See Me Gyno Philia

What if the sexy part of autogynephila, the really really sexy part, isn’t the body transformation that Blanchard and others say is the heart, but rather is the idea that somebody else sees the woman, the feminine in you, and then works to make that visible to everyone?

What if it’s not about a solitary fetish fantasy, but rather a fantasy about being really seen by someone, and that powerful revelation makes you become real, the The Velveteen Rabbit or Pinochio?

God, the hottest thing most women can think of is a lover who sees them as brilliant, beautiful and hot, and under whose touch all of those potent aspects come to the surface, visible and intense.

“Of course you are a stunning, glamourous, sexy woman!  I can see that perfectly clearly.  Now lets polish you up so that beauty glows in the lamplight and in the sunlight!”

For someone who feels that every glance strips them of their inner beauty and casts them back in a world of expectation & judgement, how could that not be hot?



Tranny Quote Of The Day


“I like doing stuff without knowing if I’m being ironic.”
Nina Arsenault

Can you imagine any normie thinking that not knowing if they are being ironic or not is a luxury?  That somehow, anyone should have to think so much about their actions and the motivations for those actions that just doing stuff without knowing your own deep intent is something you would conciously like?

I might like doing stuff without knowing if I am being ironic, too, that is if I ever was able to try doing stuff that way.

Keep Singing

You know, no matter how hard I try, I can’t really store bliss up by overindulging for a while and then denying myself after.

Just listened to “Limehouse Blues” and had the treat of hearing Rosemary Clooney do a Nelson Riddle arrangement of the tune in 1996 and then hear her 1961 version of the same chart.  One is pretty, one is masterful, both are beautiful.

It lead me back to think of my pal Jim.  Either we were brothers and he was gay, or we were sisters and I am lesbian.  I was too stuck when I knew him to let go, and I miss him — and the huge bag of my vintage cosmetics that burned when Robert & his store burned down.

At one point Jim took my picture to a psychic. She looked at it, identified me as trans, and had two words of advice. “Tell them to keep singing,” she said.

Odd words because I never really have been much of a singer.  My grandmother, my maternal grandmother, the only one I knew, never even had a record player in the house, just one table radio tuned to CFRB.  I can’t remember my mother or father ever buying or owning an album. Hell, they never even went to a performance of the Grand Ole’ Opry until last night.

I have never really been a singer.  But I have remembered that advice, “keep singing,” and it has resonated with me somehow. 

I don’t keep playlists, but when I do find some music that moves me, it moves me powerfully. 

Bette Midler once joked that Freud was crazy taking all that time to find out what women want — we just want to dance.  She was remembering the days she was young and free in a leotard in a dark club, days I seem to have missed.  After all, with that tranny stick up your ass, dancing isn’t easy, even if I remember one crossdressers wife pointing to me dancing with my hips and said to her shoulder-dancing husband “See, she knows how to do it!”

Hell, when I think of a safe and peaceful place to be, it’s usually not a garden, it’s a stage.  TBB & I were recently remembering the days when The Drama Queens took flight and how magical those moments felt, to let loose and fly.

I think the beauty of a stage for me (and my perfect stage would have a great band) is the idea that with an audience there I would get feedback, get energy, get heard, get seen, get live & real.

I know that this idea is just a fantasy.  The reality of a stage, much like the reality of having a book published, is that lots of other people have their own needs to be met and compromise is the order of the day.  Once we make our art public, we can’t own it anymore, which is why writers are different than authors, why philosophers are different than gurus, why singers are different than performers.

But still, it’s the part I miss.  I sit here with my time winding down and Rosemary Clooney sings, two ways, two times, two Rosemarys and I am moved.  She got to be out there.  When I was a kid I didn’t go to Jacques because I thought it was about being a gay man.  Now I know that it was about self-expression, and that the femme part of my heart would have been illuminated much, much sooner.  Yes there would have been complications — Bree’s mother still expects Stanley to push her chair in — but somehow. . .

Listen kid, let me say this to you, now: keep singing.   Brian McNaught said that our job is to sing the song our creator put in our heart and that resonates with me too.

Now, I guess, I try to sing here, my music freeze dried to ASCII characters.  It’s not very satisfying, and not very potent.

But sometimes, in my heart, even in the midst of all the despair and loneliness, I hear a song and it moves me.

So, whoever you are, keep singing.



Ok, so I got a little wild. 

Some lovely blogger came up with the idea that we should be “Candidly Transgender” and actually admit to it when someone taunts us rather than trying to keep our trans biology and history hidden. 

Now, when I first heard this idea, it was simply called being “out.”  Is transgender about concealing our biology & history, or is it about revealing our nature?  It’s easy to figure out that the more you are about concealment the bigger that stick up your ass is, and the more you set yourself up for failure.  I mean, it feels better to be seen as female because people have different expectations — no wonder Duncan Tucker wanted a female actress to star in TransAmerica to give Bree some leeway — but most transpeople born male don’t have bodies that can be easily femaled.

Problem is that this author wanted to talk about this in the context of banter with young males on the street.  They found their out moment in responding to jokey jabs about Adam’s Apples with other jokes.

I got on my high horse and talked about the obligation of trannys to be the clown, how dragface is the new blackface, and we learn to shuck and jive to keep the normies laughing.

Well, she was peeved with my response, and dismissed it out of hand.  She wasn’t doing dragface, and besides (and here is the kicker)

My point was to disarm then educate.
No one hears you when you yell in anger.

They go on to talk about akido, to disarm. 

Believe it or not, I actually know how to be disarming.  I know how to do lots of things that deflect, open and teach.

But fuckaduck.  This author didn’t want to hear me “screaming in anger and pain” and believes nobody will listen to that.

Is that why tortured prisoners stay small, because no one will hear them screaming in anger and pain?

I understand the “mature” way of speaking gracefully about your own anger (and pain.) But when the obligation to be the gracious and mature one is obligation of the one being abused, then fuck that.  I am so intensely sick of having to swallow my own anger, rage & pain to help people understand that I am going to drown in them.  Over a decade of working hard to be non-threatening and find calm, common language while getting almost no steps in my direction hasn’t left me sane, sober and healthy.  Instead, it’s left me bruised, battered and broken.

Don’t tell me to rise, above it, not today, don’t do it.   Don’t tell me it’s the job of the stigmatized and marginalized to make the normies laugh and learn, the normies who start by bangslapping them.  Don’t tell me that it’s our job to negotiate fears, transcend expectations, lift social barriers, and make magic all while being crushed by the weight of good-old normative yahoos.

Good, go, do the best you can.  Come to the conclusion that being out is the best we can do, and that if we are going to get attacked we have to learn to fight back in the best way we can.

But if you turn away when someone else screams in pain, if you dump the expectation onto them, then know you are just making your own challenge harder.  Until you can hear the pain of others, you can never ask people to hear the pain in you.

And that’s how abuse circles and expands.



I finally saw Transamerica

My biggest shock was when the amazing Melissa Sklarz popped up on screen, but I suppose if you have been around a while, you are bound to know someone in the movie.  “Bree” didn’t really seem to have any tranny friends, but that was a conceit that helped make the movie work, of course.  Ms. Huffman is a consumate pro — the walk down the hallway to surgery was very moving — but because of the script or her choice or her choices, I didn’t really see much of Stanley there.  Stanley was Bree’s first role, one she had to make work, and it’s not my experience that transsexuals who transition later don’t have some of that role visible.

The arc of the film, though, uses something that I have been talking about for a while.  Humans are sexually dimorphic for reproduction, and that means that the key difference between males and females, beyond all the stuff we have shoved onto gender differences, is that men are the daddies and women are the mommies.

Bree comes alive as she accepts her role as mom, her heart breaks open, and she works to make a better life not really for her but for her children.  And as she loosens up — the final trans surgery is when we pull the stick out of our own ass — she becomes more woman, and people like Calvin notice.  In his reflection, she sees her own beauty, and that opens her up more.

The production company for Transamerica is called Transparent.  That should tell you something.

I’m like many other non-op transsexuals.  If I could have had children as a female, I would have had the surgery decades ago.  But the surgery renders you neutered, which you can call post-menopausal, or maybe even eunuch.  And if you have a baby with a woman, there is rarely room for two moms.  Kids need fathers too, and the role is different.

As a femme, I know that what I need most is someone to love.  It’s just the way we are built. Not all trannys born male are femme, but if you know us, you know that.

It’s a sweet movie, TransAmerica, but of course, we only see the tip of the iceberg.  Toby, well, that kid has some challenges becoming whole after the abuse he suffered.  And Bree, well, she may look like a mom, but there are still empty spaces and vaults of hurt in her.

We are redeemed when we enter the generation of the parent.  So much of my stuff from the mid 1990s is about that theme, the power of parenting. 

My stuff from the mid-2000’s well, that’s about being lost again.  One road trip informs, but it takes many trips to make a life.

Smile At Me For A While

Things are winding down here.  I’m figuring out how to put myself away and go back to supression totale.

I haven’t achived what I wanted to achieve, that moving past my own barrage of bruises, my own shawl of scars that would let me engage life again and take the bangs and bumps.  I’m still desperately off the grid and abysmally lonely.

What I have missed is smiling.  Someone who wanted to smile at me, yes, but more than that, someone who wanted me to smile at them for a while.  Pretty seems beyond me, attractive seems way too complicated and sweet seems completely invisible.

I heard a radio show with the amazing Veronica Klaus who talked about the challenge for every tranny, those moments when people need to figure it out, to try to understand how they feel and make up their mind about how they should feel.   TBB is pleased because she is one of the girls where she is working now, and that feels good to her, even if she knows that when the women bond over what assholes men are, she can’t just easily agree.  There is a distance.

Sweet, nice people want to make me feel welcome.  But accepting the edge, finding it sharp and alluring?  Not so much.  Distance is distance.

Workshop Participant: “You are so courageous!”

Kate Bornstein: “Thanks.  But you you think I am pretty?

Pretty Bang

I know, this is going to sound cockamamie, but I think some women keep their distance from me because they think I am too pretty.   Not most women, mind you, but some women.

Yeah.  I mean, here I am a big slab of male flesh, and they get uncomfortable.  Maybe I’m just reading it wrong.

But I do know that one of the standard comments to crossdressers from women is “You have better _____ than I do!”  Even on NewsRadio, Lisa was peeved when Dave wore one of her dresses to the Halloween party because she “had never figured out how to make it work.”   Women can look at one bit or another and miss the big picture, responding only to what triggers their own fears of not being pretty enough.

Helena Rubenstein once said “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.”  Trannys know that well.  We can’t just throw on jeans and a top and look nice, never have been able to.  We have to learn the tricks, the techniques, the things Cynthia Nixon said she learned in “beauty boot camp” while playing the magical Miranda on Sex And The City.

Some women, though, have decided that they are not pretty, and they never will be.  So anyone who works at pretty feels like they are someone who is challenging, and when that is someone born male, it’s double challenging.

Here I am, struggling, never having the feedback, working hard, and I have to push though their own resistance to their beauty, their own fears.

One more.


If I had to pick an exercise for a reconciling event, I would ask people to tell one of the most potent stories they have heard from someone who is different than they are.

For example, since I know I have never been a gay man, I might tell about when I was a junior in High School and a boy who was a senior shared a poem called “I Slipped Upon The Ice” with me, a tale of two boys who slipped on the ice and fell into each others arms.  I knew what it meant, but I also knew that I wasn’t the person he was seeking.  I did hope he found that person once he left for college.

Or I might tell about the kid from Kettering Ohio who got blasted at the freshman welcome party and after a touch walk back, told me that he was gay.  I encouraged him to see a counselor, or at least to go to Jacques (the only gay bar I knew), but the situation didn’t come to a head until he threatened to kill himself and I organized a watch of students for him, helping some of them come to grips with having a gay friend.

What story would you tell?  How have you let someone else’s experience into your heart?

Using Sexual Preditors

I was at a screening of “Tying The Knot” at First United Methodist in Schenectady yesterday, celebrating “Reconciling Sunday” and the Schenectady Congregations for Sexual Inclusiveness.

After watching the film, a moving document about the cost of denying marriage to non-heterosexuals, there was a question time with Jim de Sève, one of the flim makers.

One gentleman noted that he heard a lot about sexual preditors on the news recently, too much according to his judgement.   He wondered what the connection was with the fears in this film.

It’s something I have noticed too.  You can’t have a newscast around here without talking about sexual preditors.  Now, rarely do we get a new report that someone has been molested, but we get lots of follow up reports and even more reports about registration, about tracking sexual offenders, about the limits to where they can live and so on, and even reports about grown-up playing kids on-line to lure other grown-ups into traps.

I think these reports tap into one of the deepest fears any parent has: someone is going to steal their kids and hurt them.  This is a huge fear because it’s a fear not for ourselves but for others, for someone whose choices we can’t completely control.  It’s a fear abut something we have no control over, and therefore it can easily be a fear that is both bottomless and endless.

I once attended a meeting of parents of gay & lesbian people.  The one thing that struck me is how much they wanted to talk about their fears for their kids, how scared they were.  And I knew that the least useful thing any parent can offer their kids is fear.  It’s tough enough to negotiate our own fears, let alone the fears of someone who can only imagine the real choices we make in our lives.   We may want the support, the experience, the encouragement, the smarts of our parents, but their fears are just another burden we have to carry.

But in this country, fear is easy to use as a motitvating factor, as Michael Moore showed in Bowling For Columbine.  Keep people afraid and you can control them.

It’s that use of fear, of the fear for our children, that ties together the media’s use of the fear of sexual preditors for ratings and the Right’s use of the theme of gay marriage to create exactly the same fear for keeping and growing voter’s support.

People know that some people are absolutely heterosexual, 0 on the scale Alfred Kinsey developed in the 1940s, and others are absolutely heterosexual, 6 on that scale.  But others are 5 or 4 or 3, with some of both desires.  Society figured out that if you keep applying stigma to those sixes, the fives, fours and threes will have to consider not just their desire but also the social stigma, which may keep their choices more normative. 

In other words, if it’s not as tough to make homosexual choices, we will have more homosexual behaviors.  And that means more kids will come out as gay.  Maybe even your kid.  And you don’t want that, do you?  After all, isn’t it better to keep them on the straight and narrow?  Isn’t that the best for everyone?

Heck, maybe even homosexuals like this stigma thing.  After all, forcing people to choose & be marked by stigma makes them declare sides, weeding out the flaky bisexuals who may leave us for a partner who is different than us, a partner with whom we feel we can’t compete. 

I talked with Jim about how the families of Earl, the late partner of Sam, defended their choice to challenge Earl’s will and take the farm Sam & Earl built together over twenty years.  Jim said that they didn’t get them in the movie,but in phone conversations, they talked about how Sam had stolen their brother, perverted him.  In other words, in their mind, Sam was a sexual preditor, and that was justification enough for grabbing everything he and Earl had built, leaving him with nothing but massive legal bills.

Earl loved Sam.  Is anyone who unlocks the love that the family wishes would stay locked away a sexual preditor?  

We hear a lot about internet sex preditors, who come right into your house and seduce your kids. The problem with this is that getting away from these people is as easy as exiting the chat room, which is what the vast majority of kids do.  A few though, find something they need, and keep chatting.

Even more, though, aren’t kids, rather they are adults playing kids.  They know how to keep a converation going when normal kids would have walked away.  And these are the ones we hear about.

The kids who do stay in the room, though, maybe they are getting something they need.  Maybe they aren’t being stolen, maybe they are there because of who they are.

It’s easy to try to use the fear we have for our kids.  But what is worse: real sexual offenders, or the people who want to use sexual preditors for their own purposes, the ones who want us to fear what is in the hearts of our children, the part of them we want to stay hidden?

But the parts of our kids we keep in darkness and demand them to deny, well, those are always the parts that will really get them into trouble.  It’s that fear that keeps them limited and hurts them.

But the people who want to use sexual preditors as their mingons? 

It’s not the safety of your children that they want, it’s your fear.  After all, how else do they keep you viewing and voting right?


If I Only Knew. . .

“If I only knew then what I know now about what women need, I would have been a much better husband,” TBB says (By the way, she now says that her moniker means “The Bi-Babe.”)  “I mean, I might have understood why my wife was so upset when she found a picture of me with a man.  I just told her I never had sex with him, which I now know wasn’t really a useful comment.”

“Yes,” I said, “but to know what you know now, you had to be willing to think like a woman.”

TBB sighed, knowing I was right.

All those year spent clinging to thinking like a guy, or at least clinging to the simulated guy we developed to walk in the world, well, those were days we resisted thinking ike a woman.  That just seemed to dangerous, too risky.  If we let go of the performance, of the defense, how could we ever hope to find partners who wanted straight men, gay men, butch lesbians or whatever we were pretending to be?

“You have to remember that lesson, you know,” TBB said to me.  “When someone isn’t ready, someone isn’t ready.  You move them forward just on your own will.”

Having dropped back in to the local crossdresser scene, I knew what she meant.  Until Linda understands that her third Saturday social club held in the old gay bar is as much a closet as TBB’s beloved SCC, I can’ help her get that.  It’s not that closets are bad or evil — they do much good as first steps for transpeople, especially transpeople born male in relationship with heterosexual identified women.   But they are closets, even if that is OK.

I remember the first moments when I dropped the walls enough to think like a woman.  One was watching a made-for-TV movie after a ETVC (now TGSF) Cotillion.  I was watching along and realized that I was identifying with the wife.

It takes a leap to drop the gender defenses and do what feels natural instead of what feels like the “right” thing to do, keeping up the pretense.  And as TBB reminds me, until we can do that, we can’t do that, and no one can make us.  In fact, people who try to open that window often feel like fair game for attack.

Once we start opening up, though, it can get hard.  These are feelings and passions that we never learned to handle as an adolescent, so feeling emotional, open and vulnerable can feel raw, risky and extremely dangerous.   Women are in charge of processing emotions (should I put the Audre Lorde quote about aphids here?) to help babies find their own understanding and words, to help men with that side, but that processing takes as much training as learning to master the external world, even if the training is different.

It might have been good if TBB had understood what women need better when she was married, but the only real way for her to understand that was to be a woman, and the minute that happened, she couldn’t really have stayed married to a heterosexual identified woman anyway.

It might be great if we knew then what we know now, but to do that, we would have had to be who we are now.  

And if we were then who we were now, we wouldn’t have gotten into the same jam, would we?

Church Of. .

If you can’t find a community that feels like home, you have to build one.

That’s what people have told me over the years, and my mother in the sky agrees.  For me, that community, well, I think it should be a church.

I impressed my minister in confirmation class when I was 9. I gave my first sermon from the pulpit when I was just 12.  I took my last communion at West Park Monestary when I was 17 when it was clear to me that the Episcopal church was no place for people like me.

I’ve sampled most of the churches in the area that define themselves as lesbian & gay friendly.  They may even call themselves LGBT welcoming, but that doesn’t always mean they know how to welcome a tranny, or really, that they even care to.

All this sets me to thinking of course, as most things do.  What kind of church would I want to attend, to participate in, to shepard?

I love ritual.  I love the power of the familiar and deep, the touchstones that we go back to again and again, the milestones that let us measure our lives, the foundation stones that give us grounding, and the millstones we rub against to scrape away the chaff and find the kernels underneath.  These are solid, routine and potent, and are what most people look to in churches.

But I also love novelty.  I love new ways to see the old; innovative visions, playful explorations, delightful flashes of insight, joyful revelations, and power of the surprise.  Laughter is always the best social lubricant, making hard lessons go down a bit easier, and surprise is one of the best ways to generate the burst of laughter that no only opens the mouth but also opens the heart and mind.

My favourite surprises have always been when someone showed me something inside of themselves that I had not yet seen.  Those sparks of growth, those leaps into something new, those pops of wisdom and wit you see from someone you thought you knew, well those are always a delight.  In fact, they are the delight that parents may enjoy most, seeing a kid grow up in a bound, vaulting over an old limit and being new and better.

So, if I was putting together a church, I would want lots of good, solid, stable welcoming routine.  It’s important to conserve the best, to value the basics, to have a solid foundation.

But as or more important than that routine, I would want to honor, value and encourage surprises.  Open my eyes, make me gasp, trigger my laughter, get outside my expectations, show me the astonishing, let me feel a flash of the divine.

The Church Of The Divine Surprise. That’s what I want on Sunday morning, not just the affirmation that there is a community and a universe that cares about me, but the delight of a place where it’s safe to move beyond the conventional, to take a shot at being new, to commit to supporting the transformation of others and of myself.

I have said before in this blog that if a preacher doesn’t help release your strength to address things in a new way in the coming week, then she hasn’t really done her job.  Every church worth its salt holds out the hope and the promise that humans can get better, more righteous, more centered, more loving, more compassionate, more caring, and more connected.  How can we become new, though, unless we are willing to invite the new into our lives?  How can we commit to moving beyond past expectations unless those expectations are challenged by surprises, surprises delivered with consideration and with love?

A Course In Miracles reminds us that miracles are not something external to us, rather a miracle is the moment when we change our mind.  “OK, God, where is the miracle in this challenge, what learning are you offering to me by this turn of events?”

It’s tough when you go to your community of faith and say that you got a surprise this week, and they respond by pitying you.  What I want is for them to respond by helping me see how there are gifts here, how this is part of a cycle, to help put the surprise in context and to help encourage me to engage it and learn from it.  It’s when you want to render judgement, to decide if things are bad or good that it becomes easy to try to raise the walls, close in the fear, defend the status quo.  It’s when you look at surprises and see the context of a creation myth, accept the process, and engage the possibilities that your world opens up and you can go beyond old barriers to claim new territory, new options and a new you.

The community I want isn’t one where we can whisper about how uppity, insensitive and odd someone is, it is one where bold choices are honored, attempts are respected and success is seen as a gift to us all.  I want a place where surprises aren’t seen as challenges, but rather as divine gifts that give us the opportunity to choose again.

Can you help me find someplace like this?

Or do I really have to build it?

To Sarah

I know, Sarah (Sara?). 

I know that you want to fit in, to be normal, to be acceptable rather than challenging.

But you and I both know that you will never be anything less than tall, elegant & beautiful, your eyes shining with a sharp intelligence.

Trust me when I tell you that like a beautiful fawn, you will grow into your power.  You aren’t like the cute girls who peak early, rather your maturitity will make you even more attractive and compelling.

I have no idea if you will ever read this post.  In fact, I suspect you won’t — you have some time to go before you can hear what I am saying, even if you already suspect that it is true.  You are young and that’s good — enjoy it.  You can even enjoy going to drag shows where you don’t feel like the tallest and oddest girl in the room. 

But wherever and whenever you are, never stop wearing those heels.  You can’t hide, and that slouching does nothing but hurt you. You feel good, femme and empowered in heels, so wear them.  Trust them, and trust the way you feel about them, even if the fear that they might be a barrier creeps in now and then.

Sarah, stand tall and never be ashamed of the gifts your creator gave you.  You will never be just one of the normies, no matter who you love or how much you hide.

I know what it feels like to be a too-person — too tall, too different looking, too smart, too insightful, too sharp,  too present, too visible.  I saw you and something or someone told me to tell you not to fear that power you have, but rather to trust it.

Trust your own grace, Sarah.  It is potent and very, very beautiful.

(If your name isn’t Sarah, and you are doubting your own desire to stand tall and shine proud, well, then just change the name and know that I am talking to you.) 



According to my mother, Larry King was baffled on Wednesday night when talking to trannys.

TBB had a clearer vision.  “Larry kept wanting to think this was about genitals, changing what’s in your pants, people who had gone ‘under the knife’ to change sex, but the guests didn’t see genitals as that important.  They wanted to talk about truth, self-expression, identity and dignity. Larry was all about the weenie, and they were about integity, and that was baffling to him.”

I think my mother also got that.  I noted that they were going to talk about “transgender surgery,”  an oxymoron to me because gender is between your ears (“transsexual surgery” makes sense), and she was clear that the guests wanted to talk about gender, not about body changes.

Tranvestism is about changing your clothes.
Transexualism is about changing your body.
Transgender is about changing your mind.

My mother noted that therapist Michelle Carruso said that she used to have parents coming in with trans kids and telling her to fix them, but now more come in asking how to help them.  “Yeah,” I replied.  “In the choice between teaching their kid to deny themselves and teaching their kid how to be all they can be, one seems to me to be the better choice.”   

This bafflement is all about context, of course.  Carl Ballentine did this hilarious magic act where he didn’t actually do any magic, just talked about it.  (A very post-modern concept, there.)  Carl said it wasn’t easy, because if you don’t actually do anything, how do you know when you are done?

At one venue, the manager loved Carl and kept booking him in, even though he didn’t get any laughs. 

“Do you book a lot of magicians in here?” Carl asked.

“Hell no!  I hate magicians!  I’ve seen too many magicians!  I like you because you are funny,” the manager replied.

“Well, the audience hasn’t seen too many, so they have no idea why I am funny.  Book a magician or two in, please.”

Carl reports that the next time he played there, people laughed.  They had the context, they got the joke.

It’s always so much better when someone gets the joke.  That’s one reason why TBB is so great, because after 15 years immersed in the whole circle of trans-gender-queer, she’s seen it all, and knows why it’s funny.

But Larry King?  He’d be baffled.



Could you walk the catwalk?  Could you get up there and look fierce under the hot lights in a flashy outfit, every eye on the place scanning for any flaw or failure?  Could you take the pressure, the scrutiny, the judgement?

If you can do that, could you do it alone, putting together your own outfit, your own hair & makeup, without the help of designers, stylists, artists, hair people and other models to lift the attitude & break the ice?  Could you get out there and strut your stuff alone in front of that crowd?

Going out alone into a world of scrutiny & judgement is how it often feels to be the only tranny in the room.  You may want to blend in, but you know that at some point, you will stick out, and in that moment people will see you as a performer on a stage rather than just another person.

You can try to hide the parts you don’t want people to see, but that’s a recipe for failure.  The moment they actually see and respond to those parts, you have failed.

No, the only choice, the only choice to walk in the world as a tranny is to have the same thing all those models have — atttiude.

People have used lots of words to describe the attitude of those runway models.  Haughty, pouty, fierce, intense, separate, whatever.  Most of it comes down, though, to “fuck you.”  “I look fucking hot and everyone wants me, so I own this stage the way I own your ‘nads right now.  You want what I am wearing, you want me, you want to be me, you want to own this beauty in your life.”

It’s not so easy, though, to always have to be that kind of on in the real world, without a crew of dozens making a space for you to be that hot.

To walk in the world as a tranny requires attitude, and it is the one we pick that defines how hot we are.

Problem is that every attiude requires some level of “I’m hot and I know it,” confidence, some kind of “Fuck you, because whatever you think, I know I am potent.”

How we do that without becoming to separate, or worse, too silly, where there’s your dogfight right there.



Just Be A. . . .

posted on a board where they are discussing the relationship of doubt and the still small voice inside.  I do suffer fron analysis paralysis, and a lot of that comes from being taught to doubt the call, the desire, the bliss, the eros in the choice to cross gender expectations and want to be pretty.

The owner of the board tried to answer, first by saying that gender choices are’t really that important, are not essential. 

It’s a common dismissal, related to the dismissal so many people make, wondering why we have to actually express our own gender related thoughts and feelings rather than just keeping them inside.  Why do we have to externalize?  Because that’s the only way we can explore and mature, by externalizing our choices and getting feedback on them. 

But then this person says that I may think I am unique, but I am not.  Why can’t I be more like Vida Boheme?   They knew how to be a good transgender person, not a disturbed and disturing one with a chip on their shoulder.

Huh?  Why can’t I be more like a character from a movie fable, “To Wang Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar?”  You know why I can’t?  Because life is not a goddamn movie!

But there are so few transpeople out there that there are no other role models, real life role models of people who have transcended and gone beyond.  The ones that are out there, well, they are messy and human, not a sublimely one-dimensional cartoon.

This whole notion of trans as calling, whatever we call it, well even RuPaul holds that as hir creation myth

Retarded stuff because the role of drag queens through out history has been of the shaman or the witch doctor. Of the people who keep the myths of any culture alive and they remind every culture not to take yourself too seriously. That you are not this body. That you are much more. So you decorate it and you make fun of it. That we are all both male and female and this is not to be taken seriously.

That sounds a lot like my mission statement: In cultures where gender is rigidly bi-polar, rituals of gender crossing remind us of our continuous common humanity.

Every marginalized group has gone through the same model: “If you just keep your differences hidden, away from the sight of me and my family, keep normal appearing, then I have no problem what you do in public.” 

In other words, don’t let your messy, challenging humanity show except in walled off spaces, and you can have all the rights any other normative appearing person can have.

This is all part of the same cycle.  People pick a “good” person like you and want you to be like them, because they are the ones who are unchallenging.  You know, on the other hand, that they are the ones whose humanity, ambiguity and difference is hidden.

And it’s not just normies who erase challenging difference, ask us to stay as invisible as we have been.  I just saw one tranny dissmiss the powerful writing of Nina Arenault as the work of “a plastic fantastic who gives transwomen a bad name.”  The humanity there all dismissed by a dismissal of Nina’s choice to shape her body.  Lots of women do the same thing, recasting themselves to be desirable, and we are past the days when we believe that they are the ones who give women a bad name.  Rather, it’s the people who reduce women to one-dimensional creatures, who do that, and when you actually read Ms. Arsenault’s writing, the depth of her emotion, thought and humanity is clear.

RuPaul may understand hir context in society, may have played the cartoon supremely well, but that doesn’t mean for a minute that Ru is just a cartoon and not a full, deep, messy person. That’s quite different from “Vida Boheme,” who is a one-dimensonal cartoon, no matter how attractive that is to normies.

To have faith in who you are, you have to have faith not just in how you deny your nature, but also in how you express it. 

And all those people who think that only people who have edited out their humanity to the point of surface normativity are good, and the ones who show the mess are bad, well, fuck ’em.



Just Be Callan

Last night I called to wish TBBB a happy Valentine’s day. The guy she has been hanging out with didn’t come through with a card or anything, so she was watching The Wedding Singer and commiserating with the part about how no one will very love us.

“People at the Saturday dance were asking me where he was.  I mean, they see us as kind of an item, but he just gets scared.  I am sick of having to negotiate his fears,” she tells me. Yeah, I know.  Negotiating the fears of others is the hardest thing about being trans, which along with doing it alone and having people reject your gifts because they can’t accept you are the difficult and painful things.

This was the first Valentines Day that TBB allowed her womanself to be open and vulnerable, beyond the shell of having to play the guy and take care of the girls, and because of that, the sting of all those years she had to stay hidden was hitting.

One thing that didn’t stay hidden yesterday, though, was a pair a fur trimmed high-heeled ankle boots.  “They are so crossdresser,” she told me.  “I bought them like six years ago, and was thinking about throwing them out, but instead of the jeans I usually wear, I wore them to the office.  And all these women who dress up, who wear their business suits and such, well, they loved them!  They wanted to know where they can get them!  I was so surprised!”

I wasn’t quite so surprised.  Last night I got dressed up to go to an event in Troy in a private space, where there were going to be four bands.  One was Evolution Revolution who dress up as animals and sing songs of mythic tales, not just because humans are animals, but because it’s hot, according to their MySpace page.

It was a party last night, a cross-species, cross-dressing party, so I dressed up — iradescent burgundy nylon ball skirt, too much decollote, black robe, and neon red hair.  I took lots of time to do my face, and did a nice job with eyeliner on the inside rim of the eye, along with lashes of course.

I drove down there and I parked right across from the door, where I could watch people enter.  As many people were leaving as staying, and I didn’t see many of the ones who stayed who I could talk to.  If I don’t talk to anyone, I may as well not exist.

I came back and spoke with parents, which was nice.  Then my sister showed up here, hot and sweaty from her trip to the Y.

I was uncomfortable because I hadn’t showered and scrubbed off my makeup yet.  But she has known I am a tranny for almost as long as I have, has seen me many times, and it isn’t really an issue for her, just for me, because I work so hard to not make my family have to deal with this, to not look to them for affirmation while not exposing myself to their discomfort.

It wasn’t an issue.  She has brought a box of strawberries as a Valentines gift, along with wishes that I feel special and cared for on this day, as she had the night before when I called her, told her where the secret strawberry filled dark chocolate gift was, and wished her every blessing that people would see and valuer her beauty and her tenderness.  It was nice, and they were just strawberries, not those monstrosities dipped in some kind of chocolatey coating people pull out on this day.  Chocolate is great, dark and rich chocolate, but the stuff you have to oil up to stick to fruit isn’t chocolate and just gets in the way of good fruit.

We chatted about challenges she has at work, me standing there in my ankle boots.  We had chatted about them before and I had offered one take on the suituation, whichs she demurred on, as she didn’t want to have to accept that view.  Last night, though, I heard my words coming back to me from her as her own, and that felt good, because she had accepted the gift I gave her and made it my own.

When she left, she even leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.  A few years ago I started insisting she kiss me on the cheek, to remind her that she is the kind of gal who can actually kiss people when she wants, reach out and touch them.  Since then, it has been kind of a game with us, with me kissing her head sometimes, with her sometimes squirming like a sister when I offer my cheek, or sometimes adding a smart remark.

But last night she looked at me, vulnerable and alone, and she kissed me on the cheek without any prodding at all.  It was sweet.

I went upstairs and pulled off my gothy clothes, changing into business ones with more appropriate and naturalistic hair.  When I looked in the mirror, I looked good, even with in all that dark and well-applied makeup.  I looked powerful.

Maybe it was the fact that I actually had someone affirm me, or the moment when I was in the right zone,  maybe it was the watching of the taped Gilmore Girls & House, which speak to two very different sides of me (I am both a sharp chickie and a cerebral iconoclast who deals with everpresent pain), but I understood that power lied not in hiding but in just being Callan, whatever I was afraid people would think about the makeup or the brain.  My man-hands will never go away, I will never be insvisible, but my choices towards pretty, smart and potent might just be seen as beautiful.

You know, like TBB’s fur-topped “crossdresser” boots were seen as beautiful when she finally got up the “what the fuck” to wear them into the office.

TBB and I talked about tranny defense mechanisms, the TV ones where you stay a “Swedish Chef” speaking pretend woman and assuming that no one born male can do better, and the TS ones where you climb into the sex change bubble and close out anyone who offers challenges to your self-mythology.

She and I can’t really do that.  We don’t know how.

But even if we forget sometimes, we know the only power we have is being big and beautiful, being ourselves.  We can’t hide to connection, we have to reveal.  And as people who have lived through the stigma, who are often not see as tender, open, vulnerable women learning to engage emotion, who are often told just to butch up, well, sometimes that’s hard.

But what other choice is there than to expose our own rich & potent selves, to get our external choices in line with our hearts and just wear the damn cute ankle boots, even if people might pigeonhole us some odd way because of that choice?

What other choice is there to be who we are and show that, not worrying about people’s comfort?

What other choice is there than to just be Callan?

Oh, wait.  I remember.  It’s to feel the stigma and hide for other people’s comfort and to respect my own pain and fatigue.


For One Moment There. . .

For a moment there,

after I put on my new black v-neck t-shirt, black corduroy skirt with the slit, black heeled boots, black velvet shirt and valentine red tights,

after I put on my makeup, which the one female chef on them Food Network chocolate competition said was her big leg up over the men

after I drove to Troy and couldn’t find the Sanctuary For Independant Media,

after I got gas at the Cumberland Farms and no one looked at me crosseyed,

after I listened to Michael Fienstein sing and thought about being in a great nightspot in a great dress with someone who liked me,

after I talked to OurPalVal and she told me not only the schedule for her dry run and needle biopsy of the breast scheduled this week,

after Val told me her mother said that she and her pal had done something wild in Florida, but when she pulled down her pants to show Val the mouse tatoo and it was invisible, and she said that her pussy must have eaten it, and Val and I talked of the power of play,

after I spoke to my sister and she laughed when I told her where her Valentines gift was hidden, and she said she wanted me to feel as loveable as I wanted her to feel,

after my mother told me she sat in the chair in the museum store in Little Rock where Bill likes to sit when he visits, after she told me how she cried remembering how good things were in that presidency,

after I almost finished the bottle of cheap Almaden Pinio Grigio/Chardonnay I bought for Christmas but we didn’t drink,


before I looked down and realized those man hands belonged to me,

before I dropped my English Muffins topped with cheese and diced “Pasta Ready” tomatoes that were at least 7 years old on the filthy stairs covered with cheap builders berber that has gone black,

before I stripped off my tomato-spotted clothes to go in the washer

before I saw myself wigless & silly in the mirror

before I got all tough and cleaned up the mess with a rag and a bucket of soapy water,

for one moment there,

just for one moment there between,

I almost felt



Happy Valentines Day, eh?


Funny, Fun, Play

The Dutchess Of York was on the Issac Mizrahi show.  Now, frankly, as a devotee of talk shows, I think Mizrahi sucks at the game, because he is way too brutally explicit.  He has no nuance of conversation, and that’s because he has no deep thinking, but stays at the surface.  He bumbled his way though this chat that way too, at one point raving about Weight Watchers and then calling it boring, while his guest was only wandering though Whole Foods market with him because Weight Watchers was paying her to do it.

He was way too touchy with the Duchess, which was easy to see on her face if you actually chose to read nuance.  Eventually, after a while of this, she pinched his waist to see if he was thin, and he got a bit churlish.  This from the person who grabbed Scarlett Johanson’s boob on live TV at the Golden Globes.  I wish Issac would just have made the breakthrough and become the woman she is, because then he wouldn’t have to be a lost boy forever — he could grow up.

What I want to talk about, though, is the Dutchess.  She’s looking for a man, and she said she wants him to be funny.  But when she expanded on that, she said she wants him to choose to go to Paris on a whim, no packing, just go.  I don’t think that’s funny, but I do think that’s fun.  She wants fun, like when she pulled a lemon from the bottom of the display and hoped they would all fall, fun on TV.

It’s my sense that it is not funny she wants, not someone telling her jokes all the time.  Rather, it’s someone fun, who will do fun things that involve, engage, amuse and tittilate her. 

She wants someone to play with.  In the dining room, in the bedroom, on trips, someone who will engage in play, making shared bubbles of imagination that keep her in the moment, that keep her childlike and open.  She has enough obligations, enough formalities, enough maturity, but she doesn’t have enough play, and she wants it, she needs it.

You may think that Henny Youngman is funny, but you don’t want to sleep with him.  Even less, probably, now that he is dead.  But someone who is fun, someone who plays, someone who opens up the possibilities of laughter beyond the obligations, well, they are someone you may well want to hold very close and get very sweaty with.

Make me laugh, think or come,” said one of the buttons I own.  I read that the same way: “Let’s play.”

How do we make play as part of our spiritual practice, as our ritual which takes us beyond the bounds of the hum-drum and leads us to ecstatic joy?

I think we look for someone funny, someone fun, someone to play with.