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.