Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Rainbow Between

A dear transgender friend confided in me about steps she is taking to become more feminine in appearance, including a planned first visit to the doctor to inquire about hormone therapy. She asked my opinion whether it's ok to be on female hormones without knowing for sure whether to live full time as a woman. Here's what I told her, plus a bit more...

While no one but you can say what's right for you, I think being true to yourself is step #1. Not everyone else will agree with your decisions, yet you are the only person who must live within your skin, so you are the only person who can decide what makes you happy. Don't let anyone tell you this is selfish, because it's not. Once you are happy within yourself, you will overflow with positive energy which benefits everyone else around you. As the happiest person you can be, you will bring forth joy and harmony to others.

My opinion is that gender is not binary, not just male OR female. The rainbow in-between the two gender polarities is a beautiful space. Some people are truly and happily male AND female, ie: bi-gendered, ambi-gendered, gender gifted, transgenderist. I do not believe it is manditory to choose one gender or the other. Hence, my opinion is that changing aspects of yourself to be more feminine, while still keeping your male identity in-tact, is perfectly ok. Some people enjoy walking the gender line, openly exhibiting the "best of both worlds". What a blessing, to enjoy the benefits of experiencing both genders.

I don't feel that you must be moving in any direction, transitioning "to" one gender or "away from" the other. I think it's ok to just BE who you are, living in this moment, without needing to plan in advance exactly who you will be in 2 years from now. If permanent full time woman is right for you, great! If you prefer to embody a combination of both genders, great! If you want to remain just as you are, and change nothing, great! The only person who has to live happily in your skin darling, is you.All this being said, unfortunately this is only my opinion, and I'm not a doctor. As it stands, the medical community still views gender from a binary perspective.

According to Harry Benjamin Standards of Care, which is widely followed as the medical protocal for treating trans people, there are several criteria for a genetic male to be "permitted" to receive medical assistance to become more feminine in appearance. I am afraid if you tell the doctors you are unsure whether you want to live full time as a woman, they may not prescribe hormones to you or facilitate a "partial" transition.

It might be necessary to affirm to the doctor an intense desire to become female in appearance and live full time as a woman. Chances are you will have to conform to the rest of their "diagnostic criteria" if you want them to help you. If you show any indecision, they will probably not prescribe hormones as you are hoping. I wish things were different, but for now psychology still views trans from a fairly limited perspective.

So even though you may have to ascribe to the criteria in order to be treated fairly, please know in your heart of hearts: you are not disordered, you do not need to be fixed, you are not broken. You are a beautiful soul with an expanded gender awareness. Like most gifted people, you are misunderstood. Yet misunderstanding transforms into understanding as we move forth in evolution of humanity. The more transgender people who shine their lights, the brighter the spark of understanding that will come... and believe me, it is already happening.

One day not so long from now, people will look back on today in amazement at the way present society judges and discriminates based upon superficialities like skin color or genital form. The best you can do is just BE your most beautiful self, whatever that means to you. Let no one stand in judgement of you for shining your truest light.

Love & blessings,

Monday, October 30, 2006

Victims Or Villains?

(Reprinted from briannaaustin.com)

Too many times the TG community gets dumped on. Whether it is by an internally frustrated homophobic alpha male, a catty gay man, a mean spirited Lesbian woman or just a clueless tourist, the community does endure more than it’s share of crap. But, are we perpetual victims? Do we need to be?

This past September there was quite an incident at East of Eighth, a neighborhood bar & restaurant at 254 West 23rd Street in New York City. I know the place quite well. I used to co/own, promote and host a trans-party there once a month. We would convert the upstairs restaurant into a trans-party that usually drew between 100 – 160 people on the 2nd Saturday of each month. The party often spilled into the down stairs bar where Jack was pouring drinks, and it was a great time.

My friends and I would go to the downstairs bar every week, usually Friday and/or Saturday to start off our evening, before heading into the night for clubs unknown. We liked the staff, management, and clientele, and they liked us. Word began to spread and before long we started seeing more and more girls coming there to have dinner or party at the bar.

I used to joke that when they built East Of Eighth, my friend Jamie was already sitting at the bar. She was a regular and got along with everyone. On this particular night, she leaned into the bartender and said, “wow, Jack, it looks like tranny central in here!” Without warning Jack exploded into a verbal tirade loud enough for all the girls to hear. His words made it obvious that they were no longer welcomed there. His frustrations, which had been apparently brewing for some time, included that the girls, 1) were tying up the two bathrooms to change and do their makeup, 2) using the bar as a meeting area, but not ordering anything (some girls even brought there own) 3) not tipping appropriately, 4) and lastly, coming in such numbers that the good paying gay customers were staying away. They should have read my article “How To Survive the Gay Bar.”

The outrage from the T-community was swift and harsh; calling for Jack’s job and lawsuit. The emails were flying around the community and everyone was jumping into the fray. Some called for calm while others suggested negotiations and bar-wide conditions be set. Then there was those still on the warpath calling for staged protests.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. When the dust settled down the protest idea was losing steam, but the conversations about getting the bartender fired and a possible lawsuit were still quite potent. Another suggestion was for the bar to change some policies; suggestions were offered. These included putting signs in the bathrooms to remind people to limit their time there, and start a bar-wide 2- drink minimum.

I’m sorry did I miss something? Would you go to a restaurant as a man and use their bathroom to shave? Would you bring your own liquor with you? Are we children? Do we need signs to tell us how to act like grown ups? Unfortunately a few T-girls lacked some common courtesy that caused this mess, but the community jumped in on the “We’ve been discriminated on” bandwagon. Although some of the suggestions -- in the heat of battle -- had good intentions, we as a community need to understand that by making those suggestions we are actually saying, “we are different, treat us differently,” while we chant, “treat us fairly, we’re just like everyone else.” The trouble is you can’t have it both ways.

East of Eighth was a bar that welcomed the t-community for years with open arms. For some t-girls it was their first steps into the mainstream. The bar didn’t just decide to change their position against the t-community without cause. This incident should be a wake up call: If you choose to go into the mainstream you have to act accordingly. If you can’t then you hurt your fellow sisters, so stay home in the closet!

We have to stop playing the victim and continually using the trans discrimination bandwagon: or we will wear out the wheels. There are real discrimination cases across the globe where people loose jobs, face mental and physical abuse, and in some cases die. What happened at East of Eighth was tranny stupidity, pure and simple. So here’s an action we can take: “Get a grip, grow up and get over it!” But, most importantly, learn from it.

Until Next TIme,
Get out, be safe, have fun and always .... think pretty!
Brianna Austin

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Consulting Heart And Mind

Each of the myriad decisions we make every day has the potential to have a deep impact on our lives. Some choices touch us to our very cores, awakening poignant feelings within us. Others seem at first to be simple but prove to be confusingly complex. We make the best decisions when we approach the decision-making process from a balanced emotional and intellectual foundation. When we have achieved equilibrium in our hearts and in our minds, we can clearly see both sides of an issue or alternative. Likewise, we can accept compromise as a natural fact of life. Instead of relying solely on our feelings or our rationality, we utilize both in equal measure, empowering ourselves to come to a life-affirming and balanced conclusion.

Balance within and balance without go hand in hand. When you are called upon to choose between two or more options, whether they are attractive or distasteful, you should understand all you can about the choice ahead of you before moving forward. If you do not come to the decision from a place of balance, you risk making choices that are irrational and overly emotional or are wholly logical and don't take your feelings into account. In bringing your thoughts and emotions together during the decision-making process, you ensure that you are taking everything possible into account before moving forward. Nothing is left up to chance, and you have ample opportunity to determine which options are in accordance with your values.

Though some major decisions may oblige you to act and react quickly, most will allow you an abundance of time in which to mull over your choices. If you doubt your ability to approach your options in a balanced fashion, take an extended time-out before responding to the decision. This will give you the interlude you need to make certain that your thoughts and feelings are in equilibrium. As you practice achieving balance, you will ultimately reach a state of mind in which you can easily make decisions that honor every aspect of the self.

From DailyOm.com

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Leslie Feinberg continues to break gender barriers

By Jillian A. Bogater
Originally printed 10/26/2006 (Issue 1443 - Between The Lines News)

"Trans Gender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come" by Leslie Feinberg
It was during the Stonewall riots of 1969 that acclaimed author and trans activist Leslie Feinberg came out.

During this time of war and unemployment, Feinberg began a long journey as a warrior in identity politics.

Some 36 years later, the country's political and economic climate is similar, and Feinberg is still on the front lines fighting for freedom of gender expression.

Feinberg straddles the lines of defined gender - preferring to use neutral pronouns such as hir and sie - and has dedicated hir life to challenging transgender bias.

Feinberg will talk about hir new novel "Drag King Dreams" and address the struggle for trans liberation in an era of war, racism and reaction tonight at Wayne State University.

At a recent talk at the Workers World Party office in Detroit, Feinberg spoke about gender as a class issue.

Using hir strong union background, Feinberg suggested the gay rights movement may be making a huge mistake by focusing only on marriage rights. Instead, Feinberg visualizes a collective bargaining approach, gathering a comprehensive list of LGBT community demands, then starting dialogue from that point.

Also, the marketplace move toward globalization has created working classes around the world that have the ability to unite for mass workers' rights.

"We are going to take over our economy and run it for working people," sie said. "That's what it means to be revolutionary. Every struggle is important. ... As revolutionaries we say we are not going to stop fighting until every battle is won."

Feinberg recently spoke with BTL Managing Editor Jillian A. Bogater about the past, present and future of the transgender movement.

Between The Lines: Years ago, a good portion of the lesbian scene was split into butch/femme roles. Do these dynamics still exist today, and if so, how are they the same or different?

Leslie Feinberg: The butch and femme lesbians and drag queens and their butch partners were the only visible tip of the population of what is today an LGBT movement. As communities oppressed for our gender, as well as our sexuality, it took great courage for us all to forge communities. Because we organized and fought back, we helped to win many rights for all LGBT people. I don't think the same kind of communities exist today. And there is a lot of gender-phobia towards butch/femme desire that we still need to confront. While at the same time, today many genders/sexes and sexualities are more out and more proud and offer more understanding of how many ways there are to be LGBT.

BTL: How has the trans movement changed in your lifetime?

LF: It's not the first time in history that people oppressed because of how they live in their sex or express their gender have fought back or led battles or organized. But I have lived to see this modern struggle emerge and it has done so in a period of deep political reaction. I look forward to seeing it grow and develop even more bonds of solidarity with other movements.

BTL: It seems the last 10 years have been pivotal in the trans revolution. What do you thing spurred this change?

LF: That, I can't say. I'm not sure there's just one easy answer. But wherever there is oppression, resistance will ultimately break out.

BTL: The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival has evolved into a flashpoint for modern-day debate on trans inclusion. What does the debate mean for trans rights?

LF: The owners of the land have put forward a theoretical formulation: Women born women. It's regressive and dangerous. It's a "biology determines destiny" approach that denies the reality of the existences of many trans communities and also does great harm to women's liberation as a whole. I wrote more about this in a chapter entitled "Sisterhood: Make It Real!" in "Transgender Warriors" (Beacon).

BTL: Some FTMs distance themselves from the trans movement after transitioning. Is this internalized transphobia?

LF: It's important to understand what he is saying. He is a man. That's a very clear statement. It's not internalized transphobia. It's the external transphobia that is trying to deny his manhood. We need to pay attention.

BTL: Is there a power tradeoff for MTF trans folk?

LF: Here I want to make very clear that I am transgender and I want to be the best fighter I can be in defense of my transsexual sisters and brothers. Transmen and transwomen are in the crosshairs of oppression. Let's start with that reality and find ways to build greater solidarity.

BTL: What do you think fuels transphobia?

LF: That very question - "what are the roots of transphobia and genderphobia?" - is what I went searching for my whole life. I can tell you that I have found gender diversity and sex reassignment and intersexuality on every continent in every historical period.

But it wasn't until the cleaving of human society into have and have-nots economic classes that I found the earliest patriarchal edicts separating the sexes, overturning the historic role of females, punishing or executing intersexual individuals, defining gender roles, policing the boundaries of gender expression, and making sexuality a matter of state repression.

That history is presented in the most accessible way I possibly could, with more than 100 photos and illustrations, in "Transgender Warriors." I invite you as the reader to explore this history because it has a big impact on how we find ourselves at this moment in time -- "how we got here" -- and which way forward to the future. I also invite you to read my series "Lavender & Red" which deals with the demand for an end to the oppression of people based on sexuality, gender and sex and the revolutionary movements of the last century and a half. That series is up on www.workers.org. Look for the Lavender & Red logo.

BTL: What do you see for the future of the trans movement?

LF: The future will depend on what we do today!

Jillian A. Bogater is managing editor of Between The Lines. You can reach her at jillianbogater@pridesource.com.

"Drag King Dreams"
By Leslie Feinberg
Carroll & Graf Publishers
303 pages
Now available at www.leftbooks.com
Other books by Leslie Feinberg:
Stone Butch Blues: A Novel
Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue

Restroom Madness

In a recent article in Newsday, a writer asks advise on how to deal with a male-to-female transsexual that is in transition at work. The writer, a man, was taken back and uncomfortable when "Karen" exited the men's room.

I had to laugh because usualy the yells are from TSs using the ladies room, as if transwomen were somehow invading and violating holy ground. We've all been reading about such confrontations nationwide. Why "Karen" was in the men's room is any one's guess; perhaps it was company policy, perhaps being known at work previously as a man she was trying not to intrude into the ladies room until her transition was complete.

But it does make one wonder what the eventual solution will be. Perhaps if we all just start peeing in the hallways the "normal" people will allow us to finally use a restroom without screaming foul.

"Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund announced Monday that it has reached an agreement with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City that allows people to use MTA public restrooms in accordance with their gender expression." Source: Advocate.com

Monday, October 23, 2006

Psychologists now know what makes people happy

Source: USA Today
Date: 12/10/2002

By Marilyn Elias

the key to happiness?

The happiest people surround themselves with family and friends, don't care about keeping up with the Joneses next door, lose themselves in daily activities and, most important, forgive easily.

The once-fuzzy picture of what makes people happy is coming into focus as psychologists no longer shun the study of happiness. In the mid-'90s, scientific journals published about 100 studies on sadness for every one study on happiness.

Now a burgeoning "positive psychology" movement that emphasizes people's strengths and talents instead of their weaknesses is rapidly closing the gap, says University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman, author of the new book, Authentic Happiness. The work of Seligman and other experts in the field is in the early stages, but they are already starting to see why some people are happy while others are not: The happiest people spend the least time alone. They pursue personal growth and intimacy; they judge themselves by their own yardsticks, never against what others do or have.

"Materialism is toxic for happiness," says University of Illinois psychologist Ed Diener. Even rich materialists aren't as happy as those who care less about getting and spending.

Because the December holidays are friend- and family-oriented, they painfully reveal the intimacy missing in some lives, Diener says. Add in the commercial emphasis - keeping up with the Joneses and the Christmas enjoyed by the Joneses' kids - "and it's a setup for disappointment," he says. And yet some people manage to look on the bright side, even if they lose their jobs in December. Others live in darkness all year for no apparent reason. A person's cheer level is about half genetic, scientists say.

Everyone has a "set point" for happiness, just as they do for weight, Seligman says. People can improve or hinder their well-being, but they aren't likely to take long leaps in either direction from their set point.

Even physical health, assumed by many to be key to happiness, only has an impact if people are very ill. Objective health measures don't relate to life satisfaction, but subjective feelings do. Plenty of healthy people take their health for granted and are none the happier for it, Diener points out. Meanwhile, the sickly often bear up well, and hypochondriacs cling to misery despite their robust health.

Good feelings aren't "all in the head," though. Actions matter, just not in the way often believed.

Life satisfaction occurs most often when people are engaged in absorbing activities that cause them to forget themselves, lose track of time and stop worrying. "Flow" is the term Claremont Graduate University psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced cheeks-sent-mee-hi) coined to describe this phenomenon.

People in flow may be sewing up a storm, doing brain surgery, playing a musical instrument or working a hard puzzle with their child. The impact is the same: A life of many activities in flow is likely to be a life of great satisfaction, Csikszentmihalyi says. And you don't have to be a hotshot to get there.

"One of the happiest men I ever met was a 64-year-old Chicago welder with a fourth-grade education," he says. The man took immense pride in his work, refusing a promotion to foreman that would have kept him from what he loved to do. He spent evenings looking at the rock garden he built, with sprinklers and floodlights set up to create rainbows.

Teenagers experience flow, too, and are the happiest if they consider many activities "both work and play," Csikszentmihalyi says. Flow stretches someone but pleasurably so, not beyond his capacity. "People feel best when doing what they do best," he says.

Everyone has "signature strengths," Seligman adds, and the happiest use them. Doing so can lead to choices that astound others but yield lasting satisfaction.

Signature strengths

That's what happened to Greg and Tierney Fairchild. He was a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia, and she'd already earned a Ph.D., when they learned that the child she was carrying had Down syndrome, along with a serious heart defect requiring surgery.

In the Fairchilds' intellectual circle of friends, some viewed having a retarded child as unthinkable - and let them know it. Lots of people, including some family members, assumed they'd opt for abortion. After thoroughly exploring all the angles - medical, practical and emotional - they decided to keep their daughter, Naia.

"We're pro-choice, so it's not that we wouldn't get an abortion under some circumstances, or think that others could make a different choice here," Greg says.

They were leading with their strength. An interracial couple, they both had long histories of taking bold, less traveled paths rather than following the parade.

Greg was the first black on his high school track team at a Southern, mostly white school; he became student body president. Tierney was the only MBA student at her university also getting a Ph.D. in education because she wanted to train executives.

And they chose each other, despite all the stares of bigots they knew they'd face forever.

"We haven't shied away from tough choices," Greg says, "and we've been able to persevere through some difficulties other people might not have been able to."

Tierney says, "We thought having Naia would be a challenge, but we really wanted her, and just because something's a challenge, I'm not the type to turn away."

Their struggles are depicted in the new book, Choosing Naia by Mitchell Zuckoff.

That was a few years ago. Now Naia is a 4-year-old people magnet with a great sense of humor, the first Down syndrome child to be "mainstreamed" at the preschool for University of Virginia staff. (Greg teaches in the business school.) She walked late, talked late and is potty-training late - just as her parents expected. "And so what?" Tierney asks. "She's brought us a huge amount of joy because she's such a happy child."

Tierney, who is manager of executive education at United Technologies Corp., feared she'd have to quit work to care for Naia, but that wasn't necessary. Tierney and Greg gave Naia a baby brother, Cole, 22 months ago. "We're so grateful for these kids," Greg says.

Gratitude helps

Gratitude has a lot to do with life satisfaction, psychologists say. Talking and writing about what they're grateful for amplifies adults' happiness, new studies show. Other researchers have found that learning to savor even small pleasures has the same effect. And forgiveness is the trait most strongly linked to happiness, says University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson.

"It's the queen of all virtues, and probably the hardest to come by," he adds.

'More fun, less stuff'

There's also evidence that altruistic acts boost happiness in the giver. That doesn't surprise Betsy Taylor, president of the Center for a New American Dream, a Takoma Park, Md., non-profit that favors simple living and opposes commercialism. "The altruism part is worth keeping in mind over the holidays," Taylor says. "Our mantra is 'more fun, less stuff.' Do for others, we say."

Karen Madsen, 51, of Everett, Wash., is a believer. For several years, she's organized local families to buy holiday gifts for needy foster children. Madsen sinks in about $1,000 herself, often trimming her own kids' Christmas haul to do it. "You'd see these notes from foster kids, 'I don't really need anything, but my little sister needs a coat because she's cold.' "

Her son, William Shepherd, a high school senior, doesn't mind. "It's a lot of fun to go shopping for their toys," he says. "I have enough, and it feels good to make sure other people can enjoy the holidays, too."

Many parents would be amazed that a kid could be happy to get less, but surprise is the name of the game with happiness. People aren't very good at predicting what will make them happy, cutting-edge research shows.

Even Seligman, the happiness maven, tells how he wanted no more children - he already had two grown ones - and his current wife wanted four, "so we compromised at four," he says. His book reveals he's besotted with these kids and marvels at them daily. "I just didn't know," he says.

None of us knows, says Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert. "There's a reason why Euripides said, 'It would not be better if men got what they wanted.' " People expect that events will have a larger and more enduring impact on them - for good or ill - than they really do, Gilbert's studies find.

People tend to rationalize bad things, quickly adapting to new realities. They also visualize future events in isolation, but real life teems with many experiences that dilute the impact of any one. This means winning the lottery doesn't make people's lives stellar, but they recover from romantic breakups much quicker than expected.

"If you knew exactly what the future held, you still wouldn't know how much you would like it when you got there," Gilbert says. In pursuing happiness, he suggests "we should have more trust in our own resilience and less confidence in our predictions about how we'll feel. We should be a bit more humble and a bit more brave."

Go To Good Drug Guide
The Good Drug Guide
mental health in the third millennium

Negativity Bias
Drug Companies
Just For Chemists
Pain and Rejection
The End Of Suffering
Television and Mood
Hardwired Happiness?
The Pursuit of Happiness
Depression and Chronic Pain
Quotations About Happiness
Health, Wealth and Happiness
The Futile Pursuit of Happiness?
Happiness and Modern Medicine
Big Pharma and Madison Avenue
Happiness: the Recipe for Success
Happiness: a Buddhist Perspective
Happy Images Make Depressed People Sad
Happiness, Homeostasis and The Hedonic Treadmill

Monday, October 16, 2006

Seeing Beyond The Unknown

Fear Of Losing What We Have

One of humanity's biggest fears is losing what we have. It is healthy when fear of loss helps us take steps to protect what we have worked hard to attain, but it is unhealthy to continue to fear something we can do nothing about. We need to remember that focusing our energy on fear can actually create what scares us, and holding tightly to what we have keeps us from participating in the universal flow of abundance and instead creates stagnation. Since we can only really control our thoughts and our responses, gaining proper perspective may be key to conquering such fears.

The letters of the word "FEAR" can be used to stand for "False Evidence Appearing Real." Fears of being separated from something or someone we feel we need for our security or happiness comes from a delusion - a distorted way of understanding ourselves and the world around us. When we understand that possessions are only representations of the energy at work in our lives, we can shift our attention to the right and proper place. We can stop fearing loss of money or success because when we understand how it is created, we can always create more. We can stop fearing loss of possessions when we realize that they are not the source of our joy or well-being but only icing on our cakes. And when we understand the energy of love, we need not hold anyone too close for fear of losing them for we know that love does not diminish when it is given or shared but expands beyond boundaries of time or space.

By focusing our light on our fears, they are revealed as mere shadows that disappear in the presence of mind and spirit. We can choose instead to direct our thoughts and creative power toward things of true value - love, abundance, peace, passion, and joy. These are energies that are always available to us when we place ourselves confidently in the universal flow of abundance.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

How Carly Fiorina lost her gender groove

Click here for Carly Fiorina's own comments about being publicly fired from her position as CEO of Hewlett Packard

Maureen Dowd, New York Times
October 15, 2006

CARLY Fiorina prided herself on being adept at succeeding in a man's world without whining about sexism.

In her new memoir, "Tough Choices," the expelled CEO of Hewlett-Packard - the first female head of a Fortune 20 company - describes how she insisted on going along to a business meeting at a Washington strip club when she started out as an ambitious young woman at AT&T.

"I was scared to death," she writes, adding that she wore her most conservative dress-for-success business suit and little bow tie, carried her briefcase like "a shield of honor" and repeated the mantra, "I am a professional woman," even when her cabdriver asked her if she was the new act for the club, where babes in see-through negligees danced on tables.

"In a show of empathy that brings tears to my eyes still," she recounts, "each woman who approached the table would look the situation over and say: "Sorry, gentlemen. Not till the lady leaves."

On her first day at HP, she proclaimed, "The glass ceiling doesn't exist." But she now concedes that the glass trapdoor might.

"I think somehow men understand other men's need for respect differently than they understand it for a woman," Fiorina told Lesley Stahl on "60 Minutes."

The male-dominated board's handling of her exit was "heartless in some ways and disrespectful in other ways," she said. "Maybe they took great pleasure in seeing me beat up publicly for weeks and weeks."

Other controlling blondes, like Hillary Clinton, Martha Stewart and Tina Brown, were slapped back after great success (in a trend that The Times' Alessandra Stanley dubbed blondenfreude), and Fiorina now thinks she was victimized by gender.

"In the chat rooms around Silicon Valley, from the time I arrived until long after I left HP, I was routinely referred to as either a "bimbo" or a "bitch," she writes. "Too soft or too hard, and presumptuous, besides." She adds: "I watched with interest as male CEOs fired people and were hailed as "decisive." I was labeled "vindictive."

She reels off things that offended her: The editor of Business Week asked her if she was wearing an Armani suit. She felt adjectives such as "flashy," "glamorous" and "diamond studded" were meant to make her seem superficial. (Who doesn't like being called glamorous?) Stories referred to her by her first name. There was "painful commentary" that she'd chosen not to have children because she was "too ambitious."

"When I finally reached the top, after striving my entire career to be judged by results and accomplishments," she concludes, "the coverage of my gender, my appearance and the perceptions of my personality would vastly outweigh anything else."

Maureen Dowd is a columnist for The New York Times.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Peace Revolution

(by Alysyn Ayrica)

"Many men cry Peace! Peace! but they refuse to do the things that make for peace."
~~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

An open insight for the skeptic: there is truly nothing new, except the ability to progress beyond the old.

The way of peace has been taught in all the ages of the earth, yet we have, historically, relied on treaties between nations, cultural domination, or moral imposition within our societies in an attempt to establish an enforced peace.

All of these, though idealogical, are based on the physicality of mankind. The truth is, there are no physical tools which can effect the desired result that every thoughtful human has sought for the whole of humanity - a true and lasting peace.

The reason we, as a species, have found only short-lived moments of peace in this world is simple - peace must begin within each of us before it can be manifest in the world. We often hear of the indominable spirit of human beings bandied about in reference to conflict, but it is, in fact, the spirit of each and every human on this planet that holds the power to effect change, not the body.

As spiritual beings, it is the core of our thoughts and feelings which will bring about the reality we wish to experience. This is true in both the positive and the negative. If our thoughts are emotionally directed toward something, war for instance, then war is given the energy to manifest, as is disease, poverty, and any number of phenomena we find undesireable.

Jesus once asked the apostle Paul, when he was still the Jewish zealot Saul, why he persisted in "kicking against the goads", referring to his persecution of Christians. Now, a goad was a sharp instrument used by farmers to compel the animal pulling a plow to continue moving. For the animal to fight it, or "kick against it", would only drive it further into it's backside. With this being the offered metaphor, the question Jesus asked was implying that the more Paul fought what was then only a movement, the more it's influence would be felt.

The crucial consideration given in this seemingly simple question is this: the more we struggle against something, the more energy we give to it's continued existence...or, as Carl Jung pointed out so succinctly, "What we resist persists."

We struggle against violence, and violence increases. We protest war, and war is manifest. We declare our passions against poverty, drugs, abuse, and any number of problems which threaten our well being, and these same gain strength in our society and in the world at large.

In fact, this phenomenon is a well known aspect of a universal law, known today as the Law of Attraction. Directly applied, it opens to us the understanding that our thoughts, intensified by our emotional attachement to them, shape the reality we experience.

As we move through our existence rightfully taking notice of those things in our world which are contradictory to our intuitive sense of life and goodness, our typical response is usually an expressed desire to see those things eliminated from our existence so as to allow that same goodness and life to reign. We are quick to rail against it, expressing our hatred or disgust at it's effect on our lives. Some of us even attend rallys or organize protests in opposition to them. We recognize in this activity that human beings, in their natural state, are desirous of a peaceful existence.

So the dilemma is not, as I have pointed out, in our intentions, but in the focus of our emotions regarding the aspirations of peace. We have, in our attempts to redirect our world from the barbarism of it's youth, only driven the warrior deeper into the consciousness of our human kin by misdirecting our emotions regarding human conflict.

A Revolution is long overdue, but the quest for change must not be founded in a new politick or ideology; those are temporary and dissention is at the core of their mechanics. The revolutions of the past have all been substitutionary efforts, founding one crumbling civilization upon the decay of another. What is needed is not a substitute for our current way of life, but a new structure which departs from the old fundamentally.

We human beings are infinite in our capacity to imagine, therefore our ability to create is unlimited in it's scope. As such, there are no boundaries to how much change we can effect if our desire is truly for such change. But, first, we should not desire an immediate abandonment of the old, but to establish a balance of old and new energies. All human beings deserve to be able to choose their enlightenment, and as the world moves toward peace the choice should be manifested in an established model.

We have lived for too long in the model of the old energy of confusion and turbulence, and have now come to this place where we desire a new understanding. Instead of a revolution founded in war and strife, we need a revolution of peace, founded in the daily individual consideration of life, and living in harmony with one another. Instead of taking up arms, let us take the reigns of our hearts and minds and change how we percieve one another in all things. The institutions we need to topple are the projected thoughts and emotions we sometimes take for granted on a daily basis.

Effectually, we need to direct our thoughts toward peace, not against war. War will find no place in a world where it's inhabitants desire only peace and war has become simply an academic concept that holds sway no longer over the desires of the heart.

Yet, initially, the structure of the old energy must be allowed to coexist with the new, that it's continued deterioration may be an example to future generations of it's futility. To descry it or disdain it will only give strength to it's continuance; instead, it should be allowed to fall by the wayside as it becomes void in the lives of many.

Make no mistake, whether we become revolutionaries for change, or remain in direct opposition to it by nature of our insistence on continuing our defeated thinking, we are all participants in the peace revolution.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Spain moving from macho to gender equality

By Molly Moore, The Washington Post

MADRID — When María Teresa Fernández de la Vega graduated from law school in the 1970s, Spanish law banned her — and any other woman — from becoming a judge, serving as a witness in court or opening a bank account.

Today, the angular, outspoken 57-year-old is Spain's first female vice president, helping orchestrate a cultural revolution in the boardrooms and living rooms of the country that coined the word machismo — male chauvinism — five centuries ago.

"We have a prime minister who not only says he's a feminist — he acts like a feminist," Fernández said. "In two-and-one-half years, we have done more than has ever been done in such a short time in Spain."

Her Socialist government is requiring political parties to allot 40 percent of their candidate lists to women and is telling big companies to give women 40 percent of the seats on corporate boards. Half of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríquez Zapatero's Cabinet members are women — the highest proportion in any government in Europe.

New divorce laws not only make it easier for couples to split, but stipulate that marital obligations require men to share the housework equally with their wives.

Women recruits

To draw more women into the armed forces, the government is shrinking the height requirements for women entering the National Guard and opening child-care centers on military bases.

Not even the royal family is immune: Zapatero wants to abolish the law giving male heirs first rights to the throne.

The push for gender equality in one of Europe's most macho cultures comes as both internal and outside forces are creating seismic social shifts: Spanish women are taking greater control of their own lives by waiting longer to marry and having fewer children. The European Union is exerting more pressure on members to enforce equality. And the growth of high-tech businesses with a greater sensitivity to hiring women is expanding job opportunities.

The chief executive officers of Spain's IBM, Microsoft and Google operations are all women. Microsoft chief Rosa Maria Garcia, 40, a mother of three, said she has mandated that no company meetings be scheduled before 8:30 a.m. or after 5:30 p.m. — a revolutionary move in a country where workdays routinely stretch until 9 or 10 p.m.

Despite the advances, Fernández said, "There is resistance. We have a long way to go."

Business organizations are attacking the proposed quotas for women on corporate boards.

Men striking back

Despite new laws cracking down on domestic violence, the number of women killed by their partners has escalated this year — in part, some sociologists say, because men are striking back even harder at spouses who dare to report abuses to police.

Many men scoff at the law's efforts to legislate home life. "Just because Zapatero says by law men have to do dishes, men are not going to do dishes," said Alberto Fuertes, 37, a stocky, square-faced owner of a small factory. "That's ridiculous. It's totally absurd."

A recent government-sponsored television advertisement showed a man meticulously washing his car and admonished that if a guy can clean his auto, there's nothing unmanly in helping his wife pick up around the house.

Some women also take potshots at Zapatero's reforms and the women he has promoted to help him run the country.

After Zapatero filled eight of his 16 Cabinet positions — including the vice presidency — with women, "the first thing they did was have a picture taken dressed up in party dresses and full of furs," sniped Ana Pastor, a member of the lower house of parliament and one of the most senior women in the opposition Popular Party.

She was referring to a controversial photo spread of the female Cabinet members in the Spanish edition of Vogue two years ago. "The vice president of the government, Fernández de la Vega, is known as Fernández de la Vogue."

Zapatero, elected in part on his promises to improve the station of women, has said his mission is to make up for lost time.

"One thing that really awakens my rebellious streak is 20 centuries of one sex dominating the other," Zapatero said shortly after his election. "We talk of slavery, feudalism, exploitation — but the most unjust domination is that of one-half of the human race over the other."

Emerging from Franco

During the height of the sexual revolution in the United States and other parts of Europe, Spain was only just beginning to emerge from decades of dictatorship under Generalissimo Francisco Franco and a legal system that did not recognize rights for women.

Despite advances in government opportunities for women, the Spanish private sector remains one of the most chauvinistic in Europe. Women sit on less than 5 percent of corporate boards and overall earn 30 percent less than their male counterparts. It remains common practice for companies to fire pregnant women, according to women's organizations and victims.

"The culture and tradition of machista is very deeply ingrained in the mentality of everyone," said Carmen Bravo, secretary for women's issues for Spain's largest labor union, known by the initials CCOO.

Fuertes, whose small factory makes mattress covers, said he has no problem with hiring women — all 11 of his employees are women, most between the ages of 46 and 55.

"The older generation of women are used to working hard," said Fuertes, balancing his 2 ½-year-old daughter on his lap after returning home at the end of a recent workday. "If I hire a 36-year-old, the problem is that she's going to take a lot of days off to take her child to the doctor. She knows her rights and knows I can't do anything about that."

At home, Fuertes said, it's not Zapatero's laws, but his working wife who has persuaded him to share in the chores.

At his parents' home, "My father crosses his arms and says to my mother, 'Bring me my coffee,' " Fuertes said. "My mother does everything — she irons and cooks and cleans. Women now don't want to be like their mothers."

And if Alba, his daughter, grew up to marry a man like Grandpa?

"I would not be happy," Fuertes said. "It would go against everything I've tried to teach her."

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ambigendering Aristotle

One of the eternally recurring themes for the ambigendered (sorry, my term. It is intended to replace "transvestite" or "crossdresser" and refers to those who desire to and are, to a greater or lesser degree, skilled at presenting themselves as the opposite gender), is the idea of "moving forward." We all experience frustration when we perceive that we are not progressing towards our goal, or worse, that further progress is not possible. And what is the goal of the ambigendered male: to occasionally experience femininity as fully and completely as possible.

Let me make an argument which was recently inspired by reviewing Aristotelian philosophy.The first premise is that our desired goal is impossible to reach. We transsomethings, by definition, cannot fully experience life as a woman. Certainly, we can attain some level of feminine experiences with varying degrees of success (and indeed those varying levels of success often cause frustration for many).

Moreover, we tend to equate success in presenting ourselves in feminine mode with happiness and to societal acceptance both within the community and without. This objective simply doesn’t seem to be borne out by experience: most of us, even the most accomplished TG or event the post-op TS, doesn’t seem to derive total fulfillment from her success—at least not for very long—in pursuit or achievement of this goal. Hence, it seems we are pursuing an objective that constantly moves the further we progress.

Now here is where Aristotle offers us two worthwhile suggestions: that fulfillment is only possible when a goal is obtainable and that physical goals, even if attained, rarely bring sustainable happiness. Therefore, by seeking complete femininization (or complete femininity, if you prefer), we are fated to fail because that is physically impossible except for a select few.

Moreover, feminization, is a physical goal and pursuing (or even achieving) physical goals rarely, if ever, brings real happiness. What it seems to me that we ambigendered souls are seeking is actually acceptance of ourselves as ambigendered. That is indeed an obtainable goal, and a psychological/spiritual one of the sort that most (including Aristotle) would agree can indeed bring happiness. And if we make acceptance our objective, then our pursuit of femininity becomes a means and not an end.

What I mean is that by pursuing our ambigendered interests with the aid and support of friends we can indeed find acceptance from them. By exploring our own femininity and coming to terms with it and understanding it better we can find acceptance of ourselves. And by coming to terms with ourselves and becoming more comfortable with who we are, and becoming more knowledgeable about what we are and why we are, we have laid the foundation to pursue acceptance from those who are not ambigendered.

So what am I saying here? Too often we confuse the means and ends. We believe that feminization, whether permanently or temporarily, is the end. In reality the focus for us ought to be on seeking and giving acceptance from those like us because that is a goal that is both attainable and one that gives what we really crave—psychological/spiritual satisfaction.

To phrase it more simply, view the expression of your femininity not as the goal, but as a means to form relationships with like minded individuals who can help you to achieve your true objectives: support, understanding, fulfillment, tolerance, etc. All I’m saying is that the ambigendered pursuit of femininity can only bring psychological and spiritual satisfaction by viewing it as an ongoing journey best enjoyed in the company of friends. And that sometimes the answers are found by looking behind us, around us and within us instead of only looking ahead of us.

Top 11 Misconceptions About Crossdressers

by Ellen Sherman

Every Fall, several hundred traditional husbands, fathers and businessmen come together in Provincetown for Fantasia Fair with parties, seminars and workshops exploring the thorny issue of how to buy the right wig and hide a 5 o'clock shadow with the foundation and blush-on. Heterosexual married men from suburbia with families who cross-dress? What's going on?

Apparently a much more common practice than most people would imagine. It's estimated that at least %1 of the male population crossdresses. And even as we approach the 21st Century, the idea of a heterosexual man in heels is still more than a little threatening. And confusing even for the crossdressers themselves. As JoAnn Roberts, founder of Renaissance, a Delaware Valley crossdressing support group of over 400 said" I knew growing up that I wasn't gay and I was heterosexual. I thought I might be crazy, but I knew I wasn't gay."

Crossdressing is a subject that's been universally misunderstood. While producing the first documentary on heterosexual crossdressing called All Dressed Up And No Place To Go, I found a host of misconceptions rampant in most people's thinking.

The following are the Top Eleven Misconceptions that abound:

1) Crossdressers Are Gay

More than likely not. As Dr. William Stayton, Head of the University of Pennsylvania' s Department of Human Sexuality and himself a therapist for crossdressers, reported "People associate crossdressing with effeminacy and being gay and the fact is most of them are not gay. They are very definitely heterosexual. "In fact one of the most difficult areas for crossdressers was how to deal with the women with whom they wanted to be involved.

2) Crossdressers Don't Like Women

The truth is that rather than shying away from women, most crossdressers are as married or looking for a relationship as any cross section of men in America. "There is even some advantage to being a heterosexual crossdresser, " says Dr. Stayton. "When dressed they often become more sensitive and understanding to the women in their lives. Their wives tend to find them delightful and often it can become a real enhancement to marital relations." However that "enhancement" can only come if the woman feels comfortable with her husband's occasional dressing. Many don't.

As Florida lawyer Jeff/Jean reports, "What would happen was that as soon as women found out about "Jean" the relationship would end, so why did I have to keep banging myself in the head. I was married to a woman that didn't approve and it was painful. Now I tell the women and let them even see "Jean." If we're going to be involved then they'll have to accept all of me just like I have to accept all of them."

3) Women Who Love Crossdressers Must Be Lesbians

What's it like to love a man who's wearing a dress? Pam, the wife of a Bank V.P crossdresser recounts "I did feel funny at first. I love my husband as a man but when I saw him in a dress as "Barbara," I thought how can I love him? The answer was I didn't have to love him the same way. With "Barbara," we're friends like I would be with any girlfriend. When he's dressed as a man, I feel free to love him as a man."

4) Crossdressers Dress For Sexual Gratification

Most crossdressers reveal that relieving stress and relaxation were the feelings they most associated with their crossdressing. However many revealed that while teenagers there was a high degree of sexual excitement related to crossdressing mostly relieved through masturbation. As hormones calmed down and they reached adulthood the sexual element declined and the feelings the crossdressing elicited were very different." What you'll find," Dr. Stayton reported, "is that very early on they associate these clothes with relaxation and stress relieval. They often use it to feel calmer. There is an erotic element to the crossdressing. Many will crossdress or fantasize about being CD to enhance sexual enjoyment, but its not necessary."

5) Crossdressers Always Wear Women's Clothes

In fact, most may only dress once a month or once every six months. Many men don't ever even reach the point of fully dressing but feel the same relaxed feeling by just wearing women's undies under their suits. "You can't imagine how many politicians can't give a speech in Congress without wearing women's panties," Dr. Stayton commented, adding he has first hand knowledge since many are his patients.

6) Crossdressers Have Weird Sexual Habits

No more than most. However crossdressers did report their sex lives were enhanced by crossdressing to some degree. "Dale" recounted that "Although many CDs will deny it, there is a degree of extra arousal that comes with being crossdressed when making love but many women are not comfortable with that and we men have to be sensitive to that and accept it."

7) Crossdressers Look Like RuPaul

In fact many crossdressers are most comfortable dressing their "femme" selves as they would dress their male selves. Therefore most conventions of crossdressers find a roomful of men in dressed for success women's suits, low heels, tasteful makeup and coifed hair...much more Margaret Thatcher than RuPaul.

8) Crossdressing Develops in Adulthood

"We really find that crossdressing starts very young," reports Dr. Stayton. "Many remember that as preschoolers they got a certain feeling with Mom's clothing. It's very rarely something that develops in adulthood.

9) Crossdressers Are Made, Not Born

The current conventional wisdom seems to be that crossdressing is a result of both Nature and Nurture. "I certainly think there's a genetic influence just as for all of us there are things that happen that program us as to how we'll be sexual, whether we'll like redheads or thin women. We all have preferences, but the truth is there's no common thread and we really don't know why it happens," reports Dr.Stayton.

10) Crossdressers Are Schizophrenic

In reality crossdressers exhibit slight personality alterations in their "femme" role, but in general, their personalities only change to the extent that many people's do when assuming different roles in life, i.e. CEO, husband, father. One wife reports her husband likes to dance as his "femme" self where he wouldn't feel that free as a man. Other wives recount how their husbands will shop with them when otherwise they'd never have the patience.

11) Crossdressing Can Be Cured

"Truth is you can't change it," Dr. Stayton concludes. Most professionals now try to counsel the crossdresser to deal with his crossdressing rather than eradicate it. "When someone comes to me and feels it's sick behavior, then to me helping them to be healthy is to help them accept it and to be able to appropriately accept their own crossdressing feelings."


For more information:All Dressed Up And No Place To Go, the first feature documentary on heterosexual crossdressing. Now Available in home videoContact: CAJUN FILMS-212-353- 0500/FAX 212-533-071036 East 2Oth Street, NY, NY 10011

Monday, October 02, 2006

TG/TS Film Resource

Just a quick note to pass along a reference for anyone seeking interesting films on trangender issues (as well as many other documentaries). Their titles include "Col. Jin Xing: China's Most Emblematic Transsexual", "Juchitan Queer Paradise", "The Remarkable Story of John/Joan", "Adventures in the Gender Trade", "Metamorphosis" and "Paradise Bent". Filmakers Library can be located at www.filmakers.com.