Showing posts from March, 2017

getting past the fear

An identity is far more than about clothing and those of us who went through phases where we thought we were “just crossdressers” understand this very well. It was perhaps a way to deny that deep down there was far more to this than first met the eye only we dare not admit it to ourselves. Most of the older transgender people I know advanced to a greater and deeper personal understanding once they began to be honest with themselves. The next step then became coming to terms with the depth of the feelings. Those who moved on to social, partial or full transitions sometimes only varied by circumstances such as finances, spousal situation or religious beliefs and indeed transgender people in past centuries could only dream about the possibilities of transition. Regardless of what you ever called yourself or identified as, many of us surprised ourselves with the knowledge that we were further along on the spectrum than we first thought. The main reason for this was undoubtedly fear bas

a small gesture

Lately when I have been in stores where my name is registered in their computer system, I have been asking them to change it from the one I use in this blog to my given name at birth. It is a small gesture but one which felt like I was adding a level of authenticity and bolstering my lack of concern over being discovered. We all get tired of hiding after a while and this is just more sign that I have become an integrated human being who has embraced all aspects of who I am.


Donald Trump recently gave an interview to Time magazine where he looked even more imbecilic and inarticulate than usual at one point even saying to the reporter “That's why I'm president and you’re not” as if the hapless interviewer had thrown his hat in the ring and lost. He is borderline deranged and employs the logic and emotive tactics usually reserved for seven year olds. Talking about how his instincts are usually right he continues to insist that Obama wire tapped Trump Tower with the psychotic zeal that only an unstable person would dare to employ. He brashly tells the reporter that he read it in an article which means it must be true. Meanwhile the Russia story refuses to go away and little strands of information continue to trickle in and preventing its demise. The democratic lead in the congressional investigation now says there is more than circumstantial evidence in hand. The Republicans were at the same time having the darndest time trying to sell a healthc

comfort and confidence

This past Sunday I met my friend Leticia for lunch. I had not seen her for many months and I was glad to hear that her brain tumor seems to be responding well to radiotherapy. We met about 4 years ago at a store and we began chatting and just hit it off. She is of Mexican heritage and we are close to being the same age. We exchanged numbers and we would then see each other from time to time for a coffee and catch up on life. Leticia doesn’t know that I am transgender and I never got around to telling her because we were just casual social friends who would see each other sporadically. She was also someone who I could test my ability to be Joanna and see if I could be accepted as just another woman although this was never the original intent. It just happened that way. So this time when she proposed we have Sunday lunch along with her two sisters it was another level up from our previous meetings. The fact that it all went very well with the conversation flowing nicely got me thin

for the benefit of others

Many of us learn to be actors early and then one day we wake up to realize that the role wasn't right for us but then we had already invested many years into fashioning this persona that would be acceptable to society. The challenge when you discover this truth is to then find the real you underneath. I know this is what happened to me. Those of us who grew up during the days where there were few options are particularly susceptible to having had this happen. I did what was asked of me and I didn’t think I could question things but somehow things were never quite right. But then the more you invested in this fa├žade, the more difficult it was to do an about face later when the fast train that is your life is already moving. I think it was Shakespeare who said that "all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players..." and I don’t think he was wrong. The only question that remains is to understand the proportion of the real versus the performance we


I wanted a fresh look to the blog to reflect my changing attitude. Over the last year I have been in the process of refashioning my life and the loose edges are starting to finally come together. Time alone affords you the luxury of reflection and I have been doing much of that. Things happen to us and then comes the post mortem where you draw lessons from the experience. You ask yourself what you might have done differently and where you might want to be going forward. Many of my preconceptions have been dissolved away and I realize that over much of my life I had been doing myself a partial disservice. One day it dawns on you that is okay to be a little selfish and to not compromise on what you need; life is difficult enough so why make things worse. The results of this process have been trickling in slowly like light filtering through a small crack in a closed window. How I want to live out the rest of my life provided I stay healthy is a question which will be answered in d


During one of my lovely dinners with Rhonda Williams, I recall her telling me how she preferred to wear hoop earrings which really suit her. I have rarely worn that style but then the other day I was at a Claire's store and Christine, who is the store manager and knows me quite well, thought that they looked good on just about everyone. So I followed her advice and bought an inexpensive pair which were on sale. Well I am glad I did because I have tended to opt for white pearls but it was time to mix things and I also think they modernize my look a bit.

magical mystery tour

This same bus was seen running through the streets of Madrid with its blunter message that “boys have penises and girls have vaginas. Don’t be deceived” This advertisement for intolerance, which belies intelligence on this subject is now in Manhattan parked in front of the UN building and says something slightly different in English: “Its biology…Boys are boys and always will be and girls are girls and always will be. You can’t change sex. Respect all” Never mind that message is written by people who understand nothing and most importantly are confusing gender identity with sexual organs and I won’t surprise you by telling you it has been funded by 3 right wing conservative groups one of whom is called the National Organization for Marriage. Of the Spanish version, one Madrid councilman declared it the “bus of shame,” and city officials ordered it removed from the streets for violating a traffic law restricting advertising on private vehicles. “We need a discussion about how

beyond the prime directive

If we remove the respective procreation functions of men and women from the equation what does sex and gender mean and how does our internal sense of where we belong on the spectrum develop? It appears that it may be innate and, as Harry Benjamin pointed out, after the age of four that gender identification cannot be altered. The unfortunate case of David Reimer helped us understand this and his forced gender reassignment advocated by John Money did not work because, in spite of being reared as a girl, his internal sense of gender was always male. This is one way we have come to know that male to female transsexualism is real and why the identification of these children is unwavering and cannot be impacted via psychotherapy. Only the individual's own refusal of self acceptance and intensity of dysphoria will help determine an outcome. Conversion therapy on strongly dysphoric children doesn’t work and the now retired CAMH practitioner Kenneth Zucker may or may not have had su


The World Happiness Report is a measure of happiness published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. In these reports, leading experts in several fields like economics, psychology, survey analysis, national statistics, and more describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations. Each report is organized by chapters that delve deeper into issues relating to happiness, including mental illness, the objective benefits of happiness, the importance of ethics, policy implications, etc. Well the 2017 the results are in and not too surprisingly the northern European nations are among the happiest in the world with their good quality of life, health care system and relatively clean environments. As in other European countries, most people work to live instead of living to work and profit from generous vacation policies which must undoubtedly contribute towards increased longevity. I am proud to say that Canada is nu

status report

Merging myself into a whole person has taken me a while but I am finally getting there. What it required was being honest with myself and looking inward with a mindset devoid of shame or guilt. Listening to others is fine once you have a plan going forward but, in my opinion, the reflection is best done alone and without outside influences. The hardest part for me was the de-deprogramming process of removing the layers of old wallpaper lining my psyche. The other evening I had dinner with my almost 19 year old daughter and when I brought up whether it bothered her that I was trans she simply said: “Not at all and I know how hard it must have been growing up in the 60’s and 70’s” This generation really gets it. Now that she is older I am sure I would get her blessing if I ever felt I needed to go further. My son is another question but irrespective of what his feelings would be on the subject, transition for me would be at most social hence it wouldn’t influence him when we ar

after the carnage

No the fascism that plagued Europe in the early 20th century isn't coming back. After all, that included an important element of expansionism and killing or imprisoning of dissenters. However where the overlap lies is in the blaming of immigrants for what ills a nation. In places like eastern Europe we are seeing a stronger response from what used to be fringe groups. France has its own nationalist party under Marine Le Pen and even after Brexit you began to see chest beating among Britons who pined for a more monolithic culture before their emerald isle was invaded by foreigners. The United States under that insufferable windbag Donald Trump is now appealing to low brow sentiment through the smoke screen of blaming media, the courts and immigrants for the nation’s malady. Let's recall that Hitler’s early foray into power saw the same attempts at discrediting the Jewish media and indeed chief propagandist Joseph Goebbels was charged with the campaign to undermine their cred

open to being surprised

I think that the secret to life isn’t about getting what you think you want but rather about gaining wisdom to deal with the reality we have been given. After all, how much about your life and your circumstances do you actually get to choose. Yes we pick friends or our spouse but even then the reality is that each of those comes with their own set of constraints. What people today call mindfulness is really the old axiom of living in the present with the knowledge that much of what we hope or even dread will happen usually doesn't. I don’t see this as fatalistic but rather as a positive way to navigate the circumstances you have been cast into while being open to discovery. It is about making the best of the road you are on. So while you may not have perfectly chosen your path, you can choose your outlook and be open to the surprises which might be in store.

conservatives picked the wrong girl

Kelly Herron did not want to be the poster girl for conservatives wanting to discriminate against transgender people. After being attacked by a homeless male sex offender who jumped her from behind in the woman's bathroom she held him down using her self defense training until police arrived. When Kelly found out that this attack was being used as leverage by a conservative group to prohibit transgender people from using the bathroom corresponding with their identity, she had this to say: "Last week I successfully defended myself against a violent sexual assault in a public restroom at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle, yelling “not today, mutherf*cker!” But I’m more upset now than I have been all week after seeing that a political group is using my face, my name and my story to fundraise for I-1552, a ballot initiative that deliberately targets and harms transgender people — including friends whom I respect" Kelly I just want to hug you right now. https://thinkprogr

more disaster to come

Well “Donny Tiny Hands” is really screwing the pooch now and his vision of making America great again begins with a disastrous health care plan followed by a disastrous budget. Cuts to the environment, cuts to the arts, cuts to federal jobs (except for the military of course) and of course cuts to NPR and Public Television. Lest we forget: more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. As expected the Republicans are doing a hatchet job and will do more damage in 4 years that someone else will need to clean up later. Congressional Republicans like Paul Ryan will get theirs when the mid-term elections come and their horrible policies have already begun to affect their constituents. In the meantime I don’t understand why Bernie Sanders just doesn’t start his own party and grab the millennials with him. This way the establishment Democrats will have no choice but to play ball with him…


I found the link to this movie on Sandra Lopes's site. It is called "Normal" and deals with a transition late in life in a very dignified manner. No one understands this subject, not even the person doing the transitioning, and the outcome here is less important than the wonderful performances most particularly from Jessica Lange who plays the beleaguered spouse trying to understand while dealing with the societal backlash against her husband. I think it is worth your time to see it...

looking past cross gender arousal

Jack’s latest Crossdreamers post got me thinking about cross gender arousal and how it could be avoided; also whether it even matters. This with particular focus on the inability to relate of someone on the outside looking in. You see, sexuality is a very complicated thing to begin with and when you then add gender identity ambiguity it becomes a recipe to really confuse someone. So imagine that you are a little boy who identifies as a girl but then along comes puberty and short circuits everything by having the sex you identify with also be the sex you are attracted to. For in essence this is what happens to all all male to female gender dysphoric trans persons who are attracted to women. So I ask myself: can I imagine a scenario where this inherent contradiction would not produce sexual confusion? The answer is that I cannot. I am in the unique position, like many of you, to have experienced an early identification with the feminine become sexualized later on. This brought co

you want snow??

This was my street this morning after the huge snow storm that struck the northeast US and Canada....going to be fun digging out later. Good thing I brought my laptop home.... As I walked over to attempt to begin clearing off my car, I was trudging through snow that went past my knees. Reminds me of my adolescent days in Montreal in the 1970's.

sorry but no one is going back into the closet

Transgender rights are human rights. As more transgender people come out of the woodwork, society tries to figure out what to make of them. Some people are having little trouble accepting however among social and religious conservatives there are those going into tizzies as their circuits threaten to overload. The key question revolves around empathy and respect for a person’s right to self-determination versus what conservatives love to describe as respect for the reality that God has created. In other words, for them being transgender is an abomination and a choice which is why so many go back to the biology of birth sex to base their argumentation. The problem is that being transgender isn’t a choice and if people are created this way then the entire basis for their prejudice falls apart. It was all much easier when transgender people either transitioned in stealth or were hidden away at home in their closets. But just as the public face of homosexuality forced a dialogue in s

I don't get it...

One of the most powerful countries in the world doesn’t believe in looking out for its citizen’s health preferring to see it as a luxury instead of a basic right. With the repealing of Obamacare by Republicans, which was already a watered down compromise thanks to free enterprise loving conservatives, it will now leave 20 million Americans without coverage. Republicans love to extol free-market capitalism and will apply it everywhere. Sure you can have access to great health care in the United States; you simply need to be able to pay for it. So if you are one of those blue collar coal miners who lost their job you are fresh out of luck if you need a colonoscopy because you might just have to declare bankruptcy to get it. When I had my carotid artery dissection which led to my stroke I was in the Montreal General Hospital intensive care unit for 10 days and it cost me nothing. My taxes took care of that and while you may be triaged in an emergency room and need to wait a few hour


“Love” stars Paul Rust and Gillian Jacobs and is about two "thirtiesomethings" trying to feel their way through the complexities of a modern relationship. Both characters are fleshed out and we see their backgrounds and the baggage they each bring to the table. Gus is a Midwestern nerd who tutors a spoiled teen actress during her breaks from filming a television series while Mickey is researcher for a narcissistic talk radio relationship therapist who cannot get his own house in order. What I like about the show is that among the comedic moments there are true statements made about the fragility of human nature and the doubts and fears that prevent us from loving ourselves while we reach out to others to love us. We first meet characters whose realities are then sculpted more fully to reveal their tenuous grip on a balanced existence. In spite of relationships today being tinged with the humour inherent in such things as texting misunderstandings, this show demonstrates

right in the pocketbook

Burlington Vermont shop keepers are getting worried as they depend heavily on Canadian patrons. The Church street mall is a lovely cobbled stone avenue with cafes, restaurants and shops where I have be to a number of times in my life. Vermonters are also generally lovely people. But lately they are seeing less Canadians venture over the border as more of them are being turned away. Last week it was a Canadian born young woman of Middle Eastern heritage being refused entry into the country. The reason has yet to be explained. Welcome to Donald Trump’s America. On television a board of trade official was being interviewed for Canadian news and distanced himself from the current politics by stating that Vermont runs counter current to the happenings in Washington and I believe him. The northeast is not like the rest of the country and most Americans there are of democratic bent. They also see this with the same sense of shock and awe that we do. But their government has been tak

I finally learn a lesson

I don’t understand people sometimes. I was working with a singer for the last couple of years and suddenly out the blue he sends me an email warning me to remove all of his vocals from my compositions. He made it sound very legal although I knew he didn’t have the financial backing to follow up. Apparently his impetus was that he had decided on his own to make compact disc copies for sale which were eventually not to his liking and when I declined to buy them from him he decided to quit unless I paid him $1,000 dollars. We had stated from the outset that this was not a commercial project (although nothing was signed legally) and any proceeds would be divided 50/50 even though I was doing most of the work in composing, arranging and recording my own songs. Hence I decided to grant his request and proceeded to remove his vocals rather than succumb to extortion. Not more than 3 days later he had a change of heart and decided he wanted back in except that I know better and the type o

just Grace

Stana put up a link in her post yesterday about the "To Survive on this Shore" project which is a chronicle of the lives of some older transgender people. In there I found the interview with Grace to be the most poignant. Grace is 56 and is living her life on her terms now after surviving the grueling dark ages when we all thought we were mentally ill and couldn't put a name to what we were. In the short interview (which you should definitely read) she states: "In the '60s they called me a sissy. In the '70s they called me a faggot. In the '80s I was a queen, or they called me a queen. In the '90s I was transgender. In the 2000s I was a woman, and now I'm just Grace."


Donald Trump is clearly unhinged and I am having trouble understanding anyone who can look past his juvenile antics and still support him. The latest ruckus involves accusing Obama of wire tapping Trump Tower with no basis in reality. Even the FBI director emphatically insists that this is a falsehood. All of this is probably an attempt to deflect attention away from the Russia scandal which continues to plague this psychotic administration. My wager is that eventually a smoking gun will be found where back room deals were made in exchange for helping this dysfunctional narcissist to gain power. I would have more ease knowing that an adult was in charge and now the likes of Mitt Romney or John McCain would look awfully good compared to the sitting president. Indeed we now have concrete proof that you need neither grace, class and most importantly previous experience to gain power. In this age of information we can be bamboozled by means of fabricating an image which is then echoe

my constant companion

Throughout my life my piano has been a constant companion. It was music that got me through adolescence into adulthood and focused my energy when things weren't going all that well. Music also fed my soul like no other activity I have ever done. Today my composing and recording continues to keep me motivated even as my career does not provide the creative stimulation I need. No matter what else happens in my life going forward it will continue to be the baseline I can return to for comfort and security when other things are not as reliable. I think that probably Billy Joel expressed it the best...

the road

Those of us who have lived longer than we have left to go often take stock of things. We see the segments and sequences that led us where we are today. So when I look back, I realize little about my life has been routine or expected. I can see portions where I thought things were going to stabilize only to see the apple cart be overturned once again and segments where the wonderfully unexpected happened. I know I am not the only one who can say this because there are surprises in store for all of us. I have lived most of my life inside my own head and have reflected on everything the way a cow chews its cud which has been both good and bad. Yesterday was one such day where my history came back to me with particular clarity. I don’t plan anymore and just take things as they come because all of my assumptions have been dead wrong. The only constants have been my ability to analyse and adjust using the values instilled in me by my parents as a guiding compass. Life is challenging

fixing the income gap

The world’s 8 wealthiest men are as rich as half of humanity and Oxfam bases its calculations on data from Swiss bank Credit Suisse and Forbes. The eight individuals named in the report are Bill Gates, Inditex founder Amancio Ortega, veteran investor Warren Buffett, Mexico's Carlos Slim, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Oracle's Larry Ellison and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. This statistic is more flagrant given that the middle class is disappearing and Donald Trump tells America in his speech to Congress about bringing things back to normal. How odd that this is an anti-Republican message that bristles against unbridled capitalism that they so loved in recent years. Much of the problem was created by deregulation which Reagan began but which Bill Clinton actually accomplished by negotiating things like NAFTA. The idea was that by opening up free markets everyone would win but of course it was a fallacy with the ones most profiting

it was a set up

Steven Crowder and Ben Shapiro don’t do subtle. They are both loud and smug and love to point out the obvious that men have “outies” and women have “innies”. But I do have to hand it to Jess Herbst for appearing on the Steven Crowder program which was clearly a set up intended to make her look ridiculous. Even the camera angle on Jess’s computer was not helping matters. Of course we know that on the issue of sex and gender Crowder doesn’t know his ass from his elbow but it is easy to use the vacuum of general knowledge and even the marked disagreement between the “experts” against the credibility of transgender people. It makes it more expedient to just call them mental defectives or part of a social movement of choice. The kind of people who cheer Crowder on are Bible thumpers and knuckle draggers who themselves don’t want to think any further than looking at a person’s genitals. Notice however that when Jess brings up the issue of intersex people, Crowder sloughs it off as a st

I come out to two other people at work

This week I came out to two other people from my work. It was almost inadvertent but the first young woman and I have shared a bit more intimate level of discussion than average for some time now. She tells me how her life is going and how she feels about things and so since our meeting ended early and we were in a closed room, I ended up telling her I was transgender and tied the whole thing together with our common colleague who saw me the other day in the downtown core. I went into an abbreviated story of my background and her receptiveness was so refreshing but then at 32 years of age I shouldn't be too surprised. I even showed her a picture of me as Joanna and she exclaimed “wow, how do you do that?!” At the end of our talk she gave me a big hug and we parted ways. The other young woman is someone I am even closer to as she and I share Latin heritage and we hit it off years ago during a project due to her openness and earnest character. She is also in her thirties and