The days we dream about

If today is anything to go by it looks as if we are in for yet still more hot weather. Yesterday was hot enough and today has followed suit. It is the last week of the month, even the last Monday and I am glad I am not still working as an electrician. It always seemed the way that during the hot weather I was stuck inside a house or inside somewhere on a building site but in the cooler and colder months I was asked to do outside work. I looked forward to the days when I could decide to work in conditions I preferred and better still not have to work at all! I used to dream about such days. As a youngster I dreamt about growing up and especially how I could become a girl. I didn’t wish for anything else.As I grew up I realised life had other ideas and there were things I had to do before any of my wishes and desires could come about. My future didn’t quite turn out as I had originally intended but you can read about that in my pages section of this blog. In the winter time I used to yearn for warm weather but not so much these days. Much as I like the warm weather it can be too much for me to cope with sometimes. I prefer it to be cool though not freezing cold! You might therefore assume I am at present wishing for cool weather and to a point you would be correct. I am however enjoying the fact that I can walk about in a swimming costume and a slip-on skirt. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we wish does it? Now I am retired I have a more controlled future and can pretty much have things the way I want. These are the days I dreamt would never arrive until they did. I used to imagine what life would be like for me at different stages of it. I was born in 1945 which is of course the last century. Not everyone will be able to claim to have lived in two different centuries! At ten years of age I thought about what I would be like twenty years later and then when those days arrived I thought about 2005 and my sixtieth birthday. It was too far ahead to worry about so I carried on and gave it no more thought. When I did reach that age I realised that it had crept up on me and suddenly there seemed to be nothing to look forward to, nothing to dream about, in this world at least. These are the days though that I once could only dream about.

Shirley Anne

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For those who know and those who don’t

English: This is a commonly known general Symb...
English: This is a commonly known general Symbol for Gender “Transident”, which means a Person, whose Gender Identity doesn’t match his/her/its anatomical Gender/Sex. Deutsch: Dies ist ein allgemein bekanntes, allgemeines Symbol für das Geschlecht “Transident”, was eine Person meint, deren Geschlechtsidentität sich nicht mit ihrem anatomischen Geschlecht deckt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Twins Reinforce What Trans People Know About Gender Identity

December 19, 2011 by Matt Kailey

The latest news about a trans child receiving legitimate help for a legitimate medical condition has the I-Know-What’s-Best-For-You-To-Do-With-Your-Own-Body crowd coming out of the walls again.

A recent story in the Boston Globe reports on twins who were both assigned male at birth, with one expressing a female gender identity about as early as she could walk and talk. As the story is presented, the situation is pretty clear – twins Jonas and (now) Nicole could not have been more different from the time that they were toddlers.

And while it’s true that identical twins do not necessarily have similar personalities, the two were not just exhibiting different tastes and preferences. At age four, Nicole was wearing tutus and beads and asking for a Barbie birthday cake and a princess Halloween costume, while twin brother Jonas wanted action figures and pirate toys.

Not only that, but it appears that Nicole was not the only one who was certain of her gender identity. Jonas apparently said to his father, “Dad, you might as well face it. You have a son and a daughter.” Even Nicole’s twin brother recognized that his “brother” was really his sister.

The family did what a reasonable family would do – try to discourage the “cross-gender” behavior at first, then, realizing that it wasn’t going away, look for options and solutions. Their twins are now fourteen, Nicole is receiving medical treatment, including hormone blockers, and she is living as female.

I honestly don’t know how anyone could read this article and not agree that Nicole’s parents did the right thing, but for some reason, this type of situation brings out all the critics with the same tired arguments – that children are too young to “decide” their gender, that transsexual people are mentally ill and should be treated as such, that misguided parents end up influencing their child’s gender identity, and that many transsexuals eventually come to regret their decision, so “inflicting” something like this on someone Nicole’s age is tantamount to child abuse.

Some critics are hauling out a 2004 article by Paul McHugh, University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, which focuses primarily on autogynephilia, as well as children born with non-standard genitalia whose bodies were surgically altered to appear as standard female bodies. The article doesn’t deal with trans men at all.

I don’t have McHugh’s credentials, knowledge, or background, so I’m not in a position to go head to head with him, or to argue with the experiences that he had in working with clients at Johns Hopkins. What I know is pretty simple, based on personal experience and the information I have been given by others who have had comparable personal experiences, so I can go head to head with the critics who bring out his work as “proof” that transition is a mistake and that children with “cross-gender” identification are misguided or mentally ill.

We know that most children establish their gender identity at age three or four, and, for most, it becomes very pronounced and specific at that age. This is not true of every child, but with a situation like Nicole’s, we are not speaking of a child with a fluid gender identity. We are speaking of a child with a very pronounced and specific feminine gender identity. If the critics believe that Nicole’s gender identity was not established in her mind at this time, why do they believe that her twin brother Jonas’ was? I have not heard any critic question the parents’ decision to raise Jonas as a boy. If Jonas was old enough at age four to know his own gender identity, then so was Nicole.

We know that transsexual people currently have a diagnosable mental health issue according to the DSM-IV. That doesn’t mean it’s correct or that we agree with it. We can’t argue that it’s not there in a book – we can only argue about whether or not it should be. However, there is little (if any) viable research that I am aware of to indicate that gender identity can be successfully changed. Like sexual orientation, a person can probably live, at least for a period of time, without acting on his or her gender identity, but it isn’t much of a life, and it is usually a constant struggle that often results in suicide.

We know that parents cannot seriously influence a child’s gender identity, and even McHugh acknowledges that. David Reimer‘s experience is one of probably hundreds or thousands that debunks the myth of parental or societal influence. Due to a botched circumcision, Reimer’s genitalia was reconstructed and his parents were told to raise him as a girl, which they did. Reimer maintained a male gender identity his entire life, and when he discovered that he had been born male, he ceased living as a female and adopted his natural masculine identity and roles until he committed suicide.

McHugh describes other patients who were born with “non-standard” male genitalia and were surgically altered and raised as girls. The majority of them maintained a masculine gender identity and eventually “transitioned” back to male. Of course they did. You can’t just tell a boy that he’s a girl and have him believe it, or vice versa – which is proof in my mind that transsexualism as a medical condition exists. These incidents simply reinforce the argument that transsexualism exists and cannot be socially conditioned or “therapized” away.

Gender expression and gender roles can be socially and culturally influenced, but gender identity appears to be biologically based. In most cases, if parents attempt to influence a child’s gender identity at all, it is to try to get the child to adopt gender roles and behaviors that socially and culturally align with his or her physical body. With children like Nicole and many others, we see that this influence doesn’t work and can lead to depression and other consequences. Luckily, Nicole’s parents sought help, as an increasing number of parents are doing today.

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Shirley Anne

It isn’t rocket science

I can’t remember where I first saw this article but at the time I saved it for future reference. I may have taken it from another blog and if so I thank that person for posting it. I think the article was originally written for those who find issue with transsexual people for whatever reason and aims to point out that those who are born with this condition are not freaks in the strictest meaning of the word but were simply unfortunate to have been born with conflicting physical and psychological profiles…………………….Here is the article

Shirley Anne
Twins Reinforce What Trans People Know About Gender Identity

December 19, 2011 by Matt Kailey
The latest news about a trans child receiving legitimate help for a legitimate medical condition has the I-Know-What’s-Best-For-You-To-Do-With-Your-Own-Body crowd coming out of the walls again.

A recent story in the Boston Globe reports on twins who were both assigned male at birth, with one expressing a female gender identity about as early as she could walk and talk. As the story is presented, the situation is pretty clear – twins Jonas and (now) Nicole could not have been more different from the time that they were toddlers.

And while it’s true that identical twins do not necessarily have similar personalities, the two were not just exhibiting different tastes and preferences. At age four, Nicole was wearing tutus and beads and asking for a Barbie birthday cake and a princess Halloween costume, while twin brother Jonas wanted action figures and pirate toys.

Not only that, but it appears that Nicole was not the only one who was certain of her gender identity. Jonas apparently said to his father, “Dad, you might as well face it. You have a son and a daughter.” Even Nicole’s twin brother recognized that his “brother” was really his sister.

The family did what a reasonable family would do – try to discourage the “cross-gender” behavior at first, then, realizing that it wasn’t going away, look for options and solutions. Their twins are now fourteen, Nicole is receiving medical treatment, including hormone blockers, and she is living as female.

I honestly don’t know how anyone could read this article and not agree that Nicole’s parents did the right thing, but for some reason, this type of situation brings out all the critics with the same tired arguments – that children are too young to “decide” their gender, that transsexual people are mentally ill and should be treated as such, that misguided parents end up influencing their child’s gender identity, and that many transsexuals eventually come to regret their decision, so “inflicting” something like this on someone Nicole’s age is tantamount to child abuse.

Some critics are hauling out a 2004 article by Paul McHugh, University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, which focuses primarily on autogynephilia, as well as children born with non-standard genitalia whose bodies were surgically altered to appear as standard female bodies. The article doesn’t deal with trans men at all.

I don’t have McHugh’s credentials, knowledge, or background, so I’m not in a position to go head to head with him, or to argue with the experiences that he had in working with clients at Johns Hopkins. What I know is pretty simple, based on personal experience and the information I have been given by others who have had comparable personal experiences, so I can go head to head with the critics who bring out his work as “proof” that transition is a mistake and that children with “cross-gender” identification are misguided or mentally ill.

We know that most children establish their gender identity at age three or four, and, for most, it becomes very pronounced and specific at that age. This is not true of every child, but with a situation like Nicole’s, we are not speaking of a child with a fluid gender identity. We are speaking of a child with a very pronounced and specific feminine gender identity. If the critics believe that Nicole’s gender identity was not established in her mind at this time, why do they believe that her twin brother Jonas’ was? I have not heard any critic question the parents’ decision to raise Jonas as a boy. If Jonas was old enough at age four to know his own gender identity, then so was Nicole.

We know that transsexual people currently have a diagnosable mental health issue according to the DSM-IV. That doesn’t mean it’s correct or that we agree with it. We can’t argue that it’s not there in a book – we can only argue about whether or not it should be. However, there is little (if any) viable research that I am aware of to indicate that gender identity can be successfully changed. Like sexual orientation, a person can probably live, at least for a period of time, without acting on his or her gender identity, but it isn’t much of a life, and it is usually a constant struggle that often results in suicide.

We know that parents cannot seriously influence a child’s gender identity, and even McHugh acknowledges that. David Reimer‘s experience is one of probably hundreds or thousands that debunks the myth of parental or societal influence. Due to a botched circumcision, Reimer’s genitalia was reconstructed and his parents were told to raise him as a girl, which they did. Reimer maintained a male gender identity his entire life, and when he discovered that he had been born male, he ceased living as a female and adopted his natural masculine identity and roles until he committed suicide.

McHugh describes other patients who were born with “non-standard” male genitalia and were surgically altered and raised as girls. The majority of them maintained a masculine gender identity and eventually “transitioned” back to male. Of course they did. You can’t just tell a boy that he’s a girl and have him believe it, or vice versa – which is proof in my mind that transsexualism as a medical condition exists. These incidents simply reinforce the argument that transsexualism exists and cannot be socially conditioned or “therapized” away.

Gender expression and gender roles can be socially and culturally influenced, but gender identity appears to be biologically based. In most cases, if parents attempt to influence a child’s gender identity at all, it is to try to get the child to adopt gender roles and behaviors that socially and culturally align with his or her physical body. With children like Nicole and many others, we see that this influence doesn’t work and can lead to depression and other consequences. Luckily, Nicole’s parents sought help, as an increasing number of parents are doing today.

——————-

Shirley Anne

Identity erosion

Concept of gender differences
Concept of gender differences (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was just thinking………I do that sometimes……..I can not remember a time when women and men were not referred to using the correct pronouns, adjectives and even nouns pertinent to their gender, until more recently, say the last ten years or so. I remember a time when we had actors and actresses, guys and gals (never like these American terms), postmen and postmistresses, headmasters and headmistresses and many other terms which we used to define and dare I say give respect to gender. Now we just have actors it seems or guys and postmen and it seemsd there are only head teachers these days! Since when was it right and proper to call women guys? Trends become the norm when we choose to continue ignoring correct terms for gender. Over the years there has been a ‘blurring’ of gender differences in things like clothes and even accessories. Now many men are beginning to wear make-up! Are they men at all I ask myself? Women are just as bad when it comes to blurring gender boundaries, they have been wearing clothes normally reserved for the male species for many years. For some people there is no limit when it comes to breaking down the barriers between the genders and for them the day when there will be no such thing as ‘gender bending‘ cannot come soon enough. I think we can take things too far and for me I prefer to continue to make the distinction noticeable. Let your men be men and your women be women.

Shirley Anne

Happening again?

It's All Happening
It's All Happening (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many of us who have transitioned will be able to relate to what I am about to write and it isn’t unusual. We speak often about acceptance in our lives, whether others will be offended and thereby avoid us if we step out-of-the-way they perceive us to be, for whatever reason. The problem is that most people, if they were honest with themselves, finding anything out of the stereotypical to be difficult to handle. It is a lack of understanding on their part. People will question what we have done, even directly asking us why we did it as if perhaps we should not have done. They do not realise that transitioning isn’t something that is desired to have to undergo nor is it done on a whim, it is done out of necessity. Transsexual people are born that way. Transsexualism isn’t ‘learned’, it cannot be acquired by association, you either are transsexual or you are not. Being transsexual means being found in the wrong body and having to cope with that. We are expected to live out our lives in the gender others perceive us to be and not the gender we know we are. Often this is a life-long struggle which for some is never resolved, some even taking to suicide to escape the trauma. There are many Internet web sites where information about the condition can be found for those who want to understand. For those more fortunate, their gender issues have been resolved and they are now living in the gender they know is right for them, even to the point of going through gender re-assignment surgery. I prefer to say gender correction surgery for that is what it is. What people do not understand is that the persons themselves haven’t changed, they are still the same person they were at birth with all the same feelings and personality. We cannot change who we are inside, the package we come in may be wrong but the essence which is us will never change. If a child is born without a limb every effort is made to change that using prosthetic means. If a child is born with any other deformity the best efforts are made to ease their situation by use of surgery if possible. Transsexuals are no different except that their problem is gender specific and yet they are often looked upon with scorn. Transitioning is a hard thing to have to do but it isn’t the transitioning itself, it is the reaction and attitude of others which make it so. Those we thought loved us before we transitioned we now find that love has gone and we are ostracised. True love would not allow that to happen. People are afraid to support for fear of what others may say and that really is an excuse. The main problem is that people wish to be accepted and consequently allow the dictates of others to influence them to act contrary to their own feelings. Isn’t it better to support those we love despite what others may say? When my eldest son married I wasn’t invited. I know that was a difficult decision on his part and it wasn’t solely due to him or his wife it was the influence others had over them. My heart was broken at the time and other people told me that I should have gone at least to the church anyway, invited or not. Perhaps I should have done so. Now they have a daughter they plan to have her christened in August (something I don’t agree with but that is their decision) and I would like to attend the church service even if I wasn’t made welcome to the following social gathering but I fear that may not happen. I have been told who would resent my being there and it hurts me to know they would act that way. Some will be reacting because they find it unnatural to them, some will be reacting probably because I was expected to stay married whether I was happy or not (although divorce came later anyhow) and some profess to be Christians, how sad is that? How can they not show love and then expect God to condone their behaviour? So I hope my son and his wife defy the mean and hateful attitudes of others and show a love befitting their faith in God. I pray they will but time will tell.

Shirley Anne

Something sensible for a change

Gender 'tag cloud'
Gender 'tag cloud' (Photo credit: ILRI)

The article below is copied entirely from Yahoo news pages on 24 Feb and can be seen there. I think it is a step in the right direction and makes for positive reading in the light of recent mishandling of  the same subject by some areas of the press. I felt it worthy of posting for those who find the whole subject confusing…..

.. News headlines this week proclaimed the story of five-year-old Zach Avery, the British boy who rejected his sex and now lives as a girl.Zach Avery © Caters News But away from all the controversy over one child’s tale, we take a look at how to handle this rare, but very real, condition: gender identity disorder or GID. While most often seen in adolescence or adulthood, GID – where a person feels alienated from their biological sex – can also be experienced by children. Cases of very young boys and girls, such as that of Zach Avery, are in the minority. At the UK’s only national medical centre for the disorder, London’s Tavistock and Portman Foundation Trust, only seven children under the age of five were diagnosed last year. [Related story: Meet the parents raising a genderless child] But the number of children of all ages diagnosed with GID rose from 97 in 2009-10 to 165 so far this academic year. Much of the upsurge may be due to greater awareness. But, as experts point out, around 800 adults are referred annually to NHS gender identity clinics. And although most say they experienced discomfort about their sex from childhood, only about 50 children per annum are referred to the Tavistock and Portman. That means many childhood cases of this gender dysphoria – that is, unhappiness or anxiety about biological gender – may be going unreported and undiagnosed. And it can manifest itself, as the NHS notes, “at a very young age”. But how do you know if your child has the syndrome or if their protestations are just another phase? Should you be concerned if your little boy wants to dress as a ‘girl’, your daughter only has boy playmates or your son says he wants to be a lady when he grows up? It’s a difficult and sensitive issue with as many grey areas as there may be black and white – but there are organisations and support networks out there that can help. One of them, the British charity Mermaids, is specifically aimed at helping young people and their families through what can be a very confusing time. As the website site explains: “Your daughter may say that she wants to be a boy, or your son may identify himself as a girl. Or perhaps you are worried about your child’s cross gender behaviour, but they won’t discuss it with you, and instead are isolated and withdrawn… Don’t panic, you are not alone.” [Related story: ‘Gender neutral’ child says ‘it’s silly’ to differentiate between boys and girls] Firstly, it is important to remember that even children who experience gender identity disorder are not inevitably going to wish to change their sex when they reach adulthood. Sometimes the issues are transient, and pass. The NHS says: “In most cases, this type of behaviour is just a normal part of growing up, but in some cases of gender dysphoria, it persists into later childhood and through to adulthood.” UK charity the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) notes that, of the relatively small number of cases of young children the organisation has seen, 80 per cent “did not progress to become transsexual people” – i.e. undergoing surgery to alter their sex. As for what causes it, the reasons remain largely unknown. While GID is currently classed as a psychiatric condition, recent studies suggest it is more to do with biological development. Whether passing or permanent, psychological or physical, the reality is that when children do go through these issues, the stresses can be immense – from bullying at school to alienation within the home and disgust at their own bodies. According to official NHS advice, if the behaviours are occasional, or in early childhood, there is often little cause for concern. But if your child repeatedly insists they want to be the opposite sex, behaves as the opposite sex, dislikes or refuses to wear clothes typically worn by their sex, shows unhappiness with their genitalia, has not yet reached puberty and has behaved in this way for at least six months then they could have GID so visit your GP for a referral to a gender dysphoria clinic. Here is some advice on how to deal with the condition as a parent, teacher or family member: .Remember that, while rare, it is not that rare. GIRES estimates that in any school of 1,000 pupils there are likely to be six who will experience transgenderism throughout their lives. Among younger, pre-adolescent, pupils, there are likely to be 60 who will experience “atypical sexual orientation”. Try not to conform to stereotypical views of gender. If your son prefers to wear ‘girly’ clothing or your daughter displays ‘boyish’ behaviours, don’t forbid it even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. If your child or a young person in your care brings up the matter of gender (e.g. expresses anxiety about being a boy/girl) always listen, reassure and offer support. GIRES adds: “If it feels right to ask a few questions, you can do that, but do it gently and don’t make it sound like an interrogation. Try not to act as though you are amazed or shocked. Be relaxed and matter-of-fact.” Reassure the child that he or she is not the only one – and that although it may be unusual, there are other young people who feel exactly the same. Organisations such as Mermaids and Gendered Intelligence can show young people and their families that they are not alone. Ask how they feel about it: if they say they are very upset or depressed or have even considered suicide, take them seriously and tell your doctor. Ask if anyone else is aware of this and inquire, gently, if they have ever been bullied because of it. Prejudice and bullying can be a serious problem. Organisations such as the Anti-Bullying Alliance can help. Try to understand the nature of gender variance – that is, not to think of gender identity as being either totally male or totally female. GIRES says: “Sometimes people of any age may be ungendered. In many people, especially those who are young, gender identity may be partially both male and female and also fluid.” Seek support and advice yourself – it is normal for parents to feel worried, confused and uncomfortable. Don’t ignore it and don’t react with anger – forcing a child to hide his or her feelings will not make them go away. Remember that gender identity is naturally variable; it is no-one’s fault, so do not feel guilty or blame anything you may or may not have done. . If you do decide a GP referral is the appropriate course of action, specialist doctors can make a proper diagnosis, as well as undertake psychological assessments and possibly hormone tests. Counselling, group support, and other treatments are available. Lastly, as the NHS advises: “You should try to be relaxed about cross-gender behaviour in your child, even if you do feel concerned. It is important that children do not feel judged or rejected because of who they are. “Sometimes, in the case of a child who wishes to cross-dress, you may feel it is appropriate to negotiate some boundaries to this, by explaining to your child that although this isn’t a secret, it is private and should be done at home, but perhaps not at school as other people may not understand. However, it is important not to make the child feel that this is something shameful.” For information and advice see http://www.mermaidsuk.orh.uk or call their helpline on (0208) 1234819 Mon to Sat, 3-7pm. Also see http://www.gires.org.uk, http://www.genderedintelligence.co.uk and http://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk…. . @YLifestyleUK on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook .. . . Family and Parenting Editor Picks

Copyright Yahoo 2012

Shirley Anne

I just don’t get it!

No Gender No Master, Autoportrait
Image via Wikipedia

Recently in the UK there was a story about a young transgendered person, in fact a transsexual person to be exact who had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and had been attending school in her assigned gender until she made the decision, with the support of her parents, to resume school after the term break in a skirt as a girl. Born physically male but obvious to her and diagnosed as such, she was in fact female. Despite any potential taunts and ridicule from her peers she was allowed to wear a skirt to school. It has now been suggested that boys should be allowed to wear skirts if they so wished and that all children should be allowed to wear either trousers or skirts no matter what their gender. To me this is a ridiculous suggestion and I cannot see why it was put forward. Supposedly it is about children’s rights to be able to wear whatever they like to school thereby dispensing with the uniform. Whilst attempting to protect dysphoric children by allowing anyone to wear a skirt they are in fact drawing attention to them. Like many things that go on in this country they seem to go way beyond the realms of common sense when faced with solving simple problems, a bit like wielding a sledge-hammer to drive in a pin!  Whilst it might be argued that anyone should be free to wear clothing currently associated with their opposite gender the majority of people wouldn’t take up the offer because it goes against traditional values and accepted norms. Much of what happens in this country is decided or influenced by laws passed in the European courts and consequently there are often conflicts of interest. Personally I feel we would do better being out of Europe altogether but alas it isn’t my decision. One good thing that resulted from being in Europe was the Gender Recognition Bill becoming law but many other things are not really helpful and some are tantamount to interference. I just don’t understand some of the things that go on these days, we seem to be taking backward steps most of the time.

Shirley Anne

Brave or what?

I suffered from gender dysphoria (a modern term) or gender identity throughout my life until I did something about it more than eight years ago. Unless somebody has the condition it is difficult for them to fully understand it. It is only in more recent times that it has become recognised as a genuine disorder and again that something can be done to help those who need it. Too many folk lack an understanding and many will childishly ridicule those who suffer from a gender identity disorder. Unless a person fits the same mould as everyone else they can become victims of ridicule. The condition is very simple to describe, although much more complicated in real terms. Simply put it is a condition whereby a person has feelings of incongruity between their physical body and their psychological being; in other words their bodies don’t match with their brains, they may look like men but are in fact women inside or they may look like women but are men inside. Imagine trying to explain that to people who know you, never mind those who don’t! The greatest fear for anyone in this situation is that of what others will think, say or do when told. The stronger individual will take all this in their stride but some will find it very difficult. What is really needed is understanding and support but it isn’t always available. When I transitioned I was told that I was very brave to do what I did but that was far from the truth. It has nothing to do with bravery but it does take a positive attitude. The hardest people to tell are those in our own families because they have known us a long time and have preconceived thoughts about us. They don’t see us being ‘in the wrong body’ so they may react negatively. It is indeed a difficult thing to reveal to anyone but it must be done if a life of misery is to be avoided. I found it immensely difficult to tell my ex and my children and it took them a long time to come to terms with it all. I was terrified of rejection but as it turned out they have accepted me. A friend of mine is about to reveal her true self to her parents; her sister is already aware and may be a support for her when she ‘comes out’. I don’t envy her next few weeks but I do understand all that they might hold for her and I wish her all the best when she takes that step of no return. Is she brave? I think not. It is something that she simply has to do.

For more information on this condition see the links in the right-hand column.

Shirley Anne

It was unusual

When I started my working life female electricians were unheard of, so I get told when people ask how long I have been an electrician. They don’t know my history of course but I still get asked if I found it difficult working in a male-orientated industry. I tell them I gave as good as I received. Smiles all round. This whole idea of it being unusual for women to be electricians, or anything else normally associated with the male of the species, brings about the subject of male chauvinism to my thoughts. It has taken many years for any liberation of women to take place because essentially it was always ‘a man’s world’ and women have traditionally kept home. Part of the problem in reaching total liberation lies with women themselves and it isn’t solely due to nurture, it is a natural phenomena. I am a firm believer in equality between the genders (spectrum) but I also believe that much of what we do is determined by the gender we are. Women cannot help being women and acting in a womanly way and this has a powerful impact on their attitude in regard to occupational employment. Many women will be fearful of undertaking what they think only men should be doing feeling themselves to be inadequate for the task. Whether that is an inherent trait might be debatable. Many will ‘buck the trend’ of course which proves that nothing is set in concrete. We cannot say categorically that certain occupations are gender specific because they are not. It all comes down to attitude and inclination. On the surface there is absolutely no reason for any occupation to be gender specific but in practice we see otherwise. In my own particular field it is becoming more acceptable for women to be electricians just as it is for them to be plumbers, motor mechanics, decorators and many other practical occupations. Women have for many years been successful in areas of employment such as we find in the education, medical and legal professions but it has been slow progress in other professions. It was unusual for women to be doing things we have in the past always regarded as being ‘masculine’ but not any more. I wonder what progress men have made in comparison.

Shirley Anne

Not noticed and I like it.

Next week, on the 14th, I shall be eight years old! It was on that day, which happens to be the birthday of one of my brothers too, in 2002 that I lay in a hospital in Chon-Buri, Thailand, undergoing my GRS or gender re-assignment surgery. I prefer to call it ‘corrective’ surgery as that is what it essentially is. I was simply born a woman in the wrong body! That is something many people will not understand and this too  is quite understandable! They have not been in the same predicament. I say predicament because that is what it was and is for those in similar situations. Imagine, if you are a woman, being trapped inside your brother’s body for a few days (or your sister if you are a transsexual guy) and have to live up to the expectations of those who know your brother and expect him to behave as the guy they know he is! The experience would be horrible and that is the way it is for the transsexual but they have to live that way all their lives unless they can change their physical appearance and live as the gender they really are. So it was with me. It is a well-known fact that most transsexuals go into self-denial even for years, thinking that all will go away but it doesn’t. Events in their lives thwart any hope of resolving their problem and they get dragged away by peer pressure from friends, colleagues and family commitments. I wont go into any further detail here but if you wish to know more on the subject there are some good links below and on the right here under ‘Transgender’.

Anyhow, when I first transitioned, physically that is, I had some difficulty in ‘passing’ as a female for many reasons. Nowadays though it is much better and I find that I am not noticed as anyone special or out of the ordinary. I like it! People, being as they are, can make life difficult and I can do without the hassle. Now I am just another woman on the block. My life has been good over the last couple of years after many years of  being trapped. Thankfully those days are gone and  the future remains bright.

Shirley Anne