"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 26 February 2013

Finding Belonging

Many years ago, I read the following and for a while it was my motto:

"If you always do what you've always done, 
         you will always be who you've always been."

If you hold an idea in your heart, like magic, other ideas that give greater understanding find you, or as mom used to say, "Be careful what you wish for dear".

Ending my post one week ago, I felt tremendous frustration because Ami Kaplan is right. Nobody should be putting up with a second class life, and just as barriers are breaking down and other societal 'norms' are being challenged and are disappearing, limitations faced by transsexuals are artificial and wrong. Yet how can we expect these changes to happen if we always do what we have always done?

A few days go by and somehow I find myself doing something that should have happened years ago, subscribing to Helen Boyd's blog en|Gender. Yesterday part of the answer to the question arrived on her blog.
Allyson Robinson's TEDx talk at Columbia University is titled "You Can Be Anything You Want To Be", yet it is so much more than inspiration. It is a window into how deeply engrained the WE/THEY dichotomy is. It is a call for everyone to understand that changing how we reward those who conform with inclusion, and exclude those who are 'other' is not just a moral problem, it is ultimately damaging to the future of our species.

When years ago in a time of crisis, I told my teenaged daughter that she could "reinvent herself any time she wants to" it was not an empty promise, but words of hope for her to find a way out of a bind she had created by trying to live up to the expectations of others. I never thought of ever taking advantage of the same advise.

Silly me.

Friday 22 February 2013

Fictional and Functional

There was a movie in the late 1990's "The Sixth Sense" where the main character, a kid named Cole says "I see dead people.... walking around like regular people." 

Perhaps being a writer of fiction is something like that; carrying people who never really existed around in your head, observing them and relating their story to readers. In my case, not really a writer of fiction (apart from my own maleness perhaps), I give life to people who have never really walked beside me, yet for me they are real enough to provide invaluable help along the way.

In a recent post the genetic woman I might have been, Beth rescued me from the doldrums. Her perspective gave me positive feelings about who I am, and how those feelings both up and down are normal and right. Together we live a motto that is likely to be shared by many: One Day at a Time. 

"Dreamtime encounters" with alternate or past selves may not be as good as meeting people with new ideas, but because I have permitted myself the luxury of imagination and taken the time to record those 'meetings', I understand better than ever how making choices over a lifetime works, how natural but futile it is to feel regret and how a feeling of guilt over some choices is natural, among other things. Perhaps best of all, I understand how shame corrodes our lives and must be recognized and left behind every time it tries to drown our hearts. 

Another kind of conversation in our mind is often report by transgendered individuals; that between the male and female sides of our personalities. Early on in my blogging days, I reported on those conversations. The act of writing these out was cathartic and theraputic. 
The conversation between the grumpy man and his life-loving oh so feminine companion continued for a while after I last posted on the topic and eventually the name of the blog changed to reflect that. For the first months it had been "Maintaining the Façade".

Is there a façade here now? The answer is simple. Until I can report the person in the mirror is unquestionably female, then there is still a façade. Currently it is much richer (read female) and easier to live with.

A more difficult question is, are there still two spirits here? Well, I've wondered about "An infinite number of spirits in one Halle" on the masthead. Way too bulky to fit, but you get the idea. 

No need to worry about some sort of breakdown. Au contraire. I don't live in some dreamworld, populated by phantoms. There is power in imagination however, and I am not afraid to use that fertile imagination to flesh out and give life to useful ideas that otherwise might be quickly forgotten. 

Tuesday 19 February 2013

If You Can Ask the Question, ...

I should know by now that even when it is a long time between posts and inspiration seems dried up, an idea or in this case an issue will come along and work on me, to the point where I will be forced to write to move it along in my mind.

There are a few people in my 'real life' who know I am transsexual. My long-suffering but getting-more-patient-every-day spouse, a couple of medical people, and one very special couple, who are burdened with this knowledge and somehow (as far as I know) manage to not share with anyone else.
The wife in this couple and I have heart-to-heart chats now and then. She has a very quick mind and is very caring and empathic. This past week she shared an article with me from the February 3rd New York Times magazine titled Transition Point - Should I Become a Woman and Risk Causing Pain To My Wife and Children?

It's likely our friend gave me the article because "The Ethicist" Chuck Klosterman takes a position that supports the path I myself have managed to take, to not transition, saving everyone the need to deal with this truth.
Klosterman's response focuses mostly on this individual's "search for happiness" (a term the questioner uses) pitted against the happiness of spouse and children. As most who read here will know, transsexualism is impossible to sum up in a few words and characterizing transition as a search for happiness trivializes it to say the very least.
Let me say that in spite of Mr. Klosterman's lack of knowledge of what it means to be transgender, his answer shows some sensitivity in my opinion.

My feeling on the question is if you are taking the time to write to the New York Times to ask "Is what I propose to do ethical?" then you likely should not transition. More to the point, if you honestly believe you are transitioning, with all that entails, in order to find happiness, you need a reality check. Leave the lives of your family unaffected while you get as much help as possible to allow you to continue life as a male. If in fact, that is impossible, then stop torturing yourself, do your best to prepare your family and keep alive by following a path to realign your body with your mind. Do not for a moment believe that happiness will automatically arrive. All of the usual factors that create or get in the way of happiness will apply.

Since the article came to me on a slip of paper (an analog article of all things), I went online to find a digital version and while doing so came across this response to it written by Ami B. Kaplan on the site Transgender Mental Health. Kaplan is critical of Klosterman's response and suggests he needs to inform himself before offering suggestions to people.

Kaplan's response is more notable to me though for the suggestion she makes that the stigma of having a transgender individual in the family needs to be removed, comparing it with the stigma of having a gay teacher or a mixed race couple in the family in years past.

Time to stop here and let others read and comment perhaps. C has warned me that I have a tendency 'like many woman' to over-think things. Ami Kaplan's response is definitely working on me though.

Thursday 14 February 2013

Hike Q

rose sunrise glow
        snowshoe crunch soft white explosions
                grouse in flight

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Hi Q

Just finished chatting with 'C' and observed that it is close to three weeks since the last post here.

He suggested a haiku....
Must do some research:

The haiku is a Japanese verse in three lines.  Line one has 5 syllables, line 2 has 7 syllables and line three has 5 syllables.
Haiku is a mood poem and it doesn't use any metaphors or similes.

No metaphors? No similes!?? How does anyone convey an idea under those restrictions???

one word speaks clearly

passionate yet sexless now

heart and mind are one