"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 - -

Tuesday 28 December 2010

The Gender Self-Acceptance Barrier

It seems to me that my journey, chronicled here, has been, to a great extent about learning that shame and self-loathing because of a gender issue is wrong. You can read someone else say that, but until you start to feel it, for some good reason, you cannot accept it. All you know is what is reinforced constantly by the outside; you are a man/woman posing as a woman/man and that is wrong. You are a woman/man who has feelings and desires that are inappropriate. You must erase such 'evil' from your mind if you are to be 'normal' and 'acceptable' to society. That sort of ingrained information is very hard to overcome. With enough reinforcement, another truth can replace it, for you. Replacing it for friends and family is a huge challenge. Doing it in society is a whole other problem, more difficult by many factors.

Meg, in a post on December 20th made some interesting observations from her point of view, one I have never explored; that of the crossdresser who is becoming comfortable not only heading out the door, but interacting with the public at large. Petra and Stana have certainly got to that place, and have written about their experiences and the feelings it has generated.

Meg wrote: “I also think this is another reason some men think they've gone from transvestite to transsexual.  I believe they think they're transvestites until they break that self-acceptance barrier.  Then they can look further inward, to see themselves, to understand who they are.  You can't do that when others are defining you and you're trying to meet their expectations.

Looking inward, finding self-acceptance is a place that is truly wonderful, even when it brings its own set of challenges.

We tend to think in terms of what is next; that is just the way we are built as a species. In this case, it works against us, because self-acceptance is a place we should try to live.  Define yourself. Meet your own expectations. Be true to yourself here and now.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Not A Popularity Contest

That might sound a bit strange, but as things wind down here at my blog of self-discovery, I need to remind myself what brought me here, after all, I am not a rock star... :)

Blogs come and go, and I have wondered about the ending of blogs before, and still feel badly about the loss of several. Remember that we are all here for different reasons. I write to understand myself. Others write to document their changes, and on it goes; so many different reasons to write, and for you gentle reader, to read. We pick and choose, and follow where we want to, and avoid those who might have content that has offended, or we found uninteresting. This is the ultimate democracy, isn't it? The only regret I have is the knowledge that somewhere out there is a writer who has something to tell me, but I have not found her yet. I will continue to search, because there is still a lot to understand about myself that has not been explored.

I wrote above that things are winding down. Let me explain that this is not drama folks, this is me trying to find what I am and what I am not. Letters to my younger self are not a set of instructions, just gentle thoughts I wish had been there for me to access so long ago.  I feel no compulsion to tell anyone what conclusions I have come to because of what does appear here which, I think, has been feelings and thoughts that have surrounded the process, and every now and then, some nugget of deep thought (thanks Tasha) along the way. What I have mostly learned is how not alone I really am. Thank you to all who have let me know about that. The loneliness of our situation is so difficult to bear.

On the subject of comments, being told the obvious is affirming, but being told something totally surprising and sometimes challenging has moved me along, and maybe it has done the same for others who dip in here. Those new thoughts and changes they have brought have shortened the life of this blog, something that, ironically, I am happy to report.

I do not intend to remove anything here because (no modesty here) the kind of stuff that has gone on here is exactly what I would like to have found on the web to help me understand myself better, and maybe someone who is just like me is about to 'tune in'. If so, scanning through the contents from day one might be useful to them.

I might post again; we will see. If I don't think of anything more to say on the process, or the feelings about it... time will tell.

I am most thankful for the good friends met along the way. Hopefully, some correspondences generated by a brief interaction here will continue, and become 'normal' in the sense of just keeping in touch. My blog has never been about the real me, or what was going on in my daily interaction, apart from how it might have affected my search for the authentic person living in this body who put up a front for so many years. There are some folk who know me better because of our conversations via email. Who knows where things go from here? Life continues to be a mystery!

Try to be true to yourself out there since that is all you really can do, eh? :) (Canadian content regulations, you know)

Thursday 16 December 2010

Living With Ambiguity

During the past summer, I read Kathleen Winter's book Annabel. In an earlier post I highly recommended the book. Since that time, the book has been nominated for the most prestigious prizes in the Canadian literary world.

There is a passage which touched me so much at the time. I was not really sure why it had so much impact. The whole book had an impact; there are numerous passages that might have got my attention, but this one, in particular, was worth copying out and saving. I did not put it on my 'fridge... too many questions to answer to the uninitiated, you know. I put it away and told myself if someday it 'explained itself' to me, I would blog about it. Guess what??

In the book, Jacinta and her husband Treadway's daughter/son Annabel/Wayne is a true hermaphrodite. In the early days since her/his birth, the ambiguity continues... but for how long?
“Everything Treadway refused to imagine, Jacinta imagined in detail enough for the two of them. Whereas he struck out on his own to decide how to erase the frightening ambiguity in their child, she envisioned living with it as it was. She imagined her daughter beautiful and grown up, in a scarlet satin gown, her male characteristics held secret under the clothing for a time when she might need a warrior's strength and a man's potent aggression. Then she imagined her son as a talented, mythical hunter, his breasts strapped in a concealing vest, his clothes the green of striding forward, his heart the heart of a woman who could secretly direct his path in the ways of intuition and psychological insight. Whenever she imagined her child, grown up without interference from a judgemental world, she imagined its male and female halves as complementing each other, and as being secretly, almost magically powerful. It was the growing up part she did not want to imagine. The social part, the going to school in Labrador part, the jeering part, the what will we tell everyone part, the part that asks how will we give this child so much love it will know no harm from the cruel reactions of people who do not want to understand.”*

Winter captures so much of my struggle for balance and honest expression. For me, it was inevitable that this passage and it's longing for a continued duality Annabel's birth condition made possible would resonate. Recently, my own growing admission of an inner duality brings on a longing to find authentic expression for both sides in a world where ambiguity is unacceptable.

There are no parents to blame here, the real struggle for power goes on between my ears. I am not naturally rebellious, but a voice inside says "Be yourself,". Then it continues, “but just who are you?”.

Is it really about the scarlet gown? Is it about the secret intuition? Is it about the heart and its mythical insight working through a male body? Still more questions than answers.

The voice inside says "Find a way to manifest those magically powerful male and female halves, complementing each other, then you will be true to yourself."

*page 28, Annabel by Kathleen Winter, House of Anansi Press Inc

Thursday 9 December 2010

Proudly Canadian

There are times when being a Canadian really makes me proud. There are so many reasons for this, I might devote a post or two to it for the benefit of those who might not be able to find us on the map (pretty hard to miss actually.... LOL).

Yesterday the following article was published and it reminds me that here in Canada, we value all of our resources; we are a resource based economy, after all. In this case it is about the military and how it values folk like us in its ranks. Specifically, "the Canadian Forces have issued a new policy detailing how the organization should accommodate transsexual and transvestite troops".

Every organization needs to have policies and procedures that make the most effective use of its labour force and that is exactly what is going on here.

Canada is a pretty harsh place. I know it doesn't seem so, but just leave the major centers of population for a bit and you will find out just what a practical bunch we are; nothing ever gets wasted here for long, especially people. We figure it out eventually. It makes me very proud.

Thanks to Jillian for pointing the way to the article.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Doing The Best He Can

Being challenged to really dig down into that backpack full of old ‘stuff’ is not for the faint-of heart, but I know it is what I truly need to do in order to come ‘round right and be absolutely clear about why I am here and whether someone is going to die or live in the next little while.

In my previous post, I wrote the following crass remark about that person, one who I now realize did not deserve such criticism:

“I know there is so much more to me than the one dimensional façade I foisted on the world for so long.”

The person who has ‘taken care of business’ really does not deserve to be punished verbally or otherwise; he just did what seemed to be the right thing to do at the time, over and over for over fifty years. It didn’t always turn out well, but after all, it was a plan made by a child (almost an infant), so it didn’t go too badly, in retrospect.

What stimulated this reflection? In a post this morning, writing about early transitioning women, Anne wrote:

“What my friend pointed out was that what seems to stand out is that, not only did we KNOW something was wrong, we "FIXED IT", or died trying.   Hmmmm.....That certainly gave me pause.  Looking a bit deeper into this idea, and trying to give weight to all the reasons that people do not simply "fix it", I was forced to conclude that in those six individuals there existed a common denominator.  It was uncompromising and focused determination.”

Anne and her friend transitioned early in their lives. Reading her post annoyed me at first, I will admit. Dammit, I have determination. What went wrong with me that I lost focus on myself and my needs (and it was real, do not be mistaken). It threw my mind into the past, and without a great amount of reflection, I wrote the following in a comment:

“In my case, taking all of the burdens of the world onto my own shoulders from about the age of three would have to be part of my 'problem'. Denial is another part of the formula.
Yes, my denial came in the form of single minded determination to not let anyone know that I was not the most powerful, capable force in the universe who could overcome anything inside or outside of myself and succeed.
A formula for a crash and burn if ever there was one. I managed for over fifty years.
Personally, I do not apologize. My world as a child was screwed up quite enough without acknowledging my 'little' problem, I guess.”

As it was flowing from my fingers, I realized these words from my heart were more than just a comment to Anne’s post. They were a revelation to a brain that has conveniently suppressed so much of my childhood.

So it would seem that my childish response to an event I had no active part in, and no control over at the age of three, created a person I have tried to live up to for the last fifty-five years. I’ve been adding to the weight of it every year. It is an enormous backpack my friends and nobody has ever asked me to carry it. If I put it down today, few will know.

Keep your mind open. You never can tell where your learning will come from or in what form it will arrive.

I am truly happy this morning; it is pleasant to hate myself a bit less... not forgiven, just understood a bit better.

Friday 3 December 2010

Not Much To Ask

Sometimes what we do here can be useful in ways we cannot even imagine. In the last few weeks, my mind has been in turmoil, but a few posts have influenced the direction of my thinking a lot. In this post I will jump around a bit, because without all of the influences that I will refer to, there might not have been any post at all.

In ‘Looking Back, Looking Forward', Karen wrote of her battles (so like my own only somewhat further along) with GID and depression. She has a plan and is moving forward. I do not have a plan; I seem to be twisting and turning to avoid having a plan. What she says scares me. I’m guessing it would be pretty crazy not to be scared, but it is necessary to continue to learn control, so I can create a meaningful plan and move forward. To that end she highly recommends a book in that post.

In her comment to Karen, then on her own site, Anne quoted from a book by Marianne Williamson that has affected me too.

It begins:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”*

I am certain there is a light here somewhere under this big heavy bucket. Every now and then something jostles it and a glimmer shows through. Perhaps the connection to the quote comes in my evolving reaction to that light; once fear, now part curiosity, part excitement. I know there is so much more to me than the one dimensional façade I foisted on the world for so long. I can feel the blossoming of ‘bliss’, a part of myself that should have been there all along, but has only become apparent since I began this open examination of my feminine self. Part of the reason for finding a plan and moving forward is to find a way to really find that light; my bliss, and show it to the world. I am very tired of pretending to be limited. That is how I see myself as a man; limited and passionless.

In her post “Arrival”, Ariel writes eloquently of having come to the end of a journey. She can just ‘be herself’ now. I really admire her, and others who have made the choice to just become that person they feel inside. While hers became a journey, mine has so far been a random wandering. I wonder, shall I ever experience the peace one has at the end of a process that was purposeful? I search myself all of the time to try to know if there is a journey I must also face in spite of the pain and loss it entails. Am I, as she put it “ill-suited to be a man”? In yet another attempt to find peace as I am, I ask why I must land on one side or the other of the gender binary in order to just be myself, in order to let my light shine.

In a recent post, Elly spoke of a different feeling she is experiencing lately. As she put it: “I felt as if I wasn't quite there with the world, distant yet still making the movements of life, at some kind of balance or equilibrium point. Neither male nor female, in the middle between the two. Is it possible that my spirit had achieved balance within itself? It was not an unpleasant feeling, I just felt distanced from most things.”

I wonder too if a blissful, passionate Halle lives in some in-between gender. While I might find some comfort in that, it seems unlikely that androgyny could provide a way to interact in the world for me. What is it about my male exterior that limits me? To what extent does my inability to express myself outwardly as a female in my current situation limit the things I do, dimming that light?

The fact remains, if what I have really is a light, then hiding it under a bucket is just plain wrong.

My goal? To find a way to be it all for those around me. Peaceful, Loving, Passionate. Not much to ask, is it?

Thanks and a big hug to all of you who continue to search and give of yourselves in the words you send out.

 “And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.”*

* Marianne Williamson
A Return To Love (1992), Chapter 7