Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Powent advec Disappointment

Have now decidate que cose optime a feater advec icest blog no is ceaser scriber ma scriber in language factitious que no person comprehend.  Language va changer probablement por cause que jo no taine idea firme de nature de coses variouses, e.g. grammar, vocabulary etc., et is difficult a saver exactment manner de lu scribent.  Reason que jo icest feat is que jo so conscious que no person lir verbs que jo scribe in icest blog, et is passive-aggressive por me a feater.  Jo pow haver scribate icest in "Tesor Language" ma ce is very difficult.
De quelker mode, jo taine subject super que jo pow scriber icest jour:  disappointment.  Icest tardy nos haven planate promenade de herbs advec uns infants que son educates domesticment.  Jo no cred que persons van plicker et ce is very difficult a maintainer my enthusiasm sub icests circumstances.  Problem advec co is que sy jo no have credit o enthusiasm que persons son probable a plicker, et consequentment jo no va planer alcun cose special.  Jo va puter very petty effort in.  Et sy jo puter very petty effort in, ce is very probable que sy persons venen, session no va ir ben.  Jo so entirement conscious de co, ma no pow feater alcun cose por cause que peril de expectant session a occurer is que mi ego va damageate et va plus difficult a recoverer de co.

Situation is que jo va ir a locale de event et pow ster feater quelker cose que is idea bone de quelker mode.  Exempli gratia, jo pow collecter uns herbs que jo require et co feate exercise valuable.  A ce moment, sans embargo, jo ste sedent in robe, stole et collant delicat et jo so obligate a changer mies vestments pre jo va ir a location, por cause icests vestments no son suitables por activity.  Ce signify que vestments in que jo va tainer va acter de subvener de my failure a feater event occurer et absence de interest in icest event, et co is difficult tamben.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Giving Up For Now

I've felt ambivalent about this blog for a long time.  On the one hand, it works as a place to dump things in an accountable manner, in the sense that I'm aware of the possibility that they will be read but also that it's quite unlikely that they will be.  I don't set it to private because that could be achieved by simply writing a journal, which I do anyway.  Another good reason for its existence is that it stops people elsewhere from having my ramblings inflicted on them.  For that reason, it persists.
On the other hand, whenever I post something on here it's ignored, so far as I can tell, and I don't even think it's any good.  In fact, I think that posting on here usually leads to a somewhat depressed state of mind for quite some time.  At least with a notebook you know it's not for others to read.  I don't think it does my mood any good to stick stuff here though, so for now I'm going to stop I think.  I don't know what the answer is to having people read  or notice your stuff - I've never succeeded here or on YouTube.  Maybe I should just start vlogging again, I don't know.

Another reason I think I'll stop is that my ex sees it as pointless narcissism, and to be honest that's fair comment.  So for now, that's it.

A Woman In Your Own Right

During a collective moan about clients missing appointments, someone said something which I thought at the time I understood but on reflection probably misunderstood, concerning assertiveness.  It was that many people have issues about women being assertive about anything. This is clearly the case, and it's interesting that they said "people" rather than "men" and I wonder about that too. Leaving that aside, I thought at first that they were referring to me as a woman but later "realised" that they probably meant my friend.  But, thinking of it as being about me changes things.
In 1983, a book on the subject of assertiveness called 'A Woman In Your Own Right' came out.  The early editions had a mirrored cover, so if a woman picked it up, she would see herself reflected, both there and in the text of the book.  At the time, even picking up the book seemed wrong to me, like I was trespassing on female territory.  I was, I thought, at the very summit of the social pyramid:  white middle-class able-bodied male in my youth - choose a category of privilege and I was in it.  Oh, here's a link to it incidentally:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1390287.A_Woman_in_Your_Own_Right

Consequently, reading a book on assertiveness would simply be a white male gathering yet another tool of privilege to himself and using it to bludgeon his way even further up the greasy pole.  So I didn't read it.

Years later, I decided to do assertiveness training.  This was a good idea, as it turns out, although nowadays I have less faith in assertiveness than I had back then.  I found, as usual, that I had made a decision which resulted in me being in an almost completely female group.  I learned a variety of worthwhile techniques but later found that I was unable to apply them because in any specific situation, I saw it as an exception and couldn't bring myself to use them.  A better answer might have been counselling, which I pursued to no avail, partly because they weren't transphobic enough for my tastes and I didn't want to let anyone into my mind who didn't hate what I was.  Not hate me, mind you, just what I was, if that makes sense.

Now I imagine that cover again, and imagine my horribly masculine face framed in that mirror with 'A Woman In Your Own Right' printed above it, and I think that maybe I am.  I also think it may be a big factor in my failure that I didn't accept this fact.  Having said that, this all seems a bit "poor me".  However, there's a problem with that attitude just as there is with its opposite.  If I am in fact in some kind of group disadvantaged because of a shared identity with them, either as a woman or a trans individual, I probably should stick up for myself for their sake, so if I don't do that it's possible that I'm letting them down too.

This was all a lot clearer last night, sorry.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Two Veg

First of all, in a sense it shouldn't matter how we got here.  If it did matter, it would provide an excuse for sorting the sheep from the goats, in other words deciding there are first- and second-class trans citizens, which is not fair.  People are already outsiders and creating another outsider group outside the outsiders is not on.  Also, although there are things to consider regarding causes, that way lies madness.  The phenomenology of the condition is the real point for me, and this is just about me, although I'm pretty sure it reflects at least some others' experiences.

I am very much at peace with the realisation that other people really don't understand.  So much so that I find that very peace remarkable.  Nonetheless, they don't, and maybe an explanation is neither necessary nor possible.  However, I do feel moved to comment on a recent conversation which seemed quite similar to some others I've had.

I could be seen as simply a person who wants to have less persistent body and facial hair, larger breasts and different genitals and generative system, and of course I am that, and it's true that they represent something I dislike personally about myself.  It would also be entirely OK for someone with those issues to seek to change those physical features about themselves.  Clearly this goes beyond physical features too and someone might want to alter their psychological outlook and the way they're perceived and relate to and are related to by other people.  This is not the point though.

This can be illustrated by the discussion I had last night.  Someone asked me why I wanted my penis removed.  I found this question interesting for a number of reasons.  Firstly, that's not what would happen.  In fact the glans would be left and most of the erectile tissue removed before the sheath would be everted.  I very much doubt this will ever happen to mine incidentally, for several reasons.  Secondly, the desirability or otherwise of that modification is not the main point.  It's a symbolic act which, among other things, gives a surprisingly unappreciated ironic finger to rape culture, and I've wanted that to happen for a very long time but that wasn't the catastrophe.

More important are the "two veg" - the gonads.  Now, I cannot possibly say that organs essential to the existence of the two wonderful human beings which have dominated my life for the past two decades are entirely benighted, but once they'd fulfilled that function, they could have been said to be living on borrowed time.  It also has to be said that the whole assemblage is important for another person and that is of course a major consideration.  However, the gonads are constantly producing androgens, and it's the androgens along with their insufficient oestrogen production which was responsible for making me ill in the first place.  When part of your body produces hormones inappropriately, it usually needs to be addressed, and the approach can be physical rather than pharmacological.

The fact is that before I unknowingly started taking oestrogenics, something was clearly making me - well, you know the familiar list but here it is anyway - depressive, irritable, anxious, phobic, obsessive-compulsive and the like - and I had never imagined that that could be alleviated by a combination of boosting the oestrogen and lowering the androgens, but that is what happened.

So my situation is not that of someone who simply wants the offending features of my body to be modified.  It's that of someone whose current hormonal environment, left untreated, would give me a series of mental health problems through a physical aetiology with no psychosomatic or placebo effects, and who would therefore benefit directly from the removal of the organs making the biggest contribution to the askew hormonal environment.  Moreover, the shift in my opinion is based exactly on that realisation.  This is a physical condition, validated by that experience.  Mad it may be, but this madness is not just a psychological process.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Violence against women

There's been a lot of publicity recently about men standing idly by while violence is perpetrated against women. One thing which particularly stuck in my mind about the argument was the idea that the bar is set very low for male standards of behaviour in that all men have to do is not be rapists and not perpetrate violence themselves, when in fact that ought to be the bare minimum and may not be even that.

When venturing into this territory, I have to be wary because of my history of misandry. I have, to my shame, considered in the past that the solution to this problem was simply to euthanise all males and abort all male fetuses but clearly that's likely to be considered impractical. Also, I have a son and cannot honestly hold the view that it should've been removed from its mother's body before viability. I want to stress that I no longer hold this view and recognise that it was a form of projection resulting from my gender dysphoria (do I mean projection or transference? I always get those mixed up).  Nowadays it's much easier for me not to hate men. I think of Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and a host of less famous men who are absolutely hunky-dory and OK, although of course not perfect, except for Jesus who is arguably not a man anyway. Nonetheless, there very clearly is a huge problem in male socialisation which we have tried to address with our son.

Now of course everything is always about me, so instead of going further in examining this issue, I'm now going to go on and on about trans stuff.

I've been in men's groups in the past. One had content organised by women, the other was an Iron John type group. I found both problematic. The Iron John group was just impossible to relate to. My fundamental issue with it was that I couldn't see how it contributed to women's liberation and without that element it was surely a waste of time. It also seemed to be about stuff which made no sense at all to me, not because of its shamanistic or spiritual nature, but because it simply seemed factitious. Maybe other men got something out of it. But if one is undertaking a course of action which involves the idea that animals should be killed merely as part of a ritual, one has surely gone in the wrong direction - I would rather just sit in the meadow and eat dandelion sandwiches.  The other group was better but I was very frustrated by one member's veto of any discussion of abortion because to me that is the central ethical question and even more so the giant issue in sexual politics, even more so than rape. A men's group where abortion cannot be discussed is utterly worthless, so vetoing that rendered my attendance at the group pointless, and yes, that is me engaging in splitting again.

So, bearing in mind that men's groups don't benefit women and are therefore pointless, where do you go from there? My answer is somewhat scary and paradoxically also something TERFs seek to deny people. Before I say this I want to point out the soil and seed factor in my GID.  The soil and seed analogy is from complementary medicine. A seed cannot germinate without the right soil, and similarly someone will not develop a particular disease unless they are at that point the right "soil" for that disease, so for instance endometriosis is very rare in men.  I can look at, for instance, my younger brother and note that in spite of substantially similar influences he has not one iota of gender dysphoria in this entire being.  The same seeds, different soil.  In other words, whereas there are clearly psychological and life history influences on why this has happened, they aren't all that's going on by a long chalk.  There's also plenty of rationalisation, subconscious messages, denial, suppression and all that kind of stuff.

I often hear men express the sentiment that on hearing news reports or some disturbing story about what individual other men have done to women, or perhaps statistics on the same, it makes them ashamed to be men.  Well...

I asked myself a long time ago how I might appropriately respond to the existence of violence and rape against women by men.  This was considerably before I read any radical feminism.  I was aware of gender reassignment from quite an early age.  I seem to recall it was from about the age of ten or eleven.  Putting the two together, the solution seemed quite obvious to me:  men are bastards, so stop being a man and have a sex change.  To me, it was a complete no-brainer.  Now, it could of course be argued that I wanted to do that anyway on some level and that's true and probably my real motive, but I remain convinced that that's a logical response to the problem.  Perhaps not an ideal one as there are all sorts of ways of being a man and simply vacating the gender leaves it more stereotypically negative than it would otherwise have been, which is a bit of Janice Raymond which I completely agree with - she's not a monster, remember?

Logical though that may seem, however, the problem was that it turned out that this wasn't what radical feminism wanted me to do at all.  Quite the opposite.  Apparently doing the most emphatically anti-male violence and rape thing I can imagine is the very thing I'm not supposed to do in any circumstances.  The rational alternative (and I mean alternative - one of two choices) is suicide.

Rather surprisingly, another option mentioned by some feminists is to bail out of male gynephilia, something which never interested me personally in the first place.  This puzzles me somewhat since there is also violence and rape in gay and lesbian relationships, so it doesn't seem to solve the problem.  Also, it seems much less extreme than castration, oestrogen and penectomy.

I just don't know to be honest, I'm not really reaching any conclusion here except to say the apparently obvious and most effective solution, putting your money where your mouth is and actually getting castrated and removing the offending member is for some reason completely the opposite of what radfems want.  It is of course true that rape is about power and not sex, but it still seems that this is at least a symbolic gesture of solidarity and I really cannot see why it mustn't be done.  Just seems the obvious choice to me.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A Year In The Life Of Mandy-Mac

Today is, in a sense, the first anniversary of the start of my transition.  In another sense there was a prehistory to this, so it's also the first anniversary of an imaginary line where processes came about which convinced me the TERF view (and for all I know there are several) was not helpful to me or anyone else.
1st April, 2013:  It started deep in the night, probably about 3 am, in Fosse Road South, Leicester, my old address.  I was lying awake thinking about making a hoax video for April Fools' Day, and something gave me a little nudge.  The idea popped into my head that I should do a fake male pregnancy video as part of the year of daily YouTube videos I'd committed myself to in order to deal with empty nest syndrome.  Our younger child had started at college the previous autumn and I was trying to fill the gap.  As I've mentioned before, my involvement in their parenting, popularly known as home education, was partly an overcompensation for my failure to have them grow inside me, give birth to them and my almost complete failure to breastfeed them.

So I made this video:
(I think that's the right one).

Two things about this video:  it is of course wish-fulfillment and it's also, in a sense, me being pregnant with the future female me.  This is Mark pregnant with Amanda, although he didn't know it at the time.  Clearly it's crazy and out there, but I did it, it's a matter of record and there it is.  This video has a prehistory too but let's not go into that.  For the sake of storytelling this is the start of the story.

The video became, by my standards, very popular.  It was of course afflicted by the usual problem of our failure to engage in spite of perceived good quality and success, which is what I mean by "my standards".  Consequently, I decided to extend the hoax and started a second channel, now defunct:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7FG9HjecLXlNKY_VwomiRA

On this channel, I made weekly videos about my "pregnancy", and in order to duplicate the experience as far as possible, I took herbs intended to mimic the effects.  Suspiciously, I took the wrong herbs, which considering my knowledge and experience I'm going to have to say suggests that all was not as it seemed to my conscious mind. I personally attribute it either to my subconscious or to divine intervention, or "the Universe" if theism isn't your thing, which in fact is how I see the whole sequence of events.

7th May (I'm not going to be able to keep these dates up):  After about a month of increasing nausea, I started throwing up and felt really ill, provoking this rather unsavory but mercifully brief offering:

After that, I decided to change the herbs.  This was a pivotal decision.  Within a very short period of time, I found myself less depressive, less obsessive, less irritable, more empathic, more in touch with my emotions, more expressive emotionally and in time my button phobia disappeared as did my paraphilias.  Physically, my skin improved, my reflexes became normal and I lost weight, partly because I was no longer comfort-eating and partly due to loss of abdominal fat and muscle wastage, and of course a number of other physical changes occurred which are obvious and I won't mention.  This all happened without me knowing that the herbs I had been taking before were not oestrogenic and that the herbs I had started taking were.  The facts of the physical changes and the fact that consciously at least I was not aware of taking oestrogenics more or less eliminates placebo and psychosomatic effects.  Even if there were elements of those, the mediation may have been endogenously hormonal, so I feel it'd be splitting hairs to go there.

Shortly after that, I decided there was something unusual going on so I did the necessary research, which revealed that in fact the previous lot weren't oestrogenic and the current lot were.  I then added more oestrogenics and started taking garlic to counteract platelet aggregation.

July:  At a date I'm unsure of, a painful red spot suddenly appeared on my right forearm and stayed there for three days before turning dark and slowly fading.  I had my suspicions about it and decided those suspicions must be delusional.  I then bought into the delusions entirely and am now in La-la-land, and Xtine isn't here.

This was also the point at which I finally told my spouse what was happening.  She saw it as a mid-life crisis, and she has more than a bit of a point.  I see it as "so this is it, is it?  I have no choice but to be a bloke until I die?  Sod that for a game of soldiers."  I also think there may be a link with a decline in testosterone, although this feeling has been going on since I was at the oldest six and probably longer.  She was somewhat distressed when I said I wanted to wear a dress to Pride in early August.  This surprised me since she had repeatedly and spontaneously said that she couldn't even imagine having a problem if I "crossdressed" (which doesn't exist of course) over a period of about twenty years prior to me actually taking the plunge.  I appreciate that theoretically being at peace with it is very different than experiencing the reality.

It must also be said that a particular friend has been of absolutely sterling support to me and that without her I wouldn't have felt strong enough to do any of what I'm doing.  I hope she knows how important that is to me.  As well as that, people have been really generous with clothes and other stuff, and with advice.

Strangely, I found that as soon as I changed my clothing, rather than getting loads of harrassment in the street the harrassment I had been getting for much of my life prior to that point actually stopped.  Yes, that's right:  I now get less hassle than before I started wearing skirts and dresses.

Things continued.  I went full-time in the autumn thanks to my mother seeing me in the street, then in December of course I got arrested.  There are in fact a number of good things about this incident.  With regard to the gender presentation, this made me think I needed to support any forthcoming case and do it quickly.  Luckily, I had solicitors' contact details on me, which may have helped with the police.  I do also have to say that whereas it wasn't exactly a bundle of fun being arrested, they did at least treat me as female and this was the first time any official body had done so.  What it triggered me into doing, however, was to seek counselling yet again (I've done this about three or four times in my life in connection with this issue), to change my name officially by deed poll and to get myself put on a waiting list for psych assessment.  In the end, it came to nothing due to lack of evidence, but it is nonetheless positive that it galvanised me in this way.

The name change is now almost complete.  The only official document with my old name on it is now my credit card.

The next stage was make up.  After months of trepidation I decided that the best way to hide my facial hair was foundation, which I now wear a thin layer of all day.  It was surprisingly easy.  I always assumed there would be no way I could possibly achieve the skill women often exercise in that area but in the end it turns out it's not that difficult and my wife didn't even notice for three weeks.

So this is me after a year.  I often play a game where I pretend I've just woken up after, say, twenty years and imagine what I'd think about my life as it is at that point.  Well, the shock value and the sudden changes which have occurred recently mean that playing this game even over the period of a single year is quite startling now.  I never would've guessed on 31st March 2013 that today I would be called Amanda and be sitting here like this - almost hairless, with breasts, several stone lighter, speaking naturally using head rather than chest resonance (lots of work there still to do of course), in a minidress, tights and bra, with make up and nail varnish.  Loads more still to be done, but wow, what a ride!  What's it going to be like in a year's time?

Monday, 31 March 2014

The Spousal Veto

I probably should've put this here in the first place instead of splurging all over Facebook.  Anyway...

Same-sex marriage has been legal in England since two and a bit days ago, and there were ceremonies at midnight.  This might sound like a good thing. I should also point out that it's none of my business why other people get married, on the whole.  I can see the point of marriage from the point of view of supporting residence applications, for next of kin to be recognised and other things, and since that contract is out there, it might as well be used even though its history has been besmirched by the enslavement of women by men, which is what it was originally for, of course.  This brings up the issue of legal hermeneutics - whether the intent of lawmakers is to be considered when applying the law.  I suppose if slavery was still legal, there might be some positive aspects to it but who nowadays argues in favour not only of keeping slavery but actually extending it?

However, same sex marriage is relevant to me as a married trans person, unfortunately, because of how the law has been changed.  There is this thing called a Gender Recognition Certificate which gives people the same legal status as their chosen gender with the exception of inherited titles, marriage in the Church of England and sporting competitions.  None of those things are relevant to me anyway.  This GRC thing turned up in 2004 and required married couples to divorce first.  Although I find that idea fairly repugnant, I can at least recognise that it's probably quite important in this kind of society to take transitioning seriously, and therefore that undertaking as serious a procedure as divorce might be considered sensible in that it demonstrates commitment to what you're doing - how hard do you want it?  I don't agree with it of course, I'm just saying I can see the argument.  However, clearly a relationship which has been through as much emotional turmoil as transition tends to cause but could recover isn't helped by having that inflicted on it as well.

So as of last Saturday, the law changed.  The situation now is that a spouse must consent in order for their partner to get a GRC.  This is the Spousal Veto.  They get to choose whether you can have your transition recognised in law.  I think it's very clear why this is not sensible.  The "easy" way to get out of this is of course divorce.  However, imagine the kind of marriage in which that could actually be deployed.  To me, it doesn't sound like the kind of marriage which is worth saving.  Therefore, to me this sounds like the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction to which people adhered in the Cold War, which was also completely wrong of course.  You keep nuclear weapons so the other side doesn't get you, so they exist in order that they never be used.  The spousal veto is similar.  You have this threat of your spouse messing up your relationship, so you refuse to go there and instead just do the normal killing yourself thing that you're supposed to do anyway.  Solves the problem well, doesn't it?

While I'm on the subject of marriage, people often wonder why I'm married when I disagree with it at such a basic level.  Here's one answer.  I have no right to interfere in another's relationship, on the whole, which is one reason I oppose marriage in the first place - nowadays it's usually considered to be a formalised romantic relationship with which either organised religion or the state has interfered, so it is in fact a relationship someone else has interfered with.  This is so even leaving behind the baggage that it's a form of personal tyranny.  However, that means equally that it's not OK for me to interfere with anyone else's relationship at all, and since Liz's relationship with me is not my relationship with her, I can't interfere with that one either, even though it's our own marriage.  I still have to live with the guilt of having done something to which I'm implacably opposed, and I deal with that by seeing myself as her property, which is after all what marriage is supposed to be about.  This feeds back into the trans issue.  I don't belong to myself any more, so I have no property rights over my body.  Incidentally our marriage vows are deliberately asymmetrical but people who were there at the time seem not to have noticed or are keeping quiet about it if they have.  This means that my spouse does in fact, in my case, have a spousal veto, and always has had, over not only my legal transition but also my physical transition.

In some kind of BDSM fantasy world this might sound like fun and maybe for some people it really would be, but that doesn't float my boat and to me this is just a practical arrangement that helps me deal with the fact that I've inflicted marriage upon her.

So that's why I got married, although there are other reasons.  It's not connected to commitment in my mind though.  Commitment is something I do believe in.