Jul 26, 2010

Belle Curves and non-Standard Deviations

We are not small in numbers, we of the CD/TG set. No doubt, if we had some comfy shoes, we could march into a smallish country and subdue the local militia with mere swings of our collective purses. But it would be a smallish country indeed, and there would be frightful lines for the loo. Moreover, I, for one, am not well set up in the comfy shoe department.

That all said, our large numbers are buried in a much bigger whole. Our desires, what drives them, how we act (or do not act) upon them, are relatively marginal desires, minority desires, outlier desires.

In my professional life, I spend a good amount of time analyzing data, drawing insights from rows and columns, and plotting numbers on charts in such a way as to reveal new opportunities to improve something or other. Historically, statisticians (at least those of us in the marketing realm) have focused on the behaviors of the middle. Outlier behavior seemed always too random to act on. Scary, polluted data, to be ignored or actively shunned. With the relatively recent advent of cheap computing technology, and with the world newly girdled and compressed by the internet, the statistical outlier has become easier to analyze and understand.

Ian Ayres wrote a terrific book a couple of years ago that I foolishly loaned out to some forgotten theiving ingrate called
Super Crunchers. The book covered a lot of ground, but focused tightly on examples of enterprises that made out like smart bandits plundering opportunities outside of the 2 Standard Deviation (2SD) realm. SD, being Standard Deviation, and SD being defined as follows:

n. Abbr. SD: A statistic used as a measure of the dispersion or variation in a distribution, equal to the square root of the arithmetic mean of the squares of the deviations from the arithmzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.......

Perhaps SD is better apprehended in graphic form:

At either side of the curve, outside of 2 SD’s is an aggregate of ~ 5% of any large enough data set on practically any issue. This small subset of big samples differs in one characteristic or another from mean (average) behavior very distinctly. I think it is fair (and not at all either brave or bright) to surmise that readers of this blog, and its author are outside of 2SD’s. Five per cent (5%) feels like a good minority number, yes?

The big 95% in the middle is pretty easy to classify. Look around you, there they are, seemingly, untroubled by their role in the world as dictated or complicated by matters of gender.

Making sense of our 5% remains a bedeviling task for me though, because I will be damned if I understand what values need to be on the X axis, and what quantities should be tracked on the Y.

Given that all of this has to do with gender at some level, the values may have something to do with X’s and Y’s of the chromosomal variety. I am sure in fact that this is true for many. I have become friendly with a good number of people whose personal journeys have necessitated GRS, or will in the near future. This is the right and proper solution for many who arrive with the wrong gender markers and who are beset by occasional or constant bouts of dysphoria.

These people are more likely to be contemplating shaking off their birth gender altogether in pursuit of peace, wholeness, and happiness than people who, like me, are driven by something different. These people are preparing to reckon with trauma, where my inheritance seems limited to drama. My difference from the big middle, from the 95%, the differences of this periodic Cross Dresser just do not feel the same, just don't have the same gravity as I surmise things feel for people battling GD.

I am euphoric when en femme, but not dysphoric for the rest of my days. My ability to explore this aspect of my life feels like more of a privilege than a penalty. I can (and do) go weeks without shaving my face, and months without shaving my legs without feeling as though I am betraying any part of myself. I look forward to the shave and all the beautifully consuming moments that flower in the clear cut, but I feel quite whole in the meantime, or at least content with the bland hand I am holding.

In my most recent post here I mentioned Curiosity and Compulsion as being two distinct phases of my own journey. Curiosity certainly came first for me, with my brand of Compulsion clattering not too far behind. I wonder today if the order of operations is important in the Gendernauts long voyage. I wonder if the order of operations has something to do with what sort of 5%’er we ultimately become.

Compulsion does not have a nice sound to it. The whole “…ulsion” suffix feels ... icky (revulsion, expulsion, emulsion…). Compulsion is the unloved step child of Compel. Compelled things and people definitionally do not have much choice in the matter at hand. Perhaps this seeming, or relative lack of choice has much to do with GD in general, with a feeling of being out-of-sorts with ones gender of birth or of day-to-day presentation layer.

I feel as though in my journey, I have impelled much of the action. I feel (and perhaps wrongly, perhaps in misplaced defense of my frail ego) as though I am in most moments, the director of things. With apologies to Descartes, “I think, therefore I am (a Cross Dresser)”.

Perhaps a seeming lack of choice, the feeling of being driven by something within, some life force that has authority in the debate is the difference within our diverse 5%. Perhaps this is the difference between the common garden variety Cross Dresser and the (loaded expression alert!!) genuine Transgender.

None of us, 95% or 5%, are masters of much in many ways. This 5 %’er is thankful at least that I feel more impelled by a desire than compelled by a need.

I am going to take a lunch break now, and return soon to see if I can plot some new X’s and Y’s. I would be happy to be compelled by your comments. I encourage you to visit T-Cental in the meantime if this essential resource is not in your usual routine. Calie has organized a superb series of personal essays there from people who have wrestled these things down better than I have.

Thanks for your gracious visit.


Claire L Hallam said...

I've often wondered if my cross dressing behaviour was "normal" or just normally distributed :)

Tights Lover said...

Looking forward to future lessons on mean, median, and mode ;-).

My (somewhat scary) flashbacks to graduate statistics aside, I agree that tis better to be impelled than compelled in this particular situation.

I often wonder about the 5% figure, itself, Is it 5? Is it higher/lower? We may never know, due to the obstacles involved with accumulating accurate data for this. I find that sad as it's hard enough to find like-minded individuals, let alone raid small countries.

Thankfully, we do have you doing your part to bring us together!

Tights Lover said...

...If you get a chance to stop by...I answered your question today :-)

Couture Carrie said...

I am a 5%er too, darling!
Love your distinction between impelled and compelled!

Happy Monday, lovely Petra!


Leslie Ann said...

I hope not too many people got bogged down in the statistics, because it turned out to be about words! I love the way your brain works, Petra, and thank you for sharing. You are at the top of your game.

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