Tuesday, 30 September 2014

between 2007 and today

I remember waiting for my post therapy assessment after my 4 months stint at the Montreal General Hospital gender clinic. Nancy Dubois, my therapist, saw me in the waiting room as I waited to see what turned out to be three women therapists who all ran private practices, and confided later that I looked like I was carrying the world on my shoulders. If I think back I believe she wasn't far off in her assessment. After being approved for more therapy only now payable by me instead of the Quebec government, I decided to stop the process there. I remember sitting there in my dress and heels as I was being interviewed and feeling that one of the three was judging me with her rather peculiar stare. When the discussion was over I left and didn’t stay to see Dr. Assalian for my final evaluation.

I desperately didn't want to be a transsexual.

It took many more months after that coupled with N leaving for me to start putting things into some kind of focus. That period is chronicled here (sometimes rather painfully) in this blog which dates back to the summer of 2012.

Whether I am a transsexual or not is irrelevant. That is just a word like any other and holds whatever meaning you want to give it. More important is the idea that I can impart some kind of control where before I felt complete helplessness. The work of course continues daily and it requires management like anything else.

The evolution from 2007 to today is almost shocking in retrospect and yet it happened organically such that I am hard pressed to single out a major turning point.

Monday, 29 September 2014

won't get fooled again

Gender dysphoria can be treacherous because it can fool you into thinking that you need to change your status quo. Wouldn’t I be happier as a woman it asks? Well maybe yes and maybe no but I have seen the euphoria of the moment be displaced to reveal a more sober reality only hours later.

I’ve had to learn to trust myself and not what my dysphoria demands of me and that has taken me years to understand. I think this is why a slow unwrapping of your psyche is what is required here. You need to let a lot of time and reflection slowly take you in a direction where you feel comfortable and stable. Rash and quick decisions are likely to work against you.

I know it is difficult to exist in a netherworld that is neither perfectly A nor B. Sometimes you want to just choose a side and be done with it but the trouble is that you don’t know whether changing camps will be any better. Here I am reminded of Third Way Trans’s blog where he talks about how he felt after his transition to female and how things were never really right for him as a woman. One transowman responded to his entries and said that her transition went all right but wasn’t necessarily the cure all she thought it would be and she counseled not to do so unless you absolutely must.

And I think that’s the rub. Make a change when you can no longer function as the gender you were born as but if you can manage it then do nothing at all. You should be in control of your own fate instead of allowing your dysphoria to decide for you.

I was reminded of this very thing when upon returning from my Sunday morning outing as Joanna, I was able to have a wonderful rest of the day with the woman I love in male mode and be perfectly happy. If I stop and think about how schizophrenic that would sound to most people it could make me despondent and want to change this model and try to be normal for everyone.

I like what Sarah Savage says in a recent entry in her blog:

“I truly believe that the whole of society is on the cusp of a gender identity revolution that will be on the scale of the sexual revolution of the sixties and seventies, more and more young people are freeing themselves from the binary handcuffs of the traditional ideas of what it means to be a man and a woman. One of the reasons which held me back from attempting to transition for so long was that I just didn’t feel that I fit into what was expected of me to be transsexual, up until a few years ago I just thought that the word queer was just another gay insult and as I have learned more about the complexities of gender theory, my own identity has evolved.

I’m not knocking the people who identify as totally male or female, it’s their right to be true to themselves and I understand the merit of medical based definitions but I can see in ten years or so words like transsexual and transgender being viewed as old fashioned and exclusionary, while the conversation about gender variant people evolving and whilst it is yet another label, it’s one whose meaning is wider and helps society to understand that the fight for acceptance and equality isn’t one of a tiny minority but something that is relevant and means something to millions of people”


What I am taking from her message is that there is nothing wrong with choosing your own place on that scale and being in between is certainly a viable option rather than choosing a side.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

him or her?

Yesterday N and I were chatting before dinner and the name Joanna Cassidy came up in the context of one of us mentionning "Six Feet Under". You might recall her as a character on the critically acclaimed HBO show.

Then suddenly she asks me if I feel like I am more (insert my male name) or more Joanna. I had to think about it for a second but having to answer that on the spot is actually quite complex. I alluded to that challenge in my response although I can't repeat verbatum how I answered. I thought about it again this morning and thought I would respond more fully here because I know she sometimes reads my blog.

The male and female me are not characters I play but more like gender presentations that reflect my mood while still reflecting the same internal essence. I don't know why this dichotomy exists in me but at this point it doesn't matter because I am happy. Even if the vast majority of the world's population has no such need, there are those like me that do. I have tried to repatriate Joanna and the male side but have realized thar this is not what my psyche desires; I seem to need those two entities to live separately.

I am not looking to express androginy but instead femaleness even if the source of this requirement is beyond my own understanding.

So my response is to say I have no iron clad answer other than to say that I am a unique being with my own needs and desires and I will continue to embrace that uniqueness by not rejecting any aspect of that reality.

Who do I prefer? I prefer both.



Saturday, 27 September 2014

my friend inspires

My friend with pancreatic cancer is hanging tough. I had lunch with him this past week and he told me he believes he is going to get through this and why shouldn't he? The odds may be long but thinking otherwise is not going to help him either. I am very impressed by his attitude and seeing him grounds me and reminds me that I have no problems in comparison. He spends his days rather routinely and since his wife and two sons are not home, it leaves him craving the company which I am only too happy to provide.

Meeting one on one allows for an intimacy of discussion that a small group would not. He has told me that he prefers this format and so do I; if others do the same it will spread his time with visitors all the more.

I told him that he is living his life more honestly than anyone I know. His existence is stripped down to a bare bones reality and there is no window dressing of distraction and false obligations to sap his energy. I know he lives in his mind more than he would like but there is something very pure about eliminating the fake things that pass for importance in our daily lives and shield us from reflecting on our mortality.

For him that is gone and his demeanor and expression reflect that. There is much serenity there even if you know that there must be horrible moments of dread for what may come.


Friday, 26 September 2014

the next frontier

Jack Molay’s survey of over 1,100 people which he conducted recently over at his site Crossdreamers.com is yielding some very interesting results.

One finding is that only 22% of the respondents self identify as feeling fully male, with the rest either identifying as female, both genders, neither gender or sometimes male and sometimes female. This result helps dispel the tired myth about the happy crossdresser content with his male identity while playing dress up. The other important finding is that 54% of the respondents suffer medium to severe gender dysphoria with only 26% saying it does not bother them too much.

Jack was kind enough to send me the preliminary results and the rest of the survey will prove to be even more transparent in showing that gender dysphoria is very much a graded phenomenon and that gender self identification varies greatly across a wide spectrum.

Why is this not surprising? Because we are human beings, we are complex and because topics dealing with the mind are highly subjective. We are dealing with emotion and feeling and this is difficult to quantify using scientific rigour.

The myth that the human race is made up of two perfectly cast and clearly distinct binaries is slowly being dismantled. The truth is that most people fall somewhere in between but due to our fear of being seen not to conform, we subscribe to a set of standards that are presented to us in order to avoid ridicule. If left entirely to our own devices, you would see a much more varied display of gender in the world.

The next frontier is going to be the liberation of gender and its expression and the little steps we are now seeing towards educating and exposing the public to the transgender condition will prove to be instrumental in helping to complete this task.


Thursday, 25 September 2014

misplaced guilt

I am very saddened when I see the amount of suffering that transgender people and their families go through. Every time I read a blog entry by someone going through hell it makes me frustrated for them because you want to tell them that it’s going to be all right. The truth however is that for many, this is not always the case and it may take years to resolve their situation.

The internal process of self discovery that we go through is so prolonged that if we knew where we would land later on we might not have made certain decisions to begin with. For example, I married someone after the death of my father from cancer who wasn’t the right match and let someone go when I was young who I am now with again. These were my decisions and my life took a certain direction because of them.

Might I have done things differently if I had been more keenly aware of what I needed to be happy at each of those stages? It’s difficult to say.

Each stage of life allows us to mine another nugget of wisdom that fosters further growth s human beings. What I am trying to do now is live more in the present; forget the past as much as possible and let the future take care of itself.

One way to help end some of our suffering is to put away needless guilt. As humans we feel guilt for just about everything but it is often misplaced and we imagine we are failing much more than we really are. Some people will even take advantage of our guilt and have us respond to their demands. I remember when I was first divorced and how easily my ex-wife would manipulate me because of my guilt. Even if she had been the one who asked for the divorce, I felt that I had done something so drastically wrong by withholding information about my transgender nature that I felt I owed her everything. I gave her all the furniture, gave her more money from the sale of the house than I needed to and so on.

Over time, I realized that much of this was due to misplaced guilt that I had been attached to all of my life because of this secret I had to live with. It was so horrible and so reprehensible that I deserved to feel guilty. I now know much better but it took time to remove and it’s the equivalent to the persistent weeds in your garden.

You just to keep at them and remove them one by one.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

our little secret

Secrecy serves no purpose. The fear that most of us harbour in telling our spouses about our secret selves is often exaggerated and even if it is not it keeps us trapped in a kind of self imposed limbo.

I feared telling my ex-wife and even though my disclosure opened the door to divorce it was not really this that ended the marriage as there were other issues at play. So I ended up suffering in silence; first during my formative years at home and then for 13 years in a less than happy marriage.

I would never presume to counsel anyone on this since we all understand all too well our individual situations but I do find that in the end having all come out is the best way to go. Neither of you will be happy or fulfilled while something this important remains a secret. After all, this forms an essential component in your psychological identity as a person.

My inability to share something this intrinsic part of my being was killing me slowly.

As often happens in these situations, my hand was forced when my ex-wife began to ask questions which revealed to me that she assumed I was having an affair. Instead I decided to tell her that my secret life had more to do with the exploration of my gender issues than chatting online with a lover. After that, a series of events unfolded which led to where I am today.

I would change nothing of what happened today but at the time I thought it was the end of the world.


 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

.....and the woman remains

The lives of gynephilic gender dysphorics seem to follow a very distinct pattern. As children they tend to be more sensitive than average and yet they are not particularly or overtly feminine. They blend in relatively well and show little to no signs to their parents that something might be amiss with their gender identity.

By 5 to 7 years of age they begin to notice that they have dreams, fantasies and perhaps exhibit signs that they are drawn to the idea of being females. If the family notices anything they are usually strongly discouraged and the child learns to suppress; at the very least the behaviour goes underground in order to avoid ridicule.

The onset of puberty brings a new wrinkle in that their burgeoning sexual attraction towards females is in conflict with this desire for feminization. The first signs of orgasms at the presence of these fantasies now become stressful and they begin to truly engage in all out eradication in an attempt to be normal. Unfortunately the "erotic imprinting" (which typically happens between 5 and 10 years of age) is already in place and is now there for life.

The teen years bring an invigorated and forceful period of denial where they actively seek out female companionship and masculanize themselves as much as possible; any hint of feminity is quashed and the slightest notice of it by another brings anger, frustration and embarassment.

By their 20's and 30's with the idea that couplehood will cure what ails them, they will go into fill blown denial and perhaps engage in sporadic periods of crossdressing to relieve their dysphoria. This will work until sometime between age 40 and 50, during which time the feelings must be acknowledged and explored with an increased sense of urgency. The pressure begins to reach an unmanageable crescendo and something must be done. By now there may be several children and a spouse to reveal deep seated feelings to and they are typically prone to come out in emotional and cathartic exchanges.

At this point they have little choice but to find a solution that will balance their desire for feminization and their wish and need to provide and care for the people that matter to them most. Most divorces will happen here as the compromise required may involve some measure of transition which the vast majority of women simply cannot live with.

The 50's brings a remaking of life and a fresh start as they become self actualised for the first time. The end of the old life and the start of a new one brings major readjustment but also peace.

I have read numerous versions of this story countless times over the last twenty years in the blogs and personal pages of people who have transitioned and some who have not. All of them did their best to do what was asked of them and all eventually did what they needed to do for themselves. It also happens to be my story. There seems to be no escaping it and the key towards peace begins with self acceptance but need not end at transition. That last part is up to you.

The one common element in all of these life stories is that the internal woman remains intact.





Monday, 22 September 2014

my mother

I love my mother but she can be a handful. She has mellowed at 78 years of age but I remember her during my youth being a spark plug of energy and regularly used her voice and temperament to make things known. N likes to affectionately refer to her as a “chihuahua on crack”.

When I was 5 or 6 years old I was admonished for the first time for trying to wear her shoes as having two sisters immediately follow my birth meant that I spent a lot of my time surrounded by females which of course included role play. My mother doesn’t remember ever doing this of course but it became permanently imprinted in my childhood memory as a marking event.

There is now very little doubt in my mind that the combination of having a loving but slightly distant father, an outspoken mother and two sisters immediately follow behind me in the birth order, contributed to my developing a transgendered identity. If you add to that any ingredients of genetic predisposition, you pretty much guarantee that something will develop.

I was sometimes mistaken for a girl between the ages of 8 and 11 years of age and having the longish hairstyle of the 1970’s along with fine features pretty much guaranteed there would be some confusion generated for some adults. Being misgendered fascinated me and angered me deeply at the same time which pretty much encapsulates how I felt about my nature back then.

Now I am at ease with everything but I have had the luxury of digesting and processing it all over my lifetime. My mother knows I dress regularly and doesn’t care. Although she has no particular interest in seeing Joanna again she is very understanding of the condition and has come along with the rest of society in adopting a more sensitive attitude towards the transgendered.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

my story with N

N and I met on a diving platform in the middle of a lake in 1987. She was a tall and beautiful brunette in the white bathing suit with the cottage that faced my friend's. When I saw her for the first time I was smitten.

After dating for a summer, I unceremoniously stopped calling her as I was about to re enter my third year of university. It's hard to understand in retrospect why I did that back then but I think I chalked it up in my mind as not being sufficiently interested in committing to someone while trying to complete a difficult technical program which required my undivided attention. My gender issues were of course still very much unacknowledged at that time.

Several years later she was married and any ideas I may have harboured about looking her up again were put to rest. I myself took my marriage vows by the mid 1990's and then domestic life with two children soon took over.

22 years later while browsing on Facebook and found her page. By this time we were both divorced. I asked her to meet me and after some hesitation she agreed. Now here we are five years later still together and she is just as beautiful as she was then. She is progressive and understanding and I am very fortunate to have her in my life.

To borrow a phrase from Thirdwaytrans, my "erotic imprinting" does not allow me to have normal relations with her and yet she still loves me and I love her. She has struggled with depression while I have had to battle with gender dysphoria but who doesn't have their issues.

Now here we are in middle age sharing our lives and allowing me to unequivocally state that I am living proof that a person like me can reinvent themselves and find love.


Saturday, 20 September 2014

on any given Sunday

Tomorrow morning I will once again met my friend Janet after Mass for coffee. She is in her early seventies, retired from Canada Post and lives alone in a condo not far from the Basilica we both frequent. We met quite accidentally when she fixed the falling belt on the trench coat I was wearing as she stood behind me to receive communion. That prompted a brief exchange after the service which eventually led to us having coffee on a regular basis.

I am able to be Joanna with her. She knows me as the divorced mother to two teens and does not doubt it. All of my practice with clothes, makeup, voice and mannerisms has led to my being able to accomplish this. Genetics has helped me to be sure but without belief in oneself nothing of this sort can be accomplished. I passed better physically in my twenties yet could never even dream to pull this type of exchange off back then.

I used to worry about deceiving people like her, but now I see this as an effective way to treat my dysphoria and still be myself. I harbour the same opinions and discuss the same topics whether dressed as a woman or a man. The only difference is that I loosen the grip of male behavioural expectation and bask in what Joanna requires in order for me to achieve wholeness.

Recently I found a written journal that predates this blog and I was amazed to read some of the entries. The power of transformation is so evident when I look back and realize how far I have come.


Friday, 19 September 2014

yesterday and today

A good part of our journey involves letting go of some shackles. Most of us were raised with pretty strict messages about what kind of behaviour was acceptable for our birth sex and we adopted the archetypal patterns that were expected of us. The more we internalized the message the more difficult it became later in life to undo some of that damage.

It’s fair to say that North American and European cultures of the middle part of the twentieth century were extremely restrictive in their gender rules. Any deviation from the norm was unacceptable and in fact we saw an extreme exaggeration of what it meant to be man and woman. Men were to be masculine, virile and tough while women were to be submissive, feminine and nurturing. But this was to a great extent a mirage since a great many people never fit that model very well and they simply went underground. Men dressed as women in secret, some gays married women to try and fit in and people went to church because it was expected whether they believed or not. We had a whole subculture existing under our own noses but didn’t know it or didn’t readily acknowledge it.

Growing up then may have seemed simpler but that was perhaps due to the level of conformity going on. The stricter models presented to us made for a clear road map but didn’t allow for much variation.

By the late 60’s, things began to unravel and we saw the women’s, gay and hippie movements start to rebel against these artificial norms. But that was only scratching the surface and there was much more to come down the line.

When I compare the world of today to the one of my childhood I can scarcely relate them to one another, and although the argument can be made that we have lost our way in some areas, I would not trade the openness we have espoused on a great number of issues; gender variance being one of them.

This is clearly the next battlefront for social change in the world and although I posted about overexposure the other day, I am happy that I can discuss this topic openly with my own children when I barely discussed sex with my own parents when I was their age.




Thursday, 18 September 2014

being tall

Being tall is a non issue.

I used to think that one of the main reasons I would never pass as a woman in public was my height. For the record I am 6’ 1” and while that makes me taller than the vast majority of women, I have seen many genetic females in that height range. When you see them in public you never doubt they are female and they don’t behave any differently than anyone else. They know who they are and look relaxed and at ease with their body.

Rewind to a time when I was less comfortable in public and I would chalk up the odd double take or stare to my height but it was really my body language and uneasiness showing through more than anything else.

Last night I was in two women’s clothing stores trying on a few items. In both cases I had nice exchanges with the sales people and felt comfortable and at ease. I saw nothing in their behaviour that would make me believe I was not passing and was addressed as Madame in both. In one store, the owner knows me and judging by our previous exchanges she clearly assumes I am female.

In my low heels I was 6’3” tall but I no longer think about that. Only when someone approaches me and remarks on it does it enter my mind.

My height hasn’t changed for a long time but my attitude certainly has.


Yes that's Mickey Rooney

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

embracing my status quo

I am in a good place. I have been able to put my gender feelings in check and understand them or at least manage them in such a way that they do not dampen my daily existence. I want them to instead live harmoniously within it. It is a cumbersome thing to have unresolved issues running like a low humming motor in the background of your life. After a while you don’t notice them but they have significant impact nonetheless.

Ignoring and repressing never worked for me. I know there are others who have found that their dysphoria is sufficiently mild enough that they don’t need to dress as often or at all and manage their feelings in other ways. My embracing of my feminine expression has been working and I see no reason to tamper with it at this point.

Finding blogs like retransition.org and Thirdwaytrans.com has been encouraging because they represent the other side of the transition debate. They are detransitioned transwomen who in middle age decided that their transformations had not been the right thing for them after all. They serve like cautionary role models for those who might think that transition is a fix all.

So even as I have abandoned my negative thinking about gender dysphoria being rooted in mental illness, I still think that there is validity in not going too much the other way. Your psyche may tell you to try something because it’s new and because it allows for a kind of reinvention that may be rooted in dissatisfaction with other areas of your life.

Sometimes I think that if I had not found the confidence and resolve to be a part time woman I might be well on my way towards transition which would have been a grave mistake for me. When it comes to this issue I think the best approach is to do less rather than more. Trust your feelings only after chewing things over countless times and, if you cannot come to a resolution after all of that, then consider not changing the status quo.


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

overexposed

We may rapidly be approaching transgender overexposure. It’s in the news, on social media and more and more people seem to be claiming the spotlight to announce their intent to transition.

Take fighting promoter Frank Maloney who announced recently of his intent to start living as a woman named Kellie at 60 years of age but then shows up on the UK version of Big Brother. Don’t get me wrong in that I am happy for her but I can’t help but feel that this appearance on a low brow program such as this only fuels the idea in some people’s minds that this whole transgender thing isn’t very dignified; only crazy people and mad artists need apply.

We have seen transitions in all walks of life and education levels and indeed, gender dysphoria does not discriminate in who it touches but I would like to hope that those who live in the public eye would be aware of the responsibility that they carry. They need to be seen in the best possible light to illustrate that we are as normal and balanced as the next person. We just happen to have a condition we need to deal with.

As much as N sympathizes with this whole issue she has mentioned to me that having so many Huffington Post stories on transgender topics makes her want to roll her eyes. I can’t say that I blame her too much although at the same time I realize that educating the public can be a double edged sword.

By exposing an issue this much you sometimes allow all of the little crevices and imperfections to show through.


Kellie Maloney Celebrity Big Brother, Celebrity Big Brother favourite, White Dee, George Gilbey, Frank Maloney, Boxing promoter, transgender,
Kellie Maloney on Celebrity Big Brother


Monday, 15 September 2014

Eden Lane

This story posted here is from the Denver Post:

"Eden Lane was one of many local journalists waiting to conduct quick interviews with famously tan star George Hamilton, who was in Denver last month to perform in a touring production of "La Cage Aux Folles."

Lane is the host of "In Focus with Eden Lane," now in its fifth season spotlighting local arts and culture every Friday on Colorado Public Television Channel 12. Something about her warm and disarming demeanor made Hamilton open up in a way he did not with anyone else that day.

Unprompted, Hamilton brought up his late brother, Bill Potter, who had suffered many unhappy years as a closeted gay man. "He never had a chance to be himself," Hamilton softly told Lane. On his deathbed, at age 53, Bill told his younger brother that if he had to do it all over again ... "I'd love more."

Those are the kinds of tender moments Lane elicits naturally, said Denver Center Attractions public relations manager Heidi Bosk. "She is warm, she is classy, she is well-researched and she is good," Bosk said. "Actors just gravitate toward her."

Lane can identify. Though she has been the victim of violence and prejudice in her life, she exudes a fierce happiness. She is believed to be the first transgender journalist on mainstream television anywhere in the United States. "But I don't think of being transgender as any part of my identity, any more than I do that I am left-handed," she said.

Identity — gender or otherwise — is a complicated subject for Lane, who was born believing her anatomy simply did not match the woman she felt herself to be inside. Yes, she is a transsexual — a person born of one sex who has had surgery to become the other. And yes, she is transgender — the larger umbrella term for anyone whose behavior, thoughts or traits differ from societal expectations for their gender.

But she doesn't put any of that on her business card.

"Eden is also blonde and 6 feet tall, but she's not out there making a statement on who 6-foot blondes are," said her friend and fellow local TV producer Tom Biddle.

Neither has she been making a statement on transgender people as she cranked out more than 125 episodes of Colorado's only weekly TV program dedicated to the creative community.

That's what she does. Ask Lane who she is, and she will say, "I'm a wife, suburban homemaker, neighborhood volunteer and mother of a high-school teenager."

"Waltons" childhood

Lane had a mostly pleasant childhood in southeast Michigan, an only child in a modest, working-class home with her parents and generations of extended family. "It was a blue-collar version of 'The Waltons,' " she said.

She was given a boy's name at birth, "but even my classmates fully accepted me as one of the girls," she said. She was studious, social and curious, which is why her family — part Catholic and part Jewish — allowed her to become a Jehovah's Witness at 13. Years later, when Lane began the long process that culminated in her gender-reassignment surgery, she was "disfellowshipped" by the church, the equivalent of an excommunication.

There were incidents of gender confusion growing up — for others, she emphasizes, not for Lane. In grammar school, her father forced her to cut her long hair so it wouldn't be confusing to the other children. "I didn't know what I had done wrong to be punished," she said. A former Air Force officer, he was "a bull of a man," she said, who took off on his motorcycle one day, never to return. "But there were always many strong, responsible and honorable men in my life," she said.
In high school, Lane wore androgynous clothing while trying to simply move through the world like any other kid. Until the day some boys were gathered in the back of the science lab talking about which girls they found attractive. The new boy at school named Eden. When the other boys told him she wasn't exactly a girl, the humiliated boy lit her hair on fire with a Bunsen burner.

"Later in life, I have had occasion to feel the steel toe of a boot in my ribs or a fist in my face," Lane said. "But I don't live my life in fear, and I don't live my life as a victim."

Lane graduated from high school early and went to New York to perform on Broadway and attend college. When she completed her surgery, a process she finds as interesting as the details of the average hip-replacement procedure, she took on her new name. "Eden Lane," she said, "honors both my grandmother, and the name that I was given at birth."

She never tells that birth name, she said, "because it feeds into that idea that the identity I have now is somehow false."
More than a decade ago, she moved to Colorado and began her career as a community-affairs journalist contributing to the longtime PBS gay-issues news program "Colorado Outspoken" and the Logo channel. Lane reported from the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, and offered PBS viewers long-form interviews with many local candidates leading up to the 2008 and 2010 elections.

In 2009, her interview with then-gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper praising the Matthew Shepard Foundation for choosing Denver as its headquarters was treated as a bombshell by Hickenlooper's opponents because he told Lane he believed there was some "backwards thinking" in certain rural Western areas, including Colorado.

Ironically, the report brought more attention to Lane, including overtures from a national magazine for her own story. She declined, weary of a media she says relegates most stories on transgender people to simplistic tales of "before and after."

Since launching "In Focus with Eden Lane" in 2009, she has introduced viewers to hundreds of local and national actors, singers, artists, writers and dancers. Part of that is necessity: "Television is a hungry machine," Lane said, "and I have to fill that (half hour) every Friday. The station is trusting me to do that."
She has not missed airing an original weekly episode in more than a year. Her program is filling a void in local arts coverage, the Denver Center's Bosk said, by offering in-depth interviews with movers and shakers like dance pioneer Cleo Parker Robinson and Garrett Ammon of Ballet Nouveau Colorado.

Her program is entirely self-produced and shot on location at a cost of about $750 an episode (compared to as much as $6,000 for other PBS programs). Her crew is just two — Lane and her husband, with help in a pinch from other volunteers. For hours before every interview, you will find the two schlepping cameras, tripods, lights, audio equipment and cables into place.

She gets no financial support from Colorado Public Television, and she has just one sponsor, a local Go Chevrolet dealership. And what little funding she has ensures only the next few episodes.

Lane has greater professional ambitions, but finding a job at a TV station has proven problematic. She says she has made it through to more than 50 face-to-face interviews with news directors, never to be offered a job.

Private life private

Lane has been legally married in Colorado for more than 10 years to a man who cannot talk openly about his love for his wife. The reason, Lane said, has nothing to do with shame or embarrassment. "It has to do with a safety concern for our daughter in high school," she said.
"I decided a long time ago there would always have to be a certain sense of guardedness," said her husband, who shares only his first name, Don. "I am protective to the point of overbearing."

The two met at a 2000 charity benefit for Children's Hospital that Lane was covering. She was cynical at first, and Don knows why. "Her cynicism has protected her," he said, "and kept her safe."

Lane never knows whether people look at her and instantly know she's different. She's an evidently tall, buxom blonde who quotes Lenora Claire by saying: "I am more ample-size than sample-size."

But do people know when they see her? Some do. Her husband did not.

Fellow entertainment reporter Kirk Montgomery from KUSA Channel 9 did not know until someone mentioned it, "and I spit out my coffee," he said. "I had no idea, and frankly it didn't matter at all — I just felt like the last one to the party."

Lane has never made her medical history a secret. "To me, secrets are poison," she said. But she had to carefully choose how best to tell Don, then a divorced father with joint custody of a toddler.

"Not every man," she greatly understated, "can handle that sort of thing."
She found a safe place to tell him — a Taco Bell drive-through. Why there? "Because you can get out of the car and get away if you need to," she said.

She didn't need to.

"I was always looking more at the person, and I liked what I saw," Don said. "In the end, people are people, and love is love."
They have lost some friends. "But we've made many more," Lane says.

Lane hardly feels like a role model. "I'm far too flawed for that," she said. "But I would say my experience is evidence that no matter who you are, or how you began — when you embrace yourself, and you put in the work, and you give yourself the space to be authentic ... you can do it."



Eden Lane

Sunday, 14 September 2014

neither friend nor foe

Your gender dysphoria, no matter what its origin, needs to be acknowledged and treated. Based on my own life experience and all of my study on the subject, it tends to become more acute as we age so ignoring it is not an option.

But can there be a middle ground approach where we can treat the symptoms and avoid transition if its ultimately not the right option for us? I believe there is.

If you see your dysphoria as a foe you will do everything to ignore it and pretend it's not there. You may crossdress periodically to relieve the pressure and then throw everything away. Then you will hold your breath for another few months and hope the feelings don't return. But they always do return and as you become older and wiser you recognize this pattern only too well and decide to stop fooling yourself.

But then you may finally see your dysphoria as a friend and think: why fight it I'm trans and I must do what my trans nature tells me to do and transition. Your dysphoria is now driving the car and deciding for you what you should do. You have then given away your power to make your own call.

I am saying that there is no black and white and we are not talking about an all or nothing scenario.

You can treat your dysphoria with whatever methods are at your disposal with the understanding that the cause of your gender confusion is likely sourced in a combination of biological and social factors. You are entirely free to set your own treatment regimen because, ultimately, no one knows you better than you know yourself and there is no magical curative pill that will remove your condition. You have it and you need to treat it and you can choose a positive outlook or a negative one; that is your choice.

By acknowledging that my cross gender expression was an effective way to treat my dysphoria and allowing myself the dignity and pride in doing it well, I have found my own solution. You have already found your own or will in the near future.

No therapist or psychiatrist has an answer for you. The answer lies entirely in your own hands.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

causation model?

Thirdwaytrans is a website run by a former transwoman and offers the unique perspective of someone who transitioned at age 19 only to detransition 20 years later.

This particular entry from the site is nothing short of brilliant and I just had to post it in its entirety. Not only do I agree strongly with what is being said but the analysis here is very much spot on. I also very much favor his use of the term erotic imprinting instead of what Blanchard calls AGP:

Third Way – Why I am in neither the AGP camp nor the feminine essence camp

I’ve had a couple of people read my writing and assume that I believe that my MTF transition (and maybe all MTF transitions) are caused by a fetish. This is not what I believe and I am trying to be careful with language to emphasize that point. I don’t believe my female identity was caused by a fetish. Indeed this stuff is complicated, and does not lend to a simple solution.

I think the idea that pre-transition fantasies of being female and transitioning are correlated is non-controversial. People in both camps would agree that this happens. What they argue about is the causality. As the scientific saying goes, correlation is not causation Let A represent the fantasies, and B represent the female identity

One possibility is A causes B.

Theorists such as Ray Blanchard and Anne Lawrence believe that transgender identity (in non-androphilic transsexuals) is caused by a kind of paraphilia (which I refer to as erotic imprinting to be non-stigmatizing). This erotic fantasy is used to allievate anxiety and becomes stronger and stronger, eventually taking over the psyche and creating a compulsion to transition. According to this theory this identity is nothing but the ultimate expression of the fantasy, and involves a kind of self-love or falling in love with an internalized woman. Of course the big trouble with this, is that if it was sexually fueled we would expect the removal of testosterone to eliminate the issue. This clearly doesn’t happen, and Blanchard explains this by saying that the love for the internalized woman remains, even when the sexual feelings are gone.

A second possibility is B causes A.

This is the feminine essence theory which is espoused by queer theorists and many trans women. This states the fantasies are an expression of a repressed feminine identity that is being distorted by the presence of testosterone and converted into erotic fantasies which are the only way she can express herself. Then eventually the person accepts their feminine identity and transitions, and maybe eventually moves to HRT and SRS. The removal of the erotic compulsion when testosterone is eliminated and positive feelings when estrogen is added are seen as evidence of the feminine essence.
However, when looking at a correlation there is a third possibility: C causes A and B. This is what I believe.

In my model C is a combination of trauma and biological factors. I also want to emphasize that when I say trauma plays a role in transgender identity development I am not saying it is the sole cause. Biological factors can play a role as well. Indeed, this multiple causation is the norm in psychology. Through identical twin studies we know conditions as diverse as schizophrenia and homosexuality are neither completely genetic, nor completely environmental. It would actually be surprising if there weren’t multiple causes involved here as well.

In my model A is erotic imprinting, and B are various pre-verbal structures. It wouldn’t be surprising if the structures manifest themselves as feminine figures in the psyche and archetypal themes, as these are pre-verbal constructs and that is how we can interact with them. I will write more on that later

Friday, 12 September 2014

grades of transition

For those of us who don’t fit perfectly into the binary model, the term transgendered may be a good descriptor. In fact it should maybe stand in as short hand for the phrase “transcending gender”

But for type V and VI transsexuals things are a little different since their primal requirement seems to be full and complete transition. The question for me then becomes: how much is the drive towards full physical transition based on an absolute necessity?

I have less trouble understanding androphilic transsexuals since their transformation is clearly a win-win scenario; they are not only highly dysphoric but are also attracted to men. But for gynephilic transsexuals should physical transformation be so obvious since they are still sexually drawn to women?

It is true that the hormonal transformation process leaves most transsexuals with severe erectile dysfunction and most genetic women are hard pressed to accept a partner’s transition so perhaps it’s a moot point but, with the understanding that gender identity and sexual orientation are not linked, what is the impetus for modifying the genitalia in this particular group? Is the objective to feel wholly and entirely a woman in every sense?

I suppose what I am getting at is the question of determining how much of gender dysphoria is rooted in a deep desire for freer range of gender expression and how much is it about changing sides and fully becoming the opposite gender with everything that entails. That question may be hard to answer even for the person since this stems from a place in our brains that we ourselves do not comprehend but the question does beg for an answer.

The evidence we have is that only a small percentage of gender dysphorics go on to have bottom surgery which leaves a larger group in various states of transition. This fact may fit well with the theory that this is a graded condition since you stop the process when you have attained a state where you are happy. And isn't that the goal most of us are after anyway?


Thursday, 11 September 2014

doing what works for you

I don’t see gender dysphoria as hating your body as much as feeling an affinity for being the other gender. The old sterotype phrase was “I am a woman trapped in a man’s body” but that’s not really correct and I have never felt this way.

Most of the time I am perfectly happy being a male and am not uncomfortable at all in my skin but my dysphoria sometimes conspires to make me think that this shouldn’t be the case. It tries to tell me that I would be happier as a full time woman.

I have now learnt to read how my dysphoria works and understand how it ebbs and flows and how to feed its appetite with the right amount of cross gender expression so that it allows me to live a normal life; at least as normal a life as a transgendered person can have. There is an anomaly that resides in our brains that makes us unique and I have learnt how to deal with it so that my quality of life is not hampered more than it needs to be.

I know we are all different and some of us want to do more but we can’t. There are those of us who deeply wish to transition and live full time but the majority of us never do; most gender dysphorics choose an in between status that runs the gamut between no physical alterations to everything but bottom surgery. There are no rules here but only what can settle you down to a state where you can be happy with yourself.

My ability to recognize what I needed to do was hampered by the dos and don’ts that I was adopting as insurmountable facts and which were causing me a great deal of stress. Its only when I removed those road blocks that I was able to address my needs. Unfortunately this can be the hardest part of the process because we have been so conditioned to see this so negatively.

By choosing to deal with this positively, it has saved my happiness.



Wednesday, 10 September 2014

the uninformed

People don’t tell you what they really think. Most will tell you what you want to hear or what is politically correct but in a private setting or over an informal discussion they might tell you how they really feel about something.

This happens in almost every type of imaginable scenario and most certainly in the case of a transgendered person in the workplace. A small group will be very accepting, the majority will tolerate and another minority will vilify him or her.

This is why you need to be thick skinned and not worry about what others think because in the end it won’t matter to your daily life. There are small minded people everywhere and, whether due to lack of education or personal hurts or plain old meanness, they will not be swayed in their opinion. Only those who care about you and your needs and whose affections are returned by you need matter.

It’s probably more important to be respected than to be liked although having both would be ideal. Unfortunately there are far too many people to educate and so little time to live.

I know I don’t deal with this issue in my office because I am not out at work but I do sympathize greatly with those who do. But it’s like I told Helene Cote the other day during our chance meeting, when you get to a certain age you just don’t give a damn anymore.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

a sign of the times

Maybe you have them where you live: sale stands where they sell hand creams or cosmetics operated by young men and/or women. They petition people walking past them to stop and try their product with the promise that it is the best around and are often strategically placed in shopping malls in the highest traffic areas.

A few years ago I would walk past them dressed as a woman and I would be more often than not deliberately ignored. I never knew if it was my inability to pass, my scared demeanour or a combination of both.

Well, today is a different story and I am as petitioned to stop and try their product as any woman would and I see this as another barometer of my increased ability to blend in and pass in public. Whether I am seen as a comfortable crossdresser, transsexual woman or genetic woman it matters not one whit.


Monday, 8 September 2014

a chance encounter

I was at a Starbucks this past week and was just leaving when a woman poked me gently on the shoulder. She asked me if I knew who she was and after thinking about it for a second I recognized her. It was Helene Cote: the gender therapist I had seen a few times and have mentioned in this blog.

She was there with her young daughter but I asked if she could spare 5 minutes so we could have a brief chat since she asked me how I was faring. After collecting her beverages, she sat down with me for a short discussion. She told me that her daughter asked who the lady was, and her reply had been that I was a friend.

I quickly filled her in on what had been going on since we last spoke and about my intention to continue living my life as I have been. I told her I have no plans to transition and will deal with my gender dysphoria as I have been for the last few years. She nevertheless asked me if I would be willing to come to a group session to speak about how I am managing. Not all of her patients plan to transition fully or at all so perhaps it could be interesting to discuss my own approach to all of this.

After our brief encounter I bid farewell to her and her daughter and left thinking that it was nice to have run into her.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

matching inside and out

When taking our first awkward steps experimenting with our gender presentation, many of us make the mistake of working a little too hard on the externals and less on the internals. I suppose that is normal because we haven’t been trained to be a woman and, while I don’t presume to be one, my mind and body crave that experience. The reason remains a mystery.

We go through the beginning phases of how to apply makeup, choose body appropriate clothing, find a working voice and learn to carry our body the right way. Eventually we find a formula that works for us but not after passing through an awkward and sometimes comical stage where things don’t quite work. I think a lot of this has to do with our internal discomfort and feeling like we shouldn't be doing what we are doing.

Then somehow the planets align and the physical and mental begin to merge. You approach a state you are happy with and that equilibrium makes you say: “I’ve attained a place I am comfortable and I am myself” even if you didn’t entirely know what your goal was when you began. You only know it when you get there.

I am pretty certain there are no short cuts on the transgendered journey but if you just keep driving eventually you become more comfortable navigating the road you're on.


think positive henry ford 10 Top Tips for a Healthy Mind and Body


Friday, 5 September 2014

the search for the gay gene

I watched “The Nature of Things” last night which covered the topic of homosexuality. Their key question was whether gay men actually born gay and if so, what causes this and how could homosexuality have survived the evolutionary process.

Gay filmmaker Bryce Sage sets out to answer this question on a cross-country and around the world journey and along the way confronts his own homosexuality and family history. He explores the nature vs. nurture side of the issue and talks to animal biologists about their studies of homosexuality in other species. There is documented evidence of homosexuality in over two hundred.

Bryce visits Samoa and discovers that every family has a male member who is either gay or is encouraged to become more feminine to support familial needs. The idea is that homosexuals, like the fa’afafine (or third gender) may not reproduce themselves, but in the support of their blood (and therefore genetic) relatives, they increase their overall chance for survival.

One of the interesting things that he discovers from a recent study out of Italy is that in families where there are gay members the females have a higher rate of reproduction (between 15% and 25% more children) which suggests that when passed on to women the gay gene helps makes them more fertile. Mr Sage does not reproduce due to his homosexuality, but the rest of his family does and increases their chances of survival into future generations.

I wonder how much longer it will be before we find a genetic marker for the transgender condition.


Thursday, 4 September 2014

the mall rat

I have an outing routine that includes several coffee houses as well as shopping malls. These malls are convenient because not only are they strategically located throughout the city; they also provide shelter during the blistering heat of summer and the frigid days of winter. I got my start in cross gender expression in shopping malls and even if I don’t limit myself in where I go these days, they are still a good option for me.

Over the last few years I have gotten to know numerous merchants and have become friendly with them. This has helped make my outings more interesting and more social and even if these people may not be close friends, they form part of a group that helps me validate my identity as Joanna. They can always be counted on to be there when you arrive to buy your coffee or that top that’s on special.

I purchase far less than used to because in the beginning I was using it as a way to test my mettle. I wanted to interact to see how well I could pass or be taken seriously as a customer. With that challenge now met, I no longer buckle to the temptation to get one more eyeliner or bracelet; I have more than I need.

I also no longer worry about being recognized because I have had so many close calls over the years which amounted to nothing. Not only don’t people expect to run into you, they don’t expect to run into you dressed as a woman. I have literally passed right by people who know me (including my brother) who did not recognize me in the least. Where I am in my head these days I couldn’t care less if they did for I no longer have anything to hide.


you guessed it....at the mall