That’s what friends are for

WARNING: Contents may trigger memories in those who have suffered similar experience. I apologise in advance.

In all the years I’ve been writing these blogs, I have rarely delved into my personal history. Today I open that door a little. For a period of about ten years throughout my teens, from sometime in 1954 to November 22, 1963, I was physically and verbally abused by a psycho step-father. A small example: if I was alleged to have done something, he’d drag me by the ear to the scene of the supposed crime, usually something minor. I still can’t stand to have anyone touch my ears. The day President Kennedy was assassinated was the day my mother and I gathered the courage to escape. Why didn’t we leave sooner? Because we had become so demoralized by this monster we were more afraid of the unknown outside the door than of the hell we knew was inside.

Keep in mind this was in the early sixties and the support systems available today were non-existent. People were expected to “suck it up” and carry on with their lives. I suffered in silence for better than thirty years before a friend helped me place those memories behind a wall. That wall stayed intact until earlier this year. I can’t point to a specific incident, but something cracked that wall allowing memories to begin seeping back into my consciousness. Maybe something I watched on television, or something I heard, I don’t know.

This is 2019 and things have changed greatly. There is now help available for people combatting these dark memories, help that wasn’t even thought of fifty years ago. Another major change in my personal life is that I came out as transgender. That fact alone has been beneficial in this case.

In my previous, male, life, it was expected I would bear my burden in silence – I’d just “soldier on”. Asking for help was seen as a sign of weakness. Today, being perceived as a woman, I’m not bound by that convention. I can ask for help and support. And I have done just that. I spoke with my doctor, who directed me toward a support group. As well, I told both my best friend and my eldest son. The support and aid they have shown is amazing. An example: my best friend and I are fans of one particular show. I usually record the show to watch later, while she watches in when broadcast. We often talk about it and one night she advised me not to watch one particular episode since she felt it could be triggering to me.

Without the support of these two people, I don’t know that I’d have reached the point I could write this piece. But I have, thanks to their support and belief I can overcome this again.

As Ringo Starr said “I get by with help from my friends.”

Cat.

A very fine line

There can be a very fine line between free speech and hate speech but there are times when it can be difficult for the audience to determine whether the speaker crosses that line. In some cases, the listener’s perception is shaped by their personal views on the topic being discussed.

Last week a woman named Megan Murphy spoke at a public library in Toronto, and then later in the week, spoke at a venue in Vancouver. Both events were met with protests by the LGBT community regarding the content of her speeches. From what I could find on the website for her magazine, it appears she is very anti-trans, if not anti-LGBT in general.

Full disclosure here: I’m a transwoman. According to Ms Murphy, I am therefore not a woman by any definition. From articles I’ve read, she persists upon misgendering transmen and transwomen. But what really upsets me about her attitudes and pronouncements is that she has stated that when Ottawa passed Bill C-16, which, in essence, made trans people equal, in all ways, to the rest of the population, it diluted the rights of ciswomen. I could find nothing on her site to support her claim.

I spoke with two women on this issue. One said that I now had the same rights as she, and it in no way weakened her legal protections. The other said the following: Giving trans women, or trans people in general, doesn’t take away my rights; in fact, it does the opposite, because by pushing for the rights of another group of people, I am pushing for the rights of ALL people.

There you have the views of two women, one an artist and one a chef. That I now enjoy the same legal protections – and by extension, the same responsibilities – as do they, makes no difference to their lives.

Members of the transgender community already face discrimination on a frequent, if not daily, basis. There is enough violence directed toward the LGBT community and we don’t need people like Megan Murphy stirring up more animosity toward us, which her views have the potential to incite.

I have always been a proponent of free speech. It is because of that right I’m able to write some of the things I do in these blogs. At the same time, I am aware that using that right can be a balancing act because, as I wrote above, the perception of the reader can determine whether or not my words are hateful, or just mean-spirited. In my opinion, if Ms Murphy wasn’t guilty of hate speech in her presentations in Toronto and Vancouver, she was certainly skating very, very close to that fine line between free speech and hate speech and needs to be taken to task for her words and actions.

Cat.

Whatever strikes my fancy

I’m a writer and photographer. I’m working on my autobiography. Funny thing, but if people learn this they will often ask “is it finished yet?” Umm, unless you’re using a spirit board to ask that, the answer is obviously “No”. I’ve stopped it at the point I received my new birth certificate with new name and gender, but I’m still here so it could continue.

I write speculative fiction, also called science fiction and mystery and these pieces usually start with asking myself “what if …?”, then answering that question. That “what if …” could be on any topic – as the title indicates “whatever strikes my fancy”. I’ve destroyed cities and other planets (usually with classical music playing in the background as I write) and in the late nineties I chronicled a war that destroyed this planet. What prompted that was the debate over whether the 21st century would start January 1, 2000 or 2001. I think the answer depends if you ask an historian or a mathematician.

With my blogs, again I write about any topic that strikes my fancy or irritates me. I enjoy writing about various online scams as warnings to my readers. For the most part I stay away from American politics. I’m not American so unless what’s-his-name in the White House had done or said something exceedingly stupid, I ignore it. Having said that, living in Canada and being reasonably intelligent, I am aware that events in the U S may and can have a tremendous effect on us as well, so I do pay attention to American politics. I have however taken Canadian federal politicians to task on many occasions over their pronouncements or actions. And with the current regime in Queen’s Park, I can see that Ontario Premier Doug Ford will become a frequent target.

I prefer to write and edit in longhand, then once I’m satisfied I transcribe to the computer. By doing so, if inspiration strikes while I’m out I can capture the thought at the moment as I usually carry paper and pen.

I use this same approach with my photography. If something catches my eye, I’ll take a photo. A flower, a sign, interesting architecture, a scenic vista or sometihng whimsical such as this shot below taken outside a local shop on my phone, it doesn’t matter. There are occasion , such as grocery shopping, when carrying a camera is too awkward, by my phone has an excellent camera.

I use digital cameras (Canon ever since my first film SLR in the seventies) and have what I consider to be good software – Corel Paintshop Pro for processing. I can usually find something in the raw image to turn into a photo. And of course, by using digital cameras and processing, “undo” and “delete” have become my best friends.

I’ve had various people who like my work suggest to me I should give courses in both writing and photography. Such course would be very short indeed for here’s what I’d say:

Writing: write about what interests you. If that requires research, great – you’ll learn something new. If writing fiction or topical blogs, write the way you speak. If people who know you read it, they’ll hear your voice speaking the words and for others, it will sound more natural. Don’t use what I call “ten dollar words” in an attempt to sound more intelligent. If you don’t normally use them in everyday vocabulary, you’ll probably use them incorrectly.

Photography: if it catches your eye, snap it and sort it out later. Remember, “delete” can be a powerful tool.

There’s the essence of any courses I’d give.

Now, go create something and remember to hug an artist, no matter what their field of endeavour, for we need love too. And to my Canadian followers and visitors, have a safe and happy Canada Day weekend.

Cat.

A sad day approaches

The town I live in has announced that October 26 they are closing the local branch of the public library, citing lack of use. This is a small branch so patrons don’t have direct access to the same resources available at the main branch. I’ve frequently used this branch and know they can, and do, bring in material from other branches when requested, therefore the physical size isn’t important. The library is located next to one of the high schools and hours have been structured in a manner convenient for students wishing to do research.

In my opinion, technology is partly responsible for the reduced usage. When the branch opened, people had to go to a library to do research; the internet was something found in science fiction. But today, there is a wealth of information available at the fingertips of anyone with a smartphone or a computer. That makes trips to the library unnecessary.And people rarely get to experience the sensual pleasure of actually holding a book. The smell of the ink, the texture of the paper and the rustle of pages being turned have been replaced with an electronic device.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against electronics. I’ve got a smartphone and computer as well as digital cameras, so I’m not a Luddite by any definition. But I’m also a writer and I get much more pleasure seeing my work in print than seeing it on a monitor or screen. Useless info: I write these blogs in longhand, then copytype.

It is sad that a building and service dedicated to preserving the written word must close. Village Branch, you will be missed.

Cat

How indeed?

Those bots that use key words in postings to send emails or comments really do need to be refined. Although doing so would probably reduce the material available for me to use for blogs. However, the way these throw random words together can be very amusing on occasion, even if they have no bearing on the item being commented upon.

As I wrote in “How can you not know this?”, I was taking part in a study in Toronto yesterday, so didn’t see this in my spam folder until today.

blogfreely

Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.
Look advanced to far added agreeable from you!
However, how could we communicate?

The blog this is directed at was “If you can’t rebut, attack” from March of 2015. In this, I took someone to task because rather than try to counter my arguments/comments on a situation, they chose to launch a direct attack on me. Oh hell, it’s short, so I’ll just reprint it here. It better shows the inappropriateness of “blogfreely”s comment.  The person “Joseph” is referring to is George Flowers, who has been the subject of my “Bring him to justice” series of blogs.

Mar 25, 2015

If you can’t rebut, attack.

Earlier today, a reader named “Joseph” posted a comment on “I don’t follow the logic” in which he made some general claims without backing them up. In response to this comment, which was really only an attack on some other people and myself, I wrote “Anything constructive to add?”.Joseph seemed to feel I was writing an untrue (his word) story. In my responses (two of them) to his comment, it appears I hit a nerve. I haven’t approved his latest comment because it is nothing but another attack rant.

The first part of it refers to other people, so I won’t copy it here, but the rest refers to me, so here it is, complete with foul language and misspellings:
Your saying because the police put out a warrent he’s guilty?
WowYOUR just a lonely little person with nothing better to do but write story’s for your friends.
You are no writer that’s for sure.Won’t even waste my time anymore.You must be one of the ones he told to fuck off.
All your friends but you
You angry?
No, I’m saying the police believe they had enough evidence to issue the warrants. It’s up to the Canadian courts to determine his guilt or innocence following his extradition after two years in a Jamaican jail.
YOUR just a lonely little person with nothing better to do but write story’s for your friends.You are no writer that’s for sure.
I’m not going to dignify these comments with any further comment, for your judgement would depend upon your point of reference.
Won’t even waste my time anymore.
Good. Please unfollow my blog.
You must be one of the ones he told to fuck off. Actually, had he approached me, I’d have told him to take a hike. I didn’t like him on sight. I found him arrogant and thought he was nothing but a poseur.
Joseph, as I wrote above, some of my comments must have hit home or else rather than attack me, you would have attempted to rebut my points. For your information, the term for an attack on a writer, is “ad hominem”. I didn’t use it earlier because I didn’t want the big words to confuse you.
Cat.

Now that you understand the piece “blogfreely” commented on, you can see how my opening comments apply to the message. “Amusement account”? Maybe to some readers, but I doubt “Joseph” found it funny.

However, how could we communicate? I’m going to be generous and presume the message came from a bot and wasn’t written by an actual English-speaking person. Because I couldn’t have a conversation with any type of machine that throws words together randomly, and neither could I have a conversation with a person who writes like this because the only part that makes sense is the last question – sort of.

Cat.

Bring him to justice – where are the words?

I’m upset with the media. For over six years I’ve been writing of the case against George Flowers, aka Mister Flowas. To recap, Flowers was wanted by the Toronto Police Service on several counts of aggravated sexual assault. He fled to Jamaica and was eventually extradited to Canada to face justice.

Other than a brief flurry of coverage when the initial Public Safety Alert was issued by the police and an interview with one of his victims, there has been nothing in the local media. The Jamaican media did publish a couple of articles related to his various and seemingly never-ending attempts to avoid being returned to Toronto. But from the Toronto media – silence. He was returned to Canada, as I wrote above and entered a plea of guilty when the case came to trial. Silence from the media for both his return and the guilty plea. His sentencing hearing has not yet taken place for various legal reasons, but I expect the same response from our media.

The tagline on this site is”a lone voice calling in the wilderness”. When I wrote those words I never envisioned the time would come when I would indeed become the sole voice talking about something this major. For over 20 years, George Flowers neglected to tell his sexual partners he was HIV positive, hence the charges of aggravated sexual assault. Since August of 2012 I have been urging his victims to come forward, but I’m only one small website. More and better coverage by the mainstream media would have reached far more people.

I’ve had messages of thanks, support and links to other news sites for these blogs from my readers, which have helped me carry on. I thank those people who took the time to write. To those who provided me with links to the Jamaican coverage, and the Court’s final ruling, I also offer my thanks. As for the Toronto media, as I said, I’m pissed.
Cat.

You need to worry about this

In late November 2018, I was asked by my doctor if I could be available for media interviews in late January. St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto had conducted a study of 120 trans people and found that, on average, trans people were 60% less likely to get screened for any form of cancer. The interviews with CTV network and Canadian Press were held this past Monday, January 21 and were related to the release of this study. The study itself was released on Wednesday January 23.

in my remarks, I stated that in my view, there were two main reasons for such a low screening rate. The first of these is a lack of training on the part of the medical profession. As I’m sure my trans readers are aware, many doctors and nurses have little or no training in trans health issues. Here in Ontario it is possible to change the gender marker on identification documents without having had any surgery. So, given that documents show one gender, and the appearance of the patient matches that identifier, the caregiver may not consider screening for certain types of cancer. For instance, if faced with what the documentation and appearance indicates “male”, the caregiver may not know the person in front of them was born female and consider screening for cervical cancer.

Again, if a transwoman is present, the idea of screening for prostrate cancer may not be considered.

The second problem lies within the trans population itself. I know that we are under pressure, often self-imposed, to blend in, or “pass” as our correct gender. The one place that can be a detriment is in our health care. First, let me state I’m fortunate in that my caregiver at St Mike’s is well-versed in trans medicine. Others may not have that luxury. If, as happens, you changed doctors after you transitioned, unless you’ve had a full physical exam with this new doctor, they may not be aware you were not born as you now present. And they won’t know this unless you tell them. I know that advice is probably not want you want to hear, but we’re talking about something that may save your life so maybe – just this once – you could break down that barrier you’ve erected between now and the past.

This is something you really do need to worry about.

Cat.

I’ve had trouble in the past posting links on WordPress, so if you want the links to both the televised interview and the print interview, just ask and I’ll provide them in a response to a comment.

C.