"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 - -

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Coping

Knowing and acting are very different in all aspects of life. Their relationship is a matter of difficult choice.

I have a pretty good idea at this point why girl fog envelopes me most of the time. I have a pretty good idea of what I could do to lessen, or maybe eliminate it (Better Living Through Chemistry). A choice, with consequences.

I don’t know why GID has cycles of urgency. These cycles have been part of my life forever. Since I realized and acknowledged that the source of my anxiety is my trans-nature, the cycles have become more manageable (they are not gone, just different). For most of my life, thinking that I was just a screw-up, the low points of that cycle were accompanied by urges that manifested as (what ‘normal’ people would call) deviant sexual desires. The shame that accompanied these cycles spread out to give me a self-image that on a scale 0-10 was in the 1/∞ range. For my non-mathematical readers, this means less than any small number you care to mention.

Thanks to the vast resources here on the internet, and conversations we have here in Blogistan, I have increasing self-knowledge and with it, self confidence. What I don’t always do is take the action that appears best to continue to improve that condition. Because of a previous commitment, those actions while solving one problem, would create a new problem I am committed to avoiding (see this previous post). From reading your stories, I know I am not alone. The reasons for this inaction are as numerous as we are. As Meg points out in her post "You Just Don't Understand", we are far from alike. Yet we do empathize. Some of us get impatient with others when we think there is an obvious course of action they should be following. Mostly I get impatient with myself, because I see others taking action while I am not. We all berate ourselves at times. The wheel we are on turns and the feelings ebb and flow.

That is all.

Oh, you thought maybe this post was about solving our problem? Don’t I wish. No, this is just another post acknowledging where I am currently ‘stuck’.

This is just me telling me (and you too, gentle reader): Don’t feel alone. Don’t feel screwed up. Feel validated that all of this is real, and you are still doing the best you can do today.

Doing my best to live true to myself,

Halle

Monday, 27 September 2010

Stirring The Pot

Traveling down my childhood memory lane hasn’t been all bad. For instance, the memory of dinnertime and especially after dinner with one of my great-grandfathers evokes pleasant smells (his favorite pipe-tobacco) and sounds of arguments, and laughter. The grandmother I grew up with (his daughter) loved a good argument, and she was in her glory at these gatherings.

Grandad was a devotee of the Toronto Telegram, a newspaper that died somewhere around 1970. I think he cried, especially since its demise meant that he would have to get his daily information fix from the much-hated Toronto Star (some sort of political affiliation thing). He read the paper cover to cover every day, and studied much of it.

After dinner, we would sit around the table, Grandad would go through the pipe lighting ritual, and casually mention something he had read about that week, usually with a contentious twist. He would sit back and listen to what would inevitably result; “the discussion”. As a child, it was my duty, at pain of removal, to keep my opinions to myself, and my mouth closed. I was expected to observe and learn. Mostly what I remember is his undisguised pleasure in the chaos he usually managed to unleash. He loved to ‘stir the pot’ as he called it.

Every group of friends should have such a talented person in it, but such people are too rare these days. Everyone has an opinion, and most people, you can tell, are not really listening to others. They are busy thinking about what they are going to say when it is their ‘turn’.

Anyhow, on a totally unrelated topic, a friend sent me (the guy behind the façade) an email of witticisms. Within, was the following, a "gem of wisdom" he could never suspect would be read so deep at so many levels by me.

(reaching for my pipe and matches)

“Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think they are sexy.”

 Have a good week!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

How Our World Changes

Getting hatred to go away just will not work. Sometimes the only way things change is, as our friend LeAnne suggests on her masthead, by waiting for the target to move to someone else. Personally, I’d like to think the world might someday be a kinder, gentler place; the sort of world Gene Roddenberry wrote about in his series ‘Startrek’.


So how do you change the world? Well, like Roddenberry, you produce a good work of fiction.

People can be moved to act on a problem when a television program, movie, or book brings the issue to a personal level. Non-fiction tends to be boring and dry in comparison. It is hard to name a classic work of fiction from Dickens on that was not, in some sense, a social commentary, and each one, in some small way changed its world. 

Television quickly moved from light entertainment to societal manipulation during the 1960’s and has never looked back. The same well-honed techniques used to market any number of once unknown products were used to move whole populations to vote for a particular party, and in the case of social consciousness, to think in a particular way and either approve or disapprove more strongly of a particular group of fellow humans.

After reading Annabel, I began to see some possibilities, and look forward to the novels, the screenplays, etc. that might begin to let the world see what we already know about trans issues. Someone will create believable trans characters, who are capable of letting our culture see how wrong the send-up has been; that who we are, what we are living with and the ways we are finding to get on with our lives are not something that needs to be hidden away, or snickered at.

How else can we hope to move the target to some other back than by creating some empathy and selling the truth that we are decent humans and have much to offer society?

It would be much appreciated if a flood of responses gave everyone a few hundred book and dvd titles to peruse and purchase and recommend to our friends and family for their edification. Let's start changing the world.

Hugs,

Halle

Thursday, 23 September 2010

A Book Review

In the last few weeks, a short story grabbed me by the throat and said, TELL ME OR ELSE! If I am lucky, this will not happen again any time soon; even better luck for you too, I expect ;-).  Anyway, enough preamble…

In the middle of that time when I was writing, the library called to inform me that a book I had requested had arrived: Annabel, by Kathleen Winter.

I loved it and therefore recommend it to you all.

Kathleen Winter has created a world perfect for the exploration of a set of issues dear to our hearts; a life that crosses gender boundaries. Her setting is a small Labrador village, where the inhabitants’  yearly cycle of hunting, fishing, birthing, etc. are predictable and ultimately mind-numbingly boring, and yet this book is neither of these.

Beginning with the birth of Wayne/Annabel, a true hermaphrodite, lives are turned upside down for a while, and then settle down as much as possible, with predictable and some not so predictable undercurrents.

Winter's portrayal of events in and around Wayne's life is sensitive, but the events themselves have a harsh ring of truth for those who have been under siege by gender conflict. The scenes of school and childhood peers are particularly well fleshed with believable, not stereotypical characters. I found myself caring about many of the people who inhabit this world.

Annabel is a story more than anything else about people and their ability to survive in situations that are harsh physically and psychologically. It is a book I will read again in the future, because I know there will be more insights in the retelling.

Annabel, a novel
by Kathleen Winter
Published this year by House of Anansi Press Inc.,
Toronto, Canada

Monday, 20 September 2010

Halle Visits The Boy - conclusion

(continued from part 2
There are theories in physics that suggest that we live in a multidimensional universe.  Imagine being able to see these universes multiplying every time we make a choice. Even the most basic of choices divide our life path in some way, sometimes in very major ways. In chaos theory it is called the ‘butterfly effect’.
In dreamtime, moving back along the visible trace that has been my life path, I see branches, hundreds at a time, thin as silk, coming in from different directions, and like a squirrel, I am moving down the branches of some sort of gossamer tree toward the ground.
At the point where I am about age eleven, I see a new branch has developed where one was never seen before. As though a force field exists, I am forbidden from following along that new branch or any branch that is not my life path. It must be that those branches hold a new me, where I went after the last encounter with my future self. It appears I will never know what became of that dear child whose life I touched in dreams.
Heading back upward toward the present, I see a place where the branching is slightly heavier (they are all heavy, but this is even more complex). Looking in, it becomes obvious this is the time at the end of high school. Here was the time when in my personal path, I resolved to become a ‘real man’, put away all of those childish fantasies and get on with life. It was the start of the great denial.
Moving down just a bit, I joined a dream the young man was having… then again, maybe a nightmare because where the boy had made a pristine high-rise with a view to die for, here was a dark warehouse.
One bare light bulb allowed me to see dozens of men who I knew at that time. Each of them seemed to be in the process of rehearsing lines; repeating the same words and gestures over and over. Most were clones of family members and friends from school who I had admired. Strangest of all, the fictional alien, Mr Spock from Startrek, was standing and looking about him in his very unemotional way.
Huddled in a corner was a child; no, not a child but an emaciated young woman who looked very much as the boy had looked. Her curly blond hair was a mess. As she looked up, it was obvious she recognized me, but she just sat there, staring at me, or maybe she was looking past me because behind me I heard a young man’s voice ask, “who are you?”
“You don’t recognize me?” I said as I ‘shape-shifted’ into my current façade and turned to face my younger self.
“Well, you look a bit like my grandfather who died last year.”
Dad’s father had been incapacitated by a stroke when I was five. I had never had a conversation with him, but yes, as a man of almost sixty, I guess my appearance is quite amazingly like his at that age. “You are getting warm." Moving closer I put my hand out to him and thought, 'here we go'. "I am you, or at least one of the many possible versions of you that inhabit the future. Think of me as a ‘future ghost’ if you like.”
“Man, that is so cool. What a great dream this is. You are just in time; maybe you can help me to sort things out here.”
“Quite an interesting collection of personalities you keep here, isn’t it.” It was a bit eerie the way all of those actors wondered about like zombies. “So, remind me, because it has been a while for me, what are they all about, from your point of view?” I already had a pretty good idea what he might say as these were members of the same tired cast that got put out of work when my new façade was getting built.
“Well, like everyone, I need to be able to handle any situation that comes up, you know, and act the way I should when stuff is happening.”
“So you think everyone has this sort of collection, eh” He nodded his 'yes' as I continued. “Maybe you could give me an example? What is Mr. Spock doing here?”
He looked pretty sheepish, then firmed up and almost blurted “Well, he is here because I get way too emotional sometimes and I’m afraid people will think I am a girl or something, so Mr. Spock is the most controlled personality I can draw on to help me act naturally.”
I almost snickered but then remembered that this was me, and that was what I honestly worried about at that time. “Act naturally? You think being like a fictional alien is better than being yourself when you start to get emotional?”
“Sure, it's way better.” He paused, reflected a bit, then continued. “So, you know how my plan to reinvent ourselves is going to work out. What should I do to improve it?”
Remembering what had happened and it's consequences, a plan started to form that might help turn this young man’s ship at least a few degrees off of collision course. “Hmm, maybe you could answer one more question first, O.K?”
He nodded.
“I’ve been looking around and I cannot help but wonder, because I know we have a pretty healthy sex drive; which one of these ‘actors’ is in charge of that?”
“None of them actually. I take care of the talking and thinking part myself. I have to keep control of it since the sort of things we enjoy are pretty weird; nobody would understand if they found out. The little boy behind you who I have mostly outgrown is the one who really enjoys sex. I am the one who understands how serious the consequences are, so I keep a lid on things.”
Here was the center of the problem in a nutshell. I remembered that I had actually believed that my most basic and primal needs were wrong and had thought I needed to suppress them. I had re-invented myself completely and because of initial successes had lived an outwardly ‘normal’ life. The inner drive slowly but inevitably re-emerged and nearly drove me insane as it made me think I was some sort of incurable deviant, living a secret double life.
“Dear boy, I cannot tell you what you should do, but I will tell you a few things I have found to be true. In time, soon in fact, you will find that there are only two good reasons for doing just about anything. Either it teaches you something, or it is fun to do. Anything else is necessary in order to be able to do those things. It is important for you to see that ‘little boy’ you speak of as your best friend; a fun-loving, adventurous half of your complex, wonderful personality. He, SHE in fact, sees the big picture, and knows what you really are, and what you really need.  Together you are an awesome person. Alone, as half a person, you will find misery. I know why you have brought in this collection of actors, but you really don’t need them if you have her.” 
He looked doubtfully at this old person telling him his existence over the last five years had been misguided. “I have been so lonely inside, trying to make things work. I was sure in order to become an adult what I needed to do was put away the childish ideas so I could be accepted as a strong, serious man; someone others could put their trust in.”
“You are strong and intelligent and reliable, but because you have never listened to that childlike voice you have never seen that having fun is not evil. Sex isn't just procreation. It is an essential part of being a whole person. What you need desperately is another human being with whom you can  share your sense of what is interesting and fun; a person to share a relationship of love and support . By re-inventing yourself, you are creating a wonderful, but phony person. You will use him to find a lover, yes, but that woman will love who you seem to be. She will share and support the goals you pretend to have. They won’t be far off the mark, but far enough, and the person you really are will gradually emerge from this denial you are contemplating. That real person will come as a surprise and will cause divisions within you and in your marriage too as you struggle to keep up appearances. Even if you survive, as my sweetie and I have done so far by great luck and hard work together, it will cost you and that wonderful, trusting lady dearly.”
Looking at me and smiling he said. "We find a soulmate?"
"Yes, she and I have had a wonderful life, but through the years, our relationship has had many rocky times because of my deception; the same deception you are now considering.
He looked past me at young Halle. “You say that child who keeps messing things up by his emotional behavior is important and you call him a girl? That can't be right. Girls don’t like sex and he loves sex and doesn’t take any of it seriously. I have to hide what he makes us want to do. We have had all kinds of close calls thanks to him.”
“Please accept what I say now on faith, because in time it will be confirmed by experience. Out there are lots of women who will think this little girl’s wildest fantasies are very tame. If you can become one person, and live true to yourself, you will attract like-minded women who will love your kind, caring nature as well as your ability to fantasize.” I looked back at my young Halle smiling at me as I spoke. “Don’t you dare shut her away. Learn to love your whole self, as you are.”
As I moved out of that dream, I could see the zombie-like actors blinking out, one by one, until only the young man and the young girl were still there. The scene seemed to brighten too; no longer the warehouse, but a place with vistas, all kinds of possibilities opening. As I pulled back out of the scene, I saw new branches, a myriad of them, appearing on my gossamer tree.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Sometimes a Burden Needs To Be Shared

My sweetie has repeated many times that she sooo wishes we could go back to before I became aware of this ‘gift’ of mine, and decided I had to be honest and tell her what was going on. At the very least her life would be simpler if I had just continued to hide myself carefully and not bother revealing my ‘deception’. It makes no sense to me, this attitude she has, but it is how she feels, and you don't argue with feelings, you try to understand them. So I am working on being sensitive to the times she is willing to talk and the times when she is not.

I am unsure what secrets Carly Simon was referring to, or which lover had shared those secrets that she sometimes wished had never been shared in the name of honesty in a relationship, but I have always liked this song. The particular performance below is special in it’s own right. The performance is part of the video “ A Moonlight Serenade on the Queen Mary II.”

This video is dedicated to Mrs. H, and the rest of the sweeties out there who wish for the sake of honesty and the sake of what is fair we had just kept it all to ourselves.

Carly, her daughter Sally Taylor, and Vin "Vinny" D`Onofrio on acoustic guitar.

Nice.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Halle Visits The Boy - Part 2

continued from Part 1

As a child, I was always building models, and drawing plans for futuristic houses and apartments. I should have studied to become an architect, but took all the wrong courses in school, then got interested in other things.

The view out the window screamed 1960’s Futurama with high-rise buildings and monorails joining them; people walking around down below on open concourses. It was his dreamscape and I was in it. The apartment furnished with white smooth leather, armless chairs and couches. With all of the teak it should have smelled, but of course, this was a dream and there was my eleven year old self, running toward me in it.  

“Halle! You found my apartment in the city I imagined you living in!”

“Wow! You have some wonderful ideas here sweetie. Everything has such clean sharp lines and I love the layout of this apartment! But no cars?”

“Nope, in the future the car will be gone, replaced by public transit and high speed rail service. I think so anyway. Wait a minute, you can tell me all about it, can’t you?”

“No my dear child self, I can’t tell you what your future will be like.”

“Is it against the time-travel rules or something?”

Sitting and tucking my feet under me on his comfy-looking couch I tried to let him down softly. “No, it is more like ‘I don’t know’. In my world, it really hasn’t changed that much from your time; just way more cars and even taller buildings and lots of suburbs. You see, every choice you and everyone else makes in your time changes the way the future goes”. He sat down across from me, taking me and everything I said in. “I wish it was possible to tell you what you or your future world will be like, but you are not likely to be the person who I was, just because I am here telling you about it. You see, nobody from the future ever visited me when I was your age, as much as I wish it could have happened.”

“Oh Halle” he seemed so happy it melted me, “I had hoped that by making this future world in my dream it might bring you back, and here you are. You said before you know all about me. If that is true, then you can tell me what I should do, you know, about how much I hate being who I am.”

I so wished to find a way to tell him everything possible, but I knew it had to be short, and simple for it to stick after he woke. “You hate yourself that much?”

“Nobody understands Halle. I have to hide everything; you know, right?”

“Yes, I remember how much we wanted to tell someone, but knew nobody would understand. I know you think you are the only person in the world who is a boy and wants to do everything the girls do, but have the wrong body. Everyone makes fun of you even when you try your best to be who they want.”

“I can’t be a girl. That’s impossible; I know that. I just wish I could find out how I can be me… or who the real me is… it is so confusing sometimes and going back to school is the worst part, with bullies and boring teachers and having to watch the girls in their short dresses and heels. Why do I want to be like them Halle?” He was so desperately unhappy.

“You can’t change yourself sweetie, and it isn’t your fault, any of it. That is the most important thing you have to know. You need to trust that you are a really wonderful person. Nothing about you is wrong or bad and the way you feel is something others do share; not many, but there are others. You need to trust Gran enough to tell her how you feel.”

“I can’t tell Gran! She’ll be so angry.”

“If she does get angry, it will be because she thinks she has done something wrong bringing you up.”

“Like when we moved away from the last place so I couldn’t hang out with Heather any more. I heard her and Grandpa talking about how worried they were about me becoming a homosexual because I liked playing with girls all the time. If I tell them about this they'll put me in a military school or worse.”

I remembered how bad all of it had been. What could I tell him to help him get through the next few years without hating himself so much? His desperation was contagious, like falling down a black hole. That mental suggestion was enough to start the dreamscape crumbling away in front of me; his beautiful world coming apart, like his life seemed to be.

I called out to him, “Trust her! She loves you and when she knows how serious you are and that it isn’t anything she has done, she will do anything she has to do to make you safe and happy…. Trust her!”

He was waking up and I was left wondering if anything I or anyone might say could help him. I wondered if what we had shared in dreamtime might move him away from the terrible loneliness and pitfalls I remembered from the next few years of his life.

If I meet him again, will I recognize myself? I hope not.

(Concluded in part 3)

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Halle Visits The Boy - Part 1

Where do dreams come from? I mean the kind you have while you sleep, not the kind most of us have that include being young and full of self-assurance and female. :P

This blog was intended to be (at least partly) letters to my young self. I often wonder what I would try to tell that person who felt so confused, being twisted by the world to become something he was not, and at the same time to be made so embarrassed by what he was; weak, sensitive and loving.

Maybe instead of a letter, I could be part of his dreams…

The first flood of memory is the sound, then the smell of the place. Those come even before the sight of that beautiful sweep of beach framed by trees and water. It is a solitary place now and that means that it is late summer. The few visitors who come here are gone and it has been abandoned to the gulls, the dead fish and a boy.

Waves crash in on the sandy shore. That might be what put the boy to sleep, lying on the warm sand. The smell is dead fish that wash up with those waves, mixed with seaweed and other stuff that nature puts into that soup that foams and then retreats.

The boy hated the smell when he first came here. As a child of the city, he was used to human smells that weren’t more pleasant, but were familiar. After a time, he had learned to enjoy coming here for the solitude; a break from people who always expect him to be someone he isn’t. The sights, smells and sounds became the background, and those became part of the peace he found. He is asleep, but doesn’t know that, as he sees me walking along.

Taking off my sunhat, and shaking my hair free in the breeze I offer, “Gorgeous day isn’t it?” I decide to let him know that our meeting is my idea and I intend to intrude. “and a perfect place to be alone and think about things, too”.

He takes me in, looks out at the waves, looks back at me. “Are you a friend of dad’s?”

“He and I are related. I definitely know you. I know everything about you.” He is a very clever lad, so this will get him going.

“Sure, everyone thinks they can read my mind. Everyone knows me better than I know myself. O.K.  so why am I here right now?”

“Let’s see. This is 1963 right; so this would be the summer you spent three weeks down here and met Andrea. She has gone home, so you came here so you wouldn’t have to hang around with the boys. How am I doing so far?”

“So we are related, you know Andrea.  I don’t remember ever seeing you before, and why do you keep talking about stuff that is happening now as stuff you remember?”

“Think of me as your fairy godmother if you like. I am the one person who really knows you. Let me convince you. Last week, Andrea slipped while going into the trailer and cut her shin so badly it took seven stitches to close it up, so she hasn’t been able to go in the water since. She left for home this morning.”

“You must be a friend of Andrea’s mom to know all that stuff.”

“I told you, I know you, not Andrea. I had forgotten about her for a long time.”

“ You are so strange, lady.” I can tell he is really confused about a relative he doesn’t know. “So who are you then, an aunt or second cousin I haven’t met, because you look a lot like family?”

“I’m family alright. You call me Halle.”

“You mean ‘you can call me Halle’?” he said with a puzzled look.

“No sweet-cheeks, I got it right the first time. From my perspective, you are, or some future version of you is, sitting at home right now documenting this visit and you call me Halle. I am part of you, in a way.”

“Well you are a woman, and I am a boy, so you have that wrong, don’t you?”

The moment of truth; be gentle but firm too. “You can’t fool me, kid. I know this stuff, and no I won’t tell anyone, because I know how mixed up you feel about those boy/girl feelings.” Here comes the weird stuff, kiddo. “I am from one of your futures; probably quite a few of them, actually. In some of your futures, the person writing is me… it gets complicated.”

“A future where I am a woman? That’s possible? Now I am sure this is a dream and it’s time to wake up.” And he did just that; with a start; looking around.

In that instant where you waken, and a dream is fresh, you might remember most of it. After a while, it mostly goes away… mostly.

I really need to think about what he needs to know back then. Some of it might even help this version, older but hardly less confused most days.



continued in Part 2

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

I AM NOT SAD - just a bit conflicted that's all ...

This morning a good friend (my first of many friends I might add, here in Blogistan) remarked that my blog had become darker over time and that worried her. It is something that had not passed my notice that as my mood changes, so too does the writing; must be connected, eh? LOL

If you maintain a really good façade as a male, and I do, you are bound to have ups and downs that have nothing to do with your tg life. As it happens, the male façade (in spite of, or maybe because of it’s revisions over the last five months) has been very successful personally. Being successful as a person in my real life should give me way more satisfaction than it does. People probably think I am shy or modest. The truth is, these times when I am being praised as the guy are tainted by the back-story I carry around and cannot share. Halle should get so much credit and there she ‘sits in a corner’ feeling forgotten and unappreciated. I keep trying to remind her that her blog should be a source of great pride for her, because the ‘guy’ has nothing to do with it. Many of you have been very kind in your praise of our scribbling here and I do appreciate it, thank you all.

What has changed since the start of April? Five months have passed by. In April nobody really knew Halle, other than those few I had contacted by email. There are some things about blogging about something as intimate as transgender that you cannot know until you have done it, like how much you grow and learn from others. Some of that growth and learning has made me a bit sad (I'll admit), but I haven't given up on growth, learning or self-examination.

Some of you might know that I have the privilege of being on the team at that most essentially trans blog T-Central. Involvement with T-Central has allowed me to get to know some of the other members of the team better. When I say I have a lot to learn, the collected wisdom there is usually the first thing that comes to mind, believe me. Writing for T-Central has also given me a forum and a reason to seek out other diverse bloggers with something to say about the tg condition. The net can be very wide indeed.

T-C and that search for diverse thinking about tg issues fits into my life online so well because one of the things I love most is traveling around and learning as much as possible from all of you. It is the same in my real life, where I have always maintained there is more fun in hearing what someone else says than in talking. After all, I already know what I think. What you have to say is new to me and gives me an opportunity to learn that self-examination just cannot provide.

So it is with blogging. I write to exist here, but the real reason I write is to read your comments; to hear what you think about those same things. 

Early on I wrote a post on this topic to try to encourage more participation. It is a common complaint on the internet – lots of readers, no comments. We know you are out there, but tell us what you think too.

This isn’t Encyclopedia Transgendera you know!

Only kidding…By all means, use this and anything else on the internet as you like, and if you got this far, thanks for reading and do your best to be true to yourself!

Hugs,

Halle