Showing posts from June, 2013

a word to N...

A blog is like a personal diary or at least this one is. It is written from my perspective and chronicles my attitudes, fears and joys at a particular junction of my life. It does not pretend to be the news because it is sometimes used to vent rather than to try and stay 100% factual and yes it can be like navel gazing at times. I write what I feel at the time and it has been my therapy. The fact that it is a shared document does not change the previous statements. Last night N and I went out for coffer and dessert and for a few hours we talked and walked. It was a very nice evening during which our previous relationship was discussed. This blog also came up as a topic. A few days ago I mentioned in this blog that I was coming clean. I said that I was a woman and that I knew it in my bones. I don't know if this is 100% truth either because it is based on conjecture and perception. It comes from the mind of a person who suffers from gender disphoria. People who have foll

a trip to the doctor

I went to see my GP yesterday and I went, for the first time ever, as myself. I went as Joanna. I never thought I would ever be presenting as Joanna here but then a lot of things have changed in my life. Carolin, his receptionist, told me I looked natural. I had warned her I was coming dressed and I suppose she was expecting a drag queen. Instead, she got a middle aged woman in sensible heels. She and my doctor both know I have GID. I went in to have my T levels checked for the first time ever. While I understand that there is no proven direct link between GID and testosterone levels, I needed to know whether mine were high or low. But I also came to discuss with him where I am these days and what my next steps are. I told him about starting group therapy after he asked me if I was getting help with this. I am one of his three trans patients in a practice of over 1500 people. One transitioned 20 years ago, the other is 58 married and struggling and the other is yours truly. H

coming clean...

I need to clarify something. I am transgender by circumstance only and not by choice. I am transgender because I am stuck in a no man's land and not because I want to be this way. Why would I want to be stuck as a partial male and not quite a woman? Why would anyone? I don't care to play dress up like a weekend CD and then go back to being male. I am a woman and was always meant to be one. I know it in my bones and in my heart of hearts. But this is no longer a question that requires answering. The questions that linger are: can I live the rest of my days as the woman I am in the body of a male and continue to play a role for the sake of my career and my children AND if not how much resolve do I have to face such a huge upheaval. This I do not yet know. I know I have been hiding behind theories in order to deflect focus from reality. I enjoy being a woman because I am a woman. The closer I have been coming to the woman I am, the closer I have been approaching true c

The Pink Fog

The pink fog sneaks up on you sometimes. This morning I was riding the bus and a transgendered woman (probably in her early 30’s) got on the bus. She was on hormones but you could see she was still in that in between stage where the hair is not quite grown in and the HRT had not done all of its full work yet. She may or may not need FFS. I recognized her immediately because all transgender people are blessed with T-dar. I started reflecting that she could have been me a few years back. Back before I got married. After my father died I could have sat myself down and tried to understand myself. I was 33 years old and I knew there was something there but I refused to face it. Instead I let a few months go by and decided that I needed to move on with my life and find a partner to settle down with. My father’s death had completely floored me. One day he was spitting a little blood into a handkerchief and 4 months later we were burying him. He died at home surrounded by his fam

approaching neutral ground

Last night I had some difficulty sleeping and I was mulling things over in my mind. I seem to have arrived at a point where I am going to let my prayers and reflection guide me in the right direction for the long term. I am slowly removing biases against the idea of transition but just as I will not be cajolled into it, I will not push it away either. I will remain neutral and decide what needs to be done when the time comes. If my mental and physical well being depends on my transitioning, then I will do so. Conversely I have lived all of my life as a male. If I were 20 years old today I would more than likely transition with very little concern about others but now things are different and I must consider how my actions impact those I care about the most. So I will proceed with caution but with my blinders removed. What needs to happen will happen and I will continue to remain happy and balanced as I am doing it. No matter what happens from here on in I am already happier

redefining gender disphoria

Anne Vitale gave a talk to the National Transgender Health Summit at the University of California at San Francisco in 2011 and in her slide presentation she included a revised definition of gender disphoria which really struck a major chord with me. She was giving the presentation to other psychologists specializing in gender: “Instead of DYSPHORIA or that you are treating someone who is merely unhappy, think in terms of repairing the damage caused by living under the burden of unrelenting feelings of forced existential displacement from a gendered world openly alloted to others but explicitly denied your client. Someone who has been living --often for decades-- trying to live a normal life under the burden of chronic gender expression deprivation related anxiety. Some one who is now burdened even further by their well intentioned efforts to live a nomal life congruent to their assigned sex at birth” That really nails what my problem is at the root. I will reemphasize the part that

Let the treatment begin...

I know two things. One, I need to be challenged and two, I cannot do this any longer on my own. I have done everything I can to try and understand myself but now I need to figure out whether I am in deep denial about my gender issues and how to find a need a concrete way forward. Living like a hybrid is not really something I desire as a final solution but, if it must be that way, I will have at least explored all of the options at my disposal. The hospital group setting will be composed of my peers and will be moderated by Helene who has many years of experience with the Montreal General Gender Clinic. Already in our last two meetings she has picked up on my roadblocks towards my finding peace with this issue. I desperately want transition to be off the table but I cannot do that without doing the hard work required to look deep inside myself and understand what I must do to find rest. I don’t understand why I cannot be happy labelling myself as transgender because I should

finding my way back

I began writing this blog during a period of my life when my guilt was boiling over. I had been left by a woman who thought I had verbal abuse issues, my marriage had broken up years before due to my omission of my gender issues and my kids had not been tended to adequately. I was unclear (and maybe still am) as to how much I am to blame for my gender issues. Was I indulging a sinful habit or was this the way I was created and I was merely using crossdressing as a tool to manage a pre existing condition? The fetish argument fell away after I began analyzing my life and realized that I hadn't been much of a crossdresser since my yearly indulgences were always rewarded with a massive purge. So if I wasn't a transvestite or crossdresser or fetishist then what was I? I then stumbled onto AGP theory and fell victim to its spell for a time. That theory has now been discredited as it does not speak to my experience. So I am left thinking that I may fall into the Harry Benj

the future...

N and I met on Friday afternoon for drinks. We met up at a lovely bistro with a terrace in the back which was shaded by mature trees. A trendy new place that has only recently opened in my area. The conversation flowed well and we were able to skirt our main issues for a little while but then we eventually got the crux of the matter. N says she left me because of my verbal abuse. She perceives my outbursts like that but in truth I don't quite see it in the same manner. Still she has made her point and I take what she says very seriously. For me this is not the main issue. My GID has put me in a situation where I fear being with her due to my dressing frequency being potentially intolerable for her. I will probably also feel constrained by having to hide from her. Alone no such issue exists. I am also concerned that in 6 months, a year or in three I will need to transition because my current management is no longer effective. I know you can't live your life for the fut


"I love her high heels" said one Starbucks girl to the other while pointing to my feet while on their break. I was innocently waiting for my machiatto. They were not older than 20 and their admiration for my best pair of black patent pumps was giving me great pleasure.I turned around and said "oh thanks!" I live for such validation from other women but I have never known why. It just is and likely always will be. We are funny creatures us disphorics. The absolute warmth that I experience when my presentation as a woman is validated is like passing a test. I have, at least for that day, had my womanhood approved by the toughest litmus test of all; namely young genetic women. Why this is so life affirming is rooted in the mystery of my condition but without further analysis I bask in my moment of feminine glory. Its never felt better than now because now I can experience all of this without self blame and guilt. Joanna is who she is and she will not be denied.

Let's be kind...

I don’t want to start little brush fires with my blog postings. At least not intentionally. I understand that the call to transition is not a choice and at a certain point in time you do something about it or you just go mental. Every person who I respect and have corresponded with about this topic has told me the very same thing: Do not transition unless you absolutely have to because it is not easy and it is not a choice. Still, I often feel stuck in no man’s land. I am not a weekend crossdresser who likes to go to gay bars and pretend to be a girl. There is something in me much deeper than that and it has forced me to take on a separate identity as a part time woman so that I can manage it. Am I a transsexual in denial? I deeply, deeply hope that I am not. As a quick side note, I was recently at a site of someone who thinks that crossdressing is sinful. This person, who was a self proclaimed fetish dresser, is also the Pastor of a church and he quotes Scripture at length o

Late transitioning

The entire concept of late transition baffles me. I am stumped how someone waits until their forties or fifties to decide they were always a woman and need to do something about it. How does this process happen? Why are they not consciously aware of this much sooner? And conversely, why are early transitioners so sure at a young age that they need to act fast. How much of this is true biology and brain chemistry at work and how much is socialization and particular family situation? How much is related to morality or religion? How much to the child’s ability to verbalize their angst or to deny it even exists? I am truly confused. I know that some will argue that late transitioners are not true transsexuals, but if they are not then what are they and why are they willing to risk EVERYTHING on swapping genders midway through life? It is truly mind boggling. I have always known there was something wrong with me. I was fidgety, nervous and shy with some gender incongruence thro

Ain't life grand?....

Last night after going to a short get together for my boss who is transferring to another office for 2 years, I met N and we had dinner. It was a very pleasant time together and the conversation flowed well. Of course we both expressed trepidation because neither of us had been in this situation before; namely, trying to figure out what we mean to each other a year after a spectacular break up. She certainly brought up some issues. For one I am partially asexual in that my libido is not the greatest to begin with. Secondly I suffer from what many transgender and transsexuals have to deal with in that in order to be intimate with a woman I have to fantasize about my own femininity (note the non reference to Ray Blanchard’s term). She is aware of this and is not happy about it and I feel bad because I am not physically able to repair that part of myself. For better or worse it’s the way I am made. So as nice as the evening was, I reflected last night as I was trying to sleep, how

Compromises to make things work...

I often feel that I could indeed make a go of it as a woman but I am also realistic and need to admit that I have lived far too long as a man for a major change to be truly viable. The biggest transition thus far has been in my thinking and I now truly see myself as a woman when I am out and about as Joanna. I am (at least partially) a woman in my soul and that is what counts. The body parts are what they are. That absolute comfort in being who I am has spilled well into my attitude when I am out in the world as Joanna. There is a warm comfort in being myself and that has spilled into the life of the man I work and present to my children as. Might there be days when I regret not carrying through into a full transition? Perhaps yes but life is not about doing what we want but about doing what we need. Right now I am following what I NEED to do. I need to tend to my son and need to work at this company to make a good living. Joanna is having her life too and while her life is not

the Jaimie Veale study....

l know I have said lately that I would refrain from plunging back into the latest thinking on gender, but Jaimie Veale's study does provide much comfort to transgender people so it is worth mentioning. Jaimie who is herself an early transitioner, completed her study as part of her master's thesis and used over 2000 internet respondants to try and shed new light on our understanding of gender and it's apparent fluidity. She uses a much larger sample than Ray Blanchard used in his original work at his Alberta gender clinic and comes up with a fascinating cross section of gender expression which astonishes in its variety. What is particularly notable here is that the respondents were not queued for gender surgery and so had less incentive to lie in order to be allowed to transition. So although Blanchard's sample was more personally and intimately interviewed, the sample was only in the hundreds and only included those who were enrolled in his program. Not surprising

therapy and the future...

I met N again last week because I think she wants to still explore what chances we have together. She knows I am starting with the group in September and need to close all questions regarding transition. I told her I need to do this and she agrees wholeheartedly as she will not stay with me if I become a woman. I don't blame her one bit. So in essence we are in a form of suspended animation. I desperately want to close the door to transitioning but I don't want it sneaking up on me in three years and have it destroy any relationship we may build over that time in spectacular fashion once again. And as my taboos regarding transitioning continue to fall by the wayside, there can be no better time to find out who I am than now. Am I the woman I sometimes suspect I am or a transgendered male who can treat his GID through cross gender expression? There are days where I waiver back and forth and until that issue is resolved I cannot move forward with calm certainty. The gro

Being in between things...

It’s quite an interesting period I am going through now. I am peeling away layers of old paint in my psyche but that does not mean I am ready to embark on transition. My aim is to achieve congruence and balance and as I have very often stated here I want to come to an equilibrium that works for me. One of the annoying aspects is the impracticality of leading a double life. Changing clothes back and forth and removing and re applying makeup makes for a schizophrenic existence that I am not sure I want. But even that is not good enough reason to make a major life change. It must be based on NEED and not want. I am probably in the in between stage where I am slowly accepting the possibility that transition would work well for me and trying to be happy as a part time male. In essence I have reversed myself and become a woman who plays male for her children and for work. But I am not sure of that. It’s just a theory. What I have discovered over the last year is that being me is

my last line of defense?

I have been hoping that I am going to be just fine staying exactly as I am and just adjusting to the reality of life as a gender variant person. The state of flux of my life is coming from not being entirely at ease with the new arrangement and speaking to Helene the other day showed me that my vocabulary is still full of dos and donts. So the session did reveal some cracks in the foundation. I also told her that I fundamentally do not believe in the idea of changing sex. In other words, it was a non starter for me that I would ever succumb to a transition. Doing so would amount to a personal failure; failure to live up to my role as father, brother, son and male role model for my own son. So even if that gender incongruity has always been with me, giving in to it would amount to a lack of resolve and strength on my part. Helene picked up on my use of language and lauded me for living for so long with that misalignment. She also pointed out to the truth in that I cannot be a wh

Kate Bornstein speaks. ...

Here is a wonderful excerpt from Kate Bornstein's book titled "My Gender Workbook". It's a little story about when she went to a Catholic retreat and a priest, who didn't know much about trans issues, gave her the following advice: "Well I'm certainly not qualified or experienced enough to give you any specific advice about a sex change, but I can tell you this: your comfort level is somewhere down around your ankles, and you need to do something about that". He went on to tell me that I should do at least three things a day to make myself more comfortable, and then he said, "Al, you need to learn to treat yourself like you would treat an honoured guest in your house". That was about twelve years ago, and it's still some of the best advice I've ever received. Whenever I'm beating myself up about gender stuff or anything else, I can usually get back to the point of treating myself like an honoured guest" That is so great

group therapy...

I had a good session with Helene yesterday. It was positive and confidence building for me. She strongly encouraged me to get to the bottom of everything by signing up for the group therapy sessions which start in the fall. I have decided to take her up on that offer. This does not necessarily mean that I need to enter the formal program either. I can for example only sign up for the group and forego the individual sessions with Helene. They meet once every 2 weeks on Wednesdays between 11 30 and 1 pm. The cost is $50 per session so its not astronomical. In Helene's experience, people progress further in finding answers to their gender issues in the group setting than in the individual sessions. I will see how that goes. Interestingly she insisted on staying away from the word transsexual and instead opted to talk about gender disphoria. She stated that the term has a connotation for many and carries a stigma that would frighten many (myself included) from seeking therapy.

rock and a hard place once again

Well I've waded into interesting waters once again. I met N for coffee and after not having seen her since last January she was a sight for sore eyes. We spoke at length about where each of us was in our respective lives and the conversation flowed well. At one point it was my turn to bare my soul about where I was with my gender issues and before I knew it I started to cry. I had been telling her that I was in a really good place these days and here I was bawling my eyes out in a cafe. Back in January I had bought her flowers expecting some sort of reconciliation. When things didn't go the way I expected, I closed the door on her before she could close it on me. This time it was different and we spent almost three hours catching up; at the end of which a door seemed to be opening. But of course there's a catch. N is tolerant of my dressing but never wants to see it or participate. The question of indulging versus management even came up. If I am caving in to my d

Keeping things in perspective

Well after some back and forth emails and texts, N and I are back on for coffee this Sunday. I have no unrealistically high expectations unlike back in January when I clearly had not yet healed from the split and not done the work that my gender issues clearly demanded. I know I have thought a lot about our breakup over the last year and even as I thought that a person like me had no business burdening someone with my gender confusion, it was my anger that finally drove her away. The anger was primarily coming from from unresolved issues and frustration over my divorce situation with my kids. I have now fully embraced my transgender nature and have no plans to transition. My cross gender expression will be the tool I use to manage my disphoria. Does this mean that N and I still stand a chance? This remains to be seen and as I am cautiously optimistic, I understand that due to my new found internal peace I will be ok even if we are not able to reconcile.

I really should know better...

I had to contact N for some tax issues and we ended up emailing back and forth about it. At one point (and I am not sure what made me do it) I told her that I missed her and that I thought we should meet for coffee. Well it was back to old times and before I knew it I was embroiled in a series of texts and emails that had me scratching my head. It started innocently enough and then proceeded to me being asked why I missed her and why I contacted her again. It made me feel like the old days when we used to fight. Truth be told I was probably using my rose coloured glasses again and because I had started to feel so good about things lately that I could use that positive energy to re ignite something that was never really all that good I suppose. I don’t really understand romantic love at all. I wear my heart on my sleeve all the time and I am very honest. I am also latin tempered and that can get me into trouble. I was shy and withdrawn growing up and although I am very sociable

Some words from Harry Benjamin...

I wanted to post a rather brilliant excerpt from Harry Benjamin’s Transsexual Phenomenon published in 1966. This particular part speaks much to my own confusion in centering where I am in the spectrum of things and why I need to fine tune my thinking in order to find my own balance: “Coming back to the differences between transvestism and transsexualism., another simpler and more unifying concept and a corresponding definition may have to be considered. That is, that transvestites with their more or less pronounced sex and gender indecision may actually all be transsexuals, but in varying degrees of intensity. A low degree of largely unconscious transsexualism can be appeased through cross-dressing and demands no other therapy for emotional comfort. These are transvestites (Group 1). A medium degree of transsexualism makes greater demands in order to restore or maintain an emotional balance. The identification with the female cannot be satisfied by wearing her clothes alone. Some ph

I'm getting used to these little thuds...

I don’t want to negate anything I said in the previous post with the exception of wanting to be a woman or aspiring to be a woman. That is a fallacy because I am a man and will always be one but I suffer from gender disphoria and that makes my brain think things that sometimes I shouldn’t. Yes my mind wants me to go to certain places but it doesn’t mean it’s realistic or ultimately desireable. Where I really want to get to that balance point where my gender variance is just a comfortable part of my expression and right now after decades of suppression I know I am overshooting. The headiness of days when I get to express my femme side makes me post things that are not or should not be in my sights as a target. The reason I know this is true is because I fall back down to earth the next day and reality is there too. Make no mistake in that I am still content with my management plan but because I am so buried inside my head these days I can become deluded and confused at times.

practical steps

I only have one thing left to do now and that is to allow time for prayer and reflection in order to sort through my thoughts. I know I am still looking at a few years until I settle on a definite game plan but in the meantime I will do some practical things.  For one I want to completely clear my face of all hair. After 6 excruciating laser treatments its already quite sparse but I still require some foundation to cover what's currently left. This is a must if I ever want to really live full time regardless of whether I opt for HRT or not. It hurts like the devil so I have decided to proceed in mini sessions. This month I will further clear my chin which is the area most in need of attention and has the thickest growth compared to other areas.  I will also continue to experience as much real life as a woman as I possibly can by trying longer and longer periods as Joanna. This year will see my first entire week spent entirely as a woman. This will be another important test for

the discourse breaks down

The more I have delved into the gender blogs and websites the more I realize how much effort and time is spent on people staking claim to a particular definition that they feel applies to them. We see terms bandied about like transgender, tranny, drag queen, HBS TS, androphilic TS, autogynephilic TS, type I and 2 transsexuals, crossdresser, transvestite, gender queer, gender nonconforming, etc. What is very interesting about all this is that unlike a real science like physics or biology, the science behind divergence from the traditional gender binary is barely in its infancy. Researchers like Benjamin, Blanchard and company have provided study results based on interviews and treatment sessions with countless individuals and yet after decades of postulating no conclusive and universally accepted ideas exist. This is very telling. It points to the fact that the science (or pseudo science) has left a vacuum which has been filled with personal ideas and definitions of individual