Don’t call me cis-gendered, I’m normal…

Okay, okay, calm down. Stop screaming at the screen. Cuz if you’re like me, that is what I was doing when I read this. This is something that came across my twitter feed recently. Yes, someone actually did communicate this…in writing…in a public forum…on social media. Give me strength! Here’s the basis of the statement.

This person, whom I don’t know, stated that they were fed up being called cis-gendered, even though they are. Given that 95% for the population is cis, (their stat not mine, and yes, it’s incorrect – strike one), we constitute the majority and we are the norm and therefore I am normal. Just refer to me as a woman. Their words.

So, what is the implication of all of this? Their argument – If you are not cis, you are outside the norm. Therefore, you are abnormal. Given I am not cis, that makes me abnormal. Okay, so my friends might agree that I am not normal based on other grounds, but we are not going to go there today – ha ha. For the purposes of this discussion though, I am not, I repeat, NOT abnormal. Good grief. Yes, I was born with a birth defect, but that has been corrected. People who are trans are not abnormal. We are just trying to live their lives through a different set of circumstances.

One shouldn’t divide the population, the human race as it were, into normal or abnormal on this criteria. Because you know what? By the logic used by this contributor, if you extrapolate their thought process, everyone could be categorized as abnormal by some determinant. Example, I’m pretty sure the contributor wasn’t Asian, therefore, they are not a part of the majority based on ethnic population of the world. Therefore they are not normal, they are abnormal. Strike two.

What is the purpose of going on such a rant as this person did? Okay, they are not trans. Got it. They are CIS, as is 99.5% of the population. It is not a derogatory term. At least, I don’t think so. Having said that, it’s not like I use the term on a regular basis. “Hi, meet my cis-friend Jane”. Really? Come on. It does get used in some discussions, I will give you that. Mostly when talking about gender and describing all the aspects of it.

I’m not sure where this person lives or in what social circles the travel, but I can’t imagine that they would be inundated to the point that it would become annoying. Why is it such a personal affront? At the end of the day, we are all just people trying to live our lives, cis or trans.

Go ahead, call me trans, I’m normal.

 

Advertisements

Still Trans???

Okay, so admittedly, that is a bizarre headline/statement. Still trans?? What the hell does that mean? As it turns out, I’m not too sure. All I know is that it is a question I have been asking myself for the past little while. Why is that? That is also a question I have been asking myself. So where is this all coming from?

Let me back up a bit. As you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting much for the past three months. This was due to the fact that I was on medical leave and recovering from surgery. More to come about all of that later, but suffice to say that I had my Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) in the fall. It was something that was, and is, very private for me, so ’nuff said about that for now, moving on.

What that did for me though, was to signal the end of my transition. I’m done. Finished. Nothing else left to do. It is the only surgery that I’m having. No facial surgery, no breast augmentation, no trach shave, no voice surgery. I’m done. I am living my life as my authentic self, as the women I have always been, finally having complete congruity between my internal and external self. Okay, that may be a point for debate for those that know me and know what I look and sound like, but hey, I’m good with little ol’ me.

Now I find myself with thoughts about whether or not I’m trans. I mean I am no longer in transition. I am a women. Disagree with me if you like. Won’t change my mind. I am a woman. Period. I don’t really feel like I am transgendered. Not anymore. But is this denying my past? Don’t know. I don’t think so. I know the path that I had to take to get where I am today. I acknowledge that. I don’t hide it. I’m pretty open about it, and given my advocacy work it is hard not to acknowledge it.

All this being said, I wonder if I am abandoning my tribe? The group that is responsible for making me feel that I wasn’t alone, that there was a home for me in society. I don’t want to abandon them. Not at all. Will they still consider me as one of the tribe? I think so, but is it predicated on the admission that I am trans? But what if I no longer do? If I state that I am a woman, is that enough of a statement to cause a break with my tribe?

And, is this something that all trans people go through? As people settle into their new lives, do we all, at some point, have this internal debate? I don’t know, maybe I’m just kidding myself. Maybe society will always see me as trans, and I really am not fooling anyone. I wonder though if anyone else experiences this? Is this just a normal part of the transition, that at some point, it is done, and you are who you are and no longer trans?

Just want to be me.

You aren’t doing anything wrong…

I had the pleasure of having a really great conversation with a friend of mine, who is also trans, this past weekend. The topic was her experience going home for the Christmas  holidays. And yes, we all know this can be a joyous time, but it can also be stressful, for a variety of reason. Needless to say, if you’re trans, it can be really stressful depending on how your relationship with your family is going. This was the case for my friend, quite stressful.

During our conversation, she did describe how she did come to quite a profound realization, at least for her. And in our continued discussion about her time at home, it became apparent to me that it was something that I think that others would benefit from, so I’m sharing it now.

As is the case many times in the family dynamic, someone who comes out as transgender becomes the lightening rod for other issues in the family. As a result, we are often thrown under the bus, so to speak. We are misgendered, referred to by our dead name, all on purpose. We are constantly reminded by some that we are abnormal and causing a great deal of strain and division within the family. Sad to say that I’m sure many of you know exactly to what I refer.

The important realization coming out of all of this is that she wasn’t doing anything wrong. All she was doing was being true to who she is, being her authentic self. Her behaviour was not intentionally designed to hurt people. She was just being who she is. How can that be wrong? Okay, if you are a malicious, vindictive, hateful person or a serial killer that is one thing. But when all you are trying to do is life your life as who you truly are? You aren’t doing anything wrong.

And that is my big take-away. That is what I want you all to remember, particularly if you are struggling. You are not doing anything wrong. It may seem like you are. Mostly because others are trying to make you feel like you are, by pounding you constantly with that message. In reality, the problem is on their end. They don’t want to change. They don’t want to educate themselves and learn about what it means to be trans. They project their discomfort on you. They don’t understand, and in many cases, don’t want to understand, that this is not a life choice. It is something we all try to deal with, the best way that we can. They somehow feel that their existence is threatened by us. All very sad.

But we are who we are. And we should celebrate that in our way. Maybe not so much the “in your face, I’m trans, deal with it” attitude, but within ourselves. be proud of who you are. Love yourself.

You are not doing anything wrong.

And they lived happily ever after….???

First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR. Sorry that this first post of the New Year is so late in coming. But I am finally back on my feet and ready to go. I will be posting more about that in the coming weeks if not days.

In the meantime, there is on thing that I do want to chat about. And yes, it is a bit after the fact, but still something that I observed over the holidays. It has to do with the plethora of movies that are built around the holidays that were on TV. Yes, I get it, t’is the season and all of that. Not an issue…I’m good with that. One can choose to watch them or not. No problem. I’m sure that we all have our favourites that we always watch, and maybe even tune in to the new ones that show up as well. If that’t your thing, fill your boots. This year, I just couldn’t do it. My heart wasn’t in it. So I did manage to avoid them.

I must admit that this year, I watched very few, but that was my choice. Perfect. However, and you knew there was a “however” coming…

What I couldn’t avoid were the numerous discussions that took place at gatherings with friends and families regarding “what is your favourite Christmas movie”. Okay, so I’m not being politically correct. But that is how the question was literally framed. Every time. So sue me. This query result in lively banter, with everyone chiming in with their picks and why. At first, I joined in, not really providing any nominees, but commenting on a few. I would mention something like” oh, I can’t watch that one, can’t do it” to which someone would reply, “Oh I know, I always cry at the end of that one, but I love it”. Ya, well, you know what, I cry too. But more likely for completely different reasons.

You’re crying because of the happy ending that warms your heart. You are doing this, surrounded by your family, or with the knowledge that your family is wishing you warm thoughts, where ever they may be. Good for you. I’m crying because I am not surrounded by my family. I’m alone. Again….or more accurately, still. My two girls are off living their own lives, successful in their careers, etc. living in a different city. Don’t get me wrong, I did get to see each of them for a few precious days over the holidays which was awesome. The trick is that these friggin’ movies start end of November! Seriously, what the hell is up with that?

And I know that we are fine and that we love each other and while there are still some things we are trying to work through, we are good. Same with my brother and sister and their families. I can feel the love for me flowing from them thousands of miles away. But there is a part of “my family” where that is not the case. There is no happy ending there. They have made it pretty clear that I am not welcome and that still really bothers me. To the point of tears, bothers me.

Tack onto that, there is no happy ending where I discover a person who becomes the love of my life and partner. No happy ending there either, trust me on that! All these movies, which I’m sure are lovely, only serve to accentuate that aspect of my life. That, I don’t need right now. I mean really, who does?

My message? Sorry that I didn’t feel like participating in the conversations regarding your favourite holiday movie. I don’t need one more reminder. So excuse me if I went quietly to “go powder my nose” so to speak. I didn’t want to shut down the conversation, but please understand why this was a tough time for me, and probably many others, for whatever reason.

Here’s hoping Christmas 2018 is better…are you listening Santa?!?!?

Now on Twitter?

Just a quick note to say that I am now on Twitter, so feel free to follow me there:

@Erin_ygk

Also, coming soon, a Facebook page dedicated to Trans issues, including links to a bunch of videos I have done addressing specific issues, questions and experiences.

See ya’ll there!

#metoo….

#metoo….to say this is a great thing is not a statement I wish to make. Don’t get me wrong, it is. Confused? Join the crew. For me, this is the classic good news bad news scenario. The good news? So many women have come forward with their story. The bad news? So many women have come forward with their story.

Yes, it is extremely important that these stories get told. And yes, it is great that they feel supported to do so. But it is sad that there are so many women with such stories. That’s the bad news part. Some stories describe behaviour and assault that took place decades ago. Others are very recent. It just goes to show that society really hasn’t dealt with this very effectively, if at all. From Anita Hill, to Bill Clinton, to more recent cases, Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore and Al Franken, to name a few. Sad.

I don’t have mine own story, thankfully. Yes, as a woman, I’ve been “hit on” but nothing that I would perceive as harassment. And that in and of itself is an issue. What I perceive. Is this all somewhat subjective? I would argue no. If any behaviour is threatening to a woman and they say no, it is harassment, not flirting. Doesn’t matter if you say you are naturally a “warm” person, who has very small personal space, who likes to hug a lot (Al Franken), no means no. Does that sound familiar??

In addition to the incredible number of stories coming out, what is also surprising to me is how they are being received. What it has revealed, at least to me, is a double standard. One for the private sector, and one for the public sector. If allegations such as those being levelled at Roy Moore, were to be made in the private sector, companies would immediately be taking action and distancing themselves from that person as quickly as possible. Case in point, Charlie Rose. Organizations, concerned about public image and share price, would not takes weeks or months to deal with it. People are fired or at the very least suspended pending an investigation, if criminal charges are pending.

But in the public sector, there seems to be a different standard, different process. Yes, okay, they are talking about making changes. However, leaving that aside for now, as it hasn’t happened, I still maintain there is a different standard. Look at what is going on now. Roy Moore is still on the ballot. Al Franken is still sitting in the Senate. What is done? Nothing!! Are your friggin’ kidding me!! There are photos of Senator Franken, and an admission. As for Roy Moore, while there is no admission of guilt, there are a number of women providing their stories and accusations, all which many people believe, including republican senators.What is being done about it?

Politics seems to trump what is right. Where is the morality? I mean, look, after admissions of assaulting women with unwanted advances by then candidate Trump, he is still elected as President of the United States. Are you kidding me? Yes, there has to be due process. But the process is flawed. It takes too long. Takes the word of decision and policy makers concerned, mostly men, mostly white, mostly middle age, and delays if not denying, any semblance of justice and accountability. This has to change.

What has this got to do with me? Even though this is all taking place south of the border to where I live, as a woman, it matters. It matters to woman all over the world. If the U.S. claims to be the standard bearer of human rights and democracy in the free world, it has the responsibility of setting the standard. Others watch carefully as to how the U.S. deals with such things. On this front, they are failing, spectacularly. I’m not saying Canada has it figured out. But come on, when is enough, enough? 

No means No….Doesn’t it???

 

 

I’m back…

Good or bad, I’m finally able to post to my blog. I know I have been silent for quite some time, dealing with a health issue. But all is well, and I’m just about back to full speed, so to speak. There has been a lot that has transpired, some of which is quite personal that even I would prefer not to disclose. That being said, there has been much that I will be discussing on this blog. So I will be adding posts as I digest it all and get my thoughts organized.

Some topics will include my journey to finally be physically congruent, topics covered on the radio talk show that I now co-host, “Gender Talk”, and my experience being introduced to a new community in which no one knew me in my previous life, so to speak. Bottom line is that I’m well, ready to get back to my life, to experience my new, now normal, world.

Yes, I’m back!!

Never to old to learn something about yourself…

This past summer, the icky weather not withstanding, has been an amazing experience for me. Why? I learned a lot about myself. If you have been following my journey as I share my thoughts on this blog, you know this is actually nothing new. I have learned a ton about myself in the past 2.5 years. And this summer was no different. Let me explain.

In the spring, I became the proud owner of a new (to me) boat. This time though, it wasn’t a sailboat, which is my usual go to type of vessel. Nope, this time, it was a power cruiser. Long story as to the rationale and not important at this time to the subject at hand. Suffice to say it was one of the best things I ever did for myself. And make no mistake. I did this for myself, no one else, period. I needed to do this. Turns out, I was right (for a change!).

The environment I moved into at my marina could not have been more perfect. Not that there wasn’t any challenges, it wasn’t utopia, but it was perfect because it wasn’t perfect. Confused? I get it, but stay with me for a bit. I needed to challenge myself. I needed to know exactly where I was in my journey. What I could do, what I couldn’t do and how to adapt to different circumstances. Some may say that I am reading a lot into this scenario. But I don’t think so. I honestly think all of this was present.

I learned how to be the new kid on the block, in my new skin, so to speak, where nobody knew me. No previous history. I forced myself to get out there, to take risks, to learn how to make friends and how to interject myself into an established community. It took time. And yes, I did skin my knees, figuratively speaking. But I continued on. Something I never would have even considered doing prior to my transition.

I learned that I am someone people want to spend time with. Again, this is new. That I can hold my own in conversations, and in many instances, I am just one of “the girls”. Sure, it was difficult at times as I am single whereas virtually everyone else is part of a couple. So many times, I was the “odd” person out. Some may say, in more ways than one, but I digress. But ya know what? I was, and still am, fine with that. My sense of self esteem is not linked to what anyone else thinks of me. I am proud to say that I am my own person, my own woman. And I don’t apologize for it. Period.

I also learned that there are some things I can’t do. And that it is okay to ask for help. Captaining your our cruiser is not hard, at least not for me. But when you are trying to dock a 10 foot wide boat into a 14 foot wide space with wind and current not helping, and you really don’t want to hit that $200,000 boat by side you, asking for help is not a bad thing. Yes, I have my pride, but I am not stupid. What I discovered, and more importantly learned, is that there is no shame in asking for help, and just as I am happy to helps those around me, there were plenty of people that were glad to help me out as well. I learned to be happy that it was there, that it was not a sign of weakness, but rather one of maturity. All told, all these lessons make me a stronger person.

Guess old dogs can learn new tricks!

An interesting few days…

Travel not withstanding, it has been an interesting few days. Some in a good way. Others, well, not so much. First, the good part. I had the opportunity to speak at a corporate training event earlier this week. The organization wanted me to be the lead off speaker for a three day event, held in their city. No problem, happy to do that. I do it quite a bit actually. So off I went…to Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories of Canada! Pretty much a day travel each way. North, which for those of you who know me, is not a direction I usually travel! I left my area of Canada where temps were approaching 100F, to the northern part of Canada where it was a measly 40F. A bit of a shock to my system for sure!

Despite that, it was actually neat to see. And the people where amazingly friendly. It was a really great event. The first time I’ve been called a “rock star” in the diversity world! It was hilarious actually. But the people were super. It was approaching the end of fall there, so it was probably the last weekend with the trees having any colour left on them. Which meant that the views were spectacular. If you dressed for it. And that was a bit of a pain, having to pack clothes for really warm weather and really cool weather. But it all worked out.

No issues with travel of course. In fact, fellow travelers were extremely kind and helpful, helping me with my suitcase, getting it into the overhead bins, finding empty spots to put it, given that all flights were full, and often my suitcase would end up in an overhead bin somewhere farther down the aisle behind my seat. Men were happily offering to pass it back and store it away, then retrieve it for me, etc. I was quite happy for their assistance, and don’t care if they only did it because I’m a woman. Just happy they did, because it was a zoo!

On the down side, I did have an unfortunate event in Toronto prior to my departure. I had spent the previous day with my daughter, shopping, eating, and just some flat out time to chill and just spend time together. It was awesome. No issues on her part, or from anyone else for that matter. Just two women hanging out. However, the next day, well, that is a different story.

It was relatively early in the morning, the streets were relatively quiet, almost deserted in fact. I was walking to one of my favourite haunts for breakfast only a few blocks from my hotel. It was during this quiet stroll when some guy decided that it would be cool to follow me from the other side of the street and keep yelling “hey baby” for about 5 minutes! Where’s a cop when you need one! I totally ignored him, not even turning to look. To say I felt uncomfortable is an obvious understatement. Fortunately, I got to the restaurant and avoided any other incident.

My question is, in what world is this acceptable behaviour? What goes through a guy’s brain that says this is okay? Seriously! What an idiot! What women with any degree of self respect would respond to that type of behaviour in a positive way? What a jerk! And that is about as clean as I can keep my language. Okay, not quite. What a f@ckin’ @sshole.

I tried to not let it bother me, but it did sit with me for a bit during breakfast. It made me a bit more uncomfortable with my walk back to the hotel. But I was able to let it go, and enjoyed the rest of the day as I prepared to head to the airport to catch the first of a few flights to take me to the event the next day.

In speaking with my girlfriends the majority of whom are all CIS gendered, while supportive, indicated that this has been their reality for all their lives. Well, that just sucks! Not acceptable at all. It’s going to take a lot to change that in society, starting with young boys. But they need to have roll models to look up to. With idiots like this out there, it would seem that there will always be some that will take on this behaviour thinking it is both normal and acceptable. Sigh. So frustrating. I guess I have to get used to this. I don’t want to, and trying to think of ways to make it change without putting my safety in jeopardy.

Welcome to the world of women.

A little coaching goes a long way…

Every quarter, I have a chance to get together with some colleagues as we converge from all across Canada to meet to provide a suite of services for a large client. In doing so, there are times when we can chat and catch up, in between 1:1 client meetings. During one such time, we started to chat about relationships and how things were going and just generally what was going on in our lives. She is recently divorced (three years ago), but is now in a stable relationship. Me? Well, not so much. Upon learning this, that is when she said out loud, she was going to put her coaching hat on and we were going to talk about this. And we did. Oh my, did we!

Point of clarification. She is an amazing executive and life coach. Works with both executives and high performance athletes and has quite a following. So I knew this was going to be good. And it didn’t disappoint! We chatted about my experience, my desires for what a relationship would look like and who that would be with. Long story short, after a few lengthy chats, she was able to help me to get to what some of the blocks were. Several “A Hah” moments for me.

One thing that she had me do was write out all the things that I was looking for in both a relationship and a partner. Everything. The smallest thing, didn’t matter, write it down. Just make list and keep going. Then but a star beside everything that I considered to be a “deal breaker”. Well…that turned out to be quite the list! Within 10 minutes, I had a full page. Over the course of the day, I would add to it as something else popped into my furry little brain.

Later in the evening, we had yet another opportunity to sit down for a couple of hours, and we reviewed my list up to that point. It was amazing the clarity that entire exercise brought to the discussion. She pushed back on a few things to force me to clarify what a certain word meant. What meaning was I attaching to that for myself? The entire process forced me to be very granular! It also helped me to understand why I hadn’t found anyone as of yet. I haven’t found the right person… yet.

And it’s not that the list is so exhaustive that there is no way anyone would meet all the criteria. It’s that there are certain things that are “a must have”. Many, many more are “nice to have”, but not mission critical. The “must have” are deal breakers. I haven’t met that person yet. She was quite impressed that I had finally gotten to the stage of truly believing that I am worth it, and not to compromise on some things that are very fundamental to me.

For now, I am happy with my life and while I would like to be in a stable relationship, I’m okay with being on my own. For now. Not sure if that will change. But right now, I am in a really good place. I am content. My happiness isn’t completely predicated upon being with someone else. Will that change in the future? Maybe. Who knows. Only time will tell. At least for now, though, I have a much better understanding of what was going on in my head and a greater sense clarity. Amazing what a couple of $K worth of coaching can do, especially when it’s free!! ha ha. She is such an awesome friend!

Some day…