"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, 23 December 2016

Admitting We Are Wrong

We invest a lot of energy in our world view. Admitting we have been wrong can cost us dearly. We might lose face, friends, or status when we admit just how wrong that world view has been, then try to repair the damage. In the extreme, we might even feel foolish, knowing that what we have fervently believed is, in fact, nonsense.

We are living in a time when strange and dangerous mythologies are tearing our civilization up.
Famous cartoonist Walt Kelly used Pogo's sadness at the state of his forest
to put across a strong message for Earth Day in 1970. 
There is a mythology that is related to how we use or misuse the planet. Some of us have thought ourselves entitled to so much for so long that we have forgotten simplicity and how to get along with less. 

Here in Canada, we are debating the value of eliminating our use of carbon liberating technologies to, among other things, keep us from freezing to death in the winter. A lot of folks are finding it hard to stomach the high cost of changing our ways. Some have had their electricity cut off because they could not afford to pay soaring costs. Fortunately, it appears nobody shall be freezing to death because their electricity is shut off, at least not at the moment. 

Admitting we have been wrong is embarrassing and expensive. 

The particular mythology that prompted this post is called Christianity. Now it is quite possible that the relatives and former friends who have shunned me since last February (when they found out I am female and intend to live that way from now on) are simply using Christianity as an excuse because they have always disliked me and can finally get me out of their life this way. I actually prefer that explanation to the one that suggests they are amazingly stupid and are convinced there is a big powerful something lurking out there, waiting to punish them in the afterlife for some transgression. 

Christianity was not the only religion with a god-child born at the winter solstice from the union of another god with a virgin, but its message was different. Jesus came up with a unique way of admitting we are wrong; unconditional love.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”(John 13, verses 34 and 35; New International Version)

A while back the following came to my notice via FaceBook. I traced it back to a webpage published on December 3, 2014 on the site same same:

“In 1995 we announced the arrival of our sprogget, Elizabeth Anne, as a daughter. He informs us that we were mistaken. Oops! Our bad. We would now like to present, our wonderful son – Kai Bogert. Loving you is the easiest thing in the world. Tidy your room.”

 The Courier Mail; Queensland, Australia

Sometimes our world view gets in the way of love and growth. Admitting we have been wrong can free us. Momentary feelings of foolishness combined with loss of face, friends, or status should seem a small sacrifice when we care for one another deeply.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

When in love

with a caterpillar, 

  remember 

             the butterfly

                         within

Monday, 28 November 2016

Using Adversity

I was discussing the continued existence of this blog with a friend (no need to panic because I've no intention of dismantling anything here; read on please). In the same vein, we discussed whether the persona "Halle" is still relevant. Halle is a nom de plume for that seeker who I was, not this person who knows who she is and is living her life as well as possible now.

I want this blog to be something useful. There is one more area where my thoughts and experience can be a help to someone stumbling along a similar path to the one I followed, a path that led me to become the woman everyone sees now.

Let me suggest that something that made all the difference for me (eventually) was my stubborn refusal to numb the pain I felt any longer. Starting this blog back in 2010 was part of extensive self-examination and that is what lead me along a path to healing. If someone had told me that it was going to take five years more to work it out for myself with help along the way from so many, I might have felt defeated, but that five year process was essential. Through it came certainty.

For the transsexual, there is little room for doubt in the end. You should, you must doubt your thoughts and desires as you begin. By the time you act upon those feelings, thoughts and desires, you must, be fearless and certain of what you are doing.

That change from doubt to fearless certainty requires tremendous growth. You need to make room for a new way of seeing the world. You must be prepared to leave so much behind that cannot be taken along on that path. There might be pleasant surprises once you are on your way, but you mustn't expect them. Make no mistake, changing your sex is not for the faint of heart, and it is definitely not for someone who is ignoring any part of the pain that initiated the process in the first place.

I'm going to close with a video that was the catalyst for finally putting these ideas down. A surprisingly clear analogy that is applicable to anyone who is under stress, but resonated strongly (obviously) for me.

Love and be fiercely loyal to yourself!





Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski on Responding to Stress

Sunday, 13 November 2016

A Better World

There will be a better world - a caring and accepting world where being different won't be considered a crime or even make people afraid.

In that extraordinary world, you and I (not actually you and I but some two people who are like you and I in that future) will meet, fall in love and have our lives together. You will understand what it means that I am transsexual; that I am a woman who loves you and will care for both you and our children if we are lucky enough to have them. Nature gave me a body that seemed very wrong when I was younger, but that body will give us a chance to make our family together. 

You will bear our beautiful babies and I will be incredibly jealous. Then we shall each be both mother and father to them, and they will grow in a home filled with love.

But it is now and not then, so you and I must show the world who we are openly and happily. We shall do what we can to make that new and better world, one friend at a time, by showing those new friends they have nothing to fear from people who are different. 

If we are lucky, some day we shall see that better world together.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

The Final Purge

It was inevitable.  And about time. 

I haven't cross-dressed since February and unless that is the theme for a Halloween party someday, I don't ever expect or intend to cross-dress again. 

To be honest, purging wasn't my idea, but Mrs. H, who now wants to be known as Ms. H (which is more than a bit confusing since that is my name now... hmm, guess I could be Miss H), covets the closet and drawer space that was being taken up by men's clothing. 

So, unceremoniously tossed into five big clear plastic bags, the final evidence of a lifetime being the father and husband was donated to the local charity store. 

All of my experiences are safely stored away. I will never forget the good parts : ever. 

The time has come to travel light. 

Perhaps some guys will enjoy those sweaters and jackets and shirts and slacks that were my disguise in a time gone by for so very long.

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.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Insightful, intelligent commentary

A year ago today, this program was first aired on the HBO; Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Transgender Rights.

I have never heard anyone speak better (or more sarcastically) on the obstacles put in front of us or the seeming celebration of ignorance that is presented as careful thought on transgender rights in America.

This is an entertaining and enlightening program. As depressing as the facts presented are, I came away feeling wonderful to have heard someone in the media debunking the nonsense that passes too often for common sense in the media, or in the halls of government.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

A short update on the beginning of the rest of my life

What a marvel we humans are! Perhaps it is part of our evolutionary advantage at work here, after all, we are the most adaptive species on the planet, for in a very short time after abandoning all pretence of maleness, so much has become very matter-of-fact that not so long ago would have brought a rise in blood pressure at the very least. 

A few weeks ago now, I participated in a concert with a local musical group. Without going into huge detail, I was up front at the concert at three different times, and spoke to the audience as well, as part of that. My voice is still very much a work in progress, but I simply did my best, and it worked out fine. 

As well, my usual black slacks and shirt were replaced by a little black dress, and some subtle, but meaningful jewelry. The only comments, and they came from some of the other gals in the group, were of the nature "If I had legs like that I'd be wearing that dress too!".  We laughed and kept one another relaxed before and during the concert. Afterwards we partied.

I felt calm and happy all the way through, with only the typical nervousness that comes when one cares about doing well. 

One other thing to report is one more piece of the necessary paperwork to move forward safely as myself arrived this past week. I have a birth certificate in my name and with the letter F in the correct spot; official recognition that an error was made a long time ago, but we have remedied that. 

By the way, Happy Fathers' Day to all of you who have had the pleasure to be one. As confusing as it might be for my children to have to introduce a woman as their father, it is something I would never, ever deny. I am always going to be their Dad. I hope they will always be proud to be my children, whatever they decide to call me. 

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Sure, it's a good blog, but this is too good

I love a puzzle and this one is too good for me to keep to myself. Something really interesting is happening here at Two Spirits.

For many years, this blog was my lifeline. I would write a post and then stop by regularly to see whether any comments came in, and whom they were from. People who are now fast friends were found this way. There are quite a few people who I would hear from regularly back then and who are no longer blogging or commenting, and, sadly, some no longer correspond. I will admit that online friendships do seem to have a lifespan, unless they are taken to another level somehow.

The other interesting part of blogging and commenting is the 'hit count'. In 2010 when it began, my monthly number of visits (including my own from time-to-time to comment or check something) were in the range of 1500, which was quite gratifying.

Over 350 posts have been published here since April 2010 and the total number of 'hits' has been close to 140 000, as of today. It should be noted, however, that in June 2011, there was some sort of anomaly; 4500 visits in that month alone, and half of those from Russia in one great rush. I've always wondered what that was about.

Since then, up to about six weeks ago, the count was fairly steady, rising briefly when new posts went up and staying steady otherwise at about 1500 to 2000 per month. The site exceeded 100 000 in late 2015.

Here is the thing of interest: In May alone this year, there have been over 10 000 visits and since the first of June, the daily average is 600 to 1000. Not only is that interesting, there is a strange pattern of usage with huge peaks of use.

As well, the statistics reveal that in the past week (shown above graphically) 97% of visits were from the U.S. (always my main audience) whereas the all-time rate for the U.S. is about 50%. Also, this past month 97% of visitors were using Chrome (this is not an advert) and 93% were using Macintosh.

Please, if you know what is going on here, tell me!


Monday, 30 May 2016

Christianity, Alive and Well in North Carolina, U.S.A.

Just when you are beginning to think that Christianity has stopped being about love and is mostly about judging others harshly for being different, along comes a minister, from North Carolina of all places, who says he is tired of having to apologize for being a Christian.

Of course, I should have known better. After all, the vocal right wing bigots are only the noisiest; they aren't truly representative of the teachings of Jesus, any more than someone who regularly beheads folks and kidnaps female children is modelling the teachings of Islam.

John Pavlovitz should speak for himself however so here is what he wrote in his blog on May 26, 2016:

Dear Offended Christian, 

From a Very Tired Christian


Dear Offended Christian,

I’m terribly sorry that your feelings are hurt again. I feel badly about that. None of us likes to be criticized, so I totally get it.

I know I’ve said some pretty hard words to you recently, and maybe I’ve been somewhat less than “cheery” in my delivery, but that happens when you’re tired.


And I am really tired:

I’m tired of hearing you telling gay people that they can’t simultaneously be both gay and Christian.

I’m tired of having to explain what “Transgender” means to adult Christian people, who I’m quite sure have Internet access and should know better by now that it ain’t “a guy in a dress”.

I’m tired of arrogant pulpit bullies who believe they’re entitled to tell people where they can pee and who they can marry and whether they really love Jesus or not.

I’m tired of you being more outraged by red coffee cups and department store restrooms than by poverty and racism and gun violence and our crumbling school system.

I’m tired of gay people being accused of the kind of predatory behavior that straight men have been exhibiting, since the man cave was—an actual cave. 

I’m tired of reminding you that the number of times Jesus spoke about gender identity and sexual orientation in the Gospels—is zero.

I’m tired of having to explain to people that although I am a Christian, that I’m not that type of Christian; the kind that is generous with damnation and stingy with Grace.

I’m tired of LGBTQ teens cutting their forearms and jumping off buildings because they’re told by their church friends that God hates them, because their Christian parents told them, because their Christian pastors told them.

I’m tired of followers of Jesus who don’t seem interested in cracking open a book to see what we’ve learned about the brain and the body in 2,000 years, or to realize that gender identity and sexual orientation don’t equal the word “homosexuality” in the Bible.

I’m tired of all the time I have to spend undoing the damage the Church has done to queer kids and their families.

I’m tired of religious folk who seem to want small government everywhere except the bedroom and bathroom.

I’m tired of Scientific ignorance being treated as if it’s a Christian virtue.

I’m tired of hearing you preach verbatim the gospel of Fox News.

I’m tired of high-profile pastors blaming gay people for 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina and ISIS and child obesity.

I’m tired of waiting for you to show up in this world and actually show the freakin’ love of Jesus to people the way he did and told you to, without excuses or caveats or theological tap dancing to avoid it.

I’m tired of this wasteful, fruitless, mean-spirited, unprovoked, unbiblical attack on the LGBTQ community, that is squandering so much time and life and beauty in the name of a God who is supposedly Love.

I’m tired of so many people believing that “Christian” and “bigot” are synonymous—and not disagreeing with them.

I’m tired of a Church which seems to be so ambivalent toward the teachings and example of Jesus.

I’m tired of a Christianity that is making me more and more embarrassed to be associated with it.

So I get that your feelings are hurt. I understand that you’re offended, and that’s not my intention. 

But listen, if you’re going to tell a group of people that they’re going to Hell simply for existing, and you’re going to continually target those people through the Church and the Law and your social media accounts, don’t get angry with me when I tell you you’re being hateful and judgmental and ignorant.

It could be worse.

At least I’m not damning you for all eternity.

Sincerely,

A Very Tired Christian

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

LGBT and Gender Equality

In 2015, Sarah McBride presented a TEDx Talk, Gender assigned to us at birth should not dictate who we are.

That talk is about so much more than the title suggests, and one idea is so well developed that I felt it was essential for me to include it here.

"LGBT equality is gender equality and gender equality is LGBT equality" 

If you haven't seen it, please watch. For those for wish to follow along with the text, there is a transcript below.

Good evening everyone. My name is Sarah McBride. I'm 25 years old. I'm a native of Wilmington Delaware, a proud graduate of American University; that's right, go Eagles! I'm a movie buff, a policy nerd, a sister and a daughter.

It took me twenty-one years to muster up the courage to say those last words; sister and daughter. Today they are among my proudest identities and tonight I'm able to walk out on this stage as the woman that I am. But I have to admit that it hasn't always been that way.

I remember as a child lying in my bed at night praying that I would wake up the next day and be a girl; to be my authentic self and to just have my family be proud of me. I remember looking into the mirror struggling to say just two words: I'm transgender. It was a fact that I thought about every single waking hour of every single day. With every penny thrown, with every birthday candle blown out, my wish was always the same.

For every trans person it feels a little different. For me it felt like a constant homesickness and not a homesickness in my own body but a homesickness in my own life. An unwavering unyielding ache in the pit of my stomach that only went away when I began to embrace my true self but I could be seen as me. But I kept it inside. I told myself that if I could make staying in the closet worthwhile by becoming successful in making a difference in the world that those things would fill the void in my life.

It seemed as I grew up that my dreams and my identities were mutually exclusive. During my sophomore year at American University I was elected president of the student body. At the same time I was also struggling with my identity and whether or not to come out as transgender. In the end though I had to be true to myself. My life was passing me by and I was done wasting it as someone I wasn’t.

I came out to my family on Christmas Day in 2011, (there's really nothing to do once you open the presents) and I came out my friends during the following weeks. Eventually on my last day as president of the student body I told the world that I was really Sarah McBride in an op-ed in the A.U. student newspaper.

I have to be honest that I was scared about the possible reaction from the university community but all I got was support. At the same time though, people oftentimes tried to express their support by saying “I hope you're happy now”. I hope you're happy now - that seems like such a small motivation for transitioning; for taking the steps that I felt like I needed to take to have my inner gender identities seen and respected.

I didn't transition to be happy. I transitioned to be me. I didn’t transition to create a positive but to removing a negative. To alleviate a nearly constant pain and incompleteness. Transitioning didn't bring me happiness. It allowed me to be free to feel every emotion, to think more clearly, to live more fully, to survive, to be seen to be me. And while transitioning freed me in many ways, there's no question that in becoming myself I face new barriers.

Like all women, my path to womanhood is unique. No two paths are the same. Each of us travel with different privileges, challenges, and perspectives; some limiting, others illuminating. And as someone who at least tried to think critically about the phobias and the isms and the discrimination in the world, I thought I more or less understood what to expect. In the end though I had been so understandably consumed with the transphobia that would come my way, I didn't fully realize the misogyny and sexism that I would face. And it was everywhere. From the subtle to the blatant. A world of contradictions and double standards.

I never realized how disempowering and unsafe it would feel to have a stranger feel entitled to make a comment about my looks or my body; inviting comments for having the audacity to walk down the street. If I wasn't smiling I was told to smile. If I am smiling it's a special invitation for more comments.

(applause)

You're treated like both a delicate infant and a sexualized idol in the exact same moment. Your thoughts are dismissed and your emotions minimized; your insecurities emphasized and your body objectified. The simple and the mundane decisions that I never had to think about in the morning before soon became integral to avoiding a thousand judgments. And in finding my own womanhood I was told that if I was too feminine that I was a caricature or inauthentic; as if masculinity is some sort of natural state of being; a default - a preference. But if I wasn't feminine enough, then I was told that I wasn't a real woman. Pop culture, television, movies, music, politics, fashion; all telling all of us what it means to be a real woman.

I had finally, finally, come out of the closet only to find myself stuck in the kitchen. And it became clear very quickly that the same forces, the same forces that said to me “No you're not a woman”, those are the same forces that say there's only one way to love, only one way to live, only one way to act, only one way to dress, only one role to play. And those forces; they're not just the same people. They're the same beliefs and the same dogmas. It’s why the fight for LGBT equality is so inextricably linked to the fight for gender equality. Homophobia, transphobia, and sexism - they're all rooted in the same prejudice. The belief that one perception at birth, the sex we are assigned, should dictate who we are, who we love, how we act, and what we do. And that's why LGBT equality is gender equality and gender equality is LGBT equality and when we fully, and I mean fully realize that as feminists, as LGBT people, as allies, and as a society then we will be able to build a world where every little kid can know that they can grow up and be successful; they can be independent, they can be gay, they can be trans - they can be anything that this society says is mutually exclusive with being feminine or being a woman but they can be any or all of those things and still be seen and still be valued and still be respected as the equal humans that we all are.

Our dreams and our identities do not have to be mutually exclusive. Working together to fight sexism, transphobia, homophobia, and yes, racism "enable-ism", they won’t be. 

Thank you very much.

Friday, 13 May 2016

The Big Reveal

A misleading title? Possibly, because what is being revealed is so wonderfully ordinary, which could be what makes it big and important. No matter, it seems a good idea now to give you all a report about what is going on chez Halle currently; three months into living as myself; one quarter of a year.  So here it comes.

Real-Life Experience is the term camh continues to use (a bit apologetically in the case of my clinician there) to refer to being yourself and never again pretending to be the gender assigned incorrectly at birth. What I know now and might have guessed is that life now is no more or less real than the other 255/256 of my life. As a woman whom I've worked with for years told me in the past week, "It seems to me your experience here (since transition at work) has been so positive because you are the same person whom everyone respected and enjoyed working with all along, but you have a twinkle in your eye now that you never had. You are you, but better!"

Over the past years there were dire predictions from people I had told in my close circle. This gem pretty much sums up the general feeling: "You risk losing all of your friends and family." Anyone who lives long and well can tell you that all of life is a risk. In the end, however, this prediction became the gauge for when it was time to give up the façade completely. Last fall it came to the point where I knew loss of all friends and family would be preferable to continuing  to pretend to be the guy. 

What, in fact, has happened is that I have found out who really were my friends and family all along. 

Some have surprised me. As recently as this past week it has become clear. One person whom I thought would see that I am still me and only my sex marker and name have changed to match the person I have always been has surprised me totally by not responding to my requests to talk and perhaps get together; total silence. 

One relative who I thought would never abandon me has written me off totally; there is some sort of religious basis for her behaviour, so that has to be factored in. Extremism changes so much in surprising ways, sadly. 

Even Mrs. Halle, who made it very clear she wants nothing to do with being married to another woman, has said that she still cares for me and accepts me as a best friend. We are still living under the same roof, albeit on separate levels and with separate facilities. Thank goodness for that apartment we really didn't want down here where I am now living. 

Another dire prediction had to do with where we live and how 'backward' some are here. Many told me that even walking down the street was going to be potentially dangerous. I will say right off that nothing anyone said in that regard was believable to me. I trusted that if I felt confident and just went about my business as though everything was fine, then everything would be fine. I'll bet you can guess who was right about the reaction of the average person on the street.

So, it seems the very best about "real life" is: dire predictions were way off! 

People I've interacted with have been respectful and polite. Strangers have ignored me mostly, apart from checking out the outfit as we women like to do to one another. 

I have more friends and better friends than ever. People whom I never felt close to have gone out of their way to let me know they respect me and value our friendship. We have connected and friendships are flourishing. My kids are still adjusting, but adjusting they are and they know I'll always be their Dad, no matter what. What they call me varies on a case-by-case basis, but the pronouns are consistently female. My grandchild is growing up strong and beautiful and she and I get along just fine thank you. 

Visible signs of change are happening and continuing to 'develop'. My body is responding perfectly to HRT (now in my tenth month). My hair seems to be thicker, my waist is becoming more defined, and hips are filling out gently. My "girls" are 'saying hello' very nicely. No wig and no padding of any kind are needed. 

I'm learning the subtleties of makeup and have found a hair style that I can get ready in a short time. In a rush, it is possible for me to go from wakeup and get out of bed to out the door in 30 minutes or so. Life is as it should be. 

A new birth certificate arrived a week ago with my chosen name; my first official document. After a visit to the banks, my first credit card in my own name came this week. I couldn't have predicted how that made me feel and I won't try to give it a word, but it was a very good thing indeed. 

There is a lot to do. I relish every part of it and more energy and less distraction mean better focus. 

I'm never likely to forget the path that led to where I should have been so long ago. It is my path and part of that is a feeling of adventure that I hope will end only when I do. 

What an interesting coincidence: 13 weeks of me on the 13th of May. Oh, and as Meg used to say, Friday the 13th falls on a Friday this month. 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

I Didn't Cry

But I could have; for the fear and upset and finally, in joyous relief. 

I woke myself from a terrible dream early this morning. No monsters in the dream, or perhaps there was one. 

In it, I was a man, dressed as one, talking like one, and acting like one. I wanted to run away from myself, it was so awful!

Sometimes you just think something is so. Then your heart sends you such a clear message. 

No doubts. 

You know.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Butterfly in Amber

This morning my good friend Alice asked me a question I've been asked many times before; "When did you know you are trans?"

Believe it or not, I rarely think about that sort of thing now; too busy being me and loving the living. However it suddenly dawned on me that as I was growing up a painting my father had done of my mother that hung in our living room was in fact my ideal of myself. 

That painting, pulled out of its storage location in my basement, stained from neglect, still has the power to move my heart. 

I realize this morning that there is heavy symbolism to that painting's history, including the stains. 

Bringing it out and displaying that part of me so that I can look at it now and remember is symbolic too. 

No longer trapped and static, this butterfly will get to use her wings, currently flexing as though on a sunshine filled day in Spring. 


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Coming out of my shell

A dear friend of mine gave me this reminder that she loves that I too am coming out of my shell these days. 

This little friend is made from a tagua nut. It feels like ivory and indeed, on this webpage they explain that the tagua is sometimes called 'vegetable ivory' for that reason. 

At one time 20% of the buttons manufactured in the United States were made from this material. Plastic made that seem obsolete. We know better of course, but if something costs more, we know it matters little to a business that the product is sustainable, and the harvesting employs workers in some far-off land. 

As for my little friend in the photo, I know someone actually held a nut in their hand and that hand was guided by their mind and heart with skill and beauty. 

Somehow, that matters a lot.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

What is so special?

It has puzzled me that the urge to write here has waned. Of course, the transcription process over at On the Other Hand is taking time, which partially explains it.

My blogging process has usually involved writing what felt right on the day, taking inspiration from within seriously, and whenever possible making these letters to a younger self relevant to the issues of the transsexual doing his/her best to get along with life. In that spirit, today it feels right to put down some thoughts on the subject of finally ending the façade forever.

Years ago, a woman who used to visit this site frequently commented there is nothing special about being a woman.

The reply then should have been, and most forcefully now, is (chosen carefully from my grandmother's colourful collection of euphemisms) BALONEY! 


Her comment offended me. In my heart she might as well have said there is nothing special about being aligned with your soul.

Sure, there's nothing special about seeming to be a woman; any good actor can manage it with the right makeup artists and coaching. Being a woman is quite different and she was so wrong, because now in my seventh week since giving up any pretence of maleness, being the woman I am is special to me beyond belief.

My answer to her statement at that time was to say that I felt I was a woman, which she scoffed at. Perhaps the real issue was the whole nonsense of thinking my heart's desire was something that needed to be justified; that convincing her or anyone else was important.

These days a common response of folks to whom I am explaining what is going on here is to say how brave I am to be doing this. To some, I tell them doing this is an act of desperation. I came to the point where losing everything else was preferable to continuing the lie.

It seems to me that those I meet are accepting me for who I am because they can tell this is the most natural thing I've ever done. Finally I am comfortable in who I am. Projecting confidence and joy to those around me is easier than ever. This past weekend I found myself slightly overdressed in a large crowd. People were checking me out and I remembered how it would have felt only months before, and then almost as quickly thought I'm a woman who is standing out in this crowd because I am tall, have a good body, and am dressed nicely. Get used to it!


Here is a piece of very simple music that is very dear to me right now. It brings tears to my eyes.

How Could Anyone?

How could anyone ever tell you
You were anything less than beautiful?
How could anyone ever tell you
You were less than whole?
How could anyone fail to notice
That your loving is a miracle?
How deeply you're connected to my soul?


from If You See a Dream
Words and music by Libby Roderick
c Libby Roderick Music 1988
BMI All Rights reserved.




Sunday, 20 March 2016

Are there no prisons?

How amazing the interconnected pathways of thought; where one cautionary tale begets another. 

This morning Dru Marland posted otter madness, a poem inspired by finding that someone who fishes on the canal system (where Dru has her home now) suggested that otters need to be 'controlled'. These anglers say otters pose a threat to the fishing of the area; 'an aquatic disaster'. If they could say so, I suppose the otters would likely feel the same way about a certain species that always takes more food than it can possibly eat from the world, and leaves every environment it populates worse off than it was before. 

Regular readers here might know that I am a big fan of Dickens' A Christmas Carol; a story of radical transformation. Thinking about those ignorant anglers in Dru's poem put me in mind of The Ghost of Christmas Present's parting gift to Scrooge:

"Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask," said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit's robe, "but I see something strange and not belonging  to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw?"

"It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it," was the Spirit's sorrowful reply. "Look here."

From its foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment. 

"Oh Man! look here. Look, look, down here!" exclaimed the Ghost. 

They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish, but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread. 

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude. 

"Spirit! are they yours?" Scrooge could say no more. 

"They are Man's," said the Spirit, looking down upon them. "And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!" cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. "Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And hide the end!"

"Have they no refuge or resource?" cried Scrooge. 

"Are there no prisons?" said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. "Are there no workhouses?"

The bell struck twelve. 

I am suddenly reminded of the race for candidacy for the U.S. presidency ...

Friday, 18 March 2016

Own It

It is hard to move beyond some parts of your life; things you have done, said, and even things you have been will haunt you like a ghost.

The way you felt about yourself and your life can leave you with health issues to deal with. Some of us drink, eat, or even take controlled substances to numb. If we have done these things for a long time, we may have mobility issues. Habits of a lifetime are hard to break. Friendships ruined are difficult or impossible to mend. Family might be lost or at least relationships become so damaged that there seems to be no way past the divisions.

Who we are seems to be a combination of all of these things, some of them hard or even impossible to shake. If I am a recovering drug or alcohol abuser, I will always have to own that. Every day, every moment is my time to show resolve to be the person I am now, and not someone who suffered in circumstances I have moved beyond.

What we do now, what we say and believe now is what needs to matter to us. We must own all of who we are and that must include what we bring with us, no matter how painful.

For your own good, own it all, and move past and beyond to show yourself and the world who you really should have been all along.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

My New Weblog

Some folks I chat with have wondered, now that there is only one-spirit, not two here at this blog, whether it is time for a name change, or maybe a new blog to take me through my transition. 

That is still a good question and if you have an opinion, please feel free to chime in to give your two cents worth. 

The new blog referred to in the title has a very different purpose. I call it On the Other Hand

The first post on the site explains what it is about. Briefly, it will be a collection of short articles I wrote in a 4"x 6" six ringed notebook in the years 1987 and 1988. I uncovered them just in the past few months while setting up my apartment. 

It was quite startling to read these little gems, for although they have no trans content, they are quite relevant to the spiritual path taken to get me here. 

From that point of view, they belong here, but there are many dozens of them... ok, 118 at least (numbered and bound with string). Then there are numerous random ideas and such, that may or may not make it here... so much material. They deserve a special place. 

Hard for me to believe it was I who wrote it all. So long ago; another person. 

They are letters from a younger self, to me now, the woman that self so desperately needed to become. 

Monday, 29 February 2016

Wow, you are so normal... NOT!

Welcome to the world of a budding woman who has had to present herself as a male for more than fifty years and did a really, really good job at it; so many accrued bad habits to lose...
Along with everything else that goes with living a "normal" life now, mine revolves around two things:

1. Let those around you know by your voice, clothing, hairstyle, makeup, gait, posture... the list goes on... that you are female. 

2. Give expression to those things which defined you as a unique and interesting person for those previous fifty years. 

Getting called 'sir' while out and about interacting as myself not once but twice this past week affected me. It bruised the ego naturally, but mostly though, such a kick in the butt provided a huge incentive to work harder on all items of list one.

At the same time, I am not normal... repeat, I am not your average person. Oh, physically I'm fine for a woman. Yes, I am five inches taller than the average Canadian woman, and ten pounds heavier too (but that makes sense since I'm taller) so I do stand out in a crowd a bit, but not much. My shoulders will always be a bit wider than the average, but it is possible to dress to emphasize one's positive qualities.

Where I am really not normal is in all those other areas that matter to me most - list two. My attitudes and feelings are unique of course; everyone's are. Nothing of who I am screams male, but it does scream DIFFERENT. Let me repeat: I am NOT normal. I get ideas that need to be let out. In fact, in these past few weeks, my mind is feeling freer and more flexible than ever; like a butterfly discovering its wings and figuring out what to do with them.

So, being true to myself is always going to be a balancing act that will slowly become more natural to me as time goes on. What I must avoid is that thing which brought me here so long ago. There will be a spontaneous person here; no façade ever again. Maybe I need some red hair...

All of this reminded me of a TED talk by Rosie King. Here are some salient quotes:

It could be that people don't want to associate with anyone who won't or can't fit themselves into a box labelled 'Normal'.... If you think about it, what is normal? What does it mean? Imagine if that was the best compliment you ever received: 

"Wow, you are really normal."







Saturday, 20 February 2016

Deaths in the Family

A little over a week ago, there were two deaths and neither of them were immediately apparent to me. The first to report here and, in fact, the first I was aware of, was my dear blogging friend Ellena. She authored Ellena's Cocologie.

She also added her thoughts here so often and to such good effect. 
Ellena changed my life very certainly by her clever observations and friendship, but also by her very presence here as a friend of Two Spirits. 
With Ellena's comments and friendship others came to visit and stay. She was the very first non-transgender person to stop and stay. That changed me fundamentally into a real person. Ellena helped me find me

I want so much to keep this post short, the way Ellena would. She had (almost wrote 'has'.. sigh) such an economical way of saying things quite profoundly at times and simply spot on - always. 

Needless to say, but I will say it, I am going to miss Ellena very, very much. I wished many times she and I could meet and now that I am finally me, it would have been even sweeter. Perhaps in some other reality if the goddess permits it. 

Yes, that same day there was another death but not one I shall mourn. Yet I know others who do and it makes me so very sad to know they really think that they have lost something. He is truly gone since he was me. 

You might as well move along if it is the guy you want to see. He doesn't live here anymore.  


Ruhe in Frieden, lieber Ellena.






Saturday, 13 February 2016

On clocks and other things

A good friend observed that here on my blog, there is no countdown app, or in fact any indication of my impeding transition, or weeks since starting HRT, or ... well any of that sort of thing. I honestly cannot say how long spironolactone has been part of my morning pill routine. Is it four and a half, three and a half or five and a half years? It was definitely sometime in the fall of some year. How can I be so blasé? This is just me, living in the moment, doing the best I can.

It is likely I might recall this date, well actually yesterday's date, for a while. Yesterday I went to visit camh. Yes, that camh... and I have come home totally happy with my interview with a lovely young and very thorough and professional person.
If you check that link above, you might notice that it is not easy to find anything about transsexuals because camh is about so much more. After a lovely conversation with another woman while in the waiting room, I found out what a supportive and vital place it is these days. She was there because of an addiction after using pain-killers for too long. We talked about chronic pain, and so forth. She was effusive in her praise for the support and strategies she has found there. 

I have no idea if it was reported here at some time, but this was not my first visit to camh. It was by far my more pleasant. For one thing, I went as myself, and myself I shall be from now on. 
For those who will keep track with me, it is likely going to be a year from now that I will qualify for consideration for SRS. I feel ready now; oh so very ready, but this past week is when I started to present female in my world, and that starts a clock. It seems the term "real-life experience" has been superseded by the way, and this pea-brain cannot recall what new term has replaced it, however we both got a good laugh about the nonsense of reinventing perfectly good terms because some new and trendier one has appeared. 

On a more personal note, the process of telling folks has gone as could have been predicted. Some family and long-time acquaintances have reacted poorly, but the rest, all good friends (part of my true family) and co-workers, have been totally supportive. It will be my job now to not draw unnecessary attention to my appearance, but simply be myself, as I come out to the community at large this coming week.

Yesterday after my meeting at camh, my daughter and I went for lunch together. She has known for a very long time this day was coming by the way. Apart from a conversation about how to get a discount code before ordering clothes from an online distributor, it was the very same sort of conversation we always have had, and I believe, always will have.

Life is very good right now, in the moment.