Wednesday, 31 August 2016

balancing act

For the transgender person achieving a balance between being true to one’s nature and respecting life commitments can be very complex. It’s not the same for all of us and as we begin to discover who we really are the temptation could be to open up Pandora’s Box and want to catch up all at once on what we’ve missed on.

I’m still working on this aspect although I am more in fine tuning mode than anything else. Hence finding balance is no longer the angst ridden exercise it once was but that doesn't mean its easy.

Our approach morphs with age, experience and life circumstances. The intensity of the transgender feelings and receptiveness of our families and friends are also significant factors especially as we make our first tentative steps towards self-acceptance. Therefore it is clear that there is no single perfect formula that will work equally well for everyone.

Balance was something that I once saw as impossibility but it can be achieved even if imperfectly. Of course this means different things to each person and your own perception of what that means today will morph over time only to surprise you when you look back.

I am reminded here of Vivienne's recent post regarding the U.K. show "faking it" which involves having people pretend to be someone they are not. Except that we as transgender people aren't pretending and we need to deal with our reality head on before striving for balance.

However, transgender or not, balance in life is a difficult thing to attain so if you have mastered this art consider yourself fortunate.


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

where the dividing line is

I continue to be fascinated with gender non-conformance and where the dividing line with dysphoria lies. Although I may be wrong, I continue to think that some transitions are linked to the level of societal tolerance for defiance of gender norms. This means that at least some people are transitioning who might not otherwise if they felt they could live completely genuinely without doing so.

Although transgender people have always existed, proceeding the way Christine Jorgensen, Lili Elbe or April Ashley did wasn't even possible before the 1930's and we know that statistically the vast majority of gender non-conforming children end up working through their gender issues. Most androphilics end up as gay men who may or may not have a drag persona and most gynephilics work through their gender incongruity enough to at most end up being crossdressers (oh how I abhor these older labels but they sometimes serve their purpose).

My point is that as we loosen the grip on gender restrictions we are less likely to see people switch sides presuming their dysphoria is manageable. In this way one element of dysphoria might be tied to the suppression of gender expression and I am reminded here of Anne Vitale’s wonderfully descriptive “gender expression deprivation anxiety”.

What has helped temper my own dysphoria was to expand my gender expression and while this may not work equally well for everyone the fact that it worked for me means that it can work for others. Some might dress everyday while some might do so once a month and be happy. If dressing doesn’t work for you perhaps some other form of honouring your own gender identity will. This is not so much an opposition to transition as a reflection on when and how it becomes a requisite treatment for chronic dysphoria.

The other day I was watching a YouTube video where mothers were discussing whether they would let their sons go out into the world in a dress. While the attitudes were mostly open and supportive the overwhelming message that came through loud and clear was also about shielding them from prejudice and eventually hoping they would outgrow it so they could lead a normal life. Of course what society considers normal doesn't always work for the dysphoric child and hence the start of the problem.

I was left pondering on just how strong our impetus towards conformance is and how it begins at the earliest stages of our life development. Sometimes our parents' concern for our well being can unwittingly build us a prison.


Monday, 29 August 2016

my son and I talk

At 16 years old my son is 6 feet tall and wears a size 12 running shoe which is evidence that he is still growing because I wear a size 11. He is a sensitive and caring soul whose perceptiveness and intelligence are growing at an equally rapid rate.

So when we were having conversation in the car yesterday somehow the issue of his mother's desire to divorce me came up and he told me what she had told him. His mother's version was different from my own of course but clearly hers downplayed the trans aspect. However, when we were in marital counseling she kept repeating that she didn't want to be married to a woman which was fair enough. But the counselor kept telling her to stop harping on that point since it was she who wanted to divorce as did Pierre Assalian who was then the head of the hospital gender clinic. The latter flat out told her that people like me were born this way and nothing could be done about it.

My guilt revolved around omitting this detail when we married because I thought I could ignore my dysphoria and you know how well that turned out.

My son is a great protector of mine and he told me that this was not sufficient grounds for divorce and was surprised regarding his mother's reaction. Of course he doesn't share her perspective and loves both his parents but I defended his mother's reaction because it's water under the bridge for me and we had compatibility issues regardless.

We then discussed the issue of sex and gender identity and how they can be misaligned in some people. Like the vast majority of young people he was understanding and sensitive to the topic.

I am very much enjoying this period in my children's lives and as they enter adulthood there is so much as they can now teach me as well. Its like seeing the fruition of all the years put into their development.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

be inspired

Regardless of whether you transition or not there is so much to be said for being who you really are. Here is a video of Alice Lyman Miller who is a lucid and intelligent human being showing us what that looks like...


Saturday, 27 August 2016

Where Anne Lawrence goes wrong

In the concluding paragraph on her essay entitled "Do Some Men Who Desire Sex Reassignment Have a Mental Disorder? Comment on Meyer-Bahlburg (2010)" which can be found on her website Anne Lawrence writes:

"In short, autogynephilic eroticism, as evidenced by erotic cross-dressing, precedes cross-gender identity by years or decades in nonhomosexual MtF transsexuals. These transsexuals do not have female core gender identities, nor do they have well developed cross-gender identities that precede and act as the driving force behind their desires to turn their bodies into facsimiles of women's bodies. Rather, nonhomosexual MtF transsexuals gradually develop cross-gender identities after years or decades of erotic cross-dressing, accompanied by the autogynephilic wish to turn their bodies into facsimiles of women's bodies. In this sense, cross-gender identity in nonhomosexual MtF transsexuals is a secondary phenomenon or epiphenomenon. Emphasizing this point in the text discussion of gender identity disorders in the DSM-5 would help to correct many misconceptions among mental health professionals."

The presumption here is that many years of erotic crossdressing have preceeded and caused the invention of a false female identity. There are several things wrong with this conclusion but the primary problem is its gross generalization of the experience of gynephilic trans people.

Most of the gynephilic transgender people whose blogs I read and am in contact with date their gender issues to early in prepubescence. They are also perfectly aware that they are not women but have gender dysphoria which acts upon the psyche and instills the desire to be female. They were aware very early on that they were different and needed to hide in order to be accepted. Hence Lawrence is trying to make the same shoe fit everyone in order to make a false hypothesis work. If there are too many exceptions then the theory falls apart.

The crossdressing that takes place in early childhood is innocent, playful and devoid of sexual intent. I can certainly attest strongly to this in my own case and it was the advent of sexual overtones that became problematic and the start of my years of dealing with a conflict which is now resolved.

Lawrence is a self-admitted body conversion fetishist and I have read all of her work as well as Andrea James's personal experiences with her. I now understand why she identified strongly with Blanchard and why so many of us do not. I don't have any doubt that there are other people in the world who also fit into her category but it becomes a problem when you try to paint everyone else into a universal theory with little more than interview data.

It is human nature to want personal narratives to explain our natures to ourselves. To try and do that while applying it to everyone else via unscientific methods is another matter altogether.



Friday, 26 August 2016

looking ahead

God willing I am going to have even more flexibility to manage my dysphoria as I age.

My present goal is to do some form of partial or full retirenent from my current profession by age 60. This does not mean I will stop working only that I may branch out as a consultant and maybe also take another simple job doing something else. This latter job or both might even be done as Joanna who knows. This is not a definitive goal but just where my reflection is currently taking me at the moment. Ask me in 6 months if this is still the case.

I don't need or want any more amorous relationships and have decided they are far too difficult even without the added burden of being transgender. Therefore I am going to just concern myself with being content because I have lived long enough to know that either scenario has its positives and negatives. Besides I am a loner by nature and although I very much enjoy the company of people I don't need them around me all the time.

By the time I am 60 my kids will be 24 and 22 and anything I do with my life will have less direct impact on their lives but the fact that I don't physically transition will give me flexibility of presentation.

No this is not a perfect plan of course nor is it set in stone but it does allow for options and does not lock me into anything that cannot be reversed.


Thursday, 25 August 2016

what else but more bigotry...

Fundamentalist religious and politically conservative websites grate against my sensibilities. Typically diversity intolerant they like their natural model to fit their view of the world which tends to be in perfect shades of black and white.

These are the same people who gave Galileo a hard time for having the audacity to suggest that the earth was not the center of the universe. But here we are in the 21st century and they are still very much with us in the form of sites like Lifesite, Patheos, Breibart News as well as others.

Much of their platform is not science or logic based but instead built on a perversion of faith tinged with intolerance with very little love thy neighbour. In support of the sanctity of man and woman they rail against the LGBT community and their chosen “lifestyle” and love to use terms like "transgender agenda" through warning against its promotion of a gender fluidity conspiracy. All this presumably under the premise of protecting "family values".

Unfortunately, nothing is to be done with these people and they will continue to exist regardless of the education you offer them. They are the ideologically driven "earth is flat" crowd that seem to be ever present in every society.

Take the bathroom issue: any semi-intelligent individual can tell the difference between a sexual predator and a trans person but for this group it's prejudice in the guise of trying to protect the public. Transgender people were using restrooms before without incident and sexual predators don't need to dress as women to do what they will.

Now in Texas a judge has temporarily defied Federal Law by blocking the Obama administration initiative to allow transgender children to use the bathroom that fits their identity. So this tiny sliver of the population is once again going to experience discrimination due to blatant human stupidity. Thank goodness the New York Times editorial board calls these bigots on it (see link below).

These people do have a fall back position in that the science on why people are gay or transgender is sorely lacking but pointing this out to a member of the LGBT community has little value. We know very well that absence of evidence is not definitive proof that something isn't there. But spelling out their position on this issue is not for our elucidation but instead to bolster more discriminatory practices among the already skeptical.

In the end these types of people are driven by unflinching dogmas rather than compassion and tolerance for the diversity and complexity of humanity. There are no agendas but instead only people who don't want to be discriminated against for being different. In that sense the world has changed very little and still has some ways to go.

How I pine for the day when people mind their own business instead of weighing in on the lives of others. May God save us from the imbeciles of this world.


http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/24/opinion/more-attacks-on-transgender-rights.html?_r=0



Wednesday, 24 August 2016

the non-transitioning trans person

Jack Molay’s latest Crossdreamers article got me thinking.

Much is left to be written on the non-transitioning transgender person because the fact is that the vast majority of us will not do so; at least not fully. For those of us that are strongly dysphoric it poses unique challenges that involve weighing previous life commitments, beliefs and economic factors.

For me the most important element here is that a dysphoric person cannot worry about imposed societal guilt or shame which must be eliminated at all costs if they are going to begin a journey towards internal peace. No clear thinking will happen without it with the risk that the person will end up in a vicious loop of despair and disillusionment because they cannot achieve an ideal that they had painted in their mind.

Perhaps that ideal was to have been born a girl.

In some ways I still continue to see gender dysphoria as an illness. It can act as a trickster and have you think that you can only find fulfillment by undergoing a complete transformation when I don’t believe that this is necessarily true; at least not for everyone.

Perhaps the best goal might be to find the best version of you which honours the gender non-conformity that seems to be a natural part of who you are. Here there are no hard and fast rules and you are given the task of writing your own manual. But it is clear that transition need not be nor should be the ultimate target of every transgender person.

For a number of reasons I have already stated here my aim is not to transition but not because I don’t see that as a favorable goal. It is because I have achieved internal resolution without it and forging ahead would be going too far. This is not the case for all you and I am deeply aware of this.

The hardest part is finding what your own balance point is and that can take years to arrive at. But rest assured that there is no wrong answer if you reflect deeply and honestly on this difficult question. At least this was my experience.

For me it was not one pivotal moment that decided all but instead a series of little victories aimed towards allowing myself the dignity of defining who I was rather than let someone else do that for me. It sounds deceivingly simple and yet can be very difficult when you have lived under the oppressive weight of indoctrination for as long as I did.

Its important to remember that to a great extent the gender binary has historically been used to enslave people and have them fit into predetermined boxes whether they wanted to or not.

Except that there has hardly been a better time to renounce that idea than today.


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

what are the odds

There I was on the flight from Montreal to Detroit on my eventual way to Tampa. On business trips I sometimes talk to the person next to me and sometimes I don’t and I suppose it depends on the willingness of both people to chat.

His name was William and he is a biomedical industry scientist helping to develop drugs that help people battle certain cancers and other diseases.

So we bantered back and forth at the beginning and then took a bit of a break. Near the end of the flight the conversation began to flow better and then I found out we were exactly the same age. He married at age 40 and has no kids. I talked a little more about my life as well.

We exchanged first names and then he told me where he went to high school which was also my school. Then he looked at me and asked me if I was (insert my male name here) and then the light bulb went off. We were in the same grade of the same school and hadn’t seen each other since 1979 but there we were sitting on a flight to Detroit side by side.

Turns out that William is a perfectly lovely fellow and even though we didn't hang out with the same groups we did overlap quite a lot in high school. He has been living in San Diego for the last 25 years but he has Montreal in his veins and wants to come back. His parents are both living and still live here.

Needless to say we exchanged emails and plan to keep in touch but what I kept thinking was: what are the odds.


Detroit McNamara Airport

Monday, 22 August 2016

dressing the part

People dress similarly because they want to fit in. Of course that is the short and simplistic answer.

My point is that its greatly learned behavior and you will note how much people fall in line every time there is a change of style in clothing. Of course these changes are aligned with gender norms but the idea is the same. If there were no stigma associated with breaking the rules you would see much more variety in the way people chose to garb their bodies.

This is the one aspect of gender that is greatly based on copying and can be altered.

The problem in the past was about divergence being frowned upon rather than doing what people preferred and the outlaws were few and far between. Much of our adherence was tied to not wanting to be shunned or ridiculed and so we fell in line in order not to stand out too much. Yes some rebelled during their teens and artists stretched the limits in order to be more daring and avant-garde but in general there was mostly conformance.

The faux masculinity of my era and that of my father before made sure that people like me felt like failures. To not measure up to their standard was to be less of a man but we know this not be true today and just like women are not June Cleaver mopping up their kitchen in high heels, men are adopting alternate models of masculinity that are far less rigid. Hence I don't need to be shamed for indulging in a version of femininity that soothes my gender dysphoria and sees me espouse the literal meaning of transgender as transcending the binary.

My son knows why I shave my legs and recently he noted that many of his peers are doing the same because they prefer the way it looks. The stigma of doing such a thing is now gone and in fact to have too much hair is considered unsightly. He is wondering if he might not do the same at some point down the road although I know he won't be crossdressing.

Vive la difference!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

an awkward moment

Solange is a security guard at my local mall and whenever she sees me having a coffee or a small bite she will sit down next to me and we chat. For the record we are close to the same age.

There is an unusual brother and sister tandem that regularly frequents this same mall and he is either in process of transition or dresses full time. He is probably well into his sixties, is burly and not at all passable. Solange pointed him out to me once as if I hadn’t noticed before which of course I had.

This week we were chatting briefly and they were sitting not far from us. The sister (who seems to know Solange quite well) suddenly came over and started talking with Solange. At one point she asked me straight up if I was a transsexual promoting Solange to wince and ask her why she had said that because she does not know that I am transgender.

I told this inquisitive lady that I was a woman because she was odd and I wanted her to leave and she did go away happy but I missed a chance to do outreach with Solange because we have a couple of years of history where she thinks I am female. I admit that I was caught off guard and the woman’s bluntness plus Solange’s reaction were not conducive to me doing some back pedaling.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

our anti-intellectual age

At present we are increasingly seeing a move towards the right on the political spectrum to be in misalignment with science and intellectual thought. This wasn’t always the case but in the United States you will now find the Republican Party has become the warehouse for climate change deniers, Biblical Old Testament literalists, End of Times evangelicals, outright racists, gun nuts and other odd balls.

This is not to say that everyone is this way but they seem to have more than their fair share. But then they went looking for them.

As a reactionary move, the American intelligentsia seems to have either moved away from politics all together or jumped on board with the Democrats. Here is where having a two party system doesn’t really help matters and you are forced to hold your nose and side with one of them or simply tune out.

What the Republicans did decades ago was to gather up all the evangelicals and all those who pined for traditional family values and tell them that their country was going to hell in a hand basket.

We in Canada suffered a milder version of that experience with the odorous Stephen Harper going as far as muzzling scientists when their findings didn’t agree with governmental policy. His oil buddies in the tar sands wouldn’t have been happy with him otherwise prompting Dr. David Suzuki to state that he thought Harper should be in jail for this great injustice.

In general the world is less interested in facts and more in aligning themselves with the group that agrees with their ideas which is an absolute shame. You don’t have to reflect or change your mind about something but simply find the right specialty channel or radio show that dogmatically broadcasts your particular mantra.

This in a nutshell is a type of anti-intellectualism that I don’t think has us going on the right path.

When I see young adults bumping into lampposts or, as the young woman below, getting run over by traffic while trying to catch a virtual Pokémon Monster for lack of better pursuits it only reinforces my fear that we are getting dumber.


gotta catch that Monster...oops!

Friday, 19 August 2016

why I feel the fetish argument doesn't work

Emasculation fetish as origin for the transgender condition cannot really work as an explanation. For one thing this idea depends heavily on fetishes having their origins in prepubescence (something which is as of yet unproven) but also on the improbability of the existence of a feminine essence in a male child.

What continues to plague the argument of the construction of a false post-arousal female identity is that young prepubescent dysphoric children don't think and behave in overt sexual ways. They take the female role during play and behave in perfectly innocent ways until scolded and told to stop. Only upon arriving at puberty are they horrified to find that for gynephilics there is an erotic component that has adhered itself which competes and interferes with normal sexual functioning.

But if the eroticism that gynephilics experience is just a symptom of their dysphoria then we might be able to remain within a universal model in which dysphoria is experienced through different filters. One such filter I addressed in a recent post on the tandem of testosterone and orientation and how it impacts the gynephilic dysphoric male.

The emasculation fetish argument also doesn’t help explain female to male transsexualism or for that matter androphilic male to female transsexuals. These two groups insist they are identity driven and tend to downplay the sexual in their gender non-conformity which the data we have confirms. This is why I continue to return to the idea of a universal model of gender dysphoria which may not yet be understood but which would explain much more of what we see in the world than a bunch of unrelated and disjointed theories.

We know that the concept of a male and female identity is real and not socially constructed. John Money who went against this basic tenet proved he was wrong by experimenting with the life of David Reimer who, in spite of being socialized as a girl from birth after being sexually reassigned, rejected his imposed female identity completely and insisted he was a male. Once told of his botched circumcision he transitioned back to his birth sex but ultimately committed suicide.

For some people their gender identities seem to run counter to expectation and many of us know flamboyantly feminine men and very masculine women who are not necessarily discontent living within the confines of the bodies they were born with. Their comportment is natural and unaffected by social pressure and if anything they are scolded for it. So if masculine and feminine natures are real and biologically affected then a mixture of both or a complete reversal is clearly very possible.

I am still uncertain of how gender non-conformity and dysphoria overlap if at all and why some people are content within the confines of their birth sex to be gender rebels in both behaviour and dress while others insist on a gender role transition. This we have yet to be able to answer.

But in the end, completely ungluing sexuality from gender identity becomes impossible because part of being a certain gender in adulthood implies sexual awareness. To shame this aspect and presenting it as proof for negation of a transgender identity makes little sense.

It makes me sad to think that dysphorics seeking reassignment surgery felt compelled to downplay this aspect to their gatekeepers when the real litmus test really should have been whether they would be happier or less so after they transitioned.


Thursday, 18 August 2016

the sexuality of the gender dysphoric

As I have stated here before, the sexuality of the gender dysphoric is not normal.

This was my first hint that this was something I had not created and which caused me great distress. In order to impregnate my then wife I had to use mental imagery to somehow put myself in the role of the female.

When I was little my dressing was not giving me excessive grief. I hid it well enough and it was sufficiently sporadic in nature plus I suspected that I eventually would simply outgrow it. I wanted to be a normal boy for me and for the family who loved me but I had this draw to being female. Discovering this sexual anomaly was just another clear and concrete sign that something was wrong with me. My sexual appetite was affected as well although this may not be linked to my dysphoria.

Since I did not have sexual relations until my early thirties due to my strict religious upbringing, I never suspected that things wouldn't be able to work as they should. After all, I was attracted to women and they gave me erections but then so did the thought of being one since I hit puberty.

It was a contradiction that would occupy the next two decades of my life trying to comprehend.

Now in my early fifties the sexual potency is reduced and I cannot even ejaculate inside a woman anymore even with the aid of imagery. This happens to many males as they age but the added complexity for me is that there is a contradiction present. There is nothing to be done about it but accept it and so I have.

For some of you this is something you may have had an easier time coming to terms with but for me it was anathema. Today I try and view all this much more dispassionately because nothing will change but this blog exists today in large part because of the suffering and confusion this reality caused.


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

my skepticism of gender therapy

I continue to be a little skeptical of gender therapy but less so towards general psychotherapy.

Most of the issues transgender people face deal with the anxiety of living in a world that doesn’t accept them hence if no one interfered with their identity and allowed them to be themselves there would be far less need for therapy.

You don’t need a gender therapist to accomplish the task of liberating your psyche and arguably you can do it yourself through reading and reflecting on this subject. Of course I am now in my 50’s and it’s easy to say now but I suffered for many years until I found peace. But I worry that some therapists may too easily and unwittingly guide someone through a path that may not be right for them.

I can illustrate this first hand in my brief dealings with returning to the gender practice of Helene Cote. Even if she did not cajole too much she was encouraging me to join her group sessions and after some reflection I declined because I felt I might be too surrounded by people who were on their way to some form of transition which is something I wanted to resist. The danger whether real or imagined was that I might feel more empowered to follow down this same path.

I think that ultimately you are the master of your fate and gender dysphoria is something with no handbook and no medication that you can take to manage. Therefore you alone are in the driver’s seat and in control of your decisions.

Each day I am more of the opinion that many people would be happier with a freer range of gender expression rather than following a transition path while at the same time realizing that for others this is clearly not sufficient and they must transition.

The hard part is to understand where you are on that spectrum and that is not an easy thing to determine sometimes. What helped me was to take the slow and cautious approach and to spend many hours reflecting on who I was and what I wanted but that first required eliminating guilt and shame that I had amassed over all those years.

Without doing that first you won’t be able to think clearly.


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

dispelling a myth

There was a myth going around for years that gynephilics were too masculine and were not able to pass as women which was then used to bolster the argument that they were actually perverted men.

I only need to look at my own life to counter this fabrication.

Throughout my teens in the 1970's I had longish hair and I mis-gendered many times. Even now at 53 years of age I can still pass relatively well without the aid of hormones or FFS. When I was in my twenties the presentation was only that much better.

In fact it is this ability to blend in as a female that greatly dampens any impetus I might have towards transition. I am able to be feminine in both voice and mannerisms without much difficulty and yet I have always been attracted exclusively to women.

This myth that gynephilics cannot be feminine was propagated by some older androphilics who were very concerned about distancing themselves from the dreaded transvestites and is still used by some today to try and sell the now debunked AGP as a valid theory.

As we see more transgender people coming out we note that their different physical and behavioural characteristics are more varied than this generalized caricature would suggest. Some are more naturally feminine than others but then so are genetic females when you compare them to one another.

It turns out that gender dysphoria does not discriminate based on orientation or physical appearance. One simply has it or one doesn’t.

Monday, 15 August 2016

how I view my own treatment

Untreated gender dysphoria becomes intolerable after a while. It must be addressed somehow and we all eventually arrive at a boiling point where something must be done. The reason our responses vary has much to do with its intensity but almost as importantly our life situation regarding finances, familial commitments and religious views.

I won't deny that my own religious upbringing has strongly forged in me the idea that a full transition is not a desirable goal and yet I have little issue seeing others undertake a process they know is right for them. I am personally stuck on the notion that I should keep the body I was given as intact as possible unless my situation ever became dire. Perhaps you could accuse me of being a victim of my indoctrination.

Also I have seen many cases where the individual blossoms after transition but also others that seem somewhat less convincing. I am particularly skeptical of situations where the person immerses themselves in a thick pink fog which can serve to cloud judgement.

But then I also remember Helene Cote telling me that it was often the patients most enamored with transition that were the least likely to follow through while those most hesitant often went further into the process. This latter group invariably saw it as something they had to do rather than something they desired.

For better or worse this is how I have come to view the treatment of my dysphoria: do the minimum you need to mitigate its pull in order to be able to function. Not everyone agrees with this approach but then it is a highly personal journey with no perfect answers.

That being said, this blog is strongly pro-transition for those who require it.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

the new generation

Graden (who is also sometimes Grace) lives openly in his native New Zealand in the way I wish I had been able to at his age with the aid of self acceptance and a world around me with more openness. I would never have imagined such a scenario being possible back then.

He describes himself as genderfluid/trans and expresses himself accordingly. Graden also has a supportive partner who may herself lean either way in orientation or is at least very understanding.

This young couple for me captures the type of openness that I see out there in the world today which is absolutely wonderful.

In this video they conduct a Q&A where some of the questions deal with the issue of his gender fluidity..

Saturday, 13 August 2016

liberation

There is tremendous power in having little concern for what the world thinks of you when out presenting as a different gender. It's something I only imagined acquiring but was never certain I would. I chalk this up to a combination of the experience that comes with age plus the weariness and fatigue from years of living in hiding.

I am the most lucid I have ever been in my life and that is giving me an emotional strength and resilience I didn't possess even 5 years ago when I was mired in conflict. That coupled with our increased visibility in the world makes for a combination of epic proportions for me. I hope you can sense it in my tone these days and those who have followed me for a while will certainly tell the difference from when I began writing this blog. Even the last year has been one of significant resolution for me.

Who knows or doesn't know is no longer of great consequence and should I cross paths with someone I am not out I will deal with it then. No one should have to hide from the world who they truly are.

We may not eliminate the negativity over this issue out there in the world but we can control our own thoughts and how we view ourselves and that in itself is power.

As a side note my post on Julia Serano and AGP has received 485 views as I write this. Thanks to whoever posted it elsewhere because I really think it's important to help disseminate information and dismantle the pseudoscience.

Friday, 12 August 2016

not so lonely any longer

My outings as Joanna have become far less lonely over time. For one thing I speak to everyone without fear and for another I have made a little stable of acquaintances that I can meet for coffee from time to time.

Most of them don't know that I am trans but going forward I may begin coming out to them. Its not that I haven't told the truth about everything else but at the time I was testing my ability to "pass" (yes a loathsome term I know) and things took on a life of their own. Once there I became afraid of rejection if I disclosed the truth.

The merchants and baristas who know me can be counted on for some friendly banter and to compare what I do now with my fledgling attempts at going out in public in my early 20's is like stacking up a tricycle against a Harley.

The catch is that it only took about 30 years to get here.

This is why I am so glad for the young generation of transgender people and the world they get to grow up in. It may look bad sometimes from their perspective but those of you under 30 reading this can take it from me when I say that our world was a prison by comparison.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

an untenable dilemma

Watch any video of a womanless pageant and you will hear giddy laughter emanating from the audience and this often in spite of the tastefulness of the imitations. Invariably it is coming most loudly from the same women being emulated who are buying into the narrative that these men or boys are somehow debasing themselves by donning dresses. What these women might not fully realize however is that they are in some ways unwittingly laughing at themselves.

Now imagine a reverse pageant where women imitate men instilling the same entertainment value and levity. I think not.

Being a woman in this world is far more difficult because our societies favour males over females. Masculinity is highly regarded but femininity considered a weakness valued only for reasons of sexual attractiveness to males. It is for this reason that feminine behaviour in men is frowned upon and castigated through derision in a boy's earliest development.

The only meagher advantage that this presents for women is that they are given more sartorial latitude and sometimes even lauded for adopting male characteristics. One only needs to think of Joan of Arc as a historical example.

Heterosexual women with masculine tendencies have less pressure to conform to a feminine standard or at least their refusal to comply is more readily tolerated. They can go to the office and dress virtually in full male attire and not be as mocked as the man who shows up in a dress and heels.

This double standard is undoubtedly rooted in the biology of men needing to hunt and provide while women nurtured as life givers and homemakers. Therefore it is not a model easily dismantled or erased from what is perhaps genetically imprinted memory.

The heterosexual male with female tendencies in this societal structure is in trouble. He admires women and their role but is also drawn to them sexually which is a contradiction that grates against expectation. Interestingly the reverse model works better as dominant and masculine women can find happiness with more passive men. I am reminded here of Margaret Thatcher and her unobtrusive and timid husband Dennis.

Homosexual effeminate men find more masculine partners to compliment their nature and indeed so can lesbian women. My new friend Lyne for example is attracted to lipstick lesbians.

This is why the gynephilic gender dysphoric, virtually irrespective of transitional status, is particularly challenged and given to seeking a compromise where he is at best tolerated by his partner and at worst rejected. I am not sure that this will easily be repaired even in today's more open and accepting environment.




Wednesday, 10 August 2016

the best time in our history

As society becomes more open about the concepts of sex and gender we are seeing the true nature of humans and it turns out that we cover a wide and varied spectrum. The little boxes of male and female are fine if you are looking strictly at genitalia but how a person identifies is more complex. What kept us constrained in the past were social constructs and rigid rules about what constitutes male and female behaviour and what was considered “normal”.

I can barely recognize the world of today compared to when I was growing up; it is that much different and because we have relaxed the rules we have begun to see the true manifestation of what it means to be human instead of pre-formatted cardboard cutouts of each other.

I have said here many times that nature abhors perfection and uniformity and yet we were expecting it to apply to human behavior and most specifically with regards to gender. Kinsey, Hirschfeld and Benjamin gave us our wake up calls in the early and middle parts of the 20th century with their published works but the reality dates back to the dawn of human history.

It is not just to expect people to submit to a set of manufactured standards that do not fit them but religious fundamentalism and the need of countries to subjugate its populace demanded conformance because it facilitated control.

However, today the genie is out of the bottle and it’s not going back in.

If you don’t feel empowered by this you should because if you fit the description of a gender non-conforming or dysphoric person your options have never been better than at this time in our history.

Don’t concern yourself with labels but simply look inside yourself and understand what constitutes your personhood. After that proceed to honour that nature instead of bending yourself to a model that you cannot possibly fit into simply because it has been mandated to you.

Remember that it is never too late to be who you always should have been.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

this thing we call love

Love is a strange emotion.

We all seem to experience it differently and perhaps there are even unique definitions that each of us espouses. At its root it’s not really about the pheromones that first capture our attention and make our heads swirl with desire. That initial burst fades into the reality of life and hopefully metamorphoses into a deeper sense of belonging; into feeling like we are home.

I am not sure that love can be conditional on behavior because we all do things to annoy and surprise the other person. We insult because we feel hurt and our emotions get the better of us. There is lashing out not meant to permanently scar but to warn that we have ourselves been wounded.

Love should transcend these anomalies of behavior because we have deemed the person acceptable and have measured their value to us over time. They will do things that we find odd and make us cringe but then turn around and surprise us with kindness and charity.

I believe that true love is about being steadfast and hanging on despite the other’s flaws because at our core we are inherently imperfect creatures. But many of us thrive on the conditional type of love that only lasts while you stay within the battery limits that they have set as being acceptable. Based on that litmus test most of our own parent’s marriages should not have lasted.

I have become certain that in order to love another you must love yourself first and then use that grace to tolerate imperfection in your partner. You make your own happiness and then compliment it with the company of someone who may not necessarily share your tastes or views and would also be content to be on their own.

But then if all this were a simple task we would all have long lasting and rewarding relationships that would stand the test of time.

There is a reason that poets, painters and songwriters have tried to capture the essence of love in their work and its because it continues for many of us to be a great mystery.

In 1977 the group 10CC gave it a shot. I was 15 years old and this song was all over the radio at the time. When I hear it I am in high school again.

"Too many broken hearts have fallen in the river
Too many lonely souls have drifted out to sea,
You lay your bets and then you pay the price
The things we do for love, the things we do for love.

Communication is the problem to the answer
You've got her number and your hand is on the phone
The weather's turned and all the lines are down
The things we do for love, the things we do for love.

Like walking in the rain and the snow
When there's nowhere to go
And you're feelin' like a part of you is dying
And you're looking for the answer in her eyes.
You think you're gonna break up
Then she says she wants to make up.

Ooh you made me love you
Ooh you've got a way
Ooh you had me crawling up the wall

A compromise would surely help the situation
Agree to disagree but disagree to part
When after all it's just a compromise of
The things we do for love, the things we do for love"



Monday, 8 August 2016

the extent of the damage

To understand a person like me you would need to know that my entire life has been about doing what I was told was the right thing and being disciplined. Growing up in a loving but deeply religious family and being the oldest meant there was no room for disent. I dutifully complied but suffered quietly and in the process built up enormous self discipline and an attitude that things I undertook could not fail. I didn't drink, smoke or have sex before marriage.

Therefore I saw my dysphoria as something of my own making and as an inherent weakness in my character to be defeated at all costs. I unwittingly allowed the pressure to build until everything imploded in my early 40's when I could no longer manage to keep it all together.

I don't wish that on anyone else which is one reason I write this blog; the other is that I now enjoy it after years of having it be my personal therapy.

I am not certain going to a gender therapist would have been a better substitute to writing down my thoughts and ideas. Having someone listen and tell me to accept myself and be happy was only the first part of the equation at the gender clinic. The second was to look inside all the crevices of the published data much like Jack Molay has done so well in his blog because that is what my brain required.

But then something magical happened along the way and, when I least expected it, my damaged psyche (which was far worse off than I had first imagined) began to repair itself.

But I don't fool myself even now because having gender dysphoria is going to require life long management. The difference now is that I am aware that it is best done when you accept that you have it and deal with it head on.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

what will the new neighbours think...

One of the owners in our condo association has rented her place to a young soon-to-be married couple. She herself is getting married but intends to hold on to the property which will likely not see her return as a resident.

I met this young man of 25 a few days ago and we chatted for a bit. He is an accountant and they plan to be here for at least a couple of years. So we discussed details of the neighbourhood and I explained things about the building, parking in the area and the physical work that had been performed on the structure.

At some point I simply mentioned that I was transgender and that they were apt to see me coming and going dressed a little differently. My reasoning was simple: I’d rather they know in advance and not leave them wondering who this strange woman is coming and going and opening my door. Plus I no longer need or want to hide.

Not the least bit fazed, he then mentioned that his future brother-in-law was gay and that he had quite a difficult time in deciding to come out. He knows people need to be themselves and that was the end of it.

So once again my faith in the young generation was validated through this exchange which shows they have moved beyond many of the biases we espoused.

Not that I had doubted it for a moment but then I also no longer care what anyone thinks about me being transgender.

People from my generation and older would worry about what Fred next door would think if we stepped out on our driveway crossdressed and that kept us living in fear and in many ways in the closet. Turns out its none of Fred's business and, unless he's been living under a rock for the last twenty years, people do what they please especially if it's not illegal.

If crossdressing is an effective tool for you and helps you manage then a good way to start is being more open about it. You might be surprised how much stress it removes and how little people care.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

all that matters

When Ray Blanchard wrote his findings in his book in the late 1980's the world was a very different place and he was taking a snapshot of the society at the time and how transgender people fit into it. This means there were very few female to male transsexuals transitioning and the early and late onset pattern (essentially following the fault lines of androphilic and gynephilic orientation) appeared to be somewhat predictable.

Of course what has actually happened is that the new openness of today has begun to dismantle this simplistic model. Gynephilics are transitioning sooner and female to male transsexuals are far more visible.

What this suggests to me is that we are dealing with a spectrum rather than a rigid model and with AGP now debunked by the new generation of trans researchers and trans people themselves, we are seeing something closer to what Harry Benjamin proposed which itself was far from perfect.

If you permit me the use of archaic definitions for a moment, the old dividing line between transvestite and transsexual is even more blurred than ever showing us that trans people themselves have trouble self diagnosing. I have mentioned here recently that Benjamin would often get the diagnosis wrong and his type III transvestite would suddenly transition. Regardless both those definitions have fallen out of favour and are no longer used by today's generation.

So at the root we are back to the concept of what we call gender dysphoria which we don't really understand. To say otherwise would be being disingenuous.

In this spectrum concept you don't so much have fixed typologies but instead people dealing with their dysphoria differently depending on their circumstances; androphilics more readily transitioning because of the alignment with orientation and gynephilics resisting due to misalignment.

But the debates rage on because people need personal narratives to understand themselves and justify decisions they have made in life and when someone else's threatens yours it stirs the impetus for spirited discussion. The reason we go in circles is that we are missing data.

Is gender dysphoria real? You better believe it is and many who follow this blog have experienced its power.

The difference for me now is that my internal peace keeps me from needing to argue very vehemently any longer. All I need to know is that the evidence we seek is beyond our grasp; at least for the moment.

Friday, 5 August 2016

my body is a shell

There is little question that dysphoria worsens with age and so an escalated response seems to be required. At least this is what I am finding in my own life.

Living part time has been that solution for me and, while it is not perfect, I also know with more certainty than ever that I will never transition. I won't because I don't feel I need to in order to treat my dysphoria and because there are always compromises to be made regardless which path is chosen in this life. The main difference is that I have adjusted to the devil I know.

I have come to that place where anxiety over being transgender no longer holds me prisoner because I understand myself and how my dysphoria impacts my psyche. One cannot live indefinitely in repression and so I just accept the fact that I am like this and get on with my life.

As I age I see my body more as a shell that contains a spirit full of thoughts, emotions and creative power. These are all qualities independent of the physical.

Reading the comments on the latest Crossdreamers article by Lisa Mullin reminded me how much passion there is over this issue and rightfully so I suppose since it has caused so many to suffer. The fact that we can debate is because so much solid information is missing which becomes more incumbent on you to be happy with your own life and with whatever decisions you have taken.

The so called "experts" working in this field are skating on thin ice most of the time anyway.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

high anxiety

There is an anxiety epidemic afoot and people born after 1980 are particularly prone to suffer from it. It currently plagues my 16 year old son.

Anxiety tends to manifest itself around the age of puberty and, if not treated, risks not going away. One issue might be social media with the increased peer pressure to be connected and to be seen to look good combined with the speed at which our world runs today. Whatever the combination of reasons, anxiety disorders are now among the most common mental health conditions affecting the young.

One of my concerns has been over medicating because ultimately this is about learning to control your fear and training the brain. Currently my son is on a drug called Celexa (Citalopram) which he takes every day in order to be able to function.

We were told by the staff that high school that kids suffer from anxiety at a rate of 1 in 4 which is a very high number. This can vary from throwing up before class to not being able to stay in the classroom at all and pacing the halls (which is what happened to my son in his freshman year). He had to repeat the year due to class time lost.

Our world is getting smaller and moving ever faster and that’s not helping matters but I also know that being in a teen during any period of our history is not an easy thing. As brain development flows from the hippocampus towards the frontal lobe we learn to rely more on lived experience than our instinct but that requires time. I tell my son this so he understands his brain development is not complete therefore his capacity to fight is impaired and that he is not alone.

I remember my father giving me advice when I was that age and not being able to process it all but it stayed with me regardless and guides me today. I can only hope that some of my own advice sinks in along with the help of the medication and he is able to overcome this challenge.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

stranger things

I have a Netflix recommendation for you.

The series “Stranger Things” is actually quite good and reminds me of X-Files meets 70’s and 80’s Steven Spielberg. It takes place in small town America in 1983 near a top secret facility that has been conducting strange experiments which spill outside into the town. The creepy occurrences most directly impacts the mother of a young boy who disappears without a trace.

Winona Ryder as the inconsolable mother is very good in this but you will like the whole cast and there is just enough of a creep factor without giving you nightmares while you’re watching alone at night. If you liked the X-Files you should like this show.

IMDB scores it an 8.8/10 and Rotten Tomatoes a 90%.



Tuesday, 2 August 2016

the domino principle

Working in the engineering business has afforded me some opportunity to travel.

I have been to Mexico, South Africa, British Guyana, Vietnam and Iceland for work and it has never failed to teach me something about how other people live.

My first trip was to industrial Central Mexico in my early thirties far away from the resorts where I met a seven year old boy who offered to clean my shoes. He was helping to support his family who lived in a tin shack not far away. Of course this was an up close eye-opener for me and those of us in Canada or the United States who don’t see themselves as fortunate clearly should.

We don’t really know what real poverty is like.

But today we are approaching a level of inequality that is becoming dangerous and with the ensuing dissatisfaction has come the radicalization which has bred a corresponding increase in militancy of right wing parties. One invariably feeds the other.

The other day I was listening to CBC radio and an American author (whose name currently escapes me) was talking about how the Democratic Party elite had abandoned working class Americans and in essence were creating a meritocracy where only the qualified class could rule. Obama and the Clintons went to Ivy League schools and were said to be promoting and protecting their own. But then this is the model the founding fathers set up and how the world has always worked since having everyone have an equal say would literally produce chaos. This is why true democracy can only work in theory.

The author was right in that the GOP saw this abandonment and capitalized by snapping up this same demographic who then helped make the candidacy of someone like Donald Trump possible.

But if a better balance is to return to the United States and to world we must at least mitigate the great disparity that exists between rich and poor because failure to do so will only exacerbate what we are seeing today.

Our world works like a series of dominoes where very action has a corresponding reaction. The problem is that we work on the short term vision principle which doesn’t see the forest for the trees; something which is pivotal if we are to learn from history.

When viewed from that perspective, it is clear we have very much to repair.


Monday, 1 August 2016

letting things fall into place

My stroke back in 2007 actually saved my life.

There I was dealing with a failing marriage and gender dysphoria that was threatening to boil over. Something invariably had to give and the chain of events that followed only make sense in hindsight. This is why I have confidence now that things eventually work themselves out and what needs to happen does.

They say that hindsight is 20/20 but this not about that. It is instead about having faith and confidence in things bigger than yourself. I know I am not overtly religious in this blog but I have seen in my own life how lessons are learnt and we move on to a new plateau by drawing conclusions from our lived experience. Except that all throughout I have felt there has been guidance.

The lowest point in my life was being wheeled into an MRI scan not knowing whether I was going to recover but life can take extraordinary turns that we do not expect and so I am counting on the future being very much the same.

Some posts back I said that I would float and see where the current takes me but that's not entirely correct because I will be drawing upon my lived experience. I will not entirely shut my eyes but keep them wide open to absorb more lessons along the way. It's not about being lost but about losing yourself in the confidence that things will place themselves where they must.

The only thing we can control in this life is our self respect and being true to who we are as individuals. The rest is part of the variability and randomness that is inherent to our imperfect world. But if we control only that we can hopefully achieve an internal balance that makes the rest bearable.