Tuesday, 31 January 2017

the concept of a gender core

If Felix Conrad is correct and there is such a thing as a core gender it would help to explain a lot. This core would be independent of chromosomes, hormones and genitalia at birth. It would help explain why very young children gravitate towards gender behaviour before being influenced by external forces.

What typically then happens is that they are dissuaded from behaving in opposite ways to expectation by well-meaning parents.

This governing core would be instinctive, need not be 100% male or female but then could be retrained via social conditioning. By means of embarrassment and ridicule you could get the child to suppress and move away from their core gender. This would also mean that Harry Benjamin could have been correct in assuming predetermination at birth.

What then would happen is that by puberty sexual orientation would begin to also play a role with gynephilics suppressing due to the inconsistency between identity and sexual attraction and androphilics aligning; thus helping to explain early onset versus late onset.

I believe strongly in such an idea and I was one of those children who gravitated naturally towards girl things and play until told to stop. The internalized shame was so strong it damaged my psyche for many years to come.

It would be hard to prove the existence of a gender core since its creation could involve a series of events tied to biological predisposition and even fortified via family situation, birth order and dynamics.

I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for solid proof but the concept certainly makes sense.

Monday, 30 January 2017

all that we share

My friend Jack Molay sent me this short video which I am certain all of you will all appreciate. Its simple message is that there is more that unites us as humans than separates us.

Yesterday, 6 muslim worshippers were gunned down in a mosque in Quebec City and although the identity of the assailants is not yet known, what matters is that it happened in this horrible environment of fear we are creating.

The pot is boiling over and identity politics is beginning to take hold. So while President man-child spends his time tweeting inanities, authorities from 16 U.S. airports denounced the unlawful detention of people from 7 Muslim nations as un-American and unconstitutional. Welcome to Steve Bannon's white nationalist America.

I think we are going to need to reinforce the message contained in this video all the more...




Sunday, 29 January 2017

being and staying happy

I think that once you have accepted yourself as you are the next challenge is keeping that self-image intact as you interact with people who think they know who you really are because all you ever let them see was a partial or even distorted portrait. This is particularly difficult with family members and of course existing partners.

For example, I am on my own and could think that no woman would accept me as I am or be concerned with what Fred or Joe from work would think of the way I live. But at this stage of my life, I am not going to change for anyone no matter what.

The only way to avoid that mindset is to focus on being ourselves above all and not be concerned with anything else. In my case, I need to remember that I married almost 21 years ago not being able to be my true self which wasn’t fair to her or to me.

Being who you were meant to be is the only way to be happy and it is that happiness which sustains you regardless of familial or relationship status.

Another benefit to this way of thinking is that it allows you to hold out for what you deserve instead of settling for anything less.


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Sherry

My friend Sherry and I finally found each other and chatted online the other day.

When I was in the most tormented throes and my marriage was about to disintegrate I was able to converse with her and have someone just listen to my anguish.

Sherry tells me she has a good life and it is linked to her decision to transition in her 20’s. She is a lovely and supportive person and although we have never met face to face (and perhaps never will) she is someone that I will stay in contact with because she is brimming with unbridled support for me.

We all need to have cheerleaders in this life even if they are on the other side of a chat line and they don’t necessarily share the exact same transgender experience.

Finding her 8 or 9 years ago online was happenstance but her ebullience was evident from the start. She never doubted for a moment what she needed to do to be herself because, as she told me back then, she didn’t make a very good boy.

She does however make for a very fine lady.

Friday, 27 January 2017

counting on them to do their job

Donald Trump does not have the maturity and disposition that a President of such a large nation requires; come to think of it neither does Vladimir Putin.

I used to think that the United States was above electing such unqualified candidates but then here we are and it has culminated in a man child president who jousts with the media over crowd size. You would show him a picture of his inauguration attendance compared to Obama’s and he would tell you the photo was doctored or that terrorists from Mexico kept the crowds away.

This is not a mature man and considering his age all the more surprising.

I believe that getting what you want your whole life and having sycophants nod in agreement to your every pronouncement breeds this kind of psychopathy. At this juncture in a life it cannot be undone which would be fine if he didn’t have the nuclear codes at his fingertips. By this reality we are all held hostage to a man who lives by “alternative facts”.

The media must hold such an attitude accountable and not state that “Trump said this....” but rather state clearly that it is a falsehood.

It’s all well and good to have alternative media that champions it’s own side but the mainstream media needs to put on its big boy pants and start doing it’s job because the United States doesn't want to model itself after Russia where press conferences are nothing more than soliloquies from a man who has declared himself emperor.

Sean Spicer has the unenviable task of spinning these absurdities while trying not to appear imbecilic in front of the American press corps. The job of soft-peddling the pronouncements of his petulant and thin-skinned boss is something you couldn't pay me enough to do. My self respect is worth much more than that.

I might also suggest that instead of listening to chief strategist and Alt-right Rottweiler Steve Bannon who should keep his own mouth shut, the media should doggedly insistent on truth telling as the White House paints them as liars as a counter attack to Trump's conflict with the truth.

my not so new normal

I blend in everywhere and people don’t give me a second look at least not often. I am relaxed and go about my business as Joanna almost as if it has always been this way except of course it wasn't.

The brain has neuroplasticity and can be retrained and I am sure this has happened to me. What was previously far fetched science fiction has become commonplace. Some merchants who see me regularly ask me how my life is going but they don’t question that they are speaking to a woman. I can see it in their expressions because I know only too well the other looks I would get in the dark past.

I am in the costume jewellery store and one sales girl whispers to the other about me “one of these days I am going to pierce her ears”

The one confided in gleefully tells me what she has been told while the originator waits for a reaction which is all of us laughing in unison.

I needed this kind of exchange to become a new normal because I could no longer live in the shadows.

It takes too much energy to do otherwise.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

authenticity

Authenticity begins internally.

You need to accept who you are and proceed from there but that means letting go of much from the lessons you were taught about who you were supposed to be.

Most transgender people at one point or another have suffered from self-esteem issues and that’s not hard to explain. Try to fit a square peg in a round hole and see what happens and yet that is what we were expected to do all of our lives. The secret lies in self-definition. I know that sounds deceptively simple but it is the only way out of our dilemma.

This was a very hard lesson for me to learn because I wanted to believe that everything I had been taught and saw all around me in society was the way things were supposed to be for me as well.

It would be easy to blame my parents or society but really the only person who could do this was me. You are the master of how you feel about yourself and no one else. Besides, I kept it all to myself and never asked for help assuming that I was some sort of defective and weak person who couldn’t self-repair.

One of my tipping points came when I realized I had so much discipline in every other area of my life so why couldn’t I solve this riddle? But there was no riddle. The solution was to simply accept myself exactly as I am.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

when you don't need any holes filled

I do not believe that it is possible for a fully realized transgender person to have a normal life and that includes a relationship with a female. This does not mean that some forms of relationships are not possible but they must by necessity be unconventional because you are dealing with a situation that is, by its very nature, wholly unconventional.

I still sometimes read narratives where the transgender person is disillusioned when their love life evaporates at the announcement of their imminent transition but they are being disingenuous because they know fully well that the reverse scenario would not be acceptable to them.

For me the inherent value of being able to be fully myself for the first time is worth more than any potential comfort that a close relationship would bring and I know that, unless it was the absolute perfect match for someone like me, it would involve some sort of suppression of what makes me whole.

But I don’t say this with despondence because I know all too well the ups and downs of being with someone and there is good and bad in any scenario. I am old enough to have melted away the idealism of youth that promotes the idea of partnering as panacea for all that ills us. Perhaps it is what nature requires for the survival of our species.

When you have removed the procreation from the equation what is left is companionship which, at my age, would now require a deep connection of the mind and soul; a formula not so easily found. So much so in fact that it cannot be sought out but must necessarily make its way to you.

I am now in the position of not needing to compromise who I am in order to find companionship and can set the terms and conditions that I will accept. Having spent far too many years working around being transgender in order to please everyone else, it is now time to please myself.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Noam nails it

Here is the brilliant intellect of Noam Chomsky getting it right and explaining how Trump won the White House. The good news is that many Americans have now recognized that Neo-liberalism doesn't work and the policies used to advance it came at the the expense of the working class. The Democrats went into bed with Wall Street which left the vacuum open for a narcissistic and opportunistic windbag like Trump.

Many white working-class voters voted for a charlatan who promised change but they will get a wakeup call. In the meantime the next 4 years can be spent rebuilding a groundswell of support for the type of policies that Bernie Sanders was promoting.

Those of you who read my blog know that I despair at the growing economic inequality of the world and it is particularly well-marked in the United States.

This might be just the type of shock that will get Americans interested in politics again and to fight back to regain their country only that it will now be in a new and improved format.

Time to get mad.

Monday, 23 January 2017

an ode to my father

My father passed away 22 years ago this month.

He was deeply influential in my life and I owe much of my approach to rational thinking to him. He was a mathematician, philosopher, musician, linguist and historian who read voraciously but was also a difficult man to get to know.

He had lost his own father at a very young age and became head of household to his mother, sister and aunt. He survived the Spanish civil war as an infant and knew hunger during those 3 years as it raged over a deeply divided country searching for its identity.

He was as flawed as anyone and had the faults of his qualities some of which we both share. My mother and he made quite the pair with her earthy and quick-tongued practicality pitted against his bookish and sometimes haughty pretence to superiority he would hold over her. I learned much from both and tried to fuse their influences in fashioning my own personal brand.

I am my father’s intellect fused with my mother’s social intelligence. I am also a combination of their flaws in my ownership of an impatient nature, quick tempered flashes and tendencies towards rash judgements about others. I am very consciously and deliberately working towards correcting all of them as I age to varying degrees of success but I am making headway.

The old joke is about the young man aging and realising how much his parents learned over all that time. Only later on does he realize that it was his youthful brashness that he refused to see what was there all along.

As I approach the age at which he passed away I recognize his wisdom all the more.

He died many years before I even began to acknowledge that I suffered from gender dysphoria but I am certain he was the type of person that could be made to understand even if he could not relate.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

perspective

Consider the following statements I could make about myself:

1) I am actually a woman who is masquerading as a man in order to make a living.
2) I am a man who loves to crossdress
3) I am bi-gendered or two-spirited person
4) Being transgender or transsexual or a crossdresser is a form of mental illness or sexual depravity and I am suffering from this.

How do I know which of these statements about myself is the correct one and how do I prove it to someone else? The answer, besides my obvious current biological reality is that I cannot know for certain.

What I can do is convince myself with my most resolute energy that one of them is correct and conduct myself in a manner that reflects that decision. Because we lack so much information in this field you are left to your own devices and it becomes incumbent upon you to find your own truth.

I have been able to make certain conclusions over my reflection process of course. The vast majority of us are not mentally ill and are highly functional so I can remove number 4 from the list but the other 3 scenarios are trickier because there we enter murkier waters.

But the mere fact that you are able to remove that last one should be a huge boost to your psyche.

In my own case when I finally stripped everything down to the bare bones, the answer became a deceptively simple one:

I am me.


Saturday, 21 January 2017

you cannot promise what you do not possess

Of course Donald Trump was obliged to lie during his inauguration speech. You cannot bring jobs back which are permanently gone.

Loss of textile, steel, coal and other blue collar sector jobs that were exported to low wage countries would only be magnified under a model of free market capitalism combined with small government that Republicans love to extol and they cannot be recovered overnight. Protectionism preached by someone who himself outsourced his own interests rings a little hollow and isn't that more of a traditionally liberal idea?

His base won’t be deterred with facts but it won’t take long before they become restless and realize he is just another charlatan except one lacking any previous experience in public office. That trump card (if you pardon the pun) of a plain speaker will wear thin and the complexities of running the affairs of a highly polarized country will begin to hit home.

He enters his tenure with historically low approval numbers and with his most vocal detractors wanting to drive a stake through his heart. But then he bred their hatred by running a divisive and mean-spirited campaign so how could he expect different. In a country where only half of the eligible population bothers to cast a vote he lost by almost 3 million of them. Not the kind of numbers that give you the feeling that you were given a mandate to govern.

For the sake of American unity I will cross my fingers that he avoids scandal although this team looks prime to invite it. By assuring that virtually every cabinet post is assigned to someone pledged to erode its foundations they’re already off to a bad start. I’d watch the photo ops with Putin if I were Trump.

Electing him is the equivalent of tossing a live hand grenade into a room full of innocents. Let’s all hold our proverbial breaths and see what happens shall we?


Friday, 20 January 2017

the recognition factor

I used to be very concerned about being recognized but now I am not in the least. Over the years I have had a long string of occurrences where I was all but certain that I should have been and wasn’t; as a result my confidence in this area is solid.

I will back this up with a recent anecdote.

My friend Lyne had never seen me I male mode and she requested recently that the next time we meet that I present that way. Interestingly enough she told me that she would not have made the connection. This is not only because I look different but because my gesturing and the way I carry my body is entirely different. In other words, I have given myself carte blanche to conduct myself in the appropriate manner in each presentation.

She told me she saw the male that she had never seen before thus confirming what I myself already knew.

The moral of the story for those of you who might be concerned about being recognized is that you immerse yourself with abandon and not feel self-conscious when presenting female. This will all but guarantee that a connection will not be made. Besides, if you look suspicious you will only invite people to wonder why you are so uncomfortable as most can smell when there is something amiss.

The more comfortable I have become in this knowledge the better the management of my dysphoria has become. But it must also be said that I am way past worrying about being recognized which has improved things even more.

The other day over lunch I walked into a place and the young man said "Bonjour Madame...er monsieur". He had apologized profusely because I was not presenting female in the least. I laughed and looked at him and said "you can address me in any way you want".

He just smiled at me and looked relieved.

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NB: A note to my dear long lost friend Sherry. You left me a note using my contact fields but the email you left did not work. Please leave me a valid email as it would be a pleasure to be in contact again. You helped me so much before and during my marriage breakup.


Thursday, 19 January 2017

an argument against sub-categorisation

I mentioned here the other day I don't much care for the term "crossdresser" and I could pick on other terms but this one will do to illustrate my point.

When I was younger there was much more internet material dealing with curing crosdressing desires than we see today. This is because it was treated, even by many of us, like a mental addiction instead of as a way of honoring a transgender identity. Many people suffered under the notion that they were depraved or mentally ill and I was certainly one of them.

I have come to do a complete about face which is why I don’t like the use of too many blanket terms as they are far too general and cannot adequately describe what constitutes an entire person.

You are who you are and part of the time (or even all of it) may be spent wearing the clothes traditionally associated with the opposite gender. This does not mandate that you label yourself in any way. You may do this for fun or because it is helpful in treating your dysphoric feelings. Your reason need only be relevant to you.

People who advocate “healing from crossdressing” imply that it is somehow inherently wrong and, if it causes you mental distress, then perhaps it is best to stop. Conversely if it makes you happy and brings you balance why would you choose to do so?

Very few millennials use the term “crossdresser” but there are a few odd exceptions here and there. Baby boomers are far more likely to have fallen prey to this moniker perhaps as a way to ensure no one confused them with transsexuals and because this was part of our language at the time so they stuck with it. But please remember that these terms are born in the 20th century and every era and culture has had a different terminology for transgender people over the span of human history.

The preference today for an umbrella term like transgender ensures we capture all forms of gender non-conformity related to identity which includes people who choose to transition and live as the opposite gender; many transitioned women today proudly call themselves transgender. What I like about this is that it helps avoid overuse of definitions which confuse the public and only serve to open rifts within a community that has enough problems with the general population as it is.

Transgender people have existed for millennia, are never going to disappear and, for the vast majority of human history, transitions were only a pipe dream. Hence, the less the amount of terms we use, the better will be the self-acceptance for those of us who form part of this small but not insignificant segment of the population.

Besides, people who identified as one thing for a time sometimes found out that they had been wrong all along. All the more reason to avoid sub-categorisation.

Here is one such example where a baby boomer is accustomed to self-identifying as a crossdresser and who I think is much closer to a Benjamin type IV transsexual who is living full time. Labels can mean what you want them to I suppose.


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

befriending your dysphoria

There is a strong case to be made for befriending your gender dysphoria and, once you have accepted that you are transgender, there is little use in fighting what is a natural born inclination. By coming to the understanding that you need to attend to your feelings you can find ways to be happy while managing their periodic threats to boil over.

I can find no better examples of people who have accomplished this than Stana and Rhonda (who I will soon be meeting in person) who have come to terms with their reality and embrace it rather than reject it. I know I tried the alternative route and it only breeds discontent as you attempt to reject something that is intrinsically hard wired.

Transition is one way to grapple with dysphoria but another way might be to manage its demands by living the way you think you need to. I have said before many times here that this involves a complete disregard for everything you have been taught about how you are supposed to live and what the societal rules are. You must become your own creation because ultimately you have little choice.

Only once I was able to finally let go of what I thought I was obliged to do, did I truly become happy with myself.

I think my friend Emma was right when she said that shame is worse than guilt because we feel we have no right to experience and regale in a femininity that seems to have been naturally accorded but which we learn to conceal once scolded. That shame is rooted in the false concept that a feminine male is weak because somehow women are deemed by society to be inferior. By suppressing our instincts we suffer and potentially mistake that beckoning as a call to convert our bodies. All of you know that I fully support transition for those who need it but it is not necessarily for everyone.

I think the key to befriending dysphoria is really about eliminating all self-consciousness, guilt and shame about expressing ourselves in a way that has always been natural to us and I think it is entirely possible, and even mandatory, to fashion a model of a genetic male that suits our respective realities. This is most especially relevant for those of us who have lived our lives in male stealth and for whom transition late in life becomes an overly complex if not entirely undesirable option.

Much of the angst that transgender people have felt over the millennia has to do with the restrictions put upon them. If freed to be themselves most would lead lives on their terms and be far happier for it.

Don't wait for someone to give you permission to do that.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

insidious

The one common thread running through the blogs and websites of transgender people whose accounts I have read is that their lives have all been challenging. This has been the case almost without exception.

What has tended to vary has been the level of acceptance of partners, friends and family members which has tended to make a huge difference in the quality of their lives.

But I don’t pretend to state that transgender lives are worse than other people's other than to note the often insidious impact of silence on a life not genuinely lived due to fear of rejection. Other realities cannot be concealed as well which tends to invite earlier intervention.

This is why I am so glad that we have at least created an environment where today's trans youth can come out and seek help.

In my son’s school there are currently two transitioning students (one MTF and one FTM) and judging from my questioning of the general reaction of their classmates, both seem to be finding acceptance. No doubt there are still detractors but I know how much worse it would have been for them during my time.

Thank goodness for progress today and that we no longer need to live in insidious silence.


Monday, 16 January 2017

Our search for greater meaning

From the moment we become self aware we begin to search for a meaning to our existence. I remember being about 8 years old and experiencing angst over the concept of eternity. It wasn’t until a priest friend of the family spoke to me that I was able to try and conceptualize it and not think about it as much. In the end that really was about having trust and letting of something that was beyond my understanding.

We are all afraid of dying to some extent; some of us more than others and we try and seek greater truth than ourselves. What we are doing sitting on a rock that orbits another white hot object floating in space makes little sense. Yet the fact that we are able to ponder our own existence hints at something bigger than us.

I long ago stopped believing in the concept of heaven as it was explained to me in grade school when my religious instruction did not extend beyond a caricature tailor made for the mind of a prepubescent child. As someone in my fifties I accept the reality that I am not made to formulate concepts that exceed the capacity of my intellect for I am a flesh and blood entity aspiring to understand ephemeral and deeply complex realities.

My mind cannot imagine not existing and still has difficulty with the idea of living in perpetual eternity which would conceivably lead to boredom after a few millennia; but this is because I am trying to imagine things that exist on a different frame of reference altogether. I touched on this a few posts ago.

Religious instruction for the non-thinker stays at the level of pabulum fed to a child. But then not everyone wants to ponder beyond being given a set of instructions to follow in order to inherit a cosmic kingdom. It is more than likely that every religion in the world is wrong and only touches on grains of truth contained in the equivalence of a beach that extends beyond the horizon. In other words, we are only permitted a tiny glimpse.

The randomness argument does not appeal to my ordered mind and to what I observe and I trust that whatever meaning my existence has will be made more evident to me should I ever be privy to be afforded the right toolkit.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

conventional male

I’ve never been a conventional male but I always did my best to fit in.

When I was very young I learned what I needed to say and not to say in order for people not to raise any eyebrows. In the peacefulness of an empty house I expressed myself the way I wanted far from the prying eyes of my family or the neighbours.

I learned to be a great actor and made sure I stayed above suspicion. Every once in a while I would slip up but then quickly recovered. I managed this way for many years until my early forties when everything became unravelled.

The priest who conducted my marriage ceremony suspected something and many years later admitted to me he thought that I might be gay since I showed apprehension during the preparation. Upon telling him that I was transgender it all made sense to him in retrospect.

Now I can be myself although it’s sometimes hard to know who that is due to so much energy being spent to create a believable persona.

Now I am left with the task of sorting out who the real me really is which has become a fascinating personal journey.

One I am currently still on.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

double-edge sword

Yes I know I write a blog but besides that I don't have a presence on social media because I have a deep seated aversion to it.

The sheer banality of posting pictures of your breakfast, publicizing your particular mood at that very instant, a cat or dancing baby video or showing a bunch of mostly strangers where you went on vacation completely baffles me.

I had to get off Facebook when I began to not be able to stomach much of what my own extensive family was posting. I wasn't using it very much at all, but when I did, I would notice that even family gatherings and birthday wishes were being posted there rather than outright calling the person.

I recently attended a wedding that had me sitting at a table with some millennials. Some of them were openly taking selfies and posting them on social media rather than make conversation during dinner. I was a little taken back and I realize that not every young person is like this. But we do live in an age of instant gratification and where people who lack self-assurance might be tempted to seek validation through prolific posting and amassing of social media contacts as compensation.

Not long ago I watched an episode of a Netflix program called “Black Mirror” which is not dissimilar to the old Twilight Zone series. This particular episode had people interacting and after every encounter they would point their cell phones at each other and rate the experience. The higher the score the more popular you were and this would then impact the type of apartment you could get in the right neighborhood or even get you the right fiancĂ©e.

The moral of the story is that the young woman whose life temporarily unravels when her score drops due to a series of unfortunate events, encounters a 60 year old woman who has fallen off the social acceptability grid but who is also deeply happy because of it. She had simply unplugged from a society where her value was measured through the opinion of others.

In an era where you can be famous for simply being famous and where the president elect of one of the most powerful countries in the world (who also happens to be a classless and vengeful idiot) brandishes social media as a weapon, it will interesting thing to see whether the episode I watched proves to be prophetic.

Like everything else, technology and being connected is a double-edged sword and can be used and misused in a myriad of ways.


Friday, 13 January 2017

the transgender logic chain

I have used this simple logical argument before in my blog to show how transgender people must necessarily exist through biological predisposition and I will present it as an A follows B follows C chain:

1) Nature at all levels is replete with anomalies and permutations without exception
2) The human process of procreation and giving birth forms part of nature's biological mechanisms.
3) 95% of males and females conceived through this process align their gender identity with their birth sex which means that gender identity is influenced by biology (and only later attempted to be influenced through socialization)For proof of this see case of David Reimer.
4) This biological process is independent of race, religion or culture and is universal hence always predictable
5) Therefore anyone whose gender identity does not align with their birth sex must have had that identity partially or fully impacted by that biological process since transgender people are, in the vast majority of cases, highly functioning and not mentally ill.

What this means is that anyone who states that being transgender is part of a sociological movement isn’t thinking straight or, as is more commonly the case, blinded by personal belief.

Hence it follows logically that it wasn’t your decision to be born transgender. You simply were and the only thing left for you is to decide how to cope with that reality.


Thursday, 12 January 2017

Height a secondary issue

My height is not nearly as important as I used to think it was.

However, when I was mired in insecurity I saw it as a major obstacle towards blending in. Now that I am in a different place its almost a non-issue.

For one thing millennials are taller than baby boomers and that includes taller young women. But I have also noticed that tall genetic women don’t worry about being misgendered so why would I. If you know you should be there and are happy with yourself you will do more than fine.

That has definitely been the case for me and now I don’t give it a second thought and go about my business. As a result, I have never been more ‘Madamed’ in my entire life so obviously it’s working.

All the more proving that the inside has to be in a good place before worrying about the outside.




Wednesday, 11 January 2017

a complete lack of dignity

President-elect Trump continues to show his complete lack of dignity by Tweeting every time he is criticized. The latest ruckus involved Meryl Streep's criticism of Trump's mocking of a handicapped reporter. She gave an impassioned plea that a President should be a role model for the populace instead of contributing to lowering the public discourse.

Perhaps for the public good someone in his administration should propose they strip this idiot man-child of his access to social media.

Meryl Streep may not "know him" but you can tell a lot about a person via his public behavior.


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

a synopsis of what I know so far....

Consider the following statement:

“I am a woman and hence I must transition”

There is no perfectly conclusive scientific basis for this statement and, after having read everything I could get my hands on for many years, I have tried to understand what makes some transgender people say that with such conviction.

The only thing I know for certain is that gender dysphoria is real. It is as real as the nose on my face or my hands that I can protrude out in front of me and marvel at. I know this because I have lived with it all my life.

I stated here recently that the physical data is inconclusive. Even the initially promising differences measured in the BSTc region of the brain led to more doubts and extensive criticism given that the transgender subjects used in the study had been ingesting hormones for months if not many years.

So scientifically we still lack a bulletproof case but don't me wrong in that I am convinced that some form of biological tracer will be found. But if there isn't just one source involved there may be a few because a gender identity is likely to be a precarious balancing act of correct dosages of hormone washes at critical times in order to produce a "normal" fetus. If these things don't happen with precise sequencing and the child is then also impacted through their early social development, you can end up with a human being who doesn't fit perfectly into the social mold that has been cast for them in advance.

I used to read in the narratives of some transsexuals how they suffered from a “condition” and if that condition is extreme dysphoria then I think they are correct because at such an elevated level (for Benjamin types V and VI even worse than my own) dysphoria must be all but debilitating. However their motivation was their own conviction based on their suffering since we still lacked that smoking gun. Eventually a splinter group made an attempt to make “their” condition exclusive via the introduction of “Harry Benjamin Syndrome” and, while it may not be a scientifically recognized infirmity, it served within separatist HBS circles to distance themselves from others.

And yet transitions worked for many of these people. They were lucid and not the least bit mentally ill and, once they transitioned, they should have the right to be addressed and treated as any genetic woman because that is what they now are and arguably always were. A gender identity is independent of what your genitals look like at birth.

The pseudoscience of Ray Blanchard is a dead end because it suffers from a fatal flaw in the form of conclusive proof of its "only about sex" foundation which is more built on sand than on bedrock. I could just as easily state that the eroticism is a natural byproduct of the dysphoria and end things there.

Androphilics are not much better treated in this model because Blanchard ostensibly painted them as deluded homosexuals. Once again the motivation is sexual and more specifically having access to heterosexual partners which sounds wholly unconvincing as the cause of something as drastic as a surgical intervention.

Now with declining relevance and in an academic equivalence to sour grapes, the BBL clan has turned to making disparaging remarks about transgender people on Twitter and in interviews. So much for compassion or for that matter dignity.

But I keep returning to the work of Hischfeld, Kinsey and Benjamin which are the founding fathers of our modern understanding of sex and gender; all having in common an agenda-free and keen scientific curiosity. In particular Benjamin's proposed scale based on degree of predisposition fits well with the notion of a unifying theory which would help explain what we see out everyday in the real world in the form of varying states of transition from social to full.

Thankfully, today's trans youth does not need or require to fight amongst themselves, however the enemies now lie outside our community in the form of radical feminism, distorted Christianity, plain old stupidity and ignorance and even people who have transitioned in error presuming to speak for everyone else.

Oh yes and lest I forget: academic hubris.

Monday, 9 January 2017

gender expression deprivation anxiety

I have spoken before of Anne Vitale’s wonderfully descriptive phrase “gender expression deprivation anxiety” because this is exactly what I suffered from most of my life and I thought I would round out my last two posts with another tip of the hat to her.

When I first saw this descriptor in one of Anne’s articles I couldn’t believe how one phrase could so eloquently capture the experience of a transgender person denying themselves the right to be who they are.

Gender expression outside accepted norms may not be conventional but it is hardly the stuff of headlines anymore. Thailand even has a popular show on television where some young men dress and compete as women called “Diary of a Tootsie”. The idea is good fun but such a show would never have seen the light of days twenty years ago.

Denying yourself that natural inclination can even be threatening to your mental health because the stress builds and builds and, those of us who are bordering on the transsexual side of the spectrum, need that outlet all the more.

I didn’t think this basic right was open to me because I simply drank society's Kool-Aid and didn’t question things. But be sure that in denying yourself the dignity to treat your dysphoria is tantamount to causing your own suffering.

If you have never been to Anne Vitale’s site it is certainly worth a visit to be sure…

http://www.avitale.com/


Sunday, 8 January 2017

guilt is wasted energy

Answer me one question: do you think you are responsible for your transgender feelings?

If you are anything like me, I know you have spent countless hours reflecting on this and, if you answer it truly honestly, it is probably no. The fact that you are even reading this post is that you’ve known for a long time that you're trans.

So the next question that begs asking is: why would you feel guilt over something that is out of your control?

I used to suffer from guilt because I felt, for the longest time, entirely responsible for creating this reality of ours. Once liberated from these chains my mind has returned to a razor sharpness that is analogous to unblocking a clogged drain.

I have come to the full realisation that feeling guilt over being trans is like experiencing culpability over having brown eyes.

Liberating yourself allows for clear thinking which makes the next stage of reflection possible. No matter where you are on the spectrum you can then find a resting point and feel entirely at ease with who you are.

Don’t waste any more of your precious energy.


Saturday, 7 January 2017

a blending

An interesting thing is happening to me: as I have fully embraced being transgender my male and female anima are becoming blended. The female side is no longer an unwelcome appendage which, as a result, has allowed me to craft a more genuine and happier male image.

I dress when I want to and sometimes I cut outings shorter than before. I am my own master in this regard and feel in control.

Don't get me wrong in that the dysphoria is not going away and is sometimes like a wild stallion that threatens to jump the fence but I have learnt to understand it’s demands after all these years hence a transition for me is definitely not in the cards. At this point I am not even foreseeing a social one.

The two sides are no longer in conflict and they are now intertwined to create a fusion that is unique to me. That answer finally came when I reached a full level of self assurance about who I am and learned to embrace that I am trans and yes, that includes my dysphoria's erotic undertones which I have learnt to comprehend as forming part of the full picture.

While this may not be your solution, if you examine yourself honestly and free of artificial obstacles, you will have it in due course.


Friday, 6 January 2017

the case against empathy

Yesterday I was listening to Yale psychology professor Paul Bloom being interviewed. He has written a book on empathy; one which turns it a little bit on its ear. He is not against it per se but argues against its sometimes misplaced energy and misuse.

After the Sandy Hook shootings the town was literally inundated with Teddy Bears; so many in fact that they had no place to put them. People's visceral reaction produced empathy which had made them react in a way that actually wasn’t helpful.

Mr Bloom’s point is that we can relate to cases that touch our hearts but then can also turn a blind eye to greater causes. Mass shootings bring out great emotions and yet are statistically insignificant compared to the murder problems in Chicago. Young black teens being killed might produce less empathy in some and yet it’s a far bigger issue.

Paul Bloom proposes we make our empathy more pragmatic and address issues by ignoring our personal feelings. The dirty homeless man on the corner requires our attention irrespective of a recoil reflex which might make us want to deliberately look away.

He brings out other examples as well.

Lobbyists for causes use empathy to great effect. They are media savvy and will point to an individual case in order to instil empathy. That poor old woman who didn’t have a gun to shoot her home intruder will be brought up by an NRA spokesman who proposes everyone be armed to the teeth; never mind that statistically speaking she is a blip on the radar and that applying their doctrine would be ludicrous.

Paul Bloom argues for a rational form of compassion that when wisely applied is a great weapon to mobilise resources to worthy causes instead of employed to manipulate sentiment to produce an undesirable outcome.

I think he might be correct.


Thursday, 5 January 2017

letting the chips fall where they may

Some of you have written to me and let me know what kind of difficult tightrope you walk in balancing dealing with your dysphoria while being in long and committed relationships. The sad reality is that the majority compromise because the presence of the “other woman” is almost always an unwelcome one.

No this post is not about blaming the partners.

I am at a junction in my life where I have thought about what would happen if I were to be faced with meeting someone and having to deal with supressing even part of my identity as a transgender person. What I am realizing more and more is that I cannot.

Most of my friends and family members are in varying states of relationship status: from single, divorced, to dating to long time married and no model strikes me as ideal.

Recently I listened to a narrative of a woman on CBC radio about the hazards of Christmas at her household. She was a holiday optimist who prepared months in advance and her husband a Grinch of astronomic proportions who couldn’t make sense of the fuss. At the end of the story she states that the hardest thing she has ever had to do it learn to live with another person and adjust to the invariable ups and downs.

It is not easy to share a life with another person whose life history, priorities and perspective are not aligned with yours and it is a myth that opposites attract. Although they may initially, there is more likelihood of success if there is commonality of life vision and values.

Dysphoria doesn’t give you much leeway and the thought of living for the next chance to escape brings me to despondence. But as a start I have made a resolution never to look, never go online or even accept some awkward pre-arranged blind date.

Perhaps one day I will be out as Joanna and by happenstance meet someone that way and they will meet the male side later. At least that would turn the tables on the way I used to imagine things going when revealing what constitutes my entire personhood. Perhaps nothing will ever happen which is also fine.

My resolution now is to live true to myself above all and let the chips fall where they may as happiness comes from within and someone else who is right for you can only help compliment it.

My 18 year old daughter is beginning to see a young man and I do not presume to advise her. Her mother and I have raised her to respect herself and others and to be a good person above all. All I have told her is that be prepared for the inevitable twists and turns that this life has to offer because you never know what lies ahead.

In fact, if you had told the 18 year old me where I would be today I wouldn't have believed you.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

my definition of passing

I used the word passing in the title to get your attention. Did it work?

The question is passing as what. As someone else? How about passing as yourself which is a lovely idea.

Are you authentic or inauthentic? If you are transgender I suggest the former I true. Which then begs the question who are you trying to pass as?

My confidence has soared ever since I have understood and ingested the fact that I am transgender. Hence when I go out I am dressing and not crossdressing (which is a term I have increasing disdain for). No matter what clothing you wear you are still you.

Yes I know, many of us don’t desire to be recognized because we have built lives that we think (rightly or wrongly) depend on us not being discovered. That is all well and good and, as out as I am, I still don’t advertise to everyone that I am trans. However if it gets out then so what of it. It is a key part of my identity and I am not ashamed of it.

Heck there are transitioned people who don't pass. There are even cisgendered people who regularly have their gender questioned. Are they any less authentic for it?

So you will likely stop thinking about passing when you finally arrive at a holistic and complete view of who you are.

Now you are really passing.


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

you could do a lot worse

I have a visceral distaste for arrogance steeped in narcissism. It is one of the reasons I can’t stand even looking at Donald Trump doing his best not to appear buffoonish before his loyal followers.

Love his politics or not Barack Obama is an intelligent man who did his very best in an environment where the cards were stacked against him from the outset. The Democrats were a minority in the house and Senate and many Republicans in both branches openly despised him.

Trying to do the right thing for the American populace was all but a Herculean task and yet things are better than when he took office.

The mess left behind by Dubbya was attempted to be cleaned up and the economy is humming along better than when he took office. But don’t trust me and go look at the numbers for yourself. Yes not everything is perfect but then how can they in such a deeply divided nation.

The Bush years produced many scandals not the least of which was Plamegate where an undercover CIA operative was unmasked to get even with her husband Ambassador Joseph Wilson who had the audacity to pen an Op-Ed in the New York Times telling the truth: namely that those tubes from Niger were not for the enrichment of uranium. The Bush White House wouldn't have anyone reduce their momentum for going into Iraq, so someone close to Dick Cheney (if not smiley himself) committed a federal offense and dropped Valerie Plame's name to journalist Robert Novak adding that Wilson had a vested interest to write that piece due to his wife's job. The punishment for this type of offense is prison time.

There were no consequences and the unjust war went ahead anyway. Scooter Libby who reported to Cheney fell on his sword, was indicted and then very conveniently pardoned by Bush.

Trump’s team looks even scarier than Bush’s and those souls who think he is going to make America great again are in for a rude awakening and will be looking back at Obama’s tenure with fondness.

Don’t get me wrong, politics is a dirty business full of chicanery and back stabbing no matter which leader is running the show. However, I look back at the last 8 years and can't help but think that the United States could have done a lot worse than choosing this man as their President.


Monday, 2 January 2017

atheism

I see atheism as a form of idolatry of humankind.

I think it basks in the arrogance that there is nothing more intelligent beyond us and I have tried to make sense of the notion that everything comes from a spectral gas which then goes about its business like a chain reaction. It breaks the rules that my logic wants to follow.

I can respect agnosticism because at least it leaves the door ajar and permits reasonable doubt. For absence of proof is not solid evidence of the nonexistence of God. I prefer to observe the movement of the planets and the electron patterns in an atom and assign that to a massive intelligence far beyond my own.

I think I have said here before that the ant cannot imagine the human because it is not within its capacity to do so. This is how I choose to see our relationship with what lies beyond us except that we are even further removed than that. A coordinate system that is beyond time and space and our understanding is likely at play here for God does not likely play on the same plain.

Perhaps we have a sanctity and a dignity that mirrors our maker and our choices are made with the freedom of will that must be made available to someone that is loved. Sometimes it can be tempting to blame an absence of a God on our woes which can only happen with that freedom in place. A life without choice would not make much sense and then even our suffering can help inspire others.

I cannot tell you why we are here or the exact purpose of our creation, but I can still observe the physical evidence around me and not close my eyes to it because it is there. No one looks at a house and imagines it built itself and yet this is exactly what the atheist asks that I do.

I criticize religion here a lot but only the type that distorts common sense or uses dogma to persecute others. For if there is a God then that sentient intelligence has had opportunity and justification to pass judgment on things we would be far less likely to forgive.

The hardest thing in our modern existence to do is admit limitation because we fancy ourselves advanced beings and yet it is all but obligatory in this case. I suppose that is why we are obliged to call it faith.

The atheist and I are at a stalemate. The difference is that I choose to see the magical and circumstantial evidence all around me.




Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New year

2016 wasn’t my best year ever and yet there was much personal growth.

I reflected much on where I am in my life and where I want to be in the future. There are no concrete physical goals for career or other achievements but it’s more about personal internal growth and finding more humour in being transgender.

This was a deadly serious topic for me for the longest time and it stymied me. I didn’t know how to fit this way of being into my life and it felt like an unwelcome appendage.

Your dysphoria cannot be ignored so treat it; that is my hope for you in 2017. Find yourself in the darkness before you drift off to sleep and reflect with the maturity of an adult intending true self discovery. Find your own way and don’t take anyone else’s path as your own.

Learn to forgive your failings and find the joy in little things that life has to offer. Most of those are virtually free and come wrapped in the balance of self respect and acceptance that you are different.

Happy New Year to all of you.