Showing posts from May, 2018


The little boy I used to drive around the block to get him to sleep has graduated from high school; one year later due to his battle with anxiety but with that same wonderful character he possesses fully intact. I couldn't be more proud of him. He has qualities that I don't have in his more developed kindness and patience and he now teaches me about these very things. He is also no longer a little boy and shows even more plainly the genetic traits of a grandfather he never met. He is shy and withdrawn but he will burn that off the way we all do and really make something of himself in this world; that award he won for academic excellence made that evident to me. Last night the banner hanging over the proceedings and the heads of the faculty read: "Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world; today I am wise so I am changing myself" and hopefully with that inscription in mind the class of 2018 goes off into the next step of their respective journeys.


"Victor was born The spring of 44 And never saw His father anymore A child of sacrifice A child of war Another son who never had A father after Leningrad Went off to school And learned to serve his state Follow the rules And drink his vodka straight The only way to live Was drown the hate The Russian life was very sad And such was life in Leningrad I was born in 49 A cold war kid in McCarthy time Stop 'em at the 38th parallel Blast those yellow reds to hell Cold war kids were hard to kill Under their desks in an air raid drill Haven't they heard we won the war What do they keep on fighting for? Victor was sent To some red army town Served out his time Became a circus clown The greatest happiness He'd ever found Was making Russian children glad When children lived in leningrad. The children lived in Levittown Hid in the shelters underground Til the soviets turned their ships around Tore the Cuban missiles down And in that bright Oc

the persistence of the Christian right

Some post ago I wrote about the United States not having been founded on Christian principles but instead on Age of Enlightenment thinking which was in many ways in opposition to this idea. Well here is an op-ed in the New York Times on the persistence of these evangelical groups to remake history and use their extremist thinking to bolster their specific brand of racism and intolerance. "What Christian nationalists know — and many of us have yet to learn — is that you don’t need a majority to hijack a modern democracy. You just need a sizable minority, marinating in its grievances, willing to act as a bloc, and impervious to correction by fact or argument. Make this group feel good about itself by making other people feel bad about themselves, and dominion may well be in reach."

movie is out

My daughter's movie is out and I attended the premiere last night which featured all 26 animated shorts. Of course I am a little biased but I was astounded at the result they achieved and it looks like some industry people are very interested. I am very happy and excited for her. I ended up not doing the music because what I had presented did not please her collaborator and rather than risk an 11th hour conflict they chose to go with an independent composer and paid a reasonable sum for the 4 minutes of music. Problem solved and my feathers were not ruffled in the least. Nevertheless the animation is what counts here and I think they hit the jackpot with this one. I couldn't be prouder of her after 3 years of hard work in this program and 6 intensive months on this film. Just to put things into perspective regarding the effort required, a 1.5 hour Disney or Pixar film can employ upwards of 500 animators...

the transgender exam

It looks like we are getting closer to conclusively identifying the brain structural differences of transgender people. Hence, if you suffer from gender dysphoria an MRI exam could eventually confirm that you are indeed transgender. From the story.. "Analysis of around 160 participants showed that biological males with gender dysphoria - the experience of discomfort or distress due to their biological sex - had a brain structure and neurological patterns similar to biological females, and vice versa. The analysis revealed that the distinct neurological differences are detectable during childhood. The findings, presented at the European Society of Endocrinology annual meeting in Barcelona, are likely to provoke controversy among groups who argue gender identity should be matter of personal choice and not medical definition" The last statement I disagree with since transgender people don't choose to be the way they are. You are either trans or you are not. Also I

a visit to the endo

I will admit I was a little apprehensive about visiting the endocrinologist and I had built up some scenarios in my head as to how it might go. For example, I imagined a quizzical look from a hospital admitter as she tried to make sense of the woman in front of her with the male ID on the medical card. Of course no such thing occurred and this young millenial woman treated me with utmost respect and didn't bat an eyelash as she took down my information. No doubt I am not the first nor the last transgender person she admits. Also my travel there by public transit was uneventful as to be ho hum but this is the way things have become for me now when out on public. There is no nervous thrill just the happiness of being myself. Then I check in with the doctor's receptionist and nothing special happens either. She registers me and says " Have a sit Miss and he will call you" Then I waited and waited and waited some more until 2 hours later he finally saw me which


A new study on the connection between money and happiness proves what we already instinctively knew; namely that beyond the basic needs of shelter and sustinance and maybe a little to spare we aren't happier when we possess more. The happiest people have strong human connections and a sense of community as giving them the greatest source of satisfaction. Not surprisingly, Nordic countries once again prove this metric is correct by being in the top 10 (Canada is number 7). All of them have strong social safety nets and put priority on people and not just economic wealth for the few. In other words, the idea of I get mine and I am not my brother's keeper is not part of the basic DNA of these nations. Which country is number one on the list? Finland. The US has a problem in that a 1% layer of mega millionaires controls everything but then half the population makes under $30,000 which is a staggering statistic. With these kinds of numbers there are many families who fall unde

everything is relative

My son, the nephew who had recently come out to his parents and I spent a day together recently. He is one year younger than my son and a proud gay young man who is very much investing himself in his identity and unabashedly expressing it to the world. My brother and sister-in-law know this is not a choice and yet they bristle at his pride regarding this issue. They prefer he be more subdued which prompted a conversation between the three of us. When my nephew asked me how early I knew I was trans he was flabbergasted at how long I was able to suppress it. Of course he had no way of relating to the world I was born into and how nearly impossible coming out was back then for most of us. Instead, his reference point was this new and braver period in our history. He impressed with his level of education on LGBT issues and proved himself to be a virtual encyclopedia. I recall being his age and struggling to find scraps of information on the T side of that equation while this young man&

the crazies

Trump's America has emboldened the crazies. Those who might have been less brave in an earlier time are now showing up on YouTube videos berating people. A man in New York who goes on a tizzy because restaurant workers are speaking Spanish; a "Latinos for Trump" Republican congressional candidate films herself going into the toilet to insult a transgender woman who is in the stall; at a Starbucks, a man demeans the woman behind him in line who is wearing a hijab and tells her he doesn't want to be killed by her kind. This is the venomous atmosphere encouraged by the lowlife currently holding the reins of power and a Congress too timid or too much in agreement to hold him accountable. There is a malaise in this version of America which must be addressed and the cockroaches which have come out to feast in this new hateful environment must be driven back to their dark spaces where they belong. Racism and intolerance are running more rampant because an administration

how this blog has changed over time

When I revamped the look of my blog one of the things I deliberately removed was the counter of people who follow it and to pay less attention to my traffic. Also over time my writing began to focus increasingly on what interests me rather than exclusively on trans issues. We are all the sum of a complex series of parts and those aspects are all important but in the early days of this blog, when I was struggling with guilt, shame and angst about who I was, I was single minded in my pursuit to sort out those feelings. I was writing for me and I didn’t particularly care who read it. It was my therapy and if another trans person responded it was a bonus. As my traffic increased I began to feel some pressure to keep the blog as interesting as possible which makes one think about the target audience and who will stop reading it if you express political views or focus too much on the technical aspects of being trans instead of being lighthearted. Hence I strove for a balance that I thought


I met Patricia who is the CEO of this new start up company and her husband. Their office is their home which is a unit in a converted 1940's school in the neighbourhood where I grew up. I am not going to leave my company for a tiny startup like this but I did promise to help them and will moonlight by providing some of my time at some agreed rate which I intend to keep very reasonable. Their project is green and sustainable to the environment and I find their bravery commendable in wanting to tackle something this substantial with limited resources. You could tell that Patricia valued my input and at the end of our session she told me I was an "interesting woman" and she was glad she had met me. The feeling was entirely mutual. So while this mandate will not be a gateway to a transition it will form part of my expanding identity in the world as an out transgender person.

style over substance

I wrote about Jordan Peterson the other day and now here is David Pakman, who is one of my favorite YouTubers, commenting on the rise of faux intellectualism and the draw it provides for some. Whether it's Ben Shapiro's abrasive mile a minute style or Peterson's haughty academic tone, it seems that style over substance is working on those who are starved for eliminating political correctness (also read as manners) in favour of a license to be more vulgar towards feminism, minorities or the dreaded liberal left. For the record, I prefer David's brand of intellectualism....

mad man moon

"Was it summer when the river ran dry, Or was it just another dam. When the evil of a snowflake in June Could still be a source of relief. Oh how I love you, I once cried long ago, But I was the one who decided to go. To search beyond the final crest, Though I'd heard it said just birds could dwell so high. So I pretended to have wings for my arms And took off in the air. I flew to places which the clouds never see, Too close to the deserts of sand, Where a thousand mirages, the shepherds of lies Forced me to land and take a disguise. I would welcome a horse's kick to send me back If I could find a horse not made of sand. If this desert's all there'll ever be Then tell me what becomes of me. A fall of rain? That must have been another of your dreams, A dream of mad man moon. Hey man, I'm the sand man. And boy have I news for you; They're gonna throw you in gaol And you know they can't fail cause sand is thicker than blood.

what I wish I had discovered sooner

Much of this life journey we are on involves disregarding the opinions of others. We are brought up to please and to meet expectations but at a certain point in time you need to be who you are and let go of things that people project on to you. We need to realize that if becoming you disappoints them then it is their problem and not yours. Many of us older transgender people got caught in the system of aligning ourselves with what we were taught and we learned early that our secret identity would not meet societal approval. Often this occurred through jarring and embarrassing episodes. The other day I read a letter to an advice column from a conservative mother complaining that her daughter was in a relationship with someone who was transitioning. But instead of agreeing with the mother's concerns, the columnist pointed out that she should be happy that her daughter is in a strong relationship and is an adult capable of making her own life decisions. She suggested that the enti


Franklin Graham defends Donald Trump with a straight face stating that it doesn't matter what he does in his private life because he has been chosen by God. This statement is an abomination and makes me wonder what makes these evangelicals tick. It is not possible to reconcile religious principles of Christianity with the kind of philandering and uncharitable life that this president has lived to date because what we end up with is hypocrisy. But as long as this clown supports their pro-gun, anti-abortion and anti-LGBT agenda they will vote for him no matter how unsavory his unapologetic character. You cannot now claim to be upholding your principles and support a scoundrel who thumbs his nose at them for you have now undermined your credibility. Graham, whose father was arguably the most famous televangelist America has ever had, proves he is not his father and that, in this new era of political expediency where bastardized religion sits right alongside dirty politics, anyth

what I want

Caryn brought up a very valid question in one of her comments recently which was at once very simple yet also paradoxically deeply complex: what do I want? To answer this you need to realize how much of what you want has fused itself with what one should do. Thus, the longer one has lived in a male role, the more challenging it is to separate duty from desire and, even if I have eliminated massive quantities of guilt over my life, it is quite clear not all of it is gone. There is also of course fear of rejection and needing to explain to the hundreds of people who know me that post transition things have changed just a tad in my life. What keeps me buoyant these days is the advancement by contrast with my previous life before self acceptance. However I am not sure that living two lives is even sustainable in the long haul; not to mention that I am increasingly comfortable moving about the world as Joanna. This is not about wearing pretty clothes everyday (which is nice) but more

a handy guide if you are trans but can't transition

I loved this piece because it is so positive. It is very much pro-transition but you will understand when you read it why this trans person is not able to. It's just a lovely little narrative to lift anyone's spirits coming from someone with some challenges who chooses not to let them get her down. Simply wonderful... "In the end, I may never be able to transition, but I do live in New York City, write professionally which is my passion, have talented friends and am married to a brilliant partner. There are days I feel trapped inside this faulty shell I was born into, but there are also days where I’m so happy to be alive that it hurts. And some days, even without the help of hormones, anti-androgens, or surgery, I still can eek out a little bit of pretty..."


Recently I bought one of those HPL hair removal units called Silk’n Flash and Go. I saw it at the woman’s show and had also remembered seeing it at a pharmacy in Toronto and had made a mental note to consider purchasing one at some point. I should mention here that I have had 6 treatments of facial hair removal over 10 years ago which all hurt like the devil but were worth the effort. What is left now is a mixture of dark and white hairs and I am told that this product could help with that. Even if it only helps a little on the face I know it works on the body based on the numerous testimonials on the net and the discussion I had with the couple that owns the shop where I purchased mine. Both had tried it on themselves to make sure they could sell it to their customers. It works with high intensity light much like a laser and kills the hair at the root. My aim is to eliminate or reduce the frequency of shaving legs, underarms and chest with any reduction in the face as a bonus. T

the YouTube populist

Jordan Peterson is a strange character. He speaks in utterances that are almost ambiguous and leaves the listener wondering if they have just heard some nugget of wisdom or he has missed the point all together. He is cagey and refuses to be cornered preferring to leave the interviewer to guess what his political stripe might be; the only thing he states for certain that he is an enemy of the radical left. Thus the alt-right has picked him up as the messiah for what ails the modern male except that Peterson will not fly their flag openly. Instead he distances himself quietly but not too boldly so he can collect his daily YouTube salary from the fanboys who cannot get enough of him. However, Mr. Peterson becomes less convincing over time as one listens to him and he prefers to provide terse responses to those trying to corner and paint him with the brush of their choosing to taking a definitive stance. All of this began with his likely deliberate misreading of Canada’s Bill C-16 whic

lunch with Halle

Halle and I met on a rainy day for lunch this past week at a Baton Rouge restaurant in the suburbs of Montreal. It was our second meeting and more profound and relaxed than our first; at least from my perspective. We both shared from the thought processes that got us to where we are on our respective journeys and lamented equally in why self acceptance must often take so long for a trans person. She is visibly in a good place after many years of struggle and the dysphoria has vanished into the ether of everyday lived experience which establishes itself when you finally know where you fit. Our waiter (who took the picture below) was friendly and talkative and at some point we were embroiled in an interesting conversation about his life as an out gay man with grown children. His message to them was to be yourself and don't let people push you around. The blurriness of the image below became fully appreciable only upon my return home but, nevertheless, I succeeded in having Halle

post truth

We are officially in the era of post truth; the period which celebrates falsehoods and where faithful adherers to a cause do not wince when they are stated. The point is to have them work and fulfill their purpose. Objective truth exists of course, but in the arena of the humanities it is easy to bend intent and purpose and have them mean what you want. We can interpret an action or an utterance by a politician as we wish and have no one be able to debate us with enough convincing counterpunching to topple our belief system. Lying used to be something politicians always did but it was bending meaning instead of actual events. But with the advent of this presidency we have had crowd sizes exaggerated and statistics invented which are easily fact checked and yet the faithful don’t care. They have found a messiah to believe in and will forgive the exaggerations as tactical bluster. Post truth is scary because in the echo chamber era of the internet people can be manipulated in ways

self diagnosis

Gender dysphoria has been very aptly and wonderfully described by Anne Vitale as "Gender Expression Deprivation Anxiety". This gap in our inner sense of self against an imposed standard we are to subscribe to for our birth gender is the culprit. We don't know how it originates but we know it is real because we live it from earliest memory. It can be ignored for a time however not indefinitely. I was over at her site recently and her impressive patient history (which exceeds well over 600) speaks volumes. It is reflected in the quality of the information found there. One of things I remembered reading and was reminded of once again was the impressive track record of her patients to self diagnose. Only a handful have turned out to not be gender dysphoric with the rest very clearly so. The other observed tendency of her patients was to understate their level of dysphoria with the greater the information revealed the more they tended to climb the Benjamin scale; a coordi

a precarious balance

I got a text on my cell this week from a trans person I hadn't seen for over 10 years. At that time each of us was married (he remains so to the same woman) and we met in a Montreal café which no longer exists to compare life experiences on being trans. The conversation flowed and we lost touch after that. But he reminded me during our brief text exchange this week how challenging living with dysphoria while being married can be; all the more so when that union is strong and we wish to keep it that way. When I was being treated at the hospital gender program in 2007 they were struck by how apologetic I was for being trans. I didn't give myself an inch and over time I came to realize that part of self acceptance comes with a little self preservation. So while our spouses tell us how hard it is for them, we wallow in repression and unfulfilment. Far from saying that we ignore the partner's wishes I am proposing that balance is not keeping our identities hidden in a closet.