Saturday, May 27, 2023

Misconceptions and Anomalies

 

When I first started coming "out", I also started learning about my own misconceptions of what being transgender means.  Now that I've been out for a while, I can say that this ignorance was common to the larger cisgender society we live in.  And I've come to believe that being transgender is being on a spectrum of gender development issues that involve gender identity, gender preference, gender presentation, and gender manifestation.

To start, for most people, gender identity is a simple concept: you are either male or female.  But what happens when the mind develops in a way that this concept doesn't fit?  Like many transgender people, one can reject the genitalia that one is born with and look to have both surgeries and hormone treatments to correct this physical anomaly. However, many transgender people do not suffer severe gender dysphoria and choose paths which may only involve hormone therapy and other, less radical body modifications. To some cisgender people, this is beyond comprehension, and it is an abomination.  But why?  A baby's gender is the first thing people want to know when a child is born, as if defines much of the path that person's life will follow from birth to death. Anyone who challenges that basic path might be a threat to social unity, and that has to be stamped out before the threat becomes a reality.

Next comes gender preference, a concept with which people are only now starting become comfortable. Like gender identity, this is considered a threat to society by many cisgender people. However, many cisgender people have grown to understand this concept and accept that people with non-traditional gender preferences should be treated with respect and accepted by society.

However, gender expression (presentation) is not as understood by the general populace.  Why do some lesbians present with a more "masculine" appearance?  Why do some "straight" (in gender preference only) prefer to present as females? Many in cisgender society have problems processing who and what a person is when a person has an androgynous (or non-conforming) gender image that resists categorization.  This may trigger cisgender society's deepest fears, as people tend to fear most what resists categorization and being understood.  

Lastly, gender manifestation (or, I should say, being intersex) is something that is either hidden or "corrected" at an early age.  For example, many babies born with ambiguous genitalia have been "fixed" to look like "normal" females.  But this potentially creates a problem for these children as they grow up into adults, as their gender identity may be in conflict with their "corrected" gender manifestation. As a result, many intersex people are demanding that no "corrective" surgeries be performed until the child knows enough about its own gender identity and can provide input into the process of gender identification.

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With all of the above being said, I have to focus on the misconceptions people have about transgender people.  For example, not all of us want to have surgeries to convert our genitals to that of the sex of which we identify.  One person I know has had hormone therapy, but chooses to retain her masculine sex organs.  (Who wants to live a life without being able to have an orgasm again?  This person needs to preserve her ability to self-pleasure.)  Others need to have genitalia which resembles that of their gender identities.  And then, there are issues related to how many gender related physical traits that transgender people feel they need to fix before they feel they are of their identified sex.  (Hair transplants, Voice Adjustments, etc.)  As they used to say in old commercials, your mileage may vary.

Another misconception is that many cisgender people have about us transgender people is that we want different genitalia, so that we can have sex with our "former" sex.  (I knew a LCSW who believed this, and I am glad she is not in my life.)  For the most part, one's gender preference does not change after one has gender corrective surgery (GCS).

What I found surprising is how many cisgender people react when they interact with non-op transgender people (like me) who travel with legal IDs which conflict with their gender presentation. Some, like my Texas friends, are amazed that I will often travel in female mode while holding male ID. Others will (in bad taste) wonder aloud whether a transgender person is a male or female.  If I had heard that while boarding a ship on one cruise, I'd have asked the couple: "Why don't we go back to your room, and the three of us find out?  It could be some great fun."  That would have thrown them for a loop.  

Yet, when it comes to sports, more of the general population doesn't want transgender people to compete against people not belonging to their natal sex.  But what happens when a person's natal sex is ambiguous, or when hormone levels are that of the opposite sex?  There is a female runner who has been disqualified from running against other females because her naturally occurring levels of testosterone are that of a male.  How should we accommodate people like her?  There is a transgender female swimmer who is now disqualified from being in competitions against other females - even though many of her peers support her inclusion in these competitions.  I feel that if a transgender person's body has not undergone the puberty of their (at birth) assigned sex, and has only gone through the puberty of their identified sex, they should be allowed to compete against others of their identified sex as they will have no advantage from the wrong puberty. And even this is an issue that perplexes many in society.

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I feel that we have a long way to go before society understands and accepts transgender people.  At best, we are considered anomalies whose identities are not fully accepted because they are ambiguous.  At worse, they trigger irrational fears in others that will trigger them to cause us harm.  Hopefully, things will change for the better for us soon.

Friday, May 26, 2023

I just got a new dress from Universal Standard at a deep discount.

 

The above dress in yellow does nothing for the model in the picture.  But change it to blue, and the dress works very well on me.  And this is what I wore to night to have dinner with Vicki.

But first....

RQS had come up for a rare start-of-week stay, and we had a great time together.  No, we didn't do much of anything, save keep each other company for a few days.  While here, I told her of the dress I ordered from Universal Standard with a very deep discount.  I won't say how much of a discount I received, but it was enough for me to drop the hammer on buying a new dress when I wasn't planning on buying one. 

 


If I had known that this dress would be available in this color when I decided to buy the first dress, I might have chosen it instead.  I like the color, and I may still drop $148 (plus tax and shipping) to buy it if I have some extra money by the end of the month.  

Yet, I digress....

RQS thought the first dress looked good on me, and I did too.  So I wore it when dropping her off at the station to go home, and to pick Vicki up for dinner tonight - and I got compliments from Vicki as well. I think Vicki was surprised that I arrived at her house a little bit early.  This wasn't much of a problem, as we got to the restaurant relatively quickly.

Lefteris Gyro is one of our go-to places when we want Greek food.  They serve enough food there to feed an army, and I had enough food left over to be tomorrow's lunch. Although I won't say much about the conversation we had, it seems more likely that she and her husband may be spending their retirement in New York for reasons I won't go into here.  This pleases me for one reason - one of my closest friends may stay nearby in retirement, and I won't lose contact with her (as I almost did with WDS when he moved to Florida).

All too soon, I had to drop Vicki off at her house.  Hopefully, I'll be able to see her again before my next trip (and possibly introduce her to Vicki #2).

Thursday, May 25, 2023

But where do I want to go that's affordable and safe for me?

 


Until early next year, it will not be prudent to schedule more vacations than already in the docket.  Yet, I would like to find a couple of overnight (or weekend) trips we can make from NYC at a minimal cost. Given that we can get to most major Eastern cities at a reasonable cost on Amtrak, the cost of travel (in both time and money) will not be an issue.  Instead, it is the choice of where to go.

I expect that hotel stays will be the biggest expense for us, followed by dining, transportation and miscellaneous expenses. We've narrowed the list of places to visit to the following 3 cities: Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.  Boston and Philadelphia are cities I have not developed a feel for yet, so I'd like to explore them when possible.

What does this say about other cities?  My impression of many other cities is that they do not have enough attractions for us to spend a weekend in the city, and that we would need a car to get around because of the paucity of good mass transit.  In addition, many cities in the Red States are hostile to all but cisgender people. Although I will be flying to Chicago in the Fall, it is one of the few cities outside the Northeast that I have found have enough things to do and is safe for me to visit while presenting as a female.

Even if I decided to travel as Mario, the issue of mass transit is important.  Most modern American cities have evolved around a Post-WW2 Car Culture.  Mass transit has been neglected, as people seem to prefer cocooned commutes to work.  Years ago, Los Angeles had one of the best public transit systems in the USA.  Now, it is trying to replace what it lost in the 1950's.  When I visit LA later on this year, I will be reluctant to take buses to reach my uncle's current residence, and will spend much more money taking an Uber for the trip.  Unfortunately, all too many American cities have become like LA, and this limits my choices for weekend trips.

Luckily, this doesn't rule out travel to Canada, even if I have to take a plane to get there.  Although Mount Royal (Montreal) is a quick ride North for me, I don't want to visit a place which penalizes people for using English in what is supposed to be a bilingual nation.  In the USA, we're seeing the use of Spanish change us into a bilingual nation.  And for the most part, we accommodate Spanish speakers much more than Quebec accommodates English speakers.  Instead, I would likely go to Toronto, a great city and one worth exploring at leisure.  Having been there before, I can say that the Theater and Restaurant scenes in Toronto make the city a great place to visit.

Yes, I have my prejudices in where I will travel.  But who doesn't?   This New Yorker will only go where I feel welcome, safe, and where I can get around with ease.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Why I'm not taking an Alaskan Cruise this year.

 

 


The above route is one I'd like to take this year, as it checks off all the places I want to see on a 7-day Alaska cruise.  The underlying price, inclusive of airfare, taxes, port fees and gratuities is more than acceptable for me as a solo traveler.  However, I won't even consider it due to circumstances not mentioned in any travel agency site, or the cruise line site itself.  (This is not just an NCL issue, as Princess, RCL and other cruise lines have the same problem.)  But what is the unadvertised problem?

Last year, there was a rock slide which made it unsafe to make port at Skagway's railroad pier.  At a moment's notice, cruise lines changed their ships' itineraries from Skagway to ports such as Icy Strait Point (Hoonah) and Sitka. This year, Skagway has done what it can to stabilize the rock face overlooking the railroad pier, but it is only a short term fix. And it is a fix that (at worst) can only give 12 seconds' warning before a rock slide.  Although Skagway can keep people safe, this is not enough for the people who run the cruise lines. They are just not comfortable bringing their newest and biggest ships to this port due to liability issues.

For me, a stop in Skagway is a must on any Inside Passage cruise. And I feel it almost criminal that at least one cruise line has failed to update its site to indicate itinerary changes that now bypass Skagway. As a result of this, I will not take a last minute Alaska cruise this year, no matter what discount I get, as the advertisement for these cruises no longer reflects the true itinerary that these cruises will follow.

 

 

PS: From what I've been told, there are still ships stopping at Skagway.  It seems as if only the older, smaller ships are making it to this port, as they can use an alternate way of bringing people into this little town. Hopefully, cruisers on these ships will get to enjoy this port the way I did 25 years ago.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Sometimes I have nothing to say, so I go away from things related to being transgender

 


Today, I posted something that got no one's attention.  And I can't blame people for looking elsewhere for something interesting to read.  However, one of the problems with being confident in one's ability to interact with the world as a transgender female is that there is often nothing to say about the experience. Most of us transgender people are able to go out and about in our worlds with only minor complaints from the peanut galleries.

The first post I made today was triggered by something that bothers me: The plethora of computer wire interface standards, and having to have cables for every type of device I own.  Obviously, few people are concerned about all the extra cables which need to be carried when one goes away on a trip.  I guess most people take this for granted these days.

Just because I had nothing to say didn't mean that my concerns about life have gone away.  I still see the power grab from the fundamentalist and authoritarian right wing to be a major threat to me and civil society.  But there's only so much I can say about this before I get sick to my stomach.  People like our former president, the governor of Florida, and the governing majority of several state legislatures  are a existential threat to all of us.  

In the past, I've said that Liberals aren't much of a threat to society, as they focus on the needs of the individual.  Individuals tend to have a harder time imposing their will on groups made up of other individualistic personalities, as they are not as prone to need authority figures to authorize their behaviors.  This serves as a check and balance on Liberals' ability to impose extreme positions on others lives.  However, I have grown to believe that radical conservatism is a grave threat to society, as power hungry individuals find conservatives easy to manipulate because they need authority figures to both authorize and choose the actions conservative people will take.  They follow a "primitive brain" need to follow leaders who have achieved "top dog" status by the use of some sort of power.  They follow these leaders out of fear, and adjust their beliefs to fit stories told by those leaders.

There will always be a tension between the needs of the individual and the needs of society.  The 2023 debt limit debate has been used as a tool to bludgeon the liberals to give up supporting individuals in need.  At the time I'm writing this entry, I have no idea how this political issue will be resolved. But I know one thing - the lunatics are now in charge of the US House of Representatives, and they pose the greatest risk to us all, both conservative and liberal alike.


Electronic Doodads and Standards

 


In the past, each of our electronic devices had its own charging / interface cable.  Sometimes, these cables could be used with other devices. But most of the time, these cables could only be used with the devices they came with.

Manufacturers (and lately regulators) saw this to be a problem, and developed common standards. USB-A became a standard to connect devices to PCs and Charging Blocks.  However, when it came to connecting Cell Phones and Tablets to PCs and Charging Blocks, things changed a little more slowly.  And this is where the "fun" begins.

Over the years, most device manufacturers have seen the need for a universal cable type, and came up with USB-C.  Given all the headaches needed to implement this type of connection, I understand that it is almost a miracle this could be done with USB-C.  Yet, it is the wired connection type that all non-Apple manufacturers are making their standard.

Apple is well known for not playing well in the sandbox.  It creates proprietary standards, used in a way to prevent many non-Apple devices from connecting to Apple tablets and cell phones.  Recently, the European Union pressed Apple to use USB-C, and Apple tried to resist the EU.  However, it looks like Apple has caved into pressure (sort of).  Like what they have done with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless connections, they want their USB-C implementation to exclude non Apple devices.

Now, I respect Apple for doing what it does well.  (I own an iPad which was given to me as a gift, and am surprised that it still runs well after 8+ years of ownership.)  But I detest Apple for making it impossible to tether my iPad to my Android phone or for making it impossible for my friend to tether her non-Apple laptop to her iPhone to the cellular phone network.  

In fairness, IBM once played the same game with its equipment that Apple now plays with standards. And look where IBM is now with its manufacturing.  They legitimized the personal computer industry, and now has no interest in it.  Apple has done something that no technology vendor has done since the age of mainframe computers - it has developed a fully integrated technology ecosystem.  But this may be its eventual undoing.  IBM was forced to play nice in the sandbox by the courts.  Apple is being forced to play nice in the sandbox by the EU.

How long can Apple last before the next major technological shift?  And what type of shift will that be?  I have no way to see the future.  But this pattern has played itself out again and again with modern technology.  The character set used by IBM mainframes is directly related to the punch card codes used in the 1890 census.  More recently, both MS-Word and Lotus 123 created de-facto standards for Word Processing and Spreadsheets. 

The big question is: What will Apple have contributed as part of its legacy?




Monday, May 22, 2023

Walking on the Rail Trail with DS.

 


Although the above picture was taken roughly 20 years ago, it gives an idea of what the local rail trail looked like today - except that more people were out walking and cycling, enjoying the warm day.

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Last night, I fell out shortly after my nightly call to RQS.  Unfortunately, I woke up around 1:30 am, and couldn't get back to sleep until 5:00 am.  So, this changed my plan of getting up at 8:00 am to go to church.  Instead, I told my automated assistant to wake me up around 10:30 am, and relaxed for a while.

Of course, 10:30 am came way too quickly, and I started taking care of little things before driving to the rail trail's parking lot at 1:00 pm. Unfortunately, DS got stuck in traffic, and we didn't get moving on the trail until 2:00 pm.  Although I had to rest a few times, I did get in a little over 3 miles of walking before it was time for a late lunch at 3:00 pm.  Pizza was on the menu, and I made sure that it would be a place convenient for DS. And it was there we were able to chat without having to watch my breath.  (Talking in Marian Mode requires a breath effort which is hard when doing physical activity.  I require a stronger breath to hit the upper range of my voice, and physical activity robs me of that strength.)  Too soon, we had to part.  But we will try to fit in another walk in a couple of weeks.

Once I got home, I took a little nap.  And when I woke up, it was time for dinner.  All in all, it was a nice day, and great seeing DS again.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

A day to myself (sort of)

 

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

- Ferris Bueller 

 

- - - - - -

Today was one of those days that I did almost nothing ...at first.  But once I got moving, I was able to take care of an errand related to last night's overflow and take care of some food shopping I needed to do this weekend.

Lately, I've been hanging out in my apartment when I have nothing outside to keep me busy.  Friends have had to reschedule dinners, leaving days open for me that I couldn't fill with meaningful activity. And that gave me the freedom to take care of an emergency laundry run, cleaning the bath towels I used to sop up last night's mess.

When I started my laundry, I decided to walk outside to see if the neighbor's car was in the driveway.  It it was, I'd likely have nothing to worry about from them in regard to last night's problem.  But it wasn't there.  So I figured that I'd bring this up when I see them next, as I'd rather take care of things myself than to get the co-op involved.

After my laundry was done, it was time to go to Walmart to pick up a few things.  While in Walmart, TCL called.  I returned her call once I got out of Walmart, and chatted all the way to the nearby Stop & Shop. And that's where I bought food for the beginning of the week, so that RQS and I do not have to go out to eat as soon as she comes here on Monday.

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One thing I've noted lately is that I often do not have much to say.  I find that I'm healthier not having one former friend in my life, as her problems occasionally took on a life of their own in my head.  That's something I don't need at this stage of life.  I have enough on my plate, and it's enough to bore some people to sleep. 😉

 

An early dinner with a friend

  Last night, I mentioned to Pat that I wish I could have been born a cisgender female who looked like this when younger.  If I were younger...