Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Hand me down world

 


A broader spectrum

I increasingly want to get away from the idea of communities or umbrellas and want to instead think in terms of permutations of behaviour. If a behaviour is possible it will exist and the best we try to do is identify commonalities and put them into groupings. That each attempt was not entirely successful should not surpriseTrue, I am a big fan of Harry Benjamin, but recognize that what even he tried to do had its flaws.

I want to think about individuals as the unique self-contained compartments they are and who do what they need to improve their lives. We are brought into the world with genetic inclinations and are then impacted by a formation which may not align with them. No matter what, we are generally taught to assimilate.

For years I have researched this topic and while there are clear patterns among certain people, there are simply too many variables at play. Hence, I want to move beyond thinking about a gender variance spectrum and focus more broadly on a human spectrum with all of the permutations it entails.

Maybe at first we want to group ourselves to feel less alone but then we realize that, the more we dig below the surface, the more divergence we find.

The friendship recession

 


Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Relax

As trans people we need to relax; I don't mean a little I mean a lot. This cannot be overstated because it makes such a massive difference. Once you understand who you are you must own it completely.

It has made such a tremendous improvement in my life.

Relax and don't give a shit about what anyone thinks. It will infuse itself into your body language and demeanor. After all, this is who you are right?

People will see what you see.

Vaush explains the gender spectrum

Vaush explains the spectrum to conservatives...

Monday, May 29, 2023

Daily weirdo check

 

Megaphone

As the number of people who don't know my history increases, I continue to just let things flow naturally and use a "don't ask, don't tell" approach. If someone suspects I am trans they can go ahead and ask me. People who  assume I'm a cis woman are not corrected but if they ever asked I would freely admit I am not. My intent is to go on a case by case basis.

There is no shame in being trans, however it is not owed information. My friend Sherry, who transitioned in her twenties, helped sell me on this idea. We are not obliged to trumpet it anymore than we should our orientation. After all, we aren't concealing anything when we present as ourselves.

In recent years, some trans people have come out when they didn't need to because of their desire to do advocacy. Here I think of transwomen Geena Rocero and Teddy Quinlivan who lived in complete stealth and chose to support other trans people by being role models even if they are more privileged than most in that they almost represent the ideal success story.

In the end, there is no perfect formula and had I not been blessed with some degree of passing ability my approach would of course have been different. Many young trans people perhaps rightfully despise the term "passing" (see recent video I posted) and might go out of their way to stand out proudly. But I grew up in a time where it was so scary to be discovered that I did my very best to blend in so as to fall under the radar. As I grew older and more confident in my identity, increasingly being mistaken for a cis woman by those I met became an accidental happy side effect especially once I had developed a working voice.

Maybe one day everyone who knows Joanna will know her history and that will be completely fine by me, it's just that for the moment I am not going to use a megaphone to do it.

This book is gay

Fixing stupid is really really hard as there is simply too much of it in this world...

"Making 'This Book Is Gay' available to her eighth-grade students got an Illinois teacher reported to police — and the incident ultimately led her to leave her job.

Sarah Bonner, a 20-year teaching veteran, included the book in what she called a “book tasting” in her middle-school English classroom in the central Illinois town of Heyworth in March, Today.com reports.

“I wanted to give them a smattering of fiction and nonfiction to choose from on a day that we call ‘Reading Monday,’” Bonner told the site. “We just read and celebrate books.”

This Book Is Gay, by Juno Dawson, was not assigned reading, but it was one of the books that students could choose. It is written for teens and covers coming out, stereotypes, flirting, safer sex, and more"

You can't make this stuff up.



Sunday, May 28, 2023

Coping


 

What i like about today

My mother was complaining that people today have no manners. She swims three times a week and notices how the locker room is untidy and no one bothers to clean up after themselves. I agree with her but then state that there is much I prefer about today.

True, people used to be more formal and yielded to decorum yet the rigidity that came with it was the price we paid. There was an expectation which drove everything including who one was supposed to be.

My mother said she was recently in a cafe with one of my sisters and was approached by a bubbly young woman who she immediately recognized and who addressed my sister (in case she did not know who she was) in unapologetic volume but without shouting:
:
"Hi I'm Christina's girlfriend!" referring to one of my nieces. No one turned and gasped in horror.

This is what I like about today.

Dress

I don't normally wear dresses but this one spoke to me and at 80% off it was a no brainer. Simple and ending at just below the knee, it would make it that I wouldn't spend my time constantly pulling it down as I tend to do.

The sales lady's approval after I stepped out of the changing room sealed the deal. Because it's just one colour she suggested I wear a simple necklace with it but then I always wear earrings anyway.

On another note, I swear that backpack purses have saved my life. No more back or shoulder pain:)



Saturday, May 27, 2023

Just wow

 


No cure

Melancholy rooted in memory can overtake us at any moment. You can be sitting on a train and staring out the window and suddenly it is there. It can even overwhelm because it comes so silently unannounced.

There is no cure for being human.

What's in a name

Those who used to read my old blog know I am no great fan of the term "crossdressing" and prefer to use more current terms such as gender variance or gender non-conformance for those people generally tending towards the expression end of the spectrum; my point being that both men and women express gender variance which is why they are better and more universal descriptors. They are also terms used by a clinician I know.

Note how gender variance exhibited by women has no particular moniker attached to it no matter how much into the traditionally masculine they venture into. It is why I continue to be bewildered as to why the term "crossdressing" is not more widely viewed as simplistic, one-sided and even derogatory. Despite having once been seen as a major upgrade from "transvestite" it also regrettably focuses on clothing whereas we know that some people who identify with the old term straddle or even belong to the transgender end of the spectrum.

Therefore, if we want to convey a more accurate picture, we should want to upgrade our terminology rather than use terms which have done nothing but take on baggage over the years.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Passing

 


Justice

Just to be very clear, I am very supportive of everyone. So when I say I have reservations about any community it is because we are all individuals and should proceed accordingly. For example, no two trans persons are alike and the experiences that shaped them necessarily makes their outlook and actions completely unique. To say otherwise is almost like saying that every trans person we meet we will have an instant affinity for.

Rather than think in terms of the trans community or the LGBTQ community, I want to think about the human race in general and our right to lead dignified lives without prejudice provided you aren't hurting anyone else. Unfortunately, for some deeply unhappy people of this world, this seems to be asking too much.

Hence, it is injustice in general which perturbs me and the reality that it often involves misinformation to achieve a desired goal. Historically this has meant villifying minority communities in order to marginalize them. Whether that was visible minorities, women, particular religious faiths or some other group, the aim is always to create sinister talking points to encourage attacks and even genocide such as what happened to Jews during the holocaust. Hence, punching down seems to be part of the predisposition of many.

At this point in my life the blinders are completely off and the amount of people I see with no critical thinking skills to speak of no longer astounds me; it just deeply disappoints. Because of this, rights are not won without turmoil and often through the experiencing of much violence. The civil rights movement, Stonewall, women's suffrage; all were uphill battles against orthodoxy which was irrational but which had been imprinted in the minds of many who dare not question them. Imagine today the concept of a "whites only" drinking fountain and it makes one's skin crawl except that for many that was once not only acceptable but desirable.

So I have resigned myself to the fact that there is no cure for human ignorance in that every time we win a new battle, there will be another waiting in the wings. 

A journey to Wholeness

Blending in and relaxing into ourselves can be slow when you have spent so many years in youth being on guard. It is a process where you progressively find yourself and stop worrying about what others see. Sure, being addressed as a female gives you that little boost of confirmation at first, but then it begins to matter less when you are finally able to provide your own validation.

Incorporating my "transness" fully into my life has meant creating a whole person with both the masculine and feminine energies we all possess and it has showed me that Joanna was never a temporary personna I put on through clothing and a hint of makeup. Some trans people transition and even become slightly more masculine versions of women because they incorporate facets which had always belonged to them. Once they had dealt with their dysphoria, their essence was about who they were on the inside and not the clothing they wore. As an example, Charlie Martin was still a race car driver after her transition.

In the end, confirmation comes from you and it is only when you stop looking for it from others, that you know you are arriving at a point of wholeness.


Who are you?

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Swing and a miss

 


Serenity

The hardest thing about retiring isn't about having enough things to do but rather about slowing the nervous system down. When we are accustomed to high pressure deadlines and dealing with frustrating clients, that sudden disappearance does not mean you can easily uncoil that internal spring which was ever primed to do battle.

I would not go back and, recent coffees with colleagues and their expressions of frustration and stress, tells me my instincts are right. I just need to give myself time to let the dust settle and calm to a healthier level of living. As the time passes I can see it will get easier and my instinct to pounce will subside. I have always been a nervous person and I want that to better be mitigated into serenity.

I see this new phase as taking stock and being even more reflective about what my life has been like. Both successes and mistakes can be put into perspective and weighed in value as lessons for how I go forward. In that sense, retiring from a long career is not about filling one's plate with needless noise but rather about making judicious choices with more personal control. All with the mindset of someone who generally doesn't favor crowds.

One of my recent activities, after an absence for 23 years, has been a return to oil painting which can be very conducive towards being peaceful while one is engaged in it and, like the canvas below, my descent into serenity is a work in progress...





Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Getting schooled

A Democrat schools an ignorant Republican who writes a bill regarding a subject he knows nothing about. What a surprise...


Mind the gap

The gap between the haves and have-nots is dangerously widening and even in a country like mine, which is seen by many Republicans as communist, the effects are deeply felt. True, we don't have entire tent cities or barricaded communities a la Johannesburg, but it is evident that the world took a wrong turn particularly in the early 1990's.

Neoliberal free trade was sold as an elixir to cure all economic ills except that it became a way for capitalists to escape tax constraints and social responsibility to further increase the size of their pocketbook. Hence corporations simply moved their factories to places where labor was both cheap and plentiful.

In the US this meant dismantling traditional blue collar work leaving many families in financial ruin. The re training which had been sold to them as a replacement worked for a minority which then saw entire sections of American States which were once prosperous turned into ghost towns.

Now there is a deep problem because the justified mistrust by the working class of a government who sold their power to corporations, has only been magnified by echo chamber internet grievance and outlets like Fox News. The truth is there but simply out of the reach of many who have been sold culture war outrage as a distraction while their problems go unsolved.

But like always happens in history, there comes a time to pay the piper and that time may be coming sooner than we think.



A reliable constant

"Woke" is the right wing's new appropriated term for societal progress and I can imagine 1950's parents complaining about the pelvic contortions of Elvis Presley using the same word. It is now the 21st century and we are proving that people do not change one iota with the same level of stupidity being counted upon as a reliable constant.

When I was younger I was under the naive impression that society could evolve but I was wrong and have now settled on the concept of cycles. Moral panics come upon us and we react with the same tone deafness as the Salem witch trials and if you doubt me view the ramblings of fundamentalist pastors as proof.

I found Stella Magz quite by happenstance and her videos had me both laughing in stitches and in stark confirmation that the stupid among us are an unfixable and perennial part of the landscape...




Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Mrs. McCutcheon

 

Fuel

When you give trans people the right fuel it calms arousal patterns and settles them into themselves. After all when we are driven by identity this medicine aligns mind with body and soothes the turbulence of yearning; it is how hormone therapy becomes yet one more way to confirm who we are because if you take them in error you will know it soon enough.

Not all of us take HRT and for me it became a calculated risk after being advised by an endocrinologist it would be wiser not to given medical history. Plus I was always fearful to do do anything until I fully understood who I was. However, I can completely understand how for many the benefits of their power to align and to make welcome physical changes are life saving. This is especially true for those young enough to maximize their impact once they are certain enough and do so under expert medical supervision.

No, they do not make us any more trans because we have existed for millenia without them. However I am glad they are another tool in the arsenal to help us live more peacefully and authentically.

New Recruits

The next most obvious target for the right wing is disenfranchised young men who are prime for being indoctrinated. They are impressionable enough and can be filled with propaganda about women usurping their place in society by people like Jordan Peterson whose rise to fame can partly be traced to appearances on Joe Rogan. The latter, who is the everyman bro just asking questions, has a habit of favoring right wing guests like Peterson, Matt Walsh or Ben Shapiro who know they can spew their culture war grievance without much pushback. Rogan gives them a platform where they can spin their spin their web inside impressionable young minds.

This era of social media is perfect because everyone has their own megaphone and once you capture an audience you have them until they can be deprogramned which can take a while.

With the disgruntled white boomer aging rapidly, new recruits are required and these young men will do just fine.



Monday, May 22, 2023

Looney

This is the type of uninformed voter who has fallen victim to anti-trans rhetoric and she is far from being the only one. The world is full of these people with zero critical thinking skills....


Past half way

Life is short and we need to profit from it but this lesson only seems to become obvious once we are well past the half way mark. I wish if weren't so but it's the truth.

I laugh now at the idea that I would ever let other people's opinion affect me but it was such an overwhelming concern in my youth and even well into adulthood. Today I find society odd, contradictory and enigmatic.

The very idea that we would want to seek their approval should make us question why.

Fanfic

Toska is young and exploring her gender identity. One day she is given male clothes to change into because hers were soaked by the rain she had been in and something seems to click.

This Polish film touches on sexuality and gender and what it looks like for this young GenZ generation who has a more fluid perspective on both. Suddenly Toska is binding her breasts, cutting her hair and using male pronouns much to the chagrin of her single father whose Zoloft pills she steals to try to find balance. She also fancies a gay boy who likes her male energy.

It's not going to maybe win awards,  but the way the subject matter is handled here I think is an accurate reflection of how youth now lives this new landscape. 

Fanfic is on Netflix in Polish with English subtitles.



Sunday, May 21, 2023

The wrong horse

As Fani Willis prepares to indict Trump this summer for election interference in Georgia, you get the impression that the GOP bet on the wrong horse. Now with their low information base completely bamboozled and unphased by the steady stream of Trump criminality, the party is likely realizing that they are stuck with him and that their brand is increasingly a losing one. No serious platform, endless culture wars and an electorate that increasungly does not support their policies and you can see how the wheels are starting to come off the bus.

You could say this is poetic justice and you'd be right because by playing with American democracy through gerrymandering and fear mongering, they must have realized that it was a losing battle when most of the population disagrees with you. When they had their chance to derail Trump they didn't take it because they were fearful of the monster they had created; oh well.

Trump is of course a liability in the long run, but then that's what happens when you bet everything on a loser. There are inevitable consequences down the road.

Maybe they can go after Hillary Clinton.



Traditional

Traditional religion has been displaced in our societies by other things: mindfulness spirituality, fringe beliefs and cults as well as self created dogmas which combine the spiritual with the secular. This has happened because human beings need some sort of belief system which even atheism and agnosticism also are since the very conviction that God does not or may not exist has consequences on the way we live.

Some think this loss of traditional belief system makes our society less orderly and it is true that when there are less commonly held ideas you scatter people to the wind. But these religions were also sometimes used to subjugate people into submission and shunned them when they didn't measure up. Divorced Catholics for example could be denied communion and never mind admitting you were homosexual. It was a mass belief system for those who could fit within its confines and comply and it was this aspect of religion warped by humanity which was developed for its other needs. Doubters need not apply although don't ever say that to C.S. Lewis.

I began to outgrow conventional religion because what had become of its original purity had been hidden underneath layers of convention which became a middleman I no longer required. Plus when you need to deliver to the masses, everything can become fashioned into the formulaic for easier digestion by all. Going to Sunday Mass became a formed habit made even less palatable by stale and uninspired homilists and my intellect grew to need more sustenance.

If we grow to think for ourselves we may realize that there is more to grasp when we do some of the work on our own.

Living authenticity

I don't think it's ever too late to start living authentically which can of course mean different things to different people; the aim being that you aren't concealing your true self from the world.

For some that may be regular cross gender expression while for others nothing short of a full transition will do. In either case, it benefits you to live in the open because hiding does not help the psyche in that you always feel uncomfortable with keeping something so intrinsic to you as a secret.

Today I live with a much healthier mindset because my children and my close friends and family know I am trans. True, I don't make a habit of announcing it when out in public, but that would be akin to pasting a sign on your forehead announcing something to people who don't know you and don't necessarily care.

If you are with a non-accepting or partly accepting spouse, I really feel for you because that can be very difficult and I lived it. However from my vantage point of today I can emphatically state that I would never go back to that way of living.

In the end, I have not lost one single person who matters to me after coming out which, at one time, I would have never believed could ever happen.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Bouree

 


Jubilance

Theatricality in the trans world isn't new and I point to Philosophy Tube and Abigail Thorne's emulation of Natalie Wynn (aka contrapoints) as example of how sometimes it can even get a bit saccharin. I also happen to vehemently disagree with Abigail that dysphoria is an invented concept as I am skeptical a transition based solely on euphoria is a well founded one.

Maybe it's me, because resisting accepting being trans for so long, sometimes has me outright reject overly euphoric presentations of what transitioning can mean for people who aren't already well off and don't have the means to produce expensive YouTube videos.

For the majority of trans people life is generally complicated with loss of family connections and jobs more the norm than the exception. So while I am happy for people these days discovering themselves earlier in life, I don't think painting an overly rosy picture is the way to go. Admittedly not everyone in the public eye is like this and thank God for it because we need accurate portrayals of important decisions like this.

Caryn, who used to frequently comment on my old blog and transitioned in her mid twenties, recently texted me back in response to my query by saying "I've noticed younger trans people don't have to put much thought into their transitions, and can kind of dive in head first with everything available to them through medical insurance". 

She is ten years my junior and has had her own share of struggles thus, even our little trepidation risks playing into the hands of transphobes, there is a lot to be said for ramping down the rhetoric and being less theatrical.

Because being trans definitely ain't no picnic.



No matter who you are...

...be happy with yourself.





Friday, May 19, 2023

We have weirdos here too

 


The genuine article

A trans identity is automatically outside of the understood binary which is why arguing about chromosomes and birthing is a blind alley which cannot be won. We used to talk about binary transsexuals but in reality these are people who just wanted to disappear into the background and be left alone to lead their lives which changed nothing about their biology. It is why transmedicalism may not be a wise and exclusive defense strategy for trans people since conservatives are so deliberatrly obtuse. They want you down their rabbit hole to trap you there.

When we say "transwomen are women" we are speaking in ontological terms because what a woman is isn't just defined by biology. It is a role, a way of being and feeling which cannot be reduced to plumbing (although it may very well be rooted in brain chemistry at birth). Otherwise we might say that women who cannot birth are not the genuine article either.

Don't get trapped arguing with the Matt Walsh types on their terms.

Little fist bumps

"May I disrupt you Madame?"

I told the man I didn't have any cash before looking up from my phone and realizing he just wanted to sit at the same table to which I said "of course". The public market was fairly busy at that hour.

He was using a cane which he placed on the floor next to him. His teeth were in bad shape and he looked gaunt and pale as he began to converse with me. He told me he lived only on a government assistance check of $900 a month which covered everything including lodging and food. That allowed him to have his one daily coffee as an extravagance. 

He used to work as an auto mechanic but now retired he could only count on old age security and nothing else. There had been no other pension.

He was kind and generous with his information and offered me little fist bumps of approval when I said something that pleased him. It reminded me of how little I have to complain about as I see more and more people today fall off the grid and be left to their own devices.

As I finally left him, he wished me long life and happiness to which I offered the same knowing that many of his days may not always be all that rosy when you don't make enough to sustain you.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Love life

 "How is your love life?" asked Beatrice, one of the many lovely friends and work colleagues I have kept through this process.

I made a goose egg with my fingers smirking just a little at the same time to which she offered a little frown.

I then explained that at this stage of my life my internal sense of self is more important than companionship and that I belong to a generation where both males and females were often corrupted beyond repair. We had grown up understanding that gender was sacrosanct and could not be ignored. Trans people were a foreign entity whose raison d'etre no one comprehended; not even ourselves.

For androphilics the formula was perhaps a little easier and some transitioned in stealth and maybe found love. For gynephilics it was tougher and many of us put off transitions altogether or waited until children left home.

Young trans people today are not nearly as self defeating and better know their value. They might wait for the right train to come by and don't think that their partner simply not wretching at the sight of them, somehow makes them fortunate.

Yes, that was once me.

Disarmed

If you grew up like me, you were afraid to perturb. You towed the line and respected society and your elders even to your own detriment. In other words, I was the perfect candidate for following the script and do as I was told. Being the eldest in a deeply devout Catholic family tends to do that to you.

The problem comes when you understand early on that you don't naturally fit and you must work harder to fight instincts you aren't supposed to have because you quickly come to understand they aren't normal. There is also little to no information at your disposal and what little exists is sparse and even contradictory. Many of us grew up like that in the 60's and 70's which were my formational decades.

Nothing can be done about that now other than to look back to it as history which made me strong internally. At a certain point my health was beginning to suffer and the cracks showing by my mid 40's when I realized I needed guidance beyond my usual self reliance. My ability to manage my gender dysphoria was faltering.

My story is in stark contrast to young trans kids who are diagnosed much earlier today. They see the stories of their peers and recognize themselves within them. They don't need to surrepticiously look up the word "transvestite" or "transsexual" in an arcane encyclopedia in their early teens afraid to be seen and scared to death they might be either.

My formation was a double edged sword in that it built strength and resolve in me but then also built up psychological scars which would need tending to later. It wasn't avoidable of course, because I did the best I could with the information I had and can now say I have used my history to build a new foundation for myself.

Do I still harbour some resentment at a world which had me go through all this? Yes except that at this point I am almost completely devoid of venom.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Daily weirdo check

 


Thinking for ourselves

Gender critical feminist lesbians are worried about being erased (yes that's you Kathleen Stock). They see some in their ranks opt to become trans men and perhaps feel that they side with the misogyny they experienced growing up. So as response they align themselves with the anti-trans bandwagon and become uneasy bedfellows with right wing lunatics who normally think women belong in the kitchen.

It is a strange world but that does not surprise because if you are incensed enough about a topic, the enemy of your enemy becomes your friend even if normally you would despise each other. Much of the world operates on fear and lack of understanding of the experience of the other and once you have gone down a rabbit hole it can be very difficult to exit most especially if you are afraid of losing face by later needing to eat some proverbial crow.

I see misinformation everywhere but in this age of absolute certainty we have lost all nuance and reflection. We become entrenched in dogma and fail to question whether we might be wrong about something. Even the so called "trans community" (a term I tend to disfavor because we certainly do not all think the same) has blind spots in its orthodoxy which are in need of examining. But groupthink is sometimes more tempting when there is safety in numbers. So we circle the wagons.

Thinking for ourselves is not always easy as we can often encounter resistance from within our own ranks but if we are to be honest with ourselves it is always the best way to go.

Hemispheres

A fascinating talk by neuroscientist Dr Iain McGilchrist...


Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Bastardization

Religion has always been useful especially for those who needed orthodoxy to provide them with certainty. If you were uncomfortable with nebulous reality, it provided comfort plus a way for the ruling class to keep people controlled. Small wonder that the clergy was well entrenched with the monarchies of Europe for centuries

Religion can of course be perverted into whatever forms you like and it has always been infected with human biases because it cannot be helped. But if you were too afraid to look behind the curtain, many people were led astray by those with less than honorable intent. Priests molested children, papal indulgences handed out for money and nonsensical rules were followed which had little to do with love of neighbor and more with passing judgement.

Today the perversion of the New Testament messaging by White Christian Nationalism is threatening US politics like never before. The GOP courting of Evangelicals has thwarted the underpinnings of the country and reminds one of the rise of Nazism under much the same guise and we know how well that went. This "Jesus and guns" dogma which also preaches monetary prosperity is the kind of corruption that is the antithesis of the message of Christ.

Trumpism captured this demographic in spades and emboldened it and, unfortunately, "Turn the other cheek" isn't part of its credo.

Balance point

When judiciously administered, gender variant behaviour can make people quite content which is reflected in a number of blogs I sometimes read. However trans people with strong dysphoria can be more angst filled because of the difficulties inherent in considering what to do with a complicated situation; one which can often involve weighing the merits or pitfalls of transition.

No formula is perfect of course, because even those who are perfectly fine in their birth sex identification but are seeking outlets for expression, can have trouble getting the right amount given they may be with a non-accepting spouse.

When someone is in the process of determining whether they are trans versus gender variant, the learning curve can sometimes be quite steep. It can become a process of trial and error where openings for exploration can be few and much introspection is required. For this reason it can sometimes take decades as it did for me.

Finding that balance point is not remotely obvious especially when often our worst enemy is ourselves. Thus, if you are trans, eliminating any lingering internalized transphobia becomes paramount which unfortunately, especially if you are older, is a feat easier said than done.

Contrast

The choking death of subway performer Jordan Neely at the hands of former marine Daniel Penny has steeled the American right's resolve to see the act as justifiable. Fear of the other, whether it be the poor or visible minorities, has been magnified by the right in recent years because convenient scapegoats are needed in times of crisis. This is a historically provable pattern.

The increasing radicalization of the right wing is having grave consequences on American democracy as battle lines are drawn for control of voting districts through gerrymandering. The idea being to defeat your opponent by crushing their ideology.

This death has provided us a portrait of how stark in contrast the political ideologies can be. One side sees a dangerous criminal while the other a hungry victim of globalization who was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Monday, May 15, 2023

The illness model

The trans condition as illness can appeal  to some people who greatly suffer under the difficulties stemming from being born that way. The more you rejected yourself, the more apt you might be to fall for pseudoscience. I know I almost did early on.

Here I am not speaking of gender dysphoria and the disconnect between birth sex and gender identity which, if not adequately treated, can be very painful. I am more talking about crank theories which seek to pathologize behaviour as if it were rooted in mental illness.

Even some people who call themselves "crossdressers" would suffer enormously and early blogs I read were often about finding ways to cure their affliction. They had created a feed and starve cycle which included purging (which many transsexuals also experience) and suffered more than they need have. The solution of well timed cross gender expression would have eliminated the angst and normalized everything into stability. With very little justification, societal disapproval had turned their lives into convoluted messes.

Even today some transsexuals still espouse the Blanchard pseudoscience which has been handily debunked proving how much internalized guilt can be very tenacious. Once we have established a psychological block, it is very hard to eliminate it.

I am still sorting out many loose threads from years of fighting my own nature which shows just how much work is sometimes involved in cleaning house.

Zappa speaks

Prophetic and absolutely true. This was 37 years ago and things have only worsened as today the US flirts with theocracy...


Sunday, May 14, 2023

Falling backwards

Self reliance is a good thing until it tips over into being mistrustful of others. In other words, we rely on ourselves because we are afraid to trust. I think of that exercise when you are invited to close your eyes, fall backwards and trust that the person will catch you. It is by no means innate instinct that we allow ourselves to do this.

Over my life I have gained a good deal of mistrustful impulses because keeping things to myself became mandatory. Often those defenses were proven correct because not everyone we meet has honorable intentions. However, I think the majority of people do except that they can see your reticence and not trust you in return. This needs to be worked back and I am learning later in life to be more open while still keeping my radar active; the one we develop as experiences teach us not to become targets or laughing stocks.

The person I have traditionally been most averse to is the impulsive and knee-jerk non-thinker; the more vapid, the more I was likely to dislike them. But even as they regularly fell into sinkholes there was something admirable in their tenacity to be so cavalier; to be so themselves.

Everyone has their own little demons and we need to show them we are not afraid to sometimes reveal our own by taking the risk of falling backwards.

We are always a work in progress.

The flat

I said the other day that I walk a lot and so the comfy flat is my best friend in the spring and summer. Amazon makes a great basic flat and my last pair got a lot of use. In fact they are still very much alive if a little weather beaten and I will wear them when dressing up is not an issue.

There is no need to break them in as they are immediately comfortable when you put them on. Black is my go to colour because they go with everything.

My block heel pumps occasionally get taken out but now I need to think where I will be going and how much walking is required which means common sense often dictates that I leave them behind.



Saturday, May 13, 2023

The love equation

None of us get the love equation just right because imperfection coupled with imperfection yields more imperfection still. Some who are together occasionally dream of greener pastures while others alone yearn to be held and consoled from their loneliness. The rest of us might cobble together formulas which can work through extended periods and then suddenly face crises which will test their resilience.

Love doesn't offer guarantees and those of us looking to have psychological holes filled may be in for disappointment. Because what love offers is a chance to help someone else through life while they return their own less than perfect version of companionship.

If I sound cynical, I am not and have simply developed a realistic stance on an institution which has historically had the most myth surrounding it. This might be because to understand the true stakes, would mean thinking and rethinking and finallly deciding to not enter such a great mystery for fear of failing and feeling all that searing anguish afterwards.

Convention

If today society is more free of convention it can be said that it has come at the price of social manners. Public civility is at an all time low but not because everyone is that way. The problem is that the bar for the worst forms of it has been lowered.

I take the good with the bad here because the stiffer and more forced behavior of my time came with a healthy dose of hypocrisy. In other words, keep up appearances but do what you will in private.  It was perhaps go to church on Sunday to make up for all that sinning during the weekdays.

Conservatives bemoan this as moral decay but then people who didn't fit convention in the past simply moved underground. Human instincts don't change and are only as visible as the current tolerance level of the society we inhabit. But we play the game that people fundamentally morph into different creatures when it is really the social mores that vary over time.

If I prefer today it is because it is more devoid of deceat and, while the warts may be more evident, at least we can see things coming much more readily..

Friday, May 12, 2023

Jordy Check

RM Brown is sarcastic and irreverent to be sure but he invariably chooses the right targets :)

Psychology

Human psychology is fascinating and because we are all born clean slates, what you put into us as vessels will combine with our genetic predisposition to dramatically impact our lives. Often traumas will cause deep wounds which require healing but perhaps due to fear are addressed later in life or maybe not at all. All of us have blind spots regarding our own psychology and we often fail to recognize patterns of thinking which may be borne of childhood fears.

The predisposition for gender variance may already be present in childhood and what impacts it will determine how it progresses going forward. For example, if there is outright rejection it will perhaps go underground as it did for me. Conversely, the child may insist profusely irrespective of the frustration of flustered parents. I am speaking here primarily of prepubescent behavior because the post pubescent kind seems to be driven slightly differently.

If gender variant behavior has genetic roots, we have yet to find conclusive proof although the sheer numbers, even if small as a pro-rata of society, point towards that as a logical conclusion.

Post-pubescent origins seem to suggest more sexual motives; however, the argument could be made for denial playing a part in later recognition. Trying on your mother's bra or panty hose in your teens and being aroused can begin a pattern of behavior which could be argued to be rooted in predisposition simply because most young men would not find such experiences titillating enough to build into a lifelong pattern.

In the past we made distinctions between transvestism and transsexualism although on Benjamin's scale they seemed to meld as you went from type III into IV. Since no two people are alike and we are not all able to properly describe or even understand our own behavior, a clinician might have been hard pressed to make an accurate assessment.

My point here is that there may be genetic drivers for gender variance but not necessarily in all individuals; the particular combination of nature and nurture being decidedly unique in each case. But in the end no matter the source, complete self-acceptance becomes mandatory because suppression seems to produce far more adverse psychological effects.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Shame

CNN's recent town hall was actually a Trump rally.

Not only did the network give this criminal free air time to spew his lies, but they also filled the audience with his sycophants who laughed hysterically at his every pronouncement. Trump normally slovenly slurs through half intelligible speech waving those little hands in mock playing of an accordion which would be amusing if he did not have so much influence within his party.

I could not bear to watch the spectacle but those highlights on YouTube I did see were deeply embarrassing as poor Kaitlan Collins was faced with a barrage of untruths made more difficult to fact check by the cackling and applause from the audience.

Normally you would be able to provide a platform for a politician except that Trump defies all comparisons to a conventional one. He is more akin to an Al Capone character with a history of threatening judges and grabbing women by the genitals.

A more deplorable person has never run and won such a high office, which is why the rule book has been thrown in the dust bin and these horrible errors are made. Unsurprisingly, a sampling of the audience were questioned by the network and gave some answers that would be deemed hallucinatory by anyone who is up on the subject matter.

Shame on CNN.



Cautionary

If you were to choose one word to describe my journey as a trans person it would be cautionary. I was always careful in making sure I wasn't deceiving myself and read all the literature I could starting from a young age. Those of us from the pre-internet era did not have the resources available at our fingertips like we do today and even the idiom was not yet sufficiently developed which allowed us to better comprehend the distinction between birth sex and gender identity. Here my penchant for intellectualizing everything probably delayed me. My journey paralleled our advancement in knowledge but I did not begin to reach a comfort level until I was almost 50 and even now there is much clean up to be done.

They say that caution is the better part of valor and perhaps that's true but it can also be frustrating when the circumstances around you do not align with where you are in your advancement. Family, job situation and even friends can complicate and even delay our journeys of self discovery. Still, I have no regrets because each step was made with the discretion I felt was needed to keep the boat stable. When you have dependents who didn't ask to be born, you need to walk that much more deftly. 

I don't pretend to be able to advise others who take more bold steps at certain junctions but only caution that certain consequences may come of them. Nothing can be taken for granted because life offers us no guarantees.

All that being said, living in suppression of your identity is neither good for us nor for those who say they love us because that shadow isn't really an accurate picture. For some of us being trans became a prolonged purgatory from which there was no escape except it needn't have been that way.

Simply put, if your gender identity is tied to more than a costume you wear on occasion, you owe yourself the exploration.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The American experiment

Trump's conviction for sexual assault in the E Jean Carroll case will do nothing to impact his favorability rating among his low information base, but I do think independents who might have been tempted to hold their nose yet again, will now be less likely to vote for him.

This of course assumes that Jack Smith or Fani Willis will incredulously not obtain criminal convictions on what are essentially open and shut cases of election interference, insurrection planning and document stealing. This not to even mention Alvin Bragg's case in New York. If this had been any other defendant, the jail cell door would have long been closed behind them.

Trump has been exactly the cancer I had expected when I woke up in disbelief to that 2016 election surprise. It was like letting the fox loose in the hen house and then witness the ensuing carnage. The most base instincts of American society were given permission to be expressed out loud because suddenly a crass and racist dolt was occupying the president's chair. This helped reveal just how deep the cracks in the foundation actually ran which might yet turn out to have been a blessing in disguise.

If he is allowed, by some ghastly misfortune, to be president again what is left of the American experiment will almost certainly be extinguished and, by that point, perhaps deservedly so.

At this point I my life I am not surprised by the gullibility inherent in human nature, but am regrettably constantly being disappointed by it.



Goal

There is no cure for what ails human beings. We are over confident, guilt-ridden, overly curious, overly incurious, arrogant, timid, brazen and so much more. In other words, we are living contradictions of both lack and excess. Small wonder we are able to love someone else when we often deem ourselves irreparable creatures full of problems which need desperate attention.

I have observed society all my life. At first it was through the eyes of a shy child trying to fit in and now through the optics of someone who fights cynicism because they have seen behind the curtain and witnessed the inner workings of how everything truly operates.

At their root, people are afraid and insecure and we need reassurance that we matter and are worthy of love. It is the engine which drives our movements in life.

The goal is always honorable and devoid of malice even as our own lack of love of self threatens to derail us.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

I talk to people

She was maybe 6'1", about my daughter's age and walking just a few feet ahead of me. I spoke up and said:

"It's so nice to see tall women because when I was your age it was more rare"

She butted shoulders with me, beamed me a wonderful smile and said in French very sweetly:

"Thank you so much and have a wonderful day!"

From bad to worse

We are currently at a flash point in the world. The US in particular is experiencing rampant gun violence, mental health and drug issues as well as increasing poverty while the top 1% continues to amass wealth at a breakneck pace. It's like sitting on a powder keg.

This is a decay period before things need to be remade which happens to all countries at some point in their history. Even my own Canada is experiencing a less extreme case of the same malaise as we adjust to a new reality which necessitates that the old power structures either be dismantled or at least reshaped to reflect our new needs.

As we very rapidly shifted away from resource and blue collar dependent economies into technology driven ones in the 1990's, we failed to properly recognize how people would be impacted. Now some of those left behind are suffering under the weight of stagnant wages and rapidly disappearing job prospects. Third world countries now produce the goods in the types of factories that once employed them.

None of this is easily repairable and it will take time to reshape society such that those left behind to not fall prey to despair. Because once that happens on a large enough scale, the ensuing chaos will overwhelm what is already a bad situation.

January 6th was a bellwether for what ails the masses and even if those people represented the highest rung of the ill informed, their desperation could not be ignored lest it worsen.



Monday, May 8, 2023

A bridge too far

Our sexual plumbing has very little to do with who we truly are, and yet it is an incidental trait which societies have historically disproportionately weighted. If we think about the limitations that people have suffered, we can see that it has been due to something which should have been far less consequential.

Power structures demanded strict gender roles and the biology inherent in birthing gave those structures weight. Suddenly there was a way to conveniently determine status within a society based on dogma around biology; this regardless of whether it was a correct method. The roles of protector and of nurturer were drawn around this binary regardless of the affinity of the person to fulfill the role. Yes there were general inclinations in people, but not everyone fit them and so they played a role to comply with expectation to avoid banishment.

Today as those mandated roles have been loosened, it has unnerved those who relied heavily on them; none more so than theocratic leaning conservatives who viewed this world order as divinely ordained. For them there can be no divergence from this model which is why they are so vocal that it not be undone. Women and minorities already taking up more room, it only exacerbated their discomfort when LGBTQ people also demanded rights which for them was a bridge too far.

The argumentation around biology is all that is left to conservatives because in its absence their case falls apart. Since there is enough behavioral divergence in people, you cannot defend your moral panic in any other way. They cannot easily be dissuaded since they operate on fear. Some can be converted with common sense and logic, but the rest must simply be drowned out by the greater numbers of those of us not afraid to progress.




Chuckle

It never fails to make me chuckle inside. Some women will look at me then immediately look at what I am wearing on my feet. I can see them asking themselves: "is she wearing heels?". Then they see it's flats.

One of the disadvantages of being tall I suppose except that it now amuses me no end.

Don't worry about how tall you are. Just be confident.

Fine tuning

Being retired and ostensibly living alone (my daughter comes and goes) leaves you with a lot of time to reflect. Years ago being with someone, working full time plus still having young children permitted distractions which are now gone. You need to fill that space with other things.

Yes I am a musician/composer, am starting to oil paint again and I work here and there but nevertheless this is a major life adjustment which has forced the remaining outstanding issues to the surface. A trans person who had been non-self accepting for a large chunk of their life will have psychological clean up to do and I fit that bill perfectly. Being trans isn't remotely obvious no matter your age.

There are no more guard rails as to how I am to live and no one cares except me. But the pervasive programming we receive from earliest memory has left some remnants which need addressing. It won't change how I physically live, but putting in the work will further improve the state of the psyche.

I used to envy gender variant people whose less virulent dysphoria (or lack thereof) allowed them to compartmentalize their lives; something many of us cannot readily do and hence I have tended to gravitate towards people who have transitioned for guidance in fortifying morale. I simply understand them better.

Things are good but they can always be improved and so the fine tuning will continue and likely only stop when I draw my last breath on this earth.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Top 10

Captaine Montreal is a content creator on YouTube who profiles Montreal. He covers metro stations, the history of the city and focuses on selected Burroughs to provide a balanced view of what life there is like.

His recent top 10 of the best Montreal burroughs took many features into consideration such as access to public transit, availability of services and cultural life. That my own burrough ended up in top spot only confirmed why I should be happy living there and why I have absolutely no plans to move.



It was time

Weather was finally nice enough to wear a skirt. Early mornings in May in Montreal tend to be chilly.




Saturday, May 6, 2023

Dear diary

My traffic is way down compared to my old blog and yet I could not care less since this latest incarnation serves even more as diary to express my thinking on different issues through the lens of a trans person. Increasing viewership is not really much of a concern.

Life feels more joyous and balanced even as I iron out wrinkles from my past. We all have problems but the perspective we gain when the biggest issue in our lives is being increasingly reined in, makes those problems seem less significant.

We should all want to tap into what makes us tick so we can become more authentic. The hard part is how to do so when you are viewed by so many from a perspective that you should not be allowed to exist.


What clothing can mean

Clothing choices become necessarily pragmatic over time and, if you have spent any amount of time in uncomfortable shoes, the pain afterwards will be sufficient reminder to be more judicious. I walk a lot.

I think I am about average when it comes to my choices as compared to genetic women in that I am neither frumpy nor a clothes horse. Thus I have over the years developed a combination of style and comfort which serves the occasion and gets me occasional compliments from women although I do not seek them. To be sure, comfort has gained in importance as more time is spent in certain items over varying occasions.

It is interesting that the more frequently we can express authenticity, the less important clothing can become as it develops into a tool to convey identity rather than an end in and of itself. Genetic women run a huge gamut of preference in this area of course (just as some men), but in general you might surprise yourself in how you morph over time as you grow into your sense of self through daily living.

Like everything else in life there is a process to go through.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Gotcha


Dismantling idiotic right wing talking points...

Be not afraid

I have come out to a lot of people over the years and have yet to face even an ounce of rejection. Thus I am living proof that good and decent people will not let you down.

The temptation is to believe what you see online which is more weighted towards the dregs of society. After all, anyone who goes out of their way to post negative things about trans people clearly has some issues. This is why I strongly urge that you base yourself on the real world and not the virtual. Nice people will be good to other nice people regardless of identity because they are secure and have nothing to fear. No one has been better here than my own children.

Unfortunately, fear of the other is what drives much of the hatred in this world.

For the longest time I allowed my own fear of rejection to paralyze me and I suffered in silence through self inflicted misery which need not have happened. But when you are victim to pervasive programming there is perhaps some just cause for trepidation. However, even people I might have hesitated to tell have been amazing which shows how often we are our own worst enemies.

Since my transition has been purely a social one, the people I frequent are split into groups: some know I am trans but have never seen Joanna, others knew me before but now see only Joanna and others have only ever met Joanna and don't know I am trans.

The process of coming out continues but there is not much left.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Say it ain't so

Here, Rebecca Watson explains why scientists should stick to their own field of expertise.

Well worth the watch. Bravo Rebecca!


Imposter

All trans people suffer bouts of imposter syndrome at any given time in their lives. I now know more people than ever who are not aware of my history and sometimes I will still doubt myself about whether I should say something. It's almost like an urge that dissipates just as quickly as it comes.

I say to myself all the time that my gender presentation changes nothing and still, that little trepidation can happen on occasion. I have read that I am far from being the only one. We will doubt our voice, our mannerisms or the width of our shoulders and wonder if we have been discovered. Even if I have stopped worrying about those aspects, it seems to be an unavoidable part of being trans.

I don't think that will ever entirely go away but may perhaps dwindle down to such a frequency that it becomes just another tiny irritant of life.

Yesterday I came upon a video on FFS by happenstance and all the testimonials had been about how the procedure had made such a drastic improvement in the lives of the patients. These transwomen could now live with much less trepidation and fear. The scrutiny and the stares had been reduced in some cases to zero.

They finally blended.

Guarded

Being an established coffeeholic I have been a patron of various Montreal coffee houses over the years which has seen me meet a variety of people. Many are fascinating and when we try to open ourselves up a bit they will reveal little portraits of who they are.

As somewhat of an introvert it hasn't come naturally to me and yet it has ultimately proven to be positive. The more we lower our own defenses the more others feel safe in doing the same. The carapace we use for self protection can be lowered and we are rewarded with the warmth that many people possess but are often leary of showing until they feel a degree of safety in doing so.

I have always been impressed by gregarious people who can be themselves and envied their ability to make you feel at ease. They are always the first to lower their guard and demonstrate that they mean no harm by inviting us to trust them a little with gestures as simple as a warm smile.

As someone who learned early in life to be mistrustful and careful about divulging too much information, it has been beneficial to my psyche to let people in more. Maybe with age we just don't care anymore about what people think.

There is always a little risk but the reward is ultimately worth the effort.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Wtf??

 


Jordy

If you read my old blog then you know I have no love for Jordan Peterson. He is exactly my age and the antithesis of what I aim for in life. In other words, he personifies the worst instincts of the tail end of the baby boomer generation.

There is nothing more distasteful to me than haughty pseudo-intellectual posturing aimed primarily at disparaging others. So he will spend his time on Twitter shooting at what he and his fellow Daily Wire alarmists call the decay of society. All this because we are making cultural progress which does not suit him or them.

If you recall, his fame dates back to his refusal to address a young transwoman student at the University of Toronto with the correct pronouns and only grew from there. After, he became father figure to young men who seemed confused by the societal protocols of the modern era and he wrote a book with 12 rules which ostensibly told them to take personal responsibility by making their own beds. The problem is that Peterson only believes in personal responsibility with social justice a thing for losers who he kicks to the curb with dismissive and often irritating lack of decorum.

It would have been acceptable for him to remain guru for these young men but his new found fame bolstered his bravery and made him believe he had sufficient expertise in every other area. Not that his fanboys on the right would notice, but his skin deep knowledge of other subjects offers plenty of amusement and as a fellow Canadian I feel shame that he holds so much sway. On trans issues, for example, he is beyond pathetic but then he just needs to feed the uneducated on the right their dose of what they want to hear to keep them happy. Here ignorance is bliss.

Anyway, next time he cries, someone please hand him a hanky.



Truth

I think that in life we should aim to be truth tellers much more than being embraced as doing the popular thing. After all popularity often means bowing to the crowd or watering your messaging down to please as many people as possible. Since it is impossible to please everyone, we must strive to please ourselves first and hopefully that message aligns with truth.

In our professional lives, for example, it can be tempting to skew ourselves towards what management wants rather than what is right and moral. Over my career I have faced scenarios where putting my signature on a document would have pleased a client in the short term but ultimately prove detrimental down the line for the project. In the end I kept my self respect and became known in my industry as a straight shooting professional who stuck to their guns.

We cannot bend truth because it is not infinitely elastic and it will ultimately ricochet in our faces in a moment of reckoning.

What I have learned in my life is that truth rises to the top like a good oil floats on water. It cannot be escaped and no amount of agitation will prevent its journey to the surface. I left my industry when I felt sales were becoming more important than truth and doing things right. 

I did so with perfect timing.

"You are gangsters"

Robert DeNiro spoke today in New York in his inimitable style which reminds one of his movie characters. The tonality is so familiar. His bl...