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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.