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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Another year, another remembrance.

A sort of interim post, some thoughts, probably mainly for post-HRT trans women, springing from some talks with women about memory changes.
There's a fair amount of material on ways in which male and female memory vary from each other. Several of these variables would seem likely to be affected by hormone change, (sensory cues,stress etc).This isn't simply psychological. Men and women use different areas of the brain when scanned during memory tasks.
Additionally it seems that changes in the hormone system also affect memory. Post menopausal women, for example, go through a diminution in memory abilities.
For myself I am aware of a few changes. An increase in TOTP,(tip of the tongue phenomena), occasional lapses in long term memory retrieval and memories from the last couple of years being rather more vivid than I'd expect. More changes in life experience memory than learned data. Not really major changes and if it hadn't come up in conversation with a trans woman and then a neurologist friend in the last couple of days I wouldn't have thought much about it.
But considering it in the light of my own model I got to speculating whether the changes might be an internal equivalent of an external capability. That's the reasonably well established idea that men and women seem to locate themselves in different ways. Ask directions from a guy and you're likely to be told them in mildly abstract terms, say, 'take the second on the left then head north on the b12 until...' compared with'go left at the church and then down the hill toward the river'. Basically men go more by abstract directions, women by concrete landmarks. Obviously there's variation but this is a fairly clear distinction. And it's one I'm aware of as an alteration in myself.
So the speculation runs that some life memory may operate according to the same paradigm.That whilst for a guy some memories are obviously more important than others, his memories are organised fairly independently and retrieval coming through initial search terms. Women, on the other hand, might tend to have memories more accessible through sensory cues and their placement within the personal life process. I'm not wholly sure, but when I think of times around men and women when memories are jogged by others, I seem to recall women giving context by relativity to other events and men more by some extra quality of the to-be-remembered event.
And then, to take that speculation to a possibly fanciful extreme, one might say that articulating our transitioning narratives is perhaps one way we go about a reinterpretation of the past into a restructured form of memory theatre. That in composing and telling the stories of our past we're rendering it more accessible to our changed selves. Additionally, perhaps, we may concentrate on a festive occasions more, because such events may also be more meaningful as structural elements of life memory, landmarks for our future selves to navigate by.
It was a full christmas for me this year, some good meetings, renewals of friendships and maybe some new ones made. I'll remember it well.
Many hopes that you've had the same.

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