Category Archives: Transgender

Book Review: The Complicated Geography of Alice by Jules Vilmur

The Complicated Geography of Alice by Jules Vilmur

The Complicated Geography of Alice by Jules Vilmur

In the early years of my transition from male to female I was a daily participant on a few select gender identity boards; notably the Transgender Canada Forum and the apparently defunct “GID forum” based in the U.S. I also flirted with “Twitter” and although my account is all but dormant these days (for the morbidly curious I post as CanadaGirl58) it did afford me the opportunity to connect with Jules Vilmur. Under the name of “@Laurustina”, Jules allowed some of us on Twitter to view selections from a book she hoped to publish one day. That book of course turned out to be “The Complicated Geography of Alice”.

Jules’ memoir of her daughter, Alice’s own journey from male to female is a harrowing, out-of-control ride into the depths of drug abuse and chronic addiction. You’ll want a pharmaceutical lexicon to keep track of the seemingly endless list of chemicals young Alice managed to consume. The book is brilliantly written and Jules’ struggle to understand her daughter’s conflicted, and decidedly complex psyche becomes the reader’s own.  There’s a real temptation to try and “fix” Alice and the author’s frustrations with a chronically ill-informed medical profession shackled by assumptions and prejudices too numerous to mention will have you shaking your head.

Despite opposition from various quarters— including members of their own family, Jules and Alice find a measure of support, (some of it simply outstanding) from members of the GBLTQ community. Religious prejudice plays a role here but the author rises above it and treats “spiritual” opposition to her daughter’s transition with a notable lack of rancor and a healthy dose of grace. The book features a colorful cast of supporting characters but at the center of it all is the person of Alice.

Fortunately, you cannot help but love the cocky, stubborn, willful— yet sensitive and fun-loving, mercurial mix of iron and clay that is, Alice. The author masterfully communicates her roller-coaster emotions of rising hope and optimism followed by gut-wrenching fear, concern, and despair.

This is an intensely personal book but one that will resonate strongly with people from all walks of life by virtue of its fundamental humanity. Its essential truth reveals a story fueled by a mother’s unquenchable love for her child. I smiled, I winced and I cried… a lot… but the book is compelling; and yes it will stay with you long after the last page is turned.

A modern tale of a modern family that manages to transcend by far the boundaries of Transgender biography. 

Available for purchase at Amazon.com

TITLE: The Complicated Geography of Alice

Product Details
Paperback: 332 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1503021769
ISBN-13: 978-1503021761
Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 1 pounds

Follow Jules Vilmur on Twitter @Laurustina and on Facebook: Laurustina.com

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A Review of “Full Circle: A Father’s Journey with a Transgender Child” by Derry Rundlett & Nicole Rundlett

"Full Circle: A Father's Journey with a Transgender Child" by Derry Rundlett & Nicole Rundlett.

“Full Circle: A Father’s Journey with a Transgender Child” by Derry Rundlett & Nicole Rundlett.

As a post-operative transsexual woman, myself, and as someone who counts Nicole Rundlett amongst her personal friends I can hardly enter a review of “Full Circle” as an unbiased observer. However, Nicole knows me well enough to know that I am lavish on praise where it is due and overtly critical of actions and opinions where they lack merit or validity. See my article on “Passing 101 or The Emperor’s New Clothes (REVISITED)” as an example of my critical edge.

( https://chrysalid58.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/passing-101-or-the-emperors-new-clothes-revisited/ )

I first met Nicole in Montreal at Dr. Pierre Brassard’s  Clinique de chirurgie plastique et esthétique in early November 2009. She was there for SRS (sex reassignment surgery) supported by her then girlfriend, and now, wife,  Arlene (Ar) and I was there for brow work, rhinoplasty, and breast augmentation by Dr. Eric Bensimon. A year earlier I had undergone SRS myself under the skilled hands of Dr. Brassard.

Full Circle is set apart from most other books on the subject as it is told largely by Derry Rundlett— Nicki’s father. The book is in essence a love letter between father and child. Derry chronicles the evolution of his relationship with Nicole from conception through to the birth of son, Nick, and the rebirth of Nick into Nicole. It is at once both moving and profound as the author tackles the issue of his son’s transition from male to female head-on.

Male-to-Female transsexuals can easily fall into the trap of seeing themselves less objectively than the world around them may view them. It was refreshing for me and more importantly, critical to Nicki’s well-being that she largely avoided that common pitfall in the course of her transitioning from male to female.

Both Nicki and her father were keenly aware that Nicole was seen as something “other” during the early phase of her transition. Derry recites an incident where Nicole’s gender was openly questioned. It is generally a difficult period for most male-to-female transsexuals — (I was no exception) and public scrutiny can be intense.

Derry recounts the struggle that both he and other members of the family (both immediate and extended) had in coming to terms with “Nicole”. Some relationships were indeed interrupted if not lost altogether and Nicki’s transition proved the undoing of his first marriage.

There was undeniable confusion and pain for all involved — Nicole included. Derry answers many of the questions raised by those opposed to sex-changes, transgender rights, and the like. A self-identified Christian, Derry recounts the difficulty of trying to apply stereotypical Christian methods of coping to his agnostic/atheist child ( in fairness, I am not sure about Nicki’s stance on the issue of religion).

Many close family and friends of the Rundlett’s are practicing Christians and they are treated with respect and love by Derry despite witnessing many of them failing to embrace Nicole’s new identity.

There are no rose colored glasses here despite an all-encompassing love of a father for his child that trumps any and all arguments that may be leveled against Nicole.

The author is also aware of the high number of suicides committed by gender variant individuals and the book opens and closes with an acknowledgement of that grim fact. No less a personage than Professor Jennifer Finney Boylan is afforded the book’s “Afterword” on the subject.

Full Circle is a fast-easy read despite the subject matter. There is plenty of humor to be found amidst the often controversial subjects of sex and sexuality. The book is especially recommended for parents and other family members coming to grips with the reality of having a gender variant child. Both Nicki and Derry express their shared hope that this book may actually save lives. Their concern is not overstated.

From the publisher’s website:

He had to grieve the loss of a son & welcome the addition of a daughter only to come full circle and find out, in the end, he never lost anything. The essence of his child was still the same person she’d always been.

“Full Circle: A Father’s Journey with a Transgender Child” by Derry Rundlett & Nicole Rundlett can be ordered via aBASK Publishing:

http://www.abaskpublishing.com/full_circle_a_fathers_journey_with_a_transgender_child_by_derry_rundlett__nicole_rundlett_click_here-1

or through Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Full-Circle-Fathers-Journey-Transgender/dp/0996239901/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432627761&sr=8-1&keywords=full+circle+derry+rundlett

Also from the Publisher:

This is a 216 page tradepaper, perfect-bound 5.25″x8″ book with photos in living color. The Foreword is by Wayne Maines whose daughter won the highest transgender rights case in the history of Maine. The Afterword is by Jennifer Finney Boylan, reprinted with permission, “How to Save Your Life.”

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Forget about “Thor a Woman?!” The Focus should really be on UNWORTHY THOR!

 

The Unworthy Thor

Above: Our First look at the newest incarnation of “The Mighty Thor” Art by Esad Ribic

Fans of Marvel’s “Thor” (and perhaps even the casual observer) may have been apprised of the changes coming to one of marvel’s most iconic heroes. The comic book fandom element of the internet has been all a buzz over the changes foist upon Asgard’s favorite son by writer, Jason Aaron. The shocker headline that seems to be the rallying point is “Thor is Now a Woman” (with or without the added emphasis of WTF!?!).

However, I think the real story here is “Unworthy Thor”. The character has a long and sadly convoluted history but such is the way of comic book fiction. For the morbidly curious check out Marvel Wiki’s entry on Thor:  

http://marvel.wikia.com/Thor_(Thor_Odinson)

At any rate, The simple fact is, Thor has done “something”… been made aware of something that has compromised his integrity or whatever, resulting in his inability to lift enchanted Mjolnir (his trademark hammer). Not only that but somehow his mantle of Thor: The God of Thunder has passed to another… an as yet unidentified woman. By virtue of her ability to wield mighty Mjolnir (or “MewMew” as Kat Dennings’ character refers to it in the movie adaptations 🙂 )  she becomes the de facto Norse God of Thunder.

Now, one would think that as a male to female, post-operative transsexual I’d be all agog over this ersatz change of sex for Thor. But in reality, I’m like “meh”. There’s no story here. The smart money is on “Unworthy Thor” going through a multitude of trials and tribulations before once again proving himself worthy of wielding majestic Mjolnir.

Mighty Mjolnir  

  For the record, there are many strong, interesting, and popular female characters of long standing in the Marvel Universe: Sharon Carter, Susan Richards, Electra, Rogue, Jean Gray, She Hulk, Sif, and so on. So, a female Thor is nothing new. Even Thor’s half-brother, Loki, and the sentient metal monster, Ultron have taken on female forms at various times with no lasting effects one way or the other.

Honestly, the whole thing’s a bit gimmicky and pandering to perceived modern sensibilities… but this is nothing new in comic book fiction either. Besides, they’re getting lots of press coverage and the minders of the Marvel mint must be happy with that. Heck! I was even motivated to blog about it 🙂 

However, what fate awaits our familiar hero? 

For me, this is the real story and has renewed my interest in the character. Even a cursory look at Esad Ribic’s depiction of  “Unworthy Thor” shows a decidedly “bad-ass” character. Okay, his pants look like they were borrowed from Jethro of “The Beverly Hillbillies” fame but that nasty looking axe and that metallic left arm are intriguing.

For what it’s worth, the axe is Dwarven hewn just as Mjolnir was. It’s not a lightweight weapon and is capable of piecing Celestial armor. It even has a nifty Nordic name: Jarnbjorn, so that’s pretty good, right?

The left arm comes courtesy of the Destroyer … a near unstoppable soulless— albeit mystically forged, entity created by All Father, Odin, himself (The big metal guy that appeared in the 1st Thor movie).  Apparently Thor dismantles the thing (not easy to do by a long shot)  and incorporates part of it into his new look.

“Unworthy Thor’s” redefined status poses a number of interesting questions…

Will the new Thor possess a leaner-meaner attitude?  

How powerful is he compared to his hammer wielding persona?

Will his female counterpart prove stronger?

Will the Hulk prove once and for-all that without Mjolnir, Thor’s a light-weight hero?

Personally, I’d like to see him become more of an embittered anti-hero for awhile. I sure hope they don’t weaken him too much. I’d still like to see him more than hold his own against some of Marvel’s biggest heavy-weights. I mean let’s be honest; doesn’t every Thor fan like to see Thor mop the floor with his competition?  

The newly feminized Thor and her beloved predecessor will début in the appropriately renumbered Thor #1 coming this October. And because, some of you just have to see Thor as a woman… below are the first two images of her released by Marvel.

thorwoman

Nuff Said 😉

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Passing 101 or The Emperor’s New Clothes (REVISITED)

A 2014 update of an article I wrote for a now-defunct forum in 2008

How many of you can recall Hans Christian Anderson’s fable about the Emperor duped by his own vanity parading about naked amongst his subjects?

Emporer

The reason I mention this famous tale is that it frequently comes to mind when  encountering neophyte transitioning Male to Females (MtF’s).

The danger for the transitioning individual who fails to realistically evaluate her  ability to “pass” is two-fold. One: Much like that Emperor of old, she will likely  end up an object of ridicule. Two:  When the reality of her situation finally hits,  she can find herself emotionally devastated, spiralling into a severe bout of  depression.

While I am not advocating a “don’t transition if you can’t pass” policy of  transgender expression; I think it important to balance internal perceptions with  external realities for the reasons stated above.

Moreover, I think it incumbent upon the transitioner to maximize the success of her transition socially in order to legitimize transgender expression in the midst of a misinformed/dis-informed public.  Too often, I see outraged MtF’s criticizing society’s institutions for failing to acknowledge their inherent female status while the former still possess significant male physical attributes.

Although, we can all agree that society should offer no refuge for bigotry and ignorance; Neither should we expect a largely uninformed/dis-informed society to embrace such profound changes in its transgendered populace. I think it only fair and reasonable that we provide society the opportunity to come to terms with the intricacies involved in the process of transition.

God forbid that we should appear as modern examples of the naked Emperor along the lines of Little Britain’s Emily Howard (”Britain’s worst transvestite”) and Florence (the one with the moustache). The two of whom zealously hold fast to the standard “We’re Lay-dees” despite all appearances to the contrary.

The disconnect between internal perception and external reality is at once both obvious and painful as Miss Emily and faithful sidekick mince about England, failing repeatedly to convince a sceptical public that they are indeed, female. Sadly, these two “characters” represent a greater reality than many MtF transsexuals are willing to admit.

Simply put, “Methinks the lay-dees doth protest too much!”

Methinks the lay-dees doth protest too much!

Florence and Emily of “Little Britain”

Update:

Much of this touches upon the problematic gender binary strongly opposed by many if not most within the trans community. I have written elsewhere regarding the gender binary—

https://chrysalid58.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/bye-bye-gender-binary/

At any rate the issue is far from resolved. Recently, CNN commentator, Piers Morgan and transgender personality, Janet Mock ran afoul of one another due to the issue of self-identification vs. societal identification of gender. The trans community does not hold a monopoly on the notion of gender identity. It is common to all of us; and yes, even piers Morgan had to at some point resolve that question for himself.

Here you can see the decidedly awkward confrontation following the initial interview:

Basically, it all comes down to Piers working within a traditional binary of male and female and Janet arguing/defending/forwarding a notion of gender that is self-defined— genitalia notwithstanding. Personally, I felt the issue was far too nuanced for mainstream consumption. At the risk of advancing yet another metaphor we in the trans community too often expect the general public to join the fragmented gender arena with the precision of  a finishing carpenter when they are by in-large capable only of bringing the crudest of framing instruments to the discussion.

As an addendum to the topic of passing — Janet Mock advances the elevated idea that she is not trying to “pass” as anything. Rather, she is simply realizing the truth of “being”— in her case as a female. The disconnect occurs because the wider culture does not always add legitimacy to the individual’s perception of self. It can work fairly smoothly for someone like Janet Mock who presents within accepted societal perceptions of femininity. However, simply walking about and living life as a “laydeee” may run a little less smoothly for the Emily Howards of this world.

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Transgendered Athletes: The Fallon Fox Controversy

MMA fighter Fallon Fox

MMA fighter Fallon Fox

This is one of those “ugh” posts where as a transgendered writer I find myself reluctantly siding (at least in part) with critics of a transgendered “sister”. The short and quick of it is Fallon Fox (love her name) has exploded onto the Mixed Martial Arts scene with two crushing victories over other women; one last year, in May and the other just a few weeks ago, March 02, 2013. Her latest victim was dispatched in short order, just 39 seconds into Round 1 with a powerful knee to the head. Mixed Martial Arts is for me a bit of a guilty pleasure. However, my interest is pretty much limited to the Women’s game and I happily count myself amongst the amazing Ronda Rousey’s legions of fans. But, I digress.

The criticisms laid to Ms. Fox’s account center on her status as a post-operative male-to-female transsexual. Critics (and there are many) state that as a transsexual woman she possesses innate physiological advantages over her opponents. Larger lungs, the ability to accrue greater musculature, and a heavier, denser skeletal frame are seen as providing her with an unfair competitive edge.

Although, Fallon states that medical science supports her legitimate claim to participation. I think that to some extent the jury is still out on that question. I have argued elsewhere on this blog that our status as male and female needs to be evaluated based on social criteria. In other words, if we as individuals, dress, present, and behave in a manner consistent with societal norms and expectations of a given sex then our respective governing authorities need to recognize that orientation and legally identify us as such.

However, in the world of sport where steroid use has been universally condemned–Lance Armstrong immediately comes to mind— then some scrutiny of transgendered athletes is fair. The basic question of whether Fallon Fox and other transgendered athletes have an inherent advantage should be examined.

I’m prepared to fall on my own sword in regards to this issue. As I have stated numerous times. I am female but I have a male past and because I transitioned later in life I have certain male features and undoubtedly some hard-wiring that is specifically male oriented. Would I eliminate these aspects of myself if I could? The answer is Yes, unreservedly so. However, the fact remains that physiologically I have certain male attributes that my cis-gendered sisters do not. I believe Fallon does as well.

While I am aware that the Olympic governing body has granted transsexuals the right to compete under the banner of their chosen sex. I believe that participation in any given competitive context needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. This is simply common sense.

In the meantime, I urge for kindness and compassion from society at large— to dehumanize us is a disservice to our basic humanity. We are not “its”. Also the word “tranny” is not a good word for us. It is dehumanizing and almost always pejorative. Nor, is Fallon Fox a man; neither should she be viewed as one. She has availed herself of everything medical science currently offers to bring her physiology within female parameters (albeit, within a MMA context). Some of the anti-transgendered rhetoric thrown against her is appalling and should not be tolerated let alone condoned by anyone.

I wish her every success as an athlete but more importantly as a woman. This does not mean I endorse her competing against cis-gendered women. However, neither should she be forced to fight males either. Perhaps a bout against ostracized steroid abuser Christiane “Cyborg” Santos would be an equitable compromise?

At any rate, below are a few YouTube links featuring Fallon Fox in her own words and some of the harsher more prejudicial rants against her.

And a great sports website dedicated to the LGBT community with an article responding to another negative rant towards Fallon Fox.

http://www.outsports.com/2013/3/24/4141668/fallon-fox-john-fain-peggy-morgan-mma-transgender

Fallon Fox is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FallonFoxofficial

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My System: How I lost my excess weight

Tools of the Weight Loss Trade

Tools of the Weight Loss Trade

As the old saying goes: “Your mileage may vary” so this particular blog entry is a highly individualized description of what worked for me. Obviously, it will work for anyone but vegans will cringe at my routinized use of “Lean Cuisine” dinners and others simply hate jogging or long distance walks.   Nonetheless, I’m hoping a specific description of how I dropped from 235 to 180 lbs may prove useful for others fighting the battle of the bulge.

Disclaimers: I’m not a fitness or diet specialist in any way shape or form. I’m simply sharing the ways and means by which I tackled my own weight issues. I am also not endorsing any of the products or brand-names I used in obtaining my weight-loss goals. Again, I am simply identifying them for the sake of describing exactly how I was able to drop my excess weight.

HOW I DID IT

The first step was identifying the problem. Not so much the issue of “Am I overweight?” (that was obvious) but rather “Why am I overweight?” In my case the problem was simply a lack of portion control combined with a sedentary lifestyle. Of course, recognizing the problem was just the beginning. Somehow, I had to find the motivation to do something about it. In my case it simply boiled down to a question of “is this bothering me to the point where I want to do something about it?” Fortunately, the answer was a resounding “yes!”

So what to do? Well, I recognized that portion control was a BIG (pardon the pun) problem. For breakfast, I loved having bacon, eggs, hash browns and toast. However, none of this was measured out. So I found myself eating maybe 4 slices of toast and eating as much bacon as I deemed it necessary to feel full! Hash browns (frequently, a pre-packaged McCain’s brand) were a particular treat and I would return to the pot as often as necessary to scoop out another cupful or more! Admittedly, those days where I consumed bacon were infrequent at best but the eggs, hash browns, and toast were pretty much a staple.

Dinners frequently consisted of pasta or rice and much as I had done with breakfast, I’d find myself returning to the pot 2 or 3 times to scoop out more pasta or rice. The other issue was my lack of physical activity. I would invariably sit for hours at a time glued to the chair in front of my computer. Changes had to be made!

PORTION CONTROL

The first thing I did was to reign in my out of control food portions. Much as a child will enjoy the extra-stability provided by training wheels when first learning to ride a bicycle, I had to have some restrictive measures enacted to rope in my out-of-control appetite. To help me out I purchased a meal replacement drink for breakfast. I chose “Ensure” [high protein] see: http://www.ensure.ca/. It comes with a few flavour choices, notably,  Strawberry, Chocolate, and Vanilla. Fortunately, they all taste good to my palate. The great thing about the meal replacement is that I can easily go 4 hours before experiencing any hunger following ingestion. Moreover, because these replacement meals are so accessible I never miss out on having at least something for breakfast. And yes, a single cup of coffee with milk and sugar remains a constant at breakfast too.

Lunch frequently takes the form of a cup of homemade Lentil Soup and two pieces of toast and butter. It lasts a good long while in the fridge and is tastefully delicious. For Dinner, it’s frequently a green salad with 1/2 a tablespoon E-V-O-O (as Rachael Ray would say) and 1/2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar along with a tablespoon of unsalted sunflower seeds. The salad compliments a microwavable Lean Cuisine Dinner see: http://www.leancuisine.ca/. Lean Cuisine comes with a number of choices and chicken-“something” (pasta, veg, rice) is a frequent choice. I also average an apple or two a day as part of my “snacking” choice as well as hummus on a low cal cracker.

DOING THE MATH

I hate math! But I had to suck it up as well as my expanding gut in order to lose weight. Like so many of us these days, I am tied to my cell-phone. In fact, I don’t even own a land-line anymore. However, my cell-phone or rather “smart-phone” has been a huge help in my quest to lose weight and keep it off thanks to a wonderful free application called “Lose It” see: http://www.loseit.com/ 

This “app” is the coolest, easiest to use, thing you can imagine. It even has a built-in bar code scanner that you can use to read the nutritional data off of most commercial food products. If it fails to find the item in question you can easily create an entry from scratch by simply recording the nutritional information available from the product label ( calories per serving, fat percentage, protein, carbohydrates, etc…). Nonetheless, pay attention to the numbers. Occasionally, there will be a discrepancy between Lose It!’s data and the nutritional information on the product’s label. Fortunately, you can quickly edit any information in Lose Its database and adjust the numbers accordingly. It also records your weekly and daily nutritional intake.

Perhaps, best of all is that it calculated the amount of calories I needed to drop in order to reach my goal weight. In my case, that amounted to a daily intake of 1,409 calories in order to lose 2 pounds per week. Of course, men have the advantage in that they can consume 200-500 more calories than women can on a daily basis in order to reach their target weight.  Other factors such as age and height are also factored in.

There are a number of free-to-use weight-date calculators available on the World Wide Web. In my case they generally calculate approximately 7 months in order to go from my initial 235 lbs to my 180 goal weight. I began all this on December 2, 2012 so somewhere towards June/July 2013 I’ll have obtained my goal. At the time of this writing I am at 205 pounds. I’m happy to report I’m 30 pounds down with 25 more to go! Once I reach 180 pounds I’ll be in a position to reassess things and decide if more weight-loss is required.

Finally, I replaced a teaspoon dipped in the sugar bowl with an actual measuring spoon! In fact, measuring spoons and cups can be found throughout my kitchen sitting in receptacles for various food items. It takes all the guess-work out of wondering how much food I’m ingesting and a quick touch of a button records it in my iPhone’s Lose It! app in order to maintain an ongoing record of my progress. It’s simplicity itself.

EXERCISE

Once again this is a highly personal issue. My advice is to find a staple exercise you enjoy or “somewhat” enjoy and make that your “go-to”. In my case this takes the form of jogging. Well, to be honest, for about 6 months it took the form of walking. However, as the pounds dropped and my strength grew I eventually turned my walk into a jog. Once again, my Lose It! app came in handy as I was able to record my daily exercise referencing the approximate calorie burn provided by the activity.  On days where I simply couldn’t muster the energy and/or motivation to get out there I supplemented with an alternative.

I purchased a set of 5 lb free weights (dumb bells) which are heavy for me and incorporated them into a series of exercises I found on Youtube. In order of when I incorporated them; they are:

Even now, these are not my preferred or go-to exercise routines. I much prefer my jog— still, I try to get some weight training-cardio in to build strength, and to up my metabolic rate.

My jog features a scenic 13k summer route and a truncated 8k version I enjoy for the winter months. Sunscreen, sunglasses (yes, they invariably steam up) and my ubiquitous headphones are standard equipment for my daily outing. I’ve become a familiar sight in my local area and people frequently recognize me from my jogging excursions. I created a specific playlist on my iPod for my workout featuring some up-tempo syncopated magic to help keep me moving at pace. If anyone reading this has a fave song or 2 that helps them move during their own workout please drop me a line or comment with a recommendation. I’m always on the lookout for more tunes to move to.

Two scenic views frequented on my daily jogging route

Two scenic views frequented on my daily jogging route

Final Thoughts

I’m probably a bit OCD when it comes to weight-loss which isn’t entirely a bad thing. I’m constantly going to the scale and looking for that tenacious pound to drop. Again, this kind of behaviour will likely drive some personality types to the edge but it works fine for me. I’m aware that all this scale minding is short-term and is basically a by-product of such close scrutiny of my weight-loss goal. However, I’m never really discouraged by the numbers that somehow seem to stay the same or even go up on occasion! I know that ultimately they must fall. I also take advantage of my measuring tape keeping tabs on the inches lost around my waist, arms, boobs, and thighs. It’s really encouraging seeing the numbers fall as my dedication to my weight-loss goals are realized in the flesh so-to-speak.

The only real math needed to win the diet war is this simple equation:

BURN MORE CALORIES THAN YOU TAKE IN!

That’s a mantra we all need to memorize. Regardless of what diet or program you adhere to the end result boils down to that simple equation.

Oh, and forwarned is forearmed as they say. Be prepared to encounter and overcome weight loss PLATEAUS! These are awful things. Basically, you’re dieting and exercising, staying the course, and yet impossibly you seem to be stuck at a certain weight. Rest assured, the math doesn’t lie. If you burn more calories than you take in you will lose the weight. So far I’ve encountered two plateaus on my way to 180 lbs. I encountered one at 220 lbs and a second at 210. In both cases, I helped propel myself forward by upping my calorie burn by adding in further exercise. However, I didn’t see the results over-night.

It’s important to remember that losing weight isn’t a 100 yard dash it’s a long-distance run. So be patient, settle-in and stick to whatever program is working for you. Honestly, I have learned to control my eating much as I learned to control my cigarette habit. I was a pack and a half a day smoker for close to 30 years. I quit 13 years ago coming up this May 13th. It was difficult but I did it. However, I remain vigilant and simply internalized the truth that I can never again afford the luxury of having even one cigarette. Should I fail in that goal I’d be right back smoking a pack and a half a day in no time at all.

My portion-control issues are the same. Measuring cups and spoons are here to stay. For me they are not an option. Perhaps in time I may be able to let go of my handy-dandy “Lose It!” side-kick; but I wouldn’t bet on it. And my daily jog will likely devolve towards a daily walk at some point. We all get older. However, my commitment to physical activity must be a daily ongoing affair. If I’m fortunate enough to reach my golden years. I wish them to be truly golden as opposed to infirmity and poor health— a fixture in some old folks home unable to move or think with any true purpose.

Hopefully, some of you may find my own experience helpful and this particular blog entry of some use. Once upon a time I weighed 254 pounds! Perhaps even more. Ouch! When I finally reach my goal I promise to post a picture of me then with one at my goal weight. The contrast should be interesting to say the least. 🙂

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Days of Future Past: Joe Walsh, Prophet, and WarBirds Revisited

It’s been awhile since I have posted anything—this summer has really been about shedding some pounds and engaging in a daily 13k walk around my local area. Since I live in glorious BC, Canada, the view I take in on my walk is spectacular and features a mix of rural pastures, thick forested areas with well worn paths and sweeping views of the majestic Pacific Ocean. But I mention all this as a quick aside to the main topic today which has to do with “outing” myself in order to fill in some gaps left over from my transition which began back in 2005.

From 1995 until somewhere around 2004-05 I was heavily involved in what is considered the Internet’s first  “Massively Multi-player Online Game” (MMOG), WarBirds. The game is basically a WWII flight-simulator that allows subscribers to  engage in virtual air combat flying simulated versions of World War II aircraft, including the likeness of the gorgeous Spitfire IX pictured above.

The call letters, PR P, reference yours truly. Before the World Wide Web took over and Facebook and MySpace beckoned a world of non-savvy computer users to post pictures of their pets, zingoing bingo, bejewelling  themselves, and running virtual farms—online entertainment took the form of BBS systems and telephone access to dedicated networks such as CRIS.

Such was the case for Kesmai’s, Airwarrior, a direct predecessor to WarBirds and out of which sprang the latter’s nascent community. In 1994, I remember calling into Kesmai’s server and talking with a male representative who asked me what my “handle” was (think, username). I had come up with the name “Prophet” as a tip of the virtual hat towards my Christian faith. Well, without missing a beat the voice on the other end of the line said “Ok ‘Prop’, let’s get you started” or words to that effect. He punched in the necessary information and exclaimed with no small degree of surprise “Wow! I can’t believe it’s not taken!” Such a pithy, descriptive epithet huh? And it was all mine! So Prophet was shortened to Prop and that’s how I was known (at least online) for the next ten years of my life. “Prop” was such a cool but friendly sounding name. I think it suited me perfectly—although, I do remember one of the Finnish guys telling me: “I always picture you wearing one of those beanies with the propeller on top” LOL! We actually had, not one, but a whole squadron of those “propeller beanie” guys playing WarBirds. Called the “Dweebs of Death ” they were a “can’t miss em’ ” sight at the many conventions we held.

When my gender crisis exploded in full force during the summer of 2005  I knew it was time to hang up my virtual wings and with the exception of my dear friend “JT”, in Memphis, told no one in the WarBirds community of my impending transformation from male to female. Why didn’t I have a big coming out announcement? Honestly, WarBirds was such a testosterone fueled environment that I simply couldn’t cope with it all. Besides, although I was an active member of the WarBirds community I only saw the guys face-to-face semi-annually at the various conventions we attended.

And so I basically disappeared overnight and that was that—close chapter—close book on WarBirds. However, it doesn’t really end there. Earlier this year when I decided to resurrect my dormant writing skills I rediscovered “WarBirds: The Story so far…”  the book I co-authored back in 1997 which chronicled the rise of WarBirds and the evolution of its online community. A Google search resulted in my stumbling across Librarything, a website dedicated to authors and their work. I was somewhat surprised to see my name and book listed there. In fact “WarBirds: The Storyso far…” has about 3 Google page listings featured for it. Frankly, it was encouraging to see.

So, I generated this blog and updated the entry on myself over at Librarything making mention of the fact that I am in fact a post-operative male-to-female transsexual. In some ways, making claim to my book as “Rachel” was a bit like putting a carrot out in order to trap rabbits. It was only a matter of time till my old “buddies” from the WarBirds community would track me down and learn of my newly minted female status.

Yesterday, a trio of brief messages arrived pending my approval here at this blog. Honestly, I was super happy to hear from them. Their words brought a smile to my face and genuine affection from my heart. In fact, it was those messages (see my WarBirds post under the Publishing section if you are at all curious as to what they said) that prompted today’s post. So a very warm and gratitude filled thanks to my old friends—“Poog, Udie and JT”!

You guys are the best ❤

By the way, Udie (pronounced, You Die) is such a nice friendly guy that I could never equate the idea of a ballsy “you die sucker” attitude emanating from his 4-letter handle. So, somehow I had it fixed in my mind that Udie should be read and pronounced as “OOdee” Lol, That right there tells you a lot about me.

Udie’s note to me references Intellevision’s classic, if not legendary, voice modulated title, B-17 Bomber. Udie, hails from Texas and we both remembered playing this early 1980s “flight-sim” mutually recalling with shared mirth the southern drawl excitedly intoning: “Bandits 3 o’clock” and the game’s title “B-17 Bomber!” Although, with that southern inflection it sounded more like “Bayndaits 3 o’clock” and “BaySayvantaeeen Bawm–ber!”

In a related but entirely different context, I was offered a chance to see Joe Walsh perform here a couple days ago. Another dear friend was promoting the show and had offered me a couple of complimentary tickets (in the VIP section, nonetheless). But you know, the thorns on the vine sometimes aren’t worth the fruit. The catch was that shared acquaintances were to be present who displayed a mocking self-satisfied attitude when word of my transition first reached them and others who simply disapproved of my sex-change and with whom my relationship ended pretty much as soon as word came of my impending operation.

I just didn’t feel like subjecting myself to their scrutiny.

And so, I missed out on what was undoubtedly a great concert. But, I have no regrets as to my decision to pass on the opportunity. Personally, I think a passive approach is best when connecting with old friends and acquaintances.  I don’t recommend an “in your face— I’m here I’m Queer” deal with it attitude. Rather, I like the kind of approach expressed in the sentiment below:

If any man have ears to hear, let him hear

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