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tolerance in unexpected places

Geraldine Roman is a smart and dignified lady who just happens to be transgender. Elected in a very conservative country, she saw rural people not particularly versed in gender issues elect her and when you see her speak you will see why. They must have just seen the person and nothing else.

If you watch nothing else make it the first 7 minutes which contains her speech touching on tolerance of diversity which is something the world needs more of.


the overlap of sex and gender

Both genders are aware of which physical characteristics promote and exhibit their sexuality. Hence women know their breasts, buttocks or legs have sexual power as men also know that features such as their musculature or height can also promote their sense of being desirable. Both sexes also know an attractive face has much to do with this and hence will do what they can to accentuate the features that nature has given them.

But if you ask women why they might dress in a more sexually suggestive fashion they will tell you it’s more about making other women jealous than trying to attract men. They might also do it to attract one particular partner which makes a lot of sense because most of us are not trying to gain the attention of the general public.

Both sexes also understand how to promote their sexuality via more psychological aspects such as behavior, breeding, mannerisms and education.

Sexuality is about finding and pleasing a partner but also about pleasing oneself through self…

we don't need permission but....

It's important to have skin like an elephant; in fact it's mandatory.

People are supportive or people are repulsed and nothing can be done about it. You cannot convert and educate everyone but you need to live. That takes resolve and courage.

Despite everything I've been through in my life I consider myself very fortunate. I can go about the world and not be bothered but not everyone has that flexibility. My aim is not to preach but to thrive in spite of the challenges.

A good start is by not being our own worst enemies.

On the other hand I become troubled when I see someone pop up and suddenly announce on social media that they are a woman and leave wife and children in utter bewilderment . It makes the rest of us who are trying to do the right thing look bad and I take my responsibilities seriously.

Gender dysphoria is not kind that way and it demands attention. It is like a car with no breaks but it can be steered at least. Those of us who are more conventional don'…

not quite so simple is it?

I had prepared a slightly longer blog post on Gigi Gorgeous but Jack Molay beat me to it.

Previously Gregory, he was a young gay man with a YouTube channel who talked about hair and makeup styles. He was effeminate and would sometimes wear women's clothing.

About 3 years ago Gregory began to identify as a woman instead of a gay man and started a transition process. The surprise is that now she has suddenly come out as a lesbian woman which of course stands the Blanchard, Bailey and Lawrence androphilic pattern on its ear; thus proving that reality is more complex than theoretical models.

Recently I wrote about Kimberly Reed who doesn't neatly fit the late transitioning gynephilic model either. Just these two exceptions alone throw a big bucket of ice water on the BBL pseudoscience which doesn't at all like loose ends. Their fall back at this point would be to accuse both these transwomen of lying.

I can't help but find all this a little satisfying because once again …

the resting point

I have exceeded my own expectations of where I would go with my trans identity but I am fine with this now. One cannot struggle indefinitely and I will cite a concrete example.

I tend to frequent certain stores and while my buying habits have been greatly reduced over time I have become friendly with some of the staff.

In one such establishment I met two young women (one under 30 and one over) and it got to the point that every time they saw me they seemed very happy to talk to me. I think they see me as a kind of role model because I would speak to them seriously about life issues and having confidence in yourself.

This led to meeting them both for coffee a few months back which was very pleasant.

Not too long ago I was in the store when one of them suggested an evening out and suddenly I had some trepidation. I had never gone this far with Joanna before and I began to doubt that I could pull it off.

For the record I know the difference between people knowing I am trans and when the…

of autumn past and present

Yesterday Montreal welcomed the sobriety of Autumn and I for one was happy to see it. I rejoice in its briskness and after the humid dog days of summer there is a lucidity that the cooler air brings.

My son and I walked among the crowds at the Jean Talon market and took in the espresso laden air and the sounds of shoppers mixed with buskers singing their songs to a half attentive audience.

This season has always held a fascination for me even as it meant a return to scholastic discipline in my youth; the drier warmth peppered with a bracing wind could always be counted to wake and invigorate the senses and inspire the creative juices.

I turn to him and see him in his Halloween costume suddenly: the mental image fading as quickly as it came. I make mention of it and he reminds me his trick or treating days are long over and while I have never enjoyed his company more, part of me grieves the passage of time.

How much faster it moves as we get older.




true self-acceptance

There is nothing that has more intrinsic value than accepting yourself as you are. Think about this for a moment.

If you did not care one bit about what people thought and were completely immune to their opinions you would have achieved something few people in this world possess. Yet this is the kind of fortitude that is required to be a truly content person.

I believe that most transgender people suffer from lack of confidence at some point in their lives and that is not surprising. After all we are aware very early that we have to hide in shame from this difference and this only encourages the building of insecurity that is hard to overcome. But it must be defeated at all costs.

I was debilitated by shyness when young and this was exacerbated by needing to hide a part of myself that I dare not divulge to anyone. This made the building of confidence more difficult and while from the outside I may have appeared to have everything under control it was far from being the case.

I still s…

Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome

Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) is a rare condition that affects a tiny portion of the population. It basically produces an individual that has the XY chromosomes of a genetic male but one who is either fully (CAIS) or partially (PAIS) insensitive to androgens which serve to masculinize the body at puberty. As a result AIS women do not have a uterus or fallopian tubes and cannot conceive children.

In the cases of full blown AIS (CAIS) the woman looks perfectly female albeit with a shallower than normal vagina, taller than average body proportions resulting in an almost Amazonian appearance in some cases. As a result some of the modeling and sports females have been accused of having AIS due to their exceptional height and above average beauty.

In the lower grades of PAIS the genitalia can be ambiguous and even produce a child that appears intersex or is more male than female.

AIS women do not menstruate which is why typically this condition is discovered at puberty. These young …

the volcanic isle

Iceland is a country that I might not have visited if it weren’t for my profession but I am glad I did.

It was a difficult and challenging project for my company and yet over several months I managed to go there 3 times and enjoy some of the touristic merits of this island of approximately 300,000 inhabitants.

My first trip was in February so the sun rose at 10 am and set by 2 pm but as spring approached the days were virtually 24 hours long.

The capital city of Reykjavik is charming and boasts a wealth of fine restaurants while the landscapes in the countryside are almost surreal due to the volcanic nature of the soil. In fact the entire country is powered on geothermal energy which makes certain industries attractive due to the low electrical generation cost.

If you decide to visit (and I strongly urge that you do), The Golden Circle, the Blue Lagoon and the drive to Hellissandur are particularly worthwhile visits.






all or nothing

I was recently Googling "dysphoria management without transitioning" and one of the hits was a thread from the website Susan's Place.org. I had not been there for quite some years and this particular thread had been started by someone who desperately wanted to eliminate their dysphoria and live 100% as a normal male. It had received over 18,000 views to date.

I lived with that hope for many years but then I realized I was trying to do that for everyone else instead of considering what I needed. I have since come to the conclusion that the "all or nothing" proposition is fundamentally a non-workable scenario. The reason for this is simple: you did not create your dysphoria and it requires attention.

The original post was about 3 years old but what I would have advised this person to do is to find some way to soothe the dysphoria by finding a compromise. In other words, don't feed completely into its demands but find middle ground if at all possible. The alt…

Tula

Caroline Cossey (aka Tula) was a Bond girl who was outed as a transsexual sometime in the 1970’s.

At some point in the early 90’s she met a young Canadian engineering student 10 years her junior while on holiday. They married some time later.

The interesting thing of note about the video below for me is that I went to engineering school with this fellow (Dave Finch) in the 1980’s. In this video he says he’s 27 years old (I was about 3 years older than him) which would put him approximately in his early 50’s today.

For the record I was surprised when I got the news that an old classmate had married Tula and I found out of all places on an entertainment news program at the time.

overheard in a Payless store

I was in a Payless store briefly yesterday when a man walked in wearing his full cycling regalia; the helmet, the suit, the right shoes, everything. One of the sales girls came up to him and offered help.

I couldn’t make out what he said but he was going into the ladies section. Then a few minutes later I heard the sales girl exclaim:

“Are they for you or for your wife?”

“They’re for me” was the matter of fact reply. I gathered he was looking at some ballerina flats.

Then I remember when doing such a thing stirred such great conflict for me. Something I don’t today give a second thought to and certainly always do in Joanna mode.

It just took me back to those days.

I would pretend to buy shoes for someone else and then nervously pay for them trying to not look too conspicuous. Of course I did and then was relieved to leave the store with a purchase that would invariably end up the trash a few days or maybe weeks later once the guilt had overtaken me.

A few minutes later the cyclist wa…

the crumpled paper

People who don’t know what gender dysphoria is like might be tempted to think:

"what’s the big deal you’re just blending two genders"

or

"you are just crossdressing so what!"

But that’s not it at all is it?

Those simplistic answers might work for people who just got up one day and decided they were going to be gender variant just for the fun of it. Nothing could be further from the truth for the gender dysphoric person.

Our problem is that most of us are taught to fight our natural instincts from day one so when we caved in to them in any way we felt absolutely terrible. For the longest time I felt like a complete failure for simply being myself.

The programming we endure is pervasive and unrelenting. It follows you everywhere and you are told how to behave, how to sit, how to dress and what toys you are allowed to play with from the moment we are waking human beings.

Undoing all of this takes a long and arduous battle of deprogramming. Add to that religious orth…

sometimes they know early

Emma sent me this link in an email. It is a story from the New York Times about a child and parents and how to handle a gender issue. Here is an excerpt:

"The things I imagined happening fell into opposite categories, but both transpired. A lot of children didn’t notice, didn’t care or stared briefly before moving on. But there were a few who pestered him on the playground and in the hallways, who teased or pressed, who covered their mouths and laughed and pointed and would not be dissuaded by our carefully rehearsed answers."

It's about a boy who wants to go to first grade in a dress and what happens next...


http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/18/fashion/modern-love-transgender-child-identity-parenting.html

honesty

Let’s face it: you as a transgender person aren’t going to change and your partner deserves to know the truth.

My ex-wife should have been told from the outset but I honestly and truly believed that I could defeat my dysphoric feelings and lead a normal life. When you don’t come clean both of you suffer. She gets a person who is hiding and not truly themselves and you cannot divulge your true identity thus wind up living in fear of discovery and repression.

But I was brought up during a time when we had little knowledge of what dysphoria was and how to treat it. So I bought into the nuclear model of the family and married, purchased a house and had children. There were other options but I wasn’t ready to know about them until my life crashed.

I have often said here that I don’t regret my life and my marriage, although far from perfect, yielded two children that I love dearly. She and I are able to get along today and discuss things without arguing but of course all the emotional attac…

the Wright way to do things

Charlotte Wright impresses me.

She doesn't recite the standard trans narrative and we are similar in that I knew something was up early but I was able to deflect it and move forward regardless. Her boiling point came at the more tender age of 31 instead of at 45 like mine did.

Now she seems to have beaten the odds and was not only able to keep her girlfriend of 8 years but is now living a more authentic life. I cannot be happier for her.

You can see that Charlotte is a shy and likeable person who has done what was right for her all the while prepared to face the consequences no matter what they were which is a very admirable thing.


Does this woman look like a pervert to you?

When you watch this video of Kimberly Reed the first thing you will note is how comfortable she is in her own skin and how normal she seems.

Born Paul McKerrow he was the all-star quarterback of the high school team except you would be hard pressed to make that connection from watching this video. She also made her transition relatively early in her college years bucking the "late-transitioning gynephilic" stereotype.

Here she is as a self assured, feminine and attractive woman who some would accuse of actually being a perverted male in love with his own image. Of course Ms. Reed radiates none of that nonsense in this segment.

Kimberly isn't unique and there are other gynephilics who have followed in her footsteps on successful transition paths. Just for the record she has a female life partner so her orientation has remained unchanged post surgery.

The myth is that all gynephilic transsexuals are basically transvestic fetishists with no real female identity except that …

you get to write the manual

Yesterday I went to see Helene Cote and I am glad I did. She has a friendly and relaxed style and the fact that she deals with the transgender on a daily basis helps me to bounce ideas off someone who knows the situation well. I just wanted to verbalize where I am these days with my dysphoria management with someone who understands.

No one knows one bloody reliable thing about what causes gender dysphoria. We are absolutely 100% in the dark. So the entire infrastructure built around the condition has been transgender people making up their own narratives or conversely skeptics inventing reasons for their illegitimacy.

People need to explain their own motives to themselves. It is fundamental fact of life. Why was I born this way? Why do I think I want to be a boy or a girl? Why do I think I need to reflect on transition?

Precisely because we are in the dark is what has invited charlatanism as well as explanations that people hold personally dear to explain why they are this way. If som…

consult

It's been two years since I consulted anyone for my dysphoria and this past Friday I decided to call Helene Cote. She gave me an appointment for this evening at 7 pm.

Right now I just need a person to talk to face to face with who understands this subject.

It is going to be more than anything a status report of where I am in my life and to maybe vent a little.

grace under pressure

You have to hand it to Christine Jorgensen. She was dignified, cultured and patient during a time of extreme ignorance on this subject.

Just get a good look at Joe Pyne's face when he discovers that "transvestites" are heterosexual.

If you think we are in the dark now imagine 1966 when Harry Benjamin had only just published his famous book.

That first patient of Hirschfeld that she mentions but doesn't name is likely Lili Elbe. Also John Hopkins no longer performs the surgeries and you might have seen Paul McHugh being quoted in articles for Christian Conservative sites.

Note also how Ms. Jorgensen does not even wince when Pyne States that she was "sexually disturbed".

a moral panic

I was listening to CBC radio recently and the topic was on the subject of moral panics.

A moral panic is essentially a type of urban myth in the form of a warning to the dangers of exposing ourselves to certain situations. This is mostly often used on the young to teach lessons.

For example recently on the internet there have been reports of clowns in the woods of South Carolina showing up out of nowhere and scaring the bejesus out of people. This particular story is unsubstantiated but it has been propagated extensively. Its veracity is less important than the fact that it is being taken seriously by parents worried about the safety of their children.

Clowns just have that history of instilling joy as well as fear in children and they represent an almost paradoxical figure.

Well wouldn't you know that the right in North Carolina has been using a similar technique to scare people into supporting the HB2 bathroom bill. By showing the public pictures of very masculine and gaudily d…

the suit of armor

I had already prepared this post before I saw Calie feature Jodie Dawson's excellent write up on late in life transitions over at T-Central. Jodie's post only reinforces what I wanted to say in mine.

We hide our true selves to fit in and repress until we can repress no longer. When we are growing up there is no barometer for normal and you think that the feelings you have inside are just part of your growing pains. Only when you begin to get older do you realize your dysphoria is something that other people don’t have.

I was very good at suppressing; in fact I was excellent at it.

It allowed me to build my mental discipline but it also took its toll because I could never let my guard down, relax and be myself. You have to try that much harder and that effort encouraged a level of self-consciousness that might not have otherwise been required.

You don’t have words for gender dysphoria when you are small. I just knew that I was different and that people would reject me for it. …

Waltz for Debby

This week I helped a friend purchase a piano.

I am an amateur musician and my father (who was one himself) started me off by giving me piano lessons when I was 11 years old.

When I see a master like Bill Evans with his fluid and beautifully expressive style I am mesmerized. I first heard his playing on Miles Davis's "Kind of Blue" which is the best selling jazz recording of all time.....

"you rock it"

Marie couldn't have been older than 25. She was a petite black woman with a very genuine smile and we exchanged pleasantries as we entered the same subway station after almost bumping into one another in the hustle and bustle.

A few minutes later she walked up to me on the platform:

“I just wanted to say that you rock it and you look great”

"Have we met before?" I asked genuinely puzzled.

“I've seen you in this station before” she answered

I asked her name before the subway arrived and told her to say hello next time. She gave me a nice smile and said she definitely would.

I don't care whether I pass or not but regardless I suspect that people see I am confident when I am out. This is the lesson that took me so long to learn: just be yourself and people will see someone who is comfortable in their skin.

And whether Marie saw a trans person on that platform or not is less important than the fact that she simply saw ME.

Oh and as a side note: 84% of Canadians now …

TERFS and Conservative Christians team up

I used to think that a Christian was a Christian but actually a Conservative Christian now stands for someone who purports to follow Christ but is intolerant of the things Christ wasn't.

No surprise that these strange bedfellows would tag team to suit a common purpose...

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/09/04/radical-feminists-and-conservative-christians-team-up-against-transgender-people.html


Just what the doctor ordered

This is a reset period for my life no question. It is a time to focus more on my self after years of putting others as priority.

I have spent the last few months really analyzing my modus operandi. I do things for others even if it goes against my grain until the pressure valve goes off in a rush of temper which dissipates as quickly as it came.

I need to change this pattern.

Last week I learned an ex-colleague was diagnosed with terminal cancer; he is in his early sixties. It reminds me once again how fragile and short our lives are and we have no way of knowing when our time is up.

My kids are almost grown and I am on my own and while this may not be a dream scenario it is mine and I am going to own it.

Oh yes and living part time has been just what the doctor ordered.

Time bomb

Free market capitalism only works within a restrained box and even then only in theory.

When the United States negotiated NAFTA with Mexico and Canada it was supposed to open up markets for companies, facilitate cross border movement of goods and services between Canada and the States and help stabilise a failing and fragile Mexican economy and government. It seemed a relatively good deal for al and even helped raise the wages of very poor Mexican workers.

So when Donald Trump rails against Mexicans and threatens to build a wall he negates to mention that net movement between the United States and Mexico is for all intents and purposes zero. This is because some Mexicans are going back to their country to find better job situations. In other words it's a smoke screen.

Trump’s base is mostly composed of white, less educated males who are receptive to xenophobic hysteria but the real message to take from the failure of the U.S. economy to find balance is income inequality.

When U.S.…

two worlds

It’s striking the difference between the male and female worlds. Although I am not privy to having been raised as a girl I have been out in the world as Joanna long enough to observe the differences in treatment and approach between the sexes.

Women are kinder and more respectful towards each other. They smile more readily and are more complimentary while men tend to be competitive and more abrupt ( and yes I know I am aware that I am generalizing here). Some of this cannot be helped because aside from the biological differences there have been decisions in rearing that have crafted these distinctions into people and they are hard to undo.

In some ways I prefer the way that women relate to each other than men. This does not mean that I don’t value male friendships but they tend to be more distant and difficult to be open inside them.

The other day a woman walked up to me and said to me in French:

“Madam I find that you are very elegant. I was watching you from a distance and thought I…

shouldering the blame

The inability of some people to fit comfortably within the gender binary has resulted in their persecution. It is a population as old as humanity which still experiences attempts as being branded as mental defectives or sexual perverts even today.

The motivation is simple: the concept of male and female is immovable and perfect in the eyes of religious bodies and organizations that depend on the binary’s supposedly static nature. The idea that “God created man and woman” must be unflinching and rigid in order for our institutions to function as they should. This is most especially true in societies founded on religious ideas which require that this model not vary. The problem is that this is not so much based on reality but on ideals in a world where nature does not work in such absolutes.

Therefore societies tend not to favour outliers and the best solution has been to attempt to marginalize and place blame directly on the shoulders of these transgressors. This has implied being accu…

born and not made

There is absolutely no question in my mind that a transgender person is born and not made. I know this in my bones because I tried to kill off this part of myself for so many years to no avail and some who read my blog may have tried to do the same.

Still there are those in society who would accuse us of adopting this “lifestyle” by choice and I would pose to them one simple question: Why would one choose something that was potentially going to get them rejected and scorned by their families and the rest of society?

The good news is that once you get past the difficult self-acceptance part the rest is far easier especially as we age and begin to care far less about what others think. That feeling of liberation is priceless and after having jailed yourself for years it will feel amazing when you get past the caring stage.

Some of you are in the process of transition whether it is social or full while others may be making their first tentative steps towards allowing themselves a freer r…