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Showing posts from 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…

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 restric…

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 marri…

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...


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 te…

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…

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 va…

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…

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 b…

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 masc…

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 outr…

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 count…

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 diffe…

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 a…

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 surround…

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 debu…

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…

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..

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 sho…

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 fro…

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…

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 20…

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 stea…

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 do…

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…

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…

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…

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 …

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%.



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 …

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 w…