Thoughts and ideas (plus a little gender theory) from an intellectually curious transgender person.
- “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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.
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.
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 i
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"
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.
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.
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.
"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
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
"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
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.
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 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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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 comp
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!.
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
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"
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.
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
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.
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 attach
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
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.
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 succe
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
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.
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.
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 nev
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 show
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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...
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!" Sh
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 everyth
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.
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.
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, a
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
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 simpl
"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
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.
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 ver
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.
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.
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.
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 woma
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.
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..
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
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 i
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 p
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?
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
"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...."
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
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 b
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.
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 hea
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.
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.