flaunt those legs girl!

Transgender women typically sport great legs, due to pre-HRT (hormone replacement therapy) muscle development combined with post-HRT muscle shaping. The result stands out!

So flaunt those legs girl!

I never wear pants.

And remember that high heels will further accentuate your legs! For tips and video on successfully living in heels see my post “the trick to walking in heels…”. Confidence forms the key ingredient—you must emit badass!

Setting an Example

To encourage you, let me now walk the walk (pun intended):

weekly transwoman-friendly fashion roundup (#2 – body shape)

Welcome back ladies!

Last week I introduced this series and proposed some garments that I believe address the specific needs of many transgender women’s bodies. But then I realized we need to step back to basics; that I need to educate readers a bit.

So before we continue with fashion and style recommendations, I thought it best to discuss body shape. Your body shape influences whether an article will look great or blah (or even absurd) on you, so it’s best to know your body shape as you develop your personal style and wardrobe. So today I make no clothing referrals; we’ll only discuss how to derive your body shape, and what to do with the information.

In the last week, I wrote the following web-based Body Shape Calculator. I highly encourage you to use it to determine your body shape, and to share it with your friends. Not only will it serve the needs of transwomen, but cisgender woman will benefit from its use as well.

Once the app returns your body shape based on the measurements you enter, it provides a link to guidance on how best to dress for that body type. I will enrich this guidance toward the needs of taller women in the future.

A picture of the web-app follows. Click on the image to use the app. Instructions follow this picture:

Here I provide brief instructions on how to use the app:

Other Editions of Weekly Transwoman-Friendly Fashion Roundup

Click here for other editions of this series!

Grrl on Grrl Podcast interviewed me!

Today my interview with Grrl on Grrl Podcast came out!  We discuss, among other things,

  • The science of gender identity
  • The music of Axis Evil
  • “Ladylike” behavior as a source of personal empowerment
  • Cultural appropriation
  • Psychosexuality
  • Model minorities

Big thanks to June Owatari of Grrl on Grrl Podcast for working so hard to put this together! The music presented during the interviews may be downloaded here.

 

make an intent board

Optimism is a skill.

A simple exercise that strengthens your focus and direction involves creating an “intent board”, also called a “dream board” or a “vision board”. These serve me well in life!

Basically, you make a poster, or in my case a Pinterest board, called “Intent” and fill it with images that speak to your goals, values, and dreams. Then you review it every day for inspiration! The images you select may include photos, clippings from magazines, drawings, or anything else you can imagine.

For example, my intent board (below) shows everything from vaginas to fiber optic dresses to cyberfeminist propaganda to geodesic domes.

What you believe and what you focus on creates your reality. (I won’t back this statement up with psychological or spiritual arguments today, just run with me here…). Intent boards clarify goal-oriented beliefs, convincing you of possibilities. They help focus you.

While I don’t expect to—or want to because it would be too much to healthily manage—gain everything I put on my intent board, it helps to review the full scope of what I like as I work to target my actions. An intent board not only helps you enact conscious goal-seeking activities, but it teaches and pilots your subconscious such that you diminish the likelihood of sabotaging yourself in the process.

If you create your intent board using poster paper, I recommend updating it at least yearly as your values and goals evolve. Pinterest provides the advantage of unlimited space and an easy way to search for images. If you use Pinterest, I recommend altering the descriptions of any pins you add to describe your intent, rather than keep the expressed intent of the original image source. In other words, make the image “yours”. (Note that some Pinterest pins do not seem to let you alter the description).

And remember there exists no wrong or right way to do this!

Setting An Example

To demonstrate, feel free to check out my personal intent board below. You’ll identify many concepts (e.g. spirituality and music) expressed among the images that I touch upon with this blog. (Only a portion is shown below; click here to see the full board):

numb penis

To prepare for gender affirmation surgery, I’m having hair removed from my testes and penile shaft through electrolysis. To manage pain, I numb the area prior to each session using tetracaine.

I like having a numb penis. Then I can’t feel a part of my body that I don’t particularly want, don’t feel particularly attached to.

at a wedding in Delhi

One of the most amazing experiences of my journey into womanhood occurred when I attended a wedding in Delhi.

The bride knew me before I transitioned, but immediately embraced my identity as Emily when I announced it. We quickly became extremely good friends, and I therefore eagerly attended her wedding when the time came. I was so happy for her that I even wrote a string quartet for the couple to celebrate their union:

The wedding rituals we performed during the two-day ceremony appeared more gendered to me than those of the American weddings I’ve attended. The women did many activities together with the bride, such as application of henna (see my hands on the photo below) and the anointing of saffron, while (presumably—I wasn’t there so I can’t confirm) the groom participated in activities with the men.

What stands out for me is that the women fully embraced me as one of their own, allowing me full participation in their rituals, knowing full well that I was biologically male. Result: An extremely happy moment in my life. Core validation!



After the anointing of saffron, still among women only, we danced to Bollywood songs for about half an hour. Felt very spontaneous.

Today I watched Kaouthar Darmoni’s TEDx talk “Dare to be feminine for guts sake!” (below). She begins by telling a story about growing up in Tunisia where women would gather together, away from men, and simply dance. She then describes how this practice traces back to Mesopotamia 4,000 years ago. Perhaps the dance ritual I participated at the Delhi wedding described above traces back that far; perhaps it inspired the Mesopotamians, or perhaps the Mesopotamians inspired it.

But I realized immediately upon starting this video that I participated in something ancient and profound.

on this blog’s new name: “gender punk 360”

I recently changed this blog’s name from “gender punk” to “gender punk 360”. Why? For ethical and branding reasons:

Primarily, I owned “genderpunk.net” but not “genderpunk.com”. However, I do own “genderpunk360.com” and think a “.com” makes a better impression on potential readers.

More abstractly, “gender punk” is a general term used widely in our community [1], which I felt I had no right to co-opt directly. While I’m casting a wide net in describing my experiences with gender, the problem lies in the word “my”.

But “gender punk 360” sounds like a magazine title or website, i.e., a brand. In this way I feel I can “own” it.

I take inspiration from George Orwell’s description of the difference between the words “Communist International” and “Comintern”:

Communist International, for instance, call up a composite picture of universal human brotherhood, red flags, barricades, Karl Marx, and the Paris Commune. The word Comintern, on the other hand, suggests merely a tightly knit organization and a well-defined body of doctrine. It refers to something almost as easily recognized, and as limited in purpose, as a chair or table. Comintern is a word that can be uttered almost without taking thought, whereas Communist International is a phrase over which one is obliged to linger at least momentarily.

Here, like “gender punk”, the community owns “Communist International”. However, Lenin and his comrades owned “Comintern”. It served as a Soviet brand. Likewise, my brand is now “gender punk 360”, referring to something “easily recognized and limited in purpose” as per the Orwell quote. “Gender punk” is an abstract, ill-defined concept. “Gender punk 360” is a specific realization of my experiences.

I don’t even identify as “gender punk”. I’m simply a punk who lives transgender. These two identities, “punk” and “transgender”, inform every facet of my life.

The number “360”, as in 360 degrees, implies a holistic, circular, and comprehensive view. I’ve always been a systems-thinker and this writing proceeds accordingly.

References

  1. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=genderpunk
  2. George Orwell. The Orwell Reader: Fiction, Essays, and Reportage. 1945.

transgender people love

Lost in the ongoing ecclesiastical debate about whether transgender identities hold validity in the eyes of God [1] are interactions between (cisgender) Christian thinkers and transgender individuals themselves, particularly those of faith.

Many faith-leaders and Christian scholars intellectualize us into sub-humanity:  Their idea is that God made humans male and female strictly in God’s own image and that to be fully human therefore requires full embrace of one or the other polarity, the polarity matching one’s genitals. (We are ignoring the intersex population in this argument for convenience–however the body of Christ will have to come to terms with intersex individuals’ existence too). Because transgender individuals cannot live healthy lives under the constraint of this particular sex/gender model—a model believed quintessential to the construction of a human by many Christian thinkers, we are regarded as having rejected God’s gift of humanity.



However, one knows a tree by its fruit [2]:

God gave humans the ability to love. And transgender people love. We love deeply. We love just as much as as cisgender people.

The fruit therefore is the love produced, and only a human can produce it.

It follows then that we fully received the gift of humanity.

References

  1. https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/transgender-issues-next-battle-culture-wars
  2. Matthew 12:33 (NIV)

on love

Thought it time to write an essay (of sorts) on the nature of love:

Here I specifically mean Romantic love, partnership love; not other kinds. I won’t throw Greek words at you to differentiate between the types of love as many writers do (e.g. C.S. Lewis), except I thought I’d decide to use the term “eros” at some point, but didn’t. I’m going to use the imprecise English word and we’ll make its meaning clear from deconstruction and context. We are talking about the love that drives madness and rock songs. We are also talking about the love that, when steered wisely, channels into successful marriages.

Why am I writing this? Not entirely sure. I’ve spent much of my non-child life in a state of unrequited love and, being rather introspective, have consequently thought about the subject a good deal. Moreover, I remained in an abusive relationship for 14 years (seven of which in marriage) and stayed primarily due to my choice to continue loving, rather than out of fear or insecurity. Naturally, I’ve thought deeply about that choice, both during those years and after the divorce.

Furthermore, roughly 2.5 years ago I publicly became a woman (I’m biologically male) and having been living and loving as such since then. Among the intelligentsia where gender is considered a social construction this matter may not seem to pertain much to a discussion of love, but I can now tell you from personal encounters that an individual’s experience of romantic love is shaped by patriarchy and heterosexism, no matter what that individual’s gender identity and sexual orientation.

I’ve also written seven love songs in the last two years. So take the intellectual out of me and I’ll still sing about the matter.

Two Basics

When I tell someone I love them for the first or second or tenth time, I really mean two things:

  • I love them.
  • I’m in love with them.

Note the difference: The second is a state of the brain caused by heightened dopamine receptor activity. It is transitory. It fades. This is why couples often complain about the “spark” disappearing in their relationships (if they don’t nurture the first item on the above list).

The first uses love as a verb. It is something you do. It is a choice you make. It is a gift that you give. But you have to commit and continually recommit to this verb form of romantic love to achieve benefit from it. And of course in this form of partnership love, unlike the dopamine receptor form, both parties share the benefit and pain, where as the psychological state of being “in love” is actually quite selfish—driven by the lover’s desire for benefit and, for lack of a better word, acquisition.

The verb form leans altruistic. Consider lyrics from my song “Waste”:

This hope seeks recognition, connection, resolution.
And its more about the love I wanted to give,
than that I wanted to receive

Admittedly the first line could apply to either form, but the second two lines clearly apply to a desire to give love. An activity. A decision. A verb. Not entirely altruistic though, because one hopes to receive the verb form of love just as much as they might desire to give it.

Madness and Estrogen

Here we return to a discussion of romantic love as elevated dopamine receptor activity. All feels well and good until the rejection or the breakup. Then one’s brain chemistry walks through the depths of Hell. In my case, due to bipolar disorder, I go just plain “mad”—engage in reckless behavior and become dangerously suicidal. This condition might last years over one incident of heartbreak. Not a good thing.

I’d even call it addictive. Idolatry.

Estrogen made this experience far worse for me soon after I started taking it. Before then I could channel my reckless behavior into socially acceptable activities. But I lost this ability (for a considerable period of time) once I started taking the hormone, as the hormone drove my emotions to far wider extremes than anything I’d ever experienced before.

Fortunately, I’ve now become accustomed to estrogen’s impact on my emotions, and now make better decisions.

What I’m trying to say though is:  We should never underestimate the damage long-term unrequited love can inflict on one’s spirit.

Back to the Good Stuff

And now back to discussing love as a verb:

When I love someone I do everything I can to ensure they know their intrinsic value. Not their value to me as a lover or potential lover, but their value in the universe, their value for simply being human. To be clear, I also express their value to me, especially when a rich friendship underlies whatever else we might create, but that is a secondary activity. Its their intrinsic value that matters, not my valuation. Another way of saying this: I’m fleeting—we must promote valuation in light of things eternal.

Currently, there are three women in my life I would take a bullet for. Two have been cruel to me (one extremely so)—and neither of these two will have anything to do with me. But I still actively love them (verb form) in the only ways I can, through radical forgiveness and continued prayer for their well-being. Furthermore I keep the door open to them at all times.

Authenticity and Self-Expression

Anyone who knows me knows that concern for authenticity in all things drives me. That explains why I present romantic love divided into the two distinct forms discussed above. Doing so enables clarity—allows me to demonstrate to a partner or potential partner exactly what they are getting when I say I love them. Authenticity resides in the understanding transmitted—my beloved realizes that I’ve thought deeply about the meaning of love and therefore am trustworthy with regard to that dangerous word.

Self-expression matters too. I can’t be anyone other than the stylish femme I project to the world. One has to live according to their soul to love successfully. Sure one can suppress themselves to pay for the short-term dopamine high, but to sustain the commitment of verb-form love throughout all the challenges it brings one must practice alignment (and continual realignment) with their core identity. In other words, the strength generated by a quality relationship flows both from the genuine within and from the genuine in the beloved.

This mandate plays out too for one’s treatment of their beloved: One commits to loving them for who they are, knowing they will evolve and, if nurtured, grow. While conflict comes inevitably and must be worked through faithfully, trying to fundamentally change one’s beloved is a fool’s errand. Besides, their spirit holds intrinsic value as it is and one can easily lose good love by neglecting that truth. The exception of course regards abusive situations, where change on both sides proves necessary. (Not just the abuser must change, the other party must learn not to participate in the dynamic).

Control

A lot of this comes down to control, and the choice to cede it to positive vulnerability. Note that we are not talking about ceding discernment here.

As my narrative above indicates, the dopamine high-driven form of romantic love often involves perilous loss of self-control. I frankly become a slave to my passions. Bitch owns my heart.

But the verb form of love retains control; the decision to give love, to support and promote a quality relationship, is exactly that: A decision. Good decisions only emit from a position of self-control.

And good, well-grounded decisions to love actively enable wholehearted surrender to positive vulnerability, the state where things really blossom in a relationship.

Patriarchy and Heterosexism

Now that I’m a woman, I feel a pressure to date men that I can’t put my finger on. I do like men, and occasionally engage in romantic behavior with them, but I don’t like the subtle nagging feeling that that is the way things are “supposed” to be.

I watched “Sex and the City, the Movie” last night, which I absolutely loved for the fashions presented. But the story made me feel inadequate for not being in a heterosexual relationship (or any relationship for that matter!). It made me feel that my excitement for highly expressive dresses and my bisexuality stand at odds, as if a stylish girl like me should be guy crazy and exclusively so. The movie also reinforced the patriarchal model that a woman’s path to economic prosperity is through a relationship with a man.

Now I’ve experienced a few nights of passion with men, and enjoyed them thoroughly, but these experiences lived out the most base of the dopamine-high form of romantic love. If pressed by social expectation to only commit to verb-form love with men, I leave out a whole segment of the population that I resonate highly with. This is intolerable. To give love one must stand free to give love.

To give love one must stand free to give love.

Heterosexism and the patriarchy constrain that requisite freedom.

Giving God the “Finger”

When unrequited love drove me to madness roughly 1.5 years ago, I wrote a song about giving God the “finger” to express my angst. No regrets! Here is the song, titled “Prayer (Say Nothing Again)”:

See Also

the currency of love

radical forgiveness (video)

the pedagogy of love

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

reconstructing my life from scratch (part #1: radical kindness, and dresses)

As expressed previously on this blog (see “the trick to changing your gender…”), I habitually reconstruct my life. This skill proved essential to my public transition and continually issues economic dividends.

I now stand at an inflection point where I need to reinvent myself again from scratch. You see, the last five years delivered unprecedented upheaval in my life, so much that I have yet to fully adjust to and recover from it all. To provide context, in the last five years I:

  • Divorced
  • Publicly became Emily
  • Fell in love, and lost big, thrice
  • Lost a job I enjoyed and held for a decade
  • Experienced multiple psychiatric episodes (mostly suicidal ideation)
  • Visited India and Kashmir
  • Released two deeply introspective rock albums
  • Discovered that I enjoy having men penetrate me

Only about half of these experiences prompted suffering, but all of them taken together severely disrupted my holistic comfort and security. Consequently my worldview must adapt if I’m to continue delivering my best to the world. I need to rebuild.

I completely need to rebuild. To examine every feature of my life.

For clarity, I hold tremendous assets to step forward with, e.g.,

  • Faith
  • A roof over my head
  • Supportive family and friends
  • Great access to mental and physical healthcare
  • An education complemented by significant work experience
  • Enormous creativity
  • An open mind
  • Modest cash flow

So I’m advancing with resources in place.

My First Two Steps

I’ve decided to start by building a life that radically promotes kindness, and to wear dresses everyday.

Radical Kindness

I hold kindness up as my highest value. So I begin my reconstruction with a firm commitment to delivering kindness at all opportunity. I love greatly, and a clear dictate from the New Testament states that “Love is patient, love is kind.” [1]. Therefore we start with kindness.

I’ll write more about kindness in the future.

Dresses

“Emily”—the person, the spirit, the identity—sustained a major beating in the last five years. She resisted despair by asserting her femininity at every turn. Clothing provides a physical declaration of gender, and nothing more so than feminine dresses. So I plan to wear dresses every day from now on unless there is a good reason not to (e.g., fixing my car or SCUBA diving).

I cannot fully explain why this matters so much to me. But I have noticed (again I cannot explain it) that my life simply “works” better when I wear a dress than when I wear a skirt and a top. It could be confidence brimming up and therefore providing fruit, or could be the universe confirming my decision—most likely it is both.

Manufacturing Intent

I describe making an “intent board” or “vision board” in my post “make an intent board“. Basically on an intent board you paste images to a poster or Pinterest that represent your goals, values, and positive traits. Then you review it regularly for conscious and subconscious guidance.

My intent board includes four whole sections on dresses to celebrate and encourage the joy I experience while wearing them:

References

  1. 1 Corinthians 13:4. (New International Version)

draft lyrics: “Gutter Priestess”

Mystic in a concrete kingdom
Sensitive and ambitious
A live-wire and its conduit
Bold and powerless in transmission

Mystic in a concrete kingdom
We dwell in grandiosity
In this existential wasteland
We dwell in poverty

Light up your Joules per second
Eject your free energy
Spike that ball and give it to me

Priestess in the concrete patriarchy
in the gutter
in your mind and in your ego

Priestess at the concrete interface
at the resistance
at the critical nodes
We drive the New Girls’ Network

Ignite your Joules per second
Transmit your free energy
Spike that ball and give it to me

prophetess of Diesel and blistering entropy
reckless information and persistent decay
beacon of persuasion and persistent connection
spike that ball and give it to me
spike that ball and give it to me
spike that ball and give it to me

the real reason I live in an RV

Not paranoid, just a student of history.

Even CNN and President Obama are concerned about the development of authoritarianism in this country [1]. That is saying something.

I don’t just live in an RV to save money or live portably. (Both good things in my ethos).

I live in an RV primarily so I can flee to Canada or Mexico if things get bad for transgender people in the United States.

Berlin in the 1920’s welcomed transgender individuals to some extent. The city served as a hotbed of transgender medical research. By the 1930’s the Nazis started arresting LGBT people.

I do not trust the “religious” right. They do not understand Christianity. They do not know Christ. Pharisees, the lot of them. Given power they would lock me up or execute me.

I do not trust current trends to protect my liberty. While I 100% trust and expect California to intervene on my behalf, a U.S. state can only do so much.

Going to stash money in the Royal Bank of Canada soon, in case my U.S. assets are frozen.

I’ve memorized the highways to Canada so I can turn off my smart phone if I flee. (To prevent tracking). Already know how to drive to Mexico from where I live.

Keep my RV in good repair for sudden travel, with my propane tanks and battery array full. Keep the fuel tank in my truck at least half full.

See Also

RV chic

References

  1. http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/09/opinions/obama-hitler-germany-democracy-warning-ben-ghiat-opinion/index.html

Thermo Fisher: ten years at an uncommonly fabulous company

Many laid-off employees trash their former employer. But my decade at Thermo Fisher stands as one of the richest experiences of my life, despite significant challenges along the way. So I want to remind current Thermo Fisher employees and leadership what they can take pride in:

Exceptional Handling of my On-the-Job Gender Change

I joined the company at the Austin site as “Daniel Edmund Williams” and left from the Carlsbad site as “Emily Marie Williams”. No easy feat.

The (public) transition took place one year into my tenure at the Carlsbad site. My colleagues there embraced my chosen identity completely. Sure there were a few initial hiccups in name and pronoun use, but those faded quickly. No one fussed about the bathrooms or showers.

Yes, a few folks were uncomfortable at first. I took them to lunch. I turned the other cheek. They came around.

Thermo Fisher employees and leadership can therefore take pride in their openness.

HR

Thermo Fisher’s HR department knows what they did for me, along with the challenges I faced. These stories are of course not for public consumption.

I thank them for all their tremendous support. I thank them for all the collaborative problem-solving and for delivering substantial grace.

Thermo Fisher employees and leadership can therefore take pride in their Human Resources Department.

Learned to “Manage Up”

Working at a large corporation for a decade usually means reporting to multiple bosses. Most managed exceptionally well, a few struggled. One was downright abusive. Immersed in this environment, I became skilled at collaborative problem-solving and team-centered idea promotion, skills I’m extremely thankful for.

I also learned how to stand up to the abusive boss—proudly setting an example for my less experienced colleagues.

Company employees and leadership can therefore (mostly) take pride in their management.

Learned to Manage (Down)

An intern reported to me one summer, allowing me to develop my talents at management. While no one specifically coached me on management skills during this period, the many good (and a few bad) management examples set around me directed my compass.

Acquired Technical Skills and Sharpened my Business Acumen

Immediately following my layoff last July I founded Whole-Systems Enterprises, Inc. Employing all the data science skills I learned at Thermo Fisher, we are developing and optimizing day-trading algorithms. We are also selling bioinformatics and data science consulting services. My experience at Thermo Fisher made this possible.

Thermo Fisher employees and leadership can therefore take pride in their technical development.

Why Am I Saying All This?

This blog, and the book I’m writing based on it, covers transgender issues. Employment is a major transgender issue, not just during the public act of transition but encompassing the whole life experience of work. I wanted to celebrate an organization that is getting it right.

The whole proves greater than the sum of its parts.