"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 - -

Friday, 30 July 2010

Girlfriends

A post by Veronica this past week has me reflecting on the rather large number of ‘Platonic’ relationships I have had with women over the years.

These include several girls I played with in my pre-pubescent days (Platonic by necessity). Those experiences set the tone and expectations for many more. I distinctly recall my father admonishing me that it was not a compliment to have your girlfriend describe you as ‘safe’. It might actually be that many women over the years knew, or at least felt what I have only realized recently.

One friendship, the last of its kind happened twelve years after sweetie and I were married. This friendship deepened way too much, spilled over and came close to becoming romantic, which, sadly, ended our friendship. We had shared so much in a short time; ideas, feelings, you know the sort of discussions good friends have. When it ended, I felt a space in my heart that took a long time to get over. Thank you Veronica for sending my thoughts down this path, even though I now envy you and all the rest of the women in the world even more than I did a couple of weeks ago for that mental intimacy you share so rarely with the men around you.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Being Who I Am

What has this process (writing all of this stuff) been about? It seems the answer changes (as so often is the case) depending upon who you would ask, and the mood they (or I) might happen to be in at the time. So, here is a (one, for me, today) perspective on the answer to the question.

------- Understanding myself ---------

Pause for effect.

Those who read here do not need much elaboration on the subject of the over-riding need to find out why we are depressed to the point of desperation by our gender incongruity. Yet in the end, it seems the most important thing is learning to move forward. The answer to that ‘how’ is unique to each of us, as our circumstances dictate. Our circumstances include every factor in our lives; so vast that no two people ever find another person’s to be like there own. There are enough similarities that we find ourselves nodding and saying “I need to comment to support, or to add something to that thought”. There is the amazing value of blogging; the love and support we find and give.

In the end however, what I write here is about myself and understanding myself and learning the skills to move forward another day, or maybe even (if that day works out well) the next and even for a lifetime.

Some in Blogistan have been at it long enough, or are advanced enough that they can just blog about their daily lives and those joys and challenges. I love to read those, but very rarely comment. Those folk probably read the stuff I write here and wonder how anyone can rant on so long about stuff that is so simple and basic. Like they say; ‘easy for you!’ :P

Now and then I wonder if maybe in the end, my decisions (taken one day at a time) might just lead me to live what to the ‘real’ world will seem to be the same as the one I have always lived. I wonder if the only transformation will be inside of me, a sort of internal bloom and joy in the wonderful world around me that I never noticed throughout a whole lifetime of acting as though I really was a man instead of just appearing to be one.

It is just possible that it is enough for me to be me inside. What a surprise for those who get to know me! “That man over there, he treated me just like a woman would have! I really like him!” For me it may never be about pronouns or clothing.

Such are the ramblings of a GD person when their cycle is at its lowest ebb. Talk to me again next week, or next month. Like I said, what I write is about understanding, and learning, and love and support.

I, like you, will try to be true to myself.

Hugs,

Halle

Friday, 16 July 2010

Summertime Sabbatical

This one is a bit of a departure from normal service here at 'Maintaining'. Nothing profound, just some information for the two or three who might wonder if I don't write it, so here goes.


First, the last few days have gone better personally, and I am doing fine.... no need for concern thank you.


Second, it is summer here, which chéz Halle, means holiday and travel and no internet. Service will therefore be interrupted for a few weeks. There may be a day or two in the interim for reading and/or comments. Sorry if I am late in that.


Bye for Now!


Halle

Monday, 12 July 2010

Sliding Away

I can see her and feel her. She is with me always, observing and, yes, waiting. The trouble is, she knows me better than I know myself and knows all of the signs that it might be time to leave; again.

So many songs to choose from. ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ certainly comes to mind for me; “If I go there will be trouble, If I stay it will be double.”, yup, that works…

Instead, let's go with my old companion Paul (rhymin’) Simon with one from days before sweetie and I had children (we call it b.c. around here) “Slip-Sliding Away’…. For those who have never heard this one, please take five out of your busy schedule.



Doors open and close constantly. I will remember that, of course, and I am not going anywhere. My inner lady has been very patient and will likely continue to be, although gaining weight is sign that my motivation is slipping. If that motivation slides away, it is hard to say what else will go along for the ride. Reality has a really nasty way of intruding in a life lived vicariously. As much as these virtual exchanges have stimulated me, the idea of spending five or six hours on the road to have coffee with my sisters (I really appreciate the offers, I do!), or even a meal and a meeting seems to be unlikely. I would do it once or twice, but sooner or later I fear an 'all or nothing at all' decision would present itself. In the meantime, such behavior will do nothing to further the goodwill at home; quite the contrary.

This ramble will end now. Thank you for your virtual ears, as always.

Hugs,

Halle

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Everything Here May Be Wrong

The other day Sophie reminded us of the tiny perfect seagull tale Richard Bach spun for us forty years ago. I love that story; read it so many times from the library that I purchased then wore out a couple of paperback copies, gave away another couple, and am now holding my hardcover copy. With it is a perhaps lesser known tale he penned seven years later; Illusions: the adventures of a reluctant Messiah. Within that book exists a collection of ideas Bach called the Messiah’s Handbook: Reminders for the Advanced Soul (published separately in 2004, by Hampton Roads Publishing).
These volumes are companions along the way for those who search for meaning.

I follow along with so many bloggers out here because they tell their stories, and just as Richard did in these books of fiction, they share insights; ideas that work for them, right now, in their present circumstance. What we write here are not universal truths. Nobody is pretending to be writing a survival manual.

Every now and then an idea is just too relevant to our own current situation. As an example for my situation, yesterday from Veronica:

Years ago, I learned something from psychologist Martin Seligman. He says that the optimal psychological state is optimism tempered by realism. People who are depressed aren't unduly pessimistic. They're simply too realistic. We need to see things in a better light than is actually there. We need to overestimate our own strength and abilities and attractiveness. That's how we move forward. That's how we thrive.” Always Something There To Remind Me – Life Right Side Up

Veronica has been there, and done that, and continues to examine her and our (and by that I refer to the human) condition. Right now, for me, it should be about listening more, especially to those of you who have traveled the road and report so well on the condition of our segment of humanity.

I should have recognized the strengthening of the symptoms of depression. As soon as possible, I will use her advice to move myself forward. I know I can do better, and will.

Bach’s last entry in his “Messiah’s Handbook” is the most important one of all. Please feel free to apply it to everything I have written.

“Everything in this book may be wrong”

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Stereotyped

Maybe it’s the hormones? Wait a minute, I don’t take any, unless you count the ones my body manufactures…. Oh, that is such stereotypical thinking. You can do better Halle.

If we think at all, we use stereotypes. Yet there is probably no more implicit criticism you can level at anyone who is trying to fit in as a member of some group they were not born part of, than to suggest they have followed a stereotype.

It is ironic that I should write a post about the use of language, because it is something I use only as a tool, and would rather not have to analyze, however, here goes. The English language has so many words with alternative meanings, where one of the meanings pushes buttons, and generally is the taken meaning.

There are words with innocent, even honorable meanings that have been pulled in the same way as ‘stereotype’. The word ‘normal’ is one, as is the word ‘discriminate’. A person of ‘discriminating taste’ is generally well thought of, even now, but to suggest that someone discriminates in the way they think, goes the other way. Why is that, and how did it happen?

Not being one who subscribes to conspiracy theories, it seems to me that there are individuals who go to great lengths to find ways to distract attention from the weakness of their arguments by either referring to some higher authority, or by casting aspersions upon those they criticize by lumping them into some already generally distrusted group.

I did not grow up a woman. My upbringing allowed that I could and did learn most of the tasks that either a male or female could perform in a home and for that I have always been grateful (there go those stereotypes again). I, of course never learned how a woman should ‘behave’ or ‘act’ other than what I could observe. I have been observing all of my life. I haven’t always liked what I saw in how the women in my life have been treated; I suppose I could be termed a feminist, yet because I have not been ‘personally affected’, my credibility in this is tarnished. I would like to be able to take on a female persona and a female role, but again, lack of training and natal credibility make it hard. I am overly sensitive to my failings, even though I have few options to gain credibility.

Because of the above, it is a pretty simple matter to put me on the defensive. In the case of being accused of relying on ‘stereotypes’ I am going to say it really pisses me off. What else am I supposed to do? Who will take on the task of making a ‘proper woman’ out of me, if not me? How else to model yourself, but by what you experience every day? What am I to call the collected modes of behavior but by the label ‘stereotype’? So if your goal is to make me feel really bad about myself by suggesting that I have ‘discriminated’ in my selection of role models and my choice is ‘stereotypical’, you have chosen the wrong person to mess with.

I intend to keep learning and growing, doing everything I can to avoid inappropriate actions, but knowing that learning involves taking risks. You have to do something, and it may not make everyone happy. One of the risks is ridicule, and only by having a confident attitude can that be conquered. If that confident person seems to be stereotypically confident, then so be it!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Becoming Normal

nor·mal (nôr′məl)
adjective
1. conforming with or constituting an accepted standard, model, or pattern; esp., corresponding to the median or average of a large group in type, appearance, achievement, function, development, etc.; natural; usual; standard; regular (yourdictionary dot com)

If a medical ‘solution’ that could head off the development of gender dysphoria was developed and could be injected into each fetus, that would be a wonderful thing, right? As strange as this will seem given our difficulties, and how much noise I have made here about them, I must say my answer is a resounding NO.
Let me explain, if I can.

This past Thursday, Helen posted “Breeding Out Tomboys” in en|Gender, about what she sees as a very disturbing development in the world of medical intervention.
Dr. Maria New, an endocrinologist, has developed a “cheap and easy” treatment for Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH), a disease of the adrenal gland.

Here’s some background information:
From the New York Times article “A Culprit in Infertility, Overlooked Yet Treatable” published July 2009: “C.A.H. —(is) a hormone deficiency that leads to excess production of androgens. In women it can interfere with ovulation; in men it can cause low sperm count. In addition, it can lead to short stature, body odor, acne, irregular menstruation and the excessive hair growth called hirsutism.
Quoting from the Health-Cares dot net website, “CAH, a genetic disorder, is the most common adrenal gland disorder in infants and children, occurring in one in 10,000 total births worldwide. It affects both females and males. It is also called adrenogenital syndrome.”…“In its most severe form, called salt-wasting CAH, a life-threatening adrenal crisis can occur if the disorder is untreated. Adrenal crisis can cause dehydration, shock, and death within 14 days of birth. There is also a mild form of CAH that occurs later in childhood or young adult life in which patients have partial enzyme deficiency.”..” the enzyme that produces two important adrenal steroid hormones, cortisol and aldosterone, is deficient. Because cortisol production is impeded, the adrenal gland instead overproduces androgens (male steroid hormones). Females with CAH are born with an enlarged clitoris and normal internal reproductive tract structures..”…

So, is what they are talking about there in fact a treatment to prevent a little girl from being a lesbian? I really do not know. Some are taking it that way, and it sounds like they have a good argument for that belief.

Being trans is very difficult, but as we know, all life is difficult, mysterious and unpredictable. The Buddha said that a long time ago.
When somebody tells me they have a way to make the lives of people with *abnormalities* ‘better’ or more *normal*, my ears start twitching. The message is ‘danger nearby; be ready to flee!’ Since the human genome project, more advances are being made all of the time. There are many ‘conditions’ that may come to be treated. The question is, how domesticated (normal) should the human population become through the application of simple, low cost pre-natal ‘remedies’. Who gets to police what preventatives are for really ‘good’ reasons and which ones are simply part of a plan, conscious or not, to make a ‘homogenized human race’?

If you have been reading here for a while, or if you would care to look back a bit, you will remember that my philosophy is that we need to work with what we have. We need to reflect on who we are, and who we would like to be, and find ways to take ourselves from here to there. Emphasis on take ourselves. Sure we need help along the way to understanding. Sure we need support. We do not need an unknown hand stepping in to make us all the same… all ‘normal’ before we even start our lives.

Oh Halle, you say, you are over-reacting to this. All the good doctor and others want to do is to eliminate a nasty genetic defect that kills some and makes life difficult for others.

Folks, we are the result of generations of genetic defects; a process called evolution. There is no telling where this amazing genetic experiment called life might lead. My children might be part of a chain that leads to a wonderful future, or not. That is the beauty of unstructured life and struggle.

So you are going to tell me that if it were my child who might die because of this defect, I would sing a different tune. Well, yes my child ‘bearing’ years are gone, but I hope to have grandchildren someday. I hope they are unique. The very thought of those lives being made 'normal' and boring like some dairy cow makes my blood boil, and it should yours too.

If anybody said the world would be better off if only we could eliminate this or that kind of person, you would be horrified I hope. So be horrified, because in the long run, that is really what this sort of ‘treatment’ will come to be about.

Please, let’s not allow the human race to become 'normal'.

Halle

Friday, 2 July 2010

Only a Rhetorical Question

Life is about choice. Even when you decide not to choose, you have made that choice. Every choice changes the way things will be from then on.

To recap, here is the situation:

From all reports, related to me by my sweetie, an expert in this area, my male façade has been exemplary. Nobody could possibly have a suspicion that inside this obviously male shell lurks a rich female persona. I therefore could choose to return to my past, devote myself to very male pursuits and modes of behavior and slowly drink my self-loathing shell to death.

From all reports, beginning transition to female at my age, marital and economic situation is a tremendously painful experience, which will by the time I am finished leave me in the body I should have been born with, at an age where I should have a rich personal history as a woman, but do not. I will be a novice woman with few, if any friends, living in an old woman's body. Now I must admit that does sound like an adventure.

From all reports, trying to walk the middle of the road is confusing and painful; akin to riding a roller-coaster standing up while juggling two people inside (sorry Veronica) and making neither truly happy.

The following is, I assure you, a rhetorical question, designed only to make those of you who are totally confused by the choices that face you feel better because you can be assured you are not alone.

What in the world am I going to do now?