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goodbye

This will be my last blog post.

I have come to the end of my journey of coming to terms with my own gender disphoria as well as examining the latest thinking on sex and gender; a journey which began many years ago and went into overdrive in 2007 just prior to having my stroke.

I hope that at least some of you have found my blog enlightening and informative. I know it’s been a highly therapeutic process for me. I apologize in advance for the schizophrenic nature of some of the posts during the most volatile weeks and months, but it was the first time that I truly challenged myself head on to ask that most basic question: who are you and why are you gender conflicted?

I now understand that although my gender disphoria is permanent, I am now all right with that. After much reflection and reading I seem to fit the model of a type IV transsexual as defined by Harry Benjamin but of that I can’t be certain; in the end these are just definitions developed by human beings.

My litmus test is …

It's all about disphoria

This will be my last in a series of analytical posts on gender disphoria.

As I illustrated in my last post it’s really all about gender disphoria. That being said, the origin of said disphoria is not yet understood.

My suspicion is that it is rooted in biology and something happens to the fetus which creates this predisposition to desire to be the other sex; whether its exposure to pesticides, endocrine disrupting chemicals or other sources is not yet known.

Its pervasive nature, so powerful and so immune to eradication by the individual strongly suggests a biological core.

As we have seen in the studies and interviews with post operative transsexuals, there is eroticism preoperatively to the idea of feminization present in both types and both have high degrees of satisfaction with their adopted gender once transition is determined to be the course of action. If the disphoria is potent enough, the only recourse appears to be hormone therapy and GRS which will effectively cure the conf…

the lame duck of eroticism

Although I am no advocate of Ray Blanchard or Anne Lawrence, it is interesting to note their distinction between their homosexual and non homosexual subjects and how eroticism played into their findings.

I myself fit the non homosexual model proposed by Blanchard (autogynephilic if you will) and I have no argument with this observation but only propose that the originating disphoria forms part of a pre-existing condition. If it can be proven that paraphilias are pre-wired and rooted in biology then I would need to accept that Blanchard would be correct. This has not yet been proven however.

What is significant to note in the following article by Anne Lawrence is how the presence of eroticism is not a measure for legitimacy in a transition. Lawrence found that a significant portion of so called “classic” or homosexual transsexuals also experienced sexual fantasy before transition.

This is an excerpt from “Men trapped in men’s bodies" by Anne Lawrence:

“It would be a mistake to conc…

More on Jack Molay's article

We know very well that sex identity does not automatically equal gender identity.

The article explains that if you set up a culture where there are no significant pressures to present and behave as per your birth sex and if sex and gender identity are unrelated you should theoretically see less people conforming to expectation of how a man or woman should dress and behave and therefore observe a greater degree of gender variance.

If women are no longer required subscribe to the feminine ideal (which was one of the goals of the North American feminist movement in the 1960’s) then you should (again theoretically) see more women dressed in more casual and perhaps androgynous attire. Conversely, if men are not expected to be extra manly then you should see more androgyny from them as well. This would be a more logical expectation than what he is observing in his home country.

What he is postulating is that for non-gender conflicted people, there is a core identity in which your birth sex …

The core gender identity

Jack Molay has written a nice piece on his crossdreamers website that I want to feature here. Without posting the entire article I will only preamble the beginning by explaining the context and then include the conclusion as an excerpt.

In a nutshell, he uses Scandinavia (and more in particular Norway) as an example of a social experiment where the high level of equality between men and women has seen a stronger distinction between the gender presentations instead of the reverse. Women appear very feminine (almost Barbie doll like) and men appear quite masculine.

He argues that if gender identity were socially based then you should be seeing more of a blurring between the sexes instead of a sharper distinction and argues that Norway, as one of the most gender egalitarian countries on the planet, provides proof of how much core gender identity is primarily biologically predetermined.

Inherent in your sense of gender is also the aspect of being sexually desirable which is why many gende…

On flatter ground

I met Sabrina this past Sunday morning after Mass and she was so happy to see me. She had been having some problems with her mother and so she went to live with her father for several weeks. Her life was in a bit of flux for a while but finally things were falling back into place.

I did not have a lot of time since I wanted to see N for noon but we managed to chat for about 45 minutes.

Sabrina told me that she recently got a new job working at another Starbucks less than 1 km from the one in which we first met.

You might recall that we originally met at the Starbucks I frequent after Mass and we would banter as she prepared my espresso. Since leaving her employment there, we have met several times for coffee and she has advised me in how to deal with my son and given me confidence since she surmounted her anxiety in spite of her parents being not particularly helpful due to their being focused on their own miseries.

The interesting for me in all this is how much a real experience thi…

Sex and gender

Sex and gender are normally related and for most people there is a direct and nearly perfect link between the two. The vast majority of men and women fall within an acceptable level of masculinity and femininity which our society expects and deems acceptable.

While sex is commonly understood to be based on a person’s biological features: the penis, testicles, vagina, uterus, etc., that anatomically define a person as male or female, gender is used in several ways. It may refer to gender roles or expression: the behavioral characteristics considered "masculine" or "feminine" in a particular culture at a particular time. These can range from hair and clothing styles to the way people speak or express emotions. Gender may also refer to gender identity: our internal sense of ourselves as a man or woman.

We have all met and known men or women who reverse the expected norms of behaviour for their physical sex; flamboyantly feminine men or very masculine butch women with …

why not just keep a journal?

This blog is starting to outlive its usefulness.

N even asked me today "why don't you just keep a journal?"

I suspect she's right.

I began it as an exercise in introspection and only made it public because if it could help someone else then it would be a worthwhile thing.

The other reason was to examine some of the theories on gender that existed because I have found that the more I have read over the years, the more I have discovered that there is a dearth of real understanding and science on the topic.

The internet is full of conjecture and speculation.

As I have stated before, I won't write a blog chronicling my personal life. There is not enough interest there on my part plus what would be the point?

I have arrived at a point where I am happy. I have a woman by my side whom I love and who loves me as i am, two beautiful children and a good career. Plus I have my health.

I am not lacking very much.

Being Joanna makes me happy and that is the ultimate …

september already?

Joanna has seen her life improve markedly and steadily over the last 5 years but even more so over this past year.

I have been able to convert my female identity into a known person and establish contacts to remove the loneliness of doing this on my own.

I don't blame N one bit for not wanting to participate but by having chats with merchants and coffee with my acquaintances, I have eliminated the problem of needing to find other transgender people to do things with.

Don't get me wrong in that I would welcome the overlap but I just haven't found the right match close to home.

Keeping these worlds separate is saving my life and I feel energized and invigorated. I can breathe without the guilt that was strangling me.

N need not fear about anything because what I am doing is essentially tame. I love her and no one else but the overlap with these women has been a Godsend. It's helped erase my need to keep mulling over transition and given Joanna a more concrete consti…

Lives lived...

Today I include two excerpts from two separate articles on the life of David/Sonia Burgess who was by all accounts an excellent parent, an upstanding citizen and one of the finest immigration lawyers of his generation.

In 2010, now living as Sonia Burgess, she was pushed into a subway track by a deranged person she was trying to help. Burgess was an example of a human being and not a gender stereotype. He grew up in a single parent home and was raised by his mother. His entire life he had gender disphoria and late in life had begun addressing it by living in a way that was more reflective of the way he felt inside.

“David Burgess was regarded as one of the finest immigration lawyers of his generation. The decisions he secured in the British courts and the European Court of Human Rights featured significant landmarks for the representation of asylum seekers and transgendered people.

Burgess had graduated from St Catharine’s College, Cambridge in 1969. He went on to co-found his own leg…

class warfare

Perhaps I haven’t been clear enough for some but I don’t mind repeating it: this blog deals with my own experience with gender disphoria and how to best treat it.

It does not specifically target gender politics because I will say that my attitude is generally live and live and let live. But when I see that things make no sense I will comment on them of course.

If you are a man who dresses as a woman or a woman who dresses as a man then you have every right to do so. You may even have a particular situation at your workplace where this is permissible and perhaps even encouraged; I say more power to you.

I also don’t believe for one minute that allowing transgender people some measure of dignity, leads to societal chaos or anarchy. They deserve to not be killed, molested, raped, beaten in the streets or have any harm done to them whatsoever.

For example, so long as they respect the law and behave in an appropriate manner they deserve to use the restroom that reflects their gender prese…

no group therapy for me

By now I would have been starting with Helene’s group but here we are in September and I never made the call.

The more I reflected, the more I came up with the same answer that they cannot help me. Sitting in a room with people in various states of transition will do nothing for me.

Moral support? Perhaps yes that is something that this venue could provide but little else.

My fear is also that by entering into such a group you open yourself up to the potential for having a little transition cheerleading section. I know Helene promised me that this would not be the case but in the end I was not sufficiently convinced.

The secret for a disphoric like me is management and when I explained my own plan to Helene in our private meetings, she thought it was a good one. Everyone has their own.

My aim as always is to stay away from hormones as well. I think they will only add to the turmoil that already naturally resides in my brain.

She told me that I am one of the best read and informed peo…

From the opposite perspective

Here is an excerpt from an article which Calie features in T central this week. The article is written by a lesbian woman called Roey Thorpe and it’s titled “Where have all the Butches Gone?”

“In the company of lesbians of my generation and older, I frequently hear conversation about how much things have changed since we were young. And invariably, someone asks: Where have all the butches gone?

The question is driven in part by nostalgia, and in part by discomfort with what seems to have been a shift in the way young lesbians think about gender.
And the first question often leads to others: Why are all the butches becoming men? Why can’t they understand that gender is a social construct, and that women don’t have to conform to a feminine ideal? Isn’t that what we were fighting for — a world in which women could wear tool belts and neckties and do anything we damn well please, without the constraints of gender?

At its very core, this was the vision of the feminist movement, and lesbian…

We've come a long way...

I am a biological male and intend to stay that way for the rest of my life. That has always been my aim and this blog was started only to examine why, since a very young age, I have been drawn to the idea of being female and expressing myself as such.

In the process I have sought and received feedback from other disphorics in order to encourage an open dialogue. It has been a wonderful learning experience.

If transition was ever weighed it was in the spirit of trying to understand if that might not be the best solution for a person like me. I now know that it is not.

Whether my own disphoria is caused by exposure to EDC’s prenatally and/or sociological factors is now irrelevant.

What remains now is the intellectual curiosity of what are the likely causes of gender disphoria in general and how it should best be treated.

A few posts ago, I featured an excerpt from an article that discussed the accommodation approach versus the reparative. The former approach would involve respecting t…

my dinner with N

N and I had a lovely meal last night during which we discussed many things; one of them being this blog and how much I have written in the past about transition.

It's true that I have weighed the idea but now I have closed the door on it.

She is ok with the dressing and as long as it remains only dressing then we will be able to make a go of it as a couple.

She knows I am more than a crossdresser but that's all right by her and that kind of acceptance of who I am is a hard thing to come by. In fact when we met again four years ago after a 23 year hiatus, she had less trouble accepting me than I did.

Back then I told her I was a crossdresser because that's what I genuinely believed at the time.

But even knowing the truth that she knows now, she is still able to look at the whole person which is amazing to me.

I enclose a picture from early this morning...

A note about notoriety

I don’t think that trans-activism is always a voluntary thing.

Take the example of Kristin Beck who, by virtue of her very public announcement and history as a navy seal, has little choice but to be a very visual flag bearer of sorts.

For one, Kristin currently makes for a large and unconvincing genetic woman; at least for the time being. She is tall and muscular and walks more like a man. This, by the way, is not a criticism but an observation as I wish her well.

But for another, I know she actually relishes her role in the spotlight and she has talked about running for some sort of office in 2015.

Then there is Chelsea Manning who is already a target of derision.

There are those who already view her transsexualism as a perversion or aberration of nature but in addition she will, unfortunately, be plagued with being a divulger of state secrets; even if those secrets involve unpleasant activities performed by her government for the so called ‘public good’.

If you transition early, ar…

Moving forward with a positive attitude

Yes I am a borderline transsexual but I’m OK with that now.

I have determined that I can manage my life with this knowledge and that I no longer need any more counselling on the matter.

What are they going to do for me anyway? Show me how to cope?

I am already doing that now to the best of my ability. By presenting part time as a woman I can temper my disphoria and not allow it to compel me into transitioning.

Plus I love N, I love my children and I won’t sacrifice that.

Before I understood anything about gender disphoria, I blamed myself exclusively for all of it. I was to blame for desiring to be a female. It was my vice and my compulsion but as I gathered enough self knowledge and learned to understand myself, I realized that no matter how hard I fought nothing was going to change so I might as well adapt.

Perhaps I could have been one of those children that could have been rehabilitated by someone like Zucker. But I kept silent and played in my room alone and went into my mother’s…

Contrasting approaches to childhood gender disphoria

This an excerpt from a 2009 article titled “Gender Identity Disorder in Childhood – Inconclusive advice to parents” by Alice Dreger which addresses the two approaches when dealing with gender disphoric chidren; namely the therapeutic approach proposed by clinicians like Zucker versus the accomodation approach:

You’ll notice that the advocates of the accommodation model act as if theirs is the “progressive,” even gender-radical approach. So the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation says that they “will strive to encourage families to allow their children the ability to grow up free of gender roles.” Sounds good in theory, at least to most parents who think of themselves as “progressive.” But in fact, the accommodation approach moves your child from being a girly boy or a boyish girl to being a girly girl or a boyish boy. Using the accommodation approach means going from having a William-in-a-dress to having a Julie-in-a-dress. And that may seem pretty attractive to you—no matter what y…

two persons one body??

On page 139 of Harry Benjamin's book the Transsexual Phenomenon there is the life story of someone referred to as Ralph; a MtF transsexual (at the time age 67 and operated upon at age 58). In one portion Benjamin states:

"Many transsexuals have, in a sense, two identities, male and female, but this should not be confused with those cases of dual or multiple personality described in the psychiatric literature. Rather, the two identities are a practical, if strange, way of dealing with a real problem: the male identity which the individual is often obliged to assume in his contacts with others, and the female identity which he believes to be his true one, and which he assumes in private or when dressed as a woman.

In Ralph's case, the problem was formulated by him as Ralph = male = body; Clara = female = mind. Between these two, a dialogue would often be conducted, again as is not uncommon among transsexuals. Today, Clara remarks that "Ralph is now (since the operation)…

I feel pretty good

Marian had a blog entry recently where she discussed arriving at a point of feeling "normal" presenting as a woman.

Well after living part time for over a year I can definitely say that I am there. There isn't the slightest hint of self conciousness present and I am simply enjoying the experience to the fullest of simply being myself.

It took long enough to get here, but now that I am it feels right. There is no better way to describe the feeling; it simply feels right.

Lives don't get erased and given where I am in mine I think I have chosen the only solution possible; namely to continue to feed that part of my soul that's always needed to be fed instead of starved.

At least it feels like I have a choice and thank God for it. Were my disphoria to be worse, I might have tipped into the type V category and then be compelled to transition just to retain my mental health.

As it stands now, I think I'm going to make it this way and as the days and months go …

a wasted opportunity

Michelle LeBlanc is a well known and gravelly voiced transsexual woman here in Quebec and her book, chronicling her life and transition, has been on bookstore shelves for almost 2 years now.

Yesterday I was in a store and a woman very politely approached me wearing a friendly smile and said

"Madame may I ask you a question? I just read Michelle Leblanc's book and I loved it!"

I knew where she was going and wasting a perfectly good opportunity to do outreach I responded quicker than my brain could keep up.

"Oh but I'm not a transsexual madame" in a very friendly way so that she would not feel embarassed.

She turned a little red and responded "Oh excuse me madame!"

I returned with "I guess I am a little large for a woman and people do sometimes stare at the mall"

For the record I am 6' 1".

"But I am not the least bit insulted and I think you're a very brave soul for coming up to me as most people would not have do…

endocrine disrupting chemicals?

I was born in 1962 and certainly was exposed to EDC’s but is there something to this? Thanks to AQV for the heads up…

Transsexualism: An Unacknowledged Endpoint of Developmental Endocrine Disruption by Christine Johnson (her abstract to her thesis) states:

“In recent years, evidence has accumulated demonstrating that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have the potential to alter sexual development at the organizational and functional level in many species, including humans, indicating that this class of chemicals may play a role in the etiology of transsexualism.

Although transsexualism has historically been attributed to social or psychological causes, little data exists to support these claims, thus requiring a closer examination of the evidence regarding changes in sexual development due to EDCs. Toward that end, this thesis considers data from studies examining hormonal signaling mechanisms and changes in sexual development observed in wildlife, laboratory animals, and humans …

I won't have a caustic atmosphere

I’ve never had to ban anyone before from my blog and it pains me to do it. But when the discourse gets poisoned by someone’s personal vendetta against the big bad boogieman of the so called “transgender agenda” it just poisons the atmosphere.

For the record, I have no agenda nor do I have any interest in supporting people who expose themselves in women’s locker rooms or want to use their showers if they are biologically male. That is a tangent that I won’t follow because no one would defend that.

I am also not a spokesperson for the transgender umbrella. Whether people call themselves crossdressers, transvestites, transsexuals, gender variant matters not one bit to me as everyone has a right to live in a way that is true to their nature.

But when someone comes here repeatedly with the same axe to grind for a reason that is not entirely clear to me, it breaks down the civility of the discourse.

This blog was started for one reason only: to try and understand myself and hopefully draw f…

disphoria as not being a mental disorder

This is from Wikipedia but it rather well encapsulates the main arguments against gender disphoria being a mental disorder and instead more steeped in society’s non acceptance of gender variance or conversely as a birth condition.

Gender as a social construction

Gender characteristics are socially constructed and therefore naturally unrelated to biological sex. This perspective often notes that other cultures, particularly historical ones, valued gender roles that would presently suggest homosexuality or transgenderism as normal behavior. Some cultures have three defined genders: male, female, and effeminate male. In Samoa, the fa'afafine, a group of feminine males, are entirely socially accepted. The fa'afafine do not experience any of the stigma or distress typically associated with deviating from a male/female gender role, indicating that the distress that is so frequently associated with GD in a Western context is not caused by the disorder, rather it is a secondary resul…

language is important

Henceforth this blog will adhere to dealing exclusively with gender disphoria and how its sufferers deal with said condition.

This disphoria need have caused some degree of distress or impairment at some point in an individual's life and so I necessarily exclude drag queens, people who dress for kicks, or actors playing a role from this description.

I no longer want transgender versus transsexual battles here on this blog.

I am only interested in the concept of gender disphoria and how people deal with theirs. During my sessions with Helene, it was explained to me that in the hospital gender program they no longer use the term transsexual but only talk about gender disphoria and how to treat it.

The reason? Not everyone will ultimately deal with their gender disphoria in the same manner.

In Helene's group there are those well on their way to fully transitioning but there are also people like me who do not identify as full blown transsexual but are nonetheless strongly dis…

finding your joy

I needed to find the joy in my gender variance but it wasn't always there.

Instead, it was rather serious business.

This was something every fibre of my being compelled me to do but because it was taboo I was not to find any joy in it.

Sure it felt wonderful and relaxing but I thought it more a vice than part of my nature. This is why I have been concentrating on finding the joy in my expression of Joanna and, as she blossoms, I see more and more the payoff when I interact with others. I have truly begun to see this as a gift from God instead of a plague or a scourge.

Once you are out of your shell of culpability, people begin to see you differently and you in turn feed off their positive energy.

It's an amazing thing to watch.

I don't care for gender politics and I am not looking for special priviliges either. I don't particularly care if people call me a "man in a dress"; and what of it? That is essentially what I am. The only adjective I would add in…

More brilliance from the experts...

Here is what brilliant psychiatrist Joseph Berger has to say:

“A prominent Toronto psychiatrist has severely criticized the assumptions underlying what has been dubbed by critics as the Canadian federal government's "bathroom bill," that is, Bill C-279, a private member’s bill that would afford special protection to so-called "transgender" men and women.
Dr. Joseph Berger has issued a statement saying that from a medical and scientific perspective there is no such thing as a "transgendered" person, and that terms such as “gender expression” and “gender identity" used in the bill are at the very least ambiguous, and are more an emotional appeal than a statement of scientific fact.

Berger, who is a consulting psychiatrist in Toronto and whose list of credentials establishes him as an expert in the field of mental illness, stated that people who identify themselves as "transgendered" are mentally ill or simply unhappy, and pointed out that …

the gender binary

With a few exceptions, most cultures do not actively encourage gender variance.

Males are to refrain from displaying what is perceived to be weakness by embracing their feminine side and, while women have a little more latitude in their dressing, they are also discouraged from appearing too masculine.

It seems we love our gender binary and feel reassured by it.

But nature is made for variations. We see them at every level and there are mutations and permutations for just about every facet of creation; so why not gender as well?

It’s certainly not hard to prove that gender fluidity is simply part of the anomalies we are also expected to find.

There is biology involved of course because the male has the role of protector and the female desires certain qualities in her man that embodies those traits which encourage strength and virility. Early man counted on these qualities for survival and for propagation of the species.

However, with the transformation from hunter/gatherers to creatur…