"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive boy who often thought he should have been a girl - -

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Sexual Feelings

We who are transsexual do tend to ask ourselves why a lot. We ask why am I the way I am and what can I do to fix this thing that is taking up so much of my energy? For me, acceptance had a lot to do with ending the constant questioning; after all, the word accept is part of acceptance. I accepted myself and ended the questioning. Saying I am who I am still feels really good. Try it:
I am who I am.

Let's wade into the deep water for a few minutes here and talk about sexual feelings. This is a big why issue for some. Whether you want it to be or not, it can become an issue, because when one needs to make use of the public health system here in Canada, one needs to satisfy government regulations and meet up with the gatekeepers at CAMH. In my case, that meant having interviews with psychiatrists, since transsexualism was classified as a mental illness up until very recently. They ask about your sexual desires in those interviews (among other things) because they think it is relevant to your motives for wanting to align your life to your proper sex.

Just for fun, I searched autogynephilia and was rewarded (first hit from a site called Trans Road Map) with "Autogynephilia is a sex-fueled mental illness made up by Ray Blanchard. Blanchard defines it as 'a man's paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman.'" 

Ignoring the mental illness part seems hard until you simplify the description. Take out the pejoratives and tell it like it is: "A tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of your own body." 

Now, let's call this narcissismYes, being narcissistic is potentially annoying for others, but unless it is accompanied by a long-term pattern of exaggerated self-importance with a lack of empathy for others that results in taking advantage of those around you, it is hardly a disease.

My first assumption, with apologies to those whose religion rejects this, is that sexual feelings and arousal are natural and good. The propagation of the species depends on those feelings and urges. What is wrong with sexual feelings is something layered on by society. Those feelings begin a long time before socially acceptable uses for those feelings are possible. Some suggest that even in the womb (using ultrasound technology, I assume) children have been detected stimulating their genital area repeatedly.

When one's body fails to be aligned with one's internal perception of oneself, then sexual thoughts get, not surprisingly, confused. When a person is first discovering their own body, and its potential to give them sexual pleasure or possibly feelings of guilt, that confusion is particularly great. Feelings and thoughts flow back and forth during that experience. The arousal can become mixed up with the need to be the sex you know yourself to be at the deepest level.

To my mind, society's "need to know" ends at assurances that the individual in question is not forcing anyone else to say yes when they really mean NO!

We have the right to be comfortable in our own skin. When that isn't the case, we should be able to use the resources of our society - our financial resources or the health care system we support with our labour - and the skills of medical professionals to become comfortable with our own body.

Our sexual feelings, whether they are toward a man, or a woman, or toward ourselves, should not be a part of that discussion, unless we choose to involve them.

Friday, 12 August 2016

In Spite

Who out there likes to be ignored? Not me, that's for sure. 

We all like to think our thoughts on a subject are, at the very least, valued by the person we are talking to. Sometimes it is not enough even to know that the other person did listen and did consider. When we find out they ignored our warnings, or feelings, we are furious! How DARE they??!!!

It was therefore a pleasant surprise to eventually receive acceptance from many who originally expressed concern and even warned of disaster if I was crazy enough to go ahead with this sex change thing. These friends cared. They said what they thought at the time. When I went ahead with my plan, they stuck with me in spite of that. They admit now that they couldn't understand what was happening at the time, but they see how productive and happy I am and that matters more than being right in the past. 

Let's be really clear about my own feelings on that subject. Transition was my last resort. I am who I am and have always been. Presenting as a male was something I did well (way too well as it happens, for many do not, even now, accept who they see as the true me), and finally abandoning that safety was done in spite of all warnings. I had run out of excuses and choices for maintaining the façade. Fears, mine and theirs, were useful in planning how to carry out my transition. 

I had accepted myself. Once that was done the only decisions had to do with the actual mechanics of change. I made a transition plan that has gone very well because of total commitment; times of indecision far behind. 

It seems there are some who are sure I did this hastily, and in spite to some extent. I will not attempt to convince people like that of anything else; they are not my friends. If I did tell them anything it would be to say, no, this was not something I did to spite you, but it was done in spite of you. 

Thursday, 4 August 2016

How Can I Help?

Over the past six months I have been, potentially, the poster child for the transsexual community here in my little hometown. Every gal should be a little girl first and get any awkwardness over when they are small and cute. I did mine in front of a crowd and, yes, people noticed, and wondered, and thought I was brave, and probably thought I was some other things too that I would rather not imagine. Eventually, after an initial surprise and adjustment, I'm finally just one more woman in the line at the grocery store. "How will you be paying for that today, ma'am?"

How has it been going lately? Really well, and better all the time. The truth is, folks have stopped making a big deal about me, and that might mean a few different things. I figure it is mostly because one more woman and one less man in town is yesterday's news for people who don't know me well enough to call me by name. For those who do know me by name, they are interacting with me regularly as who I am and we are getting on just fine. It is not an issue anymore; old news.

Reading Nadine's post Public Relations, I couldn't agree more with her that the way forward for the transgender community is for us to get out of the closet and let people see that not conforming to the expectations that have been laid on us arbitrarily and incorrectly does not make us monsters.

Being me and not a poster child doesn't mean that I cannot speak out for the community, but I will admit that as time passes, I find myself less inclined to 'out myself' intentionally. That is, I am very happy to simply be me and not tell those around me my history. Being stealth isn't a dirty word. It means getting on with my life as it should have been, and that is my ultimate goal.

When around people who do know my history, I will not act offended when they ask questions that are respectful. If, on occasion, being open and truthful will help a person or a group of people to grow and learn what being trans really means, I won't pretend or hide. When, as has been the case, others use knowledge of my situation as a way for them to come out about some part of their lives, I feel empowered.

At the same time, I won't go around waving a flag all the time proclaiming something I hope is obvious; I'm a woman. Full stop. Maybe that helps the cause in some way, too.