"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Monday, 16 April 2018

What Did You Expect?

What a privilege it is to have lived as a man and as a woman. My life has certainly been more interesting than I could have expected.

Obvious aspects that changed when I transitioned such as clothes, make-up and hair, voice (losing the bass/baritone has turned out to be very hard), and movement, are each more complicated than I anticipated. 

Clothing trends have made femininity a more subtle thing than expected. Fortunately pink chiffon and matching satin heels were never part of my collection; there has certainly been no occasion for such an outfit. For daily wear, I buck the trend mostly, and lean away from jeans (I always hated the heavy denim material) and have accepted slacks, leggings and skinny lightweight jeans as a day-to-day uniform. The mandatory tunic or long top to go with leggings has also become a staple. Lately, I've found some dresses that also go well with the leggings, especially when layered using a light sweater to cover the arms and add some style. The same dresses will likely be worn with bare legs and sandals (oh, I do love sandals) when summer finally arrives.

While I was still working, two-inch comfortable (read expensive) heels had become my weekday wear with flats for evenings and the weekend. In retirement, the flats and ankle boots have taken over. I have to dust those heels every month or so now.

Makeup has been cut back to the point where now I moisturize and fix my eyebrows and put a bit of mascara on my very blond eyelashes. Sometimes a bit of lipstick.

My hair was been an issue. I resisted using the wig I bought seven years ago. Thanks to two very special ladies, I found that it was possible to style my hair to cover up quite a bit of the male-pattern baldness that had begun. In the past few months, worry over people seeing that my hair is thin has decreased. These days it has become possible to walk out the door and feel that this is who I am and others will judge if they are that sort.

Strangely, behaviours I thought would be difficult to change have come quite naturally, with a lot of help from friends. My walk, once a huge confident stride, has dwindled to a fraction of its former self, but I still hold my head up and walk tall. I'll hold a door - but only after I've walked through.

The frank and humorous video below, by Paula Williams, tells you what she has learned from life from both sides of the gender divide. There are many favourite lines, but the best for me is "... and ladies I doubt you've thought about this, but do you know there is never a time in the life of a male that he has to worry about whether or not an article of his clothing is accidentally going to drop into the toilet?"

Yes, most of the time, when I use the toilet, it occurs to me that something might go wrong; clothing into the toilet, spray ending up going forward (surface tension is real!) or getting clothing tucked into the wrong place and walking out of the washroom with something that should be hidden ... you get the idea.

Some days I wake up and, in despair, think I don't fool anyone. My body is the wrong size. My hair is too thin, my voice isn't good enough ... then I remember that I didn't go through all of this to fool people. It isn't about other people. This is about me - living life the best way possible.


Saturday, 31 March 2018

Filling a Void

Writing this piece feels strangely like whining, yet I do not intend it to be that way. After all, life is treating me well. I am having a very good time; keeping active and productive. Still, I feel a need to write about how it feels to be done with a major life-changing project. Perhaps it might offer something to others. If not, writing this today was an activity other than cross-stitching or cooking or practicing music (or being the doggy door-keeper). That is, in fact, relevant to the topic - filling the void left by something that used to fill your time.


Some years back, I retired from my full-time career - teaching. The void left in my days made room for a process of self-examination that led to my rebirth, not just as a woman, but as someone aware of her inner motivations to a much greater degree. Working had not just filled my days; it had occupied my time to the exclusion of nearly everything else. That process of self-examination took the place of work in a very real way - occupying a large part of each day. I became both learner and teacher while discovering what it means to be me. 


When one retires, a danger lies in having a void in self-identification. When we are introducing ourself to others how do we do it? 

"Hello, my name is Halle. I am ..." 

We fill in that blank space with our place in the world as defined by marriage or not, children or not, and often, what we do for a living. For me, being a teacher (and, therefore, a learner as well) was much more than a job; it defined my personality. I am a teacher by nature. These days dear K gets to be on the receiving end of my need to teach and study, poor thing. She doesn't seem to mind though.


Having transitioned is a retirement of sorts; a huge, all-consuming project now complete to a very great extent. Certainly it is a pleasant change to wake in the morning and be greeted by thoughts having nothing to do with dysphoria . If I think about anything to do with my body when awakening now, it has to do with a trip to the loo. I definitely do not miss those feelings of misplacement. Yet, there is a void left that feels strange to me.

I am guessing that the teacher/learner still wants a place in my life. One very intense focus for learning has been removed. To replace it will require a heady experience, filled with a feeling of adventure. 

It may be that those activities mentioned earlier will have to suffice; yet arts and crafts are not life-changing in themselves. So it seems I shall have to either become satisfied with learning the finer points of needlework and the world of oboe reeds (a lifetime study I've heard) or find another intense focus to chew upon. 

Hmm ... the weather is getting pleasant here. Might be time to get the golf clubs out and dream about the satisfying click the club can make when contacting the ball properly. 


Thursday, 15 February 2018

Talking About Gender

A big thank you to my dear friend Coline for the link to the BBC Radio 4 program, Word of Mouth, and in particular one program, Language and Gender Identity

The description of the program reads: 

Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright are joined by CN Lester, author of  'Trans Like Me: A Journey for All of Us'  to talk about language and gender identity. What does it mean to be transgender and how is language being used (by and about) people who identify as transgender, non-binary or genderqueer?

You may be familiar with CN Lester from their blog A Gentleman and a Scholar

BBC Radio 4 does not support embedding a podcast on a blog, so please use the link above, or here to have a listen to an excellent talk with very knowledgeable participants.