I just don’t understanding living in your body.

I mean, it’s not that I don’t understand that other people do that, that they lead from their body, their Eros and passion rooted in physicality.  I get that this is almost common enough to be the rule, and I also affirm that truth.  Hell, I loved “Sex And The City”  and Samantha, who lead from the body, Charlotte, who lead from the heart and even Carrie who lead with spirit all were body centric.  Heck, even my girl Miranda, who lead from the head, well, she had all those other bits too.

But me?  Embodied? Nope. 

I saw Jennifer Grey comment on the line “Nobody puts Baby in the corner,” from “Dirty Dancing.”  She said something to the effect of “Here is this person who comes up and says that no one can keep you in the shadows, and pulls you out into the light to show the whole world who you really are.  That’s always gonna be sexy.”

I have a Sounds True tape, David Derida on “Enlightened Sex.”  He says that the masculine is to need to be valued for what you do, and the feminine is to need to be valued for who you are.  What’s the old saw, that men like to see themselves reflected as they see themselves in their partners eyes, and women like to see themselves through the eyes of someone who sees and values them?  Same thing.

In the dumped note I wrote a lot about embracing and valuing all genders.   It’s so easy to see them as black and white, with one as the opposite, duality in reality.  Manhood has value. If, however the only value one can see for manhood is that it provides a shadow for womanhood, in the same way that womanhood is a shadow for manhood — “Men are what women are not, and women are what men are not” — then it has no value whatsoever.

Long ago and far away I wrote of gender not being prose, but rather poetry.  In being a human, the value lies in the objective meaning of what we do, be that caring for a child or building a building or making a meal or cutting firewood.  None of those objective bits are gendered, they are just human.  In being gendered, however, the value lies in the subjective meaning of how we do what we do, the sway or stoicism, the presentation or seasoning, the proficiency or functionality of how we approach things.  It’s in that subjective meaning, the approach and the tension that gender plays.  A femme friend used to fix cars, but she did it in the same long denim skirt, now covered with grease marks where she wiped tools.

I spent years obsessed with truth versus deceit around gender.  So much of that boiled around a fervent desire to tell the truth because I saw so many transpeople who lied all the time just to live. Heck, the first year The Big Bitch & I did SCC, we did a list of the 10 Biggest Lies CDs Tell Their Wives.  The next year, we did the 10 Biggest Lies CDs Tell Themselves.  Number One both years was the same lie: “I swear: I will never do it again.”

The truth is, I think, that our truth is in our performance, and our performance is in our choices.  For most people those choices are not concious, they are habitual, and we barely even know where we got those habits.  But the habits, I suggest, are usually not for things but rather against them.  “I am not like _______, so I won’t do _______ like they do.”  Beyond that, the habits are just judged on effectiveness, if they get us what we want, never seeing the price we pay for holding them.

You may not believe it, but my essential habit was manipulation.  All that shaman empathy, femme intution, and too smarts and I knew which button to push to make people dance.  A few years ago I met someone from my past, and her entire defense was to protect herself against my manipulations.  Now, I know I have stopped doing that, but she didn’t.  It’s so odd when people feel the need to sheild themselves before seeing what’s new, as Holly has done in both of her notes to me, kick me about what she considered bad about me in the past saying it won’t be tolerated.  OK, sure — that’s why our relationship broke because you needed the walls.  But come back in with the same walls and I realize I may as well be the same person.

I gave up manipulation for acceptance, but losing my old defenses, my old power means that I am just mostly naked, and mostly covered with bloody welts.

And that’s why, when you talk about sessions on flirting with transpeople, my mind goes to no where.  The girl who would want to be there is so deeply hidden that I can’t imagine anyone finding her, let alone finding her attractive.   Then again, ask Bear how we first met, and how I thought my femme (BF) friend should dance.   Was I ever able to believe there would be a Patrick Swayze who could actually see and show me?  Prolly not.  In fact Bear recently suggested that my problem was I didn’t ask for what I needed, but let people off the hook before they even knew they were on it.  True.  If you never learned how to get what you need, to trust that would be there, how can you believe you will get anything but heartache with enough asking?

What’s so hard for me is that I have never found anyone who can say things for me, to share the driving.  So I can’t just write, I have to try to speak, and what I know about my writing is that people tend to see their challenges in it, not mine.  I squick people easy.  I know this because my mother is the crumbling narccistic daughter of a strong narccistsic mother and my father is a crackpot engineer on the verge of autistic, having challenges with feelings, with the ability to see through the eyes of others.  I became a caretaker early, and those of us who never trusted we could simply get the care we needed have issue later.  Hell, today, I came back here during Halloween, which was stolen from me last year, because I felt the urge to help and ended up tearing muscles in my bicep helping my father move plants.  He just wanted to tell me it was my fault and if I had done it the way he told me — a way I was trying to understand, asking questions, and he was getting frustrated I was so stupid ( a pattern my mother agrees is typical) — I would have been fine.  (Did you know that until I went to a shrink in 8th grade, my offical family nickname was “Stupid?”) I wrapped my upper arm in an elastic compression bandage in front of my mother, but she never offered to help hold it or anything.  I know that I could have asked, but I have tried that it the past, and I am used to doing it alone.  I had a GF in college, going for childhood education, who asked “Did you use to play alone a lot?”  Oh, yeah.  Alone.

I don’t know how to trust that someone will buy me a drink or be nice if I have had a few too many.  I have to be the boy protector and the girl dancer, and that only comes out twisted.

Now my arm burns and when I twist or use it the sharp pains tear, and Halloween is mine to take.  I think my mother in the sky wants me to remember that helping with the wrong thing only brings me pain, that I need to do my own work, but who knows if that reading is true or just defense.  It’s all about readings, and when you have your own, it’s tough. _____ is bashing The Prince for being a hypocrite and sexdog, the worst thing in _____’s book because _____ sacrifices all to stay with the extraspecial _____, so anyone who doesn’t should be denied standing.  But I understand the complaints. The Prince lived/lives in a rationalization bubble, and that is the sickness that comes with trans, the sickness I fear more than anything.

You ended your note with life affirmations, sort of extending the affirmations you get from friends.  Me, without friends, well, those affirmations don’t come.                                            

In fact, I often just want to go home.

wanna know the difference?

it’s the last night before I have to go back into the closet, a Saturday night. glam look, almost a step off to unitarian coffee house, but no, sorority boys on comedy central. it’s not a bad film, with interesting throwbacks — wendy jo sperber from bosom buddies, neidermier and dean wormer from animal house. this time the girl likes the lead so she is willing to be bi, but he resists, and actually it’s sweet.

but it doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter. if i go out on a saturday night, am i gonna find someone to make out with? no.

the point is simple. you, s, have lead a life with partners & friends, being less than scary. me? well, at six feet and an eight of a ton, well, me be scary. too scary to trust partners. i go to gay bars and lesbians assume i am a drag queen and gays who see my shoes assume i am a dyke. right between the possibilities.


It’s now the next Saturday night, and I sit here a fuck-up, constrained as a waste of whatever can be wasted.

And yeah, I still think the difference is fear. It’s how as a big boned male, I am scary.

Gwen Smith and I chatted this week about her experience at the Gwen Arujo trial. Gwen noted that men mostly saw her as a man and women as a woman. Some of that’s the old “frog DNA” issue, where we fill in the gaps with whatever is familiar to us, no matter what the consequences, but some of that is also the notion that when we keep trans people as not being the ones who get us hot, then we have no problem with being queer. Heck, I have had the experience of men finding out about my biology and then having to claim loudly how unattractive I am. While I know that the more they protest, the more they felt, it’s cold pleasure if pleasure at all.

The last time I saw Kate Bornstein she wanted my guess as to why so few transwomen — transpeople born male — attended her college things. It was mostly dykes and FTMS and bi-women and such.

To me, the answer is the same one I have considered for years: what are the benefits of being identified as transgender? Now, for butches/FTMs there may be some benefit in being attractive to some women, femmes and bi-curious women and such, but for transwomen, there are very few benefits. You can get laid as a straight man in a dress, as a gay man in a dress, and maybe even as a passing transsexual, but beyond that, there is only the land of she-males, and that’s a very odd place. Hell, even that odd Daniel Harris spent time there and found it to be full of self-pity and loathing, as the VV says. (Harris and I had a go around years ago about trans/drag, but no one cares)

What do we get to be out as trannies, rather than drag queens or crossdressers or whatever? Who the hell knows? The Big Bitch, Sabrina, (also known as “The Other Drama Queen“) had SRS and reports that being fucked in the ass by a big black man was better than being fucked in the neo-vagina by a 23 year old boy, but she also notes that she had no real relationship with either of them.

Much of this separation has to do with the facts of the matter. Men tend to like images, and the ones of us who can and do portray those images win. It’s the same with het-women, I know, but we have much less room for variation. And women tend to have issues with men and those who have been them. They want us to play a role, and that’s weird. I know that Jake Hale wrote back in wonder after reading my tale about a woman trying to push me into a role, because it exactly mirrored his (FTM) experience.

It’s all about roles, I know that. I had one woman say to me “How could anyone ever imagine being with someone like you when they have never met anyone like you?” Most people walk in the world with a vision of what would be perfect for them, and beyond that it’s just trying to get someone to fit into that box. We don’t run to people who are clear and can bust us, we run to people who validate us in a way that feels comfortable, with whom we can share a little “Annie Hall” sickness. “My brother thinks he is a chicken. . .” and all that.

And that’s where the disconnect happens. I never was able to be a community member, never able to play along, and therefore, never able to be a suitable partner. I was never cocky enough to use my cock, and never free enough & safe enough to be pussy. I was never one of the boys, and will never really be one of the girls. That makes connection very, very hard, especially when people assume I have the experience they do of being one of the gang.

My nose gets bigger, I get older, and I know what the point is. If I couldn’t play along to get along when I was young & malleable (was I ever young and malleable?) then there is no way to do it now.

To be a prophet is lonely work. And if you have no where to replenish yourself, no safe space to be tended to, no one to remind you of your song and bind your wounds, even as you remind, bind, tend and replenish them, well. . .

It’s different growing up assigned as male. I see that when I see groups of trans-men and butches, who preen against manhood, because somehow they think being scared of it is appropriate and righteous. I remember one woman born female whose doctor husband met few trannys born male he liked, because few of them valued the hard choices he made as a man. Me, though, I was different.

To be seen as non threatening, and beyond that, as attractive, well, that has always seemed to elude me.

And, somehow, I don’t think it is ever gonna get better in this lifetime.

= = = = = = = =


The last week I could go to your Wednesday service, you were away in Tennessee, fighting for social justice within your denomination, so you had a woman come in to speak.  She preached on Jonah and the Whale, and her theme was accepting our own vulnerability.

I spoke on Jonah as a story about calling, and how calling is easy to ignore but hard to get away from.  Usually today, the belly of the whale is to be trapped in the belly of the street whale, the mini van, but it is still about how we separate from others, how we are consumed by the day to day.  I know well the cost of calling, the cost of resisting it because it seems so bloody queer, and seems to hold such a cost of separation from constrained society.

But as I have thought about how much she wanted to talk about vulnerability, I have been confused. There isn’t one of us who doesn’t know we are vulnerable.  We know we are not invulnerable, know that every moment carries risk.  The question we have is how we embrace that vulnerability: do we try to get crusty, to wall ourselves off and be protected, or do we believe that the only solution to vulnerability is exposure, to be naked enough to hang with other people and live in this moment?  Is our safety in our walls or in our connections?

I suggest this, that the real challenge of embracing vulnerability isn’t accepting our vulnerability, but rather it is accepting the vulnerability of others.  We so often want to dump the costs of our pain and fear onto others, because while our vulnerability is obvious to us, theirs is not. 

There are so many ways people deny the vulnerability of others to justify the choices we make.

One is trying to wall in their children, teaching our kids to lie to us because we want to hear what comforts us, what we want to hear, rather than to engage the fact our children have to deal with their own vulnerability everyday.  As long as we want to believe that the walls we have created are protective, the idea that the walls we created are constraining, and that to grow, our kids have to sneak out from those walls and explore their own vibrancy — their own passion, their own bliss, their own Eros.

Some of us are so focused on keeping comfortable in money or other ways that we can’t engage the vulnerability of people who pay the price to keep a stratified society.  Underclasses are fine as long as they stay invisible, because we are vulnerable and need our walls.

And for people who are normal but not normative, children of God but not children of convention, well, demanding that they surrender themselves to keep us from feeling vulnerable, keep us believing that our protective walls work and have no negative cost, that seems perfectly acceptable.  After all, they brought this on themselves by being different, and their vulnerability can be dismissed in favour of what we need to do so as not to feel vulnerable.

We do have to embrace our own vulnerability, but only in a way that we see that our vulnerability is intertwined with the vulnerability of others, not in a way that our feeling of vulnerability justifies the choices we make that make others more vulnerable, make them take the brunt of our fears.

Your presenter is feeling vulnerable, I get that.  And she doesn’t want to deal with the cost of calling.  But what she didn’t seem to get that the real issue in accepting vulnerability is not accepting our own, but accepting that our vulnerability is not a reason for separation from others, but rather a reason for connection.

If we don’t let our own heart breaks lead us to bigger and more open hearts, then we miss the point.  It is possible to decide that our broken heart justifies the choices to build bigger walls and defenses, to push the pain and hurt and price onto others, but that decision is a decision for separation and not connection.  And to me, that makes it unholy.

Cracking My Pillar

It’s time to pack myself away again.

My parents come back tomorrow, and I need to be back in boxes, back ready to make them comfortable.

This weekend wasn’t exactly a festival of freedom.  My sister’s friend passed after a long illness, and I had to attend the wake & funeral, make a potluck dish and help polish my sister’s eulogy.  I looked for something energetic, but even after dressing powerfully, I skipped the Saratoga-UU coffeehouse & the option to show the tranny flag at Schenectady-UU.  Skipped the Capital Pride Singers concert (I hate choral music), skipped the drag show at Phoenix (the joint where the guy escorted me with well,)

But some was good.  Skian gets some of what I am saying, though he is busy and has his own schedule.

This morning, though, there was an 8:00 AM phone call from my brother’s cell.  He wanted to talk to parents and got me, but he needed to settle down a bit, so we chatted.  A foster child they have had for two years is moving to an adoptive family this week.  It’s the right choice, but it’s hard to let go of someone to whom you have given so much, and he needed to talk.

The discussion was about family, about helping kids find their center and their power.  We spoke of the daughter who is now a freshman at RPI, how she is finding her center, how the son in high school is mastering AutoCAD and computers, how the oldest girl is taking her place as a caretaker, in early childhood education and with her boyfriend’s family.  We spoke of the child who is leaving, and another older foster child who is now in residential care and is having real trouble finding his center and his power.

My brother got the connection, that it was when the young child began to trust his center that his life began to came together and how the older child has no center, nothing he wants enough, nothing he has enough faith in getting to sacrifice instant comfort & gratification for risk & hard work.  In his three children’s lives, my brother sees how that center, that desire, that belief provides the motivation for struggle and, in turn, for success.

After the call, I thought about the words I had said, wondered what it meant to me.

And, of course, I realized that, as usual, the advice I give is the advice I need to hear.  My center is broken, because I can’t believe in it if I also have to be ashamed of it.

I watched the documentary “Fish Can’t Fly” on Wednesday at Schenectady UU (which is when they asked me to come and fly the flag.)  There were two parts that touched me.  One was the narratives of feeling the urge to end your life, though I don’t think many others, including the mother of the woman who did kill herself, got it.

The other part was a comment from a second-generation Pentecostal minister who spoke about how his father embraced his queerness.  “Before you were born, God knew your name, knew who you are,” his father said. 

That makes me cry.  I believe that God knows who I am, that she made me this way, that I am perfect in her eyes.  But I also know that shit look from the woman in the mini-mart may well have been because she sees me as a big fat freak, a guy masquerading in a dress.

I know I can’t get affirmation from everyone.  I know that there will always be resistance, and I know that I never know what people are really thinking.  I know that with time and persistence on my part, some people will get beyond their initial fear, shown through dismissal & disgust, and begin to see the grace in me, the truth that “in cultures where gender is rigidly bi-polar, rituals of gender crossing remind us of our continuous common humanity.”

But I know that even though I keep the scraps of affirmation I get around, tucked away in the bag of old writings, to sew them together into a coat I can be proud to wear seems impossible.  It’s so easy to be shredded and dismissed, so hard to find people who are actually able to affirm what I put out, affirm what they fear.  Even Sabrina fears.

All the lonely trannies, where do they all belong?”  This rephrasing of “Eleanor Rigby” often plays in my mind when I walk out there, wondering where an affirmative home for us is.  I know that the simple retort is that if I think such is needed, why don’t I make it?  After all, Sabrina is making a home in Trinidad for neo-transsexuals. 

Me, though, well my pillar is cracked.  That core of possibility and desire that lifts people to slog though and do the hard work, well, the only way I have found to put it away in a plastic bin under the back porch is to smash it into little pieces that can be dumped into a bucket.

My brother knows that kids without such a column, strong and supported, appreciated and affirmed, well those are kids without a center and kids with problems.  He knows that the most important thing he can do for his kids is to embrace their possibilities and help them learn to make their own pillar stronger and taller, prominent and potent, so that it can give them the brace they need to build a life around.

My God may have known me before I was born, but it was soon after that the world wanted to convince me that knowledge was wrong and sick, depraved and misbegotten, broken and bastardized.  I learned to live under bucket, and when people needed me to stand strong, they meant stand strong in a nice little way.

But today, I pack myself away again.  And finding the ability to quickly assemble my pillar from the rubble, stand strong for an event, and then hide it away again, well, that seems too much.  The one thing there is no middle ground on is that identity at your core — you can’t be simultaneously proud and ashamed of it, and sequentially building it & destroying it, well, that’s just a syphian task, designed to destroy people.  Designed to destroy me, to be specific.

I took my time and I looked for my support.  People liked some theology, I could walk through a business expo without being boooed, be out there and OK.  But as for feeling like I was being seen, being supported, being connected, well, the limits are the limits.  I work hard to bolster the pillars of others, but mine, well, too many years of crushing it has left it crushed.

Before I was born, she knew my name, and she knew me to be her child.  After that is when it got difficult.  That’s when I needed to cry and feel safe with someone who knew my name, or who at least knew God well enough to trust me, well. . .

It’s a lonely life.  And my pillar is in a plastic tub under the porch.

ah, so

Ah, so you are the one that reads all that crap.  I do hope you come back and read it again.    “The Big Bitch”  paid me a great compliment this week when she told me that she reads a piece I wrote about her every couple of years, and every time she reads it she sees something new, sees it and herself in a new way.  To her that means the work is deep, but to me that only means that Sabrina is getting deeper, now able to see meanings that were beyond her at a previous moment.  I really think that’s the glory of repeated ritual, that since it doesn’t change but we do, we come to it new, but then again I wrote about that in one of those Christmas pieces.

I need to say a few things, and somehow I think I should say it to you.  All this stuff is about me, of course — if it has meaning to you, well, that’s nice too.

I wrote years ago about the inability to actually be in two places at once.  We can’t do that, really.  But what we can do is vibrate so fast between two places  it appears to people not moving that fast that we are in all of them.  I used to illustrate this by holding up one finger and then shaking my hand from side to side so it looks to us that there are two fingers, plus a lot of shadows in between. 

I believe that I am many parts, but I also believe that I can’t be all those parts at once.  On one side is a broken human, lonely and in pain on top of the mountain, alone and bruised from a crushing life filled with stigma and pain.  On the other side, however, is an incredibly potent shaman who walks with power and can throw lightning bolts of revelation from her fingertips.

I have come to believe that this is the power of shamans, the embodiment of the archetype of the wounded healer.  We are taught and opened by our wounds, so that our power is tempered with our “monster empathy,” as Bear has called it.   We cannot be healthy & powerful without our own broken hearts, and we cannot both be wounded & potent at the same time — we have to be both in a stroboscopic dance of humanity & divinity occupying the same body, the same space, the same heart.

I know I am potent.  I know I am crushed.  Both of these things are true.  And in the American model, where value is only assigned to purity and not to ambiguity, only to simplicity and not to complexity, that assigns me the value of less than truthful. 

How do we affirm the potent in us when the potent in us doesn’t nicely fit into other’s conceptions of the world?  It’s easy to say God called you to nurse lepers and make dinner for doggies, but what if she calls you to hurl lightning bolts of insight that reveals illusion as false, calls you to walk though walls others think of as real, calls you to be the question?  How do people affirm that?

It’s so much easier for them to pint out the other side of you, the hurting side, and say that is sickness, illness and that needs to be challenged.  I watched a bunch of straights watch “Fish Can’t Fly,” a group of interviews about the ex-gay movement, and watched how they didn’t get how potent those tales of moments when these people wanted to die were.  Those were real, so real.  But the mother whose child committed self-murder, well, she was understandable, because her story wasn’t about being queer, it was about being straight and enduring loss.  That’s what they got, I sensed, that the whole trick was avoiding loss, and this woman had lost her daughter and that was sad, and she might have avoided that loss if she wasn’t homophobic.

In the discussion after, they invited me to come back to their church on Sunday.  Not because they thought the church could serve me, or more than that they wanted me to give my gifts, to open to me, no just because they wanted someone to fly the queer flag and show how cool they are.  “Come and be visible, then go away,” I heard.

I know how powerful I am.  Just this week, at the same church service, I met someone I worked with for years.  I told her a story my way, starting with an anecdote, and felt the need to tell her that this would connect with what we were talking about.  “There is always a connection with you,” she smiled.  I have long been a unique character, but also one hiding from my power.  I told a friend that I was called to carry the history, to see patterns, and not just to be in the now, and got the reply “You do it better than anyone I have ever met.”   

But I also know how wounded I am.  And between those two, the depth of my wounds and the power of my vision, it’s hard for people to engage me, easy for them just to throw me in the overwhelming pile, too hard, too intense, too much.  I embody the gifts of creation and the wounds of humanity, and while I couldn’t be who I am without both of them, I know being who I am is hard.

This whole notion of being more than one thing, of living in the cycle — even though most cycles aren’t nearly as fast as mine — is really important to understanding trans.  Most trannys have an in and out cycle, a natural procession of how they put their focus to being a tame part of society and being a wild part of God’s nature.   We transfer on this slow cycle because that’s what fits into the world, and whatever part of the cycle we are in, we usually claim purity, that this is who we are, who we have really always been and who we will be in the future.  That’s a credible claim in a country for whom history and connection are just messy details, not a glimpse of a rich and nuanced tapestry of life.

How do we become empowered when the frequency of our lives moves us back and forth through what others see as walls, and they see us as becoming invisible or false and then visible or real again and again and again and again?  We know that this vibration is required, that we cannot be in multiple places at once, but that sliding through the points of the circle really does make us what we are.  Others though, well, that seems to be illusory, a chimera, not real.

To perform with credibility and to live with liminality is one of the hardest things anyone can do.  It is so easy to get caught by the ankle and held in place, and while we may still flicker in our heart, mind and spirit, our power drains when we cannot be fully present, and so all we can be is to be wounded.

This probably makes little sense to you.

But it is what slices my heart to ribbons.


We are always trapped between the should and the must, the wild and the tame, the spirit and the flesh.  That’s where humans live their lives, needing to be one of the group, eating and sleeping and taking care of the kids, and needing to feel connected to something beyond ourselves, to something eternal and ethereal.

For those of us whose calling isn’t included in the standard inventory, the shamans who walk between the worlds of men and women, worlds people often think of separate, that place between is almost impossible.   We are only seen as true or real when claim purity, and for us, the only truth and reality is ambiguity, a kind of liminality that holds not only the circle of life but also the tenderness of our hearts.

We must have what we must have, money and comfort and company, the essentials that flesh requires, and what we should have, what we need to stay whole and righteous, well, that usually gets squeezed into the little spaces.  Ane when we are reminded that the balance is off, what can we do but do what we can, what we must, rather than what we desire, what is blissful, what is connecting?

I know this division.  It tears me apart in every moment, as I get farther and farther away from both, nether getting a comfortable life nor walking in the whispers of my creator.  The division tears at me and by now, walking away from the world and spirit only being shown in text, well, I am torn to shreds, with pain levels that cripple me in both strength and in supplication, unable to rise above or to compromise below, cracked and shattered.

I have been clear about this for ages.  The therapist I saw for one session a year ago was lifted by my words — “I could listen to you forever” — but glimspsed what I was telling her — “your eyes are so full of pain.”  But another beating happened and I slipped up and that had to be cut off, and it just keeps getting worse. 

I just spent five weeks trying to find someplace where I felt safe, understood, valued, attractive, honored, someplace where healing could occur, but at this level, at this person, that place seems far off.  I am intense and terrifying, attractive only in the ways I transcend pain with my mind, offering insight & understanding that is comforting & stimulating to others. 

In other words, I’m not balanced and resilant enough to not challenge you,  not to leak into your “monster empathy,” that the gift the bane & the glory of all shaman-type creatures.   We feel though other’s eyes, and while this lets us enable healing, though giving voice to the pain, through embracing the pain, though absorbing the pain, though finding solace for the pain, or though whatever mode our healing power takes, it also costs us.  Who does heal the healers, who keeps us whole and healthy and able to do what we must?

I hope your life is joyous and full. 


TBB Says

TBB says:

This is what I want you to know.

It is possible
to live publicly, proudly and peacefully out
as a transgender woman.

People will know your history and your biology
and you need them to know
because otherwise you can’t speak the truth of your life
but they will accept you as a another human.


It is better
to live publicly, proudly and peacefully out
as a transgender woman.

To live your truth you can start everyday
identifying what you have to embrace to live your better life
rather than identifying what you have to deny to live your small life.

My life has taken me away from my expectations
and into my dreams
and whatever is vital to me
including my children
is not lost to me unless I choose not to embrace it
unless I choose to cut it off.

My dreams are now all as a woman
and my heart is full & peaceful
as I renew my relationship
with the God who created me this way.

There is family to be cared for
and children who reassure me
I am attractive
in ways I feared I could never be.

I wake up in breathtaking country
between mesa, mountain & prairie
and finally get to breathe deeply
nourishing my heart.

I live my life with gusto
and while some may hold
the expectations of my old life
others find me new & reborn
and want to connect.

It is possible
It is better
to sing the song God placed in your heart
and be all the person
you are inside.

Enclave To Sanctuary


You said that people who stayed in a congregation were only those that were a part of the life of the church.  People who only come for services can come and go, but those who feel roots in the church stay.  That’s one reason you wish your church had to struggle a bit more, so parishioners would become involved in the struggle together.

You are right, of course.  Those who are a part of the life of the church are the vital parishioners, the ones who are the lifeblood of the church.  But for me, the question is how people come to feel a part of the church.

We spoke of one way that happens, creating an enclave in the church, an “us versus them” attitude that lets fear be the binder, our shared fear of the outside world.  This is a church that uses separation to create connection, and we both agreed that is wrong.

But if the church is not enclave from the world, it should at least be sanctuary from it.  Safe ground for connection and for exposure, a place where we use our shared commitment to being better, being more like our God, to create peace & acceptance.

Creating separation may be shorthand to create an enclave of safe space —  we are safe from them behind these walls, with these people like us — but how do we use love to create a sanctuary of safe space, where we are safe in diversity?

For me, the key is being seen.  I need people to see right though me, to see my heart, full of all the mess that is in every human heart, from sin to divinity, and still embrace me.  It’s all well and good for people to be nice and pleasant and not threatening, but does that really create a feeling of safe space to be human and to be loved by God and her people?  Starting from the pulpit and moving all the way to those pouring coffee, I don’t just want to be tolerated, I want to feel seen and feel loved.

My primary challenge in the world isn’t trans.  My primary challenge, the one I knew early, was that I am one of those “too people” — too smart, too intense, too challenging, too sharp, too everything.  I learned early that I had to play small, to stay defended in order to be accepted in polite society.  I learned to meter myself out in tiny doses, first trying to be appropriate and then trying to be authentic somewhere down the line.

I, like every human, learned how to perform a persona that gets along in the world, nice and constrained.

And I have absolutely no doubt that if it’s just that I bring to the event, people will accept me on a social level.  But is that enough to feel seen, embraced and loved? 

I know that most people rarely get naked even to themselves.  They don’t go deep into their knowledge, spirit, emotions and beliefs to expose themselves.  They are used to showing a little bit and being exhilarated by that revelation, needing and wanting only what they show to be appreciated. 

We “too people” though, well, somehow being exposed is what we do.  We just get real and get raw, letting it all hang out, because we have so much there is nothing else we can do with it.  And no matter how graciously and elegantly we learn how to offer revelation, offer the power of change, the essence of death and Rebirth, for many, many, many, most people it still feels like Too.  After all, how can someone so sharp and strong need connection, affirmation, tenderness? 

While this need to be seen may be more pronounced for “too people” like me, I think it threads though everyone.  We stay where we are seen and understood and still affirmed, for after all, how safe is safe space where it doesn’t feel safe enough to expose our own messy humanity?  For some, pleasant words at coffee make the difference, or even just the long term commitment to a church for our family, but for the truly powerful, it is the ability to be seen not only for what we do but also for who we are that makes us feel connected.

The traditional way to be seen is to be seen over time, for people to know us step by step.  But in a hurry up, fast fast world, that old way doesn’t work so well.  Creating community by decades is a rural kind of community, and with the world getting smaller & faster — small things always spin faster, ask any physicist — the challenge is how to move to a faster, more diverse urban community.

I spoke to an dear old friend a few nights ago.  What I needed to hear, what I gave her, was a simple affirmation that I have believe that God is in her heart, and trusting that divinity, I trust that she can make good choices when she trusts her heart.    I had trouble getting that back, though.  I got some chat about how hard it is to “cook for the chef” because it feels like not enough, and how, I doubted what was in my heart “maybe it was coming from the wrong place.” 

God didn’t make me to just be sweet and nice.  God made some of us to be sharp and insightful, remembering history, making connections, and showing the line between comfort & rebirth.  I know that to be true, but I also know that enacting that reality makes me more porcupine than puppy, and finding a safe space for porcupines is a challenge.

It’s a challenge for me, yes, but I think it’s also a challenge for every church that wants to move from enclave to sanctuary, from a closed comfort to an open vitality.  How can we see what challenges & discomforts us, acknowledge its truth and embrace it as a gift from God?

I’ll be at the Wednesday, I think, but it will be the last time for a while.

Thanks for everything.  Your open heart is to be valued.


A Dwali Story

The local Interfaith story circle had a meeting at the Hindu temple tonight. To celebrate Dwali, they wanted stories about light, and finding light. (Remember, in India, this is the time of the year when days start getting longer).

I wrote the following story this afternoon, though I didn’t end up going. The parking lot was enough for me tonight.


One thing that most hotel rooms share is darkness. Between the tiny windows, the blackout drapes and the light bulbs chosen by accountants, most American hotel rooms are just plain dark.

To me, darkness seemed appropriate. This was my first transgender conference. Sure, I’d crept through the darkness to a gay bar in Schenectady where one of the oldest transgender clubs met, but that bar was designed to be dark and secretive, the old style gay bar set up for clandestine assignations.

This darkness was different. At 7:30 AM the sun was up outside as I stood in from of the mirror trying to smear on my makeup.

I was scared as I opened the door to the corridor, my hear pounding. Luckily, the hall was as dark and as dank as any other Ramada Inn anywhere.

A name tag clipped to my blouse, I slipped into the back of a dark meeting room where an introductory session had just started. A few people were up front talking about their experience and choices. These weren’t people like me — these were people who had been outside in the daylight on a day other than Halloween. I listened and asked question — How do you take power in the world as a transperson who moves between? — and eventually the session ended.

I walked out into the lobby again, wondering if I needed to go back to my room to use the facilities. Instead I turned towards the curtains keeping the sun out.

One of the people from the session stepped over to talk with me. Sabrina Marcus-Taraboletti, a big tranny with an open heart and a thick Noo Yawk accent told me “I really liked the question you asked. You really got an understanding.”

I smiled, pleased to be in the spotlight for a moment.

“Come on,” Sabrina said.

“Where are we going?” I asked

“I need some air. Come with me out to the parking lot,” Sabrina said as she cruised towards the wall of glass doors.

I stopped. In here was a lovely, dingy hotel, but out there was a sunny September day. Sabrina may have simply stepped through the glass, but for me, well. . . .

I tried to breathe as the sun continued to rise in the sky, and there, as I stood in that cheezy convention center lobby, it found a crack in the faded draperies. A beam of sunlight came down and hit me smack in the face. I blinked and blinked, but couldn’t turn away.

Apparently, no matter how much I wanted to stay in the shadows, this place, a shabby hotel just off the perimeter now full of hundreds of trannys was my place to meet the sun. I walked forward and passed though the door, cheap wig, bad makeup and all.

It was a beautiful September day. The crisp air filled my lungs and the sun warmed my face. I went over to chat with Sabrina.

For me, staying in the darkness was staying in the shadows. staying hidden Now, everyday I face the same battle. You can’t both be scared of the sun and proud of who God created you. Now, when I feel the fear creep in, feel the desire to hide, to avoid upsetting other people, I remember the smiling face that pulled me into that parking lot, the spirit that helped lead me into the light for the first time.


So this is what I need to know: my feelings count.  Hell, as a femme, my feelings are at the heart of who I am, and to deny them is to deny myself.

I told my sister how I felt about Friday with the car, starting with a sticker check and ending with locking eyes with my old landlord, punctuated by arguments, difficulty and a cold.   She suggested that it was all just random, without meaning. 

It may well be random, but the meaning I assign to it, how I feel about it, well, that still is true and real and vital.   And while she may be able to pass over feelings — hell, while she may see her job at work as to get women to focus on actions, not feelings — it’s bad freakin’ magic for me.

I know the issues.  My mother has always been a mass of feelings that disempower her, so we both were more like my father, thinking creatures that knew how to work around that mass.  Trusting the gut seemed crazier than geting bound up in the head.

So when I get dismissed, told to stay focused and do it harder, I get very upset.  I blow.  I got short with my sister and let the call end.  What one way has she reached out to me with warmth, tried to enter my world?  Hell, we had the blitz about birthday rest– she could have asked me to dinner at one of the BBQ joints, or even just Old Country Buffet.  But no, just toughen up

_____ suggests I work to understand what I am really feeling.  Well this is what I understand: when I don’t do my work I feel ddisempowered.  But the only way to do the work is to trust the feelings and not the fear I have cultivated into a forest to keep the feelings down. 

My feelings count.  My bliss counts.  It’s my bliss that tells me when I am doing what God wants me to do.  And Sunday, well sunday I was in the zone.  Out there, beyond fear, even hazarding the women’s room at the Albany Library where Yumara was beat up, first ny two girls and later on talk radio.  The black girl did her business, and I moved on.

Thinking harder, doing more sensible shit will not get me out of this cesspool.  And that’s not something my family is willing to understand.  But affirming my feelings and my power, well that seems like giving into the enemy to them, supporting sickness.  Just ask ____ how I need to be strong armed — she’s very authoritative on every subject she chooses to pronounce on.  My sister even felt the need to explain how I was not without personal responsibility.  Wonder where she got the idea that I was without it, where she practiced the explanation.

So this is what I need to know: my feelings count.   But when the world’s response to you is to demand that you explain, justify, rationalize, console and comfort them rather than challenging them, well, not easy.  I remember a sketch where TBB and I played CDs going to an event.  Her strategy was to be above it all, doing a performance, mine to rationalize, offering some credible story that people could accept.

But I am big, strong and smart, so clearly, the feelings of others who feel fear or disquiet are more important than my feelings.  I need to respect and understand the feelings of others — indulge their illusions — while my big, messy, challenging & intense feelings are subordinated to the need to do what is required.

Ouch!  fuck that!  I can’t keep huring this way any more, internalizing all the pain.  That’s what makes me sick.  But my sickness is a gift to people who don’t want to face their own.  If denying, dismissing and dissapearing my own feelings incapacitates me, well then I have to be tougher, don’t I?

I gave my health to them, freely, willingly — and they gave me a request for more giving.  I hold onto my fear to keep my head down, and they want me to do more in this crouch, this enfeebeled shuffle where fear keeps me taut & tucked away.

The question is simple: Do I do the stupid thing and trust my heart, letting the power flow by valuing my feelings, or do I do the smart thing and keep trying to force myself to follow the rules, pushing harder to be functional while crippled with denial?