Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Noam nails it

Here is the brilliant intellect of Noam Chomsky getting it right and explaining how Trump won the White House. The good news is that many Americans have now recognized that Neo-liberalism doesn't work and the policies used to advance it came at the the expense of the working class. The Democrats went into bed with Wall Street which left the vacuum open for a narcissistic and opportunistic windbag like Trump.

Many white working-class voters voted for a charlatan who promised change but they will get a wakeup call. In the meantime the next 4 years can be spent rebuilding a groundswell of support for the type of policies that Bernie Sanders was promoting.

Those of you who read my blog know that I despair at the growing economic inequality of the world and it is particularly well-marked in the United States.

This might be just the type of shock that will get Americans interested in politics again and to fight back to regain their country only that it will now be in a new and improved format.

Time to get mad.

Monday, 23 January 2017

an ode to my father

My father passed away 22 years ago this month.

He was deeply influential in my life and I owe much of my approach to rational thinking to him. He was a mathematician, philosopher, musician, linguist and historian who read voraciously but was also a difficult man to get to know.

He had lost his own father at a very young age and became head of household to his mother, sister and aunt. He survived the Spanish civil war as an infant and knew hunger during those 3 years as it raged over a deeply divided country searching for its identity.

He was as flawed as anyone and had the faults of his qualities some of which we both share. My mother and he made quite the pair with her earthy and quick-tongued practicality pitted against his bookish and sometimes haughty pretence to superiority he would hold over her. I learned much from both and tried to fuse their influences in fashioning my own personal brand.

I am my father’s intellect fused with my mother’s social intelligence. I am also a combination of their flaws in my ownership of an impatient nature, quick tempered flashes and tendencies towards rash judgements about others. I am very consciously and deliberately working towards correcting all of them as I age to varying degrees of success but I am making headway.

The old joke is about the young man aging and realising how much his parents learned over all that time. Only later on does he realize that it was his youthful brashness that he refused to see what was there all along.

As I approach the age at which he passed away I recognize his wisdom all the more.

He died many years before I even began to acknowledge that I suffered from gender dysphoria but I am certain he was the type of person that could be made to understand even if he could not relate.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

perspective

Consider the following statements I could make about myself:

1) I am actually a woman who is masquerading as a man in order to make a living.
2) I am a man who loves to crossdress
3) I am bi-gendered or two-spirited person
4) Being transgender or transsexual or a crossdresser is a form of mental illness or sexual depravity and I am suffering from this.

How do I know which of these statements about myself is the correct one and how do I prove it to someone else? The answer, besides my obvious current biological reality is that I cannot know for certain.

What I can do is convince myself with my most resolute energy that one of them is correct and conduct myself in a manner that reflects that decision. Because we lack so much information in this field you are left to your own devices and it becomes incumbent upon you to find your own truth.

I have been able to make certain conclusions over my reflection process of course. The vast majority of us are not mentally ill and are highly functional so I can remove number 4 from the list but the other 3 scenarios are trickier because there we enter murkier waters.

But the mere fact that you are able to remove that last one should be a huge boost to your psyche.

In my own case when I finally stripped everything down to the bare bones, the answer became a deceptively simple one:

I am me.


Saturday, 21 January 2017

you cannot promise what you do not possess

Of course Donald Trump was obliged to lie during his inauguration speech. You cannot bring jobs back which are permanently gone.

Loss of textile, steel, coal and other blue collar sector jobs that were exported to low wage countries would only be magnified under a model of free market capitalism combined with small government that Republicans love to extol and they cannot be recovered overnight. Protectionism preached by someone who himself outsourced his own interests rings a little hollow and isn't that more of a traditionally liberal idea?

His base won’t be deterred with facts but it won’t take long before they become restless and realize he is just another charlatan except one lacking any previous experience in public office. That trump card (if you pardon the pun) of a plain speaker will wear thin and the complexities of running the affairs of a highly polarized country will begin to hit home.

He enters his tenure with historically low approval numbers and with his most vocal detractors wanting to drive a stake through his heart. But then he bred their hatred by running a divisive and mean-spirited campaign so how could he expect different. In a country where only half of the eligible population bothers to cast a vote he lost by almost 3 million of them. Not the kind of numbers that give you the feeling that you were given a mandate to govern.

For the sake of American unity I will cross my fingers that he avoids scandal although this team looks prime to invite it. By assuring that virtually every cabinet post is assigned to someone pledged to erode its foundations they’re already off to a bad start. I’d watch the photo ops with Putin if I were Trump.

Electing him is the equivalent of tossing a live hand grenade into a room full of innocents. Let’s all hold our proverbial breaths and see what happens shall we?


Friday, 20 January 2017

the recognition factor

I used to be very concerned about being recognized but now I am not in the least. Over the years I have had a long string of occurrences where I was all but certain that I should have been and wasn’t; as a result my confidence in this area is solid.

I will back this up with a recent anecdote.

My friend Lyne had never seen me I male mode and she requested recently that the next time we meet that I present that way. Interestingly enough she told me that she would not have made the connection. This is not only because I look different but because my gesturing and the way I carry my body is entirely different. In other words, I have given myself carte blanche to conduct myself in the appropriate manner in each presentation.

She told me she saw the male that she had never seen before thus confirming what I myself already knew.

The moral of the story for those of you who might be concerned about being recognized is that you immerse yourself with abandon and not feel self-conscious when presenting female. This will all but guarantee that a connection will not be made. Besides, if you look suspicious you will only invite people to wonder why you are so uncomfortable as most can smell when there is something amiss.

The more comfortable I have become in this knowledge the better the management of my dysphoria has become. But it must also be said that I am way past worrying about being recognized which has improved things even more.

The other day over lunch I walked into a place and the young man said "Bonjour Madame...er monsieur". He had apologized profusely because I was not presenting female in the least. I laughed and looked at him and said "you can address me in any way you want".

He just smiled at me and looked relieved.

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NB: A note to my dear long lost friend Sherry. You left me a note using my contact fields but the email you left did not work. Please leave me a valid email as it would be a pleasure to be in contact again. You helped me so much before and during my marriage breakup.


Thursday, 19 January 2017

an argument against sub-categorisation

I mentioned here the other day I don't much care for the term "crossdresser" and I could pick on other terms but this one will do to illustrate my point.

When I was younger there was much more internet material dealing with curing crosdressing desires than we see today. This is because it was treated, even by many of us, like a mental addiction instead of as a way of honoring a transgender identity. Many people suffered under the notion that they were depraved or mentally ill and I was certainly one of them.

I have come to do a complete about face which is why I don’t like the use of too many blanket terms as they are far too general and cannot adequately describe what constitutes an entire person.

You are who you are and part of the time (or even all of it) may be spent wearing the clothes traditionally associated with the opposite gender. This does not mandate that you label yourself in any way. You may do this for fun or because it is helpful in treating your dysphoric feelings. Your reason need only be relevant to you.

People who advocate “healing from crossdressing” imply that it is somehow inherently wrong and, if it causes you mental distress, then perhaps it is best to stop. Conversely if it makes you happy and brings you balance why would you choose to do so?

Very few millennials use the term “crossdresser” but there are a few odd exceptions here and there. Baby boomers are far more likely to have fallen prey to this moniker perhaps as a way to ensure no one confused them with transsexuals and because this was part of our language at the time so they stuck with it. But please remember that these terms are born in the 20th century and every era and culture has had a different terminology for transgender people over the span of human history.

The preference today for an umbrella term like transgender ensures we capture all forms of gender non-conformity related to identity which includes people who choose to transition and live as the opposite gender; many transitioned women today proudly call themselves transgender. What I like about this is that it helps avoid overuse of definitions which confuse the public and only serve to open rifts within a community that has enough problems with the general population as it is.

Transgender people have existed for millennia, are never going to disappear and, for the vast majority of human history, transitions were only a pipe dream. Hence, the less the amount of terms we use, the better will be the self-acceptance for those of us who form part of this small but not insignificant segment of the population.

Besides, people who identified as one thing for a time sometimes found out that they had been wrong all along. All the more reason to avoid sub-categorisation.

Here is one such example where a baby boomer is accustomed to self-identifying as a crossdresser and who I think is much closer to a Benjamin type IV transsexual who is living full time. Labels can mean what you want them to I suppose.


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

befriending your dysphoria

There is a strong case to be made for befriending your gender dysphoria and, once you have accepted that you are transgender, there is little use in fighting what is a natural born inclination. By coming to the understanding that you need to attend to your feelings you can find ways to be happy while managing their periodic threats to boil over.

I can find no better examples of people who have accomplished this than Stana and Rhonda (who I will soon be meeting in person) who have come to terms with their reality and embrace it rather than reject it. I know I tried the alternative route and it only breeds discontent as you attempt to reject something that is intrinsically hard wired.

Transition is one way to grapple with dysphoria but another way might be to manage its demands by living the way you think you need to. I have said before many times here that this involves a complete disregard for everything you have been taught about how you are supposed to live and what the societal rules are. You must become your own creation because ultimately you have little choice.

Only once I was able to finally let go of what I thought I was obliged to do, did I truly become happy with myself.

I think my friend Emma was right when she said that shame is worse than guilt because we feel we have no right to experience and regale in a femininity that seems to have been naturally accorded but which we learn to conceal once scolded. That shame is rooted in the false concept that a feminine male is weak because somehow women are deemed by society to be inferior. By suppressing our instincts we suffer and potentially mistake that beckoning as a call to convert our bodies. All of you know that I fully support transition for those who need it but it is not necessarily for everyone.

I think the key to befriending dysphoria is really about eliminating all self-consciousness, guilt and shame about expressing ourselves in a way that has always been natural to us and I think it is entirely possible, and even mandatory, to fashion a model of a genetic male that suits our respective realities. This is most especially relevant for those of us who have lived our lives in male stealth and for whom transition late in life becomes an overly complex if not entirely undesirable option.

Much of the angst that transgender people have felt over the millennia has to do with the restrictions put upon them. If freed to be themselves most would lead lives on their terms and be far happier for it.

Don't wait for someone to give you permission to do that.