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Showing posts from June, 2016

if I had a do-over

If I were young today how would I proceed to live my life? This is something I have sometimes asked myself.

Armed with the kind of information that transgender teens possess today and not doubting my mental health would I do anything differently?

I cannot really answer that of course because I don’t regret my life. I lived it to this point the best way I knew how with the information I possessed in a world with a different set of constraints than those of today. I simply got used to hiding and figured that it was the right way to live at the time but it was far from easy. Sometimes it’s nice to reflect on what it would have been like not to have felt obliged to.

I thought I was supposed to suffer through things and try to change something that I actually couldn't. This only produced frustration and guilt.

So now on my own again I get even more time to spend looking inward and take stock of my life to this point. It will be the first time in years that I get to do that because the…

now its anorexia...

The Federalist keeps trying and for that you have to give them credit.

If it’s not trotting out Walt Heyer its now comparing being transgender with having anorexia nervosa. Yes the condition where you slowly starve yourself to death if people don’t get you to treatment.

Moira Fleming who has suffered from this condition herself suggests we treat the dysphoria like the mental illness which makes the trans person look in the mirror and hate their “wrong” body the same way that an anorexic thinks they’re fine instead of looking emaciated. Her point goes back to the popular mantra “just because you think you’re woman and fix all your parts doesn’t mean you are one”.

For me this misses the point because the treatment that works is always the correct one. This means that if a transition saves a life then it is as much correct as giving food to the anorexic. Ms. Fleming is actually more concerned about the legalistic and biological aspects of what defines a woman which doesn’t really intere…

wig woe resolved

I was looking for a way to fix a problem with one of my wigs. The cap is too large and it tends to slip back ever so slightly with prolonged wear. Therefore since I really like it, I had to find a way to fix it to my head more securely so this wouldn’t continue to happen.

After reflecting on it and even surfing on YouTube for suggestions (which were actually more complex than what I wanted), I suddenly had a brain flash: use two-sided tape; to be more specific turn a piece of tape in on itself in order to expose two adhesive faces.

I placed the wig on my head and then proceeded to put three pieces strategically just where the forehead meets the natural hairline. This turned out to be a great idea because the wig stayed in place without so much of a hint of movement over the 2 hour period that I wore it. The tape I used was surgical adhesive tape you find at any drugstore but I suspect a number of other types would do the trick as well.

If you have had this issue as well, I highly reco…

all walks of life

Transgender people come from all walks of life and they cover every possible profession so its not surprising that they include stand up comedians.

But there is always something more impressive about a person who can walk out in front of millions and take a risk but even more so when they are open about their identity and their past.

Kudos to Julia Scotti...

The repentance of Diamond Dee

Diamond Dee makes me think a little of Walt Heyer. No their stories are not identical but neither was really transgender.

When you watch this video you won’t likely recognize yourself in it. Diamond had a sexual addiction problem so severe that he ended up having gender reassignment surgery without even actually suffering from any gender dysphoria whatsoever. I am hard pressed to even make the connection between the two.

Like Mr. Heyer, he was ushered through the system by people who clearly were not up to the task of determining whether this was a patient fit for such a procedure.

Diamond understands this and now wants to help others not make the same mistake.

The unfortunate thing in all this is that people hungry to discredit actual transgender people will pounce on this case along with Mr. Heyer’s and decry the insanity of it all.

However if anything Diamond’s case proves that there are all kinds of people in this world who will do all kinds of things without the proper reflection…

Transgender Q&A

What causes gender dysphoria?
We don't currently have an explanation

Does transition work?
Yes for some people very well.

Does it work for everyone?
No

How do you know whether transition will work for you?
You don't but its a long process of reflection that typically decides what path will be taken.

What is the post transition satisfaction percentage between gynephilic and androphilic transsexuals?
Statistically comparable

What is Autogynephilia?
An invented condition that states that the arousal experienced by gynephilics is the sole driver in their desire for transition and a sexual orientation in its own right. This is not provable scientifically nor is establishing motivation.

What causes arousal to becoming a woman to be a component in the dysphoria of gynephilics?
We don't currently have a definitive explanation. One possibility is that at puberty the orientation becomes intrinsically fused to the dysphoria and hence the wish to be female becomes tinged with sexual ovetone…

how this blog has changed over time

Back in 2012 this blog started with a very personal tone. I was going through a crisis of identity and needed a vehicle to express my frustration. My making that journey public was to try and get and give feedback to others who also might be going through it.

Over time the emphasis and tone changed and it became more technical because I wanted to get into the topic and examine every crevice in order to understand myself.

I haven’t found all of the answers because we don’t possess them all but the journey has helped me immeasurably. Along the way I have found kindred spirits who have shared their struggles with gender dysphoria and how they have dealt with it in their lives.

I was given many talents and one big hurdle to overcome. Others have theirs and no one is immune from the hardships that sometimes come our way. That struggle has shaped who I am as a person, made me stronger and honed my curiosity about things more than if my life had been simpler. Of course I had a hand in makin…

floating

At 53 years of age it’s not too late to start over with someone else and yet that pull seems to subside with age. By now I know what things work and which don't and my eyes are far more open to the realities of life than when I was 20.

We tend to see more clearly what we want and what is right for us and our tendency to want what others have is very much lessened.

Some who are in relationships want out and those outside of them want in; perhaps a gross generalization but you get the idea. I have now spent almost twenty years with two people and it’s perhaps time for a long break to focus on myself. There is no perfect situation in this life but as long as I have my mental and physical health whatever comes my way will be part of its unexpectedness. I have no appetite to search for anything or anyone anymore.

I was thinking recently that if you had told me 10 years ago where I would be today I would have thought you were completely insane but then such are the twists and turns of t…

tribute from an ex-spouse

Whatever we think about Caitlyn Jenner, she has had to go through the difficult pain of living with gender dysphoria before finally acting on it at the age of 64.

Linda Thompson married Bruce Jenner in 1981 and found out only some years later that this was crippling him. The marriage ended but Linda writes very genuinely and kindly of the good times they spent together and of the wonderful children that they brought into the world.

I find this short testament she wrote to be both moving and honest and really brings home what many of us experience. My own battle with gender dysphoria helped seal the end my own marriage but at the same time I look back and realize that things sometimes happen for a reason.

If you haven’t read Linda’s tribute to Caitlyn you might want to.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-thompson/bruce-jenner-linda-thompson_b_7080918.html


my own worst enemy no longer

I have long been my own worst enemy.

Living in the dark ages before the internet I had to police and control my "problem" without help from anyone for I dare not ever divulge it. All that negativity leaves scars on your psyche even if on the surface my life seemed fully under control. I just willed it to be that way.

So even now any modifications and small adjustments are made with a scrutiny honed from years of feeling like I didn't have the right to follow my own instincts.

Since 2012, this blog has been my therapy and my vehicle for exploring this weighty subject. During that time the advancement we have made as a community has been nothing short of extraordinary.

My own self-acceptance has been longer than it could have been and now I am working on removing the vestiges of the rigorious machinations that every action I took received. This subject was so serious for me that I had fashioned obstacles at every turn which were stifling me.

People who have never questi…

the hardest thing in the world

In this video CiCi gets it right. The hardest thing in the world is to be yourself; most especially when that rubs against the grain of a whole host of people who have nothing better to do than weigh in on your life.

When you watch this video remember the words "own it!"

under closer scrutiny than normal

Leticia is someone I've known for about 4 years now. She used to work at the Sears at a mall I would frequent and we hit it off. We are both of Latin origin and our common maternal language of Spanish helped kick start a casual friendship. We would meet at that same mall from time to time and catch up over coffee.

For her I am a divorced mother of two teens and knows nothing of my trans history. It just happened that way.

About a year ago they discovered a benign growth in her brain and she's been closely monitored by a specialist.

So when suddenly our proposed meet up at that same mall turned to an invitation to her house it was not without some trepidation that I accepted. I suddenly had visions of meeting her husband or daughters and being very closely scrutinized.

I turned up at her door 2 hours later and we sat in her kitchen for a while. Her middle daughter was home and I met her and that went well. Then her sister Eva showed up and the three of us talked over coffee fo…

trans-puberty

There is a kind of puberty period that one passes as a transgender person. I never really noticed it that much until I looked back and realized I was going through it.

At first it’s about how one dresses and presents. This is typically in a very over the top and stereotypically feminine manner. It eventually gives way to a more pragmatic style that combines fashion with practicality and comfort.

Then there is the mental aspect which also changes. We go from a kind of scared teenager afraid of our own shadow and morph into a presentable person who is not afraid to go out into the world and just be. This process can typically take many years and is directly related to how much energy and time we have invested in traditional male roles in order to fit into society.

I am now at that stage of comfort and security and when I present as Joanna and I no longer second guess myself or look over my shoulder to see who might be staring. Being comfortable in your own skin should be paramount to an…

Benjamin revisited

In Zagria’s recent post on the 50th anniversary of Harry Benjamin’s “The Transsexual Phenomenon” she refers to a section in the book that I personally identity with:

“The transvestitic urge (fetishistic or transsexual) contains an element of addiction. Larger "doses" may be required for certain individuals as time goes on. Therein may lie a ‘progressive’ nature of TVism in some instances. If untreated and uncontrolled, ‘dressing’ may be desired more and more frequently and even the idea of physical changes through hormone treatment or through an operation may be gaining ground, particularly in unfavorable - that is to say, constantly stimulating - surroundings. Here psychotherapy and proper guidance at the right time may help, provided a transsexual tendency is not too deep-seated. Such seemingly progressive aggravation of transvestism was rarely noticed under treatment, although it did apparently occur in a few cases. However, later on, these patients proved to be initially…

someone l can relate to

I am very frank in this blog and if it helps someone to cope with their gender dysphoria, then it will have been worth it. I am not trying to be sensationalist and no longer need to hide from who I am. I also view my existence much more dispassionately than when I was dealing with the paralysis of shame and guilt over being transgender.

In this light, Anne Vitale’s 2003 article titled “The Gender Variant Phenomenon--A Developmental Review” contains a reference to one of her patients that I can relate to. You might recall that she is the one who coined the excellent term "Gender Expression Deprivation Anxiety" to describe what many of us experience.

In the text she describes this patient thusly:

“John, a 50 year-old genetic male, medical research scientist, married (23 years), father of three children aged 20, 17 and 7, phoned me after experiencing a panic attack severe enough to require emergency attention from paramedics at the airport on his way to give a presentation at a …

the bad news for FOX

Well here is some good news.

The average FOX News viewer is 68 years old and white and you know what that means: it is a dying population. The politically and socially conservative (some would say regressive and prejudiced) news program has a population that is waning and completely out of touch with the more progressive and younger generation that is replacing it.

I only need to look at my children to realize how much more tolerant they are over issues that we just did not even discuss when I was their age.

The world is fast becoming a global village and we can no longer hide much. People are out in the open and there is little left to expose regarding the variances we see out in societies in every country of the world.

So while stupid and intolerant people have their own tailor-made news network for now, I have a lot of hope for future generations who will live in a more open world than mine was.

I still hope to have a number of years of witnessing this great change in society where…

being tall doesn't always mean being read

I used to fret about being too tall to be seen as a woman but then I learnt something: my worrying about it was affecting my demeanor such that the lack of confidence was having more impact than the actual height itself.

Now I am in stores and sometimes a sales girl will tell me how nice it must be to be tall. They see me as a tall woman and that has a lot to do with my change of attitude.

I now focus more on movement, demeanor and mostly just being happy with myself. The latter has by far the most impact and even the most perfectly dressed and petite person will stand out without that.

It’s all about attitude.


at a snail pace

Before puberty my dressing was just a normal part of who I was albeit hidden but after puberty it suddenly became something I began to see as a dysfunctional problem. I felt I needed to eradicate it if I was going to have a "normal" life.

Naturally the binge purge cycle that ensued post-puberty only reinforced my belief that I suffered from a problem. What I did not realise back then that this was gender dysphoria which I had no hand in creating.

Back in the 1970's there was very little literature available to us and in my desperate attempts to cure myself I suppressed as hard as I could until the pressure built once again to an insurmountable level. That cycle lasted for many years until I knew I needed to tackle this head on.

So it’s not that you crossdress that is so much the challenge but understanding what motivates it. If you enjoy it as relaxing activity that you indulge in from time to time then that is wonderful. If you are probably able to fit it into your life…

transgender is not "normal"

Here is a well put together video by a young medical student. She clearly understands the subject and is responding to another video replete with ignorant comments made by someone else.

Watch and enjoy...

the gap begins to close

When I was growing up we had no latitude in expressing gender in any other way than what was expected of us. Boys and girls had very defined gender roles they were to follow. In today’s world that is beginning to change and people with gender dysphoria are seeing other possibilities for themselves.

Androphilic transsexuals have always had a more logical if not easy path to transition since their gender identity and orientation align but gynephilics (certainly of my generation) chose to fight and conform until the dam broke later in life.

What we are seeing today is the age of transition gap between gynephilics and androphilics closing. This means that gynephilics are starting to see that dealing with their dysphoria can include the option of transition instead of suppression. They are thinking past the traditional role expected of them and choosing a different path where they can live as a lesbian woman rather than live a lie.

They are all over YouTube hiding in plain sight.

Therefore…

wiping the dust from our feet

The transgender issue brings out such vitriol in some people.

If we think about it, most people are motivated by wanting to be accepted and loved but also sometimes motivated by fear. Those opting for the latter, weigh in on other’s people’s experiences with their own myopic vision which is colored by their limitations.

When I was young I understood nothing about homosexuality so I parroted what I heard and assumed that it was a choice. For many years this stereotype remained with me unquestioned. As I grew older and thought about it this belief made less and less sense and it culminated in a good friend of mine admitting to me that he was gay and how he struggled with it for so long. In the end he reached a state of self-acceptance and has been very happy for many years.

My original belief had been based on bias and misinformation I had acquired and not facts.

The internet is full of polarizing opinions on the subject of being transgender and people with their own personal agendas ar…

the lesser of two evils...

trans versus fetish

There seems to be two schools of thought which seem diametrically opposed but, for me, actually contain some overlap. These are that you are either transgender or you have a fetish.

That there is a sexual component connected to being transgender need not come as a surprise. After all how can you express a wish/need to be another gender and not have aspects of that desire be at least partially sexualized?

Today people have more choice than ever and can self-label as they like. Some are more content calling themselves a fetishist while others prefer the label transgender but if you examine their lives you may find a great degree of overlap between them.

For me, the "rubber hits the road" question is this: are you going to be happier living as the other gender yes or no? it’s actually that simple. Forget about the stigmatization of fetish = bad versus transgender = good. That is being moralistic where no such judgment should apply.

To pretend that transition does not work for s…

a visit to the doctor

I saw my doctor yesterday and besides the usual questions about my health he asked how I was managing with my dysphoria. I am one of only three patients among the 1,500 that he regularly sees who have experienced it. That puts us at 0.2% of his practice which is not far from the accepted percentage of transgender people among the general population of 0.3%.

Of the three, I am the only who has not transitioned or plans to. One did so 20 years ago while the other is in the process of embarking on a full transition at the age of 60.

I told my doctor that I am fine living the way I am and that I can put up with the dysphoria assuming that I can dress regularly. If it works why mess with it.

He told me that this transitioning patient could not go back and forth between male and female presentations. I can understand that as this is not for everyone.

My being on my own again is not changing anything and I am doing what is right for me. Should those feelings ever change I would then procee…

sticking to the basics

As I become older I have become less formally religious and more spiritually-minded. This has meant abandoning a lot of the trappings of religion and adopting a wider and less intransigent view of the role of the divine in my life.

Let’s admit something: we don’t know anything about the nature of God. We cannot even conceptualize it because it is beyond our abilities as human beings. So it comes down to faith and the idea that we come from somewhere and our life is supposed to have meaning.

We have all sat there and stared up at the stars reflecting on the vastness and nature of the universe. Everything operates like a Swiss watch and yet there is randomness and chaos at the same time. It is hard to deny that there is vast intelligence behind it all and even if you go back to some big bang there is an origin point we cannot go beyond.

Many religious faiths espouse unyielding and unflinching elements that can inflict rigidity and possibly even stunt our spiritual growth. The most ortho…

damaged goods

Rethinking everything I thought I understood about this issue took years which only proves that even people like me can have some degree of neuroplasticity in our brains.

There is a lot of effort involved in unlearning prejudices and preconceived ideas and studying this subject in depth was the only way that was going to happen for me. My background in physics and engineering almost demanded it.

In a way I've always envied people that go more by feel and don't need to delve into things. They know who they are and what they need to do. Now that I am older I see more value in that than ever.

I say this not just about being transgender but about everything.

As it turns out there was far more wiggle room in my life than I had imagined but I lived it as if there was an invisible container around me and I dare not step outside its boundaries. On the other hand living this way forged my discipline so I shouldn't complain.

A comment that Emma made the other day to one of my posts …

one person's journey

Some people transition later in life and Grace Stevens did so at 64 years of age.

In this Huffington Post article she chronicles some of her experience and long struggle with her gender identity:

"It was another snowy Friday morning, and I met my son and eight-month-old grandson at the mall. I always treasure these walks on the rainy, cold or snowy days where we can chat about almost anything.

My son started telling me that the afternoon before, he had ESPN radio on in the background, as he is a stay-at-home Dad taking care of the eight-month-old and his three-year-old sister. He said he had heard the guys on the radio talking about the latest stories about Bruce Jenner possibly transitioning genders at the age of 65. He said that, normally, he would have ignored it, except for the fact that I, his father, am a transgender woman. He went on about how the guys on the radio were ranting about how they don’t understand how, or why, a 65-year-old man would ever want to become a woman…

The Atlantic gets it right

This very well written article summarizes the anxiety over bathrooms and, as I have been saying in my blog, there is more to it than first meets the eye. People aren't comfortable with the idea that gender and its expression might be fluid.

They may not care what you do in private but who you are is another story all together and this issue brushes up against something that is immutable for some people.

A worthwhile read to be sure..
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/05/americas-profound-gender-anxiety/484856/

demagoguery

One thing that is universal is that as long as people have populated this planet there are those who presume to speak with knowledge they clearly don’t possess. They take their own life experience and use that to pronounce themselves on how things should be instead of how they are.

It’s a universal phenomenon and applicable to any issue you can think of.

If I could change one thing it would be that. If you lack the proper information about an issue and cannot relate to another person’s experience simply mind your own business and don’t pretend that you can counsel them.

The driving force behind this phenomenon is human fear and prejudice. We fear what we don’t understand and assume the worst.

Look at the fear and loathing coming from conservative circles over transgender bathrooms as an example. The hyperbole is staggering and suddenly transgender people are being portrayed as molesters rather than as people who don’t want to be persecuted for who they are.

This is fear mongering and…

a model not meant or designed to help

There’s a simple reason why gender therapists who treat gender dysphoric people don’t wade into the origins of the condition: they are there primarily to help the patient and not to theorize about something we don’t fully understand.

When I was being treated at the Montreal General Hospital Gender Identity Clinic and, presuming they had bought into Blanchard’s toxic work, they could have told someone like me the following:

“You are an Autogynephilic transsexual whose primary driver for transition is that you get turned on by the idea of being a woman”

Or to an androphilic:

“You are a confused homosexual sissy boy who mistakenly thinks he ought to be a woman”

Well of course they wouldn’t and you can imagine that not many patients would see the treatment through if they did.

Gender therapists are there to help relieve the stress and confusion of people who have lived with gender dysphoria in many cases for decades. Their job is to assist them make up their own minds about what is best to…