Thursday, March 30, 2006

Real Life Beauty Advice

When the legendary beauty icon Audrey Hepburn was asked to share her "beauty tips", she gave the following advice:



For attractive lips,
speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes,
seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure,
share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair,
let a child run his/her
fingers through it once a day.

For poise,
walk with the knowledge
that you never walk alone.

People, even more than things,
have to be restored, renewed, revived,
reclaimed and redeemed;
never throw out anyone.

Remember,
if you ever need a helping hand,
you will find one at the end of
each of your arms.

As you grow older,
you will discover that
you have two hands;
one for helping yourself,
and the other for helping others.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

With Each Tear

By Brianna Austin

Life had changed forever on that first day, when I stepped into those dainty shoes that gracefully extended the arch of my foot. A feeling washed through me like none I have ever experienced before, and it would tease and confuse me for decades to come. I walked tentative at first, and then with a sway of confidence that transformed my very being, or perhaps released that which was there all along.

With each tear, devoid of the pretense that manhood often dictates, I could see myself for the first time, and life was beautiful. I could hear the heartbeat of life all around me and now touch those emotions that had previously been only for the viewing -- protected, or trapped, behind the glass wall – always in sight, never within reach.

Emerging from behind the mask of a life not truly mine, yet inadvertently one of my own design, I stood naked before the world, refreshed and unafraid. I was confronted with the truth of me, as only I knew it, while others could only look on with bemused wonderment, concern or disdain. Still, after such a long journey I was surprised to find myself back at the beginning -- wiser perhaps, possessing deeper understanding of myself -- yet again searching for missing pieces of that elusive puzzle, and I realized that nothing is for certain and everything is subject to change.

The Great Hall

By Brianna Austin

Prose of love and loss like angel’s song and tiger’s fury, convey gentler days and a quest for living: it breathes before me. Sometimes in awe, I’ve stood witness to gentle inspiration evolve into glory on the run. And, if this be the choice of the undecided, then forsaken me, for I too sought the prize. Lives were revealed in grand and subtle ways. Brought forth on the wings of hope – and love - love is always present. Without it fear is all that exists and what purpose could that serve? Except, of course, to keep love and courage honest and true.

And love, a most peculiar thing. It echoes through the hallways, floating on the tongues of devils yet nurtured in the womb of sanity. It is everywhere, yet nowhere. It’s in everything, and yet nothing at all -- except the vapor of an idea that ran through me once, that calls from time to time. As for me, I’m neither sinner nor saint. I’m the observer watching the story unfold in the eyes of the innocent. Providing commentary, a memento that we were once here, in this great hall. And of those that came before, I cannot say.
No, I speak of the now, the uncertainty of such things that draws me in, compelling me to participate, whether I choose to or not. Because life waits not. And we the mighty, victorious where we stand, are alone, afraid, posing for the camera. We attempt, in our own arrogance, to orchestrate a concert of wild things while we miss the view. Still, change comes and chaos prevails in its perfect way, as it always has.

So, in the shadow of life we are left to recite prose of love and loss that fill our hearts, and enshrine our egos. Lambs are sacrificed to the creatures of the dark, and we, the mighty, still unable to understand its purpose, are nevertheless enriched by its process. Flowers continue to grow.

Copyright 2004 Brie Austin

Madness

It comes when you are not looking from out of dark placesand in moments of unknowing protects you from …..you

Should I lash out or strike back? Is it the madness that makes me want to… or is it the madness that I don't.

And if I do, who is the beneficiary? Life inhales and exhales such confusion. Friends are enemies and enemies are friends, leaving you to untangle the webs of illussion and stand naked and cold.

But, I see light, a feeling to follow, somewhere, anywhere just not here. Here the madness taunts & teases. Demons are in the air but they’re not mine, they’re someone else's on loan.

Copyright 2002 Brie Austin

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Are We Circus Elephants?

Have you ever seen circus elephants? These big magnificent animals who are capable of lifting hundreds of pounds and 'knocking over tall buildings' are teathered to a small stake in the ground. Do you ever wonder why they just don't pull up the stake and run away?

Well, when they were just little baby elephants, the circus would teather them, not to a small stake, but to a hugh pole in the ground. So, as weak little baby elephants, they did not have the strenght to pull the pole free. They soon learned that their movement was limited by the length of their chains. Once they felt the tension from the chain being stretched tight, they stopped and backed up. This limitation remained imposed in their minds even after they reached adulthood. At a time in their life when they could easily pull the stake out of the ground and escape, they docilely stop when they feel the tension of the chain.

Is this the same thing that society does those of us who are transgendered? Our chains of conformity were determined by the genetialia we displayed at birth. This determined how we were raised, how we were treated, how we were expected to act and how we were expected to dress. As babies, children, teenagers, we might have felt some differences, but most of us were not strong enough to overcome those chains. Some who did, like Gwen Araujo, paid a heavy price for breaking those chains.

So here we are as adults. Some of us have broken free and live, with or without SRS, 24/7 as women. But I suspect most of us, are still chained to some degreee. Oh, I've broken a few links and stretched the shackles enough that I can slip my foot out, dress and go out and interact with the world as a women, but at the end of the day, I slip my foot back into the shackle and chains of conformity.

Despite having tasted the freedom of being female, of womenhood, I/we are unable, or unwilling to break my chains. Does this make me/you a circus elephant?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Mexican TS Movement

The challenges ahead and current status of the Mexican TS Movement



Transsexual people exist and they can be found, as any other person, in every field of the human sphere, both public and private. They are housewives, students, aviation pilots, company owners, dancers, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, neighbors and related others. Men and women with an imposed label, human beings just as any other except in regard of their gender/sexual identity variance.

This is because, unlike the majority of the population, in which their physical body matches fully with their self-identification as man or woman, in the transsexual population the body does not match with their brain-determined sex. That is why turns out to be necessary not a change of sex, but an adjustment that enables a match between the body and the brain in order to achieve a minimum of harmony and peace with their true sexual identity. In other words, the appearance (genitalia and other characteristics) and the outerly-labeled gender aside, transsexual individuals develop from their very gestation a sexual differentiation in their brains distinct to what their anatomy indicates, reason why from their inner self they claim out loud to match their true nature with what results as a false appearance.

Sexual Identity must not be mistaken with Sexual Orientation. The former refers to the feeling of being either man or woman; the latter, to the attraction or preference towards men or women. Both concepts are related to sexuality but they are independent.

But let us clarify some more the terms at stake here. Worth to notice are the latest research in regard of the gender identity disorders (headed by Netherlands Institute for Brain Research and Free University Hospital’s Department of Endocrinology, both in Amsterdam), which go back to 1995 and even go on to the present date. The studies have demonstrated reiteratively that the upheavals in gender identity could develop as a result of an altered interaction between genetic factors, the development of the brain and the action of the sexual hormones.

The fact is that among transsexual people persists a disarray between the brain sex and the phenotypic sex. This has been shown with measurements of the nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST), which is found in the hypothalamus and is one of the sexually-dimorphic brain nucleus (an essential brain area for sexual behavior) in the human being. The studies have proved that the volume of the central subdivision of the bed nucleus of the BST (BSTc) is larger in men than in women. A female-sized BSTc was found in male-to-female transsexuals (which measures nearly half the size of male´s). The size of the BSTc was not influenced by sex hormones in adulthood and was independent of sexual orientation. This shows a female brain structure in genetically male transsexuals and supports the hypothesis that gender identity develops as a result of an interaction between the developing brain and sex hormones [see: http://www.symposion.com/ijt/ijtc0106.htm]. Posterior studies also proved the opposite in the same fashion: male-sized BSTc was found in female-to-male transsexuals.

Male-to-female transsexuals have a typically female’s brain, and vice versa in the case of female-to-male transsexuals, with all the likes/dislikes and ways of perceiving and interacting with the world that their gender usually carries with it. In Mexico however, persons who embody the also called "Gender Dysphoria" found themselves virtually alone and enclosed in a perdurable existential anguish due to countless circumstances that converge against them.

In many occasions even the very authorities –destined to preserve the equality and law enforcement– in different situations evoke the controversial "public moral" (cited in a number of Penal Codes as part of a conservative, backward macho society) in order to harass and discriminate this sector of the population. Ignorance over the image of a ´feminine man´ or a ´masculine woman´ may instigate fear with the worst possible consequences not too rarely happening. Not taken into account is the real issue at stake here: to exert (in various degrees) the free use of sexuality and the possibility of developing what is human from a physical, political and sex-genitally perspective, which happens to be different from the socially accepted expectations.

For every person, life is made of challenges to overcome, but for transsexual people in particular those handicaps (even within a country with so many urgent needs) seem even more insurmountable. In first instance their situation is insufferable because they are invisible and silenced (either by action or omission) by all kinds of institutions, laws and social customs. What most people take for granted as part of their routine, as cashing a check, asking for a phone line, entering a public sanitary or even walking down the streets, usually implies a lot of stress, anxiety and suffering for gender variant people.

That is why the Mexican Transsexual Movement demands the establishment of institutions (both public and private) which can propose a serious, effective and integral transition plan, for male-to-female and female-to-male transsexuals, through a complete and professional rehabilitation of their beings. This would involve a multidisciplinary and multidimensional intervention in fields such as: sexology, psychology/psychiatry, endocrinology/urology (hormones and surgeries), not to mention other societal relevant areas which could frame the before mentioned such as juridical, political and economical adequacies.

Organizations such as Sociedad Mexicana de Sexología Humanista Integral (SOMESHI), Caleidoscopía or the Instituto Mexicano de Sexología, pioneers in the attention of Gender Dysphoria in Mexico (while not necessarily following the HBIGDA rehabilitation standards, see: http://www.hbigda.org/) deserve a special recognition for their work. Nevertheless, even those institutions only have a handful of specialists in the area, so it is indispensable to increase their professional body and its knowledge on the latest rehabilitation techniques and, on the other hand, such models of intervention should be extended beyond the isolated individuals and within the city capital, to the society and country at large, in order to fight back the marginality, stigmatization and atomization of a large population in need of proper rehabilitation and/or reintegration (avoiding as a by-product the risky self-medication). More, better and coordinated actions from other associations and collectives with convergent purposes would help in the promotion of a legal and social change, which can result in this population’s integration as members with full rights in its society as people of distinct gender.

It is appropriate to administer a hormone replacement therapy to modify the general appearance of the body in order to match it with the mental sex (because it leads to an interaction with the world as part of the gender to which they truly belong and enhances the individual´s emotional stability and development), but maybe the most important step comes next. In this point is crucial for the transsexual person to have at hand a comprehensive structure (familiar, institutional, legal) which facilitates a reintegration towards every field of action and psychosocial development, specially taking into consideration a social discriminatory environment –which is pervasive not only vis-à-vis this sector of the population but in respect of the entire ´sexual diversity´ and other minorities in general.

Looking for or even keeping a job in front of the challenge of the gender reassignment (in accordance to the previously acquired studies, experience and capacities), counting upon social security and medical assistance, not to mention marrying with whoever person anyone may decide or having/adopting children –all of these legally, of course– are matters out of hand for this unjustly and unjustifiably marginalized population. They have rights, as any citizen of this country and of the world, but when ignored (many times even by themselves) they oftenly get at the mercy of groups and individuals who mistreat and discriminate them, both at the institutional and private levels.

It is clear that Mexico, its society and its institutions must start paying back and compensating all the systematic mistakes committed against its vulnerable groups, and among other measures the juridical framework and the public policies must be updated and adapted to the transsexual population’s needs, specially in regard of health, employment and security.

Based on the most recent statistics by the Ministry of Health of the Netherlands (1993), one of the most reliable and concerned in the world, the prevalence of the gender identity disorders, only for male-to-female transsexuals, could be as large as 1 in each 11,900 persons; however, is also known that the figures could be bigger if we notice that not every person that carries the characteristics of the said dysphoria requests professional care (both because they may not be fully aware/informed, and because even if they are they cannot be properly attended in their places of origin), not to mention that with the passage of the years there is a growing permissiveness, even in developed countries [for instance, back in 1968 the US statistics showed a prevalence of male-to-female transsexuals in the number of 1/100,000]. Given this considerations an approximate number of gender variant people in Mexico could be around 15,000 people.

The finding of the biological etiology mentioned earlier (a feminine differentiation of the male-to-female transsexuals and, vice versa) could symbolize a crucial new way to comprehend transsexuality in many respects. First, from the medical point of view: transsexuals could be rehabilitated, passing from ´mental patients´ to victims of a sexual differentiation disorder. Second, medical insurance companies could be (legally) obliged to cover the expenses of the sex reassignment, as in other cases of intersexuality. It could be demanded from the legal system that the public health care system takes care of transsexuals as it already does with other forms of intersexuality. The general public could change its attitude toward this amazing, but historic phenomenon. Even the different religious institutions could stop labeling the transsexualism as a sort of ´sin´ but as a condition.

Hence the members of the transsexual collective possess from their very birth, as any other Mexican citizen, the right to have a plentiful and happy life, and at least to have the chance of getting their self realization and let aside the invisibility in the eyes of the State, its government and society. Let us remember that what makes truly rich and diverse any human group is its diversity and plurality inborn via its people.

The debt with the Mexican Transsexual Movement/population must be justly and expeditiously resolved. The ´political class´ must consider these demands as their own as truly popular representatives, in order to forge a legal framework in which all levels of government and relevant institutions take part in coordinated public policies shaped for this particular group.

The acknowledgment of the Sexual/Gender Identity through an appropriate legislation (in the spirit of a universal trend scientifically studied, legally administered, and socially accepted and comprehended) has become a priority in multiple aspects for our country at this moment in history, and must become a reality if we are to take part in a beyond doubt (post) modern, free and democratic Republic.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Fantasy, Fetishes, Nonsense and the Twilight Zone

Recently a reader of GenderEvolve criticized the site as "nonsense". She also said that our intrepid moderator Michele was in the "Twilight Zone." It is important to understand that the critic is a contrarian who thinks that there is entirely too much positivity within the transgender community this site being a prime example. I have spent a lot of time over the last two days thinking about this. At first I was angry over what I thought was an unjustified attack on our moderator. But then I began to realize that fantasy, nonsense, too much positivity and being in the twilight zone was not such a bad thing after all.

We spend much of our fun time in this fantasy world. Cd's shower, shave, choose an outfit, put on makeup and put on a wig to create an illusion of the woman of their dreams. I like doing karaoke once in a while. You get up in front of the mike, sing and pretend you're a rock star. Turns out some of these karaoke singers are pretty good. I just don't happen to be one of them. But we can dream can't we?

Anyone who has read my other post (gender burnout) will know that I am nowhere near as enthusiastic about crossdressing and femininity as I once was. I tend to feel just as uncomfortable in the female role as the male role and find both boxes excessively restrictive. Really, I just want to be me, whoever that may be. (prickly androgyne perhaps?) I talked about this with a gg friend over dinner a few months ago. She said a lot of the dressers only got to go out once a week but I was, in effect, dressed 24/7. That was their escape, their time out with the 'gals'. I remembered this when I went out the past weekend on a little walk down memory lane at the local gay bar. Everyone was smiling, laughing, dancing and catching up on each others' lives. Personally I miss those days in fantasy land when I, too, put on a wig, makeup and a skirt and walked out the door. But I also know that even if I cut my hair short and was somehow able to grow a mustache and look like a guy again, it wouldn't recreate the magic of those earlier years. Once I reached the end of the rainbow and carried the journey through cd land as far as I cared to go, fantasy became reality and reality was not as romantic as I thought it would be ... which is not to say I wouldn't do it again if I knew then what I know now.

Fantasy becomes dangerous only when it clouds your judgment of reality. You enjoy your six months of cd adventures in public so much that you "know" that you're ready to transition. You begin the transition process in a romantic haze without thinking through the huge hurdles that lie ahead: the potential breakup of family, loss of job not to mention the financial and emotional valleys ahead. But you already knew about this anyway.

Fetishists and Fetishes: Sometimes viewed as "novice" Cd's deeply entrenched in the closet, fetishists and fetishes, in my opinion, get a bad name. (It was, after all, a fetish dating back 32 years ago that got me involved in this community in the first place.) Having lost a lot of interest in "dressing up", I find that I still haven't lost my affection for certain women's clothing as unstylish as they may be.

After my weekend outing, I spent Sunday creating a fantasy tg picture with photoshop straight out of the twilight zone. I got so absorbed I didn't take a shower until sunset. Sort of like a fishing trip. Relaxing and very satisfying. When I get a picture I like, I get 8x10 photos from the camera store and hang them on my wall. Favorites get blown up to 11x14's and larger. Some of these photos take weeks to construct. I'd venture to say that anyone who saw them would wonder what rock I crawled out from under. There's nothing bizarre or kinky. Frumpy or dorky perhaps. I pull out people from the past from fictitious places wearing clothing (which disappeared some 25 years ago) doing imaginary things. Indeed when Karen Reeves visited awhile back, she scratched her head and said, "I don't understand these pictures, but hey .... whatever floats your boat is cool with me." One person's fetish is another person's dish towel.

I gave up long ago trying to understand the whys of it all. It's just there. But I have spent hundreds of blissful hours over the last five years trying to create images of the nonsense inside my head. I remember Richard Novic of "Alice in Genderland" saying that we should all take our fantasies seriously. So when the sensible people of this world tell me I'm in the "twilight zone" and that I need a "reality check" I'll smile to myself and tell them that maybe they need a fantasy check. For fantasy is just as important as reality and, I believe, crucial to maintain that state of balance that we strive so hard to achieve. And hey, the twilight zone is a pretty cool place.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Transgenderism is a Gift!

(by Michele Angelique)

In rebuttal of the article "Receipt, Please?" by Helen Boyd, which criticizes use of the term "gender gifted", I wish to offer a differing perspective on the transgender phenomenon. I have a great deal of regard for Helen Boyd, and highly respect all that she has done and is continuing to do, for the transgender community. Yet in response to her view that transgenderism is an "insane state of affairs", her comparison of transgenderism to a disease like cancer, and point of "asking them to consider it a gift would more likely end up perverting the meaning of the word ‘gift’", I must respectfully object.

Her perception that "transness, more often than not, is a kind of niggling annoyance (at least) when it’s ignored, or a major disruption, or, at worst, leads to straight-up tragedy. That’s not to say there aren’t positive things that can come out of transness for the transperson and the partner - of course there are. But positive things come out of negative things all the time, depending on the outlook of the people making their way through the adversity", clearly relates to transness as inevitably "negative" and an "adversity".

It is undeniably true that many transpeople face adversity, more so than the average person, and less so than others. However, can it not be supposed that this adversity is exacerbated (if not directly caused) by societal rejection and the treatment they are subjected to by others? What if transpeople were at complete liberty to express themselves freely, would transness continue to create adversity for them?

I contend that it is not the transness which is the "insane state of affairs", but rather, society's lack of recognition that transwomen have a gift. Yes, a gift. They were born in male bodies, in a world with strictly defined gender roles. However, due to this gender gift, they somehow have the innate ability (and in some cases, intense need) to perceive the world through the eyes of a female. The phenomenon creates adversity in their lives because other people don't understand, and hence they are ostracized and rejected. It is society which is the "cancer", not the transgenderism.

These beautiful M2F transpeople have a wider perception than the norm. They have far greater communicative and relational ability, more empathy, compassion, than typical males. To be able to transcend the confines of male temperament and emotional boundaries, and become more soft and feminine, is a gift which precious few in the male species possess. Those who do, therefore, have an abundance of something which ordinary men lack. Namely, the gift of feminine empathy. Men who can relate on the same expanded emotional level as women, are evidence of human evolution unfolding.

If society would allow everyone, including men, the liberty to express themselves beyond the limits of stereotypical gender roles, those blessed with this expanded perception of gender would be considered "gifted".

Within the trans community, two choices exist. There are two ways to regard this transgendered state of being. You will either consider it to be a blessing or a curse in your life. It is your choice. Whatever you decide, however you regard yourselves, society will adopt the same perspective.

So I will remain steadfast in the message to my dear gender-gifted sisters...

Celebrate the Gift of Transgenderism!

Love & Light,
Michele Angelique
http://www.genderevolve.com/

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Sisters Poem

A SISTERS POEM
~~~~~~
She called to me, when I was so small.
Alone in the dark, under my bed I crawl

As a fetus I would curl, feeling the essence of her being
In a magical sea, beyond my years in dreaming

When the day broke to go outside
The dream and waking life would soon collide

It was her touch in so innocent a mind
Making the truth crash with the world outside

The world pushed me under to slowly drown
But she left me something, that would not go down

Like a lotus born under surface my life would go on
Until one day a flower would feel the sun at dawn

Like a jewel in the heart, the spirit she gave me
Now I praise my goddess for all the world to see

Her lesson is not only for those with a life stark
Let the easy notice, that none should be in the dark

Be youself, it will always be worth the cost
If others see an illusion, u will not be the one lost

Have faith! sometimes its a road with only you
You have everything you need to make it through

Truth is your light and love is your guide
You are the first to know, no one should ever hide.

We are the priestess and goddess of old
Be true to one-self and join the fold.

Love and truth are all of our gifts to give
How well can we give it, if under the surface we live?

Hold back no longer for the world needs your gift
of healing and truth and dance and spirits to lift

our contribution to the world can be greater than most
so conflict and pain may be your host

but the reward is glory and light and love
an owl of wisdom, a leopard of strength, and a white dove

Sunday, March 12, 2006

They Burned Witches Too!

So many of us suffer needlessly with feelings of low self-esteem, guilt, and embarrassment. That shouldn’t really be a surprise when our society is rooted in a belief system that has little room for anything or anybody outside the status quo. Most us were raised in that belief system. It’s ingrained in the depths of our subconscious and so to express ourselves outside the norm contradicts what we were taught. Larger groups, and even countries many times deal with conflicting views by killing each other – so apparently, the mainstream doesn’t appear to have all the answers either. After all, killing defies the very God that Christians, Muslims, and Jews (to name just a few) they say they worship. I was raised in a mixed religious household, both Jewish and Christian, which either makes me more confused, or less, I’m not sure which.

I was at a family reunion during the 4th of July weekend and was -- in my brother’s absence -- confronted with questions, and fishing expeditions, as to how I felt about my brother and his partner raising an adopted 16-month old baby. My Midwestern relatives love my brother, but don’t agree with his lifestyle, they say. The idea of a gay couple raising a child to them is “against the laws of nature.” On the more practical side they argued that a child needs a mother and a father. My brother, and gay activists would argue that a child needs love. I informed them that their approval wasn’t required, and that my brother and his partner would make great parents – and by the way, it wasn’t so long ago in Salem that they burned witches too!

I went to Sunday school, I was taught the Bible, the stories, and what it meant. Suddenly, the recent events got me to wondering who gets the privilege of determining the social order by which we are told we have to live? If time has shown us anything, it is that things evolve. One cell became two, and the world, as it was, changed. The dinosaurs no longer roamed the Earth - except of course those on the extreme right. Hey, the 50’s have come and gone, get over it, move on!

Conservative societies need to recognize that their way isn’t the only way. Transgender people have been around as long as recorded time. The thing that has caused transgender people such hardship in recent years is that they crossed the boundaries of gender expression. Some felt like woman trapped in a man’s body, some identified as feminine men, while other’s just liked to crossdress. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing, how many guys would be killing each other in their Sunday best? “War? I might get a stain my new dress, no thanks, I’ll sit this one out.” Society seems to prefer a frustrated, angry and dangerous-to-society “macho” guy as opposed to a happy man who simply likes to expresses himself with feminine things, or, a well-adjusted contributor to society who happens to be attracted to the same sex. What is it about being different that scares everyone so?

Many people outside societies description of “norm,” have felt embarrassed because they were made fun of, guilty because they were “taught” that it is wrong, and continue to believe it because it is enforced in the collective social mindset. To break the emotional and psychological chains that bind them might require a change in thinking altogether; questioning everything you’ve been taught about God, heaven, hell, society and nature. In the end the only person who can answer those and other questions … is you.

If you choose to believe what you’ve been taught, that’s fine, as long as you have questioned it, and then decided it makes sense to you. Not that you believe it because you were told to believe it. So what do you believe? Are we physical beings created by God in search of the spirituality necessary to get us into heaven, or are we spiritual beings simply experiencing a physical world? There are many books with views that go from one end of the spectrum to the other: one version describing us as eternal beings and another defining us as animals that live and die – game over.

In a world that is so marred with the here and now, it is easy to loose sight of the larger picture. We all find ourselves caught up in the drama of life, you know, the little things -- that in the end --weren’t really all that important. So I asked myself one day, “why are we here? What purpose could it serve?”

While I don’t profess to have any of these answers, I wanted to explore the possibilities. Maybe, as it has been theorized for centuries, we are born out of a collective entity, part of, yet less than God - a collective consciousness. This is not a new theory, but let’s take it a step further and ask, why then are we here, on Earth? One explanation might be that we are here to experience that which we can’t experience in our higher form: an individual body and singular consciousness. Such a thought would suggest that the “human experiment” is simply to “experience” individuality.

By experiencing what you’re not, you can better understand what you are. Coming from a united body of collective consciousness connecting all things, it would then be reasonable to understand why we as humans would feel the need, and be comfortable with, belonging to groups - whether they were ideological, social, political, racial, religious or any other like minded circle. But if the singular consciousness theory were correct then the purpose of being here would be exactly the opposite of what most of us do: to celebrate our diverse individual expressions rather than engage in “heard-like” behavior.

How does that make you feel? Does it make you afraid, or fearless? Are we limitless? When we look in the mirror, is that WHO we are, or is the body merely a taxicab to carry "us" around in this dream on Earth? Are we really then just the sum of our thoughts, love and spirit? And if we are limitless in our abilities, are we confined to a belief system based on form, which "we," the collective masses have taught ourselves? Like the Elephant who as a baby had his leg shackled to the stake in the ground, as an adult cannot shake loose the concept of not being able to break free. The idea becomes the reality.

For so long the medical and psychiatric community has tried to understand why a person is “gender dysfunctional.” What if being transgender isn’t dysfunctional at all. What if the quest to express our individually is in fact the entire object of the exercise? I don’t know the answer. But either way, I do know that if you are not ready to question everything, to discover what rings true to you, then you will always be at the mercy of someone else’s belief structure.

As always, be happy, be safe, and think pretty.Brianna Austin

http://www.briannaaustin.com/

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Lifespan Development and Aging in Transgendered Persons

Human development spans a lifetime, at least for most individuals. Humans develop physically, cognitively, intrapsychically, socially, and spiritually throughout their lives with twists and turns and critical readiness periods as they shift into each successive phase of development. Piaget explored the cognitive development in humans while Kohlberg, more specifically, addressed how humans develop morally. Freud was concerned with psychosexual development and Erikson focused on how humans develop psychosocially. Developmental theorists typically posit that humans change qualitatively not just quantitatively from one stage to the next. For example, Piaget says that thinking becomes different as humans begin to learn primarily through touch and exploration of their environment then shift to the ability to symbolize and pretend and shift again to a focus on the concrete and real to a final shift to the ability to hypothesize, plan, and problem solve. Some theorists, like Gilligan believe that cognitive development transcends the ability to reason formally and that evolved individuals learn to think post formally. Such individuals discover that there is no absolute truth and that truth depends on context and feeling rather than raw facts.

While overall, their growth may follow patterns described by these theorists, such theories seem inadequate to describe the unique sets of experiences of transgendered and bi-gendered individuals. While Erikson says that an excessive focus on how others view a person is a normal part of adolescence, for a transgendered person in his or her 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s who has is spiritually and emotionally evolved in his or her core personality, it may be surprising for her to find herself concerned that others are watching her every move. More surprising still is her focus on how she looks physically to others. How is it that a person can achieve a sense of spirituality or completeness in her core personality yet be so immature in the newly developing gender persona?

For such individuals, due to societal pressures, personality aspects that do not fit within societal norms tend to be denied, ignored, or locked away, sometimes forever. For those of us lucky enough to find a key to unlock these hidden gender parts, we may be surprised to discover that they are immature. While we may have achieved a degree of integrity in our core sense of self, we realize that transgender aspects lag way behind the core self in terms of maturational development.

Why is it that many transgendered persons seem to focus so much on their physical appearance? Are they just narcissistic adults indulging in self-gratification? In talking with others, it seems that in many cases, the only thing holding a female form together for a transgendered person is her feminine make-up, hair, and clothing. Without these, she would cease to exist physically. She would return to her male form. If she did not exist physically, would she exist at all or would she return to the dark recesses of the mind where she lied buried and dormant for years?

Along with the idea of differing rates of maturity for the core self and the developing gender aspects, the notion of aging and the transgender woman is quite intriguing. During a recent outing with other transgendered and genetic women, I had the fortune to share ideas and stories with several of the older transgendered women present. A common theme among us was that we had all begun to unlock the gender aspects of ourselves relatively later in life. We all shared the unique phenomenon of having a truncated lifespan in terms of our newly developing gender selves. What this meant was that we each in our own way, felt rushed to “do it all” in a relatively short time span. While genetic women have the luxury of developing physically from being young girls to adolescent girls to young adult women to middle age adult women and finally to older women, we started out in our gender exploration, as middle age women, at least in a physical sense. Yet we wanted to experience what is like to feel young, pretty, vibrant, and desirable, and all of this in our middle age bodies. Most of us had a sense that time war running out on us and wondered for how long would we be able to experience this sense of physical beauty? At what age would our beauty ticket expire? Fifty? Sixty? Seventy? Thus many of us felt the need to do whatever it takes to create these experiences including use of cosmetics, cosmetic procedures, life extension and alternative health measures, and the like.

Along with the idea of extending the length of beauty phase in the transgendered lifespan, the theme of physical health was discussed. All of these experiential possibilities hinged on the older transwoman staying physically vibrant and healthy enough to enjoy them. Most of the older transwomen I spoke with were optimistic that although their feminine lifespans were truncated, this disadvantage was offset by the advantages of having had the opportunity to spend time in both genders and to sample some of the breadth of experiences that life has to offer.

By Felicia Conti

Friday, March 10, 2006

Change And The Prodigal Spirit...

We exist in a natural state, bound by physical laws, and are subect to temporal forces. Within this framework, the nature of change has become a topic of great controversy, at least to our human race. It seems that so many people are averse to change, yet the world into which we are born insist on it - socially, naturally...innately.

This became a recurring theme in my own life, especially noteworthy during the initial period of my transition. With the distinct exeption of my father, my family has experienced, firsthand, the compelling drive which brings about significant change, physically, emotionally and intellectually. As both a subjective player, and objective observer, I've come to respect the personality which allows such changes to take place with relative grace.

Change, it seems, is a reaction necessitated by the realization of a finite existence. The mortal mind, being programmed with the desire for, and having fallen from, immortality seeks, from a blinded standpoint, that which it cannot achieve in a static state.

I say "blinded" because, just as information that is erased from a chalkboard leaves an impression on the medium, so has the full knowledge of our true identity as perfectly created beings been confiscated, leaving only the impression that we were destined for a far greater purpose.

Change is the mortal desire to rediscover that understanding by way of modification of this life experience. Unfortunately, the physical universe can only allow us a minute glimpse of that perfection by way of evidence of it's potential existence, but cannot - or has not - fully revealed the means by which it can be attained.

For thousands of years we have sought to understand the laws that govern our physicality, have glorified our knowledge, and have deified our glories - yet we are no closer to understanding immortality or its implications. Our imagination, which cannot, as yet, be quantified, leads us to invent wondrous tools and feats of literary prowess, and still we die.

It has only been through supernatural revelation that we have, thus far, even the most basic concept of a life outside the boundaries of our mortality.

Though I find it difficult to admit that it is here my train of thought on this subject ends, still I wonder...in fact, is it not here that our journey truly begins?
Un reflet de Lumiere,
Alysyn

This Week at GenderEvolve...

Happy Friday Beautiful Ladies!
I have been most uplifted by the lovely emails that have been flowing among my GenderEvolve sisters this week. As most of the communication has taken place in our private domain at yahoo, I would like to give a public overview of the topics brewing behind the scenes, and invite my contributing sisters to post their material publicly, here on the GenderEvolve blogsite.

I am proud that my GenderEvolve sisters recognized and discussed the International Women's Day on March 8th. I believe that transwomen can and should celebrate womanhood, including treating themselves as women, aligning with other women, and developing solidarity in femininity. This means recognizing women's issues, supporting women's causes, pondering femininism, and seeking ways to make a better world for women. Continue to do this, and over time genwomen will begin to recognize transwomen in a whole new light... one of peace, sisterhood and unity.

I am delighted that one of our newest GE sisters, Sweet, a genetic female, took the initiative to send a letter to the United Nations requesting an International Transgender Day. She demonstrated willingness to take affirmative action for positive change, not just by talking about what "should" be done, but by taking tangible measures toward the goal. Sweet's letter will be posted on GenderEvolve, as an example of what we should all be doing. There is every good reason to have an International Transgender Day, and if we all start sending letters, our voices in unison grow ever stronger. We can change the world, yet it has to be done by a group working together, like us. Let's make it happen!

I am inspired that the other of our newest GE sisters, Monica, a beautiful young TS female, is a leading supporter of the Mexican Transsexual Movement (MTM). She contributed a powerful report on the status of the MTM, discussing the needed reforms to the Mexican health care system and social environment. Her report will be available to the public on GenderEvolve in the near future.

Another of our lovely GE sisters, Felicia, posted a fascinating article relating to the lifespan development and aging of transgendered people. She delved into the psychological motivations and needs of transwomen in regard to accelerated lifestages and maturity, and described her discussions with others trans and gen women on this topic. Felicia's article gives meaningful insights on issues relevant to the majority of transwomen, and will be posted publicly soon.

Please stay tuned, as these articles will be available in the near future on GenderEvolve.

Love & Light,
Michele Angelique

Saturday, March 04, 2006

...wherein lies true beauty...

The circles. The clubs. The community profiles...

Mine is not a thorough experience by any means. In fact, I purposely withdrew from many of the stereotypical TS environs, especially those in which a large contingent of the transgender community ensconces itself in an attempt to maintain a level of comfortable acceptance in a world so apt to odium without preamble. My reasons for such a conscious detatchment have been primarily based on character.

Or, really, the apparent neglect of it.

It seems that the race which we run is replete with those who run to be seen. It's not the glory of the finish line which motivates them, but the attention of those on the sidelines cheering them on. They live for the plaudits...the acknowledgement of their participation in this oft-percieved-as marathon of habitual dislocation. They wear the mere fact of their association like a ribbon.

So where is the starting line? Is it, possibly, realization?

Once we initially become aware of our need we are heavily compelled toward actualization...sometimes at any cost. The image is all; projecting that image becomes the vanguard of our identity. Even our friends, leisurely and occupational pursuits, political leanings, spiritual beliefs, et al are drawn into the gravity well of our newly advanced singularity.

It is at this stage the problem usually arises...self-obsession.

Predicated upon the innocent exhilaration of rising through the air swiftly, discovering the vastness of the world around and below you...much like that excitement nee fear coursing though you during that first dive from the cliffs into the crystal waters below...it can all too easily reveal itself to be an addiction, and as such require substantially more each time to satisfy it.

I have seen the results of just such an advance (decline?)...extreme indulgence or extreme disconnect.

One seeks to fulfill the skewed perception of just such an addiction by overemphasizing the attributes needed to maintain the image by way of surgery and it's compliment. The other seeks a pernicious swan song. Both amount to the same thing...complete loss of self.

The need to be recognized by others tends to be crucial within the context of establishing, or having established, a healthy relationship, but beyond that is merely a symptom of narcissism. Lest we forget, Narcissus of legend fell disastrously in love with his own reflection; is not the desire for mere recognition by myriad and random others similarly reflective?

It is no accident that "Narcissism" - the degree of vanity extrapolated from the example of Narcissus' emotional disconnect - derives from the Greek root word narke, meaning "numb"...the same root of the word "Narcotic", the example of which I have already proposed.

So the question becomes not "do we cease our journey if only for the sake of truth in perspective?", but, more realistically "what truth can be salvaged from a life misconcieved?"

Narcissus, enraptured by his own image to the neglect of all others, died - by either curse or suicide - in his own self-desire and was transformed into a flower bearing his final posture...the stem bending near the blossom giving it the appearance of gazing into the pond next to which it often grows. "A transformation of vanity and self-centeredness into the humility of a more individuated and spiritual self", as one author noted.

Yet, it is this insight, of yet another author which brings to light a much deeper assertion, one that resonates with this soul..."One glance, and he was lost. He had made the great discovery: his passion, his god, his one true love...and it was his own image. I am perfection, he thought. The world begins and ends with me. All others in this world are phantoms, fleeting and devoid of meaning. They count for little, yet I endure.

"Pity this love affair was not confined to mirrors and lakes; but from that day Narcissus first saw his reflection, he began to see everything as it related to his own image. The world was his looking glass. His insatiable appetite for himself took him all over the globe, and he was invariably pleased with what he saw. He left in his path a troubling wake which slipped like a fever through te people who saw him. A West African tribe whose encounter with him led them to create a new verb, [the meaning of which is] 'to look into someone else's eyes and see the reflection of oneself.'

"The sad truth is that Narcissus was right. When he looked at his image, what he saw was, in fact, perfection; but he was wrong when he attributed it to himself. What he saw was the perfection of humanity...of creation itself. He saw it in himself, and so thought it belonged to him.

"But it belongs to no one. It is the robe of the spirits, a grand design of blood and bone, of intellect and memory, of beautiful suffering and tragic-yet-unrelenting hope. These robes are borrowed, and when we return home to the mansion of the souls we leave them at the door."

Life In Balance,
Alysyn Ayrica

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Passing? Not really. Blending. Maybe? Acceptance, even better!

Reprinted from my personal blog.
PART 1
Hey Everyone!
DISCLAIMER: As most of you know, I do not place a large importance on pictures. Admittedly, I do have a few scattered around the web. I keep them as a way to review my progress over the years and to work on different looks. This blog will deal in part with pictures, I apologize up front and I am in no way condoning the inflated status pictures seem to take in our community. Enough with my disclaimer, here goes!
I get a few less than genuine e-mails now and again, and most of them end up in the delete file. I got one the other day that at first looked like a delete candidate (in fact I did delete it), but after thinking about the meaning of the e-mail I had a change of heart. The e-mail was in response to some pictures I have over at Flickr. The e-mail was one sentence and it read “It took me a few pictures but I finally figured it out.”
After thinking about it for a good while, I had two thoughts. First, that was a nice thing for them to have said, and two, that statement really describes the most a CD can hope for. No matter how well you feel you “pass” most CD’s will be “read” if they are looked at long enough. Pictures are much different from going out in public, but the premise generally remains the same. When I am out or when someone who does not know I am TG sees my picture they will most likely never give it or me a second look. Why you ask? Rest assured it is not because of my looks! Most folks are just too busy in their own lives to give me a second thought, much less actually notice or look me over. Others look, but only casually and without scrutiny and they see exactly what they expect to see….a woman (meaning I am dressed like a woman and acting like one so they take it at face value that I am one). Those 2 groups account for about 98% of the general population. The last 2% will look you up and down and check out every mannerism and feature. Those are the ones that figure it out. It has been my experience that if they are looking so intently that maybe they are a bit understanding or compassionate or are maybe a bit curious. About 90% of the above mentioned 2% fall into one of those categories. It is the remaining 10% of the original 2% that is a TG’s worst nightmare. The good news is that these folks are few and far between. I have had but one or two unpleasant experiences in my time out and about. What can we do to help ourselves when the inevitable happens? When you are read, and it will happen I promise, how YOU react to it will determine how the other person reacts. Smile at them and make them feel at ease. Engage them in conversation if the setting is appropriate and they want to. Until you show them that there is nothing to be “scared” of you will be a mystery to them. Do your best to remove that mystery. By the way, you will be doing your unofficial, but all important, job as a TG ambassador (Thanks KC) to the general public. What could be better than that?
Peace
Shari Williams

PART 2
Hi Everyone
After posting my blog about passing or blending I have received numerous comments and I also had a nagging feeling I had forgotten something. The comments all pointed out essentially the same thing; that is we all get read and some point when we are out and about so you have to deal with it. That being said, if you are going to go out you then you need to learn to deal with it. How you deal with it is your own choice, but if you can think of it as “the cost of doing business” then it becomes much easier to accept and deal with. Sure every now and again it can be painful, maybe even down right depressing, but remember you are out there infemme and that is a major accomplishment itself. Walk proud, and hold your head high with confidence and most folks will, if for no other reason respect you for your projection of confidence. The second thing I neglected to say was that there may be another reason that we may feel we seem to pass or blend at times….acceptance. How was I so blind to not see that! Maybe, just maybe, we are getting to a point that a TG individual walking down the street is accepted as a person like the rest of us. Maybe, just maybe the acceptance many of us have been working toward over the years is coming to fruition. On of my blog readers, who is a married non–TG individual, spoke of just such an event when he and his family saw a CD during a family outing. No snickers, sneers or staring, just simple acceptance for the TG individual being themselves, nothing makes me happier than that! Thanks everyone for keeping me honest and for reading my blog in the first place. And hey, let’s keep working together for more acceptance of our community. Remember, put a human, compassionate and caring face on the TG community and you will have done your part in furthering acceptance for us all!
Peace
Shari Williams