"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Skylar's Story

I often wonder what I can do to educate others about transsexualism. More importantly today I ask how a blog post can help someone whose child comes to them and reveals that they have been forced to pretend to be someone they aren't.

Some parents might not have the time to read a great book on the subject. A blog might not be able to help them. But a beautifully made, award winning* video, short and to the point, might be the perfect solution. 

I lived behind a mask for a long time, so it heartens me to see someone able to articulate their own need to live an authentic life before they reach puberty. Even more so to see parents and most of a small community come together to support that young person as they begin living the life they should. 

Skylar is fourteen. She is wise beyond her years. Take the time to hear her story in her own words, here, thanks to The National Film Board of Canada and film-maker Rachel Bower. 

p.s. I have heard from the NFB that some videos are 'geo-blocked' so that viewing outside Canada is impossible. Please let me know in the comments if you have any difficulty. I may be able to get an exemption. 

I Am Skylar by Rachel Bower. Presented by the National Film Board of Canada

I Am Skylar by Rachel Bower. Presented by The National Film Board of Canada

*1st Prize in the Documentary Short Film category - Children’s Jury. International Children’s Film Festival, Chicago 2020

Best Documentary. Silver Wave Film Festival, Fredericton 2020

Best Short Film Award. Common Good Film Festival, La Verne 2020

2nd Prize in the Documentary Short Film category - Professional Jury. International Children’s Film Festival, Chicago 2020

Best Documentary Short Film. Children’s Film Festival, Seattle 2020

Best Atlantic Short Documentary. FIN: Atlantic International Film Festival, Halifax 2019

Friday, 26 February 2021

A Recipe For Happiness

This story starts when I was young and naive. It usually takes a lot of living to find the truth about happiness. 

Because of my naiveté and a basic character flaw (I am a fixer due to experiences in my early life), I married someone who was unhappy a lot of the time, thinking that I was so wonderfully clever (not naive, not me!) and lovable that I could 'make her happy'.  Of course, if you have been reading a few years worth of this blog, you know that not only did I not make that lovely lady happy; I made her very, very unhappy because I couldn't keep the big-secret-of-me from finally grabbing me by the throat and coming out. 

Now some people will say that I transitioned to "make myself happy", which is nonsense spoken by those who know nothing of gender dysphoria. Oh, yes, I have become a very happy lady, but that happened much later and for many very different reasons having little or nothing to do with transition. No, transitioning was never about 'making myself happy'. It was about ending a lie. It was about finally letting my nature take over. It might be said that transitioning was about ending unhappiness, which does not automatically make you happy. It leaves you in an in-between state - a kind of 'happiness limbo' where there is at least a potential for happiness.

Since puberty I had been at war with myself. The way I felt and the things that testosterone made me want and feel made me really unhappy. Designated male at birth, that flood of testosterone was supposed to make me feel right. Estrogen should have made me feel awful. I know a man who had to take estrogen shots as part of his medical treatment. He hated how it made him feel; almost suicidal. In my case, blocking the testosterone felt better. Starting estrogen supplements felt right. All of those drives that made me hate myself were finally gone. It was clear what must be done. 

Was I happy? Hardly. The person I had spent over forty years loving and 'trying to make happy' said what I was doing was wrong. She told me she wouldn't live with a woman and be thought of as a lesbian. I was very unhappy. I wanted the two of us to be 'the Halle girls'. So this taught me that one transitions to be authentic, not to be happy. Do not let anyone con you into thinking that by transitioning you will 'find happiness'. That is horse-pucks. 

"So where is the recipe?" I hear you saying. First another story. 

Years ago our family used to go camping at the same provincial park every year. No matter what time of the summer we arrived there was always a man who was camping, alone, at the same campsite. He always had a big pot of water over his campfire, that was always a pile of glowing embers that he would add a small stick or two to now and then. He was an artist. He told us the water was there for anyone to take a panful. What a happy person! Working away, generous with his time if you felt like chatting. Such a life would have bored me to tears at the age I was then. 

These days, I could be that artist. I could be around that campsite, keeping the fire on low, adding cold water to make more hot when needed. I could read and do my stitching when the light is right. I would go for walks, make my meals, and sit, watching the world go by quite happily.

One needs to find their own happiness. It looks different everywhere you see it. As many people as you meet who are happy, there will be that many different ways to be happy. 

I suppose writing this has made me happy. 

Step 1: Think about what has made you happy and do it more.

Step 2: When you find it, be true to your own happiness. 

Step 3: Never try to make someone else happy. It is hard enough to find and nurture your own. 

Recipe notes: If you are very lucky, as I am, you will find someone to share your happiness - someone who appreciates your recipe, as you appreciate theirs. 

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

You Must Read This Book

What a lucky day it was that, on a whim back in the fall, I checked the inbox of an old email address and found a request from Kim Corbin, Senior Publicist of New World Books, to review Paria Hassouri's autobiographical book Found in Transition.*

This is a very frank story by and about a parent whose child has grown up as a boy, but has now told her parents she is a woman. From the first chapter, it is clear Paria is a wonderful parent who is trying to do what wonderful parents do - the very best for her children. This account of her search for what that very-best-thing will be makes excellent reading. She clearly values truth above all. Laying bare her failings, Paria takes you along as she grows as a parent, learning to let go of fear and lead with love.  

I found myself, both as a parent and a woman who transitioned very late in life, nodding my head in agreement at Paria's struggles to understand what was happening, crying with her as she grieved the loss of a son and hoping, as she hoped, that her daughter would be safe and happy. 

Paria's dedication at the front of the book tells you much about her and the book:
For Ava, who always teaches me much more than I can ever hope to teach her, and every other child brave enough to live their truth.
And for every parent struggling with making the best decisions for their child with the knowledge that they have.

I began making notes while reading the book, but it soon became obvious that this post would be way too long if I attempt to incorporate them. I strongly suggest you buy and read Paria Hassouri's story. Make your own notes. 

*Hassouri, Paria, Found in transition : a mother’s evolution during her child’s gender change; New World Library, 14 Pamaron Way, Novato, California 94949 U.S.A.