Monday, 26 September 2016

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 they don't. I know by how I am treated, the facial expressions and the questions I am asked. I know with certainty that for these young women I am a genetic female.

So once again I surprised myself in that we had an early dinner together and a couple of drinks and all went very well. I am just an older woman to them whose life experience and personality they like. All of us had a nice time and it may be repeated at some point as they are nice people whose company I enjoy.

My experiences meeting trans people here have been less rewarding but I attribute this to our tiny numbers which turns the exercise into finding a needle in a haystack.

Which brings me back to the issue of living part time. Yes it is not a perfect solution but it works and I don't plan to change it. Being accepted by other women is that much more validating and helps me confirm that I don't need to go further. This is very reassuring to me because all I’ve ever wanted is to find that elusive resting point and it appears I am already there.

Dysphoria doesn't always allow for perfect answers and even those who successfully transition by all accepted standards can sometimes still be left dissatisfied. In the end all we can do is try to find the best in a series of imperfect solutions.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

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.




Saturday, 24 September 2016

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 see much pain among our community as people struggle with the challenges of being different and the rejection that they face every day can seem insurmountable at times. Our best shield is the knowledge that we have value as human beings and that being different does not mean being inferior no matter what conventional societal wisdom may say.

By now I have witnessed enough human stupidity to last me a lifetime and I will be damned if I am going to let just anyone affect me at my age.

Friday, 23 September 2016

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 women typically go through a stigmatizing period where they must adapt to the reality that they are not conventional women and must adjust accordingly to their reality.

What is fascinating about this condition is that once again we see that nature does not correspond to the wills and wants of the doctrines that humankind has created. As a result anyone who does not fit the prescribed model of normalcy must hide for fear of persecution and prejudice. In the past and even today very few AIS women would publically admit to their condition and some have lost relationships upon disclosing this information.

It is also interesting to note is that a male to female transsexual that begins prepubescent treatment (via blockers for example) would be indistinguishable from an AIS woman from a genetic testing point of view as their body would also not have been subjected to androgens.


Eden Atwood (AIS woman) and her mother

Thursday, 22 September 2016

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.


Reykjavik


Hellissandur


The Blue Lagoon

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

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 alternative is to live in a constant state of unresolved anxiety which will only encourage a building of pressure and a potential crisis down the road.

I know all too well that I am in good company with others who don't see transition as a cure-all pill. In fact, during my consult with Helene Cote she told me that even some of her fully transitioned patients still have unresolved dysphoria.

Experimenting with what might help you before resorting to irreversible tactics is probably the way to go. However denying yourself a treatment is asking for the type of crash that I experienced which is not too much fun.

Having said all that, after trying every option you may just discover that transition is what is best for you and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Accepting that truth however, is not always an easy pill to swallow.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

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.