Life is a Journey - Make sure you get the right roadmap to the universe

I'm quite sure I picked up the wrong one on my way out the door....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Blue is for Girls, Pink is for Boys

What is it in society that determines what is designated proper for boys and what is proper girls?

Gender is simply a preconceived construct fabricated by society. It is a concept created by humans to categorize and segregate. Only humans understand the concept of gender. For animals and any other creatures, there is variance in sex, but no concept or construct of gender.

It is so fascinating to see what comes from the mouths of innocent children.... children who have not been indoctrinated to box themselves to a societal construct which serves simply to segregate, separate, polarize and isolate.

A recent video featured on ABC's Evening News was a refreshing reminder of what the unbiased young mind of a child knows....

How interesting it is, that societies pre-conception of what is inately masculine or feminine can change over the years.  I find it fascinating to know that high heeled shoes were initially worn by both men and women and that the modern French Heel was designed by King Louis  XIV.  As King Louis was not endowed with lofty stature and was somewhat vertically challenged, he often wore heels himself.  Perhaps owing to his insecurity in the height department, he did decry that no ones heels could be higher than his own... (Me wonders perhaps if there is any bearing to the Escalade driving men on our roads today ;) )   More on the history of heels at:  

The fascinating aspect of gender roles assertions seems to be the dichotomy inherent that allows women to dress in traditionally male garb but which precludes the same from men.  A woman so dressed androgynously or even sporting feminine versions of male attire is quite welcome in the business world as well, where a less feminine form of dress not only de-feminizes, but it has the tendency to increase the perceived status of the woman so presenting.  Unfortuntely, the reverse situation where a man may present in more feminine form, is seen as a less assertive and more passive realm.

My theory on this is that women have historically been considered part of the subservient gender role.  Women's liberation has helped to change much of that yet still, sexual and gender stereotyping remains at a low base level in the eyes of what has been a male dominated society.  Women are finding that in order to succeed in what was a traditionally male dominated world, that it becomes necessary to adopt to a more neutral form and presentation... one which suggested a more demure stature and towards a presentation which advocates presence and power.

The idea here is that a woman who presents in a more masculine manner asserts herself with greater perceived authority in a traditionally male world.  She moves "up" the social ladder in so doing.  A man who presents in feminine form makes what many would perceive as a step down on that ladder... giving up the quote-unquote "male privilege".  "Why would he want to be a woman?", some might ask of such a person.

One other area that arises to create a potential conflict occurs when there is a relationship between a transgender woman and a cis-gendered heterosexual mail which can abruptly give rise to a dichotomy in a male's perception and feelings.  Men who find a transgender woman attractive will find their emotional and physical senses stimulated.  But when they realize that they are being aroused by a person who may still be anatomically male, this creates a conundrum.  Those males who are most insecure with this disparity may resort to violence against the transgender woman.  For some males, eradicating the person eliminates the feeling of attraction and the perversity which they feel they are otherwise submitting to.

An intriguing article was written on this some time back by which is well worth checking out.

From a personal standpoint, I have had numerous instances where males would both find me attractive yet find, upon realizing I am transgender, that they must laugh it off in order to try to deal with the confusing oppositions they are attempting to deal with in their own mind.   Fortunately, I've not had any more serious encounters than this.... but I do find personally, that the more sexually alluring I may dress, the more the dichotomy increases in the presence of males who know of my variance.  Needless to say, I dress down when out and about, just as many women do (but who may not be the subject of a transgender related hate crime).

As knowledge and understanding between what sex, sexual attraction and gender are... and how they are often not positively related, attitudes will change, understanding will increase and tolerance may yet one day become a more universal acceptance.

Keep a positive image and attitude, provide education at a basic level where one can, and be proud to be who you are when out and others will be assured and more comfortable as well  in your presence.  

"Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings." - Samuel Johnson, (circa 1750)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Christmas Miracle

There are a number with who I have chatted, who retort that there is but a binary in sex. There is man and there is woman, alone. In their view, gender and sex are considered as two words which equate as the same, are not separable and cannot be dichotomous. In my conversations and chats on many of the religious news sites scattered liberally across the internet, I have come to find this position to be rather consistent. It has always been my premise when in such forums, not to attempt to forcibly change opinion or dissuade others in their beliefs. Rather, my forays into such realms are only in an attempt to bring about awareness that often what we consider to be as rote and stolid and undeniable fact may not always be as it seems.

Many thought the Earth to be flat as Columbus sailed off, only for him to  rediscover that it was not. Galileo maintained and promoted the heliocentric view of the solar system and a fundamental which all school children learn today... that the Sun and planets did not orbit the Earth as the Church had decried but rather that the Earth was but one of many planets orbiting it's Sun.  For Galileo's argument and challenge to the established doctrine of the Church, his life was threatened by the religious heads at the time for heresy.   In a similar vein, Newton's laws of kinematics were found only to be valid within a stable set of parameters - so long as mass and speed were not involved. Einstein realized that there was something not explained by Newton and the realization of Quantum mechanics was born.   What we thought we knew for fact, was challenged and proved otherwise or to be simply a subset of a greater understanding which we had yet to come to sense and to realize.

In the face of the oft-seeming contradictory religious rhetoric, it is my only intent through a personal perspective held and facts learned through current research, to bring forth the premise that there simply may be more than the binary of sex and of gender that could exist... and that the two are mutually exclusive and disparately separate continuums. There are many of the opinion that to consider a non-binary solution to human-kind is to be perverse in the eyes of creation and of God.  What science has come to discern and beginning, in quantitative ways to prove is that we are not defined by the premises of a binary at all.

Perhaps there is concern, as their was when Galileo challenged church doctrine to push the heliocentric model of the solar system, that to challenge what had been written and taken as rote might diminish the word of God and the power of the church.  But even as we learned that the Sun and planets did NOT orbit the Earth, it did not diminish the church at the time nor of the concept of God.  In fact, to those who hold a religious conviction of creation, It only affirmed more that He does exist by the miracles of the complexities which only He can create and which we are only still coming to learn. Question everything, and even still the answers learned in the process of learning and understanding do not, for those of faith, point away from God, but even more towards Him.  It is, perhaps, this realization, that the answer itself is far more complex than the dogma that had been blindly followed.  It is, perhaps true that what we discover as we question, is more complex and miraculous than could be imagined.

And so this, in essence, is my own stance.... ... to provide a point of reference and perspective to allow one to question what they think they know and perhaps to understand that there is more to who we are.... and the more we come to know and celebrate our findings.... our similarities... our differences, the less we find we really do understand of everything in total.    And perhaps, embedded within that realization, deep within...  we find the essence of what IS, truly, the miracle of creation....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Look at the Recent Macys Incident: Liberty and Justice for All?

There is significant controversy in recent news directed at transgender individuals regarding the recent dressing room incident at Macys. The subject became active immediately after it was learned that a female employee of Macy's Department Store was immediately terminated from her job by management for NOT allowing a transgender woman to utilize the dressing room associated with the gender she was presenting as. It is a store policy, by Macy's, to allow those who present in their chosen gender, to utilize the dressing room of their chosen gender.

This policy has enraged numerous individuals and groups, many of who have been voicing their deep disdain for transgender individuals using facilities concurrent with the gender they are congruent with and presenting as. The primary arguments involve fears that men who dress as women, are likely to engage in sexual predation or other voyeuristic and perverted acts. The solution, by these individuals and groups, is to create a third dressing room... not for men, not for women.... but for those who are transgender or as I have heard mentioned by more than a few, “mixed-up”.

They maintain that a man is a man (genetically xy) and a woman is a woman (genetically xx) based solely upon what physical plumbing they were born with. The view is strictly binary, and there is no provision for anyone who is born with physical and chromosomal variances which cause intersex and and hermaproditic conditions. Although there is substantive medical evidence arising at this juncture which can tangibly equate much of how the brain develops in either a male or female pattern, this evidence is largely disputed and ignored en masse.

The bottom line comes down, however, to an even more basic level than this and precludes even trying to argue the transgender position from a medical basis. At the very core, what this all boils down to is a human rights and a civil rights issue. One may disagree with this, but, please allow me to continue.

There was a time, in this country's history, where events occurred which bore similar nature to what we see now. Can we think of a time, in our country's history, where a certain group of people were excluded from the same basic human rights that others enjoyed? One can see where I am going with this and it may be that the reader may feel that the analogy beginning to be drawn is far different in scope and not applicable... but it is. Allow me to continue.

There was a time in this country's history where those who were African American were relegated to their own separated space. African American children rode in different buses to different schools than those frequented by Caucasians. Restaurants, movie theatres and numerous other public venues created spaces specifically for the exclusive use by “those of color”. If one has not seen the movie, “The Help”, please see it. It is the story of the oppression of African American housekeepers by their Caucasion Employers. In one scene, a housekeeper was fired ON THE SPOT for using the same bathroom her family used and for not using the outhouse in the backyard. The thoughts here being that one could contract unique diseases from someone of color.

In a similar way, the proposition that those who are transgender should be relegated to a distinctly separate bathroom for their kind is hauntingly similar.

The argument would say, that there is no comparative to be drawn, for they would say that there are just men who were born physically male, and there are women who are born physically female. This is where their premise fails. Ignorance and fear engenders walls that serve to separate. We know that African Americans do not plague us with diseases we can contract simply because they are of color. It is ludicrous to even think it but at one point in this country's history, such fears existed. Similarly, transgender women and men are not perverts or sexual deviants any more than the general populace is. In any stance, it will be obvious who is the man in the dress seeking to gain free entry into the women's dressing area for such acts. They will not be the person who spent years and decades of their life trying to learn makeup and fashion techniques appropriate to the gender they feel inside only to try to have sex or other lewd acts in some dressing room.

It is ostracizing to postulate that all transgender individuals are predatory deviants, for they are no more likely than someone who is gay or lesbian or heterosexual or congruent in their own gender presentation to engage in the same. It is demeaning and bigoted to force them into a bathroom segregated to their own kind because of an unfounded and unsubstantiated fear that criminalizes transgender individuals as guilty before innocent. So long as the person presents in their chosen gender respectfully and is respectful themselves to maintain civility toward their fellow humans, then there should be no problem and that person should command the same respect as a civil human in return.

Fear and not reason are what dictate the masses. Education of what is rather than what imagines is the only tool to eradicate such erroneous predilections.

If we allow governing authorities of the masses to determine the liberties and freedoms of the minorities, then what liberties do really any of us have in this country if we have no say?

On February 19th 1942 Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. Under the terms of the Order, some 120,000 people of Japanese descent living in the US were removed from their homes and placed in internment camps. The US justified their action by claiming that there was a danger of those of Japanese descent spying for the Japanese. However more than two thirds of those interned were American citizens and half of them were children. None had ever shown disloyalty to the nation. In some cases family members were separated and put in different camps. During the entire war only ten people were convicted of spying for Japan and these were all Caucasian. (1) ( )

How quickly we often forget how fear can justify the rescinding of the basic tenets, civil liberties and rights of those who are deemed by the majority to be unacceptable to society.

Similarly, the Native Americans were rounded up and moved to their internment camps, otherwise known as “reservations” in order to allow for this country's progress to stampede forward, uninterrupted by who were considered to be primitive tribe-like people.

Women were denied rights to vote, to work, to wear masculine looking clothes; liberties now correctly extended as they should be to all.

Self determination and self appointment by a person, organization or the majority leaders in a country, that their own views are omnipotently and universally the correct ones for all to follow is a headstrong and dangerous position to take and suggests a rule that borders on totalitarianism To disguise such a position and acts thus taken to oppose or repress others through the guise that it is God's word, is blasphemy at the very core. Let me explain....

There is more than one religion in this world. Each religion has their own beliefs and each decries to be the one TRUE religion. If this were truly the case, then we would not have Buddhists, and Christians and Moslims and Hinduists and on and on.... If this were truly the case, then there would be but ONE religion seen as ONE religion in the eyes of ALL. Obviously they each have their points and each their own professions but there is not one correct one. To suggest such, again, is blasphemy.

Many of the Conservative Christian Sites I have had the opportunity to engage with, claim that those who are transgender are perverted in the eyes of God. I have seen scriptures wielded against those who are transgender in the old testament against, and I have seen specific passages of scripture in the New Testament of acceptance of all by Jesus. It would be the subject of another essay to uphold the findings made as they would not be justly served in so short of an essay. In all of this, interpretation and context are key, and much is taken out of context in order to suit or benefit the needs of the religious organization wielding words.

When those who wield religion as a power, become entrenched within our political and justice system, we see how such derisive wedges can thusly be created to mold and design paths to exclude others who do not agree with the consenus's drawn in the name of God. The realm of politics is secular by design and should not make or lay claim to what is considered moral or just in the eyes of God. Laws created and based upon religious moral principles which preclude the freedoms of others denies those persons their own basic rights and needs as free citizens of this country.

It is of distinct note that Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States Constitution, made the following observations in regards to the matters of Church and State:

Thomas Jefferson was a man of deep religious conviction — his conviction was that religion was a very personal matter, one which the government had no business getting involved in. He was vilified by his political opponents for his role in the passage of the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and for his criticism of such biblical events as the Great Flood and the theological age of the Earth. As president, he discontinued the practice started by his predecessors George Washington and John Adams of proclaiming days of fasting and thanksgiving. He was a staunch believer in the separation of church and state. (2) ( )

Thomas Jefferson, however, was not even close to being the originator of such thoughts. In centuries past, a fellow by the name of Martin Luther, the founder of modern Lutheranism, wrote a treatise proposing the same in the early 1500's. His book, entitled, “On Secular Authority” set forth the following premise:

According to Luther, the civil government’s role is simply to keep outward peace in society. The civil government has no business enforcing spiritual laws. “The laws of worldly government extend no farther than to life and property and what is external upon earth,” Luther insisted. (3) ( )

The arguments which are demonstrated by those who would marginalize the transgender population often take on a religious omnipotence of a God who would decry such acts. Such realms make attempt to gain power and prowess to wield their religious authority by weaving it into secular authority. Our rights as transgender individuals are diminished because of an imposed segregation and prejudice by the masses.

It's time to review what mistakes we have made as a country and what rights we have revoked and persons marginalized in times past. It is time to decide to take a stand to decry that such ostracization of others based upon race, creed, religion, sexual preference or gender will not be tolerated. As the words of the pledge of allegiance attest, this country was founded on the principles of liberty and justice for all, not for some. It's time we consider that we uphold the pledge we as citizens of the United States have taken. It is time for liberty and justice for all!

Addendum:  Additional information regarding the religious positions held by five of our founding fathers, please see:

Monday, December 12, 2011

You never know who you are going to meet in this world....

It was just another evening out to dinner to relax and chat with my spouse and with the wonderful staff and patrons at our local watering hole.  Both J and I love the ambiance and coziness of the atmosphere and the plethora of widely varied personalities we have been privileged to get to know.  It's refreshing to know that we are not all clones of each other and that we each bring perspective that can enrich each other's lives if we simply choose to allow ourselves to be open minded.

Celebrating our differences helps us all to realize just how unique we each are in the world.  Being unique often coincides with having unique perspectives and views.... and with that gift, comes new ways to look at the world around us and to consider.

Take for instance this friend I met.  She was a gift to our waitress by one of the patrons who frequents the restaurant.  Our waitress is positively unique in many ways, with one of her attributes being that she enjoys collecting mannequins.  Certainly, one can have all sorts of enterprising fun with roomful of them.... posing them on the lawn for Halloween or perhaps setting up a staged photographic period shoot as has been done.  I'd personally like to see Max Headroom in the entourage with his 1980's striped shirts and opaque, black glasses...   As for this one...  she had no name as of that night, but I thought of one for her later.....

It may seem like I'm rambling here, but yet really, I'm heading somewhere with all of this.

J and I were in conversation amongst the patrons when we were, at some point late in the evening, introduced to one of the other waitresses.  We had seen her before but had never had the chance to meet.  After chatting for a while, I somehow segwayed into the realm of my own status as a transgender woman.  I don't make a point of coming out to everyone, but I also know when I am comfortable enough in an environment to know when someone else knows.  I mean really, after a couple of glasses of wine, it is, after all, theoretically possible that I may just slip into a barritone voice every now and then.... isn't it?

Well, one thing led to another and soon enough I came to realize that there was some positive in not trying to be or play the undercover stealth woman role.   It turns out that in my talking about myself and my own situation, I learned that the woman we were speaking with also worked within a school system where she was aware of two children who were, themselves, transgender.   Both of them were girls who felt out of sorts in the gender role they were born into.  She explained how they were being bullied by the other children in the school for their differences and in her facial expressions, I could sense that she felt great concern for their situation.

We ended up discussing with her, some of my own experiences growing up, all the while trying to relate to the issues these children were likely facing as well.  I was able to provide some perspectives, thoughts and possible ideas for direction that might have benefit, I hope, for them.

Being stealth as transgender is something I wish we did not have to always consider in this world.  Just as I see diversity in so many other aspects of society (and in our favorite restaurant's staff and patrons), so I see it within those who are transgender.  By being able to celebrate openly who we are, we can effect positive change in subtle ways that can make a difference in someone's life perhaps... someone we may have never had the opportunity to benefit if we were unseen and unheard.

Maybe I do make a difference in some small way.  I know if I can fully be and express who I am, that I can make a positive contribution to someone's life... even a small one as it may be.  And that's enough for me to wake up to a new day, each day.

Be the change you wish to see in life.....

I just hope mine is not all in pennies!

Finally....  a couple of other odd pictures from that evening....   

Friday, December 9, 2011

In Recent News: Violence and Mistreatment against those who are Transgender

For all of the positive and uplifting stories which I do try to focus on, there are also those deplorable ones of unmitigated violence and mistreatment against those who are transgender by the police and law enforcement agencies.  A recent article highlighting some of the more recent events unfolds here:

Raw footage of the Brooke Fantelli incident where she was tazed twice, once on her body and once in her crotch by Bureau of Land Management Officials while simply standing with her hands up, was posted on Youtube here:

Coverage of the Macy's incident where a store employee who managed the women's dressing room was fired on the spot by management for not following store policy to allow those who present as female to use the dressing room consistent with their gender presentation has brought some very strong, harsh and is some cases, vitriolic commentary from a number of responders on a conservative Christian News page:

Awareness is the first step toward securing positive changes that will bring about fair and equal treatment to all.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Clarifications and Congruency

Last night I visited with my therapist for the first time in several months. We talked and asked if she could be direct with me. I said I preferred it that way. I'm a no bullcrap kind of gal and I play life straight and to the punchline. Honesty to self, honesty to others is the best approach I find. Her questions really hit home but they were not unexpected nor were the answers. If anything, it was me sounding them out that really began to hit home. It is one thing to say these things to yourself but it is another to answer to someone else. The therapists I have had really never ever told me who I was and my current one hasn't, but she did throw back some thoughts and perspectives which really bore meaning and thought.

I told her I wasn't transitioning but working in a middle ground. I wasn't on hormones and I wasn't planning to change gender marker or legal status and to play a guy role as well. From where she sat, she wasn't buying it. In those past few months since I had seen her, with continued electrolysis and facial peels, I've been softening and transforming my face into an even more feminine realm. She asked me how I was passing for a guy. I honestly had to think about that for a moment and realized I was starting to get the questioning looks in guy mode that I used to get in girl mode about two years ago.

"How does that make you feel", she asked.

I told her that I feel, for the first time in my over four decades of life, as myself and simply congruent... at peace. I never have in my male mode and that mode only provided for a highly shy, nervous and anxious male person who avoided many social situations. I thought for years I had agoraphobia and had to avoid crowds and people. Restaurants had to be dimly lit or avoided and public speaking or even being in public could cause catatonia where I would just go stiff and rigid, with sweaty palpitations and an erratic heartbeat. Over the years, I learned to avoid situations that caused these reactions as I could not, even through immersion therapy, ever resolve them.

My therapist just looked at me and said she saw none of that in the person I was now. And it was true. Apparently I am, unknowingly or admittedly, some sort of social butterfly; talkative and witty, charming and humorous is what I hear most often.  At the Transgender Day of Remembrance I recently attended, one of my friends remarked that she was asked how she had become aware of the event. When she mentioned that she had heard about it from Christen, there were remarks of, "oh yeah... you know Christen? Cool!". It is so weird as I never really had a lot of friends growing up and into my adult life. I would say that I was a co-worker or an acquaintance or someone to talk to in the office but friends... people I could talk to and share my life with numbered in the single digits.

Part of that low number was due to the fact that I was not comfortable with my own sense of self and partly it was due to the fact that guys just don't equate and relate to me in ways I find I can relate to other women. Yet trying to relate to other women as a woman but presenting as a man was enough to cause me panic attacks and clam up completely. Simply put, when I did so in times past, women simply viewed me as some sort of odd guy, gay male or caricature of a woman and still I was not speaking to them at a level which other women would and can understand. So I just shut down early in life and stayed that way... recluse and eventually moving away from the city to be in the quietude of the country where I could run away from my problems and myself.

My therapist basically said... "You are transitioning, whether or not you are admitting it... hormones or not...". It is the acceptance of myself and the joy in feeling I am who I was meant to be. It is the inclusion I feel and in the wholeness of self that is the essence of my inner being which had been suppressed for so many decades. I've been taking my time to ascertain if what I have been feeling is simply me escaping from the male realm temporarily to express a feminine side but am finding that the feminine side is who I am and the male side is what I escape into when I am not Christen. There is no pretense upheld as Christen to be someone I am not and there is only contemplation of a completeness never held before and a sense of confidence never before enjoyed.

I'm continuing to take my time in all of this but the journey seems to go on with a life of its own. I say I am not "doing anything" to transition but I am allowing myself to be myself and that fact... me being true and honest to myself is materialized as becoming the female I am inside.  Apparently my walk has changed, my mannerisms, my gesticulations, my speech patterns... in essence... everything. I'm not aware of any changes at all but am told so constantly by everyone else. It is quite a revelation to not fully be aware of changes in one's own sense of self and to consider that what has changed as being completely different from what actually has. It is all so odd.....

After therapy it was time to do some Christmas shopping for my spouse and so it was off to Kohl's. It was so very interesting to me how innocuous I was and how comfortable it was to shop that evening. More than one sales associate approached me and we began multiple conversations about everything... from travel to living in New Hampshire and numbers of other subjects. My best guess from the body language was that they were convinced I was natal female until the points where I spoke. For them, discovering the variance was a positive thing and it led immediately to their wanting to talk with me even more.

Here's my outfit I wore that night.....

When I ran into one particular woman again, she made a point to catch me and chat further. Interesting.... What appeared to be the manager of the store stood in the main aisle in clear view of the registers and the jewelry counters surveying and greeting and, from what I could hear him balking to the employees, micromanaging them. He was of impressive build and stature, both in height and girth and somewhat balding. I sauntered my way up towards him as I made my way to the next department.

His tone spoke worlds of his persona as he offered, "Are you finding everything you were looking for miss?"

Both my response and my intonation caught him off guard.

"Thank You, I've found everything I WASN'T looking for"

With the unexpected humorous answer which required thought on his part and the variance in my voice, he made the discovery as well as to my gender variance and the look on his face was priceless. It was this sort of blank, 'it does not compute' realm but there was no negativity... just a learning experience for him.

Interestingly, the women all caught my sense of humor in that same response and laughed. He did not. Guys......

I chatted up a storm with the cashier, who also had much to talk to me about regarding the economy and various stories of recent she had,. When I handed her my credit card with my male name on it, she knew.... but she didn't even blink an eye. In fact, she seemed even more impressed and she gave me a thank you at the end of the transaction that was far above what she had given her prior customers ahead of me in line. When I replied nearly simultaneously back wishing her and her the happiest of holidays, she had a warm look in her eye and replied back in a heartfelt way wishing me the same.

It was a very enlightening night... but an affirmative one in so many ways. I am clearly in a realm which is both natural for me and certainly not displeasing for others (although for the men perhaps surprising). In any event, my own comfort with my own sense of self and my stylish and confident but not caricatured presentation lends itself well to setting the tone and atmosphere I wish to see around me and for others to feel comfortable with. If I can be comfortable with myself and create that air around me in the perceptions others see as well, then the tone is set for all other aspects to fall into place. It's just natural... It's just me!