Showing posts from August, 2013

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

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 hum

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

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 re

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

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 a

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

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

always challenges

I’m settling more and more into routine. I can now interweave my outings and simply have them be part of my everyday life without fanfare or hoopla. They have also started to be less complicated and I drive far less than I used to. In the past, I would have driven to some mall to ensure more anonymity but now I am content to stay close to home and go into a coffee house or even a McDonald’s and simply sit down with my tablet and browse the web or write this blog. I am spending less time questioning and more time living which is a big improvement because no amount of conjecture will solve the riddle which is my gender disphoria. Besides, I don’t need to justify myself to anyone save my children and my partner; all of whom understand that, for better or worse, this is part of my nature and always will be. The next issue at hand is my son’s anxiety which will be front and center as the new school year begins. We are certainly better prepared for it than we were and all the measu

my overlaps with the transgender community

Up until today I was a member of a site called pinkessence. I left the site permanently this morning. This move was prompted by some rude behavior by one of the posters but I had already been contemplating my departure and that little incident made the decision much easier. In my everyday life I have abandonned the idea of overlapping with the transgender community and that has been due to a lack of success in finding constructive real life relationships. Just because someone shares your penchant for women's clothes, that does not make for automatic friend material. Yes I have found common ground online but not in the real world. So I keep Joanna firmly rooted outside transgender circles which is probably just as well. The last person I met approached me in a shopping mall in drab. He was there accompanied by his wife who was certain that I was a female but he was equally certain I was trans. In the end he approached me and after a pleasant enough conversation we agreed t

ain't technology grand?

I have posted virtually all of my blog posts on a small Samsung tablet. I never go out as Joanna without it and never thought it would get this much use when I purchased it; I had certainly not expected to start a blog. I very much advocate the use of this technology because its convenient, quick and light. It certainly beats paper and pen. It makes me think how far we have come because when I started my career 25 years ago I was working with an amber screen desktop, floppy disks and a clunky dot matrix printer. Today I can post my thoughts online from virtually any location in the world with the click of a button. The flip side of this advancement has been loss of privacy, online bullying, government spying on citizens, easier access to hate propaganda, etc. It always brings a chuckle to my face when you read the type of information that people deem significant enough to post on their Facebook page; reinventing new ways to define the banal. But with every great invention,


I have learnt much over the last year and it mostly relates to giving myself some latitude. I wasn't raised in a way that allowed me to do this because everything needed to be analysed and understood fully before fully engaging. Perhaps as a result, I am not a relaxed person and I catch myself having little outbursts of temper when I am not in full control. My gender issues and, most recently, my son's anxiety battle are areas where I have needed to relinquish much of that desired control. In the process, I am learning some valuable lessons about myself. So while the thirst still exists to find out the root of my GID, it's no longer mired in the exculpatory but instead driven by a complete certainty that what is accepted as dogma today is wrong and the theories written to explain my behavior do not fit. Nevertheless I feel good about myself and when I am out as joanna, my head is lifted and I am myself only under different wrapping. It no longer feels, as it used

a brief acknowledgement...

Here is my list of online friends who have had significant positive impact on me over the last five years: Sherry, Danielle, Kelli, Donna, Louise, Stana, Marian, Susan, Jack, Lindsay, Pat, Lila, Julia, Rachel, Caroline and Chelle. Thank you for your valued contribution towards sorting out my gender issues. If I'm not quite there I am most certainly a lot closer than I was.

curiousity killed the cat?

You'll have to forgive me as I know this blog can be heavy handed at times. Fact is, I was trained as a scientist and I have a curious mind so that my own behavior and that of others is often analysed instead of just being taken at face value. In other words, you will not find a precedent in my past that says: do this because it just feels right. I am much closer to being there now of course because I am faced with using cross dressing as a survival mechanism to curb my disphoria but that fact does nothing to quash my natural curiosity. Nothing I have read to date on the topic of gender disphoria is compelling or convincing enough to give a clear understanding of what gender disphoria is. What we have instead is plenty of conjecture based on observed behavior; but that is not science. Harry Benjamin had enough sense not to wade into the waters of conjecture but simply catalogued behavior and put people into approximate categories and since 1966 we have barely taken a baby

the disphoric as paraphilic...

Paraphilia is defined as the experience of intense sexual arousal to highly atypical objects, situations or individuals. But what happens when there is a strong connection to something in absence of arousal? Is this still considered a paraphilia? Before AGP theory existed, we used the term transvestic fetishism to describe the act of becoming aroused by the wearing of women's clothing by a male. Typically such a male would begin acting out his fantasy at or after the age of puberty and develop a repetitive and self gratifying routine involving female clothing. This activity did not interfere with his identity as a male. But what about those children who had already developed gender confusion due to their strong attraction to a female identity well before the age of puberty? Proponents of AGP theory state that children as young as 3 can have erections when wearing clothing of the opposite sex which is evidence that their theory holds water. This is indeed a stretch because

I was a teenage mall walker

During my bi yearly crossdressing periods, I had a massive urge to go out dressed but needed somewhere to go. The logical place became the mall but only if it was sufficiently sparse so not to send me into a sheer panic. Back then I would dress in my little second hand Toyota and wait until the coast was clear before proceeding to the least frequented door of the shopping center. Once I was in it was all about looking inconspicuous as I walked down the ailes never looking anyone in the eye. The sheer terror and the seriousness of it all brings a smile to my face today, but back then it was not a laughing matter. My aim was always the same: enjoy that calming wonderful experience as a normal woman going about her daily business. Back then I was slimmer and prettier but my complete lack of confidence, passable voice and poor female posture and walk gave me away. I remember one instance going into Sears to buy some pantyhose. I couldn't have been older than 20 and I was doing

allow me to explain...

I suppose I should clarify a few things about where I am in my thinking these days on crossdressing and disphoria because it came up in the comments of my last blog entry. Firstly, I feel really good. I am finally attaining a comfort level in accepting that I have disphoria and that I am tending to it through crossdressing. Having tried the alternative approach, this is now the only way to go. Secondly I know in my gut and in my heart that there is no cure for what I have. Admittedly I am now past the point of wanting that elusive remedy that I so genuinely desired. But having tasted what it feels like to really be myself, I now realize I had been trying to amputate a part of my identity as a person and for no other reason that it does not fit in well with societal expectation. I had my first clue of this five years ago at the hospital gender clinic when I earnestly went in demanding a cure and they offered me instead what they had offered countless other patients; namely self ac

beware of snake oil cures....

I used to read up on that elusive cure for crossdressing and honestly and diligently follow the advice that was prescribed. Of course this was during the time that I actually believed that I was indeed a crossdresser. Dressing a few times a year did not really qualify. I was instead looking for a way to cure my gender disphoria. That feeling that somehow I needed to be female was never really too far from the surface. People who write these stop crossdressing pages are often fetishists who indulge in their fantasies and perhaps take countless pictures in a miriad of outfits. They are sexually addicted to something and then reach an addiction level which eventually promots them to act and try to go cold turkey. Often these kids started in their mother's closet at or after the age of puberty. My case was a little different and my disphoria has been with me from earliest memory. My crossdressing manifested itself very early and then went underground once it was discouraged.

A rare polaroid moment...

Admittedly, I don't often post pictures here but this one is from this morning's outing. Since I am on vacation,my kids (being in their teens) are late risers and yours truly is an early riser, it affords me this little time in the morning to spend as Joanna. The pic was taken in the car before coming back in to change back into male garb. Really appreciate those exchanges with the coffee merchants when I get referred to as "Madame"...


N and I were discussing over the weekend about my having a double life. In wanting not to expose her to Joanna and in me wanting a fruitful experience, I have effectively been presenting myself as a woman and making acquaintances who don't know that there is a male me. I never expected nor intended that all that practice with my voice was going to allow me to pass as a female to this extent and the inadvertent introductions have led me to new and unknown territory. Truth be told: I really love it. I have never had so much pleasant and meaningful interaction with people as a woman. N did bring up the issue of deceit and technically she is correct. However,I do tell the truth about myself with the exception of my birth gender. I wonder if as I approach new levels of self acceptance, I might not be doing civilians as well as our transgender community more service if I just be open about my birth gender. In so doing I can perhaps do more outreach. As things stand now, I nev

yes I enjoy being a girl but....

......being Joanna is only part of that life. I've come to realize that as I have come to embrace fully who I am, I don't need to choose to become female to enjoy basking in my own expression of femininity. It is part of my make up and that acceptance has been pivotal in making me feel whole. Can I say that my cross gender expression will eliminate my gender disphoria? In a sense yes because by allowing myself the dignity to be who I am, I can remove a great deal of the confusion and the shame that was associated with my desire to dress as a female. It is indeed my life, and I intend to take full ownership of it. It does indeed feel like I have a new lease on it and it's allowing me to better cope with challenges like my son's anxiety.

my most important challenge

It's been a tough battle with my son's anxiety. Because of it,I will likely need to cancel next week's trip we had planned to the States. He is panicking at the idea of spending 3 nights away from home and nothing I say is convincing him that he will be fine. So I am cutting my loses and calling the hotels today to cancel the reservations. It's a shame too because I had been really looking forward to spending a few days away with my 2. But in his current state he will be miserable the whole time. Therefore the alternative will be to plan daily activities and spend the 2 weeks bumming around. This is not the worst thing that could happen mind you. I need to just stay positive and help him get over this bump in the road and,if we can conquer this challenge, there will be plenty of other opportunities for trips in the future. This is the most important challenge on my plate and I can't afford to fail. His future depends on it.

yes I analyze but it gets me nowhere

N and I talked last night about my disphoria. She is actually fine with everything and always was from the beginning. It was me that had the problem all along. She understands that this is the way I am and she reiterated that on the phone to me. I have virtually ceased all analysis of what makes me tick and have been instead focusing on being myself. I need to dress up as a woman and that’s all I need to know. I will refrain from putting up stuff that is divisive on my blog but honestly I think we all know each other sufficiently well here that there is never any harm intended when I post things. Ray Blanchard is a discredited theorist who did junk science. He did not find the origin for gender disphoria but simply categorised approximately 200 people that he treated at his clinic; and rather poorly I might add. So in the absence of any real science, I will simply live my life until such time as something truly interesting comes along that catches my attention. Peace to all.

feeling good plus an epic fail

Lindsay in a comment to my last blog entry made me realize something important: you need to stick to what you are doing and establish it as a routine. In other words, even if my disphoria appears to be receding, I keep my cross gender expression constant and part of my life so that I no longer experience the roller coaster ups and downs. My previous method was to cave in to my disphoria by indulging it and then tossing everything out. I now know this is an abject failure as a management tool. What needs to happen is that I keep Joanna time a part of my life routine pure and simple and, since I don’t need to worry about guilt any longer, the schizophrenic indulge and purge cycles will be a thing of the past. Yesterday after work I got dressed, went to the hardware store to get a few things for N’s dishwasher installation and ended my outing with a short trip to MacDonald’s for a strawberry milk shake and a sit down with my android tablet. It was pleasant and yet it was short and,