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VCH

We are animals . . . but we don’t have to act like it

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i liked this thread better when it was about me

 

saw a new therapist yesterday. talked about depression and anxiety, still didn't bring up gender issues because i am a coward. she was a good listener but i think she's kind of a crank (she was really into psychoanalysis and didn't seem to trust cognitive behavioural therapy, and she tried to convince me that i got a bad case of laryngitis earlier this year because there was something i was afraid to talk about [instead of, you know, because of streptococcal bacteria]) so i'll probably find someone else.

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Originally Posted By: lilith
i'll probably find someone else.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy rocks, and strep hurts your throat, so, yeah. Sounds like a good plan!

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Originally Posted By: Ephesos
What am I winning at?

Losing. tongue

(But losing with fancy made-up quotes, which is why I'm rooting for you.)

Originally Posted By: Thuryl
still didn't bring up gender issues because i am a coward.

Most of the advice Dikiyoba has heard says to look for someone who specializes in (or at least has some sort of prior experience with) trans-related issues. Dikiyoba can't verify that it's good advice, but things might be easier to discuss that way.

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at the moment i am trying to stick with university therapists because they are free

 

but i suppose one gets what one pays for

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
but i think she's kind of a crank (she was really into psychoanalysis and didn't seem to trust cognitive behavioural therapy)

I roomed with a psychology major for a year. He explained that in order to get a decent grade in each class you had to appeal to the professor's bias on what worked for analysis: Freudian, Jungian, behavioralist, etc. Identification of the bias really helped his grades.

So your diagnosis is going to be based on the therapist's viewpoint on how problems should be treated and not the problem.

Good luck finding a helpful therapist. At least you aren't wasting lots of money for unhelpful advice.

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Good therapists can be really great. I consulted a couple when I was most discouraged about my career, a few years back, and was amazed at how helpful they were. The first one was more practical; he managed to encourage and advise me enough to get some short term adjunct jobs that ended up tiding me over for a year, when I needed it. The second one was more long term, and I still find myself calming down and revising my attitudes by asking myself what he would have said or asked about things.

 

No therapist is going to be a wonder worker, of course, but I think it is worth looking around some to get a good one.

 

Cost might possibly be an issue, though. My guys weren't psychoanalysts or anything, just counseling psychologists, but I think they were something like $100 an hour. (Fortunately for me this was in Massachusetts, and I had good health insurance, so it was fully covered.) Knowing now how it turned out, I feel the price was fair. It's reasonable to expect counseling to be cheap if you don't expect it to do much good, but substantial help is worth a lot. It's not reasonable to expect good counselors to work cheap because they're in it to help people. Medical doctors help people, and they're well paid for it.

 

(Psychoanalysis is the Freudian deal, and it's an independent movement somewhere between a union and a religion, not simply a branch of psychiatric medicine or psychology. All properly accredited psychoanalysts are either psychiatrists or otherwise formally trained and licensed counselors, so apparently it's not just a scam, but Freudian analysis is definitely not the only game in town.)

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First off, I totally agree words like better are simply relative, and not absolute. This follows from there not being any overarching purpose to the universe.

 

Originally Posted By: synergy
I think in some ways, our genetic explanation/excuse for our behavior is merely an updated, materialistic variation of "the devil made me do it." No less conveniently designed to absolve us from the consequences of the choosing we are doing. Psychologically, our very clever ego loves anything that takes the threat of shame from itself, and that includes accountability.

 

I think one of the most prevalent misunderstandings of genetics is the idea that there are "genes for" certain behaviors. Genes just make proteins, nothing more, and they work in very large meshes to accomplish anything substantial. It is a true statement that due to our genetics we will always have the capacity to do nasty things to each other just as it is a true statement that due to our genetics we will always have the capacity to do nice things to each other. None of these are inevitable, so in that respect I agree with you. If we can say one thing, it is that our genes have made our brains very capable of thinking for themselves. This is made apparent by the fact that many of us are free users of contraception.

 

But what determines how we behave is certainly a little more complex than changing our beliefs. I imagine many social and economic circumstances make it a heck of a lot harder to not divide people into groups, and in a lot of cases I can see the desire to do harm to others as totally understandable. And again, our same basic set of emotions (jealousy, hate, etc) are always going to be there, and many of our inclinations (sex is fun, certain foods are tasty, etc).

 

Originally Posted By: synergy
If we've lived under a belief system that something other than ourselves is deciding, creating and controlling our experience for ourselves, then it can be threatening, even devastating, to consider the stark, awesome responsibility we actually hold if we embrace that it is in our own hands and no other's. It can be a major existential crisis. I'm speaking from experience here, because I've been through something like this in my own life, having spent my early years believing in a traditional sort of God who was shaping my life. It is not easy to go through

 

Totally agree, and that's why I don't think it's worthwhile to try to convince most people that their idea of a God probably isn't real. Better to get to the children before they've been molded tongue

 

Originally Posted By: synergy
The bottom line again, is no matter whether we believe in an outwardly mandated, universally existant morality or not, we collectively wind up deciding as humans what is moral for ourselves and order our world around these decisions. When our concept of morality is shaped dominantly by fearful beliefs about ourselves or our gods, we are going to get results that...well, we've seen the results so far. Mixed at best. Utterly horrific at worst.

 

I actually think I'm a bit more optimistic than some of the other posters here and inclined to agree with you. Violence has done nothing but decrease steadily over the centuries, health has been increasing, and the sorts of other circumstances that bring out our more violent nature have been steadily diminishing as well. There's certainly more work to be done, however.

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I'm content to end my dialog on human nature at this point. I'm not sure if sporefrog has some more comments. I'm happy to see them, but I do think I'm ready to be done writing on it.

 

Meanwhile, on a far more poignant topic on hand...

 

I like the practicality of a cognitive approach to therapy with the warmth of a humanistic perspective. But really, I think it's not the theory and modality that's as critical at making a good therapist as nearly everything else that makes a good therapist: intuition, empathy, wisdom, the ability to create and maintain a container through trust, and the ability to keep one's own stuff out of the process (good boundaries). By university therapists, Lilith, do you mean they are students in training and interns, or practiced therapists on staff?

 

What's the cultural environment like in Melbourne and at your university? You described your family culture a bit. I'm wondering what's it like in your sphere. How tolerant, religious, progressive, etc. overall.

 

-S-

 

P.S. - Ah, sporefrog posted just before I did. I don't have anything to add unless there's something you wanted me to answer. I have appreciated your optimism and good sportsmanship. Thanks!

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Originally Posted By: Synergy
By university therapists, Lilith, do you mean they are students in training and interns, or practiced therapists on staff?


the latter

i get free treatment on account of being a university student, not because other students are using me as some kind of guinea pig

i can also get free medical treatment from actual medical doctors if necessary

Quote:
What's the cultural environment like in Melbourne and at your university? You described your family culture a bit. I'm wondering what's it like in your sphere. How tolerant, religious, progressive, etc. overall.


it's probably the most progressive city in australia

but that's not saying much

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Originally Posted By: Sporefrog



I actually think I'm a bit more optimistic than some of the other posters here and inclined to agree with you. Violence has done nothing but decrease steadily over the centuries, health has been increasing, and the sorts of other circumstances that bring out our more violent nature have been steadily diminishing as well. There's certainly more work to be done, however.


I think your view is clouded by what has happened in North America, parts of Europe and other first world countries. I seriously doubt violence has decreased at all. Most of the world hasn't advanced much in the last 100 years. Certainly the places with the most people have not. If anything things may have gotten worse for them.


Lilith: how do you think your parent(s) would react if you told them? If you're simply uncomfortable/embarrased about telling them, and not actually fearful that they might think less of you etc, I would seriously suggest you tell them. You need a real-world ally and that's probably going to be them.

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[quote=VCH)

 

Lilith: how do you think your parent(s) would react if you told them? If you're simply uncomfortable/embarrased about telling them, and not actually fearful that they might think less of you etc, I would seriously suggest you tell them. You need a real-world ally and that's probably going to be them.

 

VCH has a point. I would imagine you will tell your parents at some point and I would guess that they would ask if anyone else knows. Maybe it would be easier for them to know that you trust them enough to come to them. You are afraid and your family may be as well because transgender is something few understand. tg challenges something that almost all of us LEARNT (gender, beyond the physical, is not inherent) without knowing we were learning i.e. what a man is DIFFERENT to what is a woman. You said in an earlier post that you've had clues throughout your life so maybe your folks have seen this too. Whatever ride you are entering in this new unknown that you have decided to face take real-world people with you - as many as will come.

 

And trust your therapist - she knows stuff you don't!

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His parents, specifically his father, and also his sister, are fanatic religious normalists, and would react negatively erratically, to the point that they might start screaming bible quotes, if Lilith were to explain to them his reality.

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Originally Posted By: Delicious Salmon
ocean caught salmon is my favorite for smoking
I tried smoking salmon once, but it didn't work out. It rolled in the cigarette paper easily enough, but for the life of me I couldn't get it lit.

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Then they will understand that God made Lilith how she is. If God puts a woman in a man's body then that's what God intended. God doesn't make mistakes and the more fundamentalist the believer the truer that statement becomes. As far as I know, being transgender isn't a sin. Being deceitful is.

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Originally Posted By: waterplant
Then they will understand that God made Lilith how she is.

Unfortunately it's by no means guaranteed that they will understand this. One's opinion on homosexuality, let alone transgender (which is not necessarily the same thing at all but often gets lumped in), has become a sort of litmus test for orthodoxy in a certain subset of Christian churches.

It's been quite a while since I felt I fully understood this attitude, but I don't think it's really even about sexuality per se. It's about Biblical authority. People who really want the Bible to be an effective moral authority don't want contemporary liberal mores to overrule clear Bible passages. And they don't want expert scholars to overrule their man-in-the-street understanding of what Bible passages mean, either — because that would inevitably mean that the effective moral authority would lie with the scholars.

It's an appealing viewpoint in many ways, even in some ways impressive. I personally don't happen to think that it's actually tenable, in the face of what the Bible actually is, and what reality is really like. But it's a viewpoint that some people hold tightly.

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Quote:
I tried smoking salmon once, but it didn't work out. It rolled in the cigarette paper easily enough, but for the life of me I couldn't get it lit.


Did you mix it with tobacco? It's easier that way. smile
Either that or tabasco, for that extra kick.

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Originally Posted By: waterplant
Then they will understand that God made Lilith how she is. If God puts a woman in a man's body then that's what God intended.


This is the exact problem to which I alluded. His parent will demand that he remain as he is, at the bare minimum, for God intended him to be exactly as he is.

Unfortunately, that means Lilith will remain depressed, lonely, and adrift.

So, not really a solution for Lilith.

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I understand your point SoT. A fundamental difference between those held in a belief system and those not is that the belief system is somewhat set in stone whereas those outside of this are able to incorporate new information into their world. Stuff is created and will always essentially be the way it was made vs nothing stays the way it is for too long and continually evolves. Both viewpoints are compatible if one is prepared to make that leap.

If Lilith's family believe she is doing something wrong by God then that is between her and God. If they have issues for non religious reasons then they have an opportunity to learn and grow and love Lilith in a new way. If however they don't like it then let them riot - she's not responsible for the maturity level of those around her.

 

 

that's a lot of ifs, hey.

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my sister believes that black people are cursed by God and that by praying hard enough they can and should become white

 

i really don't have much reason to hold out hope on that front but i also don't have much reason to care what she thinks about me except in so far as she harasses me about it

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Originally Posted By: waterplant
Then they will understand that God made Lilith how she is.

Does nobody recognize the supreme irony of this line, given the religious tradition that considers Lilith to be Adam's first wife?

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slarty we've been over this before, even if i do transition i don't actually intend on giving birth to 100 demons every day until the end of time

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Originally Posted By: Student of Trinity
(Psychoanalysis is the Freudian deal, and it's an independent movement somewhere between a union and a religion, not simply a branch of psychiatric medicine or psychology... Freudian analysis is definitely not the only game in town.)

This isn't really true. At one point psychoanalysis referred solely to the Freudian school and other versions had other names; Jung's was analytic psychology, for example. Today psychoanalysis is a field full of diverse practices and opinions. The vast majority of psychoanalysts, like the vast majority of psychotherapists, describe their psychological ideology as "eclectic," meaning that it incorporates ideas from different schools of thought. Although it differs from modern psychotherapy in more visible ways than most types of mental health provision do, it isn't particularly alien either. If you look at both ideology and methodology, the most widespread schools of psychotherapy -- like psychodynamic and client-centered psychotherapies -- have much more in common with psychoanalysis than they do with, say, cognitive-behavioral therapy.

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Lilith, maybe you can recruit your sister to pray hard enough for you to turn fully female. Bad joke.

 

We can't unchoose our families obviously. One vital task in adulthood, even with a supportive family, is, I believe, to build our own extended "family" out of those we'd actually choose to encircle us. The more supportive people we have in our sphere, the healthier we tend to be, the more resources we have to help us cope or to fall back upon. All this is pretty obvious.

 

I think your most vital task around whatever else you choose to do will be to find and befriend some people who won't leave you feeling alone in this. To your benefit, you live in a large, progressive city. The likelihood is in your favor to find some such people nearby. Having a therapist is a great start, and hopeful that person truly works with you as a peer, and not in a heirarchical/vertical fashion. Life is messy. We're social animals. It's great to have another person who is equipped to help us help ourselves, to help us sort through our confusions. Ideally, your therapist will be able to suggest some further ways to get in touch with the kind of people you'll want as your friends and allies.

 

Meanwhile, shame is a killer. If you're wrestling with a personal sense of shame over this at all, that's an important thing to work through in therapy. Shame is the engine that usually drives addictions and all kinds of particularly self-destructive behaviors. It sounds like some of your family would love to make you feel ashamed for being what you are. It's useful to realize that shame is an external phenomenon. We are taught from outside ourselves to be ashamed. No child starts out feeling ashamed about anything until (s)he learns it. I think you're wise to consider carefully if and when you decide to let anyone less than supportive in on your truth. No one deserves to be made to feel ashamed. It is, at the very least, wholly unuseful. I'd want other support in place before I even considered offering myself up to rejection.

 

One last thought, if I may. I like to say often that people are full of surprises. It's always possible that someone you might not expect could turn out to be your best ally. You never know for certain how someone is going to react until they're in the experience. All these considerations come down to one thing. Use your best intuition, because everything else, including what I've said, is just someone else's take on your experience, which they aren't having. A good therapist can also help you hone in on that.

 

-S-

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
my sister believes that black people are cursed by God and that by praying hard enough they can and should become white

i really don't have much reason to hold out hope on that front but i also don't have much reason to care what she thinks about me except in so far as she harasses me about it


Anyone ever tell her that Jesus probably wasn't white? Or is that blasphemous?

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Well said Synergy. If we fear something it is good to let it happen - often the fear is baseless or not as bad as we imagined. If there is a negative consequence to face then you have more control once it is tangible rather than some big, ill-defined monster filling your imagination. Fear is distracting and eroding and often nothing more than fear. Deal with stuff in your own way & in your own time but don't be afraid of being afraid.

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Sorry to read about your problems Thuryl. I hope things will work out for the best.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
slarty we've been over this before, even if i do transition i don't actually intend on giving birth to 100 demons every day until the end of time


Good intentions aside, that would be kinda cool.

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I think the internet has taken over the regular demon-birthing racket. Although really, Thuryl's been doing his part too.

 

(Speaking of which, should we call you Thuryl or Lilith, and which pronoun should you use? I'm defaulting to what I'm accustomed to, but you get to weigh in on the matter.)

 

I do think that Thuryl knows his family best. Shame and fear might play a role, but I have faith in Thuryl's ability to know whether saying something would be a terrible idea or not.

 

Now, abrupt transition!

 

Originally Posted By: VCH
I think your view is clouded by what has happened in North America, parts of Europe and other first world countries. I seriously doubt violence has decreased at all. Most of the world hasn't advanced much in the last 100 years. Certainly the places with the most people have not. If anything things may have gotten worse for them.

The places with the most people are China and India. Now, I won't claim that they're paradises without violence or misery, but they also don't exactly regularly erupt into large-scale armed conflict. Both are also improving steadily in many measurable ways.

 

—Alorael, who finds it interesting that both China and India can really trace their current situations most clearly back to the end of World War 2. Then again, so can many other countries, so maybe that isn't interesting at all.

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Originally Posted By: To each of us his own Thermopylae
(Speaking of which, should we call you Thuryl or Lilith, and which pronoun should you use? I'm defaulting to what I'm accustomed to, but you get to weigh in on the matter.)


ugh i don't even know, i feel like it's somehow presumptuous to ask for a name/pronoun change before i've really done anything to "earn" it. but if i can't deal with something like this then how am i supposed to do anything in real life

so i guess what it comes down to is i'm not at a point where i feel like i have a right to be fussy about this, but let's go with "Lilith" and "she" and see how it fits. thanks for being understanding.

Quote:
I do think that Thuryl knows his family best. Shame and fear might play a role, but I have faith in Thuryl's ability to know whether saying something would be a terrible idea or not.


sounds like you have more faith in me than i do

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Maybe, and it's definitely hard to make good, objective decisions while depressed, especially about a contributing cause to depression, but if your family weren't likely to reject your gender issues you might not be where you are in the first place.

 

The other thing you could do is turn to anyone else, if there is such a person, who knows your family without sharing their religious baggage. If there's anyone you could be comfortable sharing your struggles with who could at least corroborate or question your assessment of your family you'd have a better idea of whether some of the isolation can be avoided.

 

—Alorael, who will now have to resist the urge to alternate pronoun genders and capitalize all of them. He blames your Old Testament old quasi-religious name.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
my sister believes that black people are cursed by God and that by praying hard enough they can and should become white

i really don't have much reason to hold out hope on that front but i also don't have much reason to care what she thinks about me except in so far as she harasses me about it


I was going to suggest trying a minister at your church as a starting point for religious support in getting family acceptance, but after the above. I don't think even that kind of support would be enough. I think you may just to expect a really long period before your family would be willing to accept your wishes.

Originally Posted By: Jewels
Anyone ever tell her that Jesus probably wasn't white? Or is that blasphemous?


She probably would freak out at the reminder that Jesus was Jewish. Technically at the time he didn't renounce Judaism, but formed his own sect within the religion with different observances being emphasized.

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Originally Posted By: Randomizer
I was going to suggest trying a minister at your church as a starting point for religious support in getting family acceptance, but after the above. I don't think even that kind of support would be enough. I think you may just to expect a really long period before your family would be willing to accept your wishes.


well my dad is Catholic so the only kind of "support" i'm likely to get from his church is patronising reminders that my mind is clouded by sin

and as far as my sister goes, her husband is pretty much the leader of his own little cult, so she's even more of a lost cause

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Originally Posted By: jlsgaladriel
Quote:
I tried smoking salmon once, but it didn't work out. It rolled in the cigarette paper easily enough, but for the life of me I couldn't get it lit.


Did you mix it with tobacco? It's easier that way. smile
Either that or tabasco, for that extra kick.
I was just joking around when I said that; and before you ask, no, I don't smoke.

As for the rest of this thread, it's become too religious for my taste, so I'll just lurk for a while. (sits down on the sidelines and pretends to be asleep)

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Quote:
No therapist is going to be a wonder worker, of course, but I think it is worth looking around some to get a good one.

With your background history of abuse, have you worked with a trauma therapist to confront, understand and reintegrate whatever you may have dissociated from? Because, if you have not, this then unresolved issue might complicate and confuse your situation. Some children unconsciously despise and to some degree refuse to accept their own gender later on. Now I'm not saying that this is necessarily true in your case, just that, if it were me, I'd want to sort this out.

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Good discussion Synergy, thanks for having it smile

 

Originally Posted By: VHC
I think your view is clouded by what has happened in North America, parts of Europe and other first world countries. I seriously doubt violence has decreased at all. Most of the world hasn't advanced much in the last 100 years. Certainly the places with the most people have not. If anything things may have gotten worse for them.

 

I'm certainly not just taking into account North America and Europe. Let me give you a few quick facts that hopefully will provide enough evidence.

 

1) World average life expectancy varied between 20 and 35 from Paleolithic times to classical Greece and Rome (around 28). In the 19th century it was only 30-45. It is now 66.58 (2009 world average). Life expectancy surely isn't entirely related to violence, but I would posit that it certainly is related a bit.

 

2) Studies of violence, warfare, and aggression have consistently shown that they have all been steadily declining on any timescale. This includes the transition from hunter-gathering to agriculture, the transition from tribes to larger civilizations, and the evolution of laws over time. This evidence is presented by Steven Pinker here: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html

 

This really shouldn't be all that surprising. Civilizations have been incredibly unstable in the past, and violence was almost written into laws (flogging, cutting out tongues, etc). Yes there's still a lot of violence, especially in certain regions, but it's definitely been consistently on the decline.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
there's always been something about the way that other people related to me that made me vaguely uncomfortable. the way i was perceived, the expectations people held, everything seemed somehow alien to me. it was especially bad with boys: most of my friends were girls because the way they interacted socially just made more sense to me somehow. and around the time i was 7 or 8 i, never having heard the word "transgender" at that point, somehow got the distinct idea that i ought to have been a girl.


You have my full admiration for this brave coming out, Lilith. I sympathize a lot with what you're saying and it reminds me of how lucky I am to have been brought up without clear and outspoken masculine or feminine roles. Most of my friends are women, too, and I have always had tremendous difficulties bonding with 'males', simply because I could not relate to their essence as people, what made them tick etc.

But since I've also always known people, and males in particular, who would forfeit their role-boundaries and just be, that worked for me, too, in that I never had to feel in between genders. It was simply a decision I had not to make, because I never fully realized the gap. Am I making any sense?

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