Saturday, November 1, 2014

God, Science, and Trans* Acceptance

For Christian folks having difficulty with transgender acceptance, this Women's Daily magazine article about a Christian mother and her transgender son might provide a helpful perspective.
"Instead of asking God to change your child, the author suggested, why don't you ask Him to change your heart?" she said. "It was a revelation: I had never even considered that idea. 
"I put the book down and sat there until the bathwater had cooled. I contemplated what it would mean to change my thoughts and feelings. Could I even do that? I said to God, "If this is the way You have made my child, and this is the way You want me to love her, I pray that You give me peace in my heart.
"The next morning, I woke up with an amazing sense of peace. It was the only time in my life I felt a strong, quick answer to prayer. I knew then that God was with my family."

I wish more religious folks thought about it this way. Many religious folks also accept science, and if science shows that transexualism is an "honest-to-God" brain condition, can more religious folks accept that God made us this way?

Here are some articles supporting that view...

Wikipedia echos what Sapolsky says, if you read down a bit to the brain and phantom limb sections.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

How I Chose My New Name

I've updated my personal FAQ with a question I've gotten asked a lot. Apparently, "Sheila" is also an Indian/Hindu name, which I had not realized before I decided upon it. I've always thought of "Sheila" as a common English name, and had never met anyone from India with that name.  Since I work with a lot of Indian folks, this question has come up.

Anyway, here's the story which I've posted onto my FAQ...

Q. How did you end up with the name "Sheila"?

There was a woman who occasionally visited me in my dreams named "Sheila", for most of my adult life. She was a dear friend, and dreams involving her were always special. Sometimes I indulged in a superstitious notion that maybe this was another person contacting me in my dreams, telepathically somehow, as if somehow hearts could connect psychically across great distances.

Of course, the rational part of me considers such notions far-fetched, and I always thought Sheila more likely a figment of my subconscious mind. Later, after I realized the need for gender transition, I understood Sheila as a female version of myself, and she stopped appearing in my dreams as a separate person...she became me, and I became her.

In the waking world, I thought about changing my name to Sheila, but I received negative feedback on that name for a variety of reasons (my wife Bonnie did not prefer the name Sheila!). So I spent about three months trying out a long list of first and middle names but could not make any of them stick. Sheila was the only name I was comfortable with, as much as I liked other choices (including Branna Lee, Beth, Joyce, Vivian, and Eleanor). I tried each name for several days, asking friends to call me that name...but only the name Sheila made me feel comfortable.

My full name is now Sheila Bradley Allen. "Bradley" was originally my first name, and I decided to keep Bradley as my middle name based on feedback from my Mom and Sister. I had wanted a more feminine middle name but it's not really used very often so it's not a problem. Also, I discovered while researching name choices that Bradley has historically been used as a female name, and only more recently was exclusively male. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

My Personal Gender Transition FAQ

This past weekend I've been re-engaging with the DFW Python community, organizing an upcoming meeting, after about a nine-month hiatus and some people got confused, not realizing the Brad Allen and Sheila Allen are the same person. So I spent some time writing a FAQ document about my personal gender transition, expanded from the one I originally wrote for coming "out" at work.

Sheila Allen's New Personal Blog

Hi Folks,

This is my new blog.

I like to share what's happening with me to friends and anyone who's curious, and I have a lot of overdue personal news (stay tuned). Since I have friends scattered around in different communities and social media sites, I thought it would be nice to put something out on the open internet where it could be linked to from G+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the various communities where I participate.

A blog seems to make sense for now, although I'm also kind of excited about the concept of the personal wiki as a way developing, organizing, and sharing personal notes.

Why Google Blogger? 

I prefer open source tools when possible/practical, but I'm not an idealist. Maybe I'll switch later but for now this is easy and quick for me to get up and running. Also, I use a lot of Google tools and they have nice integration, and APIs with a big ecosystem of participating apps. This is not a terribly well informed decision, but I am a busy person and don't have a lot of time to research it right now. Feel free to set me straight!