't grasp or understand the feelings I had or why they wouldn't subside or simply disappear. I don't smoke, drink socially, have never tried dr…

switch hitter no more

Well Andre Pejic has finally made the move to become Andreja.

I suppose it was not unexpected because someone that feminine had to eventually make a decision and its not an easy thing to exist between both binaries. At 22 years of age she has had the GRS surgery to fully complete her transformation; and just as well because she barely passed for a male even when she tried.

What I did like about Andrej is how comfortable he was in his own skin and how much that challenged those people who felt uncomfortable with a human being who dared to challenge gender norms. I chuckled every time he was interviewed or made a catwalk appearance and showed people the strength of his resolve.

Of course in the background there was a gender conflicted individual searching for a final identity and Andrej was really more woman than man; I would venture to say much more. But during that brief time in the spotlight as a switch hitter she had me wondering how far she could carry living as a gender variant ce…

plus ca change.....

I’ve pushed a proverbial reset button and have given this place a fresh new coat of white paint.

I will be 52 years old this fall and I am in partial overhaul mode once again but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I have been doing a number of resets over the last seven years so why not one more.

It’s always interesting to look back and analyse the thought processes that you went through at different stages of your life. Things that were sacrosanct are perhaps less so today and what you were willing to live with then does not work as well for you now.

If there is one constant in life it’s change.

I have my work to fall back on and my son’s needs are still there. My daughter (freshly turned 16)continues her journey towards independence and she is ungluing herself from her mother and I which is not a bad thing. Both of them need to become more autonomous after being raised in a style that differs much from the one my parents used.

During my growing years we spent time outside and our…

no "one size fits all"

Walt Heyer seems like a decent and genuine fellow. He runs a website called sexchangeregret where he highlights the dangers of having GRS without having the proper information and guidance. He himself had the surgery and reverted to living as a male.

Thorin25 is the online handle of a minister who is healing from, what he has called, a crossdressing addiction. I have posted a couple of times on his site my views on the subject.

As I understand it, both have had conversions in large part due to their religious convictions.

We know there are people who have had GRS and are very content with their lives just as there are others who crossdress and are also happy and balanced individuals. Having GRS when your life is in turmoil or you have unresolved personal issues is likely one of the worst things you could do. For others who have reflected and pondered the question at great length it has been the panacea that has brought them internal peace and resolution. Conversely, the practice of c…

the art of feminine presentation

I feel I have become quite good at my overall female presentation.

When I was young I would never express myself in any manner, other than behind closed doors in my room, that would give clues towards my having any interest in cross gender expression. Even the innocent idea of going out for Halloween in drag was rejected for fear that I would be seen to enjoy it.

I have asked myself over the years if the way I now express Joanna is really the way I want to be all of the time. Is this the real me or a pretend act that I put on to be able to blend in as a woman in public?

I am not sure I can answer that but it may in fact be a bit of both.

The socialisation that one is exposed to means that your baseline presentation is male. You become accustomed to the habitual behaviour that is appropriate for your gender and learn perhaps to suppress anything that falls outside of that. Therefore, after many decades of practice you no longer know what your real baseline truly is.

I do know that wh…

my Sunday routine

The way I am living my life is making it easier to manage my dysphoria and I have developed routines that I very much like. One of them is my somewhat regular attendance at the 8:00 AM Mass at the Notre Dame Basilica on Sunday mornings which will now become a more constant feature of my life.

There is a woman in her sixties named Janet who I have befriended and after the service we proceed to the Starbucks for a coffee and a chat. We talk about nothing and everything and it’s a pleasant way to kick-start the day.

Over the years, I have become less religious but increasingly spiritual. Religion is the formal practice of spirituality but there is much in that formality that I do not like and the black and white dogmatic elements on which each religion hinges its existence suit me less and less as I age. I prefer to subscribe to the ten commandment basics but I admit to still finding the solemnity of the Mass to be to my liking.

The basilica is ornate and has an impressive altar which ha…

love in its simplest form

Love means different things to different people. It is not a black and white entity but a feeling that is shaped by our nurturing and our own internal set of standards. It often includes expectations and criteria that we use to define it and to know when we think we are experiencing it.

In its simplest form however I think that love should about respecting the other person and doing for them the kinds of things we would like to see done for us. It’s about being happy with our own insides and not needing the other person but wanting them in our lives because they enrich it. If both partners strive to care for the other with little expectation in return the formula works.

Love includes self sacrifice, discomfort and tolerating human behaviour that is often less than exemplary because we are naturally flawed by our very natures.

When you know you have the real thing you should hold on for dear life to it. It’s just not an easy commodity to find.

road trip

I have planned a very short trip as Joanna. Only a one stay in a hotel really but it will be the first time I will ever take a trip entirely as a woman in my life. It’s not an earth shattering event by any means but I thought it would be an interesting thing to try.

It won’t be a long drive because I don’t want to bother with much road time. I want to enjoy the visit as much as possible. For this reason I chose Ottawa as a destination. Its relatively close to Montreal, scenic and has plenty of museums to entertain you.

Although I have dressed as Joanna during previous trips, this will be the first time I travel exclusively with a female wardrobe.

As I said, nothing earth shattering but something that I have always wanted to try. Well now I am and it’s slated for early August.


my little addiction

I fear I’ve become a little addicted to this blog.

It’s been a combination of journal, gender theory presentation and steam blowing exercise. When I go back and read the first entries I know the tone has changed and my reasons for beginning it are not quite the same as for now continuing.

There are countless blogs out there and I don’t want this one to just be about chronicling my life. In other words, I don’t want this to be a Facebook equivalent. I will leave that to others.

I am interested in what this condition does to people’s lives; how it shapes their reality and the things they do to adapt. I am intrigued by its origins and, in trying to understand myself, hopefully bring some perspective to others who are also searching for answers.

It’s not about a cure but about life management. It’s always about life management really.

I had been thinking about taking a short sabbatical from writing but I find that I cannot. It has become a little crutch for me now and, in good times and b…

be yourself

I've had enough of bending myself into a pretzel. This is why where I am is so freeing.

At first it felt like I was losing the battle to be the quissential male, the dutiful son, the faithful husband and father. But somewhere in there you get lost.

No amount of prayer can help you and God does not remove your plight from your shoulders. Now I realize that I can only do what I can do.

Losing the battle to become a normal man has become winning the war to be who I have always been inside. That may not be a woman but it is not a stereotypical male either.

I have forgiven myself for failing to measure up to something that was never in the cards for me; and that forgiveness washes over me like a warm soothing shower of grace.

Everyone will be a little displeased but that is not your fault. It is not their fault either, however, since they are a product of the same socialization that made you feel you were failing to measure up. Now I measure myself against my own standards.

I am a …

resignation

I'm currently re organizing my life a little. I'm taking stock of everything that's gone past and putting my thoughts in perspective.

If I were going to transition this would be the right time to do it. I'm on my own, my kids are almost grown and my company would give me the green light provided I had the fortitude to withstand the scrutiny of all those people who've known me as a male for decades.

Transition, however, is not for me. I am comfortable in my skin as a transgender person and while it's far from a perfect existence, there is no shame in having your brain reside somewhere between both binaries. I am happy and realistic about things and understand how life weaves its twists and turns and always surprises.

I will visit my friend at home next week and try and speak to him about what's been happening at work and in my life and chat about the weather. His wife has asked us not to ask him what comes next. There is no next; there remains only pain man…

the weight of expectation

I am highlighting an excerpt from the pages of a crossdressing male who calls himself Ruthie:

“Like a lot of men, I have questioned my dressing against the role which society expect a man to play. You see, unfortunately the old stigma is still lurking in the shadows of hypocritical people, who love to try and hurt people like us with venomous comments, while hiding behind a confident disguise covering their own insecure small minded lives. These are the very kind of minority who will never go that far in life on their own and they choose to criticise rather than acknowledge that no two people are alike and can do something different, as well as being happy doing it. So the answer is easy really, STUFF society and what they think. You have one life, so live it and enjoy dressing for whatever reason you do it for. Don't feel guilty, don't go and fling your clothes away and don't let the wife use it as an excuse to divorce you, as she is probably jealous that you look better…

missed my routine

I was away on business for a couple of days and I got a frantic email from my neighbour regarding my car. The city of Montreal had been doing some work in front of my domicile and had somehow arranged to have a large tree branch fall directly on top of it and crack the windshield plus cause a couple of dents on the hood.

This is the same car which has to be handed back to Volkswagen since my 4 year lease is up. Needless to say I was not amused.

So I ended up spending a good chunk of the day sorting this mess up but also got considerable time in as Joanna after 2 solid days away without being able to dress.

It’s funny how accustomed I’ve become to having that be a part of my life and when I can’t I really miss it quite a lot.

I know that many of you don’t dress every day while for some of you it’s just part of your normal life because you have transitioned. I seem to be in that in between zone somewhere and it’s just developed over time to be my routine.

Nothing wrong with having a rou…

the question of eroticism

It is very difficult to be transgendered MtF person with male plumbing.

Autogynephilia hinges on the proposal that you suffer from a paraphilia because you as a male have masturbated to the idea of being or becoming a woman. That idea, used to derail my thinking but it no longer does because I have come to possess a more comprehensive and complete portrait of what it means in general and for myself in particular.

I have a past dotted with innocent crossdressing followed by post pubescent erotic episodes which led to my throwing away all of the clothes I possessed in shame and disgust. Here I was doing something I found very innocent and hoping desperately to avoid the spectre of an orgasm but it somehow seemed unavoidable in the end.

As I have aged that connection and need continues to progressively erode while the identity builds, however the erotic closure is still there at the end of each outing. It has become somehow hard wired as part of my sexuality because my gender dysphoria s…

our biggest challenge

The acceptance of family and friends is what every transgendered person deeply wishes for.

The catch of course is that most of us sold those people a bill of goods that did not align with our true identity. We hid because we tried to change or due to fear of rejection; there are a great many reasons.

But even if we did not ask to be born this way, I nevertheless feel strongly that lives not be torn apart due to our own selfishness. Our spouses and children who saw and witnessed the person we presented as before don't deserve a 180 degree about face and the sudden announcement that we're now a woman.

I am not judging anyone here but only stating a basic truth.

For the gender dysphoric the journey of self discovery and liberation is often a life saving endeavor and yet so often it involves the rupture and upheaval of other lives in the process. The older one is when they discover themselves, the more likely will be that this realignment will cause pain and suffering to others.

I…

bedrock

I am now on my own again.

If I think back over the last number of years beginning with my stroke in 2007, there has been such flux in my life that it is hard to comprehend in retrospect how I managed it. After having spent a relatively stable but grey-tinged existence over 13 years, my life took a decidedly different turn and became a roller coaster marked with dramatic twists and turns.

Perhaps its time to touch bedrock once again.

It's good to refocus and I intend to use the resolve gained from life experience plus my newly found internal peace to do just that.

Time does wonderful things and I intend to stick to my guiding mantra of "one day at a time" to continue my life journey.

therapeutic reservations

I admit I have some reservations about gender therapy.

First let me state that I think it is a good thing to seek help when you are in distress. You need to bounce your feelings off someone and have them ask you questions or simply have them listen while you speak thus providing you with a sounding board. We benefit greatly as human beings from simply unloading our thoughts and fears by sharing them with another human being.

However, I now believe that there is no substitute for the natural gestation period that time and patience affords you.

You need to catch your breath and spend many hours reflecting on your own. You need to analyse your thought processes which have been coloured by social and parental conditioning and allow yourself the time to dissect them. In essence, you need time to understand what makes you tick.

I remember sitting in the waiting room before going in to see Helene Cote (a gender therapist I saw for a short time while I was still reflecting on a possible trans…

sartorial liberty

There is no question that women have it harder in the social scheme of things. Men run the world and continue to see the female gender as the less powerful and important of the two binaries. This is not just my observation but an actual fact of life.

Things are admittedly changing for the better but in many cultures being male are seen as strong and dominant whereas being female is to be weak and subservient.

Perhaps because of this imbalance and in attempts to raise themselves above this imposed inequality, women have fought battles for more freedoms of expression which have brought them greater flexibility in their choices. They have adopted more traditionally male roles in greater numbers than men have adopted female roles. They can dress with more flexibility because to desire to emulate or identify with the male is seen as desirable whereas to be more female is seen as disempowering. A man who wants to dress as a woman is seen as a fairy; weakling or social pariah whereas a wom…

life is just like that

Life can be hard and messy and even when things appear to be going well there can be surprises in store. I have learnt this lesson only too well over the course of my life and I seem to be more adept at dealing with this reality.

My friend and colleague with cancer is faring much worse.

He has gone into palliative care and there is nothing really they can do for him now other than relieve his pain with medication. It will be a matter of time now. Three of us visited him in the hospital yesterday and I have promised myself and him that there will be weekly visits.

When I am feeling down, I try to keep in mind that there is always someone who is in a worse position than we are.

If I’ve learnt anything it’s that material things will come and go but love of self and others and health of body and spirit are the key ingredients to contentment in this life.

status report - then and now

After having studied my own behaviour and reading everything I could get my hands on over the last number of years, I now know with absolute certainty that I am a gender dysphoric that fits somewhere between a type III and IV on the Harry Benjamin scale.

My situation, which brought me a good deal of turmoil in the past, I now regard as a fact of life and treat it with a sense of peace and acceptance and with an awareness that it forms part of the way I was made.

The process of coming to terms has been very challenging because discerning between what inherently forms part of your creation and what you have yourself created is often difficult to gauge and possessing the reflective powers to make the distinction is not obvious; certainly not when you are very young and possess little education on this highly complex subject.

Everything I have read tells me we are still very far away from even a basic understanding.

Experiencing and living something that is beyond your understanding and w…

The blurry line

To this day, "The Transsexual Phenomenon" remains one of the most important works dealing with transsexualism.

Harry Benjamin developed his dysphoria scale after seeing hundreds of patients and it was often very difficult for him to identify whether a patient was a transvestite (term used as historical reference) or a transsexual. I include here an excerpt from his book that clearly illustrates this blurring of the lines:

"The relationship between transvestism (TVism) and transsexualism (TSism) deserves further scrutiny and reflection. Both can be considered symptoms or syndromes of the same underlying psychopathological condition, that of a sex or gender role disorientation and indecision. Transvestism is the minor though the more frequent, transsexualism the much more serious although rarer disorder.

Cross-dressing exists (with few exceptions) in practically all transsexuals, while transsexual desires are not evident (although possibly latent) in most transvestites. I…

Brown versus Vitale

Kay Brown is a transsexual woman who runs a blog called “On the Science of Changing Sex”.

In her February 14, 2014 entry she goes to great length to analyse an essay by Anne Vitale which I myself have featured on my blog. In this analysis she goes on to compare her own views on the two types of transsexualism with Miss Vitale’s and finds much alignment.

However, when it comes to Autogynephilia she admonishes Anne Vitale’s non acceptance or non use of the term when describing gynephilic transsexual arousal to the idea of being women.

Maybe I am being obtuse here but the term Autogynephilia is a term invented by a man to describe a phenomenon which is not even understood and by adopting the term you are also necessarily accepting the idea that the gynephilic transsexual is a fetishist and a pervert.

Hence Anne Vitale (whom I respect and admire greatly) smartly avoids using a term she disagrees with; but not because she ignores the observed behaviour but because she has a problem with t…

they will always be among us

In my Internet travels I have come across a horrid and insulting website called gendertrender. It is written by a transphobic and hateful lesbian who clearly has issues. But what it brings home to me once again is how the small minded of this world feel they have the right to pronounce themselves on a condition that they do not have and politicize it.

There is no shortage of these sites but I single this one out as an example.

So whether it's the well meaning religious right wing nut jobs or the feminist extremists, some human beings consistently are out to prove that they can reach previously unreached levels of stupidity.

Gender dysphoria is a real condition and if you have it you must deal with it. Hard enough as that already is, it's comforting to know that we can always count on politically motivated ignoramouses to only make things worse.

You can't change society but you can change yourself and strength your insides. My mother told me when I was growing up that life …

finding our own middle road

One aspect that I am liking is how slowly but surely over time my cross gender expression morphed from dressing up as a woman to dressing as me.

That very important change has allowed me to meld my femaleness into my personhood and create a whole human being rather than a man creating a temporary caricature of a woman.

This will change nothing in my plans not to transition but it helps me enormously in my perception of myself and how to curb my dysphoric feelings. This mental change has made me wonderfully at ease.

Ideally we should treat and acknowledge this condition early in life when your options are all open to you but barring that you need to find a formula that helps you cope and soothes or even eliminates your gender expression deprivation anxiety

Those of us who grew up in a time when very little help was available can at least take solace in today's more open environment to find ways to respect our family obligations and spousal vows while somehow being ourselves.

Not an…

spot the difference

I'm surprised sometimes by transgender people who buy into Autogynephilia theory but I have a theory as to why.

It may be more convenient and reassuring to them that they have a fetish than gender dysphoria. However they should realize that the theory is being used to marginalize people. It's being used by HBS extremists, radical feminists and by religious extreme groups to paint them as perverted men.

But whether you like it or not if your gender confusion goes back to very early childhood then you don't have a fetish. Most fetishists (and I've read a number of testimonials now) start around the age of puberty and the advent of sexualisation.

The problem for the dysphoric is that the beginning of puberty also brings the conflict of attraction to women combined with their already strong association with their own feminine nature. That mixture confuses them and makes them feel they need to be cured. This happens if the boy is heterosexual.

If the young boy discovers he…

equality for all

I heard on the radio today about an interesting social experiment. They took a young and beautiful young woman and dressed her provocatively in a public setting. Then the visual and verbal responses of other women were recorded.

In almost every single case, the other women viewed her negatively essentially considering her competition. This reaction was particularly evident in the same age group as the test woman.

The researchers behind the study have theorized that it is women who control the doling out of sex and use it as a way to exert some degree of control over men. When another woman breaks the rules and oversteps her boundaries, they let her know it in no uncertain terms.

Seems logical I suppose considering that men spend more active time seeking sex and women can deny or grant them their wish. It is one way to exert power albeit not in the right way.

But why do some women do this to each other? I would argue that it's learned behaviour.

We certainly know that women are ove…

learning to unlearn

At complete and utter peace is where I am these days.

My dressing outings have become a normal part of my life and getting dressed and made up has become a finely honed and efficient exercise. Joanna has become part of my daily life in the best way possible.

In the early days I was very aware of my movements and my physical presence. I had to work at the illusion to make sure I was not too obviously male but as one practices everything flows and becomes second nature. I remember suffering from tunnel vision when walking in public and would not look people in the face for fear of seeing a negative reaction plastered on the person's face.

By stark contrast, today I no longer navel gaze but fully immerse myself in my surroundings and I do so in the same manner as when presenting as a male. This process snuck up on me very slowly and one day I was suddenly there. I had no marking indicators to measure my progress other than my steadily growing peace of mind.

The way I got there was to…