Thursday, 31 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 major work was that people had a wider range of sexual preferences and practices than previously understood. Kinsey’s work found that individual fantasies and tastes of many veered significantly from the accepted understanding of what was then considered to be normal human sexuality. His findings were published as Sexual Behavior in the Human Male in 1948, followed in 1953 by Sexual Behavior in the Human Female.

In a separate but parallel stream was the work begun by Magnus Hirschfeld in 1910 and continued by Harry Benjamin which in addition to sexuality studied gender identity. This culminated in the 1966 publishing by Benjamin of “The Transsexual Phenomenon” which raised awareness but most of all empathy for transgender and transsexual people everywhere.

Where we began to veer in the wrong direction was with the work of one particular 20th century sexologist named Kurt Freund. He was the first to employ the use of plethysmography (measurement of bloodflow to the penis) in his native Czechoslovakia as a way to have an objective measurement of sexual arousal in males. Freund used the device on sex offenders and on homosexuals and over his career, refined its use as part of his broader research on male sexual interest.

Other researchers and activists disputed this method as the best measure of orientation, pointing out that neither identity nor behavior are perfectly correlated with measured or self-reported arousal. Freund acknowledged this, and in fact demonstrated it in his studies, but maintained that orientation per se was best defined as the object of arousal.

Freund was mentor to one Ray Blanchard who took his position at the now infamous Clarke Institute in Toronto. Blanchard collaborated with Freund and formulated a similar approach only that now he was applying it in his reviewing the legitimacy of candidates for gender reassignment surgery. Blanchard's focus was now on sexual arousal as an indicator and primary driver for the desire to have such a procedure since pre-transition transsexuals, by virtue of their identity issue, sometimes experienced body conversion fantasies that one could easily exploit. The detailed questioning on the sexual fantasies of these candidates became the focus of his published work in the late 1980’s and gave birth to the much contested term “Autogynephilia”.

Blanchard’s work fell into virtual obscurity until it was picked up by Anne Lawrence in 1998 and by J Michael Bailey who in 2003 resurrected it in his book ‘The Man who would be Queen”. It understandably raised the ire of many in the transgender community due its "pull no punches" lack of tact, lack of credible science and insinuations that transgender people were basically sexual deviants.

As this work falls justifiably back into obscurity it still serves as a cautionary tale for many today.


Kurt Freund

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

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 operates in odd and wonderful ways and surprises us with anomalies and exceptions which only throw curve balls at people who can’t see past their nose.

I victimized myself by my own ingestion of unflinching black and white dogma and fought against my own nature as hard as I could. To undo all of that influence took many years.

It was worth the effort.


Tuesday, 29 March 2016

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 to disclose himself or herself as having the status of boy or man, girl or woman, respectively. It includes, but is not restricted to sexuality in the sense of eroticism. Gender role is appraised in relation to the following: general mannerisms, deportment and demeanor; play preferences and recreational interests; spontaneous topics of talk in unprompted conversation and casual comment; content of dreams, daydreams and fantasies; replies to oblique inquiries and projective tests; evidence of erotic practices, and, finally, the person's own replies to direct inquiry."

That recent Israeli study I referenced was not conclusive but if anything it might have helped reinforce the idea that disembodied brains are not easily gendered. However this does not mean that there aren’t portions of the brain or elements at the level of DNA that help determine intrinsic gender traits.

It’s probably most realistic to think of gender identity as being influenced by both biological predisposition and social factors such as parenting style as well as sibling and peer interaction. Why some people have a propensity to reject their natal sex is a question we cannot answer. Just as we also cannot determine how much that rejection is tied to biological versus other factors.

One thing we might want to agree on is that expectation of gender behavior need not be coupled to natal sex which can go a long way towards alleviating the anxiety of gender non-conforming children. By removing objection to their behaviour early might we also be averting an eventual transition down the road or does that even matter?


John Money

Monday, 28 March 2016

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.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

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 is the great mystery of gender isn't it? How much is innate and how much is learned.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

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


Friday, 25 March 2016

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 psyche.

We worry ourselves sick that the neighbors might see us leaving our house in a dress and I cannot help but want to roll my eyes when I read that in someone's blog. But then I rethink that urge because it wasn’t all that long ago I used to sweat the very same thing.


Thursday, 24 March 2016

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 that they shrink your equipment as well as greatly reducing libido.

Like the aforementioned randy toddler scenario they start doing cartwheels to try and explain it in their writings but fail quite spectacularly.

Conversely, if the dysphoria comes first then what we might be witnessing is a warping of the sexuality of gynephilics due to its effects. This means that the burgeoning sexual feelings of the child will impact the approach to their dysphoria depending on whether they are heterosexual or homosexual with the former doing their best to suppress and the latter looking to embrace since their internal sense of gender aligns with their sexuality. However even this distinction seems to be shifting somewhat with the newer generation of transgender people.

Interesting stuff and neither the Blanchardians nor I have conclusive proof for our arguments although I tend to think mine sounds more plausible because it would help explain what we actually see in the real world. At least I don't pretend to state that my argument is based on science because that doesn't actually exist yet.

The fact is that the regret percentage between homosexuals and heterosexuals who transition is about the same which doesn’t correlate with what this clan is trying to tell us.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

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.


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

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-savannah/



Monday, 21 March 2016

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





Sunday, 20 March 2016

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 that almost defies definition and as we break down strict social norms we begin to see just how varied it truly is.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

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 began hunting for sex differences. Some modest disparities have been reported: On average, for example, men tend to have a larger amygdala, a region associated with emotion. Such differences are small and highly influenced by the environment, yet they have still been used to paint a binary picture of the human brain, “even when the data reveal much more overlap than difference between males and females,” Eliot says.

So in the new study, researchers led by Daphna Joel, a behavioral neuroscientist at Tel Aviv University in Israel, tried to be as comprehensive as possible. Using existing sets of MRI brain images, they measured the volume of gray matter (the dark, knobby tissue that contains the core of nerve cells) and white matter (the bundles of nerve fibers that transmit signals around the nervous system) in the brains of more than 1400 individuals. They also studied data from diffusion tensor imaging, which shows how tracts of white matter extend throughout the brain, connecting different regions.

The team found a few structural differences between men and women. The left hippocampus, for example, an area of the brain associated with memory, was usually larger in men than in women. In each region, however, there was significant overlap between males and females; some women had a larger or more male-typical left hippocampus, for example, while the hippocampus of some men was smaller than that of the average female.

To accommodate this overlap, the researchers created a continuum of “femaleness” to “maleness,” for the entire brain. The male end zone contained features more typical of males, and the female end zone contained the version of the same structures more often seen in females. Then, the team scored every individual region-by-region to find out where they fell on that male-to-female continuum.

The majority of the brains were a mosaic of male and female structures, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Depending on whether the researchers looked at gray matter, white matter, or the diffusion tensor imaging data, between 23% and 53% of brains contained a mix of regions that fell on the male-end and female-end of the spectrum. Very few of the brains—between 0% and 8%—contained all male or all female structures. “There is no one type of male brain or female brain,” Joel says.

So how to explain the idea that males and females seem to behave differently? That too may be a myth, Joel says. Her team analyzed two large datasets that evaluated highly gender stereotypical behaviors, such as playing video games, scrapbooking, or taking a bath. Individuals were just as variable for these measures: Only 0.1% of subjects displayed only stereotypically-male or only stereotypically-female behaviors.

“There is no sense in talking about male nature and female nature,” Joel says. “There is no one person that has all the male characteristics and another person that has all the female characteristics. Or if they exist they are really, really rare to find.”

The findings have broad implications, Joel says. For one, she contends, researchers studying the brain may not need to compare males and females when analyzing their data. For another, she says, the extreme variability of human brains undermines the justifications for single-sex education based on innate differences between males and females, and perhaps even our definitions of gender as a social category.

The work “contributes in an important way to the conversation,” says Margaret McCarthy, a neuropharmacologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, who studies gender biases in neurological and mental health disorders. But she disagrees that it might not be useful to consider sex as a variable when studying the brain. She looks at rodent models to evaluate, for example, why males are five times as likely to develop autism, or why females are twice as likely to suffer from depression. “By studying male versus female brains, we have a great tool for exploring the biological basis of those differences,” she says. “[Joel’s] call for us to abandon the monikers of male and female or men and women I think is too far.”




Friday, 18 March 2016

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's clothing in magazine advertisements, and he would demand that she buy the items he was viewing. His cross-dressing was sporadic, rather than continuous, and it did not appear to reflect early femininity-he did not say he wanted to be a girl or have other feminine interests, for example. The most fascinating development came when Zucker interviewed the father, who admitted that he had cross-dressed erotically since adolescence. There was no indication that the boy had ever seen his father do this or had any opportunity to learn the behavior from him. I predict (as does Zucker) that when he grows up, the boy is very likely to have some variety of autogynephilia. His early onset also smells biological, though as I stressed, early onset is not a necessary component of innate behavior.

Highly relevant to the nature-nurture question is whether autogynephilia has occurred in most cultures and times. In fact, there is only very limited evidence about its occurrence prior to Magnus Hirschfeld's classic work, Die Transvestiten, published in 1910. There are a few more-or-less definitive accounts, such as the Abbe de Choisy, who lived in France from 1644 until 1724. Although the historical record does not document Choisy's masturbatory habits (he was, after all, a cleric), it is clear that he was a heterosexual cross-dresser. He was romantically drawn to women, whom he preferred dressed as men. In fact, he once arranged a marriage ceremony in which he dressed as the bride, and the woman as the groom. He clearly experienced cross-dressing, and particularly being admired as a woman, as erotic. He had periods in which he felt guilty about his unusual preoccupation and purged, just as contemporary cross-dressers do.

The cross-cultural occurrence of autogynephilia has not been well established (in contrast to homosexual transsexualism, which has been). This is not surprising. It is probably rare, secretive, and poorly understood. On the other hand, I expect that it occurs everywhere. Blanchard has seen autogynephilic transsexualism in immigrants from Europe and Asia.

In order to progress scientifically toward the causes of autogynephilia, it will be useful to keep in mind that autogynephilia seems to be a type of paraphilia. Paraphilias comprise a set of unusual sexual preferences that include autogynephilia, masochism, sadism, exhibitionism (i.e., exposing one's genitals to strangers for sexual excitement), frotteurism (rubbing oneself against strangers, such as in a crowded bus, for sexual excitement), necrophilia, bestiality, and pedophilia. Because some of these preferences (especially pedophilia) are harmful, I hesitated to link them to autogynephilia, which is not harmful. But there are two reasons to think that these sexual preferences have some causes in common. First, all paraphilias occur exclusively (or nearly exclusively) in men. Second, paraphilias tend to go together. If a man has one paraphilia, then his chances of having any other paraphilia seem to be highly elevated. The best established link is between autogynephilia and masochism. There is a dangerous masochistic practice called "autoerotic asphyxia," in which a man strangles himself, usually by hanging, for sexual reasons. Although autoerotic asphyxiasts arrange an escape hatch-for example, a well placed stool they can stand on before it's too late-sometimes things go wrong. Perhaps 100 American men every per year die in this way. About one-fourth of the time, these men are found wearing some article of women's clothing, such as panties. There is no obvious reason why autoerotic asphyxia should require cross-dressing. Apparently, these men are both masochistic and autogynephilic. Cross-dressing has also been linked to sexual sadism-although most autogynephiles are not sexual sadists, they are more likely to be sadists compared with men who are not autogynephilic”

Not only is this writing style and content not the least bit academic or scientific but it makes wild leaps without any basis in proven fact. Bailey uses the term "Autogynephilia" as if it were an unquestionable and undisputed condition which of course it is not. The attempt is to convince the reader that the draw towards the feminine in male to female gynephilic transsexuals is exclusively sourced in cross gender arousal.

However even more disturbing is the insinuation that transgender people might possess several paraphilias such as the aforementioned "autoerotic asphyxia", sadism or bestiality clearly showing he has not spent much time with any of us.

Bailey, just like Anne Lawrence in one of her essays, even goes the extra mile here to trot out a dubious case of a 3 year old getting erections while looking at a women's clothing in a catalogue 9 years before he hits puberty. The message one is supposed to take away from all this is that we might be biologically born perverts and at least we can take solace in the fact that it's not our fault.

Comparing this work to Harry Benjamin's is like comparing the work of Ernest Hemingway to comic books and from a truly scientific standpoint, this analysis is a complete and utter disaster. Thankfully it confirms that if this is the level of academic rigor offered by some in the sexologist community to discredit trans people, we have very little to worry about.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

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 spending enough time with your new child. This needs to have its own conversation unrelated to issues of gender expression and dress.

The other is that you two seem to see Pam very differently. To you, Pam is a stress-relieving hobby. It sounds like your husband considers Pam to be an integral part of who he is. I doubt very much that Pam is a “reaction” to the birth of your daughter. What you see as cross-dressing may very well be what your husband considers freedom. There is a difference between cis men who enjoy cross-dressing and a transwoman beginning to come out to her friends and family. The part where your husband is introducing close friends to Pam suggests to me that this is not about cross-dressing for fun every couple of weeks.
I don’t know how your husband identifies, but you two need to have a serious, loving, open conversation about it. I know what Pam is to you—an occasional distraction that pulls your husband away from what you see as his real life. What you need to find out is what Pam is to your husband."


Good answer.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

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.


Tuesday, 15 March 2016

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 considering going back to speak to a gender therapist but then a few days before I cancelled the appointment. My original thinking was that it was going to be an update session where I would discuss where I am today versus where I was a few years ago. But then I realized I was the only person who knew what needed doing and ultimately no one could guide me.



Monday, 14 March 2016

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 trading one set of circumstances for another. Every big change in life inevitably brings both good and bad.

I now understand that gender dysphoria is intrinsically tied to sexuality and you cannot entirely unbind it from your gender identity.

But even as I no longer see being transgender as an illness and more as a variant of humanity, I nevertheless acknowledge that it takes a long time to adapt to this reality. It is a challenge like any other and one which could hardly be described as being the worst among those faced by other people in this world.

Besides helping others, this blog is driven by the fact that the people most vocal about what makes us tick are often those least well placed to do so. This is why I constantly advocate the idea that you need to trust your instincts above all and proceed accordingly until science catches up with all of this.


Sunday, 13 March 2016

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.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

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 is a little harder to conceal.

Still we have been in hiding for millennia and have only surfaced when our social environment permitted it; otherwise we were in permanent or partial hiding.

By the time I understood all this I was in my late 40’s but the world of today is much more aware than when I was young.

Every time the bar moves forward it cannot be rescinded and the progress continues. The difference is that the change of the last 5 years has been exponential compared to the previous 200 and that can only be viewed as a positive thing.




Friday, 11 March 2016

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 may be an appealing idea it is actually not possible because nothing in nature is so wholly perfect.

Until this reality is accepted, transgender and transsexual people will continue to have an uphill battle for acceptance because those who argue for an origin based on mental illness or sexual depravity will fan the flames of doubt. They may not be basing themselves on anything concrete but there will always be a captive audience willing to entertain their rhetoric until science conclusively puts an end to their theories.

For the rest of the post I will quote directly from Felix Conrad's writing:

"...think how easy it is to socialize a transgender infant. Out of pure instinct the kid presents himself to his parents dressed as a girl (this is a common experience of crossdreamers). The parents tell him that this is not appropriate because he is a ‘boy’. The nature of a child is not to seek difference but to ‘fit in’ and this is even more pronounced with their peers. Therefore, think of the infant logic…

◾ Mummy says I’m a boy
◾ Teacher calls me a boy
◾ Other kids call me a boy
◾ I have short hair and willy of a boy
◾ Ipso facto logicus… I’m a fucking boy!

I would bet – though we will never know – that at that ipso facto logicus moment – there is literally a part of the brain that gets colored in and a sticker put on it that says ‘boy’. He has now self-identified as a boy, so to his conscious mind he is… a boy. However, there is one part of a human that no amount of socialization can erase. Society can make you feel guilty about it… you can feel guilty about it… but sexuality and reproduction are too important for the species to permit a program rewrite. As we have seen with the gay community… if you love men you love men and no amount of electric shocks, injections, therapies and prejudice can change that.

This is exactly the same for our transgender kid. He has successfully identified as a boy and is living as such… but when it comes to his sexuality no amount of socialization can remove his female instinct. Yes, he will be able to have sex with women, yes, he may be attracted to women… but if he is on his own… fantasizing… he will never fantasize about having a penis and penetrating women… he will always fantasize in some way, shape or form… as female. It’s true that it comes through all sorts of filters and that this desire will channel itself in some unusual ways… but I repeat… there is a mass of male socialization and biology which it has to pass through.

So, if a man, who identifies as a man, always imagines himself as a woman in his sexual fantasies… then we can say that in one sense, he is crossing gender. But in another he is not… because he was born with a female gender core and might well identify as female later on in life as many ‘autogynephiliacs’ do (once repression and socialization have been eroded.)"





Thursday, 10 March 2016

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 read it here.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

"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 asked me another question

"Do you still have your uterus?"

I said that I did and then suddenly looked up to realize I was at my stop. We wished each other a nice evening and she waved at me as the subway car pulled away to the next station.

As I walked out of the station the thought that stayed with me was that instead of stressing for all those years and trying to cure myself of being trans, I could have been myself and enjoyed these sorts of exchanges.

It's never too late to learn.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

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 “transgender woman” Will Franken. At this point I am not certain that Mr. Franken's short lived stint as a woman wasn't a publicity stunt.

People who have had to take the agonizing decision to fully transition are not respected by these sort of ploys but it plays well to those who want to make light of it all.

The title of the article is oddly and misleadingly titled “What my life as a transgender woman taught me about Progressives”

The mind boggles.

http://thefederalist.com/2016/03/07/what-life-as-a-transgender-woman-taught-me-about-progressives/


Monday, 7 March 2016

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 people, crossdressers and crossdreamers share their pain, their opinons or their theories.

If you haven’t already become a regular visitor I strongly urge that you do because understanding yourself and your motivation is the secret to coping with gender dysphoria. There are always alternative approaches and you will learn simply through reading other people’s experiences.

You are definitely not alone.

Hats off to Jack...



Crossdreamers

Sunday, 6 March 2016

"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 Benjamin scale transition is not a choice but a necessity.

Test the waters and see how far is good enough for you. Measured steps are the best way to slowly and organically achieve a balance that need not necessarily involve destroying your male identity.


Saturday, 5 March 2016

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.

Friday, 4 March 2016

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 exclusively with 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.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

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/


Wednesday, 2 March 2016

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 in this world who lack empathy and would not hesitate to do harm to a trans person.

I am out there with the kind of defiance that says you cannot judge me for you do not know me but I realize that many people live in communities where moving about the way I do is unthinkable.

I am thankful and very aware that others have gone before me and paved the way for the rest of us to be able to have greater freedom and acceptance.

Sometimes the price of being yourself is extremely high in this world and I would dearly love to see that change.



Tuesday, 1 March 2016

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.