Thoughts and ideas (plus a little gender theory) from an intellectually curious transgender person.
- “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you are out in public there are two things you can do: one is to worry about how you are being perceived while the other is to go about your business and be yourself.
I have lived both of those scenarios in my life and I can assure you the latter is much more pleasant. The first happens not only to people who dress as the opposite sex but also to transitioned women who don’t always escape scrutiny either through certain physical traits, voice or mannerisms. It also happens to anyone who doesn't fit into a cookie cutter mold of conformance whatever their difference may be.
What was the biggest change in me that allowed me to pass from one stage to the other? my own attitude which is ultimately the only thing you can control. I was simply tired of worrying about what others might think. The alternative is to live in fear in a world that is full of people just waiting to pounce and you only give them power by simply showing that fear.
Having online chats with my friend Sherry is not only cathartic but also just plain fun. Some people would describe her as the archetype of the early transitioning androphilic but I just think of her as the sweet and lovely lady that she is. Sherry and I met online about 10 years ago and she helped me with my struggles before we lost touch except that now we have re-established contact.
Sherry is aware of her sexuality, how it makes her feel and how it impacts her partner and men in general. She also knows what types of clothing and shoes suit her body and that women possess more sexual power than men.
Many transgender people, myself included, worried about cross gender arousal and what it meant. Did it disqualify our transgender feelings somehow? was it a sign of perversion?
The answer is none of the above.
I wrestled with this issue in this blog for a long time but finally concluded that the set of circumstances that create a transgender person also help create a unique sexuality t…
A former school mate contacted me and asked if I wanted to meet someone. I bristled at first then hesitated and finally thought what the heck.
We met this past Saturday after me having cancelled once by email saying that I didn’t really want to enter into anything right now.
She was a perfectly nice person and very well educated to boot and her father had been my high school French teacher as it turns out. We spoke for 3 hours and I laid all my cards on the table because by this age I don't do any form of pretence. It went well and the conversation flowed nicely.
But then yesterday I weighed everything and decided I am not going to pursue anything but I cannot explain why. Maybe it’s the general feeling that I don’t want to go through all the work again. My life is far from perfect and yet I can manage things on my own better than if I add another set of constraints to it. Relationships are hard enough without dysphoria added in for good measure.
I must plead ignorance in trying to understand why any transsexual woman would want to self identify under a model where they are considered mentally ill men. After all, Blanchard says you are either a homosexual who desperately desires sex with heterosexual men or you are a heterosexual who wants to have sex with himself.
But without scientific proof that this model is correct why embrace it about yourself? After all, it has a negative outlook on transition as treatment for gender dysphoria. In addition, the vast majority of transsexual women are high functioning and continue to be after transition and suffer no more from mental illness than the rest of the population.
Even if you identified with the “homosexual transsexual” diagnosis there would be no advantage either as Blanchard did not establish hierarchical preference in his writings and for that matter neither does Anne Lawrence. In other words, you are still left with two sets of mentally ill men with barely a mention of femal…
This is a fascinating read about what it is like for trans men and how their lives change after they have transitioned. They blend in better than trans women and can "pass" and disappear into the background more seamlessly. As the article points out:
"...And that cultural sexism is often more visible to trans men, because most say they find it easier to be low-disclosure than trans women. They’re often not recognized as trans, which means they can be less vulnerable to obvious transphobia. Some call it “passing” or “going stealth”; others say those terms suggest secrecy or deception, preferring the term “low or no disclosure.” In practice, this means that a 6’2” woman is often more conspicuous than a 5’4” man. James Ward, a lawyer in San Francisco who transitioned about six years ago, put it this way: “We have the ability to just walk through the world and not have anybody look at you twice.”
They have gained more respect from society but have lost the ability to be mor…
I just heard this morning on NPR that the Trump administration is optimistic that Jared Kushner is going to negotiate a Middle East peace plan and all I can say is whatever they are smoking I want some. The word on this whole thing from the Palestinians is that they want their own state which is what past administrations have tried to help them achieve while this one couldn't be closer to Netanyahu.
Meanwhile race relations in the United States continue to become terse under this new era of empowerment for fringe right groups who saw this election as a sign to come out and be seen.
So to look for a bit of sanity in commentary we turn to Bill Moyers.
He was Lyndon B. Johnson's press secretary and a distinguished journalist for many years. He is an intelligent and dignified man and an old school reporter with many decades of service to his profession. Lawrence O'Donnell is no slouch either and listening to both of them is sheer pleasure.
Recently my friend texted me that he had broken up with his girlfriend so I called him straight away. He tells me she seemed to be unsure about what she wanted and he was tired of being the diligent boyfriend doing his best but never quite meeting expectation.
I wrote about this recently; the complications inherent in relationships and mentioned him in that entry.
He, like me, is the oldest in a large family and for him doing things for others is a way to show love. So, he would mow her lawn when she wasn’t there and would take things in stride when she found some reason not to be available to get together but then complain they didn't see each other enough. They each have a child and both being divorced it seemed like a balanced pairing but then it wasn’t. He never could quite measure up so in the end it was he who cut the cord realizing that this was going to be a steady state condition going forward: the boyfriend who couldn’t quite meet expectations.
Long Tall Sally is a store that sells garments and shoes for taller women and I have ordered from them before online. They are located in Mississauga so I decided to pay them a visit in person. They carry women's shoes up to size 15 and believe it or not I was told some women actually need that size.
There I met a young woman who worked there who must have been 6'2" and was very secure about her height which you could see that by the way she carried herself. So I went up to her and said:
"I bet people stare at you at the mall don't they?"
To which she responded:
"Yep you too I bet right?"
"Yes but you seem to be very secure about it" I said
"They can look at me all they like" she said to which I added was a great attitude to have.
A few days later a lady came up from behind me and said:
There is something very powerful about being more in control and the master of when and how I want to express gender; aside from work of course which is not a situation I am going to change at this stage unless I transitioned and changed companies.
This is the most comfortable I have ever felt with my gender dysphoria management which is a far cry from where I was even 10 years ago. Have I progressed towards transition? You could say that but then transition is entirely what I want it to mean and I have chosen that to signify moving from one state of unrest to one of more calm and balance.
I don’t feel angst, am not conflicted and am letting life take me organically where it must without feeling like I am swimming upstream against the current. My children's increasing autonomy is giving me the freedom to redefine my life completely and being away from home has been beneficial in helping me push a reset button.
The new reality is a reshaping of what used to be a very defined role …
I think she exudes energy from both genders as it captures a moment in time mid-transition. For some people this could be an unsettling image and yet I find there is something captivating and almost noble about it.
Regardless of what you think of her she has a right to treat her dysphoria which no doubt has been gnawing at her for a very long time. She is just one more transgender person in this world trying to fit in and find a comfort zone so she can live in peace.
She will look different again in a year or two but this moment in time is worthy of capture on film because it speaks directly to the discomfort that many people who shun us have regarding ambiguity of gender and how it manifests itself.
To them I would just say take a long hard look. She doesn't bite.
The Trump presidency continues to disintegrate and with his latest mishandling of the Charlottesville affair by actually defending the Neo-Nazi thugs who voted for him he has reached a new low. He has repeatedly proven himself to be a morally bankrupt idiot and it appears the late night comics like Seth Meyers are now doing less comedy than political commentary.
Thank God for them too because if nothing else they are standing up for what is right.
Trump can't help but add fuel to the fire because he is wired like a thin-skinned bully who just won't let things go which only makes the comedy that much more poignant. His vacillating back and forth on the statements he made is to try and have it both ways of course: keep the part of his base which is blatantly racist happy while appearing to admonish the alt-right fringe movement but not too harshly. So far the statements from the far right seem to be proving this assumption to be correct and no doubt Steve Bannon must be pleased.
Increasing transgender and transsexual visibility and acceptance in society has begun to embolden different people on the spectrum to come out from hiding confirming what we already suspected: that gender identities are not built exactly on a rigid binary and, when left to their own devices, people will choose to express these variances.
It was about time too and that stifling set of rules kept people in their little closeted world for fear of rejection and violence.
If you read Zagria’s blog you will have noted that historically many transgender people would live as the opposite gender with no access to surgical or hormonal assistance. Some even married and it is hard to believe that their spouses would not have known about their situation. Perhaps their marriage was chaste or the spouse was told a story about some sort of genital birth defect.
One of Zagria’s recent entries is about James Allen (1787 – 1829) who was discovered posthumously to be female bodied after dying in a work-r…
“Oh my God I love your bracelet!” said the Starbucks barista. She is a young woman in her twenties.
The other one comes over and says much the same and suddenly the three of us are talking and it just flows. The latter proceeds to tell me things I know I would have never heard as a male.
For the record the bracelet was an $11 find at the Toronto Eaton Center and had called out to me with the price making it an easy sell. Like some costume jewelry, it looks like it’s worth much more which is a bonus. Later that day I got another comment from another vendor who pointed it out how much she liked it.
Being on my own here and spending more time as Joanna has made things less lonely if nothing else because of the openness that women have and my own impetus to oblige them in conversation or start one myself is part of that. It is very comfortable and the reflexes are there and don’t require any special prompting in order to surface.
As a side note, that same day I decided to wear my feather …
Christopher Nolan has created a cinematic feast for the senses.
His film Dunkirk flows along with long periods between speaking parts and with the continuous hum of a Hans Zimmer score that marks the tension perfectly. This is a great film which will be nominated for best picture and possibly win it all. When the ending credits began to roll I knew it then.
This movie breaks with war movie convention and delivers most of its impact through its expansive cinematography, soundtrack and actor's faces which mark the desperation of the situation with just the right level of angst along with their minimal but strategically placed dialogue. It draws you in and does not let up allowing you to be more involved than you had expected. I was riveted the whole time and that's what great film making is all about.
There is no one hero in this movie although one does stand out a little more. They are just people put under very difficult circumstances doing their best to survive.
I recently watched a debate between The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur and Ben Shapiro. It was supposed to be a friendly one between the American left and right.
At one point Shapiro said something revealing and tipped his hand. While discussing health care he said he didn’t want to be restrained by a system that kept him from doing what he wanted and getting the service he and his family deserved. He said he didn’t care about anyone else’s situation. Cenk responded that he could always supplement single payer with his own elective services if he could afford it but at least people wouldn’t get kicked off the insurance grid and potentially die.
But that wasn't what struck me.
American individualism worked well under a system when taxes were much higher like the 1950’s and 1960’s when there was a prosperous middle class with strong family units and community ties. As the social fabric has begun to dissolve that individualism has led to selfishness and disdain for those who aren’t part of …
I share my victories here with you to help give you confidence to be yourselves and face the world without fear. But then I am also not fooling myself; I am 6’1” and weigh 200 lbs and have a body more like a man than that of a woman.
I have learned that most people assume I am a woman and treat me like one but some people likely suspect otherwise and I am okay with that because I have taught myself to be a secure over this issue. If you are transgender and out you have little choice and, regardless, genetic women my size receive that much more scrutiny to begin with so you must be prepared for it.
I am treated just like a woman but that doesn’t mean people don’t suspect I might be transsexual or transgender and even if I took hormones my shoulders are broad and my biceps a little too big for a genetic woman; the byproduct of trying to counteract being skinny during a period when I was deep in denial.
Last Sunday I was on another train trip sitting in front of a woman who had wanted m…
Tomi Lahren is all of twenty-four years old and already abrasive and cocky. She looks like a Barbie with her long, platinum hair and could be described as a younger version of the other beloved right wing pundit Anne Coulter.
Both women use the no holds barred and pull no punches approach which typically appeals to the Fox News right-wing base whose “America First" myopia has them respond favorably to violent rhetoric.
“Let’s show them whose boss. Let’s carpet bomb the Middle East!”
Lahren will say these types of things without a hint of restraint and with even less decorum but she doesn’t care because her following tells her she’s on to something. It is the same crowd that is apparently fed up of diplomacy and political correctness and helped put an inept Donald Trump in the White House.
Politico ran a story on Lahren and the comments section showed the kind of vitriol that has now taken over America. There is outright hatred between the blue and the red factions that has no prec…
John Harvey Kellogg was one of two brothers who founded the cereal brand that many Americans know and grew up on.
He was a keen believer in clean living and, as a Seventh Day Adventist, he advocated no consumption of alcohol, meat and frowned upon all activities that would motivate a person to be tempted towards sin which included sexual practices. As the name implies, Seventh Day Adventists believed in the imminence of the second coming and would even not bother educating some of their children since there would be little point.
So even as an intelligent scientist who advanced our modern day understanding of probiotics and how they affected our digestive tract, he fell under the spell of Eugenics which was basically the belief in encouraging the selection of certain human traits implying that the white race was privy to most of them; something even president Teddy Roosevelt believed in. These types of ideas would be further advanced and developed by the madmen Adolf Hitler and Jose…
Al Gore comes off like a decent and well-spoken man.
There he was on NPR being interviewed for his new documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” where he once again tries to instill a sense of urgency for the dangers of climate change in anyone who will listen.
During the interview, he was measured and articulate. A far cry from the current charlatan in the White House who Gore tried, to no avail, to dissuade from pulling out of the Paris Accord.
During the 2000 election people decided that they would vote for someone they would rather have a beer with than a passionate intellectual like Gore who was accused of being haughty and stuffy but he would have made an excellent president and, were he to have been elected, there likely would have been no Iraq war.
Another thing that caught my interest during the interview was his staunch belief in the separation of church and state. Here is a man who went to divinity school and has his own religious convictions and yet is not compe…
This past Friday night was only the second time in my entire life that I have gone to a movie as Joanna.
There was nothing particularly eventful about the experience only that before the show started the woman next to me leaned over and said:
“Normally these theatres are so cold but not today for some reason dont'cha think?”
I replied that I agreed.
She dealt with me like one woman to another and I know for a fact that wouldn’t have happened if I weren’t presenting as one. It wasn’t just what she said but the way she said it and I have learnt to recognize and appreciate that approach very much.
Then it was meeting Jacqueline and her husband yesterday on the train from Oakville to Union Station. She asks me why I am going downtown and we begin a conversation. He is half interested and does not look up from his phone except for the odd time perhaps recognizing the flow of the discourse has taken on a decidedly female tone. By the end of the train ride she has given me her card and w…
No I am not against religion per se but the kind of religion that I grew up with seems to have transformed itself into one based on intransigence and intolerance.
The foundation of all religion is spirituality and the idea that we transcend the earthly and the physical world; that there is more to this life than what we can touch and feel and that humankind has not been graced with the full capacity of being able to comprehend the divine.
The small-mindedness of so-called “religious people” is what I find most disturbing and I see how they view their limited black and white world that won’t be soiled with any type of ambiguity; that is until they themselves touched by it somehow.
I now look at the unquestioning disciple with a healthy dose of skepticism because I cannot comprehend how one can live without some degree of doubt. The things we have been asked to accept verbatim almost demand that we correct our thinking as we move along in t…
I certainly don’t mean to sound callous or insensitive when I say things and yesterday’s post could have been taken that way. My message was about waking up transgender people to the idea that they are not pariahs and they shouldn’t have to beg someone to tolerate their “illness”
I have reached a stage in my life where my self-esteem is far more important than bending myself over in order to be accompanied in life. Believe me, I tried that way for years and it didn’t work.
Those of you who are currently in relationships where your transgender nature is completely suppressed I feel for you. But getting a taste of the freedom I am enjoying now there is no going back and my only plea to partners in a relationship would be to try and understand the other person before calling it quits.
Make no mistake, I don’t have much sympathy for the person who suddenly announces out of the blue that they are transitioning and expect the spouse to get with the program. If she ends up divorcing you it i…
I still see older transgender people and their spouses use the term “crossdressing” to describe what is essentially someone being themselves. No spouse should ever be lied to but then no one has the right to hold someone prisoner for something as utterly benign as dressing in the clothes normally associated with the opposite sex. No, its not like killing puppies.
Some women are disgusted by it and that is their right while others might be even amused by it; it runs the gamut it seems. But the double standard that says a woman can express herself with more latitude while a male is supposed to stay inside a limited track is disturbing to me and, should I ever enter any kind of relationship again, my identity will not be up for negotiation.
The truth is that we live in a world where we are supposed to be straight jacketed into submission and, whatever the cause of gender dysphoria, we should never allow someone else to call our right of self-expression a compulsion or a filthy habit simp…
Third Way Trans' most recent post (which my friend Calie featured on T-Central) has a powerful message to pass on and that is that a full transition isn’t for every trans person. He is not against transition by any means only that you should be 100% certain that this is the right thing because there is no going back.
I am reminded here that we are much more than just our earthly physical bodies and yet we live in a world constrained by them which renders these types of decisions important.
A while back and after some deliberation I decided I wasn’t going to tamper with my body in any way with the only thing outstanding being the consideration of a full social transition which is also presently on tenuous ground. During my reflection process I realized that I didn’t need to do anything further to be myself and I could adopt the best aspects of each gender and mold them to suit the psychology that I formed as a young child.
Changing my body would be in some ways like trying to subsc…