Sunday, 31 July 2016

why Julia Serano is absolutely correct

Transgender woman and activist Julia Serano is absolutely correct.

By using the term Autogynephilia you are giving it weight, substance and validation. Her reasoning is the same as mine: that there is a distinction between acknowledging the erotic overtones experienced by the gynephilic male to female crossdreamer or transgender person and what this word is meant to fully imply which is:

1) That the arousal is a distinct narcissistic sexual orientation
2) That it is the sole driver for the desire to transition and the source of the dysphoria instead of its symptom

Both of these assertions can be easily called into question primarily because they cannot be proven and that is enough to take them out of the realm of scientifically accepted fact. When something is unproven you don't boost its credibility by merely inventing a scientific sounding term. But then science isn't exactly the strong suit of sexologists.

We have made this type of error before with Phrenology and Nymphomania so it wouldn't be the first time.

I myself no longer use the term but simply call it cross gender arousal while Serano has coined the term female embodiment fantasies (or FEFs for short). The point is that this experience could just as easily be a symptom of being trans and gynephilic instead of being the cause of gender dysphoria.

The transgender woman whose screed I referred to some posts ago could care less about what contributes towards making a person transgender and in the end she is right. Even if cross gender arousal was a main element it would still have validity if the person transitions and is happier than before.

The rest is then about what defines a woman and most people would tell you it is DNA and chromosomes which androphilics eagerly espousing AGP because they think it paints them in a better light should consider.

I could care less either way because it has lost its stigma for me but the main inconvenient truth continues to be the fact that most transgender people know they are the way they are years before they hit puberty while AGP theory hinges its credibility on this detail being very much untrue.

I know precisely who I am today after years of trying to figure it out which has helped me immeasurably in combating my dysphoria. By paying attention to this junk science you will only stunt your own advancement towards internal peace.


Saturday, 30 July 2016

live and let live

I realize I am fortunate not to have felt compelled to modify anything. When I went to see Helene Cote (the Montreal General Gender Clinic therapist) as an outpatient a couple of years back she asked me how long I had been on hormones when I had never actually tried them. It should be noted that I was presenting as a female.

My genetics have helped me manage my dysphoria since I haven’t had to look in the mirror thinking I had to change my face or body in order to blend in reasonably well as a taller than average woman.

We know it’s not really about passing but about being left alone to be the persons we are. In the past it was about doing everything to be as close to a facsimile of a genetic woman as possible. Full blown transsexuals would disappear into the woodwork and start again in a different location where they could be treated and seen as any other woman. But in spite of their best efforts not everyone could escape detection.

Today some transgender people have refused to hide and some have come out when they were already living in stealth; I think of Geena Rocero as an example. Janet Mock, who would pass anyone's visual inspection as a genetic woman, wears her transgender status like a badge of honour which only helps those who don’t have the same advantages.

If you think about it why should anyone have to hide? Is it to make everyone else feel more comfortable?

Some people are militant and refuse to submit to facial feminization surgery in order to appear more feminine. They want to be accepted for being who they are without having to pass an artificial approval rating. No doubt the same sector of society that would likely stand outside a public toilet handing out permission slips to urinate in the right bathroom.

Shouldn't all this be more about live and let live than anything else?


Geena Rocero

Janet Mock


Friday, 29 July 2016

the hoards at the gates

I am following American politics a little more closely these days. The Republican National Convention through the eyes of The Young Turks has been particularly entertaining but also disheartening in that the level of animosity and vitriol coming from the right is at an intensity I have never seen before.

There is indignation and anger because the political fault lines are no longer just about schooling, taxes or health care but more about what kind of country the United States wants to be. Do they want to be a banana republic led by flag-waving jingoistic patriots who love guns and fringe religion or one based on justice, equality for all and achieving higher goals.

While neither party holds a monopoly on perfection it seems the Democrats are a little closer to getting there except that they have made their own mistakes. By having their own insiders derail the Sanders campaign they helped remove the candidate who might have had a better shot at defeating Donald Trump. Instead they have placed their bets on Hillary who has been branded the safe candidate but who no one likes all that much.

Bernie was too radical for some but then he also spoke to the worker who felt bad that he had lost his job while Clinton reeks of Washington establishment.

Trump, who is a populist buffoon, currently commands a lead in the polls leading me to think that a lot of Americans are currently not dealing from a full deck. You just need to watch this man for a few minutes on any broadcast to understand the depths of his inadequacy to hold any level of public office. I wouldn’t let him be the local dog catcher. He is that much of a disaster with unjustified smugness thrown in for good measure.

The YouTube youth core is doing their best against the older uneducated whites who think that Trump is a successful business man who tells it like it is. But judging from the polling numbers I’m beginning to wonder whether they will have any effect because they are preaching to their own loyal young demographic.

The disenfranchisement that many people feel has actually more to do with the level of injustice that is currently plaguing the country and the rest of the world. The American dream might just be a fantasy which has been replaced by those who are deemed worthy gleefully lining their pockets while the rest of the peasants are left staring in envy from outside the city gates.

If you want some evidence simply watch the film "The Big Short".


Thursday, 28 July 2016

confirming what WE already knew

Here is a new article in the online version of TIME magazine telling us what we already knew about ourselves:

"In the last couple of decades, many medical institutions have moved away from the view that being transgender is the result of mental illness, as they previously did with homosexuality. Still, stigma persists, and some of the most influential medical bibles, including the WHO’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD), continue to categorize a transgender diagnosis as a diagnosis of mental disorder.

Now, a new study published Tuesday in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry adds nuance to the topic, finding that the social rejection and violence that many transgender people experience appears to be the primary source of their mental distress, as opposed to the distress being solely the result of being transgender. That distinction matters because it has implications for how transgender people are treated in a healthcare setting, as well as how they are viewed in society.

In some places, the study’s authors note, viewing transgender people as having a mental illness might force them to get psychiatric care rather than the physical care they seek, or be used by governments to deny “decision-making authority to transgender people in matters ranging from changing legal documents to child custody and reproduction.”

The study, which involved interviews with 250 transgender people, found that the majority of them reported social rejection related to their gender identity, as well as being the victim of violence. And the researchers conclude that “distress and dysfunction were more strongly predicted by” going through those experiences compared to “gender incongruence itself.”

“Having grown up as a child and an adult who experienced gender incongruence, I’m personally very clear it’s not a mental disorder,” says Jamison Green, president of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and a transgender man. “There is stress that’s created as a result of having it reflected back to you that there’s something wrong with you.”

The authors of the study argue that being transgender might be better classified as a condition related to sexual health, in the next edition of the WHO’s ICD. They also note that this is the first field study on the topic, which was led by Mexico’s National Institute of Psychiatry Ramón de le Fuente Muñiz, and that it is being replicated in several other countries such as Brazil and India.

UCLA’s Williams Institute estimates that there are 1.4 million Americans who are transgender, translating to 0.6% of the overall population. In this study, 80% of participants were transgender women (those who had been assigned the male sex at birth but identify as female). The participants reported becoming aware they were transgender at a mean age of five years old. More than three-quarters of participants (76%) reported experiencing social rejection related to their feelings about gender, most commonly by family members. And nearly two-thirds (63%) said they had been a victim of violence related to their gender identity.

A separate 2012 study found that 57% of transgender youth who did not have supportive parents attempted to commit suicide in the past year, while just 4% of transgender youth with “very supportive” parents did.

“Stigma associated with both mental disorder and transgender identity has contributed to the precarious legal status, human rights violations and barriers to appropriate care among transgender people,” author Geoffrey Reed, a professor at National Autonomous University of Mexico, said in a statement. His fellow authors echoed that statement, suggesting that transgender individuals might be better cared for if doctors use a more “gender-affirmative” approach."

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

going exploring

As a person who had been in hiding and denial for so long I have sometimes wondered how much of my behavior was modified in order to fit in and where did the real person that should have been me begin. How much is the feminine expression I now allow myself to exhibit actually innate.

This is the thought process I am now going through and I am giving myself plenty of time to answer the question.

Every person is a combination of both genders. Not every girl plays exclusively with Barbie dolls or every boy only with trucks which is part of the root question of what constitutes gender identity. But what makes us feel male or female and why are transgender people so pulled towards the other gender instead of feeling completely comfortable in their own?

Part of the answer undoubtedly lies in the incredible complexity that is the human being. The brain with its complex patterns of neurons and intricate connections are impacted virtually from the moment of conception. The washes of hormones need to happen with consummate timing in order to guarantee a normal male or female baby. One example of things going astray in this intricate process is ending up with an intersex child. But then what happens exclusively in the brain is much harder to detect.

There is little question in my mind that transgender people are a combination of nature and nurture but the proclivity to behave in a certain way starts very early in life. I didn’t really know I was a boy until my mother told me I wasn’t supposed to wear her shoes and that scolding marked me for life in a very profound way.

We are guided and slotted into a box and told to stay there and so I complied.

Unraveling that puzzle is now a more complex task due to the careful sculpting that has gone into creating a credible persona that people wouldn’t reject. The more effort that went into its fashioning the more challenging the process of breaking down the components becomes.

This is why I need time.

At the end of this process nothing may change for me but my analytical mind wants to know who I really am and I have been afforded the time to do so. Since I was very young I have lived inside my head and intrinsically understood that I was different from others. That difference required concealing if I was going to fit in.

Now it’s time to go exploring.


Tuesday, 26 July 2016

finding your own way

I was surprised to learn recently that my daughter has been reading C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”.

Lewis was a deep thinker and questioner throughout his life and I can relate to him more than the type of person who believes something because it is told to them. My father, who was an intellectual, taught me that faith without reasoning cannot be very solidly built.

Lewis had a difficult life and when he finally found someone in his life that he loved deeply he lost her to cancer. He had to almost re-evaluate his belief in God and begin anew. Here was a man who had begun early in life as a committed atheist and moved slowly towards fervent Christianity by building logical arguments to arrive there. It is often harder to convert the intransigent intellectual mind to the existence of God but this book is solid in its explanation and reasoning.

My children were going to Church every Sunday from the time they were born and after the divorce they would go sporadically only when they were with me. My daughter, invariably going through her questioning stage as I did, is now perhaps re-connecting with her faith through one of the great theologians of the last century.

We all need to find our own way.

I used my father as a foil and railed and argued against him at times but I never lost respect for him. If anything it has grown over the last 21 years and all the more as I approach the age at which he passed away.

There is nothing wrong with questioning if it helps entrench and solidify your thinking on a topic and in that regard you would be hard pressed to find a better role model for such a process than Mr. Lewis.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Sunday at the museum

I know I rarely go into specifics regarding my outings but I am doing so today to encourage those of you who have held back due to any fears you may still harbour.

This past Sunday I ended up going to the Pompeii exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. In addition the fee got me into the Toulouse Lautrec print exhibit so I wound up seeing a double feature. It was a warm day so I wore a new summer dress I recently got for a bargain price and pumps that were higher than normal yet comfortable due to their chunky heel.

Interestingly there was someone there from my company yet I am almost certain that they didn't see me. However even if they had it would not overly concern me because this has happened to me before including having to literally flag down my own brother who hadn't recognized me as I passed him on the street. I am not phased by this any longer as I am almost completely done hiding from anyone at this point. You just get tired after a while.

The first picture below was taken by the waiter who kindly agreed to do so during this pit stop for a beer after the museum visit.

Now get out there if the spirit moves you!







Sunday, 24 July 2016

dying of embarrassment

Embarrassment over being transgender can be the kiss of death.

You can get stuck in a loop where you try to change because you are so mortified that this happened to you but then nothing you do works. So your life becomes an exercise in distraction where you try to think of anything that will take your mind off this pull you can't eliminate.

It is very common to see us go through a hyper masculine phase where we think that if we try hard enough to be a man's man the thoughts will go away. Sometimes we are even sure that we have succeeded but then it all floods back in like the tide.

I remember being on that Europe trip in 1986 and having a dysphoria panic attack where I almost wanted to get on the next plane and go home. My female expression was land locked for 2 whole months and my only tool to curb my dysphoria was gone.

I was able to be more successful at managing when I was younger but now there is nothing to talk myself out of. I have gender dysphoria and it requires management - end of story. Along with that resolute knowledge has come the evaporation of the embarrassment and the all-consuming feeling that I was letting someone down by succumbing to its treatment.

Truth be told even if were 100% certain I had to transition, I am afraid not to be able to support my children financially and have to face all those people who've known me as a slightly different person. But just because I don't have plans to transition doesn't mean I don't support your own decisions to forge ahead. Anyone who does so has gone through a deep reflection and knows in their bones it was the right thing. For some of you it has meant the difference between living and dying.

This is why its maddening sometimes when we see some people refer to this as a lifestyle choice. It just makes me think: I'd love to see you try this on for size. They call this the transgender fad not understanding that this new environment is more condusive to us coming out. Most are driven by their own deep-seated prejudices.

Gender dysphoria is not for the faint of heart so in order to find an answer you need to have your full wits about you. In that regard, dropping the shame, embarassment and guilt becomes a prerequisite.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

sometimes happy endings are possible

Coeur de Pirate (real name Beatrice Martin) is a Quebec-based chanteuse who recently came out as a queer woman. She admitted that she was compelled to come out by the recent mass shooting in the Orlando gay club where more than 30 people were killed.

Recently she has been seen frequenting Laura Jane Grace of the group Against Me. If you recall Laura is a transgender woman who came out a few years ago and ultimately was divorced from her wife due to her decision to transition. This is not so unexpected a development for transgender people of course.

But what is nice to see is that a transgender woman is able to find someone to love them for who they are. So many of these stories don’t end up well and if this one works it could be a happy ending for two people who have decided to come out to the world and be their authentic selves.

Laura Jane Grace


Coeur de Pirate


Friday, 22 July 2016

seeing where the road goes

I am out to everyone that matters to me in my life and there is no shortage of relief in that. Something that was unthinkable in the past became an absolute necessity as time wore on.

We all have a need for authenticity and who we are inside cannot be suppressed indefinitely. For a time denial seemed to work for me but I paid a price in that I had to live as if my body was compressed into a tight ball where I dare not move an inch in any direction. In retrospect it seems obvious I should have done this sooner but when you are so invested in living a lie you cannot gain perspective because you do not permit yourself an alternate narrative.

I am at a crossroads once again where my kids are almost grown and I have no major goals to aim for other than to stay physically and mentally healthy.

All of my insides feel different and yet it is almost difficult to relate to who I was because the change was so incremental. If I go back to the first entries of this blog I can read the words but I have trouble relating emotionally to the turmoil I was feeling.

Those of us of my generation and older were in some ways victims of our eras in that very little was known about gender dysphoria and how to treat it. Our families were ill equipped to understand and we were less than excited about coming out and risk being ridiculed or branded as a social pariah by our peers. As bad as things sometimes are for these kids today they were worse for us which is less a complaint than a fact.

At times I have used the gender dysphoria analogy with my son (who I am extremely proud of by the way) as he battles through his anxiety. In this way he understands through my experience that we all have our own challenges to overcome.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

now why didn't I think of that?

Ben Carson is a retired neurosurgeon who shows that even some doctors don’t understand (or refuse to acknowledge in public) the reality that the transgender person faces. Of course he is part of the Republican faithful and they love things in black and white. So they fall back on the old reliable "you can’t change someone’s chromosomes" argument.

Carson bluntly and not so delicately stated the other day that "a leopard can't change his spots" and I take it we are to marvel at this observation as if it were some brilliant revelation no one else had thought of. This is not deep or nuanced thinking but instead what works for his base who can't look past their nose.

No Dr. Carson you can't change someone's chromosomes which is why it’s called a gender role transition.

Of course I don’t have to explain these things to my own readers but when someone who should know better doesn’t acknowledge that there can be a big differential gap between biological sex and gender identity it makes me cringe a little. This reality needn’t always be addressed via a full transition but for some people it seems to be mandatory.

That doctor friend I had dinner with recently certainly understands this and has seen transgender kids in his practice. He is not alone in this regard and there are others.

The number of vile and hateful comments that are spewed when some makes a YouTube video explaining this topic intelligently is astounding. There is a complete lack of understanding that is going to take a long time to overcome. Even then not everyone is going to agree with the explanation offered. It was no different as witnessed by the comments at the end of the article on Dr. Carson's deep pronouncement.

So the only answer is going to be legislation and to enforce it because there are enough uninformed and unpleasant folks in this world to have the general public have any say in this issue be a dangerous thing. This is especially true given the fact that the percentage of transgender people is so tiny.

People don't need to agree with how you live your life; they just need to mind their own business and worry about their own. If only our world actually worked that way.

Dr. Carson may want to use some of his own grey matter to figure this one out because his "logical" argument only seems to resonate with those who aren't transgender.

I can't possibly imagine why.


Ben Carson

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

how I developed my female voice

I don't plan to make many videos but I thought I would this one in order to explain how I developed my female voice.

Voice has only been important to me because I didn't want to have it be an issue when I opened my mouth when presenting female. Early on I realized that I wasn't going to be able to have a relaxing experience when out as Joanna if people were going to be doing double takes. At first I took it as a challenge to see how far I could get with it and then found that it wasn't really all that hard by simply using the technique of recording myself into a cell phone and listening back until I had a working voice that I was happy with.

My voice is not particularly high so I am quite happy with the result I have achieved and I am never taken for a male on the phone when I use it. My aim was simply to have the voice not be in sharp contrast with the physical presentation.

It may seem counterintuitive to say but the better I have gotten with the combination of dress, makeup and voice the more I put away the idea that I would ever transition. My goal is to be able to manage my gender dysphoria and to do so in the best and most respectful manner possible.

Below you will find a short recording which starts with my female voice and moves briefly to the male before moving back to the female again. The technique is not to use falsetto but to pinch the vocal chords at the top such that you avoid the bottom register. In short, keep the voice coming from the top of the neck and away from the chest cavity area. It does take practice, its never going to be perfect and the time required to get there will vary from person to person so be patient with yourself if this is important to you.

It took me a few weeks to get there.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

pandering to the base

On the eve of the Republican national convention we can now look back and recall the early days of the Trump campaign. All the pundits predicted that a comical buffoon like this could never get elected but he was entertaining with his talk about building walls to keep the foreigners out. Trump talked openly about how the Mexicans were rapists ready to have their way with American women.

But he kept winning Primaries and kept appealing to the white mostly rural voters who were hungry for jingoistic talk about rebuilding American greatness.

The Republicans have clearly given up on the immigrant, African American and Hispanic votes because they have no chance of getting them. The most popular Piñata is now an effigy of Donald Trump which Hispanics line up to eviscerate in search of treats and as a way to vent frustration at this man who fans the flames of hatred to capitalize on white people’s fears.

The GOP base is scared to death of foreigners, LGBT folks and anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their base values which strangely combine religious fervor and mistrust of government with love of guns and disdain for anyone different. These aren’t rocket scientist voters they’re after but there might be enough of them to make the race interesting.

So it’s going to be the predominantly conservative white base that they are going with and hope it’s enough.

It worked for Nixon in 1968 as he played the race card with a white electorate fatigued of the African American encroachment into their territory. Except this period feels different due to a level of polarization I have never seen before in my lifetime and to the dumbing down of society which has been officially in full swing for some time now. Just keep them consuming and posting banalities on social media and they won't pay attention.

It worked for the GOP in 1968 but let’s cross our fingers for the sake of America and hope that it doesn’t work now.



Monday, 18 July 2016

Breaking Away

I saw "Breaking Away" on Netflix the other night. Its always been one of my favorite films because it captures so well the angst of growing up and trying to find your own identity. This lovely little film of Peter Yates' won a best original screenplay Oscar in 1979 and was also nominated for best picture for good reason.

You will undoubtedly recognize a very young Dennis Quaid and Daniel Stern but it is Dennis Christopher who really carries this film as the boy enchanted with cycling and all things Italian.

As Siskel and Ebert used to say: Two big thumbs up!



Sunday, 17 July 2016

a nice role model

You will find all kinds of videos on YouTube which chronicle some of the more extreme opinions on this subject as well as some of the most flamboyant examples of transgender people who seem almost to invite derision. But then here is Christine Garcia, an officer in the San Diego Police Department, who gives off an aura of normalcy and balance that you can't help but admire.

She had some trepidation about coming out in this male-dominated profession and yet her worst nightmares were not realized. If anything her faith in the goodness of people was likely reinforced. Perhaps this is one of those cases where the integrity of the person speaks volumes.

She now wants to help the transgender people in her community to feel supported and respected.

When you watch the video you will see a very normal person who just happens to be transgender. Imagine that.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

the sex hormone

You may already know which hormone drives sexual appetite in both men and women and that most influential hormone is called testosterone. Though it’s often considered a male hormone, testosterone — like estrogen– is present in both sexes, but the proportions differ significantly between them

You see where I'm going with this I'm sure.

Gynephilic transsexuals have been accused of being sexually motivated in their decisions to transition and the theory postulated was that they were attracted to their own image and hence had an alternate sexual orientation. But then why were they also marrying women and helping to conceive children?

Regardless of orientation, pre-transition male to female transsexuals should generate comparable levels of testosterone with the key difference being that androphilic transsexuals don't find women sexually attractive. Their gender dysphoria causes them to want to be and live as women without the contradiction that gynephilics experience. Hence the sexual equation drops out for them.

In the case of female to male transsexuals any sexual component to their dysphoria would be less evident since women tend to be less driven by sex due to the lower levels of testosterone they produce. This is why women generally tend to look more for a more holistic type of bond with their partner and find attachment on numerous levels which include but are not limited to sexual attraction.

Most gynephilic transsexuals of my generation or previous became confused and dismayed by the presence of any sexual overtones that puberty brought and needed to sort out the conflict inherent in being attracted to women while wanting to be one. Once this calms with increasing age, they found the dysphoria they experienced as a child remained intact. After so many years in hiding they would typically then face it head on because they cared less about what people thought and because their lives were less complicated by then with not needing to worry about grown children and financial burdens.

That decision didn't always necessarily involve a full transition but to introduce some means of coping and finally come out to others.

What is happening now with younger gynephilics is that they are looking past the sexual overtones and understanding themselves much sooner in this more open and knowledge-based environment. The result has been transitions at younger ages for those who require them.

It is worth noting that when estrogen is introduced to the gender dysphoric male the libido is reduced and their dysphoria is quelled with no regret as to their changing bodies which suggests that sexual motives were not a primary driver. Were you to do that to a non-dysphoric they would become extremely despondent to say the least.



Friday, 15 July 2016

why the pseudoscience has little relevance

This topic is so devoid of real science and so replete with conjecture that it boggles the mind.

We haven't yet found a biological gender dysphoria marker (if such a thing exists) and that had opened the door to speculation and to charlatanism. It is, for example, what permitted Kurt Freund to mentor Ray Blanchard and ultimately create the "it's only about sex" school of transsexualism. Were it only so simple but then reality rarely is.

Thus far conjecture has managed to have the upper hand because we are not privy to the inner workings of the human brain and have barely begun to map it. It is for this reason that it was easy to treat the gender questioning patient like the man who thought he was Napoleon.

What has added weight to our credibility as transgender people (who now represent 0.6% of the population according to the latest survey data) is that most of us are hardly ready for the looney bin. When your judge, doctor or local firefighter suddenly comes out, people are hard pressed to understand but know this person through their honourable past which usually includes a credible history of integrity.

I, for example, am known in my business sphere and I am respected. Were I ever to come out fully in my field it would surprise many but I think most would try to see my decision as not being frivolous because they know me. It is this way with many others as well and it is how we will become part of the fabric of society.

This is why the pseudoscience ultimately hasn't succeeded and why transgender people are being treated favorably by the courts and governments of most nations. It is because the vast majority have a reasonable degree of credibility which carries far more weight than anything else.

Another puzzling element is that the conjecturing which is mostly present in cyberspace and within academic circles has strangely been used as ammunition for those who want to derail transgender advancement and dignity. If you are still unsure whether there is academic hubris at play ask yourself why someone so committed to this subject would turn to Twitter to denigrate the very people you are supposedly trying to assist. This is what can happen when your work starts to lose relevance.

There are many sites who purport to have the truth but couldn't be further from it and they will always attract the captive audience which agrees with them.

One day they may find actual conclusive evidence that allows us to predict whether a child will be transgender or not. But even if they don't it matters less than the idea that differences that don't harm other people should be respected for what they are: just differences.

If life experience has taught me anything it's that those who fight hardest to denigrate someone else are the ones most driven by their own fear and prejudice.



Thursday, 14 July 2016

the power in aging

I don’t want to be as harsh as to yell “society be damned” but I think there’s a lot to be said for adopting an attitude that approaches it. Being who you truly are within the reality of the world we live in is a very difficult thing to do and even those who profess to be there will fall prey to some degree of conformance.

With age I have rebelled to the point where I am comfortable within the context of the reality that I live. Even at this less than perfect level I have never felt so empowered as compared to where I was. I can see how seniors can get to a stage where they possess no filter and they feel free to say what is on their mind.

I was listening to an interview with famous geneticist and environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki (who is now an octogenarian) in which he said he no longer felt constrained by anything society told him he had to do. He only felt obligated to tell the truth and to share his wisdom with the future generations. What a wonderful goal to have.

Abandoning needless social convention is like shedding your skin and once having done so, you can never go back.

I felt compelled to end this post with a bit of levity and because I am a Woody Allen fan I just couldn't resist....


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Why you will marry the wrong person

I may be wrong but the way I see it for every four married couples two statistically don't last and from the two remaining only one is truly a good union. The lesser of these surviving two invariably involves someone that stays for financial security, fear of being alone or perhaps for the sake of the children.

This New York Times article titled "Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person" impressed me with its wisdom and I think it should be required reading for those who are thinking of entering into marriage and a nice refresher for those who have been there a long time (but then who am I to talk).

Here is an excerpt:

"We need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.

This philosophy of pessimism offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded.

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.

Romanticism has been unhelpful to us; it is a harsh philosophy. It has made a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling. We end up lonely and convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not “normal.” We should learn to accommodate ourselves to “wrongness,” striving always to adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kindly perspective on its multiple examples in ourselves and in our partners"


That is absolutely brilliant.

The entire article can be read at the following link:

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/05/29/opinion/sunday/why-you-will-marry-the-wrong-person.html?post_id=10152836945745079_10153653125775079#_=_



Tuesday, 12 July 2016

learning who you really are

Every time I arrived at a new plateau of comfort I thought it could get no better. But then it would become even more so 6 months later and then call that my best echelon. Turns out it takes some of us a long time to undo your programming and discover what it's really like to be you.

The process of eliminating all traces of guilt and shame over being transgender, which I feel goes hand in hand with erasing all traces of self-consciousness, is a laborious process; at least it was for me. It amounted in many ways to a reinvention of my personhood in which the effort required was directly proportional to the number of years I had spent lying to myself.

Well here is Hannah knowing who she is at the ripe old age of 30 which is a wonderful thing to behold.


Monday, 11 July 2016

my daughter's art

My daughter is a talented artist and is studying digital animation in College. I don't normally get into details about my children's lives here but the other day I was looking in her sketch book and just had to take these digital photos of two of her drawings and post them. They are both done in coloured pencil with light water colour washes at the end. The first is of the Montreal City Hall overlooking Place Jacques Cartier and the second is of St. Joseph Oratory near Mount Royal.

I'd like to think some of her natural talent comes from me as I had a pencil in hand from a very young age. I moved more into music into my teens and focused increasingly on that as time wore one.

This is her passion.

If all goes well and with a little luck she might be able to land a posting at a company like Pixar or Disney animation one day. Doesn't hurt to dream a little.






Sunday, 10 July 2016

my own kind of militancy

Slowly but surely I have become more militant. This means that I don’t suffer the slings and arrows of fools or ignorant people all that well.

When I was hidden in the closet I lived my life pretending to be someone I wasn’t. People knew me but didn’t know all about me and I had little reason for militancy. Now that I am out I am almost bracing for some nasty comment that almost never comes.

But when it does I am ready for it.

Occasionally I will get an almost disdainful glance at my height when some woman stares down at my feet and probably thinks she can’t possibly that freakishly tall. Or maybe they think I am too masculine looking to be a woman. All I know is that I never do that to other people and when it’s done to me I stare them down with a look that says: “can I help you?”

The fact this almost never happens is because most people are basically decent and have their own things to worry about. We transgender people tend to focus on ourselves so much and think everyone has a magnifying glass on our every move which is false. It just feels that way because at first we are so afraid.

I am aware that I present more of a target now and yet I cannot live my life in fear. No one should have to.

The best defense is to be yourself and to show that you are a confident person with self-respect. People who still don’t understand that have problems that you can’t help them with and the best thing to do in that case is to ignore them.

The rest will become educated little by little. At least one can hope.


Saturday, 9 July 2016

of things beyond our understanding

When my doctor friend and I had dinner the other night he told me a chilling story which stayed with me and always will. As a preamble I will state that I am a spiritual person and so is he but even from a purely scientific standpoint its remarkable with a side that cannot be explained.

This particular evening a few years ago he was working in the emergency room. The ambulance brought in a young woman who had been killed in an automobile accident but there was a catch: she was visibly pregnant. He checked for any vital signs and looked at the pupils and confirmed that she was indeed dead. The focus was now on trying to save the life of the baby.

For this reason they put her on mechanical life support.

The husband was apparently travelling and it took a while to reach him but eventually they succeeded. By this time they had tried every possible manner of resuscitation but to no avail. Had she not been pregnant they would then have proceeded to harvest the organs as she had signed her donor card.

Two full days later for some unexplained reason she began breathing on her own and he wishes he had been around to see it. He still almost can't believe it because as a physician of more than 30 years experience he had never witnessed this before nor since. He was beyond astonished because there had been no brain or heart activity to speak of. This was no coma and she was technically deceased by all our current medical understanding. The machine only kept the heart pumping for the benefit of the unborn baby.

About a year later he needed to know how she was doing and he found out that a pediatrician colleague of his was seeing her baby. So he took slightly unorthodox measures of finding out when her next appointment was just to look upon her for himself.

He arrived at the waiting room that day and saw this young woman sitting alone with her baby. He approached slowly and as she looked up she saw his face and began to tear up. She rose from her seat and slowly put her arms around him and whispered "thank you for saving my life"

He was speechless. How on earth would she have been able to recognize him. She had arrived at the hospital already dead.

She then told him that she had heard and seen everything that was being done to her except that she had not been in her body. She felt she had somewhere to go but just couldn't and had to wait.

This is the single most chilling experience he has had over his career as a physician and he was so proud and happy to share it with me.

21 years ago I had to give my father an overdose of morphine to stop his heart which is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. He was in the very last days of his battle with lung cancer and his emaciated body was laboring to breathe. The home care nurse had explained to me the signs to look for and to proceed with the injection. He was not in the hospital but at home and she only came once a week.

After administering the dosage a few minutes passed and then he was gone. I then felt something I have never felt before nor since and which I can only describe as a warm feeling of euphoria. I immediately turned to my youngest sister who was right next to me over his body and asked:

"Did you feel that?"

She answered back immediately:

"Yes what was that!?"

Friday, 8 July 2016

the stranger on the subway

Lyne just approached me while we were both in the same subway car. Out of the corner of my eye I could sense that this woman wanted to say something to me and finally she did. She sat in front of me and sheepishly asked me if I was a transgender woman.

She hadn’t been sure which is why she hesitated and then as she got closer she later told me she was even less so but felt awkward to back off once we were face to face.

Lyne is a lesbian woman who doesn’t know a lot of transgender people and she wanted to offer words of encouragement. She also admitted that she was curious. So we spoke while our rides overlapped and ended up exchanging phone numbers. Since then we have met twice for coffee and it turns out that she is a very nice person.

She is not overtly masculine and yet gives off an aura that she leans more towards that side of the spectrum. She doesn’t wear a stich of makeup and her mannerisms are more gender neutral than anything else. You might have to think a few minutes before deciding on her orientation based exclusively on her physical presentation.

For the record I have never known a lesbian woman personally.

She told me her life has been difficult and her homophobic and verbally abusive father was not amused when she came out. He and her mother divorced when she was in her mid-teens and this fracturing had a deep impact on her despite his obvious flaws. Her mother was also not amused when Lyne came out to her and tried desperately to have her recant.

She also told me that for a time she weighed the idea of transitioning into a male but finally discounted it.

Lyne is clearly very much at peace with who she is and offers no apologies to anyone which is clear when you speak to her. There is almost a militant confidence present perhaps borne out of the pain and suffering that those of us who buck the system need to overcome in order to lead authentic lives.

Seems to be the universal theme for the LGBTQ community.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

well worth seeing

If you haven’t caught the series Homeland currently on Netflix I recommend that you do. It makes for riveting Emmy-award winning viewing.

The series is about the CIA’s battle with Islamic extremists as seen through from the perspective of agent Carrie Matheson (played by the wonderful Claire Danes) who also happens to be bi-polar and very much committed to the battle to defend her country. Alongside her is Saul Berenson who is her older mentor and CIA director played so eloquently by the great Mandy Patinkin.

Both Danes and Patinkin are marvelous in their roles and clearly in command of their craft here. The crisp writing and dialogue take this series easily above the frey of most entertainment that one can find out there.

I won't say anymore but suffice it to say that lots more happens and keeps you glued to your seat.

Five stars and highly recommended.


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

One transgender woman's take on AGP

This entry from the transhealth website dates back to 2001 and it offers a very nice dissection of the now mostly debunked but still controversial AGP theory and how this transgender woman could care two cents about it. People who have been trying to marginalize the experience of gynephilic transwomen have pushed for the stigmatizing idea that they are actually perverted men.

Well this soul, who couldn't give a hoot either way, isn't buying any of it and her frankness at times had me chuckling to myself as I read her posting.

If we ever met I would give her a hug for seeing through the BS but mostly for being herself:

"About a year ago I was reading on Dr. Anne Lawrence’s site about a new theory of the origin of trans called “autogynephilia.” This theory asserts that many trans women—and transsexual women in particular—desire reassignment surgery because they are eroticizing the feminization of their bodies.

The first thing that struck me about it, of course, was that it only accounted for trans women. I very seriously doubt that many trans guys are turned on by the notion of being a woman, so therefore the word “autogynephilia” obviously doesn’t apply to them. I am reluctant to accept any theories of trans identity that do not account for the fantastic diversity within the world of trans, and if you’re forgetting 50% of the trans population, I think you need to reconsider your theory.

The second thing that struck me had nothing to do with the theory itself: it related to the reaction to the theory from transfolk. Holy cow, you would have thought that the autogynephilia theorists had suggested that transfolk were direct descendants of Adolf Hitler. Not surprisingly, I’ve heard very little reaction from trans guys. This is another case in which their erasure from trans contexts has eliminated their voices.

The reaction that I saw was predicated mostly upon the notion that there was no such thing as a “true” erotic trans nature. In my opinion this originated with Harry Benjamin’s pathologized Standards of Care crowd in the late ’60’s. A very clear distinction was made between transsexuals and transvestites. According to the prevailing trans theories of the time, transsexuals were people who felt that they were a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. Transvestites, on the other hand, were men (because it was always men, right?) who sought sexual gratification from the act of wearing the clothes of women.

Being transsexual means that you have to conform to a very narrow definition of what is acceptable in the realm of transsexuality. We all know transsexuals who read up on what psychiatrists want to hear, and tell psychiatrists exactly those things in order to get “permission” to see a surgeon. I’ve done it myself before, with at least three different therapists.

According to psychiatric standards, one of the defining characteristics of transsexuals is the reputed lack of eroticisation of trans natures. Trans people can’t be sexual because that would make us fetishists. Being a fetishist means that we are transvestites, not transsexuals. And THIS means that we do not need hormone treatments or any kinds of surgery because we should just be happy putting on the clothing of the “opposite” sex and jerking off in private, kept company by our shame and self-hatred.

As a result of this psychiatric division between transsexuals and cross-dressers, transsexuals react quite outspokenly to any suggestion that they might be eroticizing gender transgression. If their psychiatrists thought for one second that they were getting turned on by silk panties, their transition plans could be pushed back for months, years, or maybe even cancelled entirely. Many transsexual women heard about autogynephilia and stated publicly-in quite an indignant tone-that they were NEVER aroused by being trans, and had in fact never thought about it. Somehow this asexuality is thought to be a purer form of trans, a form in which people can exist happily in a sexual vacuum. It sounds pretty Victorian and smothering, if you ask me. If I can’t masturbate, I don’t want your revolution.

Let me let you in on a little secret. And shhhh, keep it between us, because we wouldn’t want the rest of the world finding out, would we?

It’s our secret, right? You promise?

Okay.

Here it is.

Some non-trans XX women get turned on by their bodies and their clothes.

I swear that this is true.

The feel of silk against your skin. A sheer negligee sliding over your shoulders. A tight skirt that shows off your ass. The smell of your leather jacket. Sexy thigh-high boots. A riding crop. Your comfy terrycloth robe that you’ve had for ten years. Playing with your nipples. Running your fingertips gently along your inner thighs. Feeling the narrowness of your waist, gently increasing in size as you run your hands lower, lower, down your hips and legs. How can these things not be erotic? They feel good. The sensations can be intense, and the reactions you get can be rewarding. The clothes make you feel sexy and desirable. The self love makes you feel validated and comfortable with yourself. It’s acceptable for XX women to do most of this; in fact, for better or for worse, it’s often encouraged.

So why is it a problem for transsexual women to feel the same way?

My take on the whole thing (and you knew this was coming, didn’t you?) is this: who cares why you’re trans? We are placing so much emphasis on the origins of our genders and sexualities that we’re forgetting our lived realities. Ask yourself: Why is genital reconstructive surgery (GRS) the only surgery for which you need letters of approval from two different mental health professionals, one of them a psychiatrist? If I want a nose job, no sweat. If I want to get my fat sucked, no sweat. If I want pectoral, breast or calf implants, no sweat. If I want to have my birth cunt sliced up and my clitoris reshaped to make them look like those of a prepubescent girl, no sweat. But if I want to turn my penis inside out, STOP THE TRAIN!

The fact is that we have no idea where transsexuality comes from. Maybe it comes from abnormal prenatal hormone levels. Maybe it’s early childhood conditioning. Maybe God made us this way. Maybe it’s because gender transgression gets us wet or gives us a boner. Maybe it’s because we weren’t allowed to see The Three Stooges and thus be subjected to proper male conditioning, or maybe it’s because our mom let us play baseball instead of making us learn to jump rope with the other girls. Maybe it’s all of the above, or none of the above, or alien mind rays, or the Campbell’s chicken noodle soup we ate when we were ten years old.

The assertion that person X’s feelings are more valid than person Y’s feelings because of some imagined hierarchy of origin pisses me off. I find it to be an elitist attitude. It makes me cringe. It makes me angry.

I’ve known that I was trans for as long as I can remember. I remember going to bed each night and praying that I would wake up as a girl the next morning. I remember the anguish of waking up and seeing that I still had a penis. These memories are very clear to me. They date back to when I was four years old, at least, and maybe earlier. My parents first took me to see a psychiatrist about my “gender issues” when I was seven years old.

If I didn’t dislike the word “transsexual” so much, it could be applied to me. I’m taking hormones and I live full time as a woman. I never get read as a guy any more, even when I’m in androgynous raverdyke mode. I am passing privileged. I’m ranked reasonably close to the top of that stupid transgendered hierarchy that places attractive passing transsexuals at the top and non-passing fetish transvestites at the bottom. By all indications I should be happy with my lot in life. If I was so inclined (and I’m not), I could win many of these absurd competitive comparison games that so many trans women play in order to validate their place in the social order of trans. I could very easily define myself in terms of why I am better than other people. Forget that, jack.

Because ya know what? I’m also a sex radical and a pleasure whore. I denied this for a long time, but now I’m not ashamed to admit that I get turned on when I put on my leather corset, garter belt, black stockings and boots. I love playing with my tits. I masturbate. I have sex with other women. My sexuality is such a fundamental part of who I am that I will violently defend the right to control and define it myself. Don’t even THINK about trying to take it away from me.

I am completely fine with the fact that some trans women don’t find their transsexuality a source of erotic pleasure. I am also completely fine with the fact that some trans women DO find their transsexuality a source of erotic pleasure. But you can’t invalidate someone else’s experiences just because you don’t share them.

The fact that someone thinks that thongs are sexy doesn’t mean that she is or is not a real woman. There is beauty in diversity. We’re here. We’re different. Get used to it!"



Tuesday, 5 July 2016

buyer's remorse?

I like Clare Flourish’s blog. She writes extremely well and each post makes you reflect a little. But when I read her recent entry in which she seemed to express some regret over her transition it surprised me. She states:

"If you are considering transition, I would not go as far as to say Don’t- but ask yourself, “Am I a beta male? Can I enjoy that, and not transition?”

In the post she makes reference to the idea of not trying to be an alpha male and instead settle for a beta male. The notion is simple: being who you are and not having to live up to someone else’s idea of what a man is supposed to be.

There is a lot to be said for that and sometimes we transgender people can get caught up in embarking on a full transition as the thing to do when it might not necessarily be the right thing for some of us.

It took me some time to arrive at a firm position for myself because it’s just not a such simple thing to decide. To reconcile with being less than the exemplary male that you were taught to be is not easy and sometimes feels like you are failing. But then who exactly made up the rules.

I sincerely hope that Clare can resolve her current melancholy and come to terms with where she is now and if I am misreading the intention behind her post I apologize in advance.

Her post is titled "Beta male" and can be found here.

Monday, 4 July 2016

coming out to a friend

I came out to another friend the other night.

He was one of the members of that 1986 trip to Europe who I thought I had told but actually hadn't. After that anniversary reunion we promised to have dinner just the two of us to catch up on a more personal level. He is a pediatrician who also works in the hospital emergency room to keep up his skills.

The last time we had met one on one was maybe 7 years ago after my divorce. He had his own prolonged breakup which involved litigation and culminated in his winning full custody of his three children and keeping the family home.

At that original dinner I convinced myself that I had come out to him but actually hadn't. So when I broached the subject of the straw that broke the camel's back in my marriage he pleaded ignorance.

It must be said that he sees trans, lesbian and gay teens in his practice which are despondent and some suicidal. Even today there are families where admitting such a thing is tantamount to grounds for banishment; at least in the mind of these young people. Nothing I said about myself remotely surprised him and he told me his respect and friendship would remain intact. I had hoped for such a response.

His children are ages 24, 20 and 18 and as mine also make their process towards adulthood we plan to make these meet ups more frequent.

One interesting question he posed over dinner stayed with me: do you feel that we as friends and family are sufficiently supportive such that you can feel comfortable being who you really are?

I must admit his question caught me completely off guard because my instincts have always been about shielding people from this almost as if I were a leper and that question went to the heart of the reality that many of us live.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

the trans pyramid

When I first started researching this subject I soon became very aware of the pecking order set up within the transgender community. It went something like this:

Full blown transsexuals
Transpeople of different varieties some non-surgical full time or living part time, etc.
Crossdressers
Fetishists (men who like to wear women’s underwear under their clothes, etc)

The transsexual didn't want to be confused with the crossdresser and the crossdressers distanced themselves from the fetishists. All this is a bit anachronistic now but undeniably part of our history.

It turns out that this informal scale was based exclusively on whether one was considered a woman on the apex or a pervert at the bottom. What confused things is that we knew very little about gender dysphoria and even conflated it with gender non-conformance and sexual variances. That dearth of solid information resulted in the creation of a hierarchy which was meant to elevate some at the expense of others and in its ugliest incarnations would produce extreme vitriol thrust at those who did not meet someone else’s criteria of acceptance into their club.

But if we use the scale differently as a general measure of gender dysphoric feelings it becomes less caustic and more inclusive because that’s what it really means.

I won’t wade into the argument of what makes a woman but suffice it to say that anyone who transitions is entitled to that moniker. We may not be able to change someone’s DNA or alter their chromosomes but we of all people understand that there is more to gender identity than plumbing.

In today’s environment the battle lines once drawn have been removed and young transgender people of the YouTube generation (whether androphilic or gynephilic)are not adversarial because they don’t need to be. Those older battles were waged by people at a time when this subject was fraught with horrible stigma requiring trans people to go into stealth mode if at all possible or live in the closet in shame.

Our current understanding of how sex and gender work has created a newer and more open environment where the battle ground has now moved to obtaining basic rights for our community out there in society.

Are there not enough challenges with a general population who barely understands this subject to begin with?

For that's where the real battle lies.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

my expression

Over the years my feminine expression has morphed. I used to call myself a crossdresser because that was the closest definition that I could find for myself and because I desperately didn't want to be a transsexual.

I have dropped all the definitions now and just call what I do treating my dysphoria.

But I haven't borrowed anything from anyone for many years and every stitch of makeup, clothing and shoes is my own. I don't really crossdress anymore I just dress. Along with that progression has been increasing comfort and peace.

Perhaps that is a litmus test for those of you who crossdress and are concerned about it: does it make your life better or worse overall? Is it an activity that stops you from living life to the fullest or part of your identity? I think if you can answer those questions honestly you will know what it means.

That progression need not mean I am that much closer to transition but rather repatriating all aspects into one complete person.

Friday, 1 July 2016

a real pity

Dissatisfaction with how the world is going is ending up with extremists and racists jumping into right wing parties. You are seeing it in the United States where a xenophobic bully and outright moron like Donald Trump was able to hijack a party already flirting with backward thinking extremism.

Only in the US can you see the NRA have such a stranglehold that they would rather see the disturbed or terrorists have easier access to weapons than put even the most minimal restrictions that would ultimately protect the public.

Obama was in Canada this week and gave a well crafted and gracious speech that earned him a standing ovation. I then imagined a scenario where an oaf like Trump would address the same house of Commons with his usual array of facial contortions and nonsensical buffoonery.

I for one am going to miss Obama and mourn the fact that he won't overlap with our current Prime Minister for much longer. He spent a good deal of his tenure at odds with our own machivellian and charisma challenged Stephen Harper. So not only was Obama stimied at every turn in his own country but he was getting little support north of the border with our own Republican-light Conservative Party.

The gap between left and right is getting wider and the two sides depending more on soundbytes preferring that to solid and real information. Now that idiots have their own radio programs and cable news shows they can rally around and be fed their own mantras instead of the truth.

Oh what a pity because we need even-handed and steady leadership today more than ever.