"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 - -

Saturday 25 March 2017

Not doing Nothing anymore

Facebook has been good to me, so I won't slam it. However, it can be very annoying sometimes with repetitious views of the same thing - over and over. 

Some months ago, someone who knows me very well sent a message with this quote: 

"Promise me you'll always remember that you're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

As beautiful as it is, somehow it didn't feel like A.A. Milne, but every search I did insisted that indeed it is - until today. Wanting to find out which of Milne's books it was from, I found this article that told me. The author of the article, Pat Morden, did some research and discovered that the words above were not authored by Milne at all, but by some uncredited writer, working for Disney. The illustration above is a Disney creation as well. Now, let's be really clear about something; I do not dislike Disney or the cartoons or the movies. However, as Pat puts it so well, "the Disney piece is ideal for Facebook—sentiment neatly tied up with a bow."

The illustration below (or decoration as it says in the book), is by Ernest H. Shepard and is from The House at Pooh Corner*. I find it equal to the heartfelt words Christopher Robin says to Pooh as he is saying goodbye at the end of the book:

"Then, suddenly again, Christopher Robin, who was still looking at the world, with his chin in his hands, called out “Pooh!
“Yes?” said Pooh. 
“When I'm - when -- Pooh!
“Yes, Christopher Robin?
“I’m not going to do Nothing any more.”
“Never again?”
“Well, not so much. They don’t let you.”
Pooh waited for him to go on, but he was silent again.
“Yes, Christopher Robin,” said Pooh helpfully.
“Pooh, when I’m – you know – when I’m not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?”
“Just Me?”
“Yes, Pooh.”
“Will you be here too?”
“Yes Pooh, I will be, really. I promise I will be, Pooh.”
“That’s good,” said Pooh.
“Pooh, promise me you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.”
Pooh thought for a little.
“How old shall I be then?”
Pooh nodded.
“I promise,” he said.
Still with his eyes on the world Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt for Pooh’s paw.
“Pooh,” said Christopher Robin earnestly, “if I – if I’m not quite – ” he stopped and tried again – “Pooh, whatever happens, you will understand, won’t you?”
“Understand what?”
“Oh, nothing.” He laughed and jumped to his feet. “Come on!”
“Where?” said Pooh.
“Anywhere,” said Christopher Robin.

So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."

*Copyright, 1928, by E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc. 

Wednesday 8 March 2017

She Persisted

My imagination is excellent. I have loads of empathy. Can those admirable qualities over the years have allowed me to know what it means to be a woman in our world? Not a chance.

I watched with anger and frustration as my wife was pushed aside in her work so that a man, with less seniority, who didn't know the job or do the work as well as she did, could have it. "He has to have this job. He has a family to support." She eventually left that company after a year languishing in the typing pool. 

In my heart, I have always been a woman, and yes, I live as a woman. By law, I am a woman; my birth certificate, passport, and driver's license say so. But what do I know of the sorts of hurts and challenges that a woman has faced every day in the world? 

It is International Women's Day, 2017. Last month the drawing below by artist Courtney Privett came to my attention. This Huffington Post article gives the explanation of how she came to create it. The drawing is self-explanatory and its title, Nevertheless, she persisted, says so much about what it has meant to grow up female in our society. 

I will reproduce the content below so that those who speak a language other than English can see what she wanted her daughters to know of her own life. I also feel a compulsion to absorb all of them more fully. I have heard only a few of these sayings directed at me in the past year. 

"What war on reproductive rights?" ~ "Feminists are annoying" ~ "You'd be so pretty if you made an effort" ~ "Stay-at-home mom? Get a job" ~ "Frump" ~ "You're too old to dress like that" ~ "Why are you getting so emotional?" ~ "Your husband is totally whipped" ~ "He picks on you because he likes you" ~ "Working mom? You're neglecting your kids" ~ "You just haven't found the right man" ~ "You run like a girl" ~ "over-sensitive" ~ "You're wearing THAT?" ~ "That time of month, eh?" ~ "Girls can't do that" ~ "Why didn't you just leave him?" ~ " You're going gray. You ought to dye your hair" ~ "You're formula feeding? That's not good for the baby" ~ "Breast-feeding a toddler? Gross" ~ "Catty" ~ "Whoa, take your Midol" ~ "How much have you had to drink?" ~ "That's a man's job" ~ "She was asking for it" ~ "Your clothing is distracting the boys" ~ "You'd be so much prettier if you wore makeup" ~ "You're wearing too much makeup. You look like a clown" ~ "Women will complain about anything" ~ "She's hormonal" ~ "Dyke" ~ "Slut" ~ "Whore" ~ "Frigid" ~ "Feminazi" ~ "Bossy" ~ "*Catcall*" ~ "Let the men work" ~ "Calm down" ~ "Smile" ~ "Relax" ~ "Moody" ~ May I speak to the man of the house?" ~ "Bitch" ~ "What were you wearing?" ~ "You'll want kids someday" ~ "You need to lose weight, for your health" ~ "You're too skinny. Eat a burger" ~ "Your biological clock is ticking" ~ "So many kids. Keep your legs together" ~ "Aren't you cute?" ~ "You're too fat to wear that"

Wednesday 1 March 2017

... you don't have to understand ...

About a year ago, early on in my transition, a male friend was telling me of a conversation with his father-in-law, who had known me for many years. This older, very traditional male was having trouble with the idea that a person he had known as a man for over a decade was now presenting as a woman; had changed her name to reflect that and so forth. He was worried, wondering what would happen when he saw me, because this was so far outside of his comfort zone. He didn't think it would be possible to accept me, because he couldn't understand such a change.

My friend explained to him that it wasn't really important to understand what was going on with me. It was enough for him to accept that what was going on was right for me.

Quite a few years ago my wife and I were in a restaurant, waiting for our meal to arrive. A group of 'ladies' were ushered to a nearby table. My wife assumed they were crossdressing and made some negative, judgement-filled comment. She then turned to me and expressed great embarrassment at the thought that I might soon be doing the same thing.

Her reaction might have seemed to be typical since none of these women were doing a lot to conceal the fact that they were men dressed up and having a good time pretending to be one of the girls for the day. I wish that I had found the words that my friend found. I would have told my wife the same thing, "What they are doing isn't hurting us - it's right for them. We don't have to understand."

There are times in our lives when we have to decide how we will act in difficult social situations. When we don't understand the way someone lives their life and we need to interact with them, then we should accept them without explanation or if we are interested and caring enough, try to find out more about what it is like to be in 'their shoes'. It seems to me that choosing to discredit another reflects more upon our character than theirs.