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Showing posts from August, 2022

Follow up

As a follow up to yesterday’s video by Ashley who went through her own journey of self-discovery, I wanted to comment on the idea she touched on of a stunted gender identity. For example, some people might be too afraid to recognize they are trans and their full sense of self remains in stasis or even infantilized within the “crossdresser” self-definition. The reason this might work for them is that there is always a baseline to go back to which feels safe but which may be ultimately unrewarding. Am I saying that all gender variant people are trans? No but there are many who are and just will not or cannot admit it for a whole host of reasons. It is perfectly fine to fulfill a sense of playfulness around gender and even use it as sexual fantasy (the archetypal photoshoot dresser for example) but for some their progress into a full understanding of themselves stays undeveloped which may be due to a whole variety of reasons. This is not to say that physical or social transition need

Ashley asks a question....

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Crossover

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Masculinity and femininity are not automatically tied to birth sex which is obvious to anyone who has been paying attention. In fact these attributes cross paths over the gender binary which we can attest to via people we have ourselves known. That each is correlated to a particular birth sex has been either the curse or joy of many an individual. Both sexes possess them but the social constraints imposed meant that one could not regale in the one least expected and I have wondered how today's more relaxed social norms will impact society into the future. Many older gender variant people would have appreciated a looser grip on these norms and be entirely comfortable with their birth sex while still expressing gender without concern of judgement. Gender dysphoria won't be disappearing anytime soon via a loosening of the reins on expression however, but for those who want to liberally celebrate both sides of a persona, that gift would be just what the doctor ordered.  

Book

The other day Tracey contacted me regarding acquiring a copy of my book "Different" which I was more than happy to send her in pdf format. Although I wrote it 5 years ago, reading the concluding chapter made me realize I still wouldn't change a word. Anyone also wishing a copy can simply use the contact form on the sidebar of the blog and I will very gladly email them one.

For the better

By this age you have many memories which have marked your life. Some are perhaps key milestones after which things were different and so they remain locked in the psyche as defining episodes. They tend to return from time to time to remind where we've been and what lessons we learned if any. No life experience is a mistake if we have shared our life with others warts and all. We can be tortured by memory or instead take it as sign post of the journey we undertook and how it shaped us hopefully for the better despite the pain it sometimes took to get there.

People learn nothing

Fascism is being actively courted by the right because it's the only way they see to fix things. Now I don't relate to right wing mentality but I do understand what desperation makes people do and these people are both deeply dangerous and radical. I hate to break it to people who believe in American exceptionalism because your bubble has just been burst. Pulitzer Prize winning author Chris Hedges who has been warning of impending fascism in the United States for some time now, is close to having his prediction become reality. With the breakdown of the middle class and a rise of social media frenzy we are witnessing what happens when the social fabric breaks down and the masses (who aren't naturally the most intelligent of creatures) rebel. They don't understand how they've been duped but they are chomping at the bit for enemies and the "groomers" and the "radical left" are as good as any. Should Trump be indicted, scumbag senator and all around

Spectral mornings

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Still more good advice

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Futile

Being apologetic for being trans is both futile and counterproductive because if you were born this way what is there to be apologetic about? This is one of the reasons I make a careful distinction between gender variance and being trans which includes the important biologically induced element of dysphoria. Gender variant people have far more elective choice in their expression and can weigh it more judiciously against their life status. Conversely, a trans person has far less and must consider how much enduring dysphoria is worthwhile against the backdrop of an already established life. Again, my aim here is to help those suffering most not to make judgements. Considering that dysphoria is graded helps us here because it's the potency is what dictates the appropriate level of response. High intensity cases are not doing themselves or anyone else a favor by living a life which doesn't suit them however people on the outer edges of dysphoria can perhaps find some compromises w

Of past and future

My mother has known I am trans for about 15 years and although she has been out with me and we have even accidentally run into each other in thrift stores, I have kept the custom of presenting male when I see her. The other day I mentioned that I had gone to coffee with my neighbor near our old house where we lived in the 70's and she said I should have called her. For someone born in 1936 she has come a very long way and the next time I go there with my neighbor she will of course be there. For a few years the main problem was me and not her as any sign of discomfort on her part would have been difficult for me. However I burned that off and won't hide myself away from her in any capacity any longer. What is particularly notable about this coffee place (which was entirely different back then) is that in the mid 70's the then owner's wife looked at me in my longish hair and asked my mother: "How old is your daughter?"

Turning tide?

Midterm election races in the US suddenly look closer thanks to GOP radicalism with the abortion issue and school shoitings invigorating democratic and reasonable Republicans to think carefully before removing rights. Beto O'Rourke seems to be having success in Texas simply by pointing out Abbott's radical positions and general incompetence so that gubernatorial race could be another bellwether. The Republican party is now paying up for becoming a warehouse for fringe extremism all under one roof whereas the country is generally just right of center. One could have predicted that because Trumpism has been such a horrid influence on the country, it would eventually have consequences and swing the pendulum back it's just that one couldn't know when. Now might be as good a time as any.

Reminder

Walking home from groceries and see a young blind woman with a cane maneuvering her way down the street. A dose of reminder I have no real problems.

Anomaly

My traffic has exploded here recently to several times its normal which is why I suspect shenanigans somewhere. The internet is a strange place and my blog tends to be special interest within the world of gender variance which is why I am suspicious. Since I generally don't write to amuse, I am well aware that my bluntness and subject matter are not always to everyone's taste. Traffic has never mattered much to me however but still, this anomaly is intriguing me somewhat and if you are seeing the same with your blog kindly let me know.

Treatment

Gender dysphoria cannot be ignored and must be treated but the hard part is knowing how. That takes time and reflection to discover and using a one size fits all formulas won't necessarily help you in your particular situation. Some trans people begin hormones and then stop because it doesn't suit them while others must take them plus opt for surgery. The point is that whatever gets you to a comfortable baseline is your objective while at the same time considering the fallout which is no easy task. Do I think that inadequately treated gender dysphoria gets worse over time? Yes I do, can attest to it and were I not where I am now things would not be good for me. Again, there are many considerations here like relationship situation, job, children, age and physical health which play into the equation and all must be carefully weighed before acting. Paramount here of course is your own mental health which should not be ignored.

Corelli

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Orgullosa

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Our search

There are distinctly discernible patterns to human behaviour. Since we are driven by love and fear both of those play a leading role in how we interact with others. In fact we could say that the fear of not being loved is perhaps a good descriptor for our primary motivation. Interestingly we need to become free of outside opinion in order to appreciate others fully because when we are mired in our own fear we won't open up. Being genuine is actually not that simple if we possess much cautionary baggage regarding what we should do to avoid rejection. One of the benefits of aging might be that the search for validation from outside is greatly reduced because we know it has little value. This is particularly true for people whose presence in our lives would add nothing to its quality and perhaps even detract from 

The answers will come

I was born with the instincts of a girl but raised to be a boy and now have a dichotomy of nature versus nurture which I am in the final stages of bridging. Unlike what I have read some people state about themselves, there aren't two genders within me but only one and as an older trans person the trick is to marry the past with the present; in that light I am not burying a former person at all but instead resurrecting an identity which was suppressed and letting her breathe. From that vantage point I feel powerful these days specifically because the struggle has made me so. It took me a very long time to tweak not only the physical aspects but mostly the mental ones which are by far more complex and important. Therefore my advice to you is not to take shortcuts or assume anything but to simply let things gestate with much patience and without fear of judgement or ridicule because people's massive ignorance should be of no consequence to you. If you are truly trans your life has

Callous

From the moment a radio Canada reporter held a microphone to my face post American election in November of 2016, I knew the Trump presidency would be a disaster and said so. Did I think it would have been this bad? Certainly it was divisive for the country and gave permission to the worst instincts of the country's lowest common denominator to spew venom into the political discourse. Now as a disgraced and legally mired ex-president, Trump must face consequences or something like this will most assuredly happen again because there will have been no price paid for criminality of this magnitude. That Trump is a severely damaged individual raised to be a narcissistic psychopath disguised as buffoon was never in doubt and yet the fact that he was allowed anywhere near the seat of power tells you all you need to know about humans and their capacity for self delusion and callousness.

To return

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Trans people have a very bizarre journey. We know instinctively who we are from the outset, but then are taught to be otherwise and to fight instinct. We then spend years undoing the damage only to hopefully return to who we were in the first place. The longer we spend in denial the longer the return...

The Crazy Ones

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Of Body and Soul

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Two people crippled by life in different ways dream the same dream every night. In it they are both deer: he a stag and she a doe and they find a way to communicate there that they cannot when awake. Working in a slaughterhouse as they both also do is not the most pleasant of environments and this film is graphic at times perhaps in its revulsion of killing so that we can feast. In Hungarian this 2017 film was nominated for an Oscar as best foreign language film and one can see why. There is a subtlety and deftness of touch here and some jarring moments which could not be predicted in this tale of unlikely lovers which is tinged with flourishes of surrealism. We are all harmed by life somehow and must rise above it to find ourselves and it is this redemption which hopefully carries us towards a fitting curtain call.  On Netflix.

Leaving room for doubt

The purpose of philosophy is to try and understand the human condition and it looks for patterns, motivations and aspirations to try and arrive at basic concepts which can help guide us towards our raison d'etre. Philosophers don't all agree but their attempts are well meaning and in the spirit of establishing guidelines to help the human race to think about their own essence. It is the ambiguity and flexibility which appeals to me because I understand that as human beings our insight into the workings of space-time and the universe are beyond our capability. Conversely organized religion banks on certitude through excluding and yet bases itself solely on faith which makes little sense. My mother recently had a conversation with a parish priest who insisted that salvation came exclusively through the one true faith and i t was all I needed to hear to confirm once again why I cannot go back to something I have outgrown.

Confidence

If you don't currently have confidence then fake it until you do. Trust me.

A reflection

Here's a reflection exercise for you. If you believe you are trans and that being so isn't a choice then why would expressing your identity be in any way problematic? Unless deep down you think you have a choice and you aren't really trans? Park aside the issue of a non-accepting spouse for a moment and think  about it.

More road test

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I've got to say that after getting daily use for quite a few weeks, those Amazon flats are still doing the job. Considering how much walking I do, the price I paid and how comfortable they are, I think I need to get another pair :)

Emanuela

While I waited for my friend Cecile to arrive, Emanuela approached me out of the blue in the Premiere Moisson establishment "Excuse me but did you used to go to the Starbucks on President Kennedy sometimes?" I said that I did (on days off I would occasionally business woman it into the downtown core) and she told me she remembered me from her working there. She spoke to me in broken Spanish (she is Brazilian) and has lived in my neighborhood for about 4 years. She was so friendly and vibrant and ended up showing me pictures of her new baby. Some people are like that and just bring sunshine into the world with their energy. I must confess that I had not remembered her but I have been known to have tunnel vision and not always take notice of people. It was a very pleasant exchange.

An end to battles

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Once you have nothing left to prove to yourself or the world you have no choice but to relax. There are no more battles to fight other than eliminate your own indignation at a world that is innately unjust. That aspect is still being worked on and my disdain for those who embody entitlement coupled with ignorance continues to be an Achilles heel for me. What can help is to avoid these types of people as much as we can but in the end the world won't be changed therefore we must change ourselves instead.

Experimental gentlemen

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Hadley

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Why it didn’t happen before

Hypervigilance is a very common trait of trans people when they first step into the light. During those tentative steps we micro-focus on everything we do and fret about what other people think; something which took me a very long time to eliminate in part because I fought so hard to not be trans.  But then one day you become confident in who you are which is all about the certainty that you have as much right as any other person to have a good and productive life; a life out in the open and experienced with transparency. Suddenly things make more sense to you because you feel the need to remove rules and regulations of society from your playbook rather than repair yourself. But even if that lightbulb goes off in your head, it can still take years to accomplish your goal because the battle is often fought alone with little support from family. This is work to diligently undo the pervasive programming you were exposed to as a child which had you second guessing yourself. The consequence

No need to fear

Wanting to express a feminine side is a fairly benign thing and if that's all there is you should be glad of it. Gender dysphoria on the other hand is a much more egregious and sinister thing which works its way into psyche commanding attention like nothing else which is why it must be dealt with somehow lest there be psychological consequences. In my opinion spouses of gender variant people should be more tolerant (and indeed many are) because their husband isn't going anywhere other than perhaps to some group night or outing on some established basis. The vast majority of the time there won't be any need for unwarranted fears of transition and e ven those of us on the periphery of the transsexualism spectrum sometimes find other ways to come to terms and establish workable solutions. But if transition turns out to ultimately be the right answer there is also nothing to fear.

Purpose

At the root of all people lie the same motivations. We search for meaning, for love and acceptance. Love need not be the romantic kind although it can but it must eventually transcend the destabilizing initial phase and grow beyond it otherwise it is doomed. No one can make us happy except ourselves but if one surrounds themselves with the right circumstances the groundwork can be laid to find it. Our sense of purpose comes our of our originality and ability to separate from the crowd to find meaning beyond it otherwise our lives are but a distraction. In helping others even in small ways us where we find our truest sense of satisfaction and purpose.

Maudie

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Sally Hawkins plays Maud Lewis the folk artist and does so wonderfully. Ethan Hawke is her boss who becomes more but in this stark and harsh time it's by no means a conventional partnership. These people are simple folk but there is a blunt honesty borne out of tough and difficult childhoods where there was little pity or levity and where pure joy was perhaps a luxury. The landscape is bleak and sparse but both talent and love somehow manage to sprout from what could have been weeds. To convey that, t wo talented actors show us how to apply their craft and in the case of Hawkins, it's definitely Oscar worthy. A must see.

Patience

We should leave everything to become organic and effortless. There is no point resisting anything because if the river wants to take you there it must be for good reason. Reacting to where we are with calm and a sense of wonder might be better than railing against the universe. Patience is the virtue that gets us there.

Printed Tee

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I know I said I swore off printed Tees but then I found this one in a thrift shop and deemed it subtle enough to be matched with other things. I mean for $6 you can hardly go wrong right? :)

Moving forward

One clue to identify that you are trans is that your life around this issue has been progressing in stages. As you reach a new level of self awareness there is a change of mindset accompanied by a corresponding advancement. There may not be a particular goal in mind and perhaps yours is simply to have more peace regarding your unique identity. The point is that you are moving forward and with reflection comes new enlightenment. As my friend Connie says, you grow into yourself.

Rhetoric

The right is panicking which is why their messaging and approach is so increasingly radical. If you have no platform to help the electorate then it needs to be about illegal immigration and attacks on LGBTQ people to scare monger for votes. This used to be less of a problem in large part because the middle class I grew up with was larger and more prosperous which helped build a general sense of calm among the electorate. Today with the largest population of working poor in US history it is much easier to radicalize people and find bogeymen to blame. It is in large part why the Trump candidacy succeeded by simply stoking the fears of a largely uneducated electorate. The world is changing far too quickly for conservative tastes and that trepidation is ramping up rhetoric which is then amplified by agenda driven right wing media. 

Clara

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The movie Clara is really about love; human love and love of curiosity. An astronomer, Issac has lost his baby to stillbirth and his marriage as well as his belief in getting too close to someone again. A search for habitable planets becomes his obsession and Clara his intern begins to crack the gruff exterior that he has built up as protection against personal pain. We want to believe there is life beyond this earthly existence, among the stars and even within ourselves. Excellent.

Conspiracies everywhere

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Russell Brand isn't the only carnival barker on the internet and his approach is to take grains of truth and combine them with anti establishment outrage to attract eyeballs. If you listen closely, Brand gets easily confused and like a terrier chasing a car he wants to be a whistleblower for what ails society except wouldn't know what to do once he caught his prey. Yes, he might be spot on some of the time but others be completely wrong because seeing conspiracy everywhere is the main objective. Plus very respectfully he is not someone with the intellectual depth of a Chomsky. I invite you to see the histrionics for yourself and be your own judge.

Un petit coin de Montreal

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Not picking on anyone

It may seem like I am picking on gender variant people here but I am not. I am simply making distinctions to help trans people because by melding both into one pot we do neither a favor. I see many in the gender variant community confuse themselves for trans perhaps because they are afraid of social stigma surrounding their activity while others who are trans call themselves "crossdressers" (a term by now you know I despise because it is far too simplistic) and being too afraid to acknowledge it. This especially applies to older trans folk who are petrified about facing the possibility that there is something more to their variance which for the longest time applied to me. Remember that there is nothing wrong with expressing a feminine side on occasion (irrespective of motivations) or with a trans identity as neither is a disease, a sin or a crime.

Needless to say

Trying to marry your previous life with your new one isn't remotely obvious. Almost all of my old friends know I am trans of course but not all have met Joanna up close and so there will be a lunch soon that will include one such friend and colleague who I have known for decades. That can sometimes be a little nerve wracking because if they aren't comfortable you won't be either. On the other hand I am done with hiding and people can choose not to see me that way but then risk having the friendship regress. Thinking of other people's sensibilities first has never paid dividends for me. Therefore n eedless to say I am not going to spend the rest of my life worrying about what people think as I spent far too many years doing just that; walking on eggshells to spare others is over. Imagine someone saying "I am not comfortable seeing you that way" and not reflecting on how much harder it is for you to come out to them. Now that's Chutzpah.

More advice from a gender therapist

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More cuckoos

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Yes MTG is a supreme idiot but unfortunately she represents a significant portion of the American population which has attained a new level of stupid. A young girl in Utah even had her sex questioned by right wingers because she won by too much of a margin. Please never make the error of overestimating human intelligence.

Butterflies

I n a way it's a shame that the mythology surrounding relationships washes away eventually because along with it go the romantic ideals. Life does allow for it of course only that in youth it is seen through its most idealistic lens with the promise we hold regarding courtship and early married life. Years later if we have chosen well, those pheromones will have been converted into something deeper which transcends the ups and downs thrown our way. Yes the butterflies will be gone but in their place will come the certainty that someone has your back should you fall.

Whole

I have trouble relating to the dichotomy mode that some gender variant people espouse. It's like the female version is another persona who contrasts sharply against the male side.  Trans people are conversely trying to repatriate and make sense of a former life because there is no point in destroying parts of you that are still valid. If you opt for transition you are still the same person only under a different guise which can sometimes (but not always) include surgical alterations. I have never seen Joanna as another side of me because she is me although admittedly my daily expression as her is considerably more than what many people who read my blog can afford themselves. That repatriation is ongoing and healthy for me because the further you go into it the more whole and organic I feel. It's not like a costume you put on.

On steroids

Gender dysphoria is not best described as one feeling like they are in the wrong body but rather (in my humble opinion) like "Gender Expression Deprivation Anxiety on steroids". Here is where I must thank Anne Vitale of course :)

Lapses

Behaviorally we are sometimes a mystery even to ourselves. Perhaps it stems from becoming disconnected from our inner life and then suddenly awakening to what is deep seated but unacknowledged. People are in therapy sometimes for years to have someone guide them through trauma or unresolved issues buried deep in the psyche. I find that the process of reflection can be frustrating because at times it feels like we have become stalled in our progress. It is only upon looking at our history that more progress was made only that it simply came in tiny steps that at the time were almost imperceptible. It turned out later that it was their accumulation which made all the difference. 

Whistleblower

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The whistleblower is a hard watch. Grim and realistic, it deals with the ugliness of the underbelly of the world where empathy and charity are entirely absent. Exploitation is not a problem for some people and even heros cannot do enough sometimes to counter balance the horror. As usual Rachel Weisz does fine work here as the peace keeper who is astonished at the brutality that her mission to Bosnia has revealed; that slavery can still exist in parts of this world. Well worth your time it if you don't mind immersion into the way some things just are.

Core

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At its core being trans isn't about physical transition (although it can be) but first and foremost about identity. It is why I always make the distinction between expression and identity as they are not exactly the same thing. Expression can be what you like but the understanding of who you are at your core is about your essence as a human being. That understanding isn't about plumbing per se although for some trans people physical changes form part of a required solution and if so more power to them. Conversely I sometimes see sites that advertise themselves as trans-related but then give out a sexual content warning upon entering which begs the question whether they indeed come as advertised.

Bad science

From MIT Technology Review By Ben Kesslen: "When Jay told his mom he was bisexual at 14, she was supportive. But when he came out as transgender a few years later, she pushed back. She felt blindsided by the news. YouTube videos and online forums soon convinced her that she was right to feel that way. To her, it was clear that Jay was simply mistaken. A trans “contagion” called “rapid-onset gender dysphoria,” spread through social media, had caught hold of him and convinced him he was not female, she said. The Internet had “turned” him trans. Widely introduced four years ago in a PLOS One paper by Lisa Littman, a physician and researcher, the concept of ROGD hypothesizes a “potential new subcategory” of gender dysphoria—the feeling of distress that one’s gender and assigned sex do not match. Young people with ROGD, the theory claims, feel symptoms of gender dysphoria and identify as trans as a result of peer influence, especially online. They hide behind a false diagnosis of gen

Finite

I've reflected on my eventual death many times and am now at that age where cancers have a tendency to crop up; I have already lost my grandmother, father, friends and colleagues to it.  However it's not a morose fascination that I have but rather an honest recognition that we are finite at least for this leg of the journey.  I have considered what I would do and say to people (and of course to my children) and am generally devoid of fear because if my time were up today I could say that I've had a good life if not without the challenges which we all invariably face. More than ever I am certain that part of the secret to life is to embrace a very sober attitude towards it while celebrating those heady joys with much gusto when they decide to appear.

Yesterday

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When is it too much?

Analysis of the self is good but then it is hard to know what the optimum amount is. Once a reasonable limit is surpassed it can become self-indulgence which leads to needless navel gazing. I think the key here is to arrive at a certain point where enough self-assurance and wisdom is reached and we recognize that we will screw up and it is okay. Once past caring about what the world thinks we can drop our baggage and focus on living openly as ourselves and with just enough vulnerability so as to not be taken advantage of by those who are less than well-meaning. As I got increasingly past the main hurdles of my struggle with dysphoria, things began to fall into place in other areas where the work had already been put in and that made all the difference.

Before we lionize

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Even if Liz Cheney stood up to Trump over his election fraud and coup attempt, she still voted with him something like 93% of the time and so while she could appear to some to be courageous, her agenda like the rest of the GOP, is essentially toxic. Therefore before lionizing her in her primary loss we should remember her stance on many issues runs contrary to American public opinion. In fact the Republican agenda is deeply unpopular among people who aren't extremist which generally equates to socially progressive and university educated folk. The appeal of the GOP in red states hinges on wedge issue red meat which banks on the spectacular lack of education on these issues and Cheney is no different in that regard. Hence,  before erecting a statue in her honor, let's remember that simply standing for the truth about a coup attempt doesn't exactly make you Joan of Arc.

All you need to know

People come in all shapes and sizes. The other day I was in a thrift store and a young woman looking to be not yet 30 walked in who I would estimate was about 6'2". She was casual and relaxed and no one paid her any mind because she knew who she was. It's all you need to know.

The Strangest Times

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 What can I say except totally kickass :)

Another good one

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"The End of the F***ing World" is duly strange and yet another series which feeds my appetite for being enthralled by idiosyncratic characters. Teen angst coupled with murder and mayhem doesn't sound at all appealing until one starts to watch and once caught, like all good series, what happens next is not even remotely possible to predict. There is less of the surreal here than in Fargo but it plays no less to the oddities of what makes us peculiar and volatile creatures on a mission to be loved and accepted. Call it a dramedy if you will but whatever it is, this British show just works.

Compromised

While watching a gender therapist's video, I stopped on something she said which I very much agree with today: that being in a couple where your identity is stifled doesn't work for either party. The partner recognizes who you are because you have told them but is perturbed and withholds permissions and you now know that the love is conditional which is hardly a recipe for mutual respect. Having lived this myself, I can attest to its grip and like with semi-accepting extended family, a trans person isn't helping themselves with what they sometimes erroneously identify as healthy compromise usually borne out of years of self flagellation and guilt. No one can tell you what to do of course and some gender variant people more on the expression side of the spectrum can live perfectly well with a formula which works for both partners. The identity side of that spectrum however is just a little more complex and that cannot be suppressed for long without consequence.  If we seek t

It takes work

Personal growth doesn't happen magically on its own because it requires work and I think the trick might be to still recognize the person you've always been at each stage only now wiser for having filled the gaps in the self knowledge. I don't understand why some people aren't keen on self examination because in its absence we cannot develop into the best versions of ourselves.

Tribalism

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Transformative

I am much the same person except that now I am received and treated as a woman. The change has been positive in that it helped gender dysphoria that ran through me always humming and being present in the background such that it became my normal. With its tempering however, my level of happiness has increased which is akin to all your food tasting better. My older readers know that I am a doubter of even my own instincts which I used to think were misleading me but that turned out to be wrong.  Finding out who you are requires a very honest discussion with yourself; one which must consider all possible outcomes. Until you are prepared to do that you will remain stuck. My type of transition has not been a physical one and yet has been no less transformative because once you touch upon the mechanisms which define you, everything makes sense.

That it will suffice

I prefer existentialist philosophy to anything else because it feeds my appetite for brooding uncertainty which is always lined with hope for something bigger and more profound than what we can physically see. Hence Kierkegaard will do that for me more than the biography of a saint whose experience I can less relate to. I was always a doubter and needed explanations from my father as to why I needed to attend Mass. With age came more questioning rather than less as more information was presented to me to digest. Now I try to marry logic with hope in equal measure expecting that it will suffice.

Nevo

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Advice from a therapist

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Gifts

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Theocracy for dummies

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I eventually learned

Sherry and I have been chatting on and off for about 15 years. An early transitioner (by age 25), she has been one of my most ardent supporters and when I didn't believe in myself she did. She was constantly talking about who I was while I saw dysphoria as an illness borne out of self deception. Her stubbornness paid off but she still tells me I drove her crazy with my denial. I just couldn't take anyone else's word for it no matter how well intentioned. Those who have followed this blog a long time know how positively mule-headed I can be :) It turns out, for example, that trans people aren't dressing up as anything other than themselves which was one of the lessons she helped drill into me such that I viscerally came to understand and believe it for myself.  There is no pretending and as obvious as that may sound to some, it isn't when you don't yet know who you are. It ultimately became the last piece of what I needed to comprehend.

Mindset

To my knowledge there's no known cure for conservatism other than education. I have written here before that being conservative ostensibly means "I don't need to learn and grow" and indeed numerous historical examples exist of conservatives proven wrong over a whole host of social concepts which are now steeped in anachronism. That you won't find many conservatives in academia does not surprise as intellectuals naturally possess open minds which only encourages the influx of ideas. Meanwhile the right desperately clings to pseudo intellectuals like Jordan Peterson whose aspirations of being more than a frustrated and grumpy psychologist makes him faceplant into his own bias on a frequent basis. Not that the fanboys would notice anyway as intransigence seems to be a marked trait of the conservative playbook.  My own viewpoint has been changed over my lifetime even regarding my own nature because I have always sought the truth and in so doing I benefitted from the o

Dostoevsky

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Homegrown fascism

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Fargo

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Fargo season 3 may be the best of a very good series. I had put off watching this last season but I don't know why because its tense and brooding pacing invites us to stay riveted. Nothing is telegraphed here as it is simply far too idiosyncratic for that. Characters come and go and mystify us with dark motivations we are left to decipher. This is more than just quality television with a cast which is readily up to the challenge of interpreting material owing much to the original and wonderful 1996 Coen brothers film which began it all.

Phoebe

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License

Mothers of young children will look at you and laugh when you are amused by their precocious two year old. However doing that as a male requires extra attention to how you interact lest it appear menacing. In the past I would have been far more hesitant but now freely interact when the occasion presents and the mood strikes. There is clearly an understanding between women that makes it more than okay and perhaps even expected. It is unfortunate that the world delineates in this manner but perhaps the vigilance is warranted due to some established precedent. Even if you aren't a menacing male you pay the price for breaking rules which existed well before you came along. I am no different a person and yet my garb and slightly altered demeanor now somehow give me license to interact differently.

Shield

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I know I still have to work on disarming indignation because today my life experience and intellect risk me becoming overly dismissive if I am not careful. When you fashion a protective carapace over the years it is at first employed as a shield but over time becomes a potential weapon once your eyes are opened to the irrationality and superficiality of the world. At first, dropping that shield is terrifying because it requires vulnerability but then it gets easier when you realize most people at their root aren't malicious by nature. They are simply scared. We aren't educated to lead genuine lives but instead to kowtow to convention. However once we see behind the curtain, we realize we really needn't have bothered and for the longest time had made a terrible mistake before finally awakening.

Motivation

Non dysphoria motivated gender variance fascinates me no end precisely because I cannot relate to it and if you fit into that camp I want to know your story. For example, I have read accounts of gender variance beginning in the early twenties perhaps out of curiosity and then have it develop into fascination which continues further into adulthood. I have also met people who I believe fell into that grouping but never knew them them long enough to properly be able to delve into their history. If you want to share, please let me know in the comments if you are one such person and what motivated you if not gender dysphoria.

Margot

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Young Margot has the advantage of time and being born in an era where even if things are still bad, they are far better than they have ever been...

Nora

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Vieux Montreal

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Medicate

My generation wasn't medicated and instead relied on a taking it off the chin self-reliance preached by parents who had it tough growing up. However, in retrospect, I might have benefitted from treating what turned out to be dysphoria-induced anxiety. When you are immersed in your normal you don't know any better and wrongly assume everyone is so debilitated. It's only after that you realize a little calming in the form of low dosage medication might have been beneficial; something people today consider a routine ask when they see their GP. I have over many years trained my mind to work without them but who knows what I may tell my doctor next time I see him. Fill 'er up doc?

Spin cycle

When something as severe as espionage occurs the US doesn't give anyone second and third chances like Trump got. After 15 months of being repeatedly asked to return documents which have turned out to be highly classified and not complying, it was all we needed to know. That Trump had nefarious intent for these documents I have not the slightest doubt because the man has shown he has no bottom (at least the metaphorical kind). But what is most telling and distressing for me is the right wing tripping over themselves to defend the indefensible as they work overtime to excuse criminality that during more normal times would have been beyond the reach of their spin cycle. This alone is a sign of how broken the country is; when twisted dogma defeats allegiance to country you know you are in trouble. As a keen observer of the US since very young I cannot help but point out the analogies to fading powers near the end of their tenure where the collapse is almost always predictable to happen

White supremacy

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I am assuming...

Someone must have put a link to one of my blog posts on their site because that post is currently at 1,800 views in 2 days which is a record for me.  I have no clue as to what that site might be. 

Off grid

Panhandling has become endemic in big cities. Almost wholly absent in my youth, today disheveled people walk up and down the metro cars asking for change and it breaks your heart. A schizophrenic violinist plays an excerpt from Vivaldi's Four Seasons almost expertly on the station platform before breaking into an expletive filled word salad you can barely make out. That people are falling off the grid is not in doubt but what exactly to do about it is not within the reach of concensus. In a world that focuses more and more energy on selfish pursuits it isn't going to be easy. My own small contribution isn't going to solve his problems but we had better get cracking before they get even worse.