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Showing posts from May, 2017

my kind of transition

Transition late in life brings a whole host of challenges all of which I have weighed in my mind at great length. This is why I have decided that were there to be such a thing for me it would be social. I don’t want my son or daughter affected by a sudden and drastic change in my presentation. Plus I have lived almost 55 years this way and my formula works if imperfectly. The time for a full transition would have been before children and before marriage. This doesn’t mean that I cannot make the best of the life I have made for myself and honour my transgender nature the way I have been doing increasingly well over the last number of years. There may even be a full or part time job at some point for me working as Joanna although that remains to be seen. I have also decided that the best way to leave myself that flexibility is to forget about a relationship of any kind. At this point in my life I am happy living alone and whatever person entered my life would only introduce a who

"Joanna do you have a hormone problem?"

“Joanna do you have a hormone problem?” Asks Grace who has known me for about 5 years and works at a department store cosmetics counter apparently and has always wondered whether I was born a boy but only today finds the courage to ask. I told her to be perfectly at ease. It must be said that I did not present quite as well back then as I do now and occasionally would miss stray chest hairs. She must have seen those and just never said anything. “Clearly you are a woman but you are large and you have hair” She mentions my voice and my demeanor as bolstering her confidence. Later when I got home I noticed one or two strays on my chest I had missed and made a mental note to never let that happen again. I chalk that up to declining vision and need to wear my glasses and make sure. For the record I have very little chest hair to begin with but that is no excuse for laziness. I didn’t go into my history with Grace as I rarely see her but I probably should have. She is a middle e

friendly banter

Suddenly the young woman sitting across from me on the metro asks me for the time. She noticed my thrift store bag with the purse I had just bought and I noticed her blouse which was a very funky pasley pattern and suited her perfectly. Turns out it was also a second hand find. "Very nice" I said as I pointed to her choice of garb and gave her the time. She then pointed to my bag with the same thrift chain logo where we had both scored our bounty. I bought my purse for a whopping $8 and it was genuine leather to boot. We bantered back and forth across the aisle about what a great deal each of us had made and then suddenly it was her stop and we wished each other a good day. Later that afternoon waiting in line at the dollar store the woman in front of me turns around and smiles and tells me remembers me from the Salon des Metiers d'arts which is the annual gift show at Christmas. She was a merchant and thought about asking me to try on one of her bigger dresse

victims to the caricature

To varying degrees we all suffer from the caricature that society has created for men and women. Men are strong and women are weak. Men are stoic and women are emotive. Men are more single minded and women are good multi taskers. While this may be true for some it doesn't apply to others but once the rules were made we were expected to follow suit. Breaking these norms takes some courage because you become the object of ridicule, the butt of jokes and even a victim to violence. For the first time in my lifetime and maybe in history we are starting to see a slackening of the noose and witnessing a new respect for the diversity that actually exists out there in the world. What this means for some men is the chance to define themselves outside of the macho, stoic provider and for women to be the natural leaders that some of them are. It will be about allowing our capabilities and not our gender decide what we can or cannot do. For those of us who are gender dysphoric it has als

the starbucks lady

Besides taking to hoop earrings I also have also recently started wearing drops that I bought at Claire's a while back but had only worn a few times. This picture was taken during a recent visit to a Starbucks....

learning to be ourselves

My mother has always been a natural lefty. When she was young the nuns would slap her left hand with a ruler in order to force her to write with her right hand. Every time she was caught disobeying that left hand would get a swift reminder. Many trans people have had much the same conditioning and whatever natural inclinations we had were shamed out of us until we learned to comply. I am now deeply embedded in the process and getting to know the person I could and maybe should have been. It is at once a complex and rewarding undertaking except one now devoid of the shame or guilt which muddied any attempts I made towards clear thinking. As a result it can now be afforded the kind of introspection it deserves. Some posts ago I featured Lizzie Velasquez whose life has been much more challenging than my own and yet she maintains a wonderful and positive outlook that focuses on where her strengths lie instead of feeling sorry for herself. This is what I had to learn as well. When I

sometimes on the cusp

There are always more pangs of jealousy in the summer. The dresses and the shoes are almost tempting you to run home and change and come back as you want but then reality brings you back. I am on that cusp where sometimes I ask myself if I am living a lie or whether I am just kidding myself to ever think I could transition to full time living. There is no right or wrong answer of course and in Quebec it only takes filling in a form and having a witness who knows you attest that you are serious and your gender marker is on its way to being changed. Many of us have been on that cusp where we are sure and then suddenly we are not and another 6 months go by. But I am on my own timeline and no one else’s. I have 5 years to go before reaching 60 and then something will happen or it won’t as I don’t intend to rock the boat before. But then there is that call from a headhunter that has you reflecting on a new job with a different identity and the possibilities linger on. I then ask mys

home of the whopper

a problem for our times

I clicked on one of those videos that pops up on your YouTube homepage. It was a TED talk on how to cope in a sexless marriage; what happens when one doesn't have the same libido as the other partner and how to deal with the frustration and hurt feelings that inevitably follow. It reminded me how intrinsically complicated human relationships are. In fact I don’t believe there is anything more steeped in mystery than a couple trying to wade through life with a coherent vision that allows for their marital longevity. At least I cannot claim any personal understanding. This woman, who professed a certain expertise in dealing with marriages that were faltering saw her parents' disintegrate after 23 years of never fighting; her mother surprised the family one day by saying she wasn't happy and wanted a divorce. The TED talk audience was told that this had helped her decide her life calling where she could deal with these marital problems of communication and had a certain

not thinking things through...

I pass better than some transgender women and have been using the ladies room without incident for many years except according to India Willoughby I shouldn’t be doing that since I don’t have female parts. India would rather I use the men’s room instead. Ms. Willoughby conveniently forgets that some trans women start off identifying as crossdressers and that some don’t have GRS for years if at all. But she would rather they risk bodily injury or simply hold it till they get home. By doing so she is aligning herself with conservatives who already see all transgender people as mental defectives. Way to go India. Now that you have transitioned you have become elitist and apparently also obtuse. If we remember our history bathrooms were not divided by gender in the US until the late 19th century and somehow society survived and, until we start seeing physical attacks on women by crossdressers, we can then debate the merits of Ms. Willoughby's grand idea which only helps fuel the

"To One in Paradise"

Music and lyrics by Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson IF I could see the sky above And my mind could be set free As wild white horses reached the shore I'd stand alone and oversee And if the bush before me burns Should I turn my eyes away And still the voices I can hear As clear to me as light of day I believed in my dreams Nothing could change my mind Now I know what they mean How could I be so blind Cold sands of time Sounds that come in the night Shall hide what is left of me Come from Paradise I've been through times when no one cared I've seen clouds in empty skies When one kind word meant more to me Than all the love in Paradise I believed in my dreams Nothing could change my mind Till I found what they mean Nothing can save me now..... "...And all my days are trances, And all my nightly dreams Are where thy grey eye glances, And where thy footstep gleams In what ethereal dances, By what eternal streams" (Edgar Allan Poe)

surprise surprise

Well look who is opposing Bill C-16 which would enshrine the terms gender identity and expression into the Canadian code of human rights it's none other than Jordan Peterson. The University of Toronto professor argues that biology entirely determines gender identity and uses a freedom of expression defense to call a spade a spade to allow him to deny the use of preferred pronouns. Except that Peterson is way above his head in these waters and isn't nearly well versed enough in gender theory to be able to make unequivocal statements. The ideological movement to blame for oppressing his right to free speech is of course the transgender lobby who has the audacity to ask him to be politically correct. Now where have we heard that before? Oh yes in every conservative's talking points. Presumably this would mean that Peterson would prefer to address a transgender woman like Janet Mock as sir or him based on his preference of a biological determinant. I know where Peterson i


Would I ever live full time? This is a question I have asked myself of late. I have no strong desire to tamper with my body and I don't think that hormones would add any more authenticity to my transgender nature. I mostly “pass” in the eyes of society although that doesn't really matter that much to me. So I suppose the only question remaining is whether I would ever transition socially to full time. One reason to do that would be to live and dress the way I want all the time and not need to switch back and forth. Not that I hide very much these days as I am out to anyone who matters to me. My daughter over breakfast the other day said she would get used to the change and was relieved to hear that no matter what I would always be her dad. My son didn't have that much to say which was negative but also chimed in that it would be an adjustment. I don't want to surprise them in any way as they deserve to be part of my thought process on this. There is no internal co

what made Trump

Here is Kyle Kulinski on his show Secular Talk focusing on a subject dear to my heart which is growing global income disparity. During his forum with Bernie Sanders, former president Jimmy Carter is asked point blank about what caused the Trump presidency and he rightly answers that the disenfranchisement of the working poor helped prompt their rejection of the establishment and to vote for someone they were led to believe would be a maverick who would buck the system and fight for them. That they were duped is less important than the dissatisfaction with the status quo and the belief that they are being left behind while others line their pockets. The other day on CBC radio a young woman from Cameroon talked of her first coming to America after having grown up watching television shows like Dynasty and Dallas and suddenly being confronted with inner city neighborhoods of Chicago and the stark reality they presented. Her small African village did not encounter the same prejudices a

museum Sunday

This past Sunday was a good day. I went to the Chagall exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and although I wasn’t a huge fan of his work before I grew in appreciation of his talents afterwards. My comfort while presenting female just grows and grows and I don’t fret about how I am being perceived; even while waiting in one of those line-ups which snakes around and people face you head on only to have more time to scrutinize you; what they see is a relaxed person waiting to buy a ticket. I even struck up a nice conversation with a nice couple from Washington D.C. before my turn came up at the teller. Later in the afternoon I ended up meeting my friend Lyne at a local coffee place where I am now a regular patron. As we were leaving and paying the owner offered me a rose and wished me a happy mother's day which I took as quite the compliment even as I declined the offer politely preferring to let someone truly deserving of the honor claim it. I saw my own mother on the Sa

iron clad

I have no need or urge to revisit AGP as I have dealt with it at great length in this blog. However, here is Felix Conrad using so much iron clad common sense and logic that it's hard for me to resist posting a link to his response to those still weighing its merits. Yes your sexuality has been impacted so whether you transition or not, just make sure to be happy in the process and live your life. Remember that AGP is just a narrative and not science but I will let Felix explain that....

Shapiro speaks

Ben Shapiro belongs to that new group of young and brash conservatives who think they know everything because they can rattle off a few skewed statistics and quote references in front of a college audience. If you watch this video you will see how he completely misunderstands what transgender people are trying to do which is fundamentally deal with their dysphoria. They are perfectly aware that they were not born as their target sex and also understand that what some of them go through is a gender role transition in order to quiet the noise in their head so they can lead normal and prosperous lives. But Shapiro thinks we are all stupid and continues to press the point that transgender people are confused about their situations even having the gall to suggest that the 40% suicide attempt rate is not linked to societal rejection which it most certainly is. However the fact it drops dramatically in homes where these kids are accepted and loved instead of rejected wouldn't fit well

call me a cynic

The Canadian Senate was presented with a proposed bill C-16 which would update the Canadian Human Rights act to include the terms "gender identity" and "gender expression" After the hearing, Marni Panas who was there testifying before a committee in order to defend these changes said this: "That's the underlying bias that really perpetuates this debate, that transgender women aren't truly women. That fact is I'm real," she said. "Let me assure you, somebody doesn't come out as a transgender woman for privilege. It comes at a great cost. I've lost my parents. I'm going through a divorce." Marni had thus far managed to keep her marriage and family together. Well now it appears that this is about to change and it is not so surprising to me for it is just not an obvious thing for a genetic woman to accept and certainly less so when the transgender partner actually transitions. I know of no marriages where the trans perso

to inspire

I think its fair to say that Lizzie Velasquez has had it tougher than most and yet she has used her disability and the negativity that some have thrust on her as motivation to excel. Throughout her life she has had a supportive family which loved her and helped her establish confidence and a sense of self worth which is so important in this life. This young woman will inspire you and if you haven't already seen this video you should...

consummate timing

The firing of James Comey makes sense only if there is something to hide. After all here is the man whose announcement late in the presidential campaign that he would pursue the Hillary Clinton email scandal endeared him to the Trump ticket who now sees that same man not helping matters by continuing to spearhead a deepening probe into Russian shenanigans. But where there is smoke there is fire and with his usual deftness and panache, Donald Trump has fired Comey just as things start to get interesting. That they will find something is likely with the only question how damning it will prove to be and could congress eventually be compelled to push for his resignation or even pursue criminal charges. Already some Republicans are beginning to distance themselves from the president and even Sean Spicer would rather hide in the bushes than face yet another onslaught of Washington reporters who increasingly smell collusion with a foreign power. Even he must be tired of defending the

more than okay

I walk into the pharmacy and the first section you hit is the cosmetics counter. Suddenly Angelique (I had forgotten her name which she later reminded me of) sees me and says: “Hey I was thinking about you this week” I hadn’t been there in months and maybe I am kidding myself that I am that unforgettable. So while she tended to a rude customer I browsed for a new lip color. When it was finally my turn we chatted a bit and I was reminded once again how commonplace things are now for me and how I don’t need to overthink anything. I can just be me. We didn’t speak more than a few minutes but there was a synergy and a sense of belonging that brings me comfort only that it’s hard to define any further. I finally decide on a nude shade of lip color and left the store thinking that rather than feeling a basic acceptance with being trans, for the first time in my life, I am more than okay with it.

knuckleheaded logic

Mack Beggs is a transgender athelete who has been taking testosterone as part of his gender transition and is developing the strength and musculature that comes with such a treatment. This is why he is handily defeating his female competitors which is the equivalent of winning under the influence of a performance enhancing substance. However instead of being able to compete against boys his own age, Mack is obliged under Texas law to continue competing unfairly against girls. The Washington Post rightly points to the fallacy of logic that has led to this situation, but in a Bible belt state like Texas, this is the equivalent of whistling in the wind. The reverse scenario works the same way in that male to female athletes lowering their testosterone to normal female levels would lose their male advantage which is why the IOC (using very stringent testing) has allowed transgender people to compete in the Olympic games. But the transgender reality goes against the belief that peop

cultural changes help us come out

Yes I know another video but you will love it trust me. Dr. Margaret Nichols is a sex therapist who has worked with transgender people for over 30 years. She has seen a dramatic change during that time and her first patients in the late 1980's and early 1990's consisted mostly of male to female adults who were intent on transitioning after years of repression. She saw almost no female to male patients and certainly no transgender kids to speak of. By the late 1990's things were beginning to change and she started treating her first female to male patients and as the years progressed she began seeing increasingly younger patients who were now braver in a more tolerant and open environment. In this video she expresses the reality of the varied world of gender expression and identity exceedingly well. I am so happy that people like Dr. Nichols are working to support us and help show the world that we transgender people are beautiful and valuable and part of the human m

moving beyond the binary

Ugla Stefania does a lovely job here of explaining the difference between sex and gender and the pressures we are sometimes put under in order to conform to the rigid binary. She expresses mostly feminine but does not identify perfectly as either woman or man. The reality is most people generally do fit within the prescribed gender rules whereas we transgender people do not and must find ways to deal with this fact. Ugla, who is Icelandic, has got her own formula worked out and I for one am glad to see another well adjusted trans person. I think you might find her TED Talk is worth the 14 minutes of your time...


The Italian lady smiles at me as I walk past and says in French: “you remind me of my sister in law” I smile back and wish her a good day. It doesn’t cost anything to smile and I have been doing a fair bit more of it over the last few years. People now see a happy person and want to engage me whereas before they sensed something was wrong because there was. All I need to figure out for certain is whether Joanna ever wins all or I continue to live like I do now. One does not push a reset button just like that after almost 55 years so good thing I am on my own clock. But if I ever decided to go the transition route it is extremely important to me how my children would feel about it and my path would be heavily influenced by their approval. My son matters the most in this regard. In the meantime, I am going to keep smiling and letting my life flow organically until something clicks into place knowing that no matter what happens going forward my gender issues have never been in a

not just about being feminine

How do you incorporate your feminine side in order to create a whole person? For that is what I am trying to do now. Since my transgender nature was such an unwelcome appendage for so long, the process of repatriation has brought the inconsistency of days when I am sure I should pursue a transition and others when I am just as certain I should not. I think this is result of my attempt to fuse the male and female animas into one person after they were estranged for so long. I sometimes read about transgender women who remain tomboys because they have managed to fuse both the male and female in order to craft a unique identity which refuses to be stereotypical. When we first start exploring our feminine side we are caricatures of women until we find our sea legs and reach a type of maturity that we can settle into. Would I be happier going to work or anywhere else and having the sartorial freedom that a woman possesses? For that is one aspect that I would gain once I cross that thr

I love Keith Olbermann

Republicans just rammed a bill through to repeal what they affectionately refer to as "Obamacare" and won round one by the skin of their teeth. Now it goes to the Senate. If it passes those poor Trump voters who lose their healthcare coverage will remember this and come the mid-term elections the GOP will pay dearly for their mistake. If anything most Americans wanted the Affordable Health Care Act improved and not dismantled. Now those who make over $250,000 a year can get yet another tax cut. Resist!....

find happy

dispelling myths

The website dispels 5 myths about transgender people that I wish everyone would commit to memory and respect: "An estimated 1.4 million adults in the United States identify as transgender, according to recent data from The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. Even if you don’t personally know someone who is transgender, there's much greater awareness for gender identity than there used to be, thanks in part to public figures like Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, and Jazz Jennings from the TLC reality show I Am Jazz. But still, many misconceptions about what it means to be transgender persist. Below, Jay Wu, spokesperson for the National Center for Transgender Equality, clears up five of the most pervasive myths. The myth: There’s only one way to be transgender People who are transgender do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. But exactly how that’s expressed can be different for everyone. It doesn't necessarily mean a transgender


For some of us settling into some sort of normalcy takes time. First come the early forays into our mother’s closets (which was the subject of a recent post) where things feel right and normal until we are discovered and perhaps scolded. Then comes the phase where we are certain that there is something wrong with us and do our best to suppress but intermittently fail. Here we might experience those first tentative steps out the door or perhaps only dressing at home intermingled with purges where we swear we will never do it again. One day we think we have found the right person and completely suppress everything and do our best to be “normal”. But eventually we realize that doesn’t work and we either dress surreptitiously or perhaps suppress until the pressure mounts to an intolerable level. Finally comes the last period of acceptance where we can no longer hide from who we are and we either transition fully, partially or find some sort of formula that honors our identity. This

religious orthodoxy and dysphoria

Isaac is an Orthodox Christian who suffers from persistent gender dysphoria. He has always wanted to be a woman and he is certain that this desire will never change and yet he has made a decision that God's will to make him a man is one which is immovable and unchangeable. Those of you who read my blog know that I support transitions but I can relate to what Issac is saying because my religious instruction has permeated my consciousness to the point where, if the strength of my dysphoria mandated I transition, it would make my decision that much more grueling. My solution to managing my dysphoria is not what Issac has chosen which, in his case, is to try and live with it and do nothing else. As he speaks you can see Isaac has struggled and continues to do so. His assertion that God makes people either male or female is not exactly correct however since there are people born with ambiguous genitalia and moreover gender identity arguably resides in the brain more than anywhere