Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 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 Nymphoman…

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 …

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 hav…

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…

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 n…

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 wer…

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 bel…

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 ma…

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.




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…

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 se…

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…

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 PiƱata 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 subscri…

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!



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.

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…

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, p…

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 ne…

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 ourselv…

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.


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.






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 mag…

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 …

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 befor…

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.


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 …

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…

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 bani…

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 uglies…

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.

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…