Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2019

Schlapp

I think I have a good eye

Yesterday I went to the thrift store with my church friend Janet and she ended up finding some nice summer Bermudas and two T shirts. She trusts my eye and sure enough she looked great in what she purchased.

While she was trying things on I couldn't myself and assisted a twentysomething young woman buying heels for a wedding. She really appreciated my help and at one point I found her some Michael Kors for $10 but then they were the wrong size. I wished her well once Janet was done and we went on our way.

The entire purchase came out to $17.

keeping up with the Joneses

My politics is based on one fundamental criteria: social justice. Is the application of the governance, law or policy steeped in it or devoid of it? This is one reason you would understand that I am not a conservative because conservatism is nothing more than keeping a status quo while leaving government out of everything.

The fundamental problem with private sector market philosophy is that its primary goal is to make a profit for investors which does not necessary coincide with the right thing to do. Hence if the drug coverage of a patient with black lung is too expensive, the insurance company actuarial model says the solution is to let the patient die.

Corporations do not function morally, they function so they can have positive financial statements which is understandable. The problem comes when the appetite of the investor is never satiated which is almost always the case. Hence properly applied level of government combined with private sector operation is the key to a successfu…

no reason to change things

I’ve known Leticia for about 8 years now. We met at a clothing store where she was working, ended up having coffee and it went from there. She is one of the women I know who doesn’t know I am trans.

We ate brunch together this past Sunday and it was nice to see her. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and she was given 3 years to live. Four years later she is still alive and well and is a living testament to doctors not always getting the diagnosis right.

I am not going to divulge anything to her at this point because there is no need to. Our relationship would be best described as socially cordial but not overly close and, in my opinion, we don’t see each enough to warrant disclosure. Every time I have thought about telling her I discount it. There are people we get very close to and others remain somewhat at arm’s length and she is in the latter category. Although when we do see each other it is always pleasant, and we tell each other we will see each other again soon.

Leticia was …

a distant memory

My father knew he only had a few months left to live. The announcement at the oncologist’s office a few months earlier had been for me like a direct punch to the stomach and I can only imagine how he must have felt. I went back to work that afternoon in shock and recall my father's usual stoicism as the doctor calmly explained things to him. It might have seemed like he quickly resigned himself to his reality but leaving his family behind must have been heart wrenching.

Some months later I was driving my parents north of Montreal in the beauty of the Laurentian autumn foliage and Mozart’s C Minor Mass was playing on my car’s cassette player. My father was looking out onto the vista with a look of wonderment as if he had never seen such beauty before.

I will never forget the look on his face.

milestone

This little blog has just passed 700,000 page views, reached its highest ever daily views and is just a few days over 7 years old. In my mind, at the time I began it, it was supposed to only last a few weeks.

If in July of 2012 you had told me that I would be writing it for this long I wouldn't have believed you but then life has a way of working in strange and unpredictable ways.

So much has changed over that time that I can scarcely believe it. I credit this little vehicle with helping me to do much heavy lifting in dealing with the trauma stemming from the denial that I had been trans my whole life. There's been so much change in me that I no longer entirely recognize the person who began writing it.

Let's see what the next 7 brings and thank you to all who read my thoughts.



the politics of passing

There is no question that blending in makes things a lot easier. Once I became entrenched in my own self-acceptance I was able to use the physical advantages to disappear as much as I could into the cisworld; if not perfectly than at least well enough to have most people ignore me. If I were shorter it would be even easier although lately I saw a very attractive young woman who must have been 6’3” and no one questioned her gender because she was the living picture of womanhood.

Passing privilege must affect mindset. A Janet Mock doesn’t think the same as a Miranda Yardley because they are a different species. One is an attractive woman who could easily pass for cis while the other does not blend in at all. Perhaps because of this reality, Yardley does not think that transwomen should be called women.

Perspective is everything.

My friend Sherry transitioned young and thinks of herself as just another woman. She has dropped the trans prefix which works fine for her as you would never th…

"send her back!"

Donald Trump knows how to bring out the most basic and ugly sides of human nature. His rallies invite the massively uneducated to rail against foreigners especially if their skin isn’t white. You could be forgiven for thinking it couldn’t happen in 2019. The chants of “send her back” were chillingly reminiscent of another era.

I have come to a better understanding of how Nazi Germany could have been created. A country in economic crisis sought scapegoats and it was convenient to pick on the Jews. Add to that the Nazi ideas on the Aryan race and natural selection of the fittest humans and you could see how the extermination of the than less perfect could have been sold as legitimate theory to the underbelly of that society.

Let us recall that it was perfectly normal at that time in the Western world to believe that blacks were a lesser species of human.

We like to believe that we have come so far and yet 4 in 10 Americans still support this poor excuse for a human being which shows us…

humble

The scientific revolution brought something new: the concept that we didn’t know everything. Before its inception the world was largely based on religious and moral dictates all of which were contained in scriptural ancient texts. We didn’t need to know why the hummingbird can levitate or the butterfly comes from a cocoon; it wasn’t part of needed information to live. We could just ask the local parish priest for answers.

Once we began to develop the language of mathematics to capture the movement of planets and objects moving under gravity and were able to see microorganisms did we begin to realize that there was much more waiting to be discovered. The world was more than just about moral and religious dictates meant to tell us how to govern our behavior. These discovery processes seeded doubt into simple ideas about celestial bodies. Suddenly the earth wasn’t the center of the universe and slowly began to realize that there were other universes begging to be studied and mapped.

I li…

cinema show

facial hair

The combination of using the Silk'n hair removal system and my hair naturally whitening has had a dramatic effect on my face. I now require very little foundation to make my face look smooth and feminine and it takes me between 5 and 10 minutes to do my makeup and achieve great results. Using less makeup also means less discomfort on summer days.

I wholeheartedly recommend the Silk'n flash n'go system for the entire body and even for the face however patience is the name of the game. Use it religiously and the results will be there over time. The image below is of me at home without a stitch of makeup on and you can see how clear my face is.

A real gift for transwomen on a budget who cannot afford expensive laser or electolysis or at the very least an aid to those methods.

If you have tried it please let me know how it went for you.




Victoria

Victoria is very chatty which is fine by me. Whenever she sees me she tells me about her life as a student and Starbucks employee. She is in her mid twenties and quirky in that cute artsy way. Bespectacled and blonde, her black balaclava threatens to touch the top rim of her glasses.

She is going to Ireland with her parents in August and she has never left North America. She carries that same excitement that my daughter did before we left for our trip to Spain.

In some ways I feel like a mother to these young women and cherish when I can give them little pockets of guidance they might want to use. As it did with Lina recently, it fills me with huge satisfaction to help in any way I can.

The only thing we didn't know up until this past week were each other's names.

"I'm Victoria by the way"

"I'm Joanna"

"Nice to meet you Joanna" she says as we shake hands.

en guarde

In love there is no way to self protect because to love deeply involves letting one's guard down. This is a basic human law.

Therefore I have always wondered about people who are able to slip in and out of relationships. It makes me wonder about the level of investment.

Maybe it's me who is naive.

dress

I really like this dress from Jacob and I am extremely fussy with dresses. It is a deep navy bordering on black and is accented with spiderweb-like patterns which give it a very attractive look from a distance.

It is also very comfortable, the perfect length (I am not pulling down all the time) and I often couple it with the ballerinas I am wearing in the picture and some pendant earrings. I always feel pretty and feminine when I wear it.

I don't often wear dresses but this one is one the few I own which isn't going anywhere.




lie to me

We all lie to ourselves; we have to.

When there are things troubling about us they cannot be digested whole but must instead seep their way into our conciousness in more palatable morsels. Otherwise the shock is too great.

So we tell ourselves that things are not really that bad and we don't really require as much repair. Instead we are simply misunderstood. In this way our true imperfection cannot be reflected fully back to us.

The truth is painful and it most likely lies somewhere between the self deception which allows us to sleep at night and what our worst critic tells us about ourselves.

The trick is knowing exactly where.


The Way Up 4

precipice

Evangelicals played their card and lost. If their morally challenged president doesn't get a second term they have forsaken the right to moralize against the next one. How could they when they accepted the bottom of the barrel to get what they wanted.

In that sense, the current incarnation of the Republican party is in tatters. This ragtag pool of white nationalists, pseudo religious zealots and other assorted special interests wanted nothing to do with the old party. Their zeal for power allowed a kind of extremism to seep in which had never before been seen. The ugliest and most basic instincts of people were allowed to germinate under a man with no discernible civility, intelligence or moral compass.

Can you easily come back from this precipe of radicalization and reclaim your credibility?

I for one don't think so.

health

Health is everything and without it we can focus on little else. I don't take mine for granted and know how fast that can change. I thought of this as I saw Leila struggle with her back pain this morning. She hadn't slept a wink the night before.

She is supposed to have back surgery which she is deeply frightened of and I think with good reason. Still, the prospect of living life with that kind of pain motivates her to go through with it despite the risks.

I await my own surgery for the benign growth which has attached itself to nerves near my achilles tendon. Again, there is some risk but I am told the chances of success outweigh it.

Mental health first and then physical. Exactly in that order.

you can't unring the bell

George Will is right. This loathsome presidency has gone to such a low point in political discourse that it could become a new norm. In other words, it may be emulated.

Even if Americans vote out that reprehensible piece of garbage he has opened Pandora's Box...


cloud 9

I am off today and Jacinthe saw me sitting there drinking my coffee. She was all smiles and said

"Oh wow I haven't seen you in ages!"

I used to visit her store on occasion and buy women's fashions when they were on special. We hadn't seen each other for, well for ages.

We started talking about our lives and then our kids. Hers (a daughter and a son) are 33 and 28 respectively and she confided in me that something had been wrong with him for the longest time but she had not been able to pinpoint it.

"Oh Joanna he came to me crying and told me he couldn't live like that anymore. He told me he was transgender!"

My heart skipped a beat. She was going on about the hormone treatments and how happy she is now. Then I just had to speak up:

"You know I am trans right?" I said in French.

Her eyes widened into two saucers

"What?! No way I had no idea! Its like I was meant to run into you today. I would have never known!"

She gave me a huge …

time warp

Below is my high school graduation picture taken back in 1979. I had no clue what I was going to do for a career or whether I was ever going to get married. I was painfully shy and had been immersing myself into art and music which helped take my mind off my gender issues. When things got extremely heated on the dysphoria front I would wait for an opportune time and crossdress when no one was home or very late at night when I could sneak out without anyone noticing.

I was very thin and extremely passable with very little effort required. My mother's closet had been my primary source of women's clothing since earliest memory. Over the course of my childhood I had been confused for a girl on numerous occasions.

I don't think anyone ever tried harder to fit in.

I cannot entirely put myself in the skin of that nervous young person anymore and wouldn't go back to those years; not without the mind I possess today.

I might be tempted to go back to tell her that everything wa…

dysphoria combat aids

I use my reading glasses to inspect my body for stray hairs and if I find any on the chest (which is already extremely sparse in that department) or the legs, it is taken care of immediately. For this very purpose I carry a lady shaver in my purse at all times.

Having hair on my body makes my dysphoria worse and eliminating it has the opposite effect. Keeping my toenails painted year round is also one of the simple pleasures I indulge in which helps quite a lot.

These may seem like small things but they make me feel so good and help reinforce my femininity.

On another note a very nice lady struck up a conversation with me on the metro platform yesterday. We have seen each other a few times and we say hello to each other. Then later on one in a group of three ladies asked me about the soda drink I had ordered.

These are also things which feed my femininity and help combat dysphoria.

If I only had a brain

It's spelled Al-Qaeda idiot...

the power in self defining

John McLean is an enigma; a well spoken and literate young man who you could be forgiven for mistaking for a beautiful and extremely well-groomed young woman.

I have watched a few of his videos and came away with the feeling that I was witnessing the power inherent in self-definition. John is a human entity who exists outside of the gender binary and reverses its conventional idiom to suit his own needs. He identifies as a man but presents entirely as a woman because that is how he is most comfortable and there is nothing more complicated to it than that. Although to attain this level of confidence requires the type of thick skin most people do not possess.

If only we all did.


weakness

Imagine trying to understand the actions and thought process of another person when you can barely comprehend your own. This is what everyone in society does and we struggle to find our way through life in a world full of unpredictability.

The Buddhists say to eliminate craving which will then eliminate suffering because it is in the desire for something we think we want which breeds our unhappiness. But then no one succeeds at attaining Nirvana because the human condition prevents it from happening; we are just not that powerful a race of beings.

The recognition of weakness and inability to always cope is what can maybe break us free from our prisons. There is no shame in failing and trying again until some semblance of what our goal looks like is attained. It never will be reached but to stop trying is akin to stagnation. That is why I forgive my foibles more easily than ever and it is in this light that I can relax in my imperfection. I have all the worldly possessions I need, and …

how gender impacts everyday life

why we write

I have thought about this blog going into hiatus many times before.

After all, I am a different person than the one who began writing it and over its history I have made an extensive exploration into my psyche which ended up saving my sanity. That is how serious this part of my existence was.

I began this blog when I was hurting badly; trying to come to terms with a breakup and an understanding of why my lifelong battle with gender dysphoria could not be better coped with. I needed tools and a better understanding of the science if I was going to reach true self acceptance.

The most important lesson I drew from my journey over the last seven years is that there is a great deal of effort which must go into forging our characters in this life. This is particularly true if you stand out and you cannot seem to get with the program no matter how hard you try. To a great degree I was a pleaser and thought that by following script I was doing right for myself which turned out not to be true.…

aftermath

thrift store purse

I think I have a pretty good thrift store eye and I found this virtually new bag for $6 that I could not pass up.

It's from the chain "San Francisco" and I love it!


what to do

Emma’s comment to my post about having coffee with Leila made me reflect. We as trans people have an interesting dilemma sometimes in dealing with how much to come out to others. If we blend in to the extent that we are taken for cis females what is our obligation in revealing that we weren’t born that way?

Many older transwomen chose to transition in stealth and for good reason: society wasn’t ready for them back then and the backlash would have been dramatic. Because of this early transition, many were spared the effects of prolonged testosterone exposure which means that they were able to blend seamlessly into society and, in some cases, even marry men who knew nothing of their history.

Today this is virtually impossible, but we do have situations where many of us can pass for genetic females and have some people know and others not. When we meet new people, we must decide to what extent we want them to know our history especially if they are not close friends. There is no simple a…

the road not taken

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference"


- Robert Frost


poo poo brain

Well, maturity-challenged Donny Twitter Thumbs is at it again and trying to really scrape the bottom of the political barrel by telling 4 congresswomen who know (as so many others do) that he is an incompetent nincompoop, to go back to their country. Never mind that three of them were born in America and a fourth became a citizen in her teens, Donny the racist just can't help himself and put down the first thing that comes into his teeny tiny head.

Watch this incident have absolutely zero impact on his poll numbers proving that the office of the president might as well be filled by a chimpanzee who would at least be more gracious. Maybe they can being Bonzo out of retirement to try and bring some dignity back to the white house.

The mind boggles.


the doorway

conservatism's raison d'etre

Conservatism with respect to social issues has been proven historically not to work for the simple reason that it is embedded in the idea that societies shouldn’t grow or evolve. For example, attitudes towards women’s rights and divorce were positively arcane at the turn of the 20th century and yet there were massive structural changes which ultimately made things better for society. Women would no longer be held captive to economics and need to marry men they did not love. They began to establish independence in choosing who to partner with. All the while the movement of conservatism would have seen them stay exactly where they were.

Today the issues have changed, and we see sexual and gender identity and racial harmony at the forefront of the fight for liberation and once again conservatism is there putting on the breaks towards progress. No one would dare dream to send women backwards in their gains and interestingly not even conservatives who themselves now benefit from these very…

coffee with Leila

Leila and I are going out for coffee soon.

She works at the market bakery I frequent on early Saturday mornings and over time we managed to hit it off. We are close in age and she is a lovely and happy person who is always kind to everyone she serves.

Leila lives alone in an apartment very close to where she works and her schedule is as open as mine is. She is another piece of the puzzle in slowly building my life as Joanna.

I have no plans to come out to Leila but will do what I have done with other women I know, although if the circumstances are right perhaps I will. For now I will just enjoy her company, compare life notes and perhaps even laugh a little.

true believers

Yes, they're out there and they are for real. This is the 21st century and we have been to space since the early 1960's. We also have satellites regularly orbiting the earth taking pictures and yet they persist. They are people who believe the earth is flat and it isn't a joke to them. The problem they have is that we have known conclusively for hundreds of years that the earth is definitely not flat.

This tells me a lot about human nature, not only the gullibility it regularly exhibits but its mendacity in the face of irrefutable facts. In light of this type of lunacy, believing that Trump isn't an idiot conman is truly child's play.

You will find their videos on YouTube and the platform's algorithm will encourage them because they want to keep both skeptic and true believer watching.


walk

Some evenings I like to go for a walk in my neighborhood. I wear shorts, a T, my ballerinas and minimal makeup. It's working very well and its just another way to experience life as Joanna. I most often do this on Sunday evenings after it cools down.

I feel very comfortable doing this.

This evening I stopped for an ice cream cone and struck up a conversation with the young woman who served me.

It's all good.


attitude

If you are out in the real world very often and don't necessarily blend in as well as you might like, you need to prepare for occasional odd looks and stares. While you might think ignoring is always the best way to go, I find that having an attitude and a bit of moxy can be extremely helpful sometimes.

For example, people don't want to get on the wrong side of me and I will meet prolonged stupid glares with a penetrating nasty stare that usually takes care of things; that or a disparaging smirk. It doesn't matter that it doesn't happen very often but I am ready nevertheless. I don't care whether people think I am a tall woman or am transitioning or a man in a dress; rude is rude regardless. This happens to anyone in society who doesn't quite fit in some fashion. It also happens to women (trans or cis) with creepy eyed men.

Today I am an extremely confident person and that has helped me to put my best foot forward in feeling comfortable with myself as a woman i…

plateau

I described to a colleague over coffee recently where I am in life; I told her it was like sitting on a plateau. This was contrasted against climbing an incline as I was before except I didn't realize to what extent that was true.

Life makes you react only after things have happened and being on my own, although not part of the original plan, changed the rules of the game. I don't think I would be at that same plateau otherwise.

I was far too conservative for that.

Days of small surrenders

Netflix is carrying the Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City and if you only see one episode see the one called "Days of Small Surrenders" because it is brilliant.

It is the origin story of Anna Madrigal who is a transwoman in early 1960's San Francisco and the protagonist of this limited series. Trans actress Jen Richards plays the young version of Madrigal..




FOX dumbells

You cannot say meathead enough times here and David Pakman uses his usual brilliant analysis to call out these disingenuous knuckleheads...


challenges

My entire life to date has been an exercise in dysphoria management but the last few years have been particularly significant because it has allowed me to play with what transition might look like. I have done things that 20 years ago would have petrified me to my core such as standing in front of a room full of hundreds of people as Joanna and discover what a non reaction looked like. In fact most of the challenges I thought would be insurmountable turned out to be child's play compared to defeating my own internal demons.

Having a life as a woman named Joanna who is a known entity to many people has been deeply eye opening and has removed the negativity that I couldn't possibly ever transition; no matter in what form.

This turned out to be wrong of course and the experimentation going forward is to see what is right for me devoid of fear and apprehension and with no rule book other than my own.

I could very well stop here and be happy with the massive mental transition proce…

No, I don't mind

When Halle and I last got together the woman serving us said:

"I can't wait to get home and take off my bra you know what I mean ladies?"

Arguably the statement wasn't the most elegant thing to say to perfect strangers but it made me reflect.

The thing is I don't mind wearing a bra because it is one more reminder that I am trans. Feeling my breast forms pressed up against my skin and cupped within the confines of my bra makes me comfortable and is another piece which contributes towards soothing my gender dysphoria.

There are days when the combination of the feel of my bra and forms, the pull of my dangly earrings and the feel of my feet in heels is a powerful combination which feeds my soul. I used to think this was me fooling myself until I finally admitted that my identity is being affirmed through these accoutrements. They are like badges that allow me to be addressed and treated in the manner I want; like a woman.

The gender identity of cis people is fed in …

working and poor

50 percent of Americans have less than 500 dollars in savings which means that the next financial crisis that comes along puts them immediately in the red.

Also think about the crushing student loan problem where some of these twentysomethings have upwards of $100,000 in debt that they must pay back and they are barely even able to keep up with the interest payments.

So while that numbskull Rump likes to extol the low unemployment rate, none of these problems are on the radar if we just talk jobs. You can very easily have a job and simply be part of the working poor in America.

Republicans don't want to hear about those people because they are the ones their "trickle down economics" myth fails. Conservatives are far too busy lowering taxes for corporations who offshore and then make more money for their investors. They simply distract the working poor with wedge issues like guns, abortions and how to further advance homophobia and transphobia.

Some of these poor people e…

back when the lights were turned off

All things considered most of us did okay for damaged goods. The effort expended to turn us into what we weren't didn't kill us and perhaps arguably made us stronger.

I am angry at no one for this because we didn't know what we were doing back then; no one did. It was all a trial and error approach which failed more than it succeeded but at least our parents turned us into survivors.

Young trans kids today cannot possibly relate to our times because the lights were turned on from the time they were born. They didn't pass through decades thinking they were deeply flawed humans in need of reparation, exorcism or the forgiveness of Jesus. It turns out that we were perfectly fine as we were.

I consider myself a relatively good person full of the same human flaws as everyone else. A person who just happens to be trans.

Isn't that wonderful?


epidemic

Lina is 19, cute as a button and has anxiety; the same as my son. She admitted it to me as she served me and I mentioned his own struggle with it.

I explained a few things to her about his treatment and what medication he is taking. She was fascinated to hear it all.

This is an epidemic borne out of over sheltering combined with social media frenzy which puts pressure on these kids to attain the unrealistic before they understand most of it is illusion fabricated by a vapid society.

"I hadn't seen you for quite a while Madame but I'm glad I did today"

"Me too Lina. Me too"

I just wanted to give her a big hug and tell her things would get better with time which I know they will.



I love this generation

At the metro recently an early twenties black woman sets eyes upon me:

"Oh that's so cool. Miss are you trans?!"

I thought for a millisecond but seeing I was in a rush and she was going to want to talk to me I responded thusly and later regretted it:

"No but that happens to me sometimes" I said

"Oh okay"

She says sounding a little disappointed and walks away apparently disenthused that I wasn't. Next time I will take the time to chat.

I just love this new generation.

heel hacks every girl should know

I haven't tried all of these tips but I do wear heels quite a bit over prolonged periods. So if you're like me, you may find these useful to help deal with any discomfort they may cause you.

By the way, Chase Amie also makes nice fashion videos you might like...


the echo

Our brain is an echo chamber from which there is no escape with ease. It is why people go to therapists to walk outside of it and get a different perspective. It has nothing to do with intelligence level.

People convince themselves that they are unworthy of love or that they cannot find motivation within themselves because of a lack of confidence and they must leave the confines of their own thinking to find a way out.

I can strongly relate to being trapped in my own mind for many years.

Echo chambers exist more than they ever have today and on every level; whether they are rooted in the political, religious or nationalistic issues. One escape is to be able to entertain differing input and be willing to possibly having your mind changed.




by a thread

Thinking that we are all basically hanging by a thread brings me comfort. The thought that this should make us want to live every day as if it were our last is the primary benefit.

I am not spending any more of my life worrying about things but will deal with them as they come, calmly and with a level head.

Our life is not always in our hands but while we are here let's make the best of it we can.

We leave the rest to God.

quasi conventional

It took me a long time to accept that leading an even a quasi conventional life was going to be impossible for me. Eventually the concept was abandoned in favor of a more realistic model of who I was, which removed a significant amount of pressure from my shoulders.

I don't know why I refused to yield for so long but I suppose it was related to not wanting to try so very hard only to finally fail. But then if you are a fox why are you trying to be a tiger? It was probably that fundamental and yet I refused to see it. My happiness has increased significantly for having made that admission.

The pressure on pre-internet era reared trans people was huge and religious orthodoxy only exacerbated matters for me. But in the end, it turns our that change is possible for everyone; even for me.

Natalie's way

the power of dysphoria

Even if I live part time, my dysphoria can rear its head during the workday and its been doing that of late. You just never know when it will overflow.

I have been managing mine for over 56 years so I know how to do it but that doesn’t mean it's by any means easy. Sometimes I think that the older and the more self-accepting we get, the more challenging it becomes to continue to try and live in two worlds.

Right now, the plan is to continue like this for another 3 years which I should be able to do (health willing). However, I can imagine getting closer to the target date and becoming a little anxious.

Any change of life will do that, but this one will be particularly significant.

I've seen the saucers

our Jim Crow era

It is important to know your enemy which are, in no definitive order, TERFS, so called “conservative” Christians, pseudoscience coming from agenda motivated researchers, and generally transphobic right-wing bigots.

The reality is that because it is so well spread across age, race, creed, occupation and social class it is obvious that the trans condition is not an organized system meant to usurp society. If that were the case, we would see more deliberate and organized patterns instead of the tiny pockets of activism we are witnessing. Like gays and lesbians what we are is not a choice and the scientists who study us support this statement without hesitation. That doesn’t however prevent false beliefs from spreading among the self-interested pockets of society who prefer we just go away or at least remain deeply marginalized.

Gender dysphoria is a well-documented reality that has been extensively researched for about 120 years. At first labelled a medical illness or disorder it has bee…

little adjustments

Now that I need to wear less makeup my face does not perspire in this July heat which is wonderful. I admit to avoid staying out in the hot sun for long periods but I would do that regardless.

I went out in my black patent stiletto pumps yesterday and this particular pair is so comfy it appears I have no issues with prolonged wear. I think that the brand and the fit are very important.


the power of makeup

Of course it helps to have an androgynous appearance to begin with..


solitude

I spend a lot of time on my own thinking.

I am not sure if I ever feared being entirely on my own, but for a very long time that idea would have seemed so foreign. First, I was the eldest of six feeling, by my early thirties, a strong responsibility to a dying parent, then I was a spouse and shortly after a parent to two young children. The dominos fell in succession until the great unraveling tore everything apart.

Today I have become accustomed to solitude, but I don’t say it is superior. It simply is what it is.

But it does afford one that freedom to move about both unhindered and unjudged. There is no person to give excuses or apologies to which for years would have seemed to me a surreal concept. It has allowed me to reflect on who I am and what I need which would not have happened while in the company of another who would perhaps understandably want some say in that process.

Life is deeply strange and magical at the same time and sometimes there is just no sense in it. It plays …

God only knows

"I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I'll make you so sure about it
God only knows what I'd be without you

If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on, believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me
God only knows what I'd be without you

God only knows what I'd be without you
If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on, believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me
God only knows what I'd be without you

God only knows what I'd be without you
God only knows what I'd be without you
God only knows what I'd be without you...."



fortress

Over the years of writing this blog I have discovered something which is fundamental: life shouldn’t be about you trying to fit into confines to be accepted, it is instead about becoming yourself and having people accept you on those terms. It sounds simple but many of us did the reverse growing up.

I never go to the early posts from this blog but recently I did and what I saw was a person in pain who was trying to figure out how to accommodate being trans in their life. There seemed to be no reconciling the life model I had been taught to espouse and the reality before me; the reality that I was drastically different from the norm.

Seven years and countless posts later, I am a changed person who, while recognizing the sometimes-daily challenges we face as trans people, will not bend or apologize for the way we are. There is just no point in it. The conclusion I have come to is that you must build your own fortress and protect it from the outside and then welcome those who embrace you…

Lullaby

"apt natural I have a gub"

Classic Woody..


you will be missed

Stana’s was one of the early blogs I read before starting my own. She represented someone who could balance being married while expressing her brand of femininity; all the while encouraging others to do the same. Some people like her have transitioned while others have not; we all have our personal way of handling an innate gender variance which at its furthest point extends to full blown transsexualism.

We all make choices in life and Stana chose to respect her marriage vows while pushing the envelope of what is possible if one is a decent person who does their best within the context of our circumstances. She helped some out of the closet and others to be braver than they already were; all with sense of fashion and style which she didn’t apologize for (show us those great gams). She had her own unique flair.

Things have improved immeasurably since 2007 for the trans community and there is still more ground to make up, but I would like to think that she had a hand in pushing the batt…

kicking up sand

Are you surprised Iran is rebelling? I'm not. The US has been sabre rattling and threatening action against them even if it was the US who pulled out of the deal between the two nations.

American meddling in Iran is well documented including putting in place a puppet in the form of the Shah who was eventually deposed. You cannot go into regions, kick up some sand and expect there will be no repercussions. But many Americans are not cognisant of their own history and won't bat an eyelash if there is military action against Iran. This is most true of those right wingers who get erections every time the US employs some military muscle.

Apparently sanctions just aren't enough for the John Bolton types.

For example, that patriotic fossil Lou Dobbs from FOX was getting all wet recently when he heard draft dodger Trump was going to bring out the tanks on the 4th.

Jingoism at it's best.


the candy store

Yesterday afternoon Patricia texted me and asked if I would join her and her daughter for refreshments. We ended up meeting downtown where they already were doing some shopping.

After meeting up with them and chatting over our drinks, at Patricia's request, we wandered over to Sephora. It was interesting to watch her teen daughter already gravitating towards pricey creams and cosmetics when she has flawless skin and big eyelashes but they do start early because the store was full of women mostly under 30. The older ones are too smart to pay $33 for a lipstick.

The one thing I buy there is their foundation which I admit is excellent.

Still, it was fun to browse with her and see what products she gravitated towards. The store is indeed set up to look like it sells candy and for young women perhaps this is far better than the sweet confection.

Patricia's daughter also confirmed to me that she hadn't known I was trans until Patricia told her which was really neat to hear. She…

The Triumph of Bacchus

Seeing "Los Borrachos" (as this painting is popularly known in Spain) up close in the Prado museum was one the great pleasures of our trip. I am a massive fan of Diego Velazquez and this work of his is, in my opinion, one of the great works of art of the last 1,000 years.

Completed in 1629 it is probably his best known painting after "Las Meninas". This is a massive painting that would take up an entire wall in your home.

A great master at the top of his craft.



the plan going forward

Even if I am not medically transitioning, I am nevertheless reflecting on the mechanics of how to live going forward. I am almost certainly going to work as a woman as well as spend a good part of my private life as one but interacting with my family will not change because I don't have the energy or the desire to convert them; I simply don't see them enough to warrant that kind of effort.

The same goes for my children who are increasingly independent and spend less and less time with me which is entirely normal at their age. They support me wholeheartedly because we raised them to be lovely intelligent people, however I have nothing to prove to them.

That still leaves a huge chunk of my life which I can lead on my terms without compromise and no other person left to disappoint. Now I only need surround myself with people who truly support and appreciate Joanna.


a pat on the back

The truth is that being trans is really complicated and we can go through down periods just as easily as we can experience highs. We try to balance the way we are while being in coventional marriages or have transitioned and worried about repercussions from co-workers or family or even discovery by a partner who may not know our history. It's all rather challenging.

Life is not easy to begin with, now add to that a structural difference that is so fundamental, it strikes at the core of society. It's just not something that is grappled with without some very harsh life moments. It's made most of us weather beaten and tough and if we survive to get to some semblance of stability we have really earned it after most likely taking our lumps.

So I raise my glass to all of who balance this difference and manage to make your lives work through the innate challenges that come with it.

Let's pat ourselves on the back just a little.

the new upstairs neighbor

My new upstairs neighbour is a wonderfully gracious and cultured 70 year old lady from France with roots in Algeria.

She knocked on my door this afternoon and we had a lovely discussion about her new neighborhood. She knew I was trans from her daughter in law who is partnered with her daughter and so she is a strong ally of the LGBTQ community. You can see there is a strong free spirit lurking behind those brilliant black eyes of hers.

I know I am going to adore having her as my upstairs neighbour.

we animals

I've been trying to comprehend humans all my life which includes understanding myself. We have amazing capabilities but can also easily fall prey to pettiness, victimhood and compulsive and destructive behaviour.

There is genetic predisposition coupled with social indoctrination which shapes us and we then spend the rest of our lives undoing the damaging aspects of that very formation. The world we are born into already has its rules and regulations which we learn to digest as unquestionable fact until we examine them more closely with our intelligence.

There is hatred, cruelty, jealousy and discrimination by all manner of difference which drives the human animal but there is also kindness and altruism of the highest order. This is the playing field we are cast into.

By now I am old enough to recognize the patterns and do my best to avoid contact with the poisonous aspects of our existence while recognizing that I have some responsibility in helping to eradicate them.


crossdresser or transgender?

It took a while for Sophie to figure this out but finally she did by dressing as often as possible. She eventually transitioned because she realized there was more to it than she thought.

Here are her reflections on the topic...


All the president's henchmen

Answer the question Kellyanne...


flux

We are in a constant state of flux; call it self improvement if you will. The changes can sometimes seem imperceptible until we look back and realize their combined magnitude over the years.

Time passes so quickly and this is noticed more as we age and begin to slowly run out of road. We have less time left for changes but also the advantage of urgency coupled with a filter which is almost gone. We don't have patience for fooling around.

It is precisely in this environment that we want to become the most authentic version of ourselves we can muster.

no big deal

Recently I was having lunch with the ex-colleague whose daughter is now his son and a transwoman sat down close to us. We both realized and eventually I said something to the effect that I had seen her and that I never approach transwomen because I don’t want them to think that they stand out or that they are being watched. I stick to this rule regardless of how I am presenting.

I estimated that she was in her mid-forties and, because she had grown her hair out as well as pierced her ears plus it was a weekday and she was dressed for work, she had obviously come out there and was working as her true self. I am always impressed by this but again I do mind my own business.

I also noticed that people around were basically ignoring her despite her size and the fact that she didn’t blend in nearly as well as other transwomen I have seen but this is what made it so great. She was just someone having lunch with a female colleague and it was no big deal.

Yesterday afternoon I was in a very bu…

demagoguery

live and let live

If any of you watched Natalie Wynn’s (Contrapoints) latest video called "Transtrenders" you will see how clever she is. In it she addresses the entire argumentation thrust against trans people from the outside but also that which is used within the community itself which attempts to create a hierarchy. For the record, Natalie has herself transitioned and documented the entire process on her channel.

In the end her conclusion is simple: live and let live because we have come to a point where proof of a medical condition isn’t going to be the answer. Instead it will be respect for human dignity that wins the day and allows people to lead the lives they need to. We must realize that, to a great degree, gender is performance and if you resonate like a woman then that is what society should see you as. There is no need to go further and it is no one’s business what anyone’s genitals look like.

Those who like to blur gender on occasion or identify as non-binary may be questioning …

apparently I'm cool

“What do you think of Joanna?” asks Patricia of her 15-year-old daughter when I wasn’t there. I was informed later of her response.

“I think she’s very cool and has a good head on her shoulders” she responded. For the record I think the same about her.

It's not easy to grow up and even more so so when you’re trans, it’s the 1960’s and 70’s and you don’t know what is wrong with you; why you can’t seem to fit in like everyone else.

Today I am happy that Patricia thinks of me as her big sister and her daughter embraces me as a kind of adopted auntie.

It almost makes up for all that grief.

Harlequin

save the right

a kick on the backside

I could have slept better last night but I did not because I went to bed knowing I was going to see Dr. Morris today. I got up, got dressed and had some breakfast and took an early metro into town to get some work done before the appointment.

I had decided to wear a simple T, a faintly polka dotted navy skirt and my black patent pumps. I arrived early and other patients weren't there, so in I went with him whistling happily ahead of me.

"I can't very well see patients who aren't here now can I?"

We sat down together in his compact office. You could almost feel the gears in his brain turning at 200 km/hr.

"My dear you look absolutely fantastic. Whatever you're doing keep it up"

It must be said that Dr. Morris is wonderfully eccentric.

"You know Joanna, 1/3 of my patients don't follow through with a medical transition and live like you. If this works for you then keep it up. I think it's wonderful"

"I must admit that I have tho…

incompetence

The worst thing you can say to me after the latest multi-daily metro delay is:

"Merci de votre comprehension"

Please don't say that because it's annoying.

Montreal is under construction; not just parts of it but the entire city. One day city hall woke up and decided to start every project on the same day. Yes, our 378 year old city is getting a facelift and not a single budget or schedule is being respected.

Except I know how the public sector works. It is full of incompetence because there are no consequences; after all, it is only taxpayer money.

I've worked for 30 years in the private sector and we have no such leeway. Our clients want accurate estimates, schedules and project execution and when I see what is happening here it makes me despondent. We would be fired for such incompetence.

the three universal orders

In the book Sapiens which I am currently reading, author Yuval Noah Harari talks about the three universal orders. The first being money, the second politics and the third religion.

These three main realities are what united people of the earth irrespective of the cultural differences that may have distinguished them. They are the commonalities that allowed these different cultures to speak to each other and due to their influence, we can now talk about one planet whereas in ancient times we would have spoken more about individual nations or tribes.

For example, monetary and governmental policies might unites conservatives in different countries and Catholicism may unite perfect strangers on opposite ends of the planet. Before these large concepts were expanded upon and defined, there was more divergence of ideas in the world.

To me this still ties in to the idea of the power of myth where large concepts dealing with societal advancement and guidance are sold and espoused as absolutes…

minimalist makeup for summer

I went for a walk last night wearing a T, shorts and my ballet flats. Because it was a very hot day, I wore the most minimalist makeup I could muster which took all of 5 minutes to apply .

It's very liberating in the summer to do this and will keep doing it until the cooler weather returns. The photo was taken at a little cafe very near my home.



truly cringeworthy

Trump proves once again what a monumental idiot he is by embarrassing himself in answering questions about busing and comments made by Putin on the decadence of Western liberalism which Trump thinks have to do with California Democrats (oy vey).

Truly cringeworthy and breathtakingly moronic....


Better Days Ahead

Nothing like some bossa nova from the Pat Metheny Group. I was at this live show along with 100,000 other people back in 1989 at the Montreal International Jazz fest and what a treat it was.

By the way, Lyle Mays just kills here on piano...


"Transtrenders"

Natalie Wynn is brilliant as usual...


part of the club

"I love your hair colour" she said to me as we waited for our orders.

"Yours is almost the same" I said; which it was.

"Twinsies" she replied grabbing a lock of her own hair but she was so nice I didn't dare make any expression other than a smile.

It turns out that her and her mother were visiting from Vancouver and were loving the city. I told them I used to live there years ago and we continued talking until I got my food.

This happens to me a lot and women will strike up conversations with me all the time. Maybe it's because I radiate happiness I don't know. I just know I love feeling part of the club.

Women in this way are so drastically different from men. They relate and smile at each other at least when they are not in direct competition which is when I suspect the fangs come out.



Happy Birthday Canada!

take it from someone who learned the hard way

Its easy to get caught up in the "why me" sometimes because life isn't easy for any of us.

I had a stable home with two wonderful parents. I am highly educated and speak 3 languages. I am a musician and an artist as well as holding undergraduate degrees in both physics and engineering.

However I didn't ask to be born trans which caused me a significant amount of stress growing up. It's easy to forget everything else and focus on that riddle I couldn't solve until I was over 50 years of age. It turned out that fighting it wasn't the answer and all those years of wasted energy could be cried over if I indulged it. Trying so very hard to lead a conventional life turned out to be a mistake.

If you are truly trans there is no point swimming upstream against the current. Take it from someone who learned the hard way.

I still catch myself sometimes saying "why me" but then I stop because there is just no sense in it.

We are who we are.

trans groups

I know for certain that some of you will disagree vehemently with me on this, but I personally cannot see the great value in transgender groups. For one thing, I am not really a group type person and much prefer one on one and, for another, I think that finding friendship solely on the basis of being trans isn't quite enough for me.

I prefer blending into the cis world but would of course dearly love to have local trans friends as well. The problem is that, besides Halle, there is no one close enough to me geographically who fits that bill. For the record I know she and I would be friends even if we weren't both trans.

My history with meeting trans people over the years here in Montreal is dotted with mostly misses which included having coffee with a married part time dominatrix and a dinner with a self-described T-girl who I had absolutely nothing in common with in large part due to our being on different points of the gender spectrum. In the end, I simply stopped looking fo…

morning rain

After the church service this morning I met three lovely young women in their late twenties or early thirties who hailed from New Jersey. They were visiting Montreal and were telling me how much they loved the city. One of them had been here before several times and was acting as unofficial tour guide.

They asked me about the closest place to eat breakfast and I gave them the best recommendation taking into account geography but apparently showed enough hesitation that made them wonder

"Hmmm she doesn't seem seem so sure" one of them said, squinting her eyes while smiling broadly at me.

"No I am but my only warning is that the service can be slow" I replied.

It was raining profusely and they were all wearing lovely summer shoes with consumately manicured nails. All three were in nice Sunday dresses.

"Its not more than a hundred feet down the street ladies" I said

"What do you rate it on a scale of one to five?" She asked me

"3.5 but onl…

why I go to Mass as myself

Going to Mass as a woman matters because it closes a loop for me. Religion enslaved me and kept me from self acceptance hence unifying my thinking on my own nature and my spirituality is a way to come to terms with my past.

God wasn't keeping me from self acceptance, but it was instead society's misplaced thinking on what is acceptable within its box of artificial orthodoxy. Humankind is at best limited and at its worst fundamentally stupid which is why it prefers to brainwash its children than allow them to become themselves.

I don't get that much from the Mass anymore due to the limitations of the priests to say anything remotely interesting or stimulating; but that is not the point. My presence there as Joanna is my psychological closure to an episode of self imprisonment and it brings me so much joy to present as myself in a place which defined so much of my life.

I am there and know to my core that I am accepted exactly as I am.

cappuccino on the terrase

Get out there!....


Shape of my heart

unbalanced

Patricia's relationship is rocky and she seems tired of it and I am not surprised. Relationships are crap shoots which depend on two individuals on the same page with equal levels of self knowledge and self assurance. I don't know of anyone who meets that criteria which is why so many unions sputter along from crisis to crisis.

I have had three years to reflect on this subject while on my own and have concluded that a truly healthy relationship is close to an impossibility. There will always be one partner unhappy with some aspect in the other; there is always something they could do better.

The level of commitment between them is also unfortunately unbalanced.

The absence of a desire to want to change the other is what is required. We need to accept their essential nature while still being able to advise them as we accept their counsel as well.

Human nature is bizarre and fickle and most of the time we are insecure about ourselves as well as our role within a union. Many of u…

unification

If I were ever to fully transition would I miss the male? How does one flush out a stage character we have played most of our lives?

Those who were certain they were women early in life didn't hesitate. They knew what they had to do. On the other hand, those of us who are older and tried hard to ignore our gender dysphoria, have all that accumulated baggage to sort through.

There is no doubt that I have advanced at a snail's pace because I can look back and see the progression but there is still work to be done to know if I can live comfortably full time.

Would I miss playing that role I was taught to? And how would I incorporate some of him into my existence as a woman?

To a great degree I see the process not as a rejection but as an exercise in unification.


mission

This is the third time in the same week that I've worn a dress this time it's a grey patterned one from Jacob. It helped that Patricia told me emphatically how I rocked the one I wore when we last met, but mostly this is about me being less critical of myself.

When I look at other women around me and their imperfections, I see they have fat arms, stubby legs, bulging stomachs and yet they wear their dresses proudly. I am a past middle age transwoman and my body is not going to be like a 25 year old's ever again. Get over it Joanna :)

Back then I looked amazing in a dress but I didn't have the confidence to pull it off. Today I have plenty of confidence but gravity and weight have conspired against me.

I am now on a mission to lose 10 pounds and will go back to swimming and biking soon as well as more walking. Hopefully that should do the trick.

Fingers crossed.




read this

Aided and abetted by this despicable Trump administration, the radical alt-right fringe is ramping up its rhetoric and talk of violence against transgender people.

It's a worldwide phenomenon but perhaps nowhere more pronounced than in that land of of right wing ideology; the United States...

https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2019/06/26/white-nationalist-threats-against-transgender-people-are-escalating


grounded

We control much of our emotional center. How we feel about ourselves and how we measure up against others is often the source of much strife.

It is easy to tell ourselves to disconnect from the outside but hard to do because we are human but it is possible to make great inroads through practicing this. I have never been more connected internally and less to the fickleness of society than I am now.

Yes, it helps to have the fatigue of age where we have seen too much of what we don't want but this is not a prerequisite. We can come to our senses sooner by realizing how little misinformed opinion from the outside should play in your daily life.

Finding center feels truly wonderful and satisfying, and even if things will not be perfect every day, there is a renewed sense of being able to laugh at the ridiculousness of the worlf to help keep us grounded.

Archie Bunker, drag queens and all in the family

expecting to be read

I half expect to be read in certain scenarios but it doesn't happen. The other day I was waiting for my coffee and a mother with her two young daughters were right next to me. There were no odd looks and I was ignored until the older of the two girls and I locked stares for a moment prompting me to smile and having her return a sweet one of her own. She was a preteen girl and she went right back to chatting with her mom.

I have never been so calm and relaxed which probably has a lot to do with it. I just don't care whether I am read or not which only helps me blend in even better.

the new models

Here is model Veit Alex who works as a male and (mostly) as a female. How times have changed...

complimenting

Complimenting other women is fun. I might say:

"I really love those earrings" or "where did you get that amazing shade of lipstick?"

I like watching their eyes light up and it costs me nothing to say it. The small repartee that sometimes ensues can be entertaining or at the worst I will get a very smiley thank you. I mean nothing by it but if it brightens their day even a little I am more than happy to do it.

I run into these women sometimes that remember me and will stop to tell me.

It's part of me sharing my happiness.



gridlock

Democrats want social programs to help the less fortunate and bolster, through universality, fundamental services such as health care, education and social security. Republicans, on the other hand, want less government intervention such that they can spend their money as they wish even if that means that the gap between rich and poor widens.

These are polar opposite approaches to governing a population which is why there is such an inability to cooperate on policy and laws which will apply to the American people.

Republicans have moved further right than the Democrats have moved left which has resulted in the entire country moving a little further to the political right. The appeasement of fringe groups has resulted in a dangerous union based on special interests which should have little to do with proper governance. This has left the United States hopelessly gridlocked and unable to agree on even the most fundamental issues of public policy.

Now with a fake populist liar in the White…

trust and comprehension

How do you know you can really trust someone? What is the signpost that tells you they won't turn the tables on you?

It takes time and you being aware of signals we can sometimes willfully ignore. People can be even married for years and then some event happens which opens the eyes fully and be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Understanding what makes someone tick is a complicated affair made even further difficult by our inability to comprehend even ourselves.

from the outset

JT and Tani are two young women who work at a Starbucks close to my place and who both want to have coffee with me soon. I will take them up on the offer. JT reminded me when she saw me the other day.

Both are very sweet and in their mid to late twenties.

It has been very validating to be regarded as a woman by other women most especially by the younger ones. I do nothing special and yet they seem to like me. Perhaps it is the calm that comes with age that attracts them. In any event it has been a deeply humbling experience.

These days everything flows and there is no effort required. It is how I wish it could have always been from the outset.