Friday, June 30, 2023

Hate

 


Grin and bear

Northeast summers were already atrocious but they are only worsening. Hot and muggy, one does not last too long on the kind of walks I like to do and even getting up early only marginally helps.

To be sure this region of the world isn't for the faint of heart with the weather extremes not for everyone and yet I wouldn't live elsewhere because there is much more that I love than I dislike.

So I will grin and bear July and August politely biting my lip when I hear people say they like it nice and hot.



Sporadic

I am fascinated by sporadic cross gender expression which I believe is composed mainly of two groups: 1) those who need more but are constrained via relationship issues or other and 2) those who are satisfied with their chosen amount and are not at all constrained.

It is this second group that I find most interesting from my vantage point as a trans person who tried for years to drown my feelings in a bathtub. I ask myself why even bother and what is the draw and is it simply to dip a toe into femininity? And even then why often in groups?

We are all different but this second group with the most amount of elective choice and it's payoff is for some reason the most fascinating to me. Perhaps because it is the most foreign.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Two Distant Strangers

Two distant Strangers is a must see short film. Police brutality against young black American men is a well documented occurence and this Groundhogs Day re-imagining will stay with you. I promise.

Netflix.





Things my father taught me

I often think of my father; the bespectacled intellectual with head lost in his thoughts or in a book. A cultured man of his era who had lost his own father far too early. I have now surpassed the age at which he passed away.

My son, who possesses much the same calm demeanor, has identical eyes which constantly remind me of the man who gave me my education in life principles. That rock steadiness helped without my fully having appreciated it at the time. For my own youthful instabilities and my dark deep secret would require a steady foundation of support.

I owe a debt of gratitude to my father who gave as freely and selflessly as he could for he already knew how life was hard. So I tried to model myself somehow in his footsteps as I provided to the best of my ability my own foundation for my children.

The way back

Jack Smith has a treasure trove of evidence; almost an embarrassment of riches. However the problem is that the climate is so coarse and so partisan that getting a narcissistic criminal off to jail will not be easy. If Smith somehow manages to just keep Trump from ever holding office again, it may be enough triumph for the American people and for justice itself.

Fake electors, coercive phone calls in Georgia, insurrection plotting, stealing classified documents, etc; the list of crimes makes Watergate pale by comparison. For all of Nixon's Machiavellian nature and scheming he at least wasn't a complete imbecile however that was an era before George Orwell became fully prophetic about the power of propaganda and the gullible nature of humanity.

I am uncertain if there is a way back from this. A return to truth will be difficult in a world where individual opinion, no matter how unfounded, carries considerably more weight. A world where the pronouncements of the jester are equal to those of the sage.



C'est un deuil

I saw Ghislaine on the walking path. A spry 82 year old, she looked up and smiled:

"Comment ca va Joanna?

We chatted for a couple of minutes about how she is doing and then she asked me about my retirement. She then said something which struck a chord:

"C'est un deuil" (it's a grieving)

I think she was right. Although you are happy, you need to grieve your former life before you fully move to the next one.

This is even more so for a trans person.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Cis man

Jordan Peterson, one of my favorite super villains, is not doing too well :)



Pendulum

If we return to the three elements which constitute gender (ie. identity, presentation and role) we can see clearly that they mix differently in each individual. I know enough gender variant people now (here I will leave out my medically transitioned friends) who exist on the identity/presentation pendulum with some presenting full time, others part time with the identity aspect varying from having it be a guilty pleasure to bordering on strong dysphoria.

That this is hardly surprising is an understatement, because not only are these variables mixed in differing proportions but the social circumstances and rearing of each person are unique. This is why making comparisons is often very difficult and we cannot assess ourselves based on the experience of others.

What has always interested me most is the element of choice and how much can be exercised comfortably by each person. For example, I have met people who are happy with two outings a year but also people who perhaps border on transsexualism. Obviously the former appears to have the greater choice which takes me back to the question of identity. In other words, as the need for expression increases is it always tied to an increasing sense of identity or do some, given an equal level of investment, simply need more expression to be happy.

When I was in my teens I thought I suffered from an uncontrollable compulsion even as I knew my gender feelings dated back to earliest memory. I know many older trans people also fall into this camp where their sense of identity is confused for habitual behaviour which they believe can be curbed.  That this is less likely to occur today is because trans kids are identified early and much of that trauma is avoided as they move into adolescence.

There are people whose cross gender expression is less tied to identity which is fine provided they can understand this at a visceral level which isn't always obvious and, for many, is the hardest part of all.

Untethered

Humans aren't more intelligent than they used to be and perhaps the argument could be made that we've regressed. But humor aside, the untethering of social norms has seen the extremes become more visible which means both the worst and the best are in full view as neither is hindered.

The mass hypnosis of Trumpism would still have happened in any era because there has always been appetite for authoritarianism among a segment of the population who don't like ambiguity. Thus orthodox religion or cults are in no danger of ever disappearing.

There is just no fixing us.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

El ultimo vagon

"El Ultimo Vagon" is set in rural Mexico and gives us a little portrait of the lives of the young students of Georgina, the teacher who is determined to improve their lives.

Their parents are railroad workers who toil for long days to extend the Mexican rail system. The protagonist here is young Ikal who cannot read and is taken under Georgina's wing possibly because he reminds her of her long deceased son. Ikal's family needing to move so often conspired towards keeping him illiterate.

Although the pacing may be slow in spots, the performances and the genuine tenderness for the source material is clearly there under the capable direction of Ernesto Contreras.

We venture into the past and future until we understand who is who and then understand why the payoff is very much worth the wait.

On Netflix.



What counts for more

When you've been on your own for a few years and you are older, the appetite for a relationship can completely go away. At least it did for me.

It's a blessing because you now know yourself well and understand what about your life is negotiable and what isn't. You also reflect on your previous relationships with realism rather than the idealism of youth.

I always tell people who ask that there is an openness there but no search which describes it perfectly well. Your current life, for the first time ever lived in complete authenticity, counts for much more.


After all, what good is company if you cannot be who you are.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Daily Weirdo Check

 

Three aspects

When we speak about gender we are referring to three key aspects which constitute it, namely: identity, presentation and role. Not everyone adopts all three and historically those who did (as reversal from birth sex) were referred to as transsexuals. However, the three don't individually exist in a vacuum and they can sometimes blur into each other.

Since I am increasingly getting away from talking about spectrums and umbrellas because these definitions shift over time and are malleable (plus we do not have general consensus), I want to focus on thinking about how these three aspects manifest in people and life choices made as a consequence of their combination into a unique gender variance cocktail.

Appreciative

It's easier to complain than to be appreciative. I am working on living more in the moment and to focus on being more thankful for where I am in life. We don't need to look very hard to find people hurting and in despair and that should make us realize we aren't alone in feeling out of sorts sometimes. Many live circumstances far worse than ours.

The choice is often in seeing the glass half full instead of half empty which is all perspective. Surprises that at first seem to deliberately derail us can end up being fortunate circumstance so why assume the negative position at first.

In an attempt to control our environment we do not welcome the unexpected and so possessing the flexibility of adaptation becomes our best tool. Afterwards we perhaps find the silver lining somewhere should it exist and, if not, worse case we have learned a lesson.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Anne

 


Concrete steps

Once you understand who you are you need to fashion a life which supports that identity. Living as you did before and settling for the world's expectations for you isn't going to work. I mean sure, you can make anything function but you will be a shell of a person instead of a whole one.

Burning off indoctrination and fear is not easy. If it were, I would have been in a better place with my identity at a much younger age. Sure, the cards were not in my favor given the era I was born in but I might have found my backbone sooner had I not bought in hook, line and sinker to what was preached.

Here, trepidation is your enemy and even tiny concrete steps are better than nothing. Hence moving towards a goal through little experiments are a good way to test if you are headed towards internal balance. Better that than waiting for a massive watershed moment at 45 years of age like happened to me when you realize you can no longer go on in the same manner.

Of course people today come to a realization that they are trans very early in life. The resources are there as is the information. For someone like Lily Alexandre who is my daughter's age, there can be options weighed before they embark on a path from which backtracking is exceedingly difficult.

Not that I have regrets but...


Why are people trans?

In her essay, fellow Quebecer Lily Alexandre asks all the right questions and comes up with unsatisfactory answers. Yet the analysis and viewpoint is so very interesting. The simplest answer maybe being because it's possible...


Saturday, June 24, 2023

Front row seat

Trumpism is my closest front row view of the effects of authoritarianism on a populace and it's not pretty. I was naive enough in my 20's and 30's that we had learned our lesson in the 20th century under despots like Mussolini and Hitler such that people would not be so gullible but I misjudged. My assumption had been that less access to information helped create these fascists but that the 21st century's plug in world might more readily be able to combat this.

I was wrong.

The problem is people are far less able to gage and more able to be manipulated en masse than I had anticipated. They can be duped like sheep into believing in false Messiahs. 
Critical thinking being in woefully short supply, access to information has in some ways exacerbated the problem. The fool now has his own online group to comfort him and they can build on their outrage together on the same platform. They also have fabricated custom news.

So in essence we are doomed to repeat history and make much the same mistakes only under different circumstances.We are as scared as we have always been and just as pitifully gullible as ever.

It's frustrating to watch and you find solace among friends over beers with discussions over politics knowing that not much will change. We will go the precipice and hopefully pull away just in time before the disaster.



Labels be damned?

It seems that there are variations on who is inside that mythic "umbrella". Some include drag queens but then Ru Paul himself will tell you he is not trans. Then out of curiosity, I research different websites only to see different answers which shows me just how much varied opinion there is. One young male who suprisingly identifies as a "crossdresser" explains on his site very emphatically why he is not trans.

I will increasingly stay out of those waters because it serves no purpose other than to get some people riled. But it does show me just how much the definitions matter to us. When I was young we basically had two but today we talk about gender non-conforming, non-binary, gender queer, etc because younger people insist on more flexibility in defining themselves.

I insist however that no matter who you think you are, that you reflect and make the necessary adjustments which are right for you and serve to elevate both your internal peace and your dignity without which it could mean we still have work to do on ourselves.

But if both are there, then labels be damned.

Honeymoon over

The retirement honeymoon phase passes and you are left with the exercise of pure adaptation.

I was speaking this past week with two ex-colleagues one currently working in Spain and the other in Germany. Both are in their early 40's and have young children with the challenges in this new frontier (I think) being more daunting than when I was their age. The speed that technology has brought has also introduced a chaos which didn't used to exist and they remind me how right I was to leave when I did.

The engineering profession is a tougher one at this velocity and the lack of maturity both on the client and consultant sides has made it that well executed projects are the exception rather than the norm. We as consultants became for some clients necessary evils who were putting the breaks on their vision and increasing their project costs. I knew then it was time to go especially when I had reached the target I had in mind several years before.

Yes, there is more time to reflect on the self and define what you want the rest of your life to look like. The only difference is that there are no longer clearly defined milestones. You have put in your career time, raised children to adulthood and can now focus more on the self and the improvements you still want to make.

I have more perspective on what needs fixing and with less distractions can go about that work without a timeline since no one is pushing me from behind. I tell people that it's a mini identity crisis which it sort of is except that I've spent all my life in reflection and I know just what to do because those reflexes are primed.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Beyond me

One thing which fascinates me is how some voters talk about the political left and right as of it were a winner take all proposition. I don't think in those terms and instead apply critical thinking to ideas and policies to see if they hold up.

For example I don't like cultural conservatism because in the end it always tends to lose out to social progress. I like that women can vote for example but a 19th century conservative would beg to differ. Fiscal conservatism, on the other hand, can make sense only if applied with wisdom but unfortunately under the American oligarchy it has been applied to the detriment of the lowly citizen and to the advantage of the capitalist. America has far too many medically uninsured people and the GOP wants to chip away at Medicare and social security while continuing to bloat the military industrial complex. So much for frugality.

This blog post was prompted by me watching a video by a woman saying why she was leaving the Democratic party back in 2018. The interesting thing is that back then the GOP under Trump had already begun its descent into a cult of personality and had acquired its appetite for totalitarianism and culture war grievance. Using critical thinking would have gone against such a move even if you didn't at all like the centrist and corporatist Dems.

Since 2018 the American right has only become more extreme and has elected candidates which are not even capable of credibly holding public office.

The United States does not even have a significant enough number of representatives from the progressive left and when a milquetoast centrist like Biden is considered communist by a fringe right wing, how you could make such a move to an increasingly fringe party is beyond me.

Sometimes I just shake my head.

Almost there

I will admit that I do find some gender variant behaviour a little embarrassing. Shooting video of yourself shopping and bending over to show underwear didn't compute for me. Not when on the other end you had people like Janet Mock, Geena Rocero or April Ashley. There is simply too much divergence there for both ends to be relatable.

The way I am curing myself of this is to think about how varied human behaviour is. I needed to let go (and I am still) while convincing myself that what other people think and do is their business. For within the gender variant community there is as much variability as outside of it. 

Why would I be embarrassed for others if they are happy? Indeed, it's none of my business and benign things people do don't impact others.

I am 90 percent there.

Desafinado


 

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Strictly for the birds

"Strictly For The Birds" is a good film. It stars an older transwoman telling her own story and it will touch a nerve in anyone who is transgender as it goes through some of the difficult journey that's often involved. This was especially true for someone born in the early 1950's as Kate was and when there was little information.

The film is tender and deals with the subject matter in a sensitive manner.

We can always begin anew but it's not easy.

You can find it on Tubi. See it.



Butler on gender

Gender theory pioneer Judith Butler speaks...


Station W

Station W is one of the cool little caf├ęs in my hood where I have my morning espresso machiatto. The main street it's on becomes pedestrian until late October and on the weekends and evenings it is packed with people eating on terraces and just hanging out.

I as a morning person like my cool mornings before the heat sets in and this a great place to write a blog post or catch up on news. The young barista is so friendly and we chat while she prepares my coffee.

Eventually I will get used to this retirement thing and learn to not feel guilty about treating myself a bit. One can become addicted to the rat race even if it isn't good for us anymore.






There will never be another you

 RIP Chick Corea...


Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The gender variance spectrum

A fascinating group of people who cover a portion of the gender variance spectrum...


Billboards

The Montreal metro system has billboards which state that phobias are irrational especially those against LGBTQ people.

It's a very positive step because I continue to see more trans people who live openly and I am sure there are also young transitioners who most assuredly fall under my radar.

How things have changed.



Time is up

The majortity of the American public was done with Trump a while ago but it took corporate right wing media time to begin dropping the facade. Bret Baier's interview wasn't exactly earth shattering for a journalist but for a sycophant network petrified of its own viewers it was.

Trump sweated through his normal incoherent babbling more nervously than usual and contradicted himself throughout. One could imagine defense attorneys pulling hairs out as they watched the live interview.

Jack Smith won't have to work very hard as he has a very tight case. The only wild card might be light sentencing coming from Trump friendly judge Cannon who needs to attone for previous missteps if she wants to save what remains of her reputation after a hand slap from the 11th Circuit Court.

I used to wonder how long it would take for the Trump effect to wear off and was often gobsmacked at the responses of true believers. I also knew that many Americans held their nose just to not vote Democrat which was simply against their religion and tradition.

Americans are lovely people and yet there is a strong connection to patriotic fervor among many which I find can blind us to truth. For there is no party or leader who will save us and no nation is more exceptional than the other.

We are all full of warts.

Shell

The most important work of a trans person is done internally. You can take all the necessary external steps to align yourself with your desired presentation as early as possible but without that internal alignment the dysphoria risks continuing

We have been programmed from birth to accept a version of ourselves which is not easily altered and so most of the hard work is going to focus on achieving internal congruence. There is no getting around redefining ourselves according to our internal compass and leaving behind the dictates we were told should form part of our identity.

I had more tools at my disposal physically than I realized but the most difficult part was the self acceptance and getting rid of the fear of rejection. Working on those aspects was far more important and increasingly showed me that the physical presentation was the least of my worries.

Our shell is the manifestation of what lies inside so we work on that first. The more we understand this, the better off we'll be.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Before you leap

Above all I want to be a truth teller which is why I can sometimes appear blunt. Writing isn't a form of entertainment for me but a way to explore ideas and challenge myself while I hopefully challenge others who might read my words.

Over the years I have refined my thinking on a whole host of subjects. Gender variance of course but also my political and philosophical views have morphed as well.

Life is an iterative process and as we age we hopefully reflect on concepts and ideas and question and re-evaluate them. Some may fall by the wayside while others are more perfected into something we can explain to others. I used to say that trans people often lack knowledge on gender theory for if we cannot intelligently defend against a transphobe we are not helping ourselves or others. Yes, we can plea based on humanity but detractors have no interest in that. They say, as Ben Shapiro does, that facts don't care about our feelings.

I want to understand concepts at their core before adopting them. Religion, for example, became for me far too laden with human corruption and in many cases used as weapon to wield against those who did not comply. The more orthodox you are the more easily you can be disarmed because your belief is not sufficiently well grounded to withstand attack. If you are intelligent you will concede that reasonable doubt must necessarily form part and parcel of your dogma.

All that being said, if our ideas about ourselves and the world around us bring us towards a greater sense of harmony, then we know we are going in the right direction. In which case, never mind the theory.

Just you

You get to know people in your neighborhood after a while and they know you. Four years of living like I do now will do that. The same grocery store cashiers, baristas, waiters, neighbors and patrons of places you go to plus the people you meet on your walks. You make new friends.

At first it's a bit surreal but then it slowly becomes very normal and people only know this version of you. It makes you gain confidence and erodes away at any self consciousness which remained.

You are now just you. The person you've always been.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Count to ten

Don't give people power over you.

Look at me the wrong way and I am prepared to show you a glare that speaks volumes should I ever need to use it. You need that; you also need to be able to convey with your energy the message that "you are not worthy of even my attention". I can be very sweet and nice to people but also possess a bite honed from life experience which doesn't permit me to be belittled. There are so many lovely people out there but also plenty of idiots waiting to pounce whether you are trans or not so don't give them the cue that they can.       

Occasionally I will fall prey to arguing with dimwits online but it serves no purpose. After all, it's not really satisfying and the troll isn't interested in being reasoned with. They want to rattle and have their bias confirmed.

When I see a comment that is particularly obtuse (which they see as clever) it's an open invitation but then I reconsider as my indignation at the mean spirited dissipates over time. It's perhaps best I leave it alone and chalk it up to what happens to people with no critical thinking skills combined with zero openness to learn.

I tell myself to count to ten and let it go.

The binary

Either tranvestism and transsexualism (forgive the older terms) are on the same lineage or they are not and I think it is the former which is true with the main differentiator being the presence and strength of gender dysphoria. Something which almost certainly has genetic roots.

It can generally be said that one individual tends to seriously weigh transition while the other does not but in the middle point is where it becomes nebulous. In essence I am once again agreeing with Harry Benjamin because I have no good reason not to, even as that model may have inherent imperfections.

I know too many transfeminine people over the years who can comfortably be placed somewhere on this lineage which I also think applies well to natal females who were identified later due to their greater ability to hide in plain sight.

People in general are also not really as binary as it would appear and never were, hence today's greater experimentation with loosening restrictions. What we are is more fluid but we subjugated to societal norms to avoid being ostracized. 

However I continue making the distinction between variance by choice and that of by necessity (without prejudice) because it is an important one. Again, it's the "what I do" versus "who I am".

Saturday, June 17, 2023

For reflection

Which of these two statements best applies to you?

"It is what I do"

"It is who I am"

For therein lies the crux of the matter.

Fine tune

Transitioning into a new life has been slow but steady. The final stages began during the pandemic when living more authentically became possible and allowed me to see what my battery limits needed to be.

The only way to know who you are is to test the elasticity of your comfort level. Do you transition fully, partially, do you simply want to be gender non-conforming? as the days, weeks and months pass you increasingly understand what you need to do and you fine tune.

It is very gradual because this is the only way which has ever worked for me. One step at a time with no target in mind other than a balanced psyche.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Acclimatize

It still bothers me that some older trans people so under value themselves. I want them to be proud of who they are and have everyone around them see their true value. That this is often not the case is regretable especially when they fall for the trap of feeling less than. Asking permission from others to be who you are is no way to live.

No one can do that work for us except ourselves of course. We are each responsible for elevating ourselves and finding our dignity. The unfortunate thing is that human beings can acclimatize to almost any situation whether it's good for them or not.

So I ask that you reflect on this: hobby or identity and if the latter what aspects of this identity are you negotiating?

Clean slate

We are all born clean slates and fundamentally good. What goes into us as we are raised are ideas, myths, dictates and influences which color our perception of ourselves and of the world. Sometimes much of this must be undone because we realize it was plainly wrong since it went against basic truths. So much of the world operates on conjecture and even our own identities are sometimes constructed so we don't need to look too deeply inward.

We watch a video where a person expresses an opinion as if it were fact and it jars because we understand it to be false. Yet for them it is a fundamental truth which has been sifted through some personal prism.

To understand ourselves and our natures requires a process where we examine possible myth. We may have created as narrative as panacea and should ask ourselves if we have been honest in our self assessment.

Everything we consider should be passed through a critical eye if we are to find the truth lying underneath.

Absolutely everything.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Dangerous and clueless

 


People who know me...

People who know me well know I have no malice when I express my views on gender issues and on gender theory in general and everyone can define themselves as they wish. I am also not interested in hierarchies only that the subject matter and its subtle intricacies are still fascinating to me.

The important thing is that people know themselves and are happy because they have arrived at a certain personal truth.

It's all that matters.

Harmony

One of the ways we know we are resolving our gender issues is that they occupy less time in our minds. After all, most people aren't thinking constantly about their gender.

As our trans nature is harmoniously  blended into our existence it should bring us towards peace and calm; this regardless of whether we fully transition or not.

You've arrived at who you are.

Speaking up

This school board president who has a personal stake in the current climate of fear and stupidity in the US speaks up eloquently.

Like I've said before, there's just way too much stupid out there in the world to fix but that shouldn't mean we stop trying.



Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Murder

 


Unfixable

There is a cost to broadcasting lies. Some networks chose not to broadcast Trump's post arraignment comments because it is clear it would all be chock full of mendacity which would, of course, work marvelously well on his flock but contribute nothing to the public good.

This is the era where truth is optional and subservient to personal belief with social media amplifying the opinions of the hopelessly uninformed. You don't need to read history or understand politics, you just need to find your kindred souls online and take it from there.

To be sure, Trump's ascendancy would not have been possible without evangelical radicalism and general mistrust of public institutions boosted by online radicalization. Even post arrest his popularity will only grow among a party that has become a cult of personality because in Trump they see a shit disturber who can inject chaos into what they want destroyed. He is someone who can say the quiet part out loud for them. That the most fervent disciples are the ones most being duped is dripping in pure irony.

There are more good people than evil ones but it is the latter who cause all the chaos. What was revealed during Trump's tenure is that there was far more festering under the surface than we dared to admit and that there are more people who are effectively both unreachable and unfixable.



Transit

I take public transit or walk everywhere. The odd time I will also use my car share service. Next year the elevated rapid transit system called the REM will be mostly operational and I will have yet another option.

It's both cheaper and healthier for this retired lady )


Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Acquiring the taste

Return to office work is seeing resistance. GenZ, already looser with their work ethic based on seeing their parents focus so intensely on careers, know they have options. Even millenials have tasted life with more flexibility as they raise young children while delivering results during the pandemic and won't be bullied.

Many companies have boomer generation CEOs who correlate normalcy with full time office presence and extol the virtues of comradery except that the numbers tell a different story. Productivity improves with hybrid and work from home models.

I myself told my company that the day they forced me back was the day I retired and they blinked first. I relished that time at home to work on myself and prepare mentally for this next phase of life and close lingering concerns about how to best manage my dysphoria.

Failing to learn that the world has changed will be to the detriment of those who insist that it hasn't.



Longing

I think it would be a mistake to say that cross gender arousal in transfeminine people is synonymous with what women experience with their own bodies. One simple answer to that claim would be that women don't grow up longing to be women. However the reality of arousal does not mean one does not possess a transgender identity.

Transsexuals in particular understand very early on that there is a disconnect present within them and the desire for that to change can at times manifest itself in sexual fantasy upon entering puberty. That everything calms down and stabilizes post transition merely confirms that their search for identity had been authentic.

Conversely, a person who is content with the arousal as a payoff would have a terrible time with a transition which will only dampen male libido. 

When we are trying to understand who we are, it is this aspect which can cause much confusion since we may be unsure of motive. Once some comprehend that they can be happy with sporadic cross gender expression which may or may not lead to orgasm, they can stop asking questions and just live. However, if there is something still lingering, we will tend to want to progress forward until we have our firm answer.

The critical mistake of someone like a Ray Blanchard was ascribing the desire to transition of his patients to the arousal itself rather than to a longing which had been present from earliest memory.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Look around

Look around.

Women have big butts, small butts, no butts, big shoulders, small shoulders, no hips, big hips, no waist, small waist, big boobs, no boobs, thick arms, thin arms.

Be encouraged.

Transactional

We tend to be transactional beings. If people call us we will call them back; if they listen we will return the favor when we need to be listened to. It's a fair system which needs to also take into account personality differences and we should not penalize those who call us less because it's just their nature not to.

I am trying to remove unreasonable transactional expectation from my life palette because it leads nowhere but to disappointment. People are who they are and we must take them at face value provided they are decent and honest. Parents can be transactional too and favor children and grandchildren who call more often and unwittingly create favorites in their mind.

As we get older we recognize that everyone wrestles with their history and looks for ways to be calmer and happier. That exercise sometimes necessitates we cocoon and care for the soul in a way that those around us might frown upon.

Such is life I say and so be it.

Meeting people

I meet people quite by happenstance. The lady next to me at the public market cafe suddenly says she has seen me walking on her street in our neighborhood. Her name is Sylvie and is a newly retired economist. We begin to talk and compare notes about adjusting to this new life and how we want to draw richness from it.

I like this looseness, this ability to be spontaneous and be open to human contact without any obligations or expectations. The new free time permits this new direction.

Yesterday I met with my philosophy professor friend Marcela and we shared our love of good coffee and great conversation while realizing that I increasingly let go and stop filtering these experiences through my being trans.

Because it just doesn't matter.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Conflation

I continue to see the well-intentioned conflation of all forms of gender variance with being transgender. Let's not forget that being gender variant can include enjoying wearing clothes traditionally associated with the opposite gender. The point here being that the core identity of the person is not seriously ever questioned and they are perfectly fine living as their birth gender role most of the time. In such a scenario they are better described as being gender variant or gender non-conforming. Consider the case of a male who simply enjoys wearing women's underwear and you can see how we need to be careful with the term.

Transgender people have a partial or full disconnect with their birth sex (ie. dysphoria) to the point where they have issues identifying with it. If this is you that's great (or not so much) but it may not be.

Note that there is no good or bad answer here and we are not trying to establish hierarchies. The aim is to be clear and concise so we can help people respond appropriately and not undershoot or overshoot their situation. It also helps trans people who might need gender therapy and medical intervention be more readily identified.

Women have had more latitude in expressing gender variance for many decades but they don't necessarily identify as transgender because of it. They simply utilize their greater sartorial freedom to express themselves more fully. As men continue to increase their own gender variance, it can be tempting to lump it under the term transgender when in most cases there is no fundamental questioning of core gender identity. Consider that when we talk about natal females in the context of being transgender it is because of identity (they are often on the cusp of or have already transitioned; think Eliott Page here) rather than in terms of how they like to dress.

Being aroused by wearing women's clothing can still form part of the life of a gender non-conforming person which is perfectly fine as long as they are happy. If they are not then some internal work moving towards self-acceptance might be in order. Keep in mind that someome who is and enjoys being gender variant is an identity in itself.

There is a lot of available literature online and there are even clinicians on YouTube who clearly explain our current understanding of basic gender theory.

Coursol

The neighborhood of Little Burgundy can be explored easily by foot and Coursol Street is one it's architectural treasures. Late 19th century row houses full of vibrant colour are sheltered by lovely mature trees and on this Sunday morning it's a pleasure to walk down this avenue and see how different each building is. This neighborhood also happens to be the birthplace of the late great Oscar Peterson.

After my early morning coffee with a friend at the public market this is where I ventured on my way elsewhere.

Many commercial streets in Montreal become pedestrian only during the summer which is a real treat.





Dune

I saw Denis Villenueve's Dune last night and I was a little underwhelmed. After films like Incendie, Prisioners, Arrival and the updated Blade Runner I guess I was expecting something more. Make no mistake in that his level of film creation is a notch above the rest of the field, but maybe it was some of the casting as well as the difficulty in adequately conveying the large scope of the subject matter that made this work a lesser one for me. All this to say that I enjoyed it but it didn't wow me like his other work has.

Kudos of course to the cinematography, visual effects and art design as usual.





Saturday, June 10, 2023

What is feminine or masculine?

Author Tamsen Firestone asks "What Does it Mean to be Feminine or Masculine" in Psychalive.org:

"I have received some interesting questions on Daring2Love Instagram about masculine and feminine identity. A typical one asks, “How can I be more feminine in a relationship? How can I attract a masculine man to a relationship?”

I do not know where the people who are asking these questions live. Clearly, there are very different attitudes about gender identity all over the world. To me, these are questions from people who are confused and struggling with what it means to be masculine and feminine. And I am sure this dilemma is shared by many people in the world today.

But what does it mean to be masculine or feminine?

• Are there certain intrinsic characteristics that are masculine and feminine? Are there neurological differences between men and women?

• Or are differences between men and women merely cultural? And if they are, do they stereotype the sexes and thereby do an injustice to each of us as a distinctive individual?

• And finally, how does a person live within a culture that espouses to certain views of masculinity and femininity?

Are there certain characteristics that are masculine and feminine? Are there neurological differences between men and women?

Neuroscientists have been researching distinguishers between male and female brains and trying to see if they translate into major differences between masculine and feminine traits. They have found a number of structural elements in the human brain that differ between males and females. For example, the right and left hemispheres of the male and female brains are not set up exactly the same way. Females tend to have verbal centers on both sides of the brain, while males tend to have verbal centers on only the left hemisphere. As a result, girls tend to have an advantage when it comes to discussing feelings and emotions, and they tend to have more interest in talking about them.

Researchers have also investigated the different chemical effects on the brain of testosterone in men and estrogen and progesterone in women. However, it seems that they have overstated the role of these chemicals on determining masculine and feminine characteristics and behaviors. For example, while testosterone is linked to aggression, it doesn’t offer a universal explanation for male behavior. In fact, everyone, regardless of sex, can be competitive or aggressive, but men and women in different cultures might have different ways of expressing those traits based on social norms.  A major takeaway of chemistry differences is simply that boys at times need different strategies for stress release than girls do.

Even though the differences between male and female brains show up all over the world, scientists have discovered exceptions to every so-called gender rule. In fact, it is unclear what the differences mean about how the brain works. Lise Eliot, a professor of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School and the author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain, states, “People say men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but the brain is a unisex organ.” A recent study found that “averaged across many people, sex differences in brain structure do exist, but an individual brain is likely to be just that: individual, with a mix of features,” as New Scientist reported in 2015. In fact, a new review of 13 past studies that showed significant differences between male and female brains has found that many of those differences are far less pronounced than the earlier studies implied.

Are differences between men and women merely cultural? And if they are, do they stereotype the sexes and thereby do an injustice to each of us as a distinctive individual?

Because we are a social animal and our brains are formed within a culture, our way of viewing ourselves as men and women is imprinted by the cultural environment we grew up in. The cultural definitions of which traits are appropriate for men and women influence the personality characteristics that boys and girls develop. The cultural views of behavioral differences between men and women continue to be reinforced in our adult lives. A few of the common assumptions about male and female behavior are:

• Men don’t have feelings and are cold while women are irrational and over-emotional.

• Women care about children more than men do while men care about practical issues more than women do.

• Women have to teach men how to feel while men have to take care of women.

Most of these stereotypes put men and women on opposing sides and are downright disrespectful of both genders. The fact that society supports these biases strengthens them but it does not make them accurate.

Men and women are more alike than they are different

Physically, men and women do fall into very distinct categories in physical categories like height and waist-to-hip ratio. But psychologically, not so much. For 122 different characteristics, from empathy to sexuality to science inclination to extroversion, a statistical analysis of 13,301 individuals did not reveal any distinct differences between men and women. They consistently overlapped in attitudes and traits like empathy, fear of success and mate selection, indicating that sex differences are not categorical, but more a matter of degree.

Research shows that the “Big Five” personality traits of psychology — openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism— do not categorically vary between men and women. Contrary to stereotypes, women were not found to be significantly more intimate in their relationships, and science inclination did not overwhelmingly favor men. And masculinity and femininity, the study found, “are not all-or-nothing traits…they are truly a continuum.”

How does a person live within a culture that espouses to specific views of masculinity and femininity?

Getting back to the original questions, I think that it is harmful to think of yourself in terms of being masculine and feminine. As the above research indicates, these are arbitrary and artificial distinctions. We all have traits that would be considered masculine and feminine. And we all know men who are nurturing and sensitive to children and women who are ambitious and aggressive in business. Any stereotypic views of what it means to be a man or a woman are limiting and hurtful to the individual. They are especially damaging in a romantic relationship.

The cultural expectations came about naturally due to the size and strength differential between men and women, and the division of labor for the tasks they were responsible for. For example, childcare and homemaking were more suitable for women while hunting and physical labor were more suitable for men. Even though our societies have evolved and those tasks no longer define our roles in life, those roles still exist in our society to varying degrees.

It is helpful to understand this discrepency when you live in a culture that has definite expectations about feminity and masculinity. You can stop attacking yourself for not fitting into these catagorizations. You can come to accept yourself with all of your different characteristics and personality traits, be they passive and aggressive, strong and gentle, outspoken and soft spoken. You can accept your partner’s qualities, as well. A romantic relationship is a partnership between two individuals and the unique personality traits that they each bring to it.

More important, there are fundamental values we share as human beings, regardless of our gender. In his book, Beyond Death Anxiety, Robert Firestone writes that these are “the ability to love and to feel compassion for self and others, the capacity for abstract reasoning and creativity, the ability to experience deep emotion, the desire for social affiliation, the ability to set goals and develop strategies to accomplish them, an awareness of existential concerns, the potential to experience the sacredness and mystery of life, and the search for meaning.”

Where everybody knows your name

There's something noble about taking a respit from life and being comfortable with people who really get you. Not only did this show strike a chord with me when it first aired (as did the theme) but so did the idea of a ragtag bunch of people getting together in a place where they could be themselves for a little while.


One remaining question

Jack's latest article on Crossdreamers about someone being perturbed by their cross gender fantasies got me thinking. 

Gender variant people can generally be split into two distinct groups: the dysphoric and non-dysphoric where the former questions core gender identity and the latter generally does not and is more about expression. Thus the dysphoric is the one who will mull over the idea of a transition and sometimes carries through with it. It is perhaps possible that these two groups bleed into each other.

There is one question which still puzzles me however: For non-dysphoric people is the disposition for gender variance innate or can it also be acquired? My temptation is to say both cases exist but I cannot say for certain. For example, I know of people who begin to express gender variance well into adulthood but then the argument could be made that this latency was due to denial.

Nevertheless, that both the dysphoric and non-dysphoric can experience arousal is not the issue as all people are, to varying degrees, sexual beings. The issue is to understand what its significance is within the context of identity as opposed to the arousal being all or at least part of the objective in and of itself. Knowing the difference is what helps us determine who we are.

One thing we do know; dysphoric people tend to experience more angst simply because there is considerably more to weigh. But people who are not seriously questioning core gender identity may want incorporate their variance into their lives in a healthy way rather than let it perturb them once they know it is never going away. The alternative being to needlessly suffer and create trauma for themselves by wishing they were "normal" when we know the definition of what that is, is extremely relative.

Instead, it's best to think in terms of your own normal.

Friday, June 9, 2023

Circus

The Trump indictment isn't surprising but what we have learned about people in this era maybe is. Despite his rampant criminality never seen before in the history of the country, there are still millions of sycophants who would vote for him if they could even if he were incarcerated. It speaks volumes about how low human intelligence can get.

As I have said here before, people love being lied to as long as it aligns with their belief system no matter how toxic it might be.

The next few months will be political circus galore with plenty of posturing and grand standing by the usual liars and panderers to their low information base. At the end of it all justice must prevail if the American experiment runs an even chance of surviving.

Good luck Jack Smith.



What's in an Identity

An identity is a multi-faceted thing which comprises not just gender identity and expression but also interests, affinities and predispositions in a melting pot which makes up who you are and it is when elements in this constitution rub against the grain of societal norms that problems arise.

When trans people were either underground or transitioning in stealth, other targets invited the ire of the public. That their strangeness was more readily tolerated was due to its less offensive nature and it could be chalked up to a quirkiness which could perhaps even be ridiculed into disappearing.                  

Infringing on sexual orientation was the first battle and who could forget the advocacy of Anita Bryant in the 1960's which greatly mirrors the moral panics against trans people today. However playing in any way with gender is an even worse offense specifically because it violates the concept of identity in a way sexual orientation does not. Once you allow people to define themselves according to how they feel about their gender you have broken a fundamental law of western religion and its orthodoxy. 

Today trans people are the most convenient target because their small population allows them to be used as fodder for what ails western culture. Conservatives can lump us in with a whole host of what they deem to be immoral ideas stemming from the evils of 20th century postmodernism. Hence, the more you allow people latitude in self identifying, the more you are attacking the underpinnings of society.

Blue Jay

You can smell the bittersweet in Blue Jay right from the outset. Filmed in black and white it stars two people who might have ended up together but didn't. They meet again at the grocery store of their small town and then catch up about their lives while not directly addressing a love affair that somehow wasn't meant to be.

She is now married to a man she loves and at first professes she is happy while he appears lost as sometimes we all are. So much melancholy exudes from him and you can sense the regret there hanging like a pall.

Life is strange and the actions in our youth are not appreciated fully until we can look back on them with more maturity. The past can remain in the memory haunting us until we can put it into its proper drawer of perspective and we realize that we can never go home again.

Blue Jay is on Netflix.



Thursday, June 8, 2023

We knew it was coming

 


Reversal

I used to live male and expressed female part time whereas today this has been completely reversed but it wasn't planned, it just happened.

Living this way certainly changes your perspective and to be sure I am treated differently and in some ways better than before. Whether this a reflection of looking happier versus the way women are treated in general is hard to say but I think it's a bit of both.

Were I still working today I might experience the disadvantages of being female in the workplace, but I also know those conditions have improved drastically since I began my career. Young female engineers have found their voice and are treated with much more respect than when I started and their numbers as a ratio have increased. My old company also has a very strong diversity ethic.

I got here not by choice but by necessity and the gradual change came as a new level was reached and then a comfort level attained. If you had asked me five years ago about where I would be today I am not so certain I would have said that it would be here.

I now strongly believe it's best not to plan but to simply let life happen and guide us where it must. In other words, do not aim for anything other than internal peace and balance and see where you land.

My friend was right. People will see what you see.

Perspectives

The blogs I tend to like the most are the ones that challenge me and make me reflect. This subject and life in general can be so complex that I want to see whether my latest thinking on any issue makes sense.

The perspectives of others take me outside of my own bubble and have helped me refine my ideas. That their thoughts are not always rooted in examining concepts does not matter because emotive expressions can sometimes make us re-think our own dogmas. Our shared experiences can also provide solace to others when they are suffering by revealing the fragility inherent in our humanity.

Turmoil

I was thinking about Kimberly once again this morning and the dilemma of many older transgender people. The question is whether they have an illness (ie. dysphoria) preventing them from leading a normal life or are their true natures suffocated by years of indoctrination and need to free themselves from it. This is very difficult to answer because it is not simple to separate who we really are from we have been taught to be.

This in essence has been the main struggle of my life and the reason I first began blogging.

Some gender variant people seem to have an ability to compartmentalize their lives which avoids them sitting on the knife edge and deeply examining who they are. Their weaker or entirely missing dysphoria permits this internal identity turmoil to be avoided.

Unfortunately for Kimberly, who is quite likely transsexual, the specter of religion only further complicates the reflection process she is undertaking.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Daily Weirdo Check

 

Necessity

The loosening of our social conventions has created a very wide playing field which has allowed some people to play with sexuality and gender just because they can.

I think because of this, some transgender people have fallen victim to this confusing time and are being grouped in with this exploration. Don't get me wrong, it's not that we want to deny people rights to express themselves, it's just that we are lumping together different phenomena. That the general public cannot make this distinction is a given but even many within the gender variant community also cannot or will not. We need to realize that we just cannot homogenize to such an extent.

Hence some transgender people seeking access to medical care are being castigated by right wing histrionics in this era of exploration when this matter for them can be a life and death issue. That people on the right should leave everyone alone is common sense but they aren't about to do that and love the idea of coalescing all divergence from a norm as social cancer; their combination of ignorant and disingenous won't allow it. As a result of their pushback, some trans people are losing access to medical care.

Again, it's not about denying anyone their right to live as they choose, it's about using more careful definitions in identifying people for whom living fully authentically contains no elements of choice. It is absolute necessity.

Religion and trans

I would check in on Kimberly Beregrove's channel every so often to see how she was doing. As a fellow Canadian who also has struggled all my life with gender dysphoria I found some common ground especially since there had been an omnipresent religious background in my past. She is very much more orthodox than I but her continued struggle through that lens still resonates with me.

When I realized this morning that the channel was deleted I first feared the worst and finally saw that there was a message on YouTube from a friend giving her status. Kimberly was going through a brutal bout of dysphoria and was struggling with its effects which at their worst can be almost debilitating. As a reflex she had taken down her channel.

Kimberly and I had exchanged a few messages on her channel and even compared notes on Blanchard's work for which I have no love for. Thankfully, she had done her homework, and we largely agreed with each other.

However, I always worry a little more when this subject is filtered through religion because the temptation is often to say that this is something one prays their way out of when no such thing is possible. If you are born transgender you are that way for life and the only question which remains is how to address your dysphoric feelings which is a highly personal issue for each person and consumate with their level of dysphoria.

Sure enough, within the message from her friend the term "transgender ideology" was used which sent a little shiver down my spine (although he later clarified what he meant). Knowing that Kimberly is an articulate and very reflective person who has a loving wife, she will eventually find a solution. I just hope she does not go down the alley of suppression I tried for years unsuccessfully which led to much stress and turmoil. Something this intrinsic to your essence cannot be handled in this manner.

I hope that she is well and will be back stronger than ever once she finds what her approach needs to be.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Unconstitutional

 


NIMBY

Are there people who exhibit sporadic gender variance who don't much care for transgender people? Well yes and in fact we have historical precedent to prove it.

Mid twentieth century "crossdresser" clubs did not want much to do with transsexuals. After all, these were straight married men getting together on some scheduled frequency who rejected the idea of hormones or surgery and simply advocated expressing one's feminine side on a temporary basis. Transsexuals were nothing like them and they wanted no part of their presence. Virginia Prince was quite emphatic about this in her early writings.

What is fascinating here is that some of their members (the most notable being Prince, Katherine Cummings and Susana Valenti) ended up being much further along the identity side of things than they perhaps had originally anticipated. Prince in particular consulted with and advised Harry Benjamin on trans issues and ended life as a pre-operative transwoman.

Things have changed of course and there isn't necessarily animosity any longer except that the same type of divide continues to exist in how each views themselves and how they need to live. Thus I can imagine a scenario where a conservative republican politician who likes to dress up occasionally, looks down on a trans person and their desire to lead an open and happy life by voting to deny them gender affirming care.

It's why I continue to think that we need to be very careful with umbrella concepts as human behaviour is simply much too expansive for that.

"The trans ideology"

There is no such thing as a "trans ideology" but the concept serves the knuckleheads on the right wing well because an ideology is something which can be espoused as a choice. To negate that there is any such thing would give plausibility to people being born that way and then making their subsequent decisions like transitions valid.

I am uncertain whether all right wing grifters know this but sell it anyway because they despise trans people. Regardless, the effect is the same and are the same dummies who used to think (and perhaps still do) that one chooses their sexual orientation on a whim.

The reality is that many if not most of us who are older and transgender would have chosen not to be that way just to avoid both the internal and external turmoil it brought into our lives.

Here, two of my favorite perenially unhappy cartoon characters on the right, are featured on Sam Seder's show extolling their ignorance on this very topic while not realizing they don't even agree with each other...



"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...