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measuring up

One of the biggest lessons I have learnt over the last few years has been to abandon artificial measuring systems; to stop gauging myself against some normative standard that I cannot meet.

We humans love categorization, structure and to be able to compare themselves to others; we like to identify with behaviour that will gain approval.

We will sometimes lie about personal things for fear we will fall outside of a norm. For example, a man who has very infrequent sex with his wife will have a tendency to exaggerate the truth in order to appear less abnormal. If he hasn’t had sex for 6 months he might say it’s only been 3 months. Such is the nature of human affairs. We all want to feel like we fit within a statistical norm and are accepted for who and what we are. The more we deviate from expectation the more uncomfortable we become and the more we might try to brush aside or downplay the areas where we do not conform.

Some behaviour is neutral; it is neither right nor wrong but simply is. Conflict only comes when that behaviour clashes against the sensibilities and wishes of others. Having too much sex or too little is neither right nor wrong but it can become an issue between a couple with different sexual appetites.

The same applies to cross gender behaviour; it simply is. But the transgendered person often feels like they are letting someone down because they are not measuring up to a standard; not measuring up as a male, as a father or as a husband.

If your partner, sibling or parent do not accept you, there is nothing to be done. The answer is not for you to cave in to their demands because you won't be able to meet them. This was the hardest pill for me to swallow because in my mind I was letting somebody down. By measuring my behaviour against an impossible standard I was doomed to feel disappointment and guilt for what I was doing. First it was at home with my parents and then it was with my wife and children.

But you can only beat your head against a brick wall so many times. Therefore, the barometer you set for yourself should be about bigger issues; issues that have substance and meaning.

For those of you experiencing rejection, there is not much that can be done. However, rather than rail against your nature you can view it as a way to see life differently and with a new perspective. You can have experiences that others will not and find joy in them.

When I presented myself at the gender clinic seven years ago I earnestly believed I could be cured. I wanted to be cured because I thought I should desire to and spare everyone important to me the grief and embarassment of knowing I wanted to wear women's clothes. This was a huge fallacy on my part and since then I have slowly come to terms with who I am. I have done so at a pace that was consummate with all of burdens and barriers I had placed on myself over the years.

In the process, I have made sure to throw that wretched measuring stick out the window.


  1. As we go through life we encounter all sorts of people who seem compelled to measure everything. They keep a strict account of everything to that they have the advantage in every situation. I agree that life becomes much more pleasant when we toss out the measuring tape. Someone will always be richer, thinner, younger, cuter, etc. The less we get trapped in the measuring game the freer we become from envy.

    That is not to say that we should not be inspired by others or to use the advances that others make to guide our own actions.

    When I was responding to your post yesterday I wrote and then deleted a sentence about a vague plan that I had to try to attend a Thursday night Mass. I had read your prior posts about your own experience going to Sunday Mass and while I was not measuring or equating my outings with yours I was inspired to want to be in church while dressed. I deleted the sentence because I did not want to establish a written goal that I may not have reached because I may not have had the time to dress and get out or because I lost my nerve.

    About 6:30 I finished what I had to do with calls and reports and showered, shaved, applied my makeup, hose, wig and a knee length brown, beige and white print dress along with a light jacket and headed out of the hotel. I arrived at the church a few minutes after the service began and figured it was now or never. I parked, walked across the lot and walked into the back of the Church. I had seen a small add in a Rochester alternative paper that this church was "A Catholic Community Where All Are Welcome".

    The service was wonderful. There was a musical group with a guitar, bass, drums and several singers. The priest was friendly and open. There were about 70 worshipers. Most were older but some were younger and some could have been same sex couples and others were on their own. I sat by myself on the side near the back.

    At best, I consider myself a lapsed Catholic. The priest invited everyone to the altar for the consecretion. I chose to remain in my seat. After singing the "Our Father" all were offered the sign of peace. I stayed in my seat but about a dozen people came to me to offer me a sign and a handshake. I felt very welcome.

    While the priest invited all to the Eucharist I again chose to stay away since it has been over a year since my last confession. I regret that decision.

    The thing that made my uncomfortable was when I realized that I was wearing a wig. Men's heads were never covered when I was a kid going to church and I just felt wrong being there with a wig on my head. I also left quickly as the service ended to avoid engaging others.

    If the opportunity presents itself again for me to be in this town on a Thursday night I will surely go back to that church and this time I hope I will participate with the others and not feel so self conscious. During the ceremony the priest baptised a little girl and he also had a couple renew their wedding vows for their 10th anniversary.

    After Mass I went to a coffee house and had a cup. I was then hungary and thought about looking for a place to eat and settled on a nearby pizza parlor where I had a few slices. I then drove around the city a bit and ended up in the LGBT bar I had been to earlier in the week. When I was there Tuesday the kitchen was closed. It was open last night so I felt compelled to order a burrito so I had too much to eat.

    Sorry for using too much of your blog space for my tale.

  2. Wonderful Pat! I am very glad for you, I find going to church as Joanna to be very validating and spiritual. The more you do it, the more confortable and natural it will become....

  3. And don't worry about the blog space!!

  4. My church experience was wonderful and I really hope to be ablel to do it again. I still think I need to figure out how to be in church with a wig on when the guy part of me senses that men do not cover their heads in church.

  5. ha ha... good point. Keep on doing it pat!


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