Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Untethered

I am currently reading "The Untethered Soul" which is a book about managing our mind and our emotions. You could say it is a self-help guide to achieving enlightenment by avoiding the pitfalls of sabotaging our thinking.

I will give my full appraisal when I am done but so far after 3 chapters I very much like the approach of questioning the self as the key to finding core identity which relies on a journey of continued introspection.



Distinction

From the time well before I began blogging I wanted to understand the fundamental question of whether the desire to dress as a woman and becoming one could overlap. In other words, are what we used to term transvestism and transsexualism able to blur themselves in some people?

For some individuals the answer was evident but then they tended to very clearly reside on the extreme ends of the Benjamin scale. However for those who felt somewhere in the middle (and I count myself among them), is it inability to distinguish between the two or is there simply a milder version of transsexualism at play where the gender dysphoria is less virulent? Clearly the creation by Benjamin of his types III and IV seemed to suggest so. Undoubtedly, due to today's more open environment and were he still with us, he may have re-examined his typologies as his patients and their narratives reflected the era they lived in.

Nevertheless, I have concluded that today possessing a definite answer matters less than individuals finding solutions for themselves which are ultimately beneficial to their well being and sense of self. Judging from the amount of self-doubt I have read in countless blogs over the years plus my own personal wrestling with what to do in my own life, it seems that expression and identity are not easily and perfectly decoupled. We can talk about them as concepts but making that division within the context of a lived life isn't necessarily simple and many struggle with how to convert their feelings into concrete steps which result in a baseline.

Ultimately I feel the answer lies in freeing people to self determination while providing them resources to help them make the right call. For that to happen we still need some work on societal acceptance of gender variance such that they do not overshoot or undershoot a response to their own situation.

The aim is to increase self-esteem and avoid hiding which is anathema to establishing and keeping it. Once they are more self-assured, they will be much more able to make the right call as to how to best live which is what I saw in those young transitioners I met recently. 

They simply knew who they were and clearly proud of it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

"The After"

"The After" is not exactly an easy watch. An Oscar nominated 18 minute short it will remind you how fleeting our existence can be and how we can take things for granted when we have them.

I won't say anything about the story only that it might be worth your while to check it out.

On Netflix.




The way it is

 


It's not in the manual

The best way to know how each of us needs to live authentically as a transgender person is to experience being unencumbered. For me that meant entering retirement without a partner to properly figure it out. When we are not fully out, are working and married, there is no way to know what our magic formula is because there are barriers there which work in two ways: they stop us from going further but also protect us from it. So we may daydream about something we have no experience with.

The starve and feed cycle of those who live part time can be frustrating to some but can work well presuming the level of dysphoria (assuming it exists) is manageable and the spouse is in agreement with an existing formula. In other words, there is a balance there which is agreeable to both people even if neither is overjoyed by it. This type of living is of course very much a boomer and genX phenomenon as millenials and certainly GenZ have tended to come out early to partners who generally know what they are in for from the outset.

What I can attest to is that once the novelty wears off, you could find that what you envisioned as your ideal may not be what you want and instead gleefully settle for slightly more expanded expression than you currently have. For me it turned out that much more was needed to reach authenticity than I had dared permit myself.

In any event, we humans tend to always imagine the grass being greener somewhere else until we have had the chance to fully see otherwise. Too bad that nowhere in the life manual did it say things were going to be optimal.



One of billions

What I write here is irrelevant. My words go into the billions written everyday and disappear into the void and yet I am not dissuaded nor perturbed by it. Our self importance is overstated and we should remember it for there is nothing more humbling and freeing than to realize that we are just one of billions doing their best in this life.

Our thoughts and our internal dialogue often conspire against us and we are left defeated yet it serves no purpose to think that way. It is because our words and actions are deemed to be more significant to others than they really are.

We should simply stop caring so much about trivial things.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Everything is at stake

 


Art form

Coffee for many is an art form. The grind, the type of bean, the roast and how long you pull your espresso through the machine become detailed aspects to fuss over. A retired collegue and close friend is like this and he gleefully had me sample his latest formula over the weekend in hopes I would approve.

I admit it is my elixir of choice as it was my father's who also added the cigarettes which would eventually be his downfall to the one thing he could not live without. I have quite a number of caf├ęs that I now frequent and where I can measure the slightly different tastes while giving equal importance to welcoming ambiance and cache.

Many of my blog posts are written over an allonge which I sip between passages and count myself fortunate that I am now afforded the time to slow down the previously hectic pace and relish it.



From 49 to 61

I began blogging at age 49 and I am now 61 with the person I was then having grown so much as to almost be unrecognizable. Yes, the core is the same but the change in mindset has been nothing short of drastic. I have learned so much about myself and how I needed to live with this difference:

- We always need to be ourselves and be open even if it risks being ostracized. I realized that in coming out the quality of my friendships was such that I lost none of them and if anything gained more respect through them witnessing my resilience.

- We are adults and the way to incorporate our nature into our lives needs to be elevated and matured to the same level as every other aspect lest we see it remain infantilzed which I suspect most of us do not want. This applies whether we transition or not.

- Whatever we call ourselves is far less important than how we live our lives.

- Maintaining self-respect is mandatory. Never apologize for who you are.

- Shame and guilt are to be saved for things that merit it.

Grace under pressure

You would be hard pressed to find a more dignified person than April Ashley who put up with so much in her day and yet kept her dignity intact. Regardless of who we are, we can draw a little inspiration from her...


Sunday, January 28, 2024

Dim

If being transgender were a mental illness you wouldn't find us in every social class, age group, profession and culture. There are transgender people in every area of society and at every IQ and education level. However, selling pathology has been extremely convenient because anomalies on such a small scale which tend to rattle the very foundations of societal convention, are simply too ripe to be free of attack.

Even as I possess a natural aversion to being corralled into communities, I despise even more the ignorance that sees openings for lazy and low grade mockery. One of the features that made the original researchers of this topic stand out was their drive based on curiosity which was also bolstered by empathy. Today any dim-witted idiot on the internet can liberally borrow ideas without properly being able to analyze the original source material. Again, it's stupidity mixed with malevolence that tends to get my goat.

There simply aren't enough hours in the day to educate these dullards.

Making a break for it

About 10 years ago I left Facebook and have never looked back. It had been my sole foothold in social media and near the end I had found its vapidness to be excruciating. People looking for validation by publishing vacations, graduations and the contents of their breakfast proved too much for me to bear.

Of late I am seeing the odd video of young people make a clean break of it as well and state they feel so much better. The constant barrage of pablum is wiped away and they begin to focus on their lives without comparing themselves to anyone else.

What a novel idea.

A short visit

My children and I went to the home renovation center I used to frequent when they were small. At that time I was working on the 1951 home I had purchased in the mid 1990's and on a Saturday such places were full whereas today it was empty. My almost 26 year old daughter offered an explanation which made perfect sense: no one has houses to repair any longer. Her generation does not own homes because of lack of affordability and my generation finished repairing theirs and perhaps sold them and retired or are thinking about doing so. Behind us there is a void.

The price of an average home in Montreal is over $500,000 which is beyond the reach of most GenZ and even some younger millenials which means they are renting or still living with aging parents trying to figure out how they are going to establish themselves in what has increasingly become a gig economy.

This visit was spurred on by my son who has taken over as defacto coordinator of a powder room upgrade for his mother and going in there with him had me recalling when he would be sometimes pushed along inside the shopping cart. He wanted to look at things like vanities, mirrors and faucets.

As we commented on what we saw, I was reminded that not only does time pass quickly but that the world has changed so drastically since he last rode in that cart.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Yours is no disgrace

 


What you deserve

Trump is an uncontrolled buffoon who just turned a 5 million dollar penalty into an 83.3 million one because of his narcissism. It would be nice to think that people prefer adults running their country and yet the polling tells a different story which is made worse by running a tired candidate who nonetheless at least had 4 years without antics and controversy.

Understanding the human appetite for strongmen who are actually weak becomes fascinating because common sense would tell you that complex problems aren't solved with simplistic rhetoric but it largely works. Part of this is explained by low intelligence in much of his base but there is another significant portion that prefers chaos so they can ultimately get their way. Here I think of arch villains like Roger Stone and Steve Bannon.

If you convict and send Trump to jail or apply the 14th amendment almost half the country goes into a panic. How fun.

I still maintain that you get the government that you deserve.

No stone left unturned

One thing I am very proud of is how hard I tried to fit into a societal role that wasn't entirely suited to me. There was certainly no lack of effort on my part and for that reason there is no regret about letting anyone down. I did my best and am moving forward with authenticity knowing that every avenue was explored which is why I became so single minded in my research on this subject matter and made sure to leave no stone unturned.

In the end it's not about the science (although exploring it was mandatory for me) but more about accepting your uniqueness in a world that desperately craves predictability and uniformity. It was about dealing with gender dysphoria in a mature and balanced way which also respected previous commitments made to others.

I feel it is important to think of ourselves as individuals first and foremost and consider our own set of circumstances rather than look to others. Inspiration is one thing, but in scratching below the surface of the life of another we will undoubtedly find more complexity than is being advertised. If you are also dysphoric then your life has also been complex and it's hardly been a game. It is for this reason that any solution involve intelligence and maturity as well as much reflection.




The Lady Lies

 


Friday, January 26, 2024

83.3 Million

 


Music in a world that's falling apart

A reflection on meaning and music...


Predisposition

With no prior cross gender identification, many gender variant males seem to begin dressing in female clothing around the age of puberty.They become aroused and then begin a pattern of lifelong beaviour. Harry Benjamin would have typically placed these patients into his types I and II but I have always wondered how predisposition plays into the formula. There seems to never be a questioning of birth sex but instead the establishing of a pattern which typically involves reaching a sexual climax and things being put away until the next time.

As an example, my younger brother was sometimes dressed up by my sisters who were older and he did not even react to it. He grew up and never gave it a second thought and has never put on an article of female clothing since. However for others there is a moment at which a spark is lit which could involve some level of predisposition already present which I tend to contrast from transsexualism due to not questioning birth sex.

So when I write about arousal it is here where it gets interesting because without a questioning of core identity it can become an end goal in of itself. The problem then becomes confusing what might only be pure expression for something more or conversely, underplaying feelings of identity as merely a habit because there were sometimes sexual feelings present. The latter is what happened to me.

If you fall somewhere in the middle of the expression and identity axis it can be very difficult to figure out who you really are and require more introspection than existing on the extreme ends of the Benjamin scale. All the more so if you grew up ingesting very fixed ideas about gender.

Both big and little

There is a YouTube channel called "Crappy Childhood Fairy" which covers trauma during early development. I have not watched it for a while but recently it ended up on my feed and watched one woman's story which was heartbreaking.

I think we all have our big and little traumas and a good part of our life journey can involve letting go of the past after having made some sense of it. We come to some understanding of the issues that those people who caused it faced and draw lessons for ourselves.

This lady's story was filled with psychological abandonment and severe judgement from her parents. The advice from the channel creator to her letter made sense and encouraged her to make a fresh start because it is never too late to heal and find our esteem again. She gave practical measures which she could begin to use to heal the wounds.

As transgender people we may have faced our own childhood challenges and coming to terms with how they impacted us will be key to establishing an improved mindset which respects our nature rather than make apologies for it. The alternative being that we carry the voices of others in our heads rather than our own.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

One day at a time

Not only don't I have much of a filter left, but I also do not suffer fools gladly especially if they are entitled. Fortunately they number in the minority.

Cooling the furnace down one day at a time :)

The Favourite

"The Favourite" is a bizarre film which succeeds in spell binding us. Clearly a critique of hypocrisy and excess, its themes are universal even if here the setting is an 18th century English royal court. Power, control and scheming are all on display as three women in position of power exercise control over largely hapless men who come off more as buffoons than gentlemen of the court.

If you are not into esoteric art films with flourishes almost of surrealism, it may not be for you but then the lush cinematography and stellar performances of Rachel Weiss, Emma Stone and especially Olivia Colman as a disturbed and sickly Queen might just do the trick.

Predictable Hollywood fare this is not which is a definite notch in its favor.



Avoiding stereotypes

One of the things which helped me tremendously as a transgender person was dropping the idea of stereotypes involving men and women. I had been brought up during an era of very rigid gender norms and had ingested them without question especially after being scolded by my mother in early childhood. My long journey towards self-acceptance involved rebranding myself with my own style of femininity which my friend Patricia calls natural.

As a last ditch effort to avoid transition, many transsexuals tried to embrace more masculine ideals and would join the army or adopt traditional male pursuits to demonstrate a virility that ultimately wasn't them. Yet even if we do not intend to physically transition, we need to drop a social facade and embrace who we are.

For me, trying to live a more stereotypical male existence (although as an artist I was never trying to be macho) involved suppressing natural instincts to avoid detection. By repatriating them I was able to begin to live authentically without becoming a caricature of a woman which is the last thing I would ever want. This got me to the point where today many people do not know that I am transgender although this was never a specific goal of mine.

As one settles slowly into the self, we achieve a natural baseline which requires no further thought since it is not forced. Instead, we are not pretending to be someone else but are simply being ourselves.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Resilience

People with great life challenges who rise to the occasion continue to be my inspiration. There is so much suffering in this world and yet the resilience I often see is what I most admire.

On paper

Older binary transsexuals complain about the "pretenders", some youth confuse cross gender feelings for needing to transition, drag queens are now 'trans' when most don't identify as such. All this because we have put expression and identity on equal footing as being perfectly synonymous.

On paper the answer is simple: we let people be themselves. If you are male and want to wear a dress to work then knock yourself out. In the Toronto office of my former company there was a woman there who presented traditionally male (right down the haircut) but did not have a cross gender identity. She was a masculine and preferred to dress that way.

Ah yes, on paper it's easy but in practice not so much because the world is full of naysayers and idiots who get hung up on these things. Some have religious programming so severe that they need serious intervention. Gender is so sacrosanct that they are mentally blocked by it.

Will some people continue to need to transition? Oh absolutely but I will wager less than the ones who are currently waiting in the queue. The alternative is for the current situation to continue and we get confused over what 'trans' means which seems to differ depending on which website one visits. 
Regardless, we will always be talking about a very small fraction of the population so please everyone take a chill pill. Yes I know, easier said than done.

But seriously, don't we have bigger problems?

Euphoria

I wanted to write a bit more on gender euphoria as Cristina Cross made a comment yesterday which got me reflecting. Euphoria can be most prominent and dominant when our cross gender expression is relegated to sporadic activity which tends to build anxiety and then release massive joy. However as we move into trying to live more authentically the euphoria of expression becomes increasingly dominated by a deep sense of comfort which is how we validate and legitimize our cross gender feelings. Arriving at this point is far more satisfying and peaceful but less euphoric.

I always go back to needing to address the fundamental distinction of "who we are" versus "what we do". If we are more about expression, any attempt to increasingly live authentically will not work simply because there aren't sufficient feelings of identity present to justify it.

This is something which can only be discovered slowly over time especially if we are older and dealing with, as I did, a very long history of denial and suppression.

The importance of role

It can be easy to forget the term gender role which is arguably the most important in the expression, identity and role triad. If someone fulfills a role, they are adopting a function which helps feed into their identity.

A mother is a role we normally associate with a genetic female but arguably all of the tasks that a mother performs aside from child birth could be done by someone who wasn't born genetically female. The role is adopted as a long term investment which reminds us how important this function can be.

We can think of a woman as also fulfilling a role in society, and see her as more than just what plumbing she was born with. There are nurturing qualities that a woman brings to the table relating to her essence that men are less prone to provide.

So when we reflect on gender and its impact in society we need consider all three: expression, identity and role. This is irrespective of the fact that some roles have tended to become increasingly decoupled from birth sex.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

From the Wrong Angle

After a long time I finally realized I had been approaching the issue from the wrong angle. Rather than ask why cross gender arousal exists, I needed to ask the following: how is it possible to decouple wanting to be another gender entirely from sexuality? The answer is you cannot.

It helped me to speak to genetic women but also to androphilic transgender women like my friend Sherry to fill in the portrait. Their experiences of feeling feminine sometimes brought sexual feelings as well.

So it is not the presence of the occasional arousal that is the crux of the issue but rather whether it is an end goal or alternatively a manifestation of a much larger portrait which encompasses identity.

That last part is up to us to figure out.

The Police

As much as I want people to make the right choices and caution much reflection before acting, the purists trying to police gender variant people aren't helping either. A recent video by Buck Angel making fun of those he calls "Transtrenders" is not doing anything other than feeding into the aspirations of criticals who want all gender variance wiped off the planet and we go back to an artificially imposed perfect binary.

If some want to play with gender that isn't anyone's business but their own and if they don't medically transition then what they wear or call themselves is not relevant provided they are respectful citizens of the world and aren't harming anyone. Why some people get their panties in a bunch over others does not make sense unless you are trying to help them in some way.

Agendas like this annoy me primarily because the intent isn't to help but to fortify themselves through distinction which is just a sign of insecurity.

A smile and a comment

I had a short conversation with the sales lady at Claire's yesterday. I was looking for some hoop earrings and my penchant for being very chatty with people made me realize how many of us these days feel that something is off. She was 42 but looked much younger and she bemoaned where our society is going. Our dependence on technology which has impacted human interaction is something we all observe.

She was so pleasant to talk to and so happy I took the time to do so that I cannot recommend enough being open with people which simply begins with a smile and a comment. We all need it in this eta of being buried in our phones.

Anyway, I chose smaller hoops than the ones I've been wearing of late.



Tools

If you reflect on it, our entire value as human beings is independent of our physicality. Our intelligence, our empathy and our charity are three characteristics independent of any external traits; no matter the gender or ethnicity for it does not matter.

Think about Joseph Merrick, the so called "elephant man" who died at age 27 from asphyxiation and a broken neck after having extended his body into a horizontal position. By all accounts he was a lovely human being and yet for many in his Victorian England he may have been at most a side show curiosity.

We develop our sense of self by working on our character and no matter what we decide to do externally to our body those traits are the ones who will bring us the most comfort in life and will be the tools that sustain us. That t
he world often places more emphasis on the external is so very unfortunate.



Monday, January 22, 2024

Don't be afraid

I no longer brace myself to be spoken to, outed or clocked on the street. But if you speak to me the wrong way you run the risk of my sharp tongue or disdainful dismissal with a frown and an eye roll.

Don't be afraid because we cannot live our life in fear. Be yourself and be confident as most people don't care about you and the vast majority are more than decent.


The teenage phase

I don't miss what l now consider to have been my transgender teenage phase whatsoever; a period which can last as long as our nature is constrained to being a character we portray on occasion.

This is most often not a deliberate choice but a reality around life decisions made which was certainly the case for me and many others. In particular those who are older risked ending up with a stunted journey rather than a continued and natural progression into the true self. Thankfully, the young generation will get to skip the step of decades of suppression before succumbing to their nature which also will spare them much trauma and suffering. I now look back and marvel at my resilience over all those years as I watch young transgender people celebrate living so openly.

That being said, there are some for whom a kind of role play works and may even be a desired goal which is perfectly fine provided it brings with it peace and stability; always our aim.

Chill

Who would've thought that the secret to life was to chill. Nothing is ever as bad as we think it will be and we spend inordinate amounts of time worrying for nothing. The 20/20 vision which retirement brings permits me this conclusion.

I am not one to talk because I fell victim to it and now am trying to make up for lost time by letting go of much suffrage which I suppose is largely infused in our nature.

The more we seek an ordered life the more it will disappoint us with its penchant for apparent glee in providing us with randomness. Therefore it pays less to fight than to choose our battles carefully based on which ones are truly worth engaging in.



The magic formula

Compatibility and attraction don't always come together. Western culture has for a long time now not seen marriage in any way as transactional but instead as exclusively a search for a type of non-existent perfection which can include even thinking that our partner will help us with the qualities we lack.

Over 100 years ago women were more seen as the key family pivot and a precious commodity who themselves were more devoid of options than they have today. Marriage was a way out of the family home and to the care of a spouse who had more societal power and control. This is no longer true which explains much of the confusion today regarding the rules of engagement.

The internet is full of content regarding relationships; why they fail, how to make them work, how to get out of them, how to start one, etc. The thing is that it is not any easier or harder than it ever was compared to the time when we just put our heads down, committed to one and only later found out whether we had erred.



Sunday, January 21, 2024

Bane of my existence

The combination of stupid and mean never ceases to frustrate. Unfortunately the world is replete with it therefore I work on myself to develop a greater tolerance.

Advantages

One of the advantages of aging is that your facial hair turns white. While years ago I had 6 sessions of laser hair removal, there were still nagging spots where a little more coverage with foundation was required. Today I barely wear any which is freeing to say the least. I don't like feeling like having cinematic thickness pancake on my face most notably in summer.

Having largely feminine features has been an advantage that I used to hate when I wasn't self-accepting and sometimes being mistaken for a girl in childhood brought me equal parts rage and contentment. Today it helped me forego the idea of HRT which also brought with it potential health risks for someone who has already had a stroke.

Today there are plenty of options for every transgender person and their unique situations.

Stepping outside ourselves

It would be great to be able to step outside ourselves and live inside the skin of others for a while. If nothing else it would make us realize just how much living in our heads encourages the loss of perspective. We are tempted to think the world revolves around us when clearly it doesn't.

I cannot accomplish this feat but I can try as much as possible to question why I feel a certain way about something. I look for my prejudices and ask if they are truly warranted and whether I am just looking to criticize so as to elevate my own position versus seeking truth.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Below the Surface

Looking at the world solely at a surface level will not yield satisfactory answers and anything to do with human behaviour must be investigated for motivation before making conclusions.

One of the problems is that we love to create groupings and draw conclusions largely based on quick observation before looking below the surface. The overweight person is assumed to be an over eater until we later learn there is a glandular problem. We surmise with the same rationale that the overly thin person also must have a horrible appetite.

One of the things I like to do is look behind the surface of things to comprehend the epistemology and the inner workings. I want to look for the main driver and any other possible causes and I don't understand why anyone would want to do otherwise.

Too colloquial

My primary issue with the term "crossdressing" is that it isn't universally applied to both sexes. It also loses its meaning because the reference point continues to change over time in that what may have been considered "crossdressing" 40 years ago isn't the case today. In other words, it is a moving target. A young man wearing a skirt on the subway today does not even solicit a reaction.

Additionally it simplifies the behaviour of some gender variant people to focus solely on vestments whereas many have a multi-faceted approach to their variance and don't consider clothing to be necessarily a primary focus. This does not mean that there aren't people who think exclusively and draw their primary pleasure from wearing the clothing traditionally associated with the opposite sex.

I view the term gender variance as being interchangeable with Harry Benjamin's scale which contained within it a wide range of expression and identity. Irrespective of the fact that some individuals are largely about pure expression, terms like "crossdressing" are too reductive and steeped in cultural colloquialism to be helpful which is why I prefer using cross gender expression as a general term for both sexes.

Playing your hand correctly

Gender variant people have always risked overplaying or underplaying their hand. They may assume there is much more going on or conversely ignore signals that something is seriously up with their core gender identity. If it were easy it wouldn't be life because very little about our existence is. 

I see both scenarios: transitioners who thought the better of it later as well as those whose cross gender expression was seen as just another treasured facet of themselves except that there was eventually considerably more than first met the eye.




The Revolutionary Power of Choosing the Self

A very intelligent young transgender woman explains the power of choosing the self...

Friday, January 19, 2024

Two personages

Gender variance in natal females has always been different to that of males. Because it was more tolerated, it didn't need to go underground quite as much and tomboyish behavior and even phases were allowed until they perhaps worked themselves out during adolescence or didn't. This variant behaviour could be often tied to orientation as feminine hetero females were much less like to indulge in variance than sometimes more masculine leaning lesbians.

There weren't secret clubs for these women where they could express themselves other than perhaps lesbian bars or clubs.

Relief valves for expression in natal males being much less readily available, it had to go to the privacy of the home or to secret societies for the like-minded so heavy was the stigma. I was reminded that it still exists among some younger gender variant people when I watched the detransition videos of Ray Williams who preferred to transition to Rachel rather than face the shame of being "just a crossdresser" (to use his own words).

If we are to finally become more enlightened on this subject, we would do well to allow people to live as they please and remove the weight of society. But as quickly as I say that, I know there are right wingers, gender criticals and even some transgender people themselves willing to denigrate something which has always existed and always will. Despite their best efforts though, I see things changing with the young generation.

What is oddly fascinating is how society has forced many men who don't question birth sex but simply want to play with gender to create schizophrenic lives consisting of two distinct and separate personages where one was the social mask and the other the relief valve.

Not entirely sure how healthy for the psyche that ever was. All I know is that it did not work for me.




Dinner

My daughter lives with me but at almost 26 years of age she has very much her own life. She made dinner for both of us last night and we talked which is an increasingly rare event as we have entirely different schedules. She is a night owl and I am an early riser.

You let your children go and then allow them to set the frequency of overlap and as long as they are fine you don't perturb them. I do not subscribe to conditional love based on expectations.

Both my children have not batted an eyelash as I moved increasingly towards a social transition and perhaps it was due to my bringing them along very slowly while keeping them up to date on my reflection process. In fact it has been easier for them to accept me as I am than for me to accept that they would love me regardless.

"I am not an animal"

The ignorance of the masses from one of the best films ever made...


Thursday, January 18, 2024

I see my GP

I hadn't seen my GP for a while and so he noticed the change. He says that I look really happy which is perhaps the impression one gives after solving a lifelong riddle.

I updated him on my history and my last meeting with the endocrinologist Dr. Morris with my canceling undergoing the HRT regimen. Of his 3 transgender patients (among the over 3,000 my GP has seen), I am the only one to decide to not medically transition which by no means do I see as a badge of honor.

Before going in I was chatty with a lady and her husband who were going in to see him before me. He later noted this and saw it as sign of how well I am doing.

No wrong answer

As a point of reflection and knowing that there is no right or wrong answer, think about which one of these statements most closely describes you:

1) I feel like a woman

2) I am a mostly feminine being

3) Dressing up is fun

Experts need not apply

I would argue that the opinion of ignoramuses carries more weight today than at any time in our history. Social media has made access to information far easier and facilitated conjecture by snake oil salesmen. Whereas these people were more readily recognizable as carnival barkers a century ago, today they are idolized by millions despite having zero credentials in the subjects they weigh in on such as the efficacy of vaccines or whether the earth is indeed spherical.

People like Candace Owens, Russell Brand and Joe Rogan can't help but appear like comical dolts to the educated but then there are more dangerous versions like Jordan Peterson whose word salad pronouncements seem to keep his fanboys spellbound. Rather than just stick to helping young men find life purpose, he expanded his right wing leanings onto Twitter and YouTube where his acrid opinions on cultural issues could be featured. Not surprisingly he will now be forced to take a media course if he values his professional license as no credible mental health professional would be so assenine as to behave thusly.

If we are in trouble as a society it is because opinions on any subject matter have equal weight to expertise and truth. That even the most credible sources don't have the complete picture on every subject is at least leaps and bounds better than trumpeting the unhinged ramblings of pure idiots.

Small wonder then that the leading candidate in the GOP race for president is an odious imbecile.

The mind boggles.



At Any Age

I grew up very regimented and almost humorless and so I have worked on reversing that. Today I am more spontaneous and speak to people much more readily. I chalk up my previous lived history to being heavily influenced by shyness, being the eldest in a religious family and the pressures of concealment of identity of my generation. Career discipline and developing my creativity as both artist and musician were my replacements for the things I lacked.

It turns out however that there is indeed the possibility of measurable change at any age if we desire it. We can reprogram the psyche slowly as we embrace our core and shed the trappings that previously weighed us down.

This is universal; whether transgender or not.





Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Daily Weirdo Check

Time for some RM Brown critiquing the lunatic right wing:).....

Backbone

If we don't develop a strong backbone as transgender people then life is going to suck. This is particularly true if we don't blend in well. Even people who are very tall or very short sometimes get looks so being in any way timid about stares is going to reduce our living pleasure.

Transgender or not, removing the thought that people's opinions matter is mandatory if we are going to lead optimally content lives. Some youth have perfect "passing" privilege especially if they began HRT early but then youth also fills us with natural insecurities which have us question things which maturity later sees us chuckle over.

We are not trying to pass as anything other than ourselves therefore we don't want to limit ourselves to "ghettos". Living openly in the world is something I would never give up for my right to exist bows to no one. So we let people stare all they like until they get bored or conversely we give them the stink eye.

It's a process

Retirement is for me a process of redefining the self. After decades of career during which there was also focus on raising children, suddenly you are set adrift. Passions are of course fine and I have them, but not what this is about because as someone whose brain operated on high drive with constant deadlines which both motivated and frustrated in equal parts, I am learning a new way to live. In a sense one becomes addicted to adrenaline we would now be wise to let go of.

Learning to live more peacefully with purpose requires we examine who we truly are. After all we have the time but also an impetus to re-imagine life without a constant to-do list. You have highs and some lows and as a transgender person the additional layer of complexity of acclimatizing to living with the freedom of full authenticity.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Last Sleep

Last scene from one of my favorite films of all time. I was 18 when I saw it and it has stayed me all these years....


Hate works

The reason Trumpism works is that there is always appetite among societal low-brows, the easily duped and the machiavellian to buy into hatred of the dreaded "other". There is nothing better or more convenient than blaming someone else for all of your woes and for this reason populist despots will never disappear.

Hate works on a significant number of people and we shouldn't be astonished that it does. We should just be disappointed.






Finding an audience

I think that it makes sense that the argument for turning transgender people into pathological deviants originated in the 1980's. After all, there was a turn towards traditional "family values" with groups like the Moral Majority and the new conservatism of Ronald Reagan was perhaps a way of burning off what was seen as the hedonism of the 1960's and 70's. It was a decade where the receptiveness for a transgender identity as mental illness was going to find a friendlier audience. Additionally, people were still living largely in secret so real information was sparse hence opening the door to bad faith actors.

I've already poked enough holes into Blanchard repeatedly in my writing so I won't do it again here. My point is more about how social tolerance can oscillate over time and there are cycles where quack theories are more apt to be absorbed than during others.

Turns out however that, irrespective of era, bad science ages poorly.



Hopeful

The young transitioners I met with recently are of varied opinion on surgeries. Yes, they were all in HRT and if you passed them on the street you wouldn't know they were transgender but they all think you should live as you need to.

They are a mostly well educated bunch who keep up with the latest information. One young woman agreed with me on Helen Joyce and her mission to stamp out what she considers to be an assault on the rights that come inherently with birth sex which is code for putting transgender people back in the closet.

What I love about this young group is that they are less traumatized by not having had to supress for decades and therefore are less strident and ready for a fight than someone like me. Instead they exude calm.

Yesterday I spoke to two young women I happened upon at a street crossing one of whom was transgender, because I have a habit of doing that after I've smiled and there is reciprocity. They were both of African descent and had lived here for a number of years. They were sweet, lovely and open and our overlap was just until I reached my metro entrance.

All of this helps keep me hopeful.

Charity

People are never going to get along so we accept it and just live our own lives. This blog doesn't need to exist anymore but it does because of my fascination with human dynamics. There is so much insecurity in humans that we must constantly feel the need to fight to gain recognition and respect.

As I've gotten older, I've reached the point where the opinion of others no longer matters but I notice there is still some instinct in me to push back against blatant ignorance while realizing it is like bailing water out of a boat with a thousand holes. Opinion simply turns into fact for some without much reflection because they so desperately want to believe in their own truth.

We want to be loved and understood and the world is hungry for human contact. We have retreated to the virtual world where we can have our own kingdoms, our own opinions and faithful fans who tick a like box every time we post something. It is almost cloying and saccharine but then the instinct to be seen and heard is so powerful.

This blog doesn't have the same audience it used to but then I am no longer the same person. We progress into ourselves, we seek balance and we find resilience in a world that has plenty of people in it lining up to knock you down. I have not in the last few years been a good person to perturb because decades of frustration had built indignation in me but I am putting those weapons down slowly. I just need to look around and see so many people much worse off than I am and it all melts away.

We need charity and kindness.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Freudian Slip

 


The Brothers Sun

'The Brothers Sun" is a dramedy which becomes addictive after just one episode. A family saga about honor among thieves, it has the right cast (led by veteran actress Michelle Yeoh) as the matriarch who loves both her sons one of whom knows nothing of the family crime history at the outset.

The pacing keeps you watching plus if you like martial arts it's a bonus.

Yup, on Netflix.





Know Thyself

I tell my children to ideally find out who they are before they allow love to find them. Many of us made decisions when we were young and society told us it was time to procreate. Certainly the nuclear model of the family was still in effect when I made my own decision not to mention I was very much in denial of my own identity.

But if I like anything about today it is that the obligation to adopt preordained models is gone albeit at the price of leaving many confused about what the new rules are. I see online content decrying that "dating is dead" and some of that is true since the codependency we subsisted on for centuries is now largely a thing of the past. The bread winner husband and homemaker wife have both been relegated to ancient history to be replaced by something we are still in the process of figuring out.

So before they commit to anyone and despite having no regrets myself, I tell both of them: "know thyself"



A New Societal Order

I am still trying to ascertain the amount of damage done to the psyche of people who live within cultures with no outlets for authenticity. Even transitions only became a thing over the last 75 years or so but before that no one had ever been able to.

Hence gender non-conforming, transgender and transsexual people (certainly in the west) survived somehow knowing that even cross gender expression was severely frowned upon. At least in many native and eastern cultures there was tolerance for a third gender. The Judeo-Christian west meanwhile survived on the hypocrisy of secrecy and we went well into the 20th century with only pressure relief valves such as drag balls, secret clubs for married men to indulge their need for cross gender expression and stealth transitions. All the while the official image was that society was the picture of heterosexual and binary normalcy.

Christine Jorgensen in a sense broke the egg in the 1950's by making headlines and jolted people into the reality that those like her might have always existed. Bolstered by the work of Magnus Herschfeld and Harry Benjamin we slowly brought the public into awareness until we came to a point where we began to perturb and the right wing needed culture war red meat. The transgender tipping point of 2015 then was but a deceptive blip on the radar.

That the cat is out of the bag is certain and now we leave western culture to catch up to where more enlightened ones are. Even if things are never perfect for gender variant people and perhaps never will be, we at least rid ourselves permanently of shock value while we establish a new societal order.

If nothing else, the generation of my children gives me some hope.



Addiction

I don't think I have a YouTube addiction but admittedly I do watch more than I used to. What I find is that it becomes a sociological experiment in getting portraits of society in a wide range of issues. Aside from a plethora of animal videos, there is content on loneliness and angst, relationship woes, childhood trauma and of course transgender people chronicling their respective journeys.

Back when there was no internet we may have thought that we were alone in our struggles and now you can readily find people who in many ways mirror them. In one sense this ability to share has been beneficial but the dark side has been allowing others the possibility to attack and denigrate.

Human nature does not change and it is only the situational circumstances which oblige us to adapt to things. The advent of virtual communication has certainly been the major development of my lifetime and brought the good with the bad. If nothing else it has allowed us to see how much alike we are and how many of our problems transcend eras.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

I was wrong

If you are as stumped as I am regarding the inefficacy of the American justice system then welcome to the club. The degree of criminality of Trump and his cabal has become so commonplace that it no longer startles. Something which 20 years ago would have generated major headlines is now just a page 6 routine occurrence worthy of perhaps a yawn.

It's not that Trump is a disgusting and deplorable idiot that surprises me, it is more the sheer amount of people willing to look past glaring flaws to line up to cheer his exploits. As judges, lawmakers and others receive daily death threats from his mob, it only seems to do his poll numbers good which has only made my already cynical views on human intelligence to become even more so.

I have said before that when I was much younger I marveled at what despots were able to do in the early 20th century and my ideals had me think it a thing of the past. I had surmised that we were headed towards a more enlightened world.

Clearly I was wrong.

A dividing line

If all gender variance is now considered 'trans' we are simply asking for trouble. In particular many impressionable teens and young adults are comparing themselves to others and thinking they need to medically transition.

In our genuine aim to be politically correct, we may have inadvertantly helped to create this current atmosphere which we need to scale back a bit if nothing else to draw a more distinct line between identity and expression. For those who are unsure of their particular mixture of those ingredients, they can then seek clinical guidance to find out.

Part of the problem is that the residual stigma of many older gender variant people is not helping the situation. I used to be one of those stumped and so I understand the problem only too well because as someone on the cusp of needing to medically transition, it took me a very long time and much introspection to solve the riddle of what to do.

But if the current youth is completely free of stigma and much less hung up, they are also much more susceptible to quick decisions and to being influenced. My argument for guardrails isn't about stopping them from living their best lives but rather about helping them make decisions that will ultimately be right and leave them free of regret.

In opening up the door fully to gender expression, we seem to have gotten lost and we need to find our way back. During my recent meeting with young transitioners in their 20's who followed a measured and well planned approach, I saw what great results can be achieved within the right program. But what was most interesting was the extent to which they themselves argued so passionately for those very guardrails because they see the potential pitfalls as well.

Community

The only community I want to belong to is the human race and don't distinguish myself by my ethnicity, religion, profession or any other category. I feel more comfortable like that plus I think it helps to keep me more objective.

I just want justice for all.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Everything happens for a reason

 


A Hesitant Participant

For quite a few years I have identified as a non-committal transsexual and I pretty much still do. It is why Harry Benjamin's type IV spoke to me from the moment I first saw it. I questioned birth sex but not enough to have me go the extra mile not to mention I was laden and traumarized by religious and societal stigma. Add to that needing to raise two young kids who didn't need to be affected by my own burden clinched the deal. Being the children of divorce was already plenty for them and today they are my biggest supporters.

If I am happy it is that the stigma is completely gone and I am living very much authentically which is more than enough for me. I may not have freely chosen to be this way, but I did finally choose my answer to it.

Hopeless

If as a barometer I use the increasing amount of people sleeping in subways and asking for change, we are headed in the wrong direction as a society.

The fact that as humans we are hopeless idiots and doomed to forever repeat history is unquestioned.



All boils to the same thing

Exactly the same archetypes exist today as in the past except they are either not quick to describe themselves, or they choose one of the many myriad of terms now available that all boil down to the same thing; namely gender variance.

The big difference is that this youth does not hide because there is no need to. There are no secret clubs or support groups; there is simply the world. They do not question birth sex but rather want to embrace all facets of themselves and rejoice in them openly.

Good for them.



Terror

If you thought that people are far less gullible than they really are, the increasing radicalization of the American evangelical movement over a number of years should have convinced you otherwise. The recent spate of death threats is a wakeup call that these lunatics are serious in that they will do almost anything for their king Donald Trump who seems to have become a flawed biblical David figure for them.

The GOP traditional wing of fiscal conservatives and warhawks has lost all sway and been replaced by low brow radicals who preach that civil war might be necessary to save their nation. The dissatisfaction is real among the masses because suffering under decaying economic situations has left them susceptible to influence by those who are aching for an authoritarian regime to take over the country. Clearly there are consequences to the sins of capitalism run amok.

2024 will be a year full of tumult in America as the justice system tries to rid the country of the criminal and toxic malaise that is Trump. As they do that these righteous warriors who have fully ingested the Kool-aid will do their utmost to make sure that does not happen.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Swatted

MAGA deplorables at work....


Flawless

 


Ripples

She calls herself "Tranny Granny" and is now in her seventies. She transitioned in her twenties with her own ex-husband never knowing her past and judging from her photos it's easy to see why. Today she makes videos where she rails against what she describes as the current madness.

Women like her had a tough road then and perhaps her frustration is justified but I can't help but compare her to the young Maya Henry who is a little younger than my daughter and who embraces the term transsexual while having no bitterness towards how others define themselves. This is the advantage of growing up with far less stigma

Many older transsexual women like this lady and transgender men like Buck Angel (who she voices admiration for in one of her videos) are currently trumpeting their displeasure for what they see as a world gone astray. While I share some of their concern, I do not like their intransigence or vitriol in sometimes partnering with transphobes to pass on their message. Instead, I just want us all to arrive at a place where we feel secure in our identities while comprehending not everyone is the same.

Liberating both sex and gender was bound to produce major ripples eventually, and so here we are until the waters calm again.



What a drag

Drag is a good example of an area which seems to still generate 'trans' confusion. Back in the 1950's and 60's androphilic transsexuals worked alongside gay men in places like the Jewel Box Revue and Le Carousel in Paris. In fact April Ashley and Bambi were among those who eventually transitioned. It was mostly gay men like Les Lee (a close friend of Ashley) and even the occasional heterosexual married man like Kiki Moustic who also worked in this field.

Therefore, if we go to the heart of the issue, one group questioned core identity whereas the others did not. So once again we are left with the fundamental dichotomy of expression versus identity as the key differentiator.

Today Ru Paul will tell you openly he is definitely not transgender, however one of the contestants on Drag Race named Peppermint ended up transitioning because she identified as such.

We boil everything down to fundamentals and we get our answer.



Rock and a hard place

I've written many times about the often rock and a hard place scenarios of older transgender people. Since many came to self discovery slowly over their lifetime, they were suddenly faced with a choice of fidelity to a marriage versus embracing authenticity. Today the young will thankfully not be faced with such a prospect.

You may already have noted that I am not referring to androphilic transsexuals here who typically had a different road.

What is interesting is that back when my marriage was disintegrating, I would have settled for much less than what I have now because even a drop of water on the tongue to someone who is thirsty is considered a blessing.

Some people are able to keep an uneasy balance with cross gender expression sufficiently spaced not to perturb while others see their marriage survive transition because a spouse sees more than gender. Regardless, it is not an obvious thing to go through this well into the life of a relationship and hardly fair to a spouse who may feel justifiably that they have been deceived even if there was never such intent .

I am confident that this is now a thing of the past in that coming out early will avoid surprises down the road. Young transitioners will find partners who make a choice willingly while other gender variant people will simply express themselves as they will without needing to hide.

Alternatively there is nothing wrong with being single.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Irrational

To be a transphobe means you need to embrace some irrationality. For if you follow logic you will note that there is no process in this world involving any inherent biology which is not subject to anomalies. By saying otherwise you are not being rational.

One thing is to be concerned about the current climate, it is quite another to argue for eradication of something which has occurred naturally since human beings are on this planet. But when hate drives you it's easier to talk in terms of "ideologies".

Being rational, logical or compassionate isn't a goal for criticals. Instead their stance is driven largely by fear, ignorance and yes, irrationality.

The burbs