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!

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#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…

Don’t I have enough to worry about?

I have to admit, right up front, that I have had a really good summer, all things considered. I mean, I’m on my own, alone. My girls are a 2.5 hour drive away which isn’t terrible in and of itself, but they  have their own lives now and busy. So I didn’t see them at all this summer. That super sucked. And not being in a relationship or having that special someone in my life, I am quite on my own. However, the saving grace was my summer retreat. I made the decision, as you may recall, to get back into boating now that I no longer had to deal with the disapproval of my now ex-wife. Because I love boating. And that, my friends, was my saving grace. On of the best decisions I made. Though small, one of the smallest in the marina, my little puppy is perfect for me and easy to live on for long periods of time. 

The best thing about it all though, is the people that I met. I have a made a bunch of new acquantiances, and a few really good friends. People that know about me, get it and appreciate who I am for me. I am truly thankful they are in my life. They made this summer an amazing time in, what is now, my new life. Especially when compared to last summer, which, while it was my first summer as my authentic self and was extremely liberating, was very, very lonely. This summer was anything but that. But there’s a rub. There is always a rub.

I’m busy. We are all busy with our lives. Nothing new. I’m also dealing with settling into my new life as me. That is an ongoing process. Probably will be for a while yet. Who knows? I don’t. So I’m just plodding along with that. Then l’m dealing with being alone and on my own and what that means. Trying not to think about the future in this regard is tough, at least for me. I don’t really do well with uncertainty. I’m getting better at it. One of the things I need to work on, is getting better at going with the flow. Anywho, all of this is quite enough, thank you. But wait, there’s more. There are other things to deal with in my world that is, really, more small “p” political than anything else.

Every community has its own little dynamic, and mine is no different. For me, here, it’s about being a single woman, older woman, owning and captain of her own boat. And one that actual takes her boat out on her own, cruises, docks etc. So there is a little under current about that. Not sure if other people think it’s weird but there is something there. Then there is the whole being single thing as well. All the boats are pretty much couples. So I am the “odd” person out (probably in more ways than one!!). Not sure if it makes people uncomfortable, but it does some, not all, but some. And it’s not really overt, no, everyone is nice enough and polite, but there is, once again, something very subtle going on. I suspect it is unconscious on their part, but I see it. Intentionally or not, it does impact me. Not sure why I let it, but then again, I only have so much energy to deal with so much stuff. 

Then you layer on top of that, everything else I have going on in my life as I mentioned at the beginning, and sometimes, not always, but sometimes, it gets to be a bit much. But that is where my good friends take over. I can wander down to anyone of their boats and everything is fine. I can relax and be, well, me. No apologies, explanations, etc. And that is what I have gained this summer. Some great new friends. You never know when or where you are going to meet such people. Be ready to accept them when they do show up. You may not get another chance. And that’s what thing I have been really trying to do, put myself out there more. Taking more risks with people. What a lot of people would call “outgoing”, which I am not, at least I haven’t been in the past. But when you start to not only love yourself, but like yourself, for the first time, it is much easier. I am more comfortable in just being me and if people don’t like it? Well, that’s their issue, not mine. I know I’m not perfect, that’s for damn sure. But I am who I am.

And I like it.  

Ho-hum…

I know, I know. I haven’t posted anything for a bit. It’s not that I don’t have anything to talk about, but in a way, I really don’t. At least not educational or “therapeutic”. Life right now is good. Really good. There is nothing I have to rant about. Nothing that is really upsetting me. Nothing that really concerns me. Okay, well maybe that last one isn’t true. There is a lot of stuff going on that concerns me, mostly in the U.S. I can rant about that, and I have, both on my Facebook change and on my blog. Don’t think it helps much.

It may have helped me to rant and get it out of my system so to speak. But then it really isn’t out of my system. I can still turn into a raving lunatic at the drop of hat about the alleged leader of the U.S. and how he is mistreating and abusing members of my community. But it has absolutely no impact. And given that I am up here in Canada, there is even less of a reason for people to get any benefit from it. So, not much point, really.

Given all that, I really don’t have much to say. I could go on and on about how good my life is and how well I am doing, but what is the point? Other than making look like a bragging, self indulging moron, not much really. I’m good. I don’t see the point in letting the world now, ad nauseam, that everything is fine. Why rub people’s faces in it?

So, as of this moment, not a lot to write about. Some people who transition speak of the year two “blahs”. This apparently is a feeling of minor depression that happens in the second of year of living full time as your authentic self. That, I haven’t experienced. I’m happy. Really happy.  Sure, I have my days. I think we all do. But over all? Happy! Maybe I will having something more to contribute in a few days. But as of right now? My life is pretty boring. And that is actually nice, for a change. Ho Hum.

I can deal with that!

Life is good, so what’s the problem??

Yup. You’ve heard me say it before, but you’re gonna hear it again. 95% of my life is friggin’ awesome, 5%, not so much. Made it through my transition and moving forward with my life. So what’s the problem, right? As always, it’s in my head. I totally own this. I feel guilty.

I’ve been conditioned over the years, if not decades, to feel guilty about many things. Mostly due to gender dysphoria. I felt guilty of the pain and anguish I caused so many people during my “pre-transition” years. While there is still a bit of that kicking around, it is much much better. The reason that it is still kicking around is that there are still triggers in my life, and at times they get right in my face. Such is the case with my family.

And it is usually around the time of special occasions. Like this upcoming weekend. Labour Day. While not a “special occassion”, it is a time, typically, when families get together. At least ours did. Not anymore. So, that causes a bit of sadness for me. Because it is due to the divorce and the kids feel compelled to divide their time equally between their two parents and the logistics involved etc, etc etc. Knowing that you’re the cause of the breakup can be a bitter pill to swallow.

However, and this is where my adult brain kicks in…at some point, others have to take responsibilities for their own feelings. As my youngest told her mother “it’s been two years, get over yourself”. But as trans people, we harbour the majority of the guilt. It seems to come with the territory. At least it did for me. And that’s something I have to get over.

I am responsible for my feelings and my reactions. I can control those. I can’t control the feelings and reactions of others. That lays at their feet. So I have to learn to let that go. If they make their lives complicated, not much I can do. It they are still upset and angry, not much I can do. Life happens. Move on.

While I love my two girls dearly and with all my heart, at some point, there has to be some tough love. At some point it has to be “really? You’re still on that?” But as a parent, or at least for me, that is really hard to do. We protect our children. We take the bullet for them. That’s what we do. But at some point, it becomes a bit of a life lesson, and focus on being in a happy place, not a bitter place.

I’m not going anywhere. I am who I am, and not going to change. This is me. At some point, don’t we need to move forward as a family as well as individually?? Maybe it’s just me. Am I being too hard on those around me? Everyone’s answer is probably different, as everyone’s situation is different. Trying to move forward. Why spend 95% of my time focusing on the 5%. Maybe it’s time to flip that switch and check out the 95% of my life.

Click.

Great conversations…

This experience falls under the category of “you just never know when…”.

I was at an appointment this morning with an oral surgeon and was speaking with the office manager with whom I was to meet for an hour to review the results of a previous diagnostic appointment and treatment options etc, etc. etc. No biggy. Well, what was supposed to be a one hour appointment became a two hour appointment! This was due to the fact that she had a ton of questions upon learning that I was transgendered.

Now, this is not something that I bring up on a regular basis, trust me on that. We had to go through my medical history, so the whole story around my heart surgery etc, etc, etc. Medications I am on and any other treatments/surgeries that are coming in the future that may impact how well I tolerate the procedure and meds etc. etc. etc. So, as you can imagine, it became pretty clear to her pretty quick that I was trans. That’s when the second hour of the “appointment” started.

She had a ton of questions. All of which lead to a wonderful conversation. She was totally accepting and was actually quite fascinated. While she was supportive in general to the LGBTQ community in general, it was her first opportunity to really engage in a learning opportunity with someone who is trans. And she took full advantage of it! She had a ton a of questions, and some basic misconceptions, just as many in the general public do. So I was glad to provide that information and clarify a lot of what she had been thinking.

She was very apologetic and was hoping that the questions and subsequent conversation was not too invasive or personal. In fact, there were no questions that I had not been asked before by friends or by audiences when I do speaking engagements. But seeing how everyone’s reactions and thoughts are different, it was almost like the first time I had been asked those questions. It was really cool to watch the penny drop and see the many “aha” moments that she experienced.

In the end, she was so appreciative of my honesty and time and felt very honored to have had the opportunity for such a private conversation. Unfortunately, it didn’t result in any discount for the procedure!! Ha Ha. But in the end, I have a new friend and ally. Their practice is now more informed given that I am the first transgendered patient (that they know of, I hastened to add….another aha moment for her). So it was a good use of an hour of my time for sure.

Just goes to show, you never know when…