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Showing posts from March, 2016

where we went right, then wrong and then right again....

How did gender variance become associated with sexual deviance and mental illness?

The main reason is that sex and gender have been intrinsically linked due to the prime directive of societies which is survival through procreation. This allowed little room for variants since they did not contribute to this basic need.

In addition religious societies did not take a kind view of this kind of aberration. Anyone inclined to differ from this model would have extreme difficulty in living authentic lives; this was especially true in Judeo-Christian societies. Some ancient cultures hold some reverence for a third gender and the fate of these people has been markedly different.

The truth is that the vast majority of people expressing gender variance are intelligent and highly functional so the issue of mental illness begins to lose traction.

The question of sexual deviance was partly answered by Alfred Kinsey during his study of the sexual habits of American Society. What came out of this m…

sticking to the black and white

Religious conservatives have the same problem that I used to: they cannot see past of how things should be versus how they are and the world for them is a series of absolutes.

Religious (and for that matter political) dogma is by its intrinsic nature rooted in black and white thinking since it is all about aligning oneself to unflinching principles. If you fall outside of this box you are disobeying its demands. This is why the people most susceptible to becoming dogmatic tend not to be overly intellectual since excessive questioning tends to breed dissent.

North Carolina (which I mentioned the other day) is not the only breeding ground for religious conservatism. There are other states in the Union as well as other places in the world. In Canada we have the province of Alberta as being the place where the highest concentration of conservative voters resides.

The real world does not operate on black and white principles and is more likely to be messy and replete with greys. Nature ope…

what happens if we remove obstacles?

How sex and gender identity overlap is not completely understood.

What we do know is that individuals are affected by both the chromosomes and hormones of their natal sex and that these components do to some degree contribute towards establishing gender behavior. For example if you give testosterone to female mice, scientists have found that this increased their levels of aggression which is more associated with male behavior.

To say that gender identity is entirely a social construct would be a false statement as much as saying that it’s entirely determined by biology would also be.

In the 1960’s, John Money theorized that gender identity was not just about natal sex and could be heavily impacted by social conditioning. As witnessed by the case of David Reimer, who completely rejected his rearing as a girl upon being gender reassigned on Money’s recommendation, it is clearly about both.

Money defined the notion of gender role thusly:

"all those things that a person says or does t…

you are who you are....

Whether you transition or not your transgender identity will always be a part of you. That is absolutely never going to change.

So when N asked me again yesterday about how often I thought about being a woman I said truthfully not very often any more. I have instead embraced my transgender identity and that means that in my brain I live somewhere between both genders.

I think she found that answer reassuring because it’s the truth. At some point down the road we will be living together again in the same space and Joanna isn’t going anywhere. She is part of who I am.

That solid understanding that I possess about my self has made my life so much better it cannot be put into words. Having the woman that I love intrinsically understand and respect it is worth even more.

innate versus learned

Yesterday evening we were out for dinner. During the conversation the topic of gender came up and how N embraced part of what was traditionally feminine such as playing with Barbies but then rejected wearing dresses until she was much older.

She also admitted that she was generally attracted to masculine men to which I half-jokingly responded "then what are you doing with me?"

She then pointed to my less than stellar job of removing my nail polish and said smiling

"yeah I don't know"

"are you happy with who you are as a male?" she inquired.

"yes I am but there is this side that must be explored and is a strong part of who I am" I responded although I am paraphrasing since my exact response eludes me.

What she knows about me cannot be erased in her mind and even if I don't think you would guess I was trans from meeting me in male mode, so much of my behaviour has been learned.

I know how to play both parts when I need or want to. That i…

blind prejudice

Good on the Carolina Hurricanes organization for distancing themselves from a discriminatory bill that would prohibit transgender people from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity and presentation.

Even the New York Times editorial board chimed in by chastising the state for encouraging discrimination against what is essentially a very small segment of society.

It's understood that North Carolina is not exactly a hotbed of intellectual advancement and is teeming with the kind of religious fundamentalism that has no trouble reconciling Christianity with not loving thy neighbour. Presumably Governor McCrory agrees with people who think that transgender people are sexual predators waiting to pounce on some unsuspecting woman.

If anything the passing of this legislation proves to me that even in the 21st century we are in no imminent danger of running out of idiots.

Go Canes!

You can read the story here


we're so very sorry...

I know I’m pretty lucky. I live alone and have a girlfriend who knows and understands about Joanna even if she doesn’t necessarily need to see her.

Sometimes I read about marriages and partnerships where we are barely tolerated. That makes a lot of sense if you sprung this on someone after a number of years of marriage but not if they knew from the outset. Perhaps we tend to very overly apologetic over this issue because of all those years of self-rejection and hence slip back into that mode once we get some pushback.

I have told N before that if it came down to her or my mental health that I would have little choice but to pick the latter. She understands this because she has witnessed my struggle and how long it took me to get where I am today. I would never give that power to someone else to choose my life for me.

What it comes down to is this: is this a game or is this part of who you are? If it’s the latter then you have little choice but to honour it or risk damaging your psyc…

two little problems

The Blanchardians have two problem areas to contend with that weaken their cause. These involve the early years as well as the later ones in the life of a transgender person.

If they want to prove that being transgender is rooted in sexual perversion they need to establish that arousal is present at all phases otherwise their argument doesn’t really work.

The excerpt from J Michael Bailey’s book I included in my recent blog posting contained a reference to a 3 year old getting a chubby when looking at a woman’s clothing catalogue. This sounds pretty dubious as a start and certainly doesn’t correlate with any personal experience before I hit puberty. I suspect it doesn’t resonate with most of you either.

The other major issue they have is that if gynephilic transsexuals are strictly driven by sexual arousal why don’t they regret their decision to transition once the sexual engine has been greatly diminished. After all, nothing gives you a cold shower like a dosage of female hormones in…

another great example

Watch this video and tell me you are not impressed by Asifa's sense of who she is. This is someone who identifies as gender fluid and it must not have been easy growing up being attracted to your own sex in a strict Muslim household.

She speaks eloquently and on top of that he/she looks great don't you think?

By the way this is my 800th post since starting this blog in 2012.


facial features

When I look back at pictures of myself I can see traces of femininity in my face that I used to greatly resent. Even N has mentioned this to me when we were viewing a series of old slides taken back in the 1980’s at a friend’s house.

It was all unmistakably there.

I thought about this when I saw pictures of Savannah Jackson (formerly Daniel Kertcher) who even when living as a man had a head start in having very decidedly female features which were only bolstered through a regimen on hormones. I don't even know how she hid her transition from anyone.


I used to wonder about that when I was young and whether my soft features were somehow linked to my being transgender.

Not only have I always looked young for my age but I could pass for a woman with very little effort with the aid of makeup and clothing. The picture of me below was taken at the age of 16.



Savannah's story can be found here...

https://au.news.yahoo.com/sunday-night/features/a/31145352/sunday-night-exclusive-becoming…

Eddie Izzard speaks

Eddie Izzard is my age and he really has his shit together. He came out 31 years ago, speaks his mind and does not care one whit about what society thinks of him.

Have a read and enjoy!...

http://www.standard.co.uk/showbiz/celebrity-news/eddie-izzard-gives-inspiring-speech-on-being-transgender-as-he-takes-a-break-from-marathon-to-get-a3204136.html





more on the brain and gender

In yesterday's post I featured an article dealing with brain differences between men and women. What I found most striking was the result that there was a great deal of structural overlap between the two sexes which might be suggestive of something we observe: namely that there is no such thing as a perfectly masculine man or feminine woman and we are actually dealing with a spectrum.

If anything, Dr. Joel helped bolster the idea that perfect alignment in brain structure along gender lines might not be possible.

Back in 1910, Magnus Hirschfeld hypothesized that gender identification could be found to exist along a spectrum rather than in a rigid binary. The overlap and even reversal in some areas of the brain might be physical evidence that he was correct.

Every day we encounter individuals who blur or even reject identification with their birth sex. To complicate matters further this reversal need not but can also include sexual orientation.

Human kind is indeed a complex mosaic …

male and female brain differences

You may not be all that surprised to learn that male and female brains are actually not as different as previously thought. I attach the contents of an article in Sciencemag which summarizes the results of a recent study which yielded some interesting results:

“In the mid-19th century, researchers claimed they could tell the sex of an individual just by looking at their disembodied brain. But a new study finds that human brains do not fit neatly into “male” and “female” categories. Indeed, all of our brains seem to share a patchwork of forms; some that are more common in males, others that are more common in females, and some that are common to both. The findings could change how scientists study the brain and even how society defines gender.

“Nobody has had a way of quantifying this before,” says Lise Eliot, a neuroscientist at Chicago Medical School in Illinois who was not involved in the study. “Everything they’ve done here is new.”

As soon as scientists could image the brain, they …

little to worry about

If you want to see what a confused and garbled mess the work of J. Micheal Bailey is, I attach some excerpts from his book followed by my commentary. I have also emphasized in bold one particularly bizarre passage:

“Autogynephilic cross-dressing usually begins in late childhood or early adolescence, but this does not mean that it is not biological. (Pubic hair also begins at adolescence.) Some autogynephiles claim that they have early memories of their condition, such as the desire to be female. I have tended to be skeptical about these memories, but a recent case seen by psychologist Ken Zucker at the Clarke Institute has made me more open-minded. This was a three-year-old boy whose mother had brought him in to the clinic because of his cross-dressing, which she first observed at around age two. According to the mother, the boy wore her or his sisters' underwear, lingerie, slips, and nighties. The mother also reported that (at age three!) he got erections when looking at women'…

help with crossdressing husband

I found this posting in the Dear Prudence advice column and was happy to see the response to the concerned wife was nuanced and not dismissive of a potentially bigger question. I can imagine such a query being handled quite differently in the past. See if you agree…

Q. "The other woman: My husband of 10 years always liked to cross-dress; he did it when we dated and all through our marriage. It was casual, the occasional outing, a stress-reliever for him that I had no problem with. In the past year, all of a sudden he has ramped up his cross-dressing activities, ordering tons of clothes, going out at least once a week as “Pam,” and telling a few close friends of his proclivities. I know a lot of this is a reaction to our daughter we had two years ago and the new pressures and responsibility, but how do I deal with the resentment that Pam gets all his attention and his daughter and I are second?"

A: "There are two issues here, I think: One is that your husband is not spendi…

a year of milestones

This is a special year for milestones.

N turns 50, my ex also turns 50, my mother turns 80, my daughter turns 18 and my son turns 16. Maybe I should buy a ticket for the lottery and see if I win something.

Life is good and I cannot complain one bit. I have my mental and physical health and this blog is slowly creeping up to the 800 post mark which is something I never would have predicted.

But then nothing about my life has been predictable thus far.


what people like us used to do

One of the ways I have worked on managing my dysphoria has been to allow myself the dignity to define myself. If I am a unique creation then I have nothing to change other than perhaps improving my personality flaws (which N would quite handily be able to point out).

For example, if it helps you to think of yourself as a woman disguising herself as a man to earn a living and that works for you then that is what you should do. One can only imagine what people like us had to do 150 years ago or more when surgery was not even within the realm of possibility. They lived with their dysphoria and used whatever methods they could to manage it.

A number of posts back I referred to Harry Benjamin's chapter on the non surgical treatment of transsexualism in his landmark book in which he proposed methods which are still sanctioned by WPATH. The essential message there was to find a way to bridge a disconnect which only seems to worsen if ignored.

As recently as a few months back I was consid…

my abnormal sexuality

I don't know what having normal sexuality is like since I have never possessed it.

Even if I have always been attracted to women, my dysphoria actively conspires against my ability to perform in the way most men do. When I began this blog this fact disconcerted me a great deal because I felt it was my biggest hurdle; that and my desire to crossdress.

Putting myself in the mental role of the female is something that N rightfully has found to be troubling and I have done my best to explain that I have always been this way and don’t know any different. I love her and this reality has nothing to do with her or with anything she does.

When I am alone, my sexual fantasies place me not with a male or a female but rather as embodying some aspect of womanhood. I have also worked hard to study myself and try to understand how my dysphoria functions. My plan has always been to avoid the temptation to transition since I know my existence would not necessarily improve and could just end up …

forms

I have been swearing by breast forms for years now. Since I was very young I had tried every possible option including bird seed filled pantyhose and water balloons but at the end of the day nothing is more comfortable or behaves more realistically than they do.

Lately I had been patching the old ones since the backing had started to deteriorate from so much use. Still not bad for 4 years.

There is always a sale on somewhere and these only cost $50 and will likely withstand several more years of almost daily use.

Every person has their own preference and budget but for the quality and price combination you would be hard pressed to do better.

I used to go with a B size cup years ago but found that for my size a larger cup is more proportional to my frame hence I now go with a 38DD bra.

exponential change

People who know little about this subject must think that transgender people are coming out of the woodwork at a pace that to them is akin to a chosen lifestyle change. The truth is that transgender people are coming out in numbers that are actually beginning to reflect reality. They are slowly proving that gender identity is indeed a spectrum albeit one which weighs heavily in favour of the binary status quo. Yes we are anomalies but we are more than real.

Let’s remember that social conditioning plays a big part in our behavioural patterns and we don’t want to rock the boat. Many of us are still in hiding and conforming in order to keep marriages and other relationships intact.

An analogy to what we are witnessing might be discovering just how many people are into an alternative sex lifestyle who would not ordinarily admit to it. They don’t need to because no one sees it so we could be forgiven for thinking that everyone has heteronormative sex in the missionary position. Being trans…

our gender core

We are born, the doctor looks at our genitals and we are assigned a gender identity.

The formative years are then spent learning how to behave and do the things appropriate for your birth sex. Not all of us want to follow instruction but most of us reluctantly do.

We don’t know how gender identity is actually acquired but we know now that it resides in the brain and not in the sexual plumbing and is likely a combination of nature and nurture. Why it is wholly or partially reversed in some people is a complete and total mystery but it makes sense that this should happen.

I mentioned some posts ago how it should be able to predict transgenderism simply on the basis of the variability of nature and how it abhors perfection and uniformity. The fact that some brains are bi-gendered or gender reversed should then not be surprising and yet for many people this is an inconceivable idea; for them the gender binary should be represented by two uniform, static and immovable monoliths. While this…

fathers and sons

Back when I was considering the possibility of transition I would picture myself wearing a dress in front of my son. Telling him would have been even harder than dealing with N, my daughter or my mother. Having to explain that the person he thought he knew had omitted an important element of information and things would be changing dramatically between us would have been gut wrenching.

While I am not ashamed of who I am, he has yet to see me dressed and I plan to keep it that way unless he ever asks to see it.

In a few weeks he will turn 16 and this is a period where your masculinity and sense of who you are is in a fragile state. It was just a few degrees worse for me in having this dilemma I never dare reveal. It takes years to find out who you really are and that is without being transgender which is just another wrinkle serving only to complicate matters.

So when I found this story I found it poignant and imagined myself on both sides of the fence. See if you can relate.

You can …

"do you still have your uterus?"

True and funny story.

Last night I was riding the subway home. A woman got on and sat next to me and smiled at me politely. She looked over at me a few times over the next few minutes each time pleasantly smiling as she looked up from her magazine. I thought she might have read me but nevertheless each time I smiled back.

Then she suddenly she looked at me and quipped "You must be a professional"

I asked why she thought that and she told me she liked the way I did my makeup and she could tell by my general presentation. For the record I was not dressed particularly fancy. Still I was flattered and all of a sudden we were involved in conversation.

I learned she is 57, has been married for 28 years and works as a hair stylist.

I tell anyone who asks that I am around 50 so when we learned each other's ages the topic migrated towards menopause which all of a sudden segued on to the topic of her hysterectomy. This very friendly and open person who is not the least bit shy …

More fun and games

You might remember Will Franken.

He is the US comedian who spent seven months living in female mode during which he renamed himself Sarah. As an unapologetic conservative he now gets to appear in the pages of the Federalist so he can take potshots at the Liberal transgender agenda.

I wrote about Mr. Franken a number of posts back and noted how easily some people decide to put on a dress and call themselves a woman. It turned out that Mr. Franken was at best a hobbyist crossdresser who was bored and wanted to try something different. My doubts then about Will Franken being transgender are now clearly confirmed and as you read the article you will find the same pattern as when they trot out Walt Heyer to do his obligatory turn at “what was I thinking!”

The Federalist like other sites of the same ilk has predetermined ideas and will find anyone who even resembles a transgender person to them so they can show the world the insanity of it all. Their latest incarnation is newly recanted “tr…

a tip of the hat...

Ever since I found Jack Molay’s blog Crossdreamers I have learnt much. Not only about people like me but also others who have questioned their birth sex and have found other ways to cope. For example until I found his site, I never knew that there were people who dealt with this issue who never crossdressed. I have also learnt about female crossdreaming and how genetic women cope on their end of the spectrum.

Jack’s site is the best I have found on the web for discussing issues of gender identity and expression. It is all presented in the spirit of trying to help people cope with any distress they may harbor or just to add their point of view to the discussion. A place for literate and intellectual dialogue but also a place to vent frustration.

It is good to know that there is a venue where you can find a kindred spirit and share your thoughts without judgment or derision and where the only agenda is to encourage open discussion. You regularly see transitioned women; transgender peopl…

"the real me"

Many transgender people use the phrase “the real me” when they are presenting as a female and it almost always makes me pause and ask the question whether they think they are being inauthentic when they are presenting as male.

I don’t see my male persona as not being genuine but rather part and parcel of who I am. I see myself as embodying both male and female animas that contribute to making up my entire persona.

I can understand why so many feel this way but it can perhaps contribute to reinforcing the notion that their male identity is somehow worthless. I suppose if you are intending to fully transition then maybe that is why this idea can become a permanent fixture in our minds.

Some transgender people (and I count myself among them) take the two spirit approach. We can celebrate both sides of the same coin.

Do you necessarily need to choose a side? this is a decision which is directly linked to the strength and tenacity of your dysphoria. Certainly at the upper echelon of the Be…

a pleasant encounter

Yesterday I was having a coffee at my local mall. I sat down only to hear a hello prompting me to look up and see the son of my next door neighbors sitting there smiling politely at me.

He had seen me dressed before but never this close up. We struck up a brief conversation during which this twenty year old reassured me about being myself by telling me not to worry when I might have appeared apprehensive to him. I wasn’t but it was kind of him to make me feel at ease.

I used my female voice instinctively and all went very well. After a few minutes he had to leave and that was that.

The more comfort you feel in your own skin the more people will treat you accordingly. You need to respect who you are first and things will fall into place.

Remember that you get to define you.

They drag me back in...

Autogynephilia theory supporters call anyone who does not acknowledge their invented condition “deniers”.

I'm sorry but we already know that cross gender arousal exists and always has existed.

In fact, it existed long before this pseudoscientific term was coined but the simple reason many of us don’t acknowledge the validity of this so called "theory" is because it associates the desire to transition exclusivelywith sexual arousal and nothing else. In other words, it negates that there is such thing as a transgender identity.

At this point I am going to assume these people think we are stupid.

It cannot be put in simpler terms.

when hell freezes over

The conservative website Breibart news goes to great lengths to make sure it does not address transgender people in their preferred pronouns. I made this observation a few posts ago with their story on Caitlyn Jenner and now here they are again with their story on Oscar winner Mya Taylor.

I suspect someone over there would get fired or perhaps turn to stone if they ever veered from this policy.

The rest of us however will congratulate Miss Taylor on her victory.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2016/02/28/tangerines-mya-taylor-becomes-first-transgender-spirit-award-winner/


a measured risk

I don't think I have an androgynous face but instead one which can be made up to look female. When I was younger I could at times be confused for a girl but it didn't happen enough to make me paranoid. Every time it happened it would frustrate and profoundly embarrass me although deep down I was not as offended as my indignation would suggest.

Today this all works in my favour and allows me to move about more freely in the world as Joanna. I can now not imagine what it would be like without the degree of “passing” this affords me (as much as I know this term offends some).

Transgender people who can easily be singled out need to be far braver than I am and risk physical injury every time they step out the door. If this doesn’t make detractors understand how serious this issue is I don’t know what will because that takes courage.

We read about attacks and killings on a regular basis with undoubtedly a great many incidents never reported. There are some sick and dangerous people…

the elder stateswoman

Kate Bornstein makes me laugh. There is an enchanting quality about her that only an older person who has lived a while can possess. She transitioned many years ago and now at the age of 67 considers herself neither a man nor a woman. She is more akin to a gender outlaw which is the title of a book she wrote years ago.

I remember reading it and finding myself to be in much agreement with what she said.

When asked about the gulf between trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFS) and transgender people she answered:

“I think the only people who listen to trans-exclusive radical feminists are transgender women. They call themselves feminists but it’s not the kind of feminist I ever knew. Who is paying attention to them? Seriously. So some people don’t think you’re a woman. So? It’s much more important to know you’re a woman than to depend on someone’s approval.” You only care, she adds, “If they are in positions of power”

That is what makes Kate Bornstein just a little bit different.