I once passed a story about a woman admirer on to Jake Hale.   Jake, a brilliant FTM philosophy professor, was surprised.

“This is exactly the same story as my last relationship,” he told me.  Jake was surprised because we come from what might be seen as very different places, he being a tranny fag FTM and me being a transfemme. 

What was common in our stories, though, was the admirer.  They were both women who knew what they wanted, how to top from the bottom, and, as Carol Queen has noted, do one of the most common things in relationships: try to turn our partner into our own top, the top that doesn’t challenge us but does what we want to do.

I had a mistress who told me she asked her paying subs if they wanted an orgasm.  She knew that only the ones who said “whatever you wish” had any real understanding of submission.  The rest just wanted to push the responsibility for their own queer heat onto her.  Pushy Bottoms.

People rarely come with open eyes, minds and hearts to a relationship.  More often they project canned desires onto others, or sometimes just want to consume someone and move on.

I had become a new person;
and those who knew the old person laughed at me.
The only men who behaved sensibly was my tailor:
he took my measure anew every time he saw me,
whilst all the rest went in with their old measurements
and expected them to fit me.
    George Bernard Shaw, “Man and Superman” 

How do we believe we are desirable when desire is locked into a pattern? 

I know, I have experienced, that when people have to tell me how ugly I am, how really ugly I am, that they are not rejecting me, they are rejecting their desire for me. 

To flirt is to risk, and to know that all most people see is the surfaces they want to see, whatever that means, changes risk into danger.

Elegant, Eloquent and Sad

Ms. Rachelle has struck again:

Your blog was elegant, eloquent, and sad,
a true representation of the artist. 

I know, full well, that there are people who have it much, much, much worse than I do.  And I know that fact is what many people would use as a basis to tell me that life is hard, I am luck and I should damn well suck it up.  They would tell me not to be a whiner, to “just do it,”  to get on with it, to shut up and stop whining.

Of course, that was the path of my life, this whole “get over it and move on stuff.”   I looked around to see how others did it, and found that people use what the psychs call “latent inhibition,” the sloughing off of what is too much — inputs, thoughts, feelings, facts, memories, sensations, whatever.   The assaults of everyday life (and this fast & mechanized society has brought growth by extending the number & intensity of daily assaults we endure) are just gone, never getting through the armor or just being forgotten, left behind.

Some of us, though, well, we have a mind like hot gum on a symmer sidewalk: things just stick to it.  And when healers tell us that the new only comes when we let go of the old, we know that seeing patterns, which can only happen by connecting dots, and that means keeping the dots around, know that seeing patterns is the joy in the world.  The clutter isn’t clutter, it’s a storehouse for possibilities.

I recently met someone I worked with 20 years ago in 1985.  I started off into a story, and then stopped to assure her that this would be relevant to our conversation.

“Ah, with you there is always, always a connnection,” she said with a smile.

How can you make art unless the experience of your life is present and remains present? How do you see clearly what is there, rather than letting it slide away, and how do you see where the patterns are, the points where the universe, or at least the little universe you live in, connects?

I have long been told that in communication one has the obligation to make their own views clear and comprehensible to others.  This has been the quest of my last decades, to find language which expresses my worldview as clearly, as elegantly and as eloquently as I possibly can, so people will understand how I see, so people will understand me.

And it turns out that quest leads me to. . . sad.


My Best Present

My best present this holiday — well, besides the cool new MicroPlane Zester — is from someone who here goes under the cover of “Ms. Rachelle.”

If I think of what I want for you what comes to mind is a line from a prayer found in the Reconstructionist Jewish prayerbook.  The traditional poem is one of asking for God’s blessings for the world, and of course, God’s four letter name in Hebrew usually receives the euphemistic translation Lord.  In this book they come up with terms, such as Infinite, Eternal, Parent, that match the setting.  In the particular prayer the requests are for others, but then the person speaks to God on her own behalf.  So the line is addressed to God, but I’m addressing it to you:

And as for me, Gentle One, my prayer is for You, that it be for You a time of desire.

This is the magic I seek for you, that desire return to you, the desire for magic, the desire for life, the desire to be free.  The Romans celebrated Saturnalia at this time, which featured a leveling, a time in which the slaves are free.  In the Mithras mystery religion of Rome, the sun is reborn, triumphant, on Dec. 25, just after Saturnalia.  Sol Invictas! they cried, in joy and celebration.

And as for me, Gentle One, my prayer is for You, that it be for You a time of desire.

Bono Saturnalia,

“Ms Rachelle”

The best present I think I give to people is the gift of seeing and encouraging them.   To be understood and valued is what most people really want, and I am no exception.  One of the last lines in Kate Bornstein’s groundbreaking “Gender Outlaw” (Routledge, 1994) take from the fact that in the TV fiction she loves, trannys are discovered, and she goes on to express one of her most tender wishes, one of her her most plaintive pleas: “Discover me.”

And that is the gift I feel so often denied.  I know most people see me as too smart, too fast, too visionary, too weird (heck, even Kate has called me the queerest person she knows), and that means I’m too challenging.  “People read you and wonder how someone with a voice like yours could ever need emotional support and caring, ever use what I have to give?” an old friend said, echoing the standard response of my youth: “Well, if you are smart enough to see and describe the challenges, even your emotional needs, then you are smart enough to fix them.”

But Ms. Rachelle, well, she knows that I have done the work of moving past desire, which may have left me clear-headed but which also has left me clear-hearted.  There isn’t anything there to repair the damage, anything there to be tender and healing, anything there to nurture the flame. 

My mother got a brochure from Omega Insitute on a weekend conference they are running in Manhattan called “Becoming Fearless.” She wondered if my sister or I would like to go.  I laughed at this, because they don’t want me fearless, they want me normative, back on the grid and quiet. 

It’s not fear that holds me down, it’s pain.  I have been fearless for way too long, as evidenced by that fifth grade incidident where I challenged the teacher’s assertion even as the whole class voted against me, ignoring the fear of social stigma that controls most people.  But too many decades of that fight leaves you pretty well toothless (lit.) and the pain just keeps you from going out to get hit again.  The last time I was coerced into one of these newage helpshops I ended up telling Ms. Rachelle that I shouldn’t go because my resources were so thin that one more big hit would crippple me more, take me down, and that agrument she agreed with.  But I went and got hit and hurt again.  The price of having other people’s expectations placed on me, even expectations made with a good heart, just seems too much to bear without any tenderness for healing my battered heart.

I have never thought that I am unlovable.  I know my mother in the sky loves me very, very much, and that I have worked hard to become clear and loving in my own life. 

I just know that I am undesirable, one of those undesirables that society tries to sweep to the edges.  I bristle too much, illuminate too much, challenge too much.

And that’s why Ms Rachelle’s gift of the prayer that desire comes to me is so moving and potent.  The spirit may need only heart and mind, but the body needs desire, both coming and going, both to desire and, maybe more, to be desired.  I have never really been able to twist the power my mother in the sky gave me down into a package pretty enough it meets the limits of desire, and now I know that my own broken and crippled life isn’t something anyone healthy really wants to enter.  It’s not like I ever really had desire and lost it, it’s like I knew that wasn’t for me.

But Ms. Rachelle wants me to know that it is for me, and that moves me, in ways that I can barely speak.

But can I see any way that I can invoke the energy of desire in my life in a way that it will return to me as healing energy?   No, I think.  That just seems all too much.

But to you, dear reader, Happy Saturnalia to you.  May your desire for intimacy — desire for the heat of another,  desire for loving the world,  desire for clear vision & thought, and desire for a spiritual connection with the creator — be full and lead you to victory over darkness, lead you to a triumph of the light.

That is my desire for you.

No Grace For You.

I cooked and cleaned and shopped and listened and supported and made a Christmas Eve party for my brother’s family, a big Christmas for us.  Lots and lots of work.

At Christmas dinner, my mother started to tuck in without anyone saying grace.  I spoke up, and she began to mumble something about thankfulness.

I stopped her and said that while I thought gratiude was important — we should have that attitude every day — that Christmas was for miracles, for the magic that the Puritans feared when they banned it.  I started to talk about moving beyond expectation, about the light from within, and such.

My sister worked hard to listen.

My mother started cutting her meat.  She tuned out.

I saw this and started mumbling, trying to indicate to my sister that she should look at my mother. When my sister saw my mother ignoring the grace, I stopped.

My father, sweet & slightly confused, said “Amen,” even though I never got to that point.

Once I was quiet, my mother started telling a banal story about some orphans from Kahzikstan and their first Christmas here in their new church.   I just sat and ate without grace.

She later sincerely thanked me for everything I do, everything. Just not everything I am, everything inside of me, which doesn’t deserve grace.

No grace for you.  It’s Christmas.

Time to go take out the garbage.  The truck comes early, you know.

Magic Or Else (Christmas)

Magic Or Else
Callan Williams, © 2005

If there is no possibility of magic at the holiday time, what the hell is the point?

It doesn’t matter if it’s the magic of salvation coming in the birth of one divine child, the magic of light that stretches beyond expectation to keep us holy, the magic of community & shared values, the magic of wonder in the face of kids, or any other kind of magic.  Holidays without magic are not holy at all, are just another day.

The gift we need most is the gift of the possibility of magic.  It’s the possibility that religions offer, the gift of hokey Christmas movies, and the gift that retailers ads try to make us believe comes in the boxes that they are selling.  A hot creamy cup of perfect coffee in under a minute?  What magic!

Everyone knows how drawn they are to stories where magic happens – a lottery win, a dog who saves her family, a reunion, anyone falling in love.  These are the possibilities we dream about happening to us.

It’s when we become magic, though, that the best things happen.  And we become magic when we transcend the possibilities written on us by our family, our community, our biology, our history, our race, or whatever else imposes expectations on us and do the miraculous: become more than we and others thought we were.

Waiting for magic to fall from the sky, looking longingly at others who invoke magic, or expecting something to be the magical solution (you know, like that new shampoo), isn’t really a way to get magic into our lives.  We have to find and practice our own magic to really do good, the magic of healing, the magic of mastery, the magic of miracles where we keep choosing to grow & succeed rather than repeating the rote expectations.

The possibility of magic.  It’s the only thing that can possibly get us through the dark times of the holidays.  And it’s the only gift really worth giving at the holidays.  It’s not magic we can give, only the possibility of magic, because magic is always possibility, the  possibility of being more than we ever imagined we could be, doing more than we ever imagined we could do.

Magic certainly takes sweat, working towards mastery, but more than that it requires magic.  There is some spark, some flash at the center of our magic, and unless that always stays at the center of our expression, all we have is grunt work.  No magic ever came in a place where inspiration and intuition isn’t requires, be that on an assembly line or in a call center.  Our creativity isn’t just about how much we force and grunt and sacrifice and deny, it’s about how we bring out our own magic and work to make that spark into a flame that can make light, make warmth, make magic.

If the gift of the possibility of magic is the only gift worth giving this holiday season, how can you give it?  Your job is to open the space for things to happen that are beyond your expectations, and then to blow on every spark of magic you see in others this year.  When you affirm that magic can happen, when traditions are only the launching pad for the little miracles of opening hearts, when you say yes to the sparks, you start being able to give the magic of possibility. When you engage and affirm the possibility of magic in the people you love, that’s when magic happens.  When you ask them to deny their magic to fit your expectations, that’s when magic dies.

If there is no possibility of magic at the holiday time, what the hell is the point?  Killing magic might be an everyday pastime for many, keeping the status quo intact, but when the days are short, cold and dark (at least up here in the northern hemisphere) we need the possibility of magic to get us through.  After all, can anything but giving the possibility of magic really be called love?  The worst and best thing anyone can hold for us is the expectation of being amazing – a real challenge, but the only challenge that affirms all we can be, that affirms the possibilities our creator placed inside of us.

You holiday can be full of magical moments, but only if you are prepared to receive the magic that comes your way, ready to encourage possibilities rather than to damp them down.

When you see someone trying to make magic this holiday, to create something new and better, be there to encourage them.  Help them make space for the magic to take root and grow, for the new and exciting to shine in the world.  Without a positive audience willing to suspend judgment and cheer on the new, there is no possibility for magic to bloom.

If you make your own magic, breaking though, transforming and becoming new past expectations, you know how hard it is to keep that magic going without others who are willing to believe in what they cannot yet see, believe in the possibility of new birth.  You know that the gift of creating space for the possibility of magic is a gift of precious beauty because the giving gift of believing in someone is giving the gift of their own flowering, to them and to you.

As for me, I find it the hardest thing to be open to magic happening.  I have been taught for so long that the expectation of magic is an open door to the reality of suppression, the oppression of expectations that many hold to be the key to a comfortable holiday.  Rather than to be open to surprise, joy, transcendence, amazement, delight and love, many prefer to play out the old dramas, be crushed under the burden of old expectations, be lost in what has been rather than be open to the possibility of magic.  It is hard to be as a child, where everything seems new and possible, because that child has so many times been told that there is no magic, and behaving the way that others expect is the only option that might bring you anything at all good.

I know what people want from me.  They want to be affirmed in their choices, either the choice for comfort, supporting status quo (fear), or the choice for magic, moving beyond limits (love).  In both cases, they rarely want to support me in the possibility of magic, rather they want magic avoided or magic done for them.  Opening the space for magic is something you do for others, because their magic is for them, and not for you.  That’s why supporting the possibility of magic is a gift, offering the blessings of any gift, in returns you cannot imagine.

If there is no possibility of magic at the holiday time, what the hell is the point?  That is a question I often find myself asking when trying to finding meaning and energy for this bleakest time of the year.

New birth, enduring light, a community that can endure & transcend.  These are the themes of some of the stories we tell in the darkness, and they are the themes of magic, of being moving beyond expectation to something infused with the divine.

If there is no possibility of magic at the holiday time, what the hell is the point?

It’s Here

I know that Christmas is really here when I hear “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.”   It doesn’t count if I play it myself, it has to be found sound, out there somewhere.

Today is the day.  I was out early and the supermarket parking lot was still pretty empty, but there was a Salvation Army bell ringer there.  My great grandfather in England was active with the Sallies around the turn of the century, so I do notice, even if I tend to prefer more secular organizations.  I noticed the older woman with the walker who they placed inside the mall by the entrance to Sears, and the hip guys just trying to feel a little connection at this time of year.

This fellow, though, well, they put him here for the slow shift, and as he rang his bell, I saw him mumbling to himself.  When I passed, though, the mumbling took shape, and I realized that softly, to himself, he was singing “Grandma Was Run Over By A Reindeer. . .”  Not really a meaninful Christmas song, and with its original derevation of “Grandma Got Hung Over,”  not really an SA song, either.

But he was singing it to keep focused in the cold, and I heard it and it made me smile.  He wasn’t crafty, just singing his spirit, and I was moved.

You can say there’s no such thing as Santa, but as for the guy with the bell, well, he believes.

And that belief touched my heart.  Almost enough to get out a blue wig.


You Know

You know.

I know that you know, but you don’t want to know.

If you knew that you knew, you’d have to change your life.  As it is, you can barely squeeze all you want to know into to the life that you are living, so adding any more knowledge would just blow out the side of the bag and make a big mess.

But still, you know.  You’ve always known, but you hoped if you just focused on what you’d like to know all the other stuff you know would somehow go away, or at least get lost.

Problem is that once you know, you know, and nothing makes that go away.  It’s true and real and that’s why it stays. 

But you know that, even though you wish you didn’t.

You know.  And just knowing is tough enough, so if everyone doesn’t just shut up about it, well, you swear you will just scream.  Sure, sure, yeah right, okay, okay, you know, you know, enough already.

Why won’t they just keep it quiet, just leave you alone, just let you be comfortable, just shut up?  After all, they know, you know, we know, why should we talk about it, make a big deal out of it, waste time on it? Knowing is just knowing, and it doesn’t mean anything.

But you know.  And you know they know.  And trying to make it not knowing doesn’t make it dissapear.

You know.  You have always known.

Isn’t it important that knowing what you know means something?

It’s when our knowing is alligned with our life rather than being out of phase with it that our knowing empowers us rather than just pains us.

You know?

No Reality

Today, Dr Phil told a woman who was romanced by a con man that there was no reality, only perception, and she had to change her perceptions.

He’s right, of course.  Perception is the only way we have to change the world, to change the context and the interpretation of the facts to be empowering (or at least past.)

But the part about there being no reality, well, I think that’s a bit off.  There seems to be some kind of shared perception that can be passed off as real.  It’s really raining, and I really do owe a lot of money to people.  Even if Michael Jackson’s perception is that he is white, well, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some kind of reality that points to him being black.

I mean, I keep getting reminded about my eighth of a tonne male body, and that seems to be real, no matter how much changin my perception can change my reality.

Perception changes, story changes are the only small power we have to change our life.

But that don’t mean there is no reality.

my fault

i’d tell you about some of the challenges that cause me pain, but they are all my fault, and that means i don’t have any right to anything.  it’s my fault.

misery may love company, but company rarely reciprocates.

my fault.

White Pain

It’s the first snowfall of the season, about six inches of fluffy power blanketing the ground.

I walked by the derelict 1977 snowblower, the one my father spent weeks trying to get back in shape a few years ago, but never could, hours and hours of his frustration with me as target, and got my old shovel.

I started to shovel, but my right hand hurt.  My index finger is always cold since the incident where I cut it on the toaster oven and waited an hour and a half for him to help me with the big chunk of flesh severd from the tip.  The heel of my hand shows bruising, fresh enough to keep me awake, some from the incident where my mother threw a magazine under my foot from her recliner throne and I slipped as it moved like grease on the rug, tumbling me to the floor and taking my weight on that hand.  My wrist was in the elastic cuff, and the cut on my thumb, from the cheap plastic mandolin I had to use to slice potatoes for a casserole wile constantly being interrupted made it’s presence known in my gloves.

I shoveled, without complaint, until I started doing the new walk my father set this summer out of flagstone.  It has no solid base, just some sand he had me dig and spread, and is very uneven.  As I scraped the drive clear, the shovel would come up against the edges of the stone and stop with a hard thud, driving the shovel handle into my bruised and battered hand.  It hurt, and I did cry out.

After I finished the job, I went to him.  I had him feel my fingers and see how much colder the index finger is.  I showed him the bruises.  And I asked how he had planned to scrape the stones clear of snow in the winter, how he thought this through, so I could have his technique.

“I didn’t think about things like that!” he cried.  Yeah.  Not thinking about how your choices will affect others, and just letting them work around the mess, that’s the ticket.

I went up to take a shower, and he came up soon after.

“If something is hurting you, just stop!  Either that or find another way!  I’ll clean up what you fail to do,” he told me.

Yeah.  That’s the plan.  Don’t talk about your pain, don’t ask for help, just look for another way or stop. It’s the plan that has gotten me where I am today.

Later, he gave me a lecture from Dr. Phil, saying I shouldn’t put him down.  “People don’t get what they expect and they get frustrated and get road rage.  You need to not have expectations and not get frustrated.”

I went though the details of our conversation, reminding him that I told him that I hurt and asked for a strategy.  I didn’t have road rage.  I had to go through it twice because he interrupted me in the middle.

He told me I needed to listen to Dr. Phil, and I thought he needed to listen.  I asked him what the first thing I said was.

After guessing it was about the rocks, I reminded him that I said I was in pain, and had just told him twice that was what I said first.

“I’m in pain, you’re in pain, we are all in pain,” he retorted.  “Why should I care when your pain is self-inflicted?  You need to get past it. I don’t know how to handle it.”

It took all I had not to lose it, to hold it together after that.  This is a man who always wants to identify where I failed in avoiding whatever happened, where my slovenly and perverted habits got me — it was my bad gait that got my ankle blown out according to him  — so, to him, all of my pain is self-inflicted.

Now, he did try to help later, wanting me to change gloves so my finger wouldn’t get cold (what about when I don’t wear gloves?) and wanting to get me good slippers that I would wear (I’m most often barefoot) and that would take account of my freakish gait.  To think that he has never seen me walk in heels, which, in 1983, a girlfriend commented that I walked better in them than she did

I have come to understand that I have a much higher tolerance for pain than most.  I haven’t become adddicted or such, I just keep trying to find another way and then stopping.

This surprises many people.  “I could listen to you talk for hours,” a counselor said last year, “you make so much sense.  But you keep telling me that you are in pain, and when I look in your eyes, I see that might be true.” 

“Tell me what’s hurting you.”  That’s one of the ways they teach counselors to help people through pain, not to look at the pain, but to look at what’s hurting them.

I have white pain, like white noise, a background of hurt, like white people, buried in the ethic of shutting up and talking it, and like white snow, frozen and lifeless, shutting down the surface and driving things underneath.

And I have learned that the only choice is to shut up and stop.


Make-Do Virtue

I made a fried-egg sandwich this morning.  I used the bread I got on double discount from the thrift store, cooked it on a stove where the burner is all akimbo so you can’t get even heat, with a burned out light bulb and used a Dollar Tree flipper.  I ate it over the sink so as not to dirty a plate my father would have to clean, and felt bad as drops of yolk fell, leaving me forever.

There are two ways you can be controlled by your stuff.  The first is if you have too much, and you are always looking for more.  The second way is if you don’t have enough and you are always working to compensate for the limitations.

The virtue in my family has always been make-do. We shopped at Marshalls in 1967 when there were only two of them.  We keep twine and the picture in the town history of where my father grew up is my Uncle Eli with the tractor he built out of a 1927 Ford.  I hear stories about building rope laying machines, which spun binder twine, and spinning wheels made in the blacksmith shop.  My mother gasps at people who pay retail.

There is certainly virtue in making do, in using up what you have and not wanting for more, in being smart and frugal rather than consumed by desire.

But, I suspect — and this certainly isn’t echoed in my own life — make-do not a virtue in itself, rather fugality is only a virtue when it is in service to a bigger goal, to getting what you desire.  In other words, it’s not enough just to cut and scrimp and save and minimize, you have to do that at the same time you build and invest and dream.

You have to believe that the reason you play small in some areas is to have the resource to play big in others, to not lose in expenses what you can parlay in investments.

The virtue around me, the virtue I bought into, is making do.  I’m proud of my ingenuity and fugality, doing it small and smart enough to keep things going.

But I missed the lesson, the support in doing big and good, because my big was rather too queer.

Cutting your losses only gives small losses.  It’s only wins that help you win.

And make-do?  Not the best virtue to build a life around.

The Standards

One thing I really like about Christmas music is how strong standards really provide a basis for showing diversity.

Everyone who does a Christmas album has to include something like The Christmas Song (Chestunuts Roasting. . .), but they have to do it their way.  In other words, they have to follow the rules of that song while making up their own rules at the same time. By doing a standard, they immediately make us comfortable because we know the content, but they also challenge and enlighten us with the personal flavor they add to that standard.

One particular favorite of mine is Amazing Grace. I can tell how good I think the performance is by how quickly I start laughing.  This isn’t a mocking laughter — I pretty well don’t do mocking anymore — but rather a response to the power of joy from redemption that the particular artist conveys.  If I laugh, I know that the power is there in the interpetation, that the slice of style has exposure and power.

I have seen anumber of people talking about William Hung, the American Idol castoff who has had a few pretty successful albums.  They usually say that his success is freakish, an abberation, and suggest it’s about laughing at freaks.

William Hung doesn’t say that, of course, He says that his success comes from believing in dreams, in committment, in purity.

I think he is right.  I have been listening to some music from The Portsmouth Sinfonia, a 1970s era British sensation who played classical music with an enormous amout of heart but with a rather noticible lack of discipline.  Everyone played the best they could, they played their heart out, but without the benefit of classical training — or maybe the curse of classical training.  That training may have made the performances technically better, yes, but would it have also drained them of heart?

The standards are important, because when we know the text so well, the context, subtext and pretext can be identified quickly.  Instead of showing novelty, you have to show virtuosity with whatever your best gift is.  Sometimes, yes, that is technical proficency.

Other times, that’s just a big open heart.

But Not A Bad Tranny, Like Them!

One of the hallmarks of Ms. Huffman’s press for TransAmerica is the obligation to say that it isn’t really like most of those sad, tragic, boring, earnest, depressing, messagey tranny things you have seen before, that an indy film featuring a tranny can be funny and human, not a downer.


Q: People hear “transgender” and think your character must be an oddball. But she’s actually conservative and has a dry wit, kind of like a favorite aunt you might have.

A: We didn’t make a movie which was, “Oh, transgender movie. Hard to watch. Pain. Agony. Alienation. But it’s educational, so you should see it.” I hate seeing those kinds of movies. This is one where people at film festivals have said, “That was an easy watch.”

I’m not sure Ms. Huffman understands that this is exactly the challenge which keeps “Bree” stealth. Bree doesn’t want to have to spend so much time differentiating herself from those “bad trannies” so that people will give her a break and take her as a human.  Bree also has to deal with lots of other trannies, who often want to put themselves up by putting her down, saying they aren’t a bad tranny like her.

I know why Ms. Huffman feels the need to say “this isn’t like those bad tranny movies that are hard to watch,” but I also know that every time she says it she characterizes the mass of trannies (or at least tranny movies) to the “not so good” pile.  She buys into the game of stigma, saying that yes, the conventional wisdom is that trannys are just pain buckets, but her tranny isn’t.

I’d like the message to be “trannies are worth the effort.”  But as long as trannies keep feeling compelled and free to explain why other trannies are sick, the only thing we can do is claim that we are the exception and we are worth the effort.

It’s an indvidual path, this tranny thing, I know.  I just like indvidual paths with compassion, respect, affirmation and empowerment towards others, not ones that put ourselves up as good by putting others down as bad.


Confidence Home

I caught a PBS fund drive special, Fawlty Towers Revisited. On it, Moira Brooker of As Time Goes By, was chatting about how she spoke to Connie Booth the day before her audition for that series.“I told her I didn’t think I would get it, and she told me that if I didn’t think I would get it, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t have the confidence to feel safe and be present, and that would show,” Ms. Brooker said. “I went in with confidence and got the part, and I thank Connie for that.”

It’s basically the same advice that Garry Marshall gave the guys on Happy Days. “You gotta go in there like you belong there, like it’s your place and you are at home there,” he told them.

One reason Drag Queens are so potent is because they do know they are home on that stage, know they own it and the audience.

If you gotta show confidence to be compelling, and you gotta feel at home to be confident, how does a spiritually homeless person ever be compelling in the world?

Felicity Huffman, from the Transamerica press kit:

How I approached her sexuality was where she’s coming from emotionally and that was that people don’t see who she really is. She feels, ‘Everyone doesn’t see me, doesn’t appreciate me. My family doesn’t know me for who I am and I can’t manifest who I am in the world.’ She felt self loathing.

While I don’t think it’s self loathing as much as enormous levels of stigma, knowing that it is dangerous to manifest, I think Ms. Huffman has it right.  She knows that this is the essence of her Bree, that she isn’t at home in the world, and so has no confidence that she can make herself manifest and be anything other than stigmatized, marginalized, reduced & dismissed.

I was trying to cut vegetables for a casserole yesterday, and I needed some precision, which required some focus.  But that focus was shredded by my awareness of my parents, one who had to move past me, so I had to be ready to stop and move, and one who called out routinely for assistance.  I live in their world, not mine, because there is no place in this world that I have found that feels like home, where I can be anything but guarded.

For me, I have dealt with this by being strong in my belief that this is not my true home, that we are not humans living a spiritual life, rather that we are spirit living a human life.  My relationship with my creator is full of laughter and affirmation.  I just don’t know how to defend that creator to humans, who need their own creation myth to cling to, even if they have never examined that myth.

To have confidence, you have to be at home, to believe that this is your world too, as Albin claims in I Am What I Am.

And me?  Nobody’s home, nobody’s confident.

Poetry Deprivation

As you know, I think gender isn’t about the text, it’s about the subtext, not about the prose but rather about the poetry in our choices.  (I feel confident in saying, “as you know,” because I am pretty well convinced that at this time, I’m the only one reading this blog.)

After all, anyone can cook dinner or soothe a baby or fix a car, but somehow, the way women and men do these things is different.  My green haired femme friend Wolfie used to have a special long denim skirt she wore to work on the car, handy enough to use as a tool wiper.

I recently put an entry in an internet “poetry contest” to get a free magazine subscription.  Since I knew what the deal was, I wrote an incomprehensible, meaningless soup of words, but soon afterwards the e-mails started.  My poetry was excellent, and the committee was offering me an invitation to a prestigeous, select body of poets based on my submission.  Since then, I have had offers to buy compilation volumes with my poem included and so on.  It was crap, but they know enough people will believe their work is good that this automated flattery will pull in the dollars.

At a Unitarian book club, I watched some new-age types interpret some Vedic scripture.  They read it, and started saying what it meant to them.  I tried to introduce the idea that maybe, just maybe, we should have some context, trying to understand what the passage meant to those who wrote it, but my idea was poo-poohed.  Why should they try to do that hard work when they were perfectly capable of assigning their own meanings to the words?

These are the two sides of poetry today.  Whatever we put out is good, no matter how effectively it communicates, and whatever we think about what others put out is sufficent, no need to understand their meaning.  It all comes down to seeing everything in the context of self, and not having that self challenged enough to be good & powerful, in creation or in interpretation.

Running though the WalMart yesterday, normies kept stepping right in front of me, oblivious to who was around them.  As a queer, I couldn’t imagine doing that behaviour.  I have to be aware of my environment, can’t take for granted that people will move for me. I was once carrying boxes through a tiny door into a hall where a bridal fair was taking place, and two women looked at me oddly everytime I would step to the side to let others pass.  They didn’t understand why I did that, until their fourth or fifth trip, when they finally got that being aware of others made things better.

This is the challenge of poetry, too.  To express, we have to be aware of ourselves, and aware of the craft & conventions of expression, and aware how others respond to expression.   And to engage, we have to be aware of others, what they mean by what they say, and what meaning they are trying to convey with the symbols they have.

Me, well, I’m poetry deprived.  So few people are aware of their own creation, their own poetry, that they also aren’t aware of the creations of others.  When dress becomes comfort, that reflects how so much of the rest of our lives becomes comfort, the comfort of not having to be clear and bright in expression, not having to be open and engaging to the expression of others.

I love communication, and you can’t love communication without loving the conventions and canards of communications, the poetry that comes with nuance and layering. 

I miss having people delight me with their poetry, and I miss having people delight in my poetry.  I feel the deprivation, and I feel the rust coming into me, decay where that shiny machinery of poetic brilliance should be in action.


Not A Man, Not A Woman. . .

Bravo has been running To Wang Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar again.

I’ve been thinking about what the Stockard Channing character says to Miss Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze’s character) at the end of the movie.

“I don’t think of you as a man.  I don’t think of you as a woman.  I think of you as an angel.”

“That’ll work,” replies Miss Vida, now empowered enough to face the folks in Bela Cynwad.

Aren’t we angels when we follow the voice of God inside of us?  Isn’t engaging our calling the path to being an angel?

I bet even Oprah would agree with that.  The bit that she might have trouble with is the idea that dressing up, running from the cops and beating up people is at all angelic.  It’s awful tough to convince anyone you are an angel when you are the angel of death.  Poor John Dye — everyone remembers Roma & Della, but not him.

The angel in us is beyond gender, but that doesn’t mean our gender, both the essence and the training, isn’t part of our angelic job.   We are who we are because some part of us was made that way, while the rest of us was shaped that way, and if you don’t believe that, if you believe it’s all as random as a Dungeons & Dragons dice throw, well, then, I’m not sure that we have much to talk about.

The problem with the angel in us, just like the angel in Miss Vida Boheme, is that it walks in a world of flesh, where choices have to be made, where needs have to be met, and where pain is real.  To choose to just be angelic is to choose not to be human, and I don’t think that’s a healthy or practical choice for any of us.

For me, not being a man or not being a woman doesn’t work so well, and I suspect it doesn’t really work that well for Miss Vida, either.  Being in the system of desire, being desired and desiring, well, it ain’t angelic, but it is enervating, nourishing, affirming and delicious. Most women have figured out that it’s good to be an angel, living in spirit, but a little devil can keep the life fires burning too.

Angels need things too, at least while they live human lives in human bodies.

In The Holiday Spit

It, more and more, is Holiday time, with packages to mail, lights to hang and cheap severed turkey breast at the Price Chopper. 

And I watch all this stuff, and I make cynical jokes, bad puns that muddy up holiday sentiments.

I’m not wrong, of course.  There is plenty of icky & cynical manipulation at this time of year, plenty of venal commercialism, plenty of harried people even more stressed out and inconsiderate of those around them.

And I know, pretty much, how this whole thing is going to play out, something like me doing lots of work to make a holiday and no one understanding me, and them being a less than enthusiastic audience and such.  Heck, that’s one big reason why people say that holidays are for kids, because, gosh darn, isn’t it nice to give something to someone who is actually excited by it?

Holidays when you are past desire are tough.  I mean, maybe you could get along with the traditions, but when the traditions are things like hauling rummage sale items to an Episcopal church in one of the seven dioceses in the country that plans to leave the church to stay true to a Bible that they believe marks acting on homosexual desire a sin, so much so that anyone who acts on that love cannot serve the church, well, that ain’t good magic for a queer.

But damn.   I’m a femme, dammnit, and I like all that mushy stuff.  Dressing up and making pretty and sentimental thoughts and sweeping feelings. 

But not here, not now, and most probably not ever.

And that’s why I quietly yell fire, because who would come if, when looking for the spirit, I fell into a vat of spit?


Terror Politics

The minute you define terrorism, which is politics & violence, as war is the minute you make the miltary into a political action force.

And when you do that, you give the terrorists what they want, credibility and the actions of a massive force trying to stop them.

And this from a president who promised not to “nationbuild” with the military.

9/11/2001 may have changed everything, but only when the US Government decided it was an act of war, not just an act of terrorism.