The Path – Musings of Transitioning

13 11 2010

I have never been one for just following the road well travelled. I have managed to do very well in life by holding a course until the need arises to change it…

My transitional journey is a lot like long distance sailing;

  • You know where you would like to go – generally.
  • You have the means to get there, but not directly.
  • You tack when the conditions require it.
  • The course is never in a straight line (it is never just a downwind run!).
  • You do not dictate the weather, wind or water – only how you set your sails.

If you have not been off cruising in a sailboat, you may miss some of what I am saying here (and you can skip forward). As I said, life is about the Journey.

I (we, including the wife I was married to) thought that our son was going to be born in New Zealand 15 years ago. I looked like the rugged tanned male mariner (I was told I was a hunk) when I was in those early thirties. We were sailing on a course for New Zealand when we changed the tack. Life goes on and we never did make it to New Zealand, although we tacked onto another cruising boat, then tacked again into a house; gathering flotsam and jetsam along the way until we could not move or breathe.

I cut the anchor after 14 years on the cruising boat, a lifestyle, my wife and my 10 year position as a stay at home dad. In truth, I went adrift as a castaway so that I could focus on something that had been brewing for a long time. I had set all the challenges I had with Gender since I was 9 or so away in the back of my mind. I now set my course to figuring out gender for me.

It is nearing 40 years since I first started trying to figure out why I felt different. And for those that have been on a similar journey, it is never entirely what you think it is going to be, is it?…

Most people, when they hear of sailing long distance on the ocean, they think;

  • Wow, I could be free to go wherever I want – and it would be free!
  • It is white sand beaches, sunsets, drinks on the deck and paradise; forever!
  • Perfect, leaving all the responsibilities behind in the receding view.
  • That you are in command and control.

Nothing is further from the truth. Cruising is 90% boredom with 5% shear terror and 5% of the dream. The bulk of the time you maintain the boat, spend time on passage, explore remote locations and look for supplies to repair and maintain your boat.

Being TG or transitioning is a lot like that as well. Just like cruising, when you start transitioning, you think that you will now finally get all that you want, that all will accept you, that it will be sunshine, rainbows and unicorns… and then there is the reality of transitioning while in society.

By and large, most everybody has problems and issues – in fact, they are so busy dealing with their problems and issues that they do not give a shit about yours. This is, as it should be. When you start taking hormones and transitioning, most people will not notice anything – they will see you always were (except that perhaps you grew long hair). Transitioning is not about you and society OR you fitting in – it is a personal journey on a path few take and less understand. Most of the people transitioning really don’t know why they are here*.

*OK – before I get ‘hate comments’ (and I have never had one), I am just trying to be realistic with others transitioning. The truths are simple…

  • For the vast majority of the population, gender is seen as fixed in concrete and unquestionable.
  • Your very actions of transgender challenge people as much as it would if you said you could defy gravity.
  • Most people have their own crisis going on – and they really don’t want any drama from you.
  • The path you follow is individual, unless you decide that the route of popular psychology and surgery is the correct answer.
  • There is no singular answer to the ‘why’ question. Move forward and stay to the path that you choose.

I even managed to get involved with women (sorry, I am only into women) along this journey in the past 5 years. Like the general population, they had their own take and involvement in my transition. Transitioning takes it toll on close interpersonal relationships. The very act of transitioning means that what would be taken for granted as ‘stable / fixed’ is not!

Oh – time out here. You though this was going to be just about transitioning? You can read about that in the hormones section if you want to know what happens to the body. The real ocean of uncertainty in transitioning is not why you are doing it OR what will happen OR where you end up as in the other gender. No, the real ocean is what will you do for intimate companionship. Transitioning will take you only 10% or less of your lifetime (I know of a woman who did M-F in one year, at age 60; that means the transition was only 1/60th of their life). The other 90% of the time you will still need to figure out relationships, just like you always have BUT from a perspective that is now different. Good luck, reading further will not give you the key or secret.

Intimate Relationships

One was a woman named Amy. You see her name in the title of this blog. Amy was the first who birth the name Sarah (and I still like the name). Amy also had her own agenda and wanted her own lesbian relationship with Sarah… except, I was not Sarah, a woman. I was, as I am now, a transitioning person. Amy wanted me to go all the way and that was never my destination.

There was another named Laura and she was able to be bonded to me in such a way that my soul felt ripped apart by that relationship. She wanted something else. In the time with her – I married her and divorced her.

Both those people had their own strong agenda, and their own baggage. I started to think that transitioning was far less messed up than what ‘normal’ people were in relationships. I dated an angry lesbian army major (who had never cooked or cleaned for herself in her life), a woman (m-f), a crazy Filipino woman who had lesbian issues from her teenage past and a few others. I could not seem to find anyone ‘normal’ and I figured that it was all due to my own transitioning, my own ‘abnormality’ – although by now at near 4 years on hormones, I was feeling pretty normal!

So what was left for me? Guys? Um, no – I was a good guy who fucked around and I knew what guys were capable of. Besides that, they had nothing that interested me – they were hairy, had no shape, no breasts and an outy AND I did not want another relationship with some weird expectations. I have great close friends as guys, but I had no image of myself being in an intimate relationship with them.

I then did my best Tom Hanks in Castaway. I isolated myself long enough that I came up with the answer. As much as I loved being with people, I could no longer be in an intimate relationships. I would become a sheeple (sheep people) and live out the time enjoying relationships that worked. I did have some great long-term friendships, a set of great relationships at work and by and large got along great with everyone including my X (the one I had the son with) and my son. I guess, I just gave up and said that I was done with the freakyness of relationships.

And I was done… then

Along came a woman who I had not expected. One that allows me to be as I am – David+. That allows me to be the transitioning, integrated person without any expectations of any kind. Who revels in my womanliness and enjoys the maleness of my past. It is now nearing 6 months together and I love her more every day. The relationship is not crazy like the fireworks of the past (with many of those fireworks going off on the ground) – it is the steady smooth coal fire of a forge.

See, in transitioning, I refused to throw out what was good about me and still connected with maleness. I always considered the femaleness as added to me – not as in a trade. Perhaps I do not have the journey right for transition – I have always been about balance in my life… and I sought balance within myself of the male and female. I do not always look like a woman, although I have nice breasts! – nor entirely as a male, though I still have the outy.

Me on the right

I sailed off the map. I knew where male was and I thought that I knew where female was – I am somewhere else in both body and mind. Just like the sailing when I never made it to New Zealand, in transition I never made it to being entirely a woman. How do I feel about it?

Plot your own journey. You do not need to follow the path that only leads to one of two destinations. Keep an open mind and find peace within that mind and you will, like in Castaway, come to the crossroads where you can see that you really have a limitless horizon.

And about me, this early morning (I started writing at 0400)?

There is a beautiful woman, Jules, up in my loft still asleep; and we are getting married next spring. I have found a warm, accepting family with this woman. As for a sailboat, my third cruising boat (the smallest) is out in the carport, being rebuilt. Fair winds and safe shores to all who are transitioning. Sarah xox.

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Robot or Alien; and the CAVE

16 01 2010

 Robot or Alien.

It is a simple question, which are you? You know already, stop right now and answer before reading further.

The second, harder question is where are you? This pertains to the cave.

I usually write about the transgender subject area and leave most of myself out of the comments. Times are a changing. I am out more and offering others the chance to express and examine themselves.

THE CAVE

Have you read Plato’s Allegory of the Cave? The lesson of the cave is considered a fundamental question about us and how we see the world  and what is real (have you ever seen the Matrix?). Take time to read the summary – or for those with less time, watch the video after the story!

Inside The Cave
Socrates begins by describing a scenario in which what people take to be real would in fact be an illusion. He asks Glaucon to imagine a cave inhabited by prisoners who have been chained and held immobile since childhood: not only are their arms and legs held in place, but their heads are also fixed, compelled to gaze at a wall in front of them. Behind the prisoners is an enormous fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway, along which people walk carrying things on their heads “including figures of men and animals made of wood, stone and other materials”. The prisoners can only watch the shadows cast by the men, not knowing they are shadows. There are also echoes off the wall from the noise produced from the walkway.

Socrates asks if it is not reasonable that the prisoners would take the shadows to be real things and the echoes to be real sounds, not just reflections of reality, since they are all they had ever seen or heard. Wouldn’t they praise as clever whoever could best guess which shadow would come next, as someone who understood the nature of the world? And wouldn’t the whole of their society depend on the shadows on the wall?

Release From The Cave
Socrates next introduces something new to this scenario. Suppose that a prisoner is freed and permitted to stand up. If someone were to show him the things that had cast the shadows, he would not recognize them for what they were and could not name them; he would believe the shadows on the wall to be more real than what he sees.

“Suppose further,” Socrates says, “that the man was compelled to look at the fire: wouldn’t he be struck blind and try to turn his gaze back toward the shadows, as toward what he can see clearly and hold to be real? What if someone forcibly dragged such a man upward, out of the cave: wouldn’t the man be angry at the one doing this to him? And if dragged all the way out into the sunlight, wouldn’t he be distressed and unable to see “even one of the things now said to be true,” viz. the shadows on the wall?

After some time on the surface, however, Socrates suggests that the freed prisoner would acclimate. He would see more and more things around him, until he could look upon the Sun. He would understand that the Sun is the “source of the seasons and the years, and is the steward of all things in the visible place, and is in a certain way the cause of all those things he and his companions had been seeing”.

Return To The Cave
Socrates next asks Glaucon to consider the condition of this man. “Wouldn’t he remember his first home, what passed for wisdom there, and his fellow prisoners, and consider himself happy and them pitiable? And wouldn’t he disdain whatever honors, praises, and prizes were awarded there to the ones who guessed best which shadows followed which? Moreover, were he to return there, wouldn’t he be rather bad at their game, no longer being accustomed to the darkness? “Wouldn’t it be said of him that he went up and came back with his eyes corrupted, and that it’s not even worth trying to go up? And if they were somehow able to get their hands on and kill the man who attempts to release and lead up, wouldn’t they kill him?”

I have lived in the cave, at different times, about different things. I may still continue to live there, about certain things that I think are real and sound real, but are just the shadows and echoes. I have thought to be in love; many times in my life. Those times were shadows and echoes. One time I met a person who broke my chains and showed me the shadows and noises for what they were – then lead me into the sunshine, I was blinded. My eyes were corrupted – I was never be able to return to the shadows of the cave and be happy with their movements. The murmurs and echoes of the object bearers offered no comfort any more. This is the awakening that changes all. It can happen about nearly anything and nearly any time. There are times I want for the shadows, but there is no return for me.

Me, I escaped the cave years before, freed in so many ways. This is not to be taken as pleasant though. I often explain it like the loss of innocence rather than the gain of enlightenment. I have also pulled others from the cave, sometimes just breaking their chains was enough to free them, sometimes I led them to the surface. In one case, a person returned to the chains and shadows – wearing a mask to hide their return (having been exposed to the outside). A person can never fully return and be comtent with shadows and echoes.

For the full, correct version, check out this video. I really like this version. It is longer, but worth it.

So why bother with the Allegory? What do we have to learn here? It deals with two subjects at the heart of human substance:

  • What is real?
  • How do we fit into the reality?

That brings us to the simple question, the one I enjoy asking friends. Are you a Robot or an Alien?

I leave you with the challenge to look at yourself. It is up to the interpreter to figure out if they are a robot or an alien and what they even mean. Me? I am an Alien and always have been. Is one better than the other – better for what purpose? There are lots of Robots and Robots who wish they were Aliens. There are also Aliens disguised as Robots. It works both ways… Robot or Alien?

“Even with the prospect of Death…” (better watch that full version of the video).





Gender Transitioning, Character Changes and Children

22 08 2009

For those of us in the TG community, there is a duty for support of each other as well as education for both inside and outside the community.

Warning, stop reading this right now. This article deals with the harshest subject in an honest manner.

You are not going to like what I am saying part of the time. You are going to think that I am wrong. Stop reading now.

IF you choose to start reading, then read it all, until the end, please. Please. It is a longish article and I will likely add to it upon more reflection and experiences.

Stop in the Name of Love

Stop in the Name of Love

I started this blog with who I am… a journeyer

Here is the fairytale, the story that you want to live. This is the story you tell yourself that will make you feel complete. So you woke up one day and thought – “I am not going to live the lie anymore. I am going to be who I was always meant to be. I am going to become the person who has been inside and hiding for all these years.”

For years, you just blended in, ‘kind of’. No one really knew what was in your head, the monsters that came to you at night, the dreams you masturbated to. Occasionally you reveled something of yourself and you were thought of as gay, or a dyke or a CD; by a partner or stranger that wanted to pigeon-hole you. You went to work and nobody knew what was inside you, dying to get out. You went to church, got married, had kids… and still they did not know. Then one day, you say a couple sentences to try to sum up all that you have felt, dreamt, wished, thought and all that you hope will happen and BOOM the bomb goes off.

The Big Bomb

The Big Bomb

Then you go see a doctor, go see a therapist, go to marriage counselling, go see a lawyer – get a divorce, fight for custody, have some surgery – and what do you have left? Who are you now?

If you have already exploded it all, if you have already blown up all your past life in a planned, rush of a sequence of timed detonations, then I am going to tell you the truths you know – the ones that you already know and live with everyday. If you have not blown it all up then take a look at what I am offering to help you transition.

calm

Calm Down

Take a calming breathe and repeat after me. Know who I am then what I want. FIRST – Know who you are, then SECOND – know what you want. Know who you are first and then what you want will just happen. Get it? Not quite yet, but this will help.

Time and time again when I encounter people who are unhappy and challenged, they are transitioning, or in love with someone transitioning. There is a swamp of feelings surrounding transition but most often I hear from people “I did not know I was (they were) like that. If your true goal in transitioning is to ostracize your past and try to start with very little in tow, then make grand announcements of a character, behavioral change. If you wish to maintain something of your old life (children, family, work, friends, sanity), then read on.

Transitioning need not be so painful. It need not be the rebirth that so many books and speakers seem to endorse. Not every person needs to fall from the sky, burn up to cinder then rise like the Phoenix (and that is the dream of many). If you think that you are prepared here for all the changes, read Astronaut Training first.

Missing the Right Arm

Missing the Right Arm

A Farmer looses an arm. Not an uncommon injury in some form or another across the country – much more common than F2M or M2F transitions, every year. The key here is what happens to the person after they lose the arm; the transition that might take place – and you should be able to imagine some tough scenarios here:

  • They wallow in self pity, retreating into a world with little social contact.
  • They feel like a freak, unable to do what others so easily do, and everyday is work just to keep up.
  • They change their character entirely towards the negative and become mean drunk and lose their family.

More often than not, a person with this sort of injury receives intensive therapy and, if they have the will, they return to their old life as they were. The lesson here is that if you were to lose an arm AND you want the people who always loved you to treat you the same, then keep your character. People can deal with the changes that come from you physically changing much more easily – they cannot adapt as well if you mentally change.

If your penis does not work, we have designed a drug so that you can make it work. The reason for that drug is two fold, less so for the operator but primarily so that things operate the same as they always have for the partner. It retains the ‘character’ of the act.

People have ‘character’ expectations of people they are with. If you change your character too much, people around you have a very hard time coping. Here is a man who retained his character after horrific life altering events. Read his story if you are not familiar with just how physically gifted he was before his accident and the character he maintained after the accident.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Reeve

Mastectomy and the body changing impact

Mastectomy and the body changing impact

Women are subjected to a constant threat of a major body change. The result often changes the person they were. Once again, I will be bold saying that a partner, husband, family and friends will have little trouble with the transition IF your character remains intact. But, move towards Shame or Anger; taken what has happened out on a family, or the partner – or one of the negative courses like the farmer above who lost his arm and that will send a message that you have changed, mentally. Mental – character changes are the toughest for people around you to comprehend and, in turn, continue with you in a relationship. Mental – Character changes leave those who love the altered person adrift in how they can be with them.

Also Liu Yan – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/arts/dance/19barb.html

You can transition, live a great life and continue with family and especially your children… but your character needs to be defined.

Double Mastectomy means freedom and life to some

Double Mastectomy means freedom and life to some

Who you are – Know who you are – FIRST.

What you want to do with transitioning comes after knowing who you are, first. Too often we become lost on the “who we are becoming” journey and forget that there are many things about who we are and have been that are what others (and often ourselves) enjoy most about us. We spent a childhood, adolescence, adulthood forming who we are; not all of it needs to be left behind during transition.

So, if you really want to “get lost” and be forgotten, transition how you are. Most people transition and leave behind all that they ever knew. But this is not the only way…

Now about Children…

So you have decided to transition and you want to freak your kids out. This is easy, tell them just the way you did your partner, wife/husband, friends and work. Now if you want to maintain being with your children and you are switching which gender you are attracted to in a partner, this will complicate things – but only a bit – but that is a different article.

NOW, the part about kids and family. This is the secret recipe to give you the best chance at happiness IF you wish to maintain those around you AND be able to transition with them. You are going to need to keep your character consistent here, in spite of all the other changes that you will be doing. It is the little things that shake up the situation. Here are some M2F examples…

  • Refuse to mow the lawn because it is not ‘womanly’; or you might break a nail
  • Stop working on cars and get to the point where changing your own tire is beyond you
  • Go from confident business adviser to shaken, insecure person
  • Only do ‘girley’ things in a ‘girley’ way

People who care about you just can’t handle the change – and that is not their fault. You have a responsibility to yourself first, and then to them. Ask yourself if you are being real when (and this is because I am such a car gal) you tell your wife, children that “even though you have been a mechanic for 15 years, you are not able to do anything on a car at all now because you are becoming a woman” – and this is a true story, because I heard the woman who was so proud of her new “F” on her driver’s license say this to me!! How are people who know you supposed to keep up if you change who you are as a result of what you want?

My son

My son

You want to make it easier for your children? It is easy (and I am using 17 years teaching and 10 years as a stay at home father as my basis here). Retain your character with your children. Regardless of what your character is, retain it or make your character better for your children.

The real secret here is that you have to be who you are before your transition.

As an afterthought (I stumbled upon this video late October), this is a good message to Transgender individuals who are ‘over doing it’ or who are trying to figure out how to ‘act’.





Transgender people step out, risk ridicule, worse

19 08 2008
Jobs, friends, families at risk, but transgender people take chance to understand themselves and be understood.

By Valryn Warren – Staff Writer – Dayton Daily News

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Little is widely or completely understood about why transgender people have gender identity conflicts.

What is unknown evokes fear, and fear provokes a negative reaction. It becomes a vicious circle as transgender people often hide their need to dress or live as a gender opposite the one they were identified as at birth.

“People are deeply closeted because of the extreme amount of ridicule,” said Jenny Caden, who was born male but began living as a woman full time six months ago.

And there is much to fear.

Jobs, friends, marriages and families sometimes are lost.

James Burgess understands how powerful the fear is because he’s experienced it from both sides.

Burgess, a local retired electrical engineer, is married and a heterosexual cross-dresser. He is analytical, intellectual and willing to talk about being a cross-dresser because he’s dedicated to better education about transgender issues.

And he’s honest. While seeking a high security clearance for work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, he was asked what would happen if somebody outed him as a cross-dresser. He said, “Go ahead and let them try.”

He got his clearance.

But Burgess also remembers his first transgender conference in 1965.

“I was fearful,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if I was going to meet Hell’s Angels looking for a guy in a dress or what. I was worried about people not respecting my boundaries.”

Burgess said fear is the main reason transgender people avoid being “outed” and why others sometimes react negatively. But secrecy breeds further misunderstanding.

“The secrecy prevents us from understanding ourselves or getting understanding from others,” he said. “We need to connect, to share ideas. But classically, everybody learns to hide things about themselves they realize won’t be accepted. And then we can’t get the answers we need.”

Dr. Frederick Peterson, a Dayton-area sex therapist, Wright State University professor and author, said gender identity conflicts are classified in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV,” as “gender dysphoria,” but counseling focuses on helping the patient deal with the stress of their difference.

“This is not a mental illness,” Peterson said. “It’s in the book — but if you smoke, that’s nictoine dependence, and you’re in the book, too. There are a lot of things in the DSM-IV that aren’t really mental illnesses.”

Estimates of the transgender population are just estimates. Lynn Conway, a computer scientist, electrical engineer and professor, as well as a transsexual woman, has done extensive research and believes it is at about 6 percent of all males and three percent of females.

Conway’s data indicates two categories make up about 95 percent of transgender people — cross-dressers and transsexuals.

Cross-dressing

Cross-dressers, who dress and present as a gender other than the one they were born with, constitute the majority of all transgender persons.

Cross-dressers can be of either sex and any sexual orientation, but Conway estimates that more than 90 percent are heterosexual males, often married with families, who dress as women.

The frequency and type of cross-dressing behavior varies enormously — from very occasional to daily, from wearing a single item of clothing to being fully decked out with hair and makeup.

A cross-dresser’s need to sometimes dress as the opposite sex seems to be innate and powerful, but they are also comfortable with the gender identity associated with their biological sex.

At 79, Burgess has had plenty of time to think about what his cross-dressing means — and he has.

“You never get perfect answers, but as you get older, you do get better ones,” he said.

Twice married, the father of three believes cross-dressing is an example of Carl Jung’s theories of the unconscious shadow self seeking expression. He says that plays out in traditional romantic relationships too, as people project denied parts of themselves onto others and fall in love.

“For whatever reason, transgender people become consciously aware of that unconscious self,” he said.

Burgess said dealing with being transgender is not only difficult and confusing for the individual, but for friends and family, especially spouses.

“The spouse is involved, they have their own fears and feelings and it can be really bad for them,” he said. “Many do divorce, although it often seems they somehow end up being best friends.”

Burgess said cross-dressing was an issue in his first marriage, but something he and his current wife have been able to work through.

“I think for me it was always about the need to connect with the feminine,” he said. “I seem to have found the connection I sought with my current wife. I would argue that our marriage has been about growth for both of us.”

Transsexuals

Like cross-dressers, transsexuals assume an opposite sex gender identity because that’s who they feel they truly are. 

Like cross-dressers, they can be of any sexual orientation or biological sex, but most often are male.

For transsexuals, sometimes dressing in opposite gender clothing is usually not enough. They are not comfortable as their birth sex and feel “trapped in the wrong body.”

They usually desire and often seek some kind of permanent physical modification, including hormonal treatment, cosmetic and/or genital reassignment surgery, or some combination.

Caden, a software engineer, legally changed her name and made the leap to life as a woman six months ago.

Born and raised in the Dayton area, she’s been married, has two adult children, and once worked as a volunteer paramedic.

Her journey from being known as a man to being accepted as a woman has been a mixture of joy and panic, and she still doesn’t know how it all ends.

“You get so scared,” she said. “So much has been unexpected. I thought my sister would do better with it and my parents worse, and it’s been the opposite. My kids have been supportive. We decided they still call me Dad. That’s who I am to them, and no amount of surgery changes that.”

There have been bright spots — Caden was a contract worker at NCR, a company she says is very supportive of diversity and the best possible work environment she could have had as she began transition.

Caden continues with psychological and hormonal therapy. Medical protocol requires a full year of living as a woman before genital reassignment surgery can be done.

And life goes on as usual in other ways. Her contract with NCR recently expired, and she worries about finding another job.

“If you do this on a whim or think it’s going to solve all of life’s problems, you’re going to be very disappointed,” she said. “But am I happier as Jenny? Absolutely. I can now do something I wasn’t able to in my entire previous 55 years of life — like myself.”

Out

While transgender people may not be prevalent, they are becoming more visible and connected, particularly in the Internet age. In 2007, a number of high-profile cases came to public attention.

Locally, Steven Cole, who allegedly sometimes cross-dressed, was arrested in a Mason park in a bikini and blonde wig. There were also charges of intoxication, with the public indecency charges later dropped in a plea agreement. But Cole, married with children, lost his full-time job as a Waynesville volunteer firefighter.

Steve Stanton, city manager of Largo, Fla., began to become Susan, thinking he had a plan mapped out that would satisfy his employers. But Stanton lost his job, and as Susan, according to a recent story in the St. Petersburg Times, is still unemployed.

Mike Penner, sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, publicly disclosed to readers his intention of becoming Christine Daniels. As Christine, Penner is still a sportswriter and also blogs about her experiences as a transsexual woman.

The state of Ohio and the city of Dayton both recently passed legislation barring employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but that only covers state or city employees. In Ohio’s private sector, there is no protection against firings for sexual orientation or gender identity, whether the behavior is discovered on or off the job.

A federal law prohibiting employment discrimination by sexual orientation originally included gender identity, but it was dropped from protection in the latest version passed by the House in November.

“We did a poll, and Ohioans seem to be comfortable with passing laws that protect employment for both,” said Bo Shuff, director of education and public policy at Equality Ohio. “As people become more familiar with what it means, they seem to become more comfortable with eliminating discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Why?

Everybody always wants to know why,” Caden said. “They’ll say, can’t you cure this, give him a pill, make it go away? Sorry — doesn’t work that way.”

Theories abound, even among the transgender community. What does seem likely is that there is some kind of biological or neurological influence, but no one knows for sure.

Peterson said the professional view of transgender has shifted from “perversity to diversity.” He said it’s become clear that biological sex, gender identity and sexual orientation are variables, and not always fixed in a particular sequence.

“We’re moving from an old school full of sexual folklore and myths to more of a new school of sexual science,” he said. “That’s really moved us towards conceiving there are many different valid expressions once considered outside the range of normal.”

Caden said family and friends can often adjust, once they realize that the person living or dressing as another gender doesn’t change everything else about them.

“In most ways, we are still the same people they knew before,” Caden said. “People are afraid of what they don’t understand, but the way to fix that is education.”