Oneness Ministry

We are One

From One Closet To Another

Is it helpful to go from one closet to another?  MTF or FTM?  Isn’t the point of coming out to stay out?  To define yourself as an individual and be proud of whom you are! This is an eternal question each person on the gender journey must resolve.  Perhaps the answer is not clear cut.  Perhaps this is the nature of being in question to begin with!

Gender when graphed looks like two mountains, one peak is male the other female.

gen_distrib Draw a vertical line through each peak and the area in between is the realm of transgender.  We fall in the middle and thus don’t really belong in either closet.  Also notice how quickly the lines fall off at the edges.  There are not many in the extremes of maleness or femaleness.  Easily sixty percent fall in the middle zone leaving the those who would consider themselves the majority surprisingly in error.

Of course there are other interpretations of this graph and it is not my place to define it for you, but only for myself.  So take this as an opinion and not fact.  There are no real facts, only perspectives and points of view.  So who are you?  How does that closet serve you?

closet hiding inPerhaps those who thought they were in a closet are in fact outside the closet and in reality it is the “mainstream” individual who lives in the closet, a strict definition of hetero/male or hetero/female which defines the closet.  The closet provides structure and perceived safety, but is in reality a trap of normalcy.

So, I ask you again… who are you?  How does that serve you?

Sequoia Elisabeth 🙂

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Transgender Day of Remembrance 2013

TDOR is not a day about those who have died it is about those who are living!  The dead person has moved on and those who are left behind are the ones dealing with the pain and grief.  Separation is always painful but it does not have to be this way. Candle Light

Today I would like to shine a light on why it is important to remember events of the past and to honor those who have gone before.  The obvious answer and the one I have heard many times is, “learn from your past or you are doomed to repeat it”, but this falls short.  Perhaps it is these individuals are important as human beings and kindred family and while this is absolutely true the real gift here is injustice is brought to light.

Awareness is raised in the minds of all people and they see the destruction and injustice violence brings.  Transgender Day of Remembrance brings our community to the main stream consciousness in a cry for equal rights.  It is a statement of we are people too and deserve to be treated as well as any other person.  The fact which often gets lost is we are all human beings and a valuable part of the whole of life; however it is not us against them!  Let me emphasis this point.  It is never about US vs. THEM in any situation.  When this perspective is taken it becomes a losing proposition for both parties.  The Equal Rights movement is about equal rights for Everyone.  No one person is better than any other or more deserving or less deserving of common basic human needs such as personal security, love, self esteem, personal fulfillment, cultural security, and participation, plus a right to life, liberty, freedom of thought, expression and identity, and equal treatment before the law.  Let us focus on the things we all desire because this is about the living!

The Universal Law of Attraction states, “What you focus on grows”.  Or to say it another way, the energy of attention funnels this power where ever it is pointed.  If you are focusing on the things that are wrong or broken or painful then you get more of them. (such as crime, discrimination, etc. which explains why this fight continues) However if you are focusing on what is working, how systems are supporting you and what you like about a certain person, place, or thing then you get more of that!  What if you remembered one thing you like about every person you meet?  Even if overall you do not agree with this person’s cosmology.  Let me give you an example.  I like the fact that Rush Limbaugh is speaking his mind and doing the best he can with what he has to work with.  He is walking his talk and he deserves this right.  I forgive the many issues we do not agree on and am thankful for our common ground.

Please take advantage of this Day of Remembrance to focus on what you love about these people who have lost or taken their life.  Let go the hatred which got them killed.  Let’s not make this about blame or fault but instead focus on the laws which protect us and give thanks to those who love and work to expand protections for all people.  Share your dream of the world you wish to live in! (A world where restrooms are not segregated into male/female and every person is respected and allowed the right to pee in peace)  It is important to be heard, so listen to others and treat them with the respect we all deserve.

There are no victims only volunteers, thus I honor all the beautiful people who have volunteered to be symbols of change and to shine the light on a community’s needs.  Blessings to all who have passed before me and may God have mercy on those who took what was not theirs to take.

🙂 Sequoia Elisabeth

Unity in Gender Diversity

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The Gender Journey

What is Gender?  I know many of you have some idea but this blog invites you to take a closer look and to put gender into context of life here on planet Earth.   For a basic perspective on what gender is please visit The Gender Learning Center and review the first few pages, either the article or the Power Point Presentation.  Ok, now that we have some idea of what gender is, look closer to find both aspects of gender within yourself.

Each person is a complete and whole being, including aspects of both genders and often a combination of each in different proportions.  Accept that your physical sex is one aspect and your gender is another.  For a Transgender individual this will be different than for a cisgender person, and maybe even more important.  Before you can release something, you must first accept it for what it is and embrace this reality knowing it is only one aspect of you.   What you resist; persists.  So this is why it is so important to accept things as they are, while letting go of any expectations as to how life is going to work out.

Now allow yourself to flow to the expression of gender which feels the most natural.   There is no right or wrong way, only your way!  Others will either accept you or not as you have no control over this, however the people who are meant to be in your life will eventually come around and accept you.  Hold no attachment to who these people are supposed to be.

The next question for those who are Transgender or Transsexual is are you transitioning because it feels natural/good or are you changing because you hate the other aspect of who you are?  If you hate your body, this is resistance and it will persist.  Even after surgery if you hated your former self you will still see it in the mirror.  The change happens on the inside and is viewed on the outside, so doing your inner work of self-love is the most important aspect of transition whether you have surgery or not.

The real reason Transgender or Transsexual individual’s transition is for the experience of authenticity and self-expression.  Life on Earth is about Identity and getting to know who you are!  As I put it on my website, “We are all on a journey to discover who we are. In the process of thinking, saying, and doing, we see who we are NOT.  Along the way many personas emerge, and with each step you draw closer to who you really are.  In the end we discover there really is only one, and this is GOD.  The Journey never ends…”

I recently found a video which speaks directly to this journey (Ask Teal – Transgender and Transsexuality) so I share it with you now urging you to give it a “look see” and find the wisdom you need.  One reason I love Teal is she speaks from the heart and I see myself quite easily in her.  Her teachings align perfectly with mine, and it is so rewarding to find someone who understands life as I do.  Please share your perspective and if you have questions please comment on this blog.

🙂 Sequoia Elisabeth

Unity in Gender Diversity     Free eBooks click here

 

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Label Me Please

“Label me, define me, nail me down with cold words and

that box will be your coffin, for I do not know who I am” — Rumi

Using labels to define existence provides us with a tangible experience.  Boxing something or someone’s identity allows the observer to have a personal idea of not only what that item or person is, but more importantly to know their self!  Rumi has it right in that we are all that is, but in order to fully experience this earthly life one has to be in a box or all is nothing!

Try this wonderful exercise and see how it feels to you.  Choose a random moment, pause, look around and say to yourself – “I am That”… “I am”.  You could be looking at a beggar on the street, a flower in your yard, or the computer you sit in front of right now.  Experience what it feels like to “Be” that item or person.  Take your time and let it sink in.

How does it feel?  Did you have a transcendent experience?  I know I often experience a feeling of connection to everything in the Universe during that exercise, but sometimes I don’t feel a thing.  It depends on what I put into it!  Taking my time and relaxing into the process is key.  A fun place to do this exercise is somewhere you don’t normally go or particularly like being.  It stretches the mind and broadens the senses to a point of acceptance, depending on how much you resist the feelings of course.

Where do you find yourself feeling awkward or uneasy?  Prisons, Churches, Gay Bars, Tall Buildings, at sea on a small boat, a room full of animals, sitting in your cubicle, _______ fill in the blank?  The feedback you receive is insight to your make up and conditioning, but does it really tell you who you are?  Now try the exercise in reverse, where do you find yourself feeling safe, welcome, and at home?  Your own living space, sitting at your desk, in the arms of your lover, with family, with friends, in a forest, all by yourself, _________ fill in the blank?

Now think back to a tranquil picture you remember seeing, does the feeling you get seeing the picture compare to actually being there?  For instance, seeing a picture of Yosemite National Park compare to actually being there?  Do you expect it to?  The idea is for the picture to remind you of past experiences.  If you have never had the experience then the photo can inspire you to visit the place or have the experience.  Fantasy pictures are more about invoking an emotional response sense going there is not an option.   What does “Be a Unicorn” mean to you?  If you see a pretty picture of a Unicorn can you image being the Unicorn?  Are you in the Unicorn box?  Do you see the purpose boxes provide?

Without a box or identity how can you experience anything in particular?  I find being in a box (labeled identity) helps me more fully experience life, whatever that life is at the time.  When I was living as a man the box allowed me to more fully embrace the experience of being a man.  Now that I live as a woman whether I label it as transwoman or not I have a clearer idea of who I am.  I live based on my own ideas of what a woman is, while also feeling my way through the experience.  The clothing, behavior, and thought process is very natural and takes little effort on my part.

I have sat in a field and put myself in Tree box, imagining myself to be a tree, feeling the sun, sinking my roots deep into the earth, and feeling the connection to all the animals, insects, and other plants!   It is a cleansing experience, one that humbles me, and reminds me how important each living thing is in this world.  Without the box though, this would not be possible.

On a side note labels are simply a tool, and can be used to separate you from other things and people.  If you go around saying I am not that, or that is a tree and I am not a tree, then the feeling of separation takes over – the feeling of fear sets in.   Connection is a feeling of Love and perhaps this is the purpose of the whole exercise!  To feel Love!  Have fun on your Journey of Love.

🙂 Sequoia Elisabeth

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Acceptance is Key

The Transgender Journey is much like any journey.  Preparation helps all go smoothly while being ready to handle the unexpected becomes a valued skill.  Learning to accept what you have and working with it is both the beginning and the end of the journey.  The “what you have” is dynamic as is the journey.  So let’s begin.

First of all find out who you are.  This is not as simple as it may seem.  The person you see in the mirror is not necessarily who you are.  The body is simply a vehicle rather than who you are.  Just like your car is not who you are, neither is your body.  Getting to the point where you are happy (accept) with the image in the mirror and with yourself is sometimes a long road.  There is no right way to get there, so leave the GPS at home and use your intuition instead.

Introspection comes easily for some of us and much harder for others, so if you are one of those who does not like to look within, then this will be even more important to you, although you may need to get help.

The journey goes something like this, look in the mirror, what do you see?  Ok, this is your vehicle.  It was given you for a reason and most likely that reason is that it will take you where you need to go, not necessarily where you want to go.  Accept this gift!  Right here and now, STOP thinking you know where you are going.  Stop thinking you know who you are.  Let go of any preconceptions you may have acquired.  Each day is a new day and one with the potential to discover your true self.

Now that you have discovered your vehicle go take it for a ride.  Test the cornering ability, the acceleration, and the stopping distance.  See how good you are at changing situations, demands on your services or skills.  On the road keep a notebook with you and record your best features, skills, and attributes.  Get to know what you are good at and what you need work on.  Accept where you are as perfect in this moment, all is well.

You have a long list now and are ready to pursue this even further.  Stay focused on the desirable features, skills, and attributes, the ones you put on your list and have already accepted.  Staying motivated at this level is about focusing on your goodness and forgiving all else.  If you noticed any undesirable attributes on the list you can acknowledge them, thank them for being a part of you, and then let them go.  To symbolize this write them down on a piece of paper.  In a safe location, burn the paper while focusing on gratitude – be grateful for the learning they afforded you.  Everything in your life serves a purpose so be grateful while at the same time do not get attached to them.  For instance, fat is often a shield we use to protect us from perceived danger or undesirable situations.  Notice I did not say “real” danger.  Once you become comfortable with the situations in your life and can accept your gifts of physical beauty and vigor then life supports this reality.  It all starts with your acceptance and willingness to see the beauty no matter your perceptions.

What is next for you?  Be optimistic and joyful, you have just let go of all your troubles.  The process continues and goes deeper each time.  Accept and repeat.  Life will evolve and get better and better!  Before you know it love and acceptance will exist in you on a deeper level than you even knew existed!  As this occurs your experience in the outer world conforms and reflects this reality.  The only real way to change the world is to change yourself!  The world is just you reflected!

Remember a few things along the way.  Everything happens for a reason, resistance is futile, and everyone is going through a similar journey, so give them what you would wish in return, acceptance.  Joy is in the journey!

🙂 Sequoia Elisabeth

Unity in Gender Diversity     Free eBooks click here

 

 

 

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How Necessary Is SRS?

When is surgery for Gender Dysphoria appropriate and necessary?  Should a doctor do the sex change just because an individual says they want one?  Gender Identity is a person’s own concept of who they are – it cannot be proven by science, so does a person’s word stand as gospel?  These are questions care providers specializing in gender must deal with on a daily basis.  The rule many are adopting lately is the informed consent rule, while others stick with the WPATH Standards Of Care (SOC).

Let’s look at both to see what works best.  The WPATH Standards of Care 7 was just released in 2011.  It is put together by specialists in Gender treatment, including physicians, surgeons, psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists.  One of the first things they point out is gender non-conformity is not the same thing as gender dysphoria and should be treated differently depending on the severity of the individual’s condition.  It is largely the mental health care provider’s responsibility to guide the individual to a discovery of the extent and intensity of discomfort or dysphoria they are experiencing and if this experience is constant or intermittent.  A copy of this publication can be downloaded for free at this link. (http://www.wpath.org/publications_standards.cfm)

“Surgery – particularly genital surgery – is often the last and the most considered step in the treatment process for gender dysphoria. While many transsexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming individuals find comfort with their gender identity, role, and expression without surgery, for many others surgery is essential and medically necessary to alleviate their gender dysphoria (Hage & Karim, 2000).” (SOC 2011) (Italics and Bold added)

Informed consent as I refer to it here is not the traditional form used in all medical procedures for legal reasons, it is simply the verbal understanding between patient and provider of how the individual identifies and then treatment ensues based on the individuals testament.  It is used because as stated before no one can prove a person’s gender identity.  Even the individual may have doubts about it which are to be taken in consideration by the provider.  This is why counseling therapy is so important in my opinion; because if the person has other psychological conditions they may get the idea they are transgender when it is simply a masking by this overlying condition.  It is also good to get several different opinions to confirm the person’s gender dysphoria before prescribing hormones or doing any surgery.  The big difference is the SOC method recommends a letter from a licensed practitioner and the informed consent method does not.  The provider just takes their word for it.

Obviously the question of which works best is still being worked out, so I will leave it to you to decide while sharing my opinion from experience.  The SOC have been in use since 1979 and takes a conservative approach to treatment.  The informed consent method is more cavalier and puts the responsibility squarely in the hands of the individual which may be the appeal for both the practitioner and the patient; however I question if it is really in their best interest.

To wrap this up it is every individual’s responsibility to ask questions, do research and know as much as possible before reaching any conclusions or taking any actions.  Make sure you know which method your provider uses and what is required of the individual in the treatment path.  Trust your gut!  Or to say that another way, listen to your soul.  It knows the path you need take and get a second opinion before making any life changing decisions like living full time, taking hormones, or having surgery.  It is my opinion that surgery is a last resort used in the most severe cases of dysphoria.  I also believe that everyone, yes even cisgender individuals experience gender dysphoria although it is often a brief experience precipitated by an external event perhaps through someone else’s dysphoria.  There are other types of dysphoria also, like the feeling you are from another world or are really a non-human being, but that is another story all together!  Those individuals are referred to as Wanderers if you would like to do further research.  Till next time readers, Blessings on your Journey of Love ♥

Sequoia Elisabeth 🙂

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Transgender Suicide

“Transgender Suicide Report

For the last five years Laura’s Playground has prevented Transgender suicides on line. (Click Here for a link) The estimate of transgender suicides in our community is between 31% to 50% depending on who in the community we talk to. Few outside our Community acknowledge or believe these numbers including Dr Kenneth Zucker and Doctors Blanchard and Baily. Until now it’s all been guesswork. Actual numbers were hard to come by as it is hard enough for families to admit there was a suicide let alone that the victims were transgender. The fact is most medical examiners do not know if a person was gay or transgender due to families too embarrassed to report it. Here we have 5 suicide prevention crisis rooms in chat that are all busy. Our staff both moderators and supervisors are certified in youth suicide prevention. The fact is we have actual numbers not just an estimate. In a 5 year period here this site handled 78,800 suicidal crisis’s online. They were of 3 types. Type 3 being suicide ideation, Type 2 being suicide ideation with a plan and Type 1 being actual suicide attempts.

Type 3 = 46933 Type 2 = 20238 Type 1= 11629

In addition, in a survey here over 50% of Transsexuals had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday some as young as 7. This was also verified by chat transcripts of the crisis’s especially in the early years. Reasons given for suicide in order:

1) Problems coming out to homophobic friends, families and co-workers. Homophobia in general including slurs.

2) Body Image Distress or disgust – puberty

3) Discrimination – Housing – Employment – Church’s

4) Victims of Hate crimes and/or violence

These are actual numbers and reflect what is really going on in the community. Many had more than 1 reason combining 1 and 2 and others. The biggest surprise was the role homophobia played in suicide ideation. If homophobia stopped tomorrow the suicide rate would be significantly reduced which means it is preventable.” (Laura Amato 2012)

The one reason I see lacking here is money.  Many transsexuals lack the money to have any treatment at all and most lack the funds to have SRS/GRS.  We are talking 50k to 150K depending on surgery, electrolysis, therapy, and hormones.  Those who are most severely dysphoric are most likely to end it all due to a lack of funds.  It is an option I keep in the back of my mind and review quite often.  Fortunately, I understand I am not my body and removing the body will not fix anything.  I even hesitate to have surgery at all knowing that ultimately it changes only my appearance.  My soul has no gender, but that is another story.

The good news is there are organizations working hard to remedy this predicament many of us face.  Advocacy groups are working to change the insurance laws and get transgender care including surgery added to most plans. The AMA has come out and stated that surgery is a medically necessary treatment for Gender Dysphoria, see my website for link to statement. As it stands now, a few carry it as a rider and most of these are because the Corporation or Municipality negotiated/demanded them into the options they offer.

Many larger communities have organizations who offer low cost therapy and Denver has several.  The Gender Identity Center, who I volunteer with, offers therapy and hormone letters to those in need on an ability to pay basis. Here is a link to therapists who specialize in gender care.  If you can’t afford them, ask for options in your area.  I am happy to help if I can, also check my website for other resources.

The Jim Collins Foundation offers a grant for surgery to those meeting their qualifications, click here for info.  Some surgeons offer scholarships or grant programs to assist their clients in payment.  Check with your surgeon to find out what they offer.  I do know Dr. Reed in Miami has a program for the first 13 per year who apply.  There are companies like Satori Medical who help clients find low cost surgery in Thailand and other locations.  Many creative solutions have been found over the years by many a resourceful individual.  Necessity is the Mother of Invention after all!

The best way to deal with a perceived lack is to help someone else fulfill their need.  This is one reason I started this website, to give what I need!  If you know of a need in the world, reach out and help, you will be helping yourself.

🙂 Sequoia Elisabeth

Unity in Gender Diversity     FREE eBooks! Click Here

 

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Mirrors of Friendship II

Transition is a long and sometimes arduous journey so it is very important to treasure each moment of Joy and each success along the path.  Doing this alone is certainly possible, but the Joy grows exponentially when there is someone who cares to share the experiences with.

Often the decision to begin the transition journey i.e. come out to your partner or parent(s) is the biggest challenge.  Will they accept you?  The real question is do you accept yourself?  The only way to know if you accept yourself is to observe how others treat you.  I know this may seem backward or strange, but this is just how it works.  Understand this… you are all there is, all else is a reflection of who you are.  This may seem odd and self-centered, but it is the Truth and it is both good and bad news.

I call this the mirror principle.  Life is often like living in a house of mirrors, and it can get pretty confusing.  This being said let’s get back to your partner who is having difficulty with your coming out news.  Each person in your life has their own vision of you… as a reflection of themselves, because from their perspective they are the only person there is!  So, be gentle with your expectations of them just as you are gentle with your expectations of yourself.  Do on to others as you would have done on to you, because they are you!  We are One.  Each person is an individuation of the whole; the One; all there is.  All those who are close to you will transition with you or they will fall out of your life.  Transition/change is like walking into a new room, if they do not come with you,… well you get the idea.

When you think about this it explains a lot about the reactions and treatment you get from others.  You may or may not be treated well, however the longer and deeper your understanding of this reality the better life gets.  Those who see themselves to be like you or see something in common are going to be supportive and understanding (and vice versa).  This is a great reason to join a support group!  The internet is a great place to look for one, or you could ask around, network with friends and if you still need help, contact me – I am here for you.  The time spent with others on a similar journey will help you to better understand yourself and give you the opportunity to grow self love.  The Love you give is the Love you receive!  Not only do support groups offer much needed information such as where to go to get the things you need, what to look out for along the path, and who can help you; they show you who you are and I find this to be the greatest gift anyone can offer!

🙂 Sequoia Elisabeth

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Transgender Day of Remembrance

TDOR is not a day about those who have died it is about those who are living!  The dead person has moved on and those who are left behind are the ones dealing with the pain and grief.  Separation is always painful but it does not have to be this way.

Today I would like to shine the light on why it is important to remember events of the past and to honor those who have gone before you.  The obvious answer and the one I have heard many times is, “learn from your past or you are doomed to repeat it”, but this falls short.  Perhaps it is these individuals are important as human beings and kindred family and while this is absolutely true the real gift here is injustice is brought to light.

Awareness is raised in the minds of all people and they see the destruction and injustice violence brings.  Transgender Day of Remembrance brings our community to the main stream consciousness in a cry for equal rights.  It is a statement of we are people too and deserve to be treated as well any other person.  The fact which often gets lost is we are all human beings and a valuable part of the whole of life; however it is not us against them!  Let me emphasis this point.  It is never about US vs. THEM in any situation.  When this perspective is taken it becomes a losing proposition.  One if not both parties loose.  The Equal Rights movement is about equal rights for everyone.  No one person is better than any other or more deserving or less deserving of common basic human needs such as personal security, love, self esteem, personal fulfillment, cultural security, and participation, plus a right to life, liberty, freedom of thought, expression and identity, and equal treatment before the law.  Let us focus on the things we all desire because this is about the living!

The Universal Law of Attraction states, “What you focus on grows”.  Or to say it another way, the energy of attention funnels this power where ever it is pointed.  If you are focusing on the things that are wrong or broken or painful then you get more of them.  However if you are focusing on what is working, how systems are supporting you and what you like about a certain person, place, or thing then you get more of that!

Please take advantage of this Day of Remembrance to focus on what you loved about these people who have lost or taken their life.  Let go the hatred which got them killed.  Let’s not make this about blame or fault but instead focus on the laws which do protect us and the give thanks to those who love us and work to expand protections for all people.  Share your dream of the world you wish to live in!  It is important to be heard, so listen to others and treat them the way you wish to be treated.  There are no victims only volunteers, thus I honor all the beautiful people who have volunteered to be symbols of change and to shine the light on a community’s needs.  Blessings to all who have passed before me and may God have mercy on those who took what was not theirs to take.

🙂 Sequoia Elisabeth

Unity in Gender Diversity

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What Does It Mean To Be Transgender

What does it mean to be Transgender?  While this is a personal question it does apply to at least 3% of the population.  The LGBTQ population is estimated to be around 10% so let us take a closer look to see the relevancy of the “T”.

First off the term transgender is fairly new being coined in the Sixties and meaning simply a person appearing to or attempting to be a member of the opposite sex, such as a transsexual or habitual crossdresser.  It is an umbrella term often used to include the entire community of individuals who cross gender boundaries on a consistent basis.  This brings us to a terminological issue.  There are many terms being used these days with new ones popping up frequently.  Just to name a few, Transsexual, Crossdresser, Gender Queer, Gender Variant, Gender Bender, and Misogynist. (see TransTerminology for definitions)  The point is we each have a different view point on identity, so take this blog as my view and adapt it to yours, … or not.

Gender Identity is an innate trait expressed with terms and understandings available to the individual at the time.  So, those who haven’t the education on such things have no way to express in words how they feel.  They can of course dress and present how they want given the social fortitude to do so.  Which is precisely the point most meaningful to all of us, Are you comfortable in how you present to the world?  Do you present your comfort to the world or do you conform to social pressures?

Understand there is a big difference between conformity and comfort.  Authenticity is another level of expression often over looked.  I think the process often runs the gamut from conformity when young and first dealing with society, comfort when alone or in a safe space, and then extending out as the “safe space” extends.  The end goal is comfortable authenticity at all times which is no small task to a person who perceives themself as different.  While this is painfully true with Transgender individuals it is often a “rite of passage” for everyone to some degree, shape or form.  The awkwardness of adolescence is only compounded by a variant gender identity, often without the individuals even realizing it.  This is something peers and family usually bring to issue.

Authenticity is expressing your true self in a comfortable and honest fashion.  It requires a complete acceptance of who you are and total honesty with both yourself and others.  On one level you do not concern yourself with others, while at the same time you pay attention to how you are treated because you know this is a valuable clue to how you feel about yourself.

The meaning of being Transgender undergoes an evolution then from simply being different and separate …to total acceptance of being just one of an infinite array of unique individuals unified as a whole of mankind.  It is important to understand that everyone is unique and offer wonderful gifts of their own, just as you do.  There is no shame in celebrating these gifts with all the world, in fact the shame is in not doing so!  Be easy with yourself and get help along the path.  Reaching this point sometimes takes a lifetime or more.

🙂 Sequoia Elisabeth

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What Is Your Story

We are each on a carousel ride, the same carousel.  The ride goes round and round while we each view and experience things differently.   Even if you are sitting in my lap, you experience it different.  What this boils down to is we each have our own story, the story of our lives.  The part we share is the carousel!

What if you were to take your story and toss it in the trash?  You think it is inseparable?  You are not your story, just as I am not my story.  What makes a story?  Is the story ever complete?  Is it ever over?  Do the stories interconnect?  You know, like a TV series with successive stories, one episode after another?  The characters are the same in each episode, just as they are in your story.  If a character loses a contract they are written out of the story, just as people sometimes leave our lives either by dying or by situation, like divorce or simply moving away.

The stories will interweave as characters cross paths, sometimes staying for a while and sometimes only for a brief smile.  The paths can pass close without touching or they can collide head on!  What does it all mean?

The answer is up to you because there is no meaning until you give it some.  The simple fact is there is no story but the one you create by living your life!  So is your life living your story or your story living your life?  Which came first the chicken or the egg?  Funny how we love that question, or at least I do.

I wrote my gender focused story and published it as part of a larger story of Sex and Sexuality.  It was therapy for me because I did not understand my own story.  I needed to step back and get a bigger picture.  It all seems like a dream to me now, in some ways maybe a nightmare.  None of it seems real anymore, because I have awoken to a different reality and yet I have only awoken within a dream.  A dream within a dream!

Love to hear your story or at least your comments on these thoughts.  Maybe you have shared these thoughts or parts of them.  I love how a million people can see a beautiful vista and see it differently every time!  Maybe your story is more meaningful when it is shared.  Maybe it is not yours till you give it away!

Sequoia Elisabeth 🙂

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Two-Spirit Way

The tradition of gender variance has a long history in the Americas because nature is diverse thus making people diverse.  This is the way of Spirit.  Accept that each person is unique to the Universe and yet we are all a part of the Whole.  One with Great Spirit.

“Two-Spirit people are defined as LGBT and gender-variant members of the Native American community. The term “Two-Spirit” was coined in 1990 by queer Native Americans gathering in Winnipeg. Many contemporary LGBT Native Americans use the term “Two-Spirit” to maintain cultural continuity with their traditions. In many of our cultures, some individuals possessed and manifested a balance of both feminine and masculine energies, making them inherently sacred people.” (BAAITS 2010)

“In Native American culture, before the Europeans came to the America’s, “two-spirit” referred to an ancient teaching. This type of cross-gender identity has been documented in over 155 tribes across Native North America (Roscoe 1988).

Our Elders tell us of people who were gifted among all beings because they carried two spirits, that of male and female. It is told that women engaged in tribal warfare and married other women, as there were men who married other men. These individuals were looked upon as a third and fourth gender in many cases and in almost all cultures they were honoured and revered. Two-spirit people were often the visionaries, the healers, the medicine people, the nannies of orphans, the care givers (Roscoe 1988). They were respected as fundamental components of our ancient culture and societies. This is our guiding force as well as our source of strength.” (Sandra Laframboise, Michael Anhorn 2008)

“The abundance of terms that we find as we study various tribes testifies to the familiarity of Native Americans with gender-variant people. It is important to note that this is different than sexual orientation as such words did not exist in Native languages. Concern for appropriate terminology should always be on one’s mind because ‘Gender’ is an obligatory grammatical category in the English/French and Latin languages. It is a linguistic term and has no connection with biological sex or social identity of an individual. This issue comes to a head in the area where ‘gender’ intersects with the Native people of North America. Many non-natives have misinterpreted two-spirit as referring to people with homosexual tendencies, when in fact, the ceremonies and practices were based on different genders being manifested, and not on sexual preferences or practices.

Many tribes had rituals for children to go through if they were recognized as acting different from their birth gender. These rituals ensured the child was truly two-spirit. If parents noticed that a son was disinterested in boyish play or manly work, they would set up a ceremony to determine which way the boy would be brought up. They would make an enclosure of brush, and place in the center both a man’s bow and a woman’s basket. The boy was told to go inside the circle of brush and to bring something out, and as he entered the brush would be set on fire. The tribe watched what he took with him as he ran out, and if it was the basketry materials they reconciled themselves to his being a ‘berdache’ (Colonial term for Transgender). (Roscoe, 1988)

In another ritual, usually carried out when the child is between the ages of nine and twelve, that helped identify a child’s two-spirit nature, a singing circle would be prepared, unbeknownst to the boy, involving the whole community as well as distant friends and relatives. On the day of the ceremony everyone gathered around and the boy was led into the middle of the circle. If he remained in the centre, the singer, hidden in the crowd, began to sing the ritual songs and the boy, if he was destined to follow the two-spirit road, starts to dance in the fashion of a woman. After the fourth song the boy was declared a two-spirit person and was raised from then on in the appropriate manner (Two Spirit Tradition – internet citation).

These rituals determined if the person was two-spirited and taught young boys to do women’s work in addition to that reserved for men. Similar rituals applied to woman. Children of both genders would also spend time with healers, often two-spirit people themselves. Above all, their childhood was marked by acceptance and understanding by the whole tribe. Multi-gendered adult people were usually presumed to be people of power. Because they have both maleness and femaleness totally entwined in one body, they were known to be able to ‘see’ with the eyes of both biological men and biological women. They were often called upon to be healers, mediators, interpreters of dreams, or expected to become singers or others whose lives were devoted to the welfare of the group. If they did extraordinary things in any aspect of life, it was assumed that they had the license and power to do so, and therefore, they were not questioned.

In everyday life the two-spirit male typically would wear women’s clothes and do women’s work. He might take a husband from among the men of the tribe, or might have affairs with several, depending on the role of the gender the two-spirit man in his tribe. This is very different from homosexuality as we know it today. Two-spirit individuals were expected to behave within the two-spirit gender norms of his or her tribe. Roscoe reports that early ethnographers observed a Mojave two-spirit man who was also faking a woman’s menstruation by scratching his inner thighs until he bled thus faking menstrual bleeding. When the partner threaten to leave the two-spirit male even mimicked pregnancy by adding clothes inside his upper shirt and stop the menstruation cycle. He would then eat foods that would give indigestion and stomach cramps thus faking some of the symptoms of pregnancy. When time came to give birth he went into the woods and came back childless under the pretense of still birth. Generally two-spirit males were not expected to have sexual relations with women. All of these rules, however, were culture specific and even within any given Native culture, there was often room for various expressions of gender variance. Throughout historical documents, we see that type of variation from the norm, change, transformation, and fluidity of roles for those who felt called to that path and yet most often they were welcome and appreciated.

Besides their spiritual abilities, their capacity for work also figured into the high status of two-spirit people. Even though a two-spirit male would have taken on the gender identity of a woman, he would still have the endurance and strength of a man. Thus his productivity was greater than that of most women, and for that reason he would have been valued as a marriage partner. Other characteristics Natives associate with two-spirit people which help explain their desirability as partners were their highly developed ability to relate to and teach children, a generous nature, and exceptional intellectual and artistic skills.

As we begin to understand the great diversity of genders in Native America cultures, and the ways in which sexuality influenced the performance of gender roles, we are drawn back to the original pre-colonial rituals. The inner calling of contemporary two-spirited people, however, is often mixed in with modern understandings of sexuality, thus creating a perception that homosexuality was well accepted in pre-colonization instead of recognizing that these homosexual behaviours were accepted under the role of gender identity. Arguably culture is not static and thus evolves and incorporates all the experiences of life. Therefore today the modern movement of reclaiming Two-Spirit Traditions incorporates sexual orientation and sexual identity.” (Sandra Laframboise, Michael Anhorn 2008)

Now that you have a picture of Native American tradition surrounding gender it is important to see that Polarity is maintained.  Either a person is male role or female role, not both at the same time.  While they did have fluidity, at any particular moment the person was either male or female.  This is because of Spirit or Universal Law of Polarity.  Law of Polarity is saying that these things (male & female) are the same just on opposite sides of the spectrum. It is all in how we perceive them and it is up to the individual as to what side of this pole to experience. Without one the other could not exist, because they are One.

The other aspect to appreciate is their level of acceptance.  They simply accepted each person for who they are and integrated this individual into the tribe as best they could; empowering the individual to choose their path in various ways.  Our society today can learn much from our ancestors!

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Humility Revisited

Each person has their understanding of what humility is and it will depend greatly on the traditions in which you are raised.  Let’s face it, we are the culmination of our beliefs and our beliefs are handed down from our forefathers.  With Loving care and diligence these beliefs can be shifted and molded to direct your life in the direction of the most high.

The origin of the word humility is “early 14c., from O.Fr. humilité , from L. humilitatem  (nom. humilitas) “lowness, insignificance,” in Church L. “meekness,” from humilis  “humble.” In the Mercian hymns, L. humilitatem  is glossed by O.E. eaðmodnisse” (Online Etymology Dictionary, 2010).

Look now at the dictionary meaning of Hum·ble, which is the root word for Humility.

–adjective

1. not proud or arrogant; modest: to be humble although successful.

2. having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.: In the presence of so many world-famous writers I felt very humble.

3. low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.; lowly: of humble origin; a humble home.

4. courteously respectful: In my humble opinion you are wrong.

5. low in height, level, etc.; small in size: a humble member of the galaxy.

–verb (used with object)

6. to lower in condition, importance, or dignity; abase.

7. to destroy the independence, power, or will of.

8. to make meek: to humble one’s heart.

(humble. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved December 02, 2010, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/humble)

Now that you have a good feel for the word, consider how this feeling serves you in transition.  Most people and especially the transgender community are well familiar with the feeling of embarrassment, disgrace, and humiliation.  These are typically emotions we avoid like the plague!  When you do experience them it is painful and the effects last for days if not longer.

What if instead of getting upset about these events you choose to be grateful for them and accepted them as a gift?  How is this possible you ask?  Quite simply shift your perception and see these events in their true light.  The truth, by the way, is always humbling.  As an example, assume that you are wearing a wig (because you feel your hair is too thin) and in full view of public your wig falls off.  Several people turn and see you, including a cute person behind the counter who you like.  The first reaction is to panic, grab the wig and run!  This would of course make things worse.  Instead consider the possibility of breathing deeply, moving slowly, picking the wig up, and carefully putting it back in place, asking for help if need be.  Feel the humility of such an event and do not run from it.  Allow that cute person behind the counter to see the real you, the part that God sees, the lovable part in God’s eyes.

So often in life you allow the ego to run your life and this is where the fear and discomfort comes from in the first place.  When Spirit is what animates you then Love is behind every action and even if you fall flat on your face in a restaurant full of people, Loving care, and concern is what reflects back because it is Spirit that fills you.  You see – whatever you experience is a reflection of what flows through you.  If it is ego, then pride fills you and your experience is that of embarrassment, however if it is Great Spirit/God/Universal Intelligence that fills you then Care and Compassion is your experience.  This is the gift of humility!

🙂  Sequoia Elisabeth

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Pain and Suffering

The road is what you make it; however anyone can navigate a straight and level path.  Perhaps the journey is not meant to be easy, but instead to be challenging, eventful, and fulfilling.  Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

This is an important distinction which I wish to make clear.  Suffering is optional!  My definition of suffering is avoidable pain.  The example that best explains it is a pebble which has gotten into your shoe.  It is large enough to cause a blister and perhaps eventually break the skin, whether you stop and remove the pebble or not is up to you.  Leaving it in all day is suffering.  With this said let us now consider muddier examples.

Say you were born with a birth defect like a cleft lip or missing fingers.  The pain is indirect now and so the suffering is harder to avoid.  Or say the defect is more profound such as Down’s syndrome.  In these situations the pain is often more for the family than it is for the individual.  The opportunity to grow extends to all those around this person.  From my perspective it is a larger gift, if used in this way.  The point here is each challenge is an opportunity to share Love (God’s Unconditional Love).

Now let us consider gender dysphoria or transgender/transsexual.  The pain from this condition is often mental/psychological and so it is even further removed and harder to avoid.  It is possible to go your entire life avoiding this gender confrontation, and some do this very thing.  However now a days the treatment of hormones and surgery have become available to remove the physical distress this condition offers up.  Since this is really a mental/psychological condition do the physical changes remove the pain or simply remove the obstacles associated with it?  The latter would be my answer and so any treatment that does not include psychological therapies is useless in my opinion.  Perhaps the psychological therapy is all that is really needed!

After many years of walking this road of gender dysphoria I have concluded the real message here is about Love and acceptance of the self.  If you cannot accept yourself as you were born then accepting the body after surgery is simply another delusion.  With this in mind, to run off and have surgery early on is simply perpetuating the problem instead of healing it!  At some point surgery is a viable option, but not till and unless the individual is able to comfortably express love for the self.  Perhaps this is the gift a therapist can most assist the individual with!  The road to self-love is often a long one, however if gender dysphoria or any dysphoria for that matter is being experienced this is a sign, a call for help if you will.

When I first entered therapy for gender dysphoria I was told only about 5% of people successfully transition from man to woman or vice versa.  This is because many are comfortable somewhere in between, so this is not to say they are unsuccessful, but simply they did not realize where balance would be achieved or that the journey was really about learning to love the self!

🙂  Sequoia Elisabeth

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Life is a Gift

Life is a gift.  What are you going to make of it?  It is not like you were only dealt five cards.  You have the entire deck in a certain order and it is up to you how you play them.  There is an order to life because it is built on past lives and inherited traits.  Think of it as a journey.  A Journey of Love.

The choices are endless.  You can go anywhere you like and do anything you choose.  The price (consequences) will vary.  By now you have discovered the ripple effects of your actions, so choose consciously.  This is like being careful but with added consideration of all factors.  Or at least as many as you can be aware of.

The transgender journey can be quite the challenge; however it is my belief that it is also a great gift.  Purpose lay behind every choice and every action.  Do you know the purpose of your journey?  I can only really speak of my journey because yours will be slightly different or possibly greatly different.  I am here to make the most of what I have been given.

I was born male with a woman’s brain.  My body is quite tall and large in the proper proportions for a giant.  These are my cards.  I still have the deck, but these are the cards showing.  For many years I played the male cards and lived a superficial life, what you see is what you get!  This all changed five years ago.  I dealt new cards from the deck and now I play the woman cards.  The male cards have been placed back in the deck.

The question many of us face is do we trade the male cards in for female cards.  Is surgery to create the facade of female a viable option?  Many believe it is, however I hesitate because it seems a denial of who I am.  I was given these cards for a reason.  Have I made the most of them?  When the time comes I can just deal again or even trade this deck in for a new one (ending this lifecycle).

It seems to me the purpose of it all is to accept yourself as you are, not to change the game!  It is about Loving all that you are no matter the cards dealt.  This is done through the actions you take and the choices you make.  I see people with no legs walking on prosthetics.  Are they not meant to stay in one place?  Or is it about doing what they do and not copying others just because they are walking. Do they deny their gift by using prosthetics?  It is like slipping a card up your sleeve or cheating fate.  Or is it?  They have made the choice to exceed their limitations and make new choices and we all have that privilege.  It can be done in Love and acceptance or in denial and disgust.  Without Love there is no progress and in fact it would be going backwards.

Ultimately the journey is yours and how you play the game is up to you.  Love and acceptance are necessary ingredients.  Remember that it is not about winning or losing but how you play that makes the difference.  Anything done from Love and acceptance is a win!  Just because others are doing things a certain way does not make it right for you.  The choice is yours.  We all are a part of the same puzzle, so there is no way not to fit in; this is the beauty of life.  Accept your place (card deck) and make it shine!

🙂 Sequoia Elisabeth

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Are You Transgender

How does one know they are transgender?  The answer to this question is both easy and complex.  Easy in that only the individual knows they are transgender by how they self-identify and complex in that identities often blur together.

Transgender – A person appearing to or attempting to be a member of the opposite sex, such as a transsexual or habitual crossdresser.  This is an umbrella term often used to include the entire community of individuals who cross gender boundaries on a consistent basis.  Dressing as the opposite sex for a school play, at Halloween, or once or twice as a youngster does not make you transgender.

A person can identify with many others who are important in their life.  Gender is not always important, meaning they may identify with both men and woman and sometimes other beings as well, such as animals, plants, or insects.  We do it all the time, it is called anthropomorphication, projecting human characteristics on to things other than human.  Pets are a favorite subject for this.  Identity is a fluid thing, because we are all connected through Great Spirit.

Getting back to self-identity, gender identity is usually apparent by the age of 3-6.  For this reason historically the Native Americans and recently some modern families are choosing to allow their child to tell them how they identify instead of looking between the legs and then pasting them with an identity of boy or girl.  Certain characteristics such as toys chosen, behavior in certain situations, and how the child interacts with others can be indicators of masculine or feminine characteristics.  However just because a boy likes to play with dolls does not make him transgender either.

Gender is a spectrum not a binary and in fact 80% of the population falls somewhere in the middle of the bell curve.  It is rare to be totally male or completely female in gender.  Just think back about your life and whether you enjoyed doing things which were considered opposite of your gender?

The main gist of the growing numbers of Transgender identified individuals is equality.  Everyone no matter their gender, race, orientation, status, finances, appearance, mentality or any other characteristic deserves to be treated as an equal.  Each person in their own way is an expression of God, Great Spirit, or Infinite Intelligence.  And it is up to the individual to decide how they identify!  Our job is to lovingly accept them.

Doctors, Lawyers, or parents do not have the right to impose their interpretations on any other person.  Now they can and will offer their expertise, but it is still up to the individual to take that information and do with it what they will.  Even a child 3-6 years old can tell their parents how they feel.

The parent can then provide opportunity for the child to explore their feelings, and with love and support the child will fulfill their destiny.  And for those individuals who have suppressed these feelings for decades it is never too late to give yourself permission to be true to you!!  Ultimately, Love is the answer to every question.

I encourage those with gender doubts or questions to explore their feelings by looking deep within the heart.  The only way to know for sure is to try different gender role expressions.  When you arrive at a conclusion it will feel right.  Of course, this is for the moment because life is filled with moments and this feeling may change, although the wiring of the brain is fixed at birth.  Ultimately life is an exercise in discovery and forgiveness.

🙂 Sequoia Elisabeth

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Gender Incongruency Part 2

Gender Incongruency part 2 is the continuation of the simple straight-forward definition provided previously and now we delve into why Gender Incongruency is the preferred term verses Gender Identity Disorder.

The documentation provided on the different views of Gender Identity Dysphoria sound complex, but really it is not that complicated when you break it down.  I will do my best to provide clear reasoning to explain it.  First of all everyone has Gender Identity, just as they have a sexual orientation.  When this identity is incongruent with the natal sex and established stereotypes a diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder is given.  Since this is really an issue of incongruency and not necessarily a dysfunction the term disorder is inappropriate.

Think carefully about the term disorder.  Most allopathic treatments use a chemical and/or a surgical approach by prescribing a medicine or surgically altering the body to treat the illness or disorder.  Medicines are intended to be temporary till the body heals itself.  Gender Dysphoria is based on an incongruency from birth.  Some feel it is a birth defect, depending on how it manifests.  Often, if the patient is born completely male or female they do not deal with the issue due to societal and peer pressure until later in life. They have dealt with this condition all their life because they do not know any better.  Since there are many things in this world that do not make sense we all deal with incongruences.  Is it so hard to believe that a person cannot live with these feelings?

“Principle 18 of The Yogyakarta Principles states that “Notwithstanding any classifications to the contrary, a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity are not, in and of themselves, medical conditions and are not to be treated, cured, or suppressed.” According to these Principles, any gender identity of a transsexual or transgendered person is neither “disorder” nor mental illness, thus the diagnosis “gender identity disorder” can be contradictory and irreverent.” (Wikipedia.com, 2012)

Given this fact and the fact that physicians need a way to treat patients who request it the term Gender Incongruency seems very appropriate, thus the Concerned Professionals proposal.  The other issue is treatment and payment.  In our present system insurance usually picks up the bill but many specifically exclude transgender/transsexual treatments.  This trend is shifting however and it is because they have a diagnosis in the DSM to use along with the ICD-10 that insurance is willing to cover hormone therapy, although most do not cover surgical interventions.  Lobbying by activist groups, LGBT awareness groups, and allies have helped increase awareness of the need a great deal.

Eventually Gender Identity will not be pathologized and people will be free to live outside the gender binary.  This is another trend that is promising at the moment.  However there will still be individuals who feel they need to change their sex and who benefit from hormone treatment, so the health care system needs to be prepared to address these needs.  Insurance needs to cover this simple and relatively inexpensive treatment, esp. when compared to other sophisticated medical treatments.  Gender Incongruency conveys the essence of this condition quite nicely.

🙂 Sequoia Elisabeth

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Gender Incongruency

Gender Incongruency may be unfamiliar to some of our readers so I will take the next two Transitions Blogs to explain it further.  I will first give the simple straight-forward definition of it and then in the next part explain why it is the preferred term now verses Gender Identity Disorder.

Incongruous or Incongruent:

— adj

1. incompatible with (what is suitable); inappropriate

2. containing disparate or discordant elements or parts (Dictionary.com)

Thus applied to gender it means the individual feels certain parts (gender and/or sex) are incompatible, inappropriate, disparate, or discordant.  The definition of transgender varies a little from transsexual so I will simply say that transgender is an umbrella term that covers all gender non-conforming identities, while transsexual is more specific to a feeling of marked incongruity requiring both hormone therapy and sexual reassignment surgery.  The diagnosis of gender incongruency would apply to all transsexuals, and some but not all transgender individuals.

Treatment is the way I discern the difference between transgender and transsexual.  Many transgender individuals need no treatment at all other than the acknowledgement of their gender expression and role.  Sexual orientation or sexual pleasure type are separate issues and are not discussed here.  The following definitions from the American Psychiatric Association, Concerned Professionals, and The Yogyakarta Principles are offered in regards to Transsexualism mainly, but also pertain to Transgender, esp The Yogyakarta Principles.

First let us consider in the United States, the American Psychiatric Association permits a diagnosis of gender identity disorder if the four diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4thEdition, Text-Revised (DSM-IV-TR) are met. (There is a proposal to change this GID diagnosis term to Gender Incongruence in the new DSM-V, of which I will discuss further in the next blog)

The criteria are:

  • Long-standing and strong identification with another gender
  • Long-standing disquiet about the sex assigned or a sense of incongruity in the gender-assigned role of that sex
  • Significant clinical discomfort or impairment at work, social situations, or other important life areas.
  • The diagnosis is not made if the individual also has physical intersex characteristics.

If the four criteria are met under the DSM-IV-TR, a diagnosis is made under ICD-9 code 302.85.   The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) list three diagnostic criteria:

Transsexualism (F64.0) has three criteria:

  1. The desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by the wish to make his or her body as congruent as possible with the preferred sex through surgery and hormone treatment
  2. The transsexual identity has been present persistently for at least two years
  3. The disorder is not a symptom of another mental disorder or a chromosomal abnormality (Intersex).

Mental health and medical professionals, clinicians, researchers, and scholars are concerned about psychiatric nomenclature and diagnostic criteria for gender-variant, gender-nonconforming, transgender, and transsexual people in the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), and call themselves Professionals Concerned About Gender Diagnoses in the DSM. Below are their suggestions for the Gender Incongruence (in adults) diagnosis in the DSM V.

A. A distressing sense of incongruence between persistent experienced or expressed gender and current physical sex characteristics or ascribed gender role in adults, as manifested by at least one of the following indicators for duration of at least 3 months. Incongruence, for this purpose, does not mean gender expression that is nonconforming to social stereotypes of ascribed gender role or natal sex.

1. A distress or discomfort with living in the present gender or being perceived by others as the present gender, which is distinct from the experiences of discrimination or the societal expectations associated with that gender.

2. A distress or discomfort caused by deprivation of gender expression congruent with persistent experienced gender. Experienced gender may include alternative gender identities beyond binary stereotypes.

3. A distress or discomfort with one’s current primary or secondary sex characteristics that are incongruent with persistent experienced gender.

4. A distress or discomfort caused by deprivation of primary or secondary sex characteristics that are congruent with persistent experienced gender.

B. Distress or discomfort is clinically significant or causes impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning, and is not due to external prejudice or discrimination. (Professionals Concerned with Gender Diagnoses in the DSM, 2010)

The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity is a set of principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, intended to apply international human rights law standards to address the abuse of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, and issues of intersexuality.

“The Principle 3 of The Yogyakarta Principles on The Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity states that “A person of diverse sexual orientation and gender identities shall enjoy legal capacity in all aspects of life. Each person’s self-defined sexual orientation and gender identity is integral to their personality and is one of the most basic aspects of self-determination, dignity and freedom” and the Principle 18 of this states that “Notwithstanding any classifications to the contrary, a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity are not, in and of themselves, medical condition and are not to be treated, cured or suppressed.” According to these Principles, any gender identity of a transsexual or transgendered person is neither “disorder” nor mental illness, thus the diagnosis “gender identity disorder” can be contradictory and irreverent. As well, The Activist’s Guide of the Yogyakarta Principles in Action states that “It is important to note that while “sexual orientation” has been declassified as a mental illness in many countries, “gender identity or gender identity disorder” often remains under consideration.” (Wikipedia.com, 2012)

To read the entire publication “An Activist’s Guide to The Yogyakarta Principles” please click here, although be warned it is quite lengthy.  More on Gender Incongruence in Part 2, pleasant reading till then.

🙂 Sequoia Elisabeth

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Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Destiny!  This is what life is all about, so what does this mean?  Are you fulfilling your destiny?  How can you not?  Stop for a minute and look at your life.  Are you doing what you have always wanted to do, been where you dreamed of going, known those you desire to know, Loved and Lost?

No matter what your answer to the above questions consider the answer is YES!  It is as simple as “ask and you shall receive”.  There is one caveat to this whole process though and this is your Highest and Best Good.  It is also a function of what you believe deep down and what is supported by others.  How deep is your conviction to fulfill these dreams?  Who is to say that you have not already done so?  Reality is created in your dreams!  And it is done in your Highest and Best Good.

I would like you, my friend, to consider your journey carefully.  A river is used to symbolize life.  You are given a raft (body) when born and your journey begins.  The river may be calm and smooth or rough rapids and it will surely change from moment to moment.  The journey will take you through jungles, deserts, plains, and mountains.  Those you meet along the way will guide your path as well as provide both challenge and support.

The premise of Transgender is that you were given the wrong raft on this journey, however if God makes no mistakes, then how can this be?  Maybe the mistake is in your perception of the raft.  Maybe you desired to show the world that a kayak is the way to make it down the river of life?  Then again maybe you desired to take your raft and convert it into a houseboat.

The point being you make of your gifts what you will!  And I mean ‘will power’ here.  There are no limits till you place them there and often times the limits are there for your benefit and protection.  Limits guide your path just as a large boulder will do in a river, the water flows around the boulder and so will your raft!  The important thing is to learn Love – Love for your raft and the rafts of others regardless of who you think they are.

So embrace your raft and enjoy the journey!  Look ahead as far as you can while also noticing how the raft is supporting and serving your experience.  Are you using all the features your raft offers, by making the most of what you have?   Remember there is a reason for everything and Universal Intelligence (God) gave you that particular raft for a purpose!  Are you grateful or are you biting the hand that feeds you?

Row, Row, Row Your Boat – gently down the stream…

😀 Sequoia Elisabeth

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