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epilogue

While this blog is most definitely over, I wanted to explain that part of the reason is that it was getting in the way of writing my next book called "Notes, Essays and Short Stories from the North" which will combine philosophy, trans issues, my observations on life, some short fiction and things that have happened to me over my life and continue to (both trans related and not).

When it is complete I will post the news here and will be happy to send you a free copy upon request in either PDF or eBook format. All I ask is that you provide me with some feedback once you're done reading it.

I'm only in the early stages so it will be a while.

Be well all of you....

sample pages...
















my last post

This will be my last post.

When I wrote recently that this blog had another seven years of life in it I was trying to convince myself that it was true. It was in fact a little bit of self delusion.

With almost 3,000 posts to date I have accomplished what I set out to do which was to heal myself and in the process share some of the struggle I had been through with others on the chance they might find some value in my words. After seven years of writing, my life still isn't perfect; no one's is. But I have discovered a path forward completely free of the trappings which society would have had me adopt so I could fit in.

Over the last 25 years of my life I have turned over every stone I could find while exploring this topic and in the process realized that we haven't even begun to scratch the surface of this deeply complex subject. What I have ultimately learned is that my instincts have more value than what someone who isn't gender dysphoric writes about me. We are very …

Watch it

casual conversations

When I would use the ladies room, for years I wouldn't look up at anyone or start a conversation but today that's different story. I might look over at the lady next to me through the mirror and give her a smile or compliment her choice of lipstick. Sometimes it leads to a brief pleasant exchange and at worst I get a smile.

The other day two tween girls were trying on some mascara and they were rambunctiously laughing at the results.

"Do you need help girls?"

They looked at me sheepishly through the mirror and saw me smiling.

"Non madame merci" one of them said to me with a mischievous grin.

I went on my merry way.

Doh!

I met Halle this morning for brunch and I could kick myself for not asking the waitress to take a picture. But then that's what happens when you are absorbed in conversation.

Needless to say we don't talk about the weather much when we meet.

Looks like this will require one more meeting before she moves.


devoid of panic or urgency

I have gotten to the point where I am way past being just comfortable presenting as Joanna. The best way I can describe it is that it increasingly feels like me; like she is the person I should have always been.

Having lived so long in the male role and less than 10 years as both, I am now at a crossroads. But I don't want to jump into full time living as a woman without serious consideration given to consequences. This means primarily the impacts on my children although both seem to have given me the green light to be myself.

While I ruminate I remain content because by comparison to the way i used to live before self acceptance, this is a magical time of my life. Simply recognizing you are gender dysphoric and always have been and treating it seriously has been the greatest improvement in my life.

That video I featured about taking things one day at a time speaks volumes about where I am today. I soak in each moment and experience and I let the lessons contained therein guide me…

To be all of 24

Tani saw me and came to give me a hug.

"Hi Joanna how are you? I think I am going to get a job at the bank and get paid much more!"

She was so excited and is so diligent at her job at the Starbucks that I know she will do great no matter where she goes. She is also going back to school and wants to become a photographer.

"If I get the job I hope we can keep in touch" she tells me

"Of course we can. You have my number so text me anytime you want"

The next day I texted her to find out what happened and they loved her but they wanted her full time whereas she plans to go back to school. I advised her to go back to school and work somewhere else part time as she had already enrolled in the photography program.

"Follow your dreams because life is short Tani" I texted

"Thank you so much for your advice Joanna" she texted back.

But she didn't need me to tell her what she already knew she had to do.

The hardest person in the world to break up with

pride parade

My company is participating in this year’s pride parade on August 18th however I am not inclined to participate. I am not out to everyone my company and don’t plan to be and if I joined them without being myself, I would feel like I was copping out so in a sense it is being true to myself by not doing so. I have decided that to come out at this late stage of my career would create more complexity in my life than I am looking for. My aim is really to ease into part time work within the next 3 years.

A better option could be to attend at least part of the parade as Joanna and simply not join my group which is most likely what I will do.

It will be my first one.

closure

Getting proper closure to a failed relationship is a nice to have but doesn’t always happen. In my case, the ending to my last one was a complete train wreck which left much lingering questioning and reflecting on how things could go so wrong so fast.

Human emotions are so complicated and when we are mired inside our relationship bubbles, we cannot adequately see outside in a more objective fashion. When things go terribly wrong and the egos get involved there is often no chance to get a proper dialogue to either repair or end in a more dignified manner. You have often set up barricades to avoid getting hurt.

That lack of closure left me terribly confused and gun shy to a point where it has eradicated my appetite for any type of intimacy. It has allowed my gender issues to take front and center, but I have also given myself the excuse to stay away from anyone lest I face the same end. I have told myself that no one wants to have someone like me which makes it easier to avoid the issue…

not easily undone

When you look back at history from our own very limited life span, it is tempting to think that it does not repeat itself. After all, most of us have grown up since the last world war thinking that authoritarian governments are only the stuff of banana republics. Yet when we look at what is happening in America at this very moment it is not hard to visualize a slip into flirting with despotic dictatorship. You have a cult like simpleton leader who, for a reason unbeknownst to myself, inspires confidence in a significant swath of the population.

In the 1930’s Hitler was able to capture the attention of a nation deeply mired in economic turmoil; a country which only decades before had been progressive and modern and was in fact the home of the first research into trans identities through the work of Magnus Hirschfeld. Suddenly the Nazis were burning books and having Jews, Roma and other “undesirables” wear labels on their lapels as a precursor to being exterminated in concentration camp…

taking it one day at a time

confused

Trump is such a stupid dipshit that he doesn't understand how tariffs or trade works. As a retaliatory move on this Trump-created trade war, the Chinese have devalued the Yuan which is making it cheaper to buy their goods. It is having a terrible effect on US stock markets.

However, this financial genius is completely lost...


The myth of the rugged individual

a problematic character

Blaire White is a very problematic character. A TERF who is also a transwoman is a bit of an oxymoron and with her “everyone else is invalid except me” attitude she becomes a bit of a cartoon character. A rational philosopher like Contrapoints she is not, and she could certainly make a nice tag team buddy to the likes of a Steven Crowder.

Blaire seems to be trapped in that old classic transsexual argumentation of decades past where everyone who didn’t fit a certain stereotype was invalidated as a fraud. In that sense she reminds me a little of “Cloudy” or Anne Lawrence whose insistence on hammering away at selling Blanchardian pseudoscience at the expense of their own identities seems oddly counterintuitive.

Characters like Ms. White lose credibility with me not only because their attempts to look like a genetically modified Barbie undermines their derision of other trans people, but also because they have trapped themselves into a corner with no rational argumentation for their viewp…

see you on Friday

Halle and I are going to meet once again this Friday for what could be the last of our semi-regular brunches. She is moving much further away to a new home, and I will miss her but then there is always the telephone and email and, who knows, one day I might land on her front stoop.

I am really looking forward to seeing her at that same small town café where we met last time.

It is good to meet people on the trans spectrum that you relate to and she certainly has been one of them. I am also glad for her that she was able to find peace after so many years of struggle with her gender identity.

See you on Friday Halle!

language is everything

The racist right wing parties of Europe do not use blunt language like: "these foreigners will dilute our Ayrian purity". Instead they talk about difference of values and whereas the West values democracy and gender equality, these middle eastern cultures are steeped in patriarchal and mysoginistic practices which adversely affect more progressive European values. They state that the influx of these immigrants would fundamentally alter that structure.

Far right leaders like Marie Le Pen of France's National Front party wouldn't be caught dead using overtly racist language even if she might completely embrace it.

Language is everything.

correlation

See a pattern here? This graph associates gun ownership with gun related deaths. See which country is way out in front on it's own?


I cannot complain

It would be tempting for me to say "If I knew then what I know now" except I need to remember that there were few options for people like me in the early 1980's. When I was 20 years old we didn't know anything about being trans except what Christine Jorgensen and Renee Richards had done and it was considered fringe.

Back then transsexual women went underground and did their utmost to erase their previous lives and people on other parts of the spectrum kept it to themselves unless they worked in pop music. If you were part of the LGBT community you kept your mouth shut if you knew what was good for you.

This is why I have little to complain about because my own self knowledge and acceptance grew along with the science and the cultural adjustment.

I'm just glad I am not so old that I cannot have my later years be a little more relaxed than my early ones were.


the secret photographer

patient record

It's interesting to see your own medical chart over the years. I am waiting for my leg surgery and I was in the pre admission office seeing the doctor.

She scrolls down the medical history: kidney stone, carotid artery dissection, colonoscopy and then I see the diagnosis of gender dysphoria. It stares at me in the face and the pre admission doctor briefly asks me about it.

That part of the history comes from Dr. Morris who I may never see again. But there it is in my medical file. Part of my permanent patient record.

I'll Fly Away

Joshua Brand and John Falsey created some of the most poignant television drama of the late 1980's and early 1990's and this was one of my favorite shows of theirs. Set in the mid 1960's rural American south it dealt with racial tensions caused by a divide that was quickly sparking controversy due its changing nature.

Sam Waterston plays a widowed lawyer trying to raise his young family in this environment aided by his maid Regina Taylor, a young black woman with a strong and independent spirit, who tries to make sense of her world in the best way she can. Both Waterston and Taylor won Emmys for their performances.

The gender and race roles back then were cast in stone and there seemed no way to change them but this was the beginning of that breaking away.

This is not a complete episode but instead a 10 minute clip that will remind you of what a great show this was. It's a pity it only ran for 2 years....


The power of greed

When Cortes encountered the Aztecs of Mexico he was able to subjugate them with about 500 men. The Spaniards were equipped with greater firepower and were easily able to take control but not through brute force. Rather they went to the emperor Montezuma, killed his bodyguards and then let him govern the Aztecs through telling him exactly what to do. This way they could control the population by having them think that things were almost back to normal.

Many of Montezuma's dissenters helped Cortes and thought that he would not enslave or kill the population but of course that is not what happened. Many reinforcements came from Spain and within 10 years of Cortes's arrival 90% of the native population had been wiped out.

Interestingly, Cortes's expedition had not been funded by the king of Spain but rather by capitalist interests within the country.

The power of greed.


Big Skies

Never mind what the video looks like, put your headphones on, close your eyes and enjoy "Big Skies" by "The Wilderness of Manitoba"...


my expanding universe

It seems that I am now unofficially Patricia’s big sister and she will sometimes text me “how is your day going big sis?”

We have become close since we met each other over a business proposition, and she is hopefully on the cusp of making a real go of her company.

She has only met me in male mode once, so she only thinks of me as a woman. I have written here before that if I hadn’t told her I was trans she wouldn’t have known which was very validating. But I had to tell her because she had contacted the male and not the female and so I made a now or never decision to only present as Joanna right from the outset. This way I could test what it would feel like to do business as a woman which then led to that presentation I attended as Joanna. An event which turned out to be almost anticlimactic.

It has been proven to me over the years that gender is such a small part of who we are and what comes out of our brains is so much more important. But for me gender and all its trappings was a hu…

we all have those moments sometimes

Cross gender arousal confused many of us growing up. A symptom of being trans, it was often misread for our identities being rooted in fetish. Even today there can be remnants of guilt from my education and I will occasionally ask myself what I am doing.

However, absolutely nothing will change the fact that I am trans and always have been. For years I hoped it would go away and let me live in peace but that wasn’t going to happen so I finally resolved to lead the best life I could as a trans person.

The pangs of wanting to lead a conventional life will resurface when my mood is low but that dissipates, and I quickly move back to the realization that it is far better to live in comfortable self-acceptance than not.

the gay Betsy Ross

Roundabout

points

The young woman asked if she could assist me.

"Yes, can you help me pick a colour of eye shadow? I was leaning towards the copper shade"

"Oh yes I think that's a good choice for you"

She advised me how to best apply it and I complimented her on her makeup.

I then went to the cash and the young lady who knows me asked if I wanted to cash in some of my Sephora points but I declined. There was nothing interesting at the counter so I decided to keep collecting them.

Later I went to Yves Rocher and picked up some makeup remover pads

"Do you have your points card Madame?"

I did but once again I realized how much you have to spend to get very little in return. Good thing I am not a big spender at these stores.



an acquired taste

Many trans people, particularly older ones, confused acceptance with being tolerated. It's an honest mistake since, after all, many of us were so hungry for any signs that weren't outright rejection that we jumped at any morsels thrown our way.

They are, needless to say, not the same thing.

It's perfectly understandable and natural that conventional women don't fancy transwomen but then we aren't conventional and perhaps deserve to be paired up with the unconventional; whether that be a woman or a man. Imagine someone like me who was light years away from self acceptance and how any indication of not wretching would be welcomed as an embracing on a grand scale. However, I am no longer looking for approval of that kind because I have bestowed it upon myself.

Once you are free of that affliction you can be open to much better because there is nothing wrong with you. For you are, at the very worst, an acquired taste.


exercising choice

We don't get to pick our parents, the country or society we are born into but we do have some choices in life as we grow. As we develop in our discernment we can choose to associate with certain people or not. We can choose to elevate ourselves and our identities or we can choose to needlessly suffer.

The life partners and the friends we pick have a tremendous impact on our self esteem and being accepted exactly as we are without compromise is a rare gift. Here I am not speaking of correcting flaws we would do well without but rather having our essential natures as human beings be embraced.

Our first challenge is to accept ourselves fully because without that we have nothing. But then once that mission is fulfilled, make sure that your identity is validated and reinforced by those who appreciate instead of barely tolerate or, even worse, denigrate you.

It's your choice.

between 17 and 25

I had a long talk with my son yesterday about personal growth. Between 17 and 25 years of age you go from child to adult and that journey is the most drastic of your life. Afterwards the changes are far more subtle and measured.

I want him to be open and honest because during that time of my life I couldn't be. At his current age of 19, I was far too afraid to come out of the closet.

To be sure he will experience pain and rejection as we all do in this life but if he develops his mind he will have the greatest tool we can own to help combat these more difficult periods and bounce back wholly healed. There is no handbook for this life but the struggles can teach us valuable lessons which can make us far better people. Each time we are burned we have the choice to complain or, conversely, to analyze what happened and move on with hopefully a new nugget of wisdom in our pocket.

Who woulda thunk?

I wonder how racist Donny will handle the latest mass shooting in El Paso. Looks like it was yet another white nationalist extremist he no doubt helped inspire...


the power of melancholy

How do you react when the power of melancholy and sobriety come calling; when you reflect on your life and see it in its most brutal and realistic form?

Do you retreat into denial or stare at as it deserves to be?

Did I mention how much I like my new capris?

As awkwardly photographed on a metro platform..


blind

the postmodernist vacuum

In this era of postmodernism it is tempting to adopt the idea that everything is relative and has equal value. Even news has become fake or real depending on the spin you put on it which has driven traditional journalists insane.

In this vacuum of uncertainty have stepped in new conservatism heroes Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro and, to a lesser extent, blockhead leader to deluded twentysomething males Steven Crowder. In other words, a new conservative class has emerged from the ashes of the burning down of traditional understanding of objective truth which no longer seems to exist for anyone.

Peterson does it through haughty meandering lectures on YouTube while Shapiro operates by speaking quickly in his annoying helium- doused style in hopes you don't catch his errors. Crowder more crudely uses elephant in a china shop mean spiritedness in the guise of talentless comic only young males might find amusing.

This age of incels and more independent women has even left traditional for…

morphing

One of the signs that my life is stable regarding my gender issues is that this blog has increasingly diversified. I cannot write exclusively about being trans any longer. So much about our world interests me beyond that and in particular the philosophical aspects of our existence.

I see myself as a person who just happens to be trans and hence, to reflect it, this vehicle for expressing who I am must necessarily be more robust and complete.

more tough medicine required?

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate America; far from it. However Trump is like toxic sludge that was allowed to seep out of a drain pipe and poison the well.

I was conversing with a friend and fellow political junkie recently and we both mused whether another 4 years of poison might not be such a bad thing for a country in desperate need of repair. Yes, it would take the US to the brink of destruction but some people need to see that there is nothing behind the false bravado except a scared and entitled imbecile; albeit one who can talk to the intellectually and analytically challenged in their own language.

Trump has managed to endear himself to the type of voter who needs him the least: i.e. low education white males who pine for things as they used to be; times that aren't coming back. But a Manhattan frat boy without an ounce of empathy, morality or mental capacity is hardly the ideal solution for a red state worker who can no longer work on the factory line. Therefore …

Flow

Soon the summer Fridays will be over and it will be back to the regular weeks but I've enjoyed every minute of it. The experiences I've had have yet again expanded my confidence as Joanna. Recently I was at a thrift store and a very friendly older French lady just struck up a conversation with me out of the blue.

She eventually ended our overlap with a very bouyant "Bonne journee Madame!"

Things are easy and they flow because I am radiating comfort and am brimming with confidence. My makeup routine is down to a simple art form and my wardrobe stripped down to comfortable but pretty essentials I don't need to fret over before stepping out.

My body language isn't stiff but I am always ready with the phrase "Excuse me but do we know each other?" should someone offer some unwanted commentary which never happens. I am a creature of routine and am happy with the amount of people I know and socialize with which balances my need for company with my essenti…

therein lies the difference

Over the years, being in women's clothes in public went from petrifying to scary to slightly unnerving to entirely normal.

One day that stigma is finally removed making you wonder what the fuss was all about and you just blend in like everyone else; albeit in my case a little taller perhaps. Although 6'1" is hardly a giant by today's standards.

Experiencing the world as a woman is certainly different and completely fascinating and I wouldn't want to stop for anything. For it is far too intrinsically hard wired in me and has been from earliest memory.

The biggest hurdle is to conquer fear which is not to pretend you aren't scared because that doesn't work. Instead you must not be afraid at all which is a state of mind that, when achieved, will radiate out of every pore in your body.

In other words, it is not feigning you belong but understanding in your bones that you do and be comfortable going anywhere in confidence.

And therein lies the difference.

time for a divorce

Bye bye turtle boy...


la solennité

Il y a une solennité dans tes mots, mais je ne suis pas toujours capable de les comprendre
Nous vivons tous les deux dans le même espace d'existence mais il y a une séparation
L'un pas tout à fait capable de lire a l'autre
La vie a un esprit vif et un sens de l'humour qui m'échappe parfois
Je reste donc tranquille et laisse la Terre s’ajuster autour de moi
En espérant qu'un jour je serai capable de me résoudre


- Joanna Santos

Hoping love will last

in the pink

The idea of a “Pink Fog” is about presupposing I don’t know what I am doing; that I have overstepped a boundary and need to reel myself in, but I always operated from the other direction where I tried to avoid being who I was and indulged it as little as possible while still trying to function in the conventional world.

I can see how for many of you in marriages this applies. You have promised to keep a balance between a life with a wife who wants a husband and having a foothold in a trans identity of some kind. This is very difficult to be sure and it ultimately didn’t work for me. I don’t think I have ever had an unrealistic perspective on things and my honoring of my identity has never had any traces of folly. I have always tried to only occupy the space as Joanna that I was able to and made sure to first take care of my responsibilities which were at their peak when I was married with young children.

Today I am in a much different position and I have more room to operate which is…

sharing

Rabia is a wonderful person and one of my biggest supporters. She suffers from depression and one day I shared my story with her as a way of illustrating that we all have important challenges in life. I have shown her pictures of myself as Joanna and she always says what a beautiful woman I make. I don’t let that go to my head.

It’s important to have people like her in your life; people who know the entire truth because they help you with your thought process. In sharing with them you discover little nuggets of insight that we can examine and reflect on. It is worth more than time sitting with a therapist who doesn’t really know you.

The people who only know Joanna may help to feed my confidence as a woman, but in not fully sharing of myself with them I am not able to reflect in the same way. Rabia has told me that she has felt privileged to be let into an area of my life which has been so deeply defining.

We have helped each other.

it's not what you think

When the Aztecs first encountered the Spaniards they didn't know what to make of them. They had lots of facial hair, white skin and some even had hair the colour of the sun.

The Aztecs would follow their foreign invaders with incense burners which the Spanish thought to be a mark of divine honour.

In fact, we know today from Aztec texts that they just couldn't stand their smell.

Bernie and Warren kick ass!

all good things...

Perhaps I was premature to say that this blog would continue for yet another seven years because it will likely come to a logical conclusion much sooner. Once my exploration into my gender identity ends I will simply stop writing it.

Most likely my writing will continue in the form of another book this time on a topic which fascinates me like history, philosophy or politics. Maybe I will write a novel; I have no idea.

I would just like to think that my final resting point on this journey will come much sooner than the age of this blog.

In fact, I will confirm it now. It will.

answer me this

When you have reached a plateau and you cannot claw anything back is how you know there may yet still be more room for progress on the horizon but of course you don't know what that looks like. The only thing you know for sure is that you are not going backwards.

You don't fully understand this until you are already there at that new equilibrium. But is this where you want to rest or are there obstacles preventing you from getting to some other place?

That is what I must answer for myself.

Pavane

people first

The trans brain functions on its own unique frequency. Caught between what it has ingested as education and its inclinations, there is a tug of war going on which must eventually be resolved. Coming to a baseline can certainly include transition but it need not.

The challenge we have is to dissect our thinking very carefully and pull away the thorns that have hurt us over the years without destroying everything we have built. The older one is, the more challenging this exercise becomes which is why if one is to transition it is best done when young.

I know of many cases of successful transitions late in life, but they do not come without considerable loss. It is inevitable that living a large chunk of your existence in one gender and then flipping a switch is not going to be easily digested by a society so intrinsically defined by gender.

Yes, we are people first, but the world counts gender identity among its most valued elements. It is why violence is resorted to by some when it is …

"to the moon Alice"

When Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were training for their historic moon mission in a remote area of the United States which somewhat resembled the lunar terrain, there is a story that they met an older native American there. He asked what they were doing and when he was told he fell silent for a few moments.

He then told the astronauts that his people believed that there were sacred spirits that lived on the moon and he wanted these men to pass on a message to them. He gave them a phrase to memorize in his native language which they did.

When Aldrin and Armstrong repeated the phrase back at the base to another who understood the language this man laughed histerically and, when he eventually calmed down, he told the astronauts what the man had told them to say:

"Don't believe a word these men are telling you for they are here to steal your land"

narver fahglep

You know what they say, narver fahglep...


....lest ye be judged

The priest at my last attended homily deeply disappointed me. The reading had been about Sodom and Gomorrah and suddenly he was talking about not acting on the inclination to have same-sex relations. The church saw this as a sin and therefore it is not permitted.

I have intuitively understood for a long time as many of you do that we do not choose to be homosexual anymore than we choose to be trans but his putting it into the context of sin immediately implies to act on choice. Was he saying that only heterosexuals act on an embedded sexual identity and even then meant solely for procreation?

Suddenly smoke was coming out of my ears because I have 2 nephews and one niece who are gay and because the head sacristan at the very same church lives with his same sex partner. He later told me he walked out during the homily.

The penchant to judge when one knows absolutely nothing about being LGBT confounds me and the best thing one can do is be quiet and give the benefit of the doubt.

To be …

the perfect union

I was listening to a relationship coach on the radio this past weekend and she had some practical advice. She said to not look for the other person to change something for you or expect them to read your mind about what you need. Instead make yourself happy by leading the life you need to and try and help make theirs a little better. If they in return do the same, then you will have created an atmosphere conducive to a healthy and loving relationship.

Most people do the opposite and they want the other person to do something for them. When their idea of their ideal partner does not materialize they eventually get tired and the union disintegrates.

I personally do not know of any people with perfect unions because there is no such thing. Instead there are human beings trying to do their best living with their own imperfections and with those of everyone around them.

the little things

It was such a short exchange and yet it was so meaningful to me. This lady I hadn’t seen for a while came up to me

“I haven’t seen you in a long time. You don’t come anymore!”

She is about my age and works at one of the cosmetics counters at a pharmacy I used to frequent

“Life changes and our habits change. By the way you look great” I said as I tapped her lightly on the arm

“You do too dear!”

“Your kids must be on their own now?” I asked

“Yes they are 27 and 25” she responded

“That must give you lots of time alone with your husband?”

“Yes but he also likes to do his own thing” She lamented

“You mean he doesn’t like to go shopping with you?” I said sarcastically

“You know men don’t like to go shopping!”

It was just a little thing but she didn't realize how much she had helped make my day.

recommended

The Montreal mafia led by Vito Rizzuto is the subject matter of this show which I thoroughly enjoyed. Let me know what you think...


profile in courage

How can I?

"The local radio says sorry time to go
But I don't sleep too well
Where are those southern belles
Tryin' to get a telephone line through South Carolina
Your call may bring somebody down for miles around
I'm watching her eyes again
I won't use no fountain pen

The lady isn't here. The message wasn't clear
She left an hour ago, screamed from the floor below
Mother nature never gives in, she wants you to sing
But how can I go on just singing this song
My car's out of gas again
Hurry home to see my friend

Money won't help you to win a new look at things
Loving can bring you down so you fall
Then why do you still try to get up at all
Your good and bad side showing through
Problems are a part of you

You must love someone else or face life by yourself
You may expect a call
She's waiting in the hall
See the garden grows and it grows nobody else knows
And you can wear just any old thing
The show can begin
I'm falling asleep to dream
No more hills to …

freeing yourself from gender norms

Have you freed yourself from gender norms yet? If you haven’t you should because that is a prerequisite to understanding who you are.

If you are afraid or embarrassed to present in a way that you want to then you will not be able to truly undertake the internal journey regarding whether to transition or not. Some of you may know for certain that you never will but others may be teetering on that fence unsure about what to do.

It was only when I learned to let go of all my fears that my vision became clear and I was able to imagine scenarios for myself; would I ever take hormones? Was dressing full time enough? Would I ever want any type of surgeries? These questions can only be answered in the cold light of day devoid of all the trappings of a gender education exclusively meant to serve an unyielding binary.

Not everything is perfectly clear in my mind yet, but what used to be daunting challenges have now become exciting and positive possibilities. Because when we eliminate guilt and …

a common assumption

"The common assumption is that what you have between your legs is your gender, but there is a constellation of other factors—hormonal and behavioral—that make us masculine or feminine. What you have between your legs is sex (male or female). Gender (masculine or feminine) is between your ears; it is the whole of your life, your emotional and mental makeup, the way you present yourself in society, the way you interact with others, your imagination, the theater of your being"

- Caitriona Reed




bringing out the worst

Trump continues to dog whistle to his base about foreigners and tweeting against anyone with the audacity to criticize him. The latest, Elijah Cummings, was treated to the following scribe:


To be sure, Trump is the type of vulgar lowlife who for some reason continues to bring out the worst instincts in a society; to spur on those who are clearly open to his despicable and racist rhetoric. He brings out the lowest common denominator in people instead of their best. Here CNN reporter Victor Blackwell visibly breaks down on the air as he reads from the vile and juvenile Twitter garbage that passes for presidential pronouncement.


not caring

Before I was less concerned about my dual life being discovered I would tend to avoid my own immediate neighborhood but that has drastically changed.

I now leave my house intent on going to the local pharmacy or ice cream stand and simply walk there as Joanna. The difference is that I will dress more casually and wear little to no makeup.

Last night I made another trip to that little ice cream shop and the young lady who works there helped me choose a flavor to dip the small cone into. After finishing my ice cream I walked to the pharmacy and picked up some bathroom tissue and then made my way home. These are small things but it's part of my doing things locally as Joanna versus always opting to be somewhere else. It's become a normal that in the past would have felt slightly uncomfortable.

What a difference it is having everyone close to you know you're trans plus not caring what the rest of the world thinks.

these will do just fine

Suckers

can't go wrong

These sandals were on sale for $5 but they were size 11. The reason they work for me is that there is no back constraining my heel or toe piece constraining my toes which means I can get away with one size too small.

The young woman at the counter said

"Just be aware that these are final sale Madame"

I smiled at her because this was such a no brainer.


a discussion

I spoke to my 83 year old mother yesterday about my transition reflections. Nothing is written in stone but she took it in stride and agreed with me that we all need to be happy in life. I told her that in spite of the fact that I love her and the extended family, I will not let their opinion be a factor.

It is only my children who get a say in the process.

It feels very therapeutic to bring something like this up and not get severe backlash but then she's known about me for years now so it's hardly a surprise. Its helped that I brought her along in tiny baby steps.

Plus if I opt to go that route it will only be a social transition and not a medical one which will still give me flexibility on the presentation front.

My life hasn't been easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I still consider myself pretty damn fortunate.

Saturday afternoon

"Girl you need me in your life"

I was recently browsing at Simons department store and couldn't resist buying capri pants (pictured below on the metro platform teamed with my thrift store red purse). They cost me $10 whole dollars instead of $49 and I just couldn't pass them up.

They are wide legged and hipped which give you a really feminine cute look and paired with pumps or ballet flats it's a winning combo. They could work just as well with a pair of sneakers.

I have learned over the years to try on everything before I buy and these were so perfect I couldn't leave without getting them. Even if my purchasing these days is dramatically down, there are some things that just scream:

"Girl you need me in your life!"


those who have less

There are now more people than ever in the Montreal metro system asking for change. They are also at stop lights, street corners and grocery store entrances counting on our generosity or perhaps our guilt. It is a sign of the times and the unstable world we live in where people feel they must do this.

No doubt there is some percentage that doesn't need to do it but I don't think its the majority.

There is a young woman I have seen on a regular basis. She has very bad teeth and she carries her cardboard sign as she tells people that every little bit helps. The first time I gave her something she told me she really liked my earrings and we ended up speaking briefly.

I admit that I get irritated sometimes by the sheer number and we feel we are being accosted but this is because the problem is very real.

We need to put a human face on poverty and even if we cannot give to everyone we must acknowledge that there is a problem; not just in North America but all over the world.

The Tr…

It's who not what

Caryn gave me the perfect response to the video I posted yesterday. It is not "what you are" it is "who you are" that matters. You get to self define and proceed accordingly.

Trying to pin down each unique trans person is almost impossible and even those who defined one way in the past may see themselves differently a decade later.

I wanted to post that video to make you reflect on your own situation.

I think the woman who made the video meant well but she clearly hasn't dealt with enough trans people and maybe needs to do a little more research.

where do you fit?

You may be one or the other but since gender identity is on a spectrum perhaps you feel somewhere between?


progress

It may seem like we've moved so far since the turn of the 20th century but that is primarily because of the technological revolution. Consider that at the time of the American civil war the most common form of field surgery was sawing limbs off as quickly and painlessly as possible from chloroformed soldiers. Contrast that with today's advances in microsurgery and soon to be bionic limbs and we note that we have come further in 150 years than in the previous 1000.

Richard the Lionheart died in 1199 from gangrene two weeks after sustaining an injury to his shoulder from an arrow which today would be considered a flesh wound. The remedy of the day had been amputation but because of its location that wasn't possible and since penicillin and other modern drugs had not yet been invented he died in agony without the doctors being able to do anything to help him. Richard died hundreds of years before the US civil war and yet the advancements in all that time had been paltry compa…

weight loss

I've been losing a bit of weight by doing what Dr. Morris told me: eat less. I know it's a simple formula but it works. I don't deny myself certain foods, I simply eat less quantities of them. I have also cut down on the pasta and bread just a little bit which is a temptation for many of us.

It's not a huge amount of weight: 7 pounds. However I didn't need to lose all that much to begin with. The idea was to lose a bit of belly fat.

I spoke to a runner in my office who confirmed it was about diet because he would come home from a run, be famished and fill up. It was only once he changed his diet that he shed the weight.

Only 5 more pounds to go Joanna!.


cover

All signs of fake overt masculinity are completely gone. There is no more pretense required and even in office drab I behave the same way as Joanna does minus a few mannerisms I hold back on and of course the voice and clothing.

It has felt very liberating over the years to cleanse my system and begin to unify myself into one person. Before it had felt more distinctly like two personages with different behavioral traits. My cover had been honed to an art form to make sure the female inside was never discovered.

This is the root of my content these days with Joanna flexing her muscles like never before and speaking to everyone while feeling whole.

I now know that a life as a woman would be comfortable and even desirable but there are many details to work through and I won't skip any steps or cut any corners. If something about all this affects my children adversely I will adjust my course because they are more important than I am.

When dealing with something this dramatic I will ta…

Yvette

I saw Yvette yesterday at the pharmacy. She is the Haitian lady who lost her pension after Sears went into bankruptcy protection in Canada. She is in her late sixties and now has a job at the cosmetics counter.

We spoke for a little while about her wanting to move somewhere closer to the city and to her daughter and I suggested my neighborhood. It's being gentrified although prices are still reasonable compared to other parts of Montreal.

She thanked me for the suggestions I gave her about where to look and I went on my way.

"Merci beaucoup Joanna!"

"A la prochaine Yvette"

wouldn't it be nice

an organic life

I counsel my children to allow their lives to flow organically. There is no perfect time for marriage or children or that perfect promotion we covet. We can have goals but life will sometimes find ways to make sure they aren't met.

That needn't be a bad thing and sometimes a new path can lead to surprises we hadn't counted on finding beneficial. Our flexibility and ability to find the positive in every surprise can be a great asset here

I didn't always follow this way of thinking and opted more for the planned life possibly in the hopes of fitting in as much as possible. In retrospect, not so surprisingly, it went off in its own direction regardless.

finding connectedness

The single most important personal discovery of my life has been that it is possible to be trans and happy at the same time. I know that may sound odd to some of you while for others it is still an unreachable goal which eludes you. I suppose it depends where you are on your life journey.

Shedding that second skin which covers us with bias and self-disillusionment was what did it for me. I needed to remove all the trappings and start from scratch by reflecting on what worked instead of what conventional wisdom told me to do.

Here society is not going to give you good advice because it ostensibly functions like a flock of sheep. You need to understand this viscerally and find your own center which is where your internal peace will reside. The other thing you need to do is to stop looking for approval from those closest to you which includes life partners.

It is a shame that many of us entered unions where affection was conditional on our being “normal” but that is what happened to thos…

We did this

Mike Malloy is 1,000% correct...


panic

Poor Donny Bonehead, he's panicking...


Fridays

It's been quiet at work this summer so I've been taking the odd Friday off.

This has meant more Joanna time which helps me coalesce my thoughts on how I need to live going forward; emphasis on the word need

It helps my thought process quite a lot.

the battle raging within

Our minds are endowed with great powers of elasticity and I now think of many of the problems we face as being akin to the prisoner holding the key to their own cell and not availing themselves of the fact.

Being human is fraught with the dangers of indoctrination and persuasion coming from our parents, extended family, colleagues and society in general and the development of the powers to escape that gravity pull will depend on our personalities and the environment we grew up in. It is why so many trans people choose different paths when faced with comparable levels of dysphoria. We do not entirely comprehend what we are experiencing but deeply understand that it virulently rubs against an artificial convention we were told to accept as being absolute.

I still try and analyze what is going on within me from a vantage point which I want to be as detached as possible but have concluded that I am not able to be unbiased. There is a battle raging within me between the emotional attachmen…

immersion

Travelling has immeasurable value for us; both for business and pleasure. I have learned so much over my life by visiting other places and only now truly appreciate how much I was absorbing about cultural diversity in the world. We take in so much when we visit places that don’t feel like home and, even if we are tired during the rushed itinerary, we can long savor the experience afterwards through our memories.

This recent trip taught me more about a daughter I had not spent this much time with since she was 10. Now an adult I could see how much she had matured and travelling with her was sheer pleasure. I have mellowed in my need to rush and I had so much fun watching her impressions of a first immersion in a continent she had never been to. She later admitted to me that it was life changing for her.

The world has never travelled as much as today and cities like Venice and Bruges are being threatened with crowds of tourists who aren't always respectful of the circumstances of th…

entangled

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 help 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.

Janet's entire purchase came out to a paltry $17.

keeping up with the Joneses

My politics are 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 successf…

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.