Excuse Me, But…

My sister went to a workshop this weekend.  She said the most affirming bit was when a woman came up to her and said:

"Excuse me.  I hope you don't mind me asking, but are you by any chance an introvert?"

"Why yes! Yes I am," my sister replied.  "Thank you for noticing."

"I'm an extrovert myself, but I watched you and could see you processing everything," the woman continued.  "I mean, most of these people, well, I can tell they are extroverts.  I just want to scream, 'Hay, OK, enough about you, shut up already and listen!'"

Ah, it's nice to be seen, recognized and valued.

HM PB DQ, with Issues.

So I was in Northampton for about 40 minutes and I bought four buttons.

Click & Drag Queen, well so many of us do tech, that makes sense.

Yes, my tits are real.  So is my penis. was just one anyone who has ever been asked if her tits are real wants to have.

Damn Straight, I'm the Queen of this Bar just echoes that classic tranny question, For whom are you willing to be the queen?  People love the crazy-ass potent royalty, even if they do just make us into cartoon characters.


Oh, my doesn't it sound lovely just to put your feet up into four inch heels and just let your high maintenance psycho bitch drama queen issues flow while other people take care of you?


Yr pal,
The Other Drama Queen.

PS: My new fave button: "Ignorance may be bliss.  I wouldn't know. "

Beat Down

I think that the image I will hold of my parents in these years is of them walking down the hall, hand in hand.

I remember it most strongly when my mother was in hospital going for knee replacement. They are both stooped and a bit wobbly now, two old people worn down by the years, but when they hold hands and walk together, they reveal deep connection and affection.

I'm not the only one who has noticed this.  When they left the ICU this month, the nurses all thought that they were cute, swaying together, bodies a bit gnarled, but still supporting each other.

But as I stay here, I understand more and more of how they feel, beat down.  My knees may ache a bit, but instead of managing that soreness like people my age, I feel it creep all though my body.  I find myself walking hunched over, shuffling along with the weight of many decades pushing my shoulders down and slowing my movements.

The only antedote to entropy is momentum, and one of my jobs here is to keep things moving forward, offer a bit of spin-up, some positive friction that requires resistance, neccessitates throwing some energy in.  I give a bit of a boost and that demands my parents work a bit harder, keep a little more limber and a little less rusty.  Use it or lose it, as they say.

But what about me?  Here I get more and more rusty, surrendering more and more to the entropy that will eventually consume all of us.  My only freedom is time I go to the fringes, when I lie down and let my mind shift to places where excitement is still possible, where engagement still occurs.

It's fun there, but that netherworld is all too shady, impossible to bring back when I get called to find a needle or help with the bathroom.  Only bits of it stay with me, a fine lace of impossibility where eros and life slide together.

I get to a point and the point gets me, slowing me down as surely as aging slows down a saddened mind.

I just feel beat down.


I was chastized yesterday by a woman who wanted me to chill out and  just let the old lady do her thing.

The thing in that moment quickly turned out to be her refusing to go in the direction of traffic in the battery powered shopping cart, almost running over the woman who chastized me and then slamming backwards into a string of push shopping carts. 

I had to lift the front of the cart, with her 250 pound body onto it, to aim it in the right direction, all while she was telling me she didn't have to go that way.

I shot the tonguelasher a look.  I am used to managing this particular petulant old lady, the one who doesn't care to stay to one side in asiles, who sits blocking others, and who just plain hates being told what to do. 

It's amazing how quickly behaviour that would usually be simply self-centered turns into menacing when executed in a heavy wheeled vehicle in the middle of a throng of Saturday supermarket shoppers.  And when the driver of the cart is oblivious, her helper soon becomes the focus of attention.  People flash their eyes, wondering why I can't keep her under control, and I just have to be tense, taut, and looking foward to move obstacles or avoid the next incident. 

My father drives on journeys, and he has learned to listen and to trust me.  He knows he can use a second set of eyes, a second memory about the route, so he listens when piloting a vehicle.  My mother is just an old lady in a cart, shopping.  Why should she have to listen to anyone?

Our journeys are most often my mothers's journeys, undertaken to entertain her by getting off her recliner and into her mobile recliner, where she is helped out of the car to shop, always with an omipresent assistant.  As that assistant, I can never stop watching her, because even when she sends me ahead to scout for something, she will just jaunt off in her own way so she is impossible to find when I return with the requested information or directions.  It's impossble for me to shop on these jaunts, because she needs constant watching, constant changing direction, constant minding, which, I tell you, is quite draining.

When she is tired, or hurts, she will tell us to go shop, and she will wait in the car.  We never take her up on these offers unless there is one or two specific things needed, because we know she doesn't mean it.  She just wants to make it appear that these trips aren't all about her and her whims, that they are for everyone.  We did a three day jaunt to Toronto, which was very wearing on me, having to drive them through a city they know well but which I have almost never driven in, and at the end she said "I guess you never got to have any fun."  Right.   And how could I possibly have done things for myself while keeping her schedule?

One of the most difficult things is her passive agressive nature.  She admits that she doesn't think about things, doesn't understand choices, but does like to have her say.  I may tell my father to turn right to get back to where we want to go, but she capricuously says "turn left" and he does.   He knows how to do what she says and clean up whatever consequences later.  This may have been fine when he was just 75, but at 82, mixed messages to him while driving can be terrifying, at least to me being thown around in the back seat.

Last night after a big day of travel, I suggested she go to bed early, around 11 PM.  She was petulant at being told what to do, but 10 minutes later she was fast asleep, and I put the throw rug over her in the recliner, turned off the lights, and turned down the TV so I might be able to get down to sleep.  I can't turn it off, because it confuses her when she wakes up and it's not on, her friends comforting her.

None of this is new behaviour, of course.  It's what I grew up with, a second generation narccisistic mother who always demanded that people try to make her happy, and was always sad when the best they could do was amuse her for a few moments.

It's just that now, in her early dotage, she doesn't hear so well, doesn't see so well, and that means she doesn't get the cues of when she slips from just self-centered to menacing.  

And when I try to help her understand, well, that little girl who never wanted to do what her controlling mother wanted her to do kicks in and she's just bloody petulant.

So lady who wants me to "chill out" and let the lady do what she wants, well, you take care of her for a while.  You try it.

At least when we take care of kids, we know they are learning, know they are trainable, know eventually things will get better

When we take care of elders, though, we know something else.


TBB has found a place for herself.

Very, very, very few places have ever placed a classfied ad for a resident shaman. You know, someone to negotiate change & transformation around the place, helping the organization find ways to be new and moving the place forward. I mean, even if they did place that ad, would they find one?

It’s in reworking the information infrastructure that TBB has made her most obvious magic. They just hired her to clean up a bit, but they found she has the vision and the skills to see what needs to be done and do it, and that makes her valuable.

Plus, the place where she works has already come to grips with having trannys around. That’s a big deal.

The problem I have found with finding a place for myself isn’t that I don’t have lots to give. It’s that few organizations have identified that they need what I have, and identified that including visionaries in gives benefits. You can’t easily put on a business plan that you are going to hire someone to make magic, to take you places and offer solutions you didn’t have the vision to see for yourself. Business plans offer bounds to visions, and those bounds offer limits to growth.

It’s not like you don’t have to get the routine done, I understand that. It’s just that doing things better is always better, even if that’s not something in which it is easy to invest.

They like TBB where she is. They have figured out that they need to let her do things her own way, at least a little bit, that you can’t harness her to the plow and also ask her to run. And they have figured out that letting her have her head offers benefits to the whole organization that they can’t quantify as some interchangable and easily filled job description.

It’s not if we are of value. It’s if people can see that we are of value, find us, and let us create in the community. We aren’t going to have obvious records of success, and aren’t going to just be one of the boys, or even be just one of the girls. We are going to be the flexible bit, the one who opens connections and creates new pathways, new possibilities, new solutions.

I just don’t know how to tell anyone who doesn’t understand that how valuable that can be. I just can’t negotiate their fears in order to give them time to find my value. That thirdhand fear can be a killer.

The problem with the places we find, though, is that they don’t really exist in the world, rather they only exist in the minds of the people who have come to know and accept us. Our table at lunch may be an accepting & affirming space, but the next table over may be one that is fearful, dangerous & hateful to us. I know this may be true for anyone, but visibly ambiguous queers have a different kind of stigma we live with, one where as simple an act as going to the restroom can be dangerous.

To negotiate this challenge, TBB does what many trannys do, what Alexis Arquette did on Surreal Life, for example. She doesn’t make the choices of a woman, even though people close to her accept her as one of the girls, rather she makes the more limited, cicumspect and circumspect choices of a guy-in-a-dress. She self-polices and prempts challenges by outing herself in ways that put her down, defuse her power and therefore her threat.

TBB thinks she does a bit too much of this, because she knows it is a defense, a way of playing small that limits the expression of how feminine she actually is.

I think she does a lot too much of this because I see how womanly she is and how she pulls back from trusting that beauty and the connections & power that come with it. TBB is amazing, and every time she puts herself down & plays small to stay safe, the world loses some powerful & transformative love.

I have often said that gender is like wine — everyone can tell the difference between red and white, but being able to appreciate a white wine made from red grapes takes the palate of someone who has the experience to appreciate nuance. It’s only people who have had experience with a range of genders who look beyond the initial color to find what’s truly shining in the glass, seeing what lies within.

I don’t trust just my eyes on assigning gender, I also trust my ears & my heart. There are places where people open to the choices peple make, but unfortunately, those places are right next to places where people just have simple stereotypes based on fear and assumptions of clear separations.

I’m thrilled that TBB has found a place where people appreciate and value her for what she can offer, what she can offer because she is so comfortable in her own skin.

I’m just sad that she can’t offer more because she always has to have the self-effacing and self-reducing armor ready to put on in an instant to stop her from making the choices of her heart and keep her feeling safe in a world that so often feels dangerous for us.


I thank everyone who responded, and I apologize for any suggestion that you all haven't done enough.  You do what you can, and I thank you for what you do.

I wasn't kidding when I said I wasn't surprised by the lack of engagement.  I know that there is a lot more information out there than there is available attention.  The material that gets attention is the material that presses familar buttons, not material that comes in challenging, which often just leaves people quizzical and cold.  I know that I am not building my expression for mass appeal, which is why I said that this blog is my testament, not some kind of chatty fun place.

You are certainly correct: I don't write these things to stimulate the involment of the class, to create some kind of Socractic dialogue.  I don't think a blog is the format for that, and I'm also not being paid to teach the class. I have done that, but it's not what I am doing here, that's correct.

But does that mean I don't want, need or even crave engagement?

I remember the story of when a young actress met Noël Coward in his hotel suite.  He told her how good she was, how she was a breath of fresh air, brilliant & beautiful. 

She smiled at these compliments.

"And me," Mr. Coward said.  "What do you think of me?"

"Oh Mr. Coward!  Surely you don't care what someone as lowly as I thinks about you," she replied.

"Honey," he told her, "everyone needs jam."

We all need a little jam.  Who doesn't want to hear people think they are brilliant, and who doesn't want to hear some feedback that enlightens and shapes an idea?

In Kitchen Confidential Tony Bourdain notes that people often don't want to cook for him because he is a chef.  Yet on his days off he doesn't want to eat fancy resturant food with the tricks of salt and shallots and butter, rather he wants good hearty cooking.  He may be able to create pot au feu, but a good pot roast has value too, and he appreciates it, even if people don't share it because they think it is too simple.

I don't know what I want to hear others respond to me.  If I knew, I wouldn't have to hear them say it, it wouldn't be a surprise.  The whole season finale episode of House took place in his brain as he was headed to the emergency room after a gunshot, and what he missed most was that his staff wouldn't fight with him, challenge him, surprise him.  He needed that conflict to stay sharp, and losing sharpness was what he feared most.

What I want you to do is surprise me, offering me something I don't expect.  Sometimes that will just confirm my beliefs — some normies think being both genders would be "fun," for example — and other times it will challenge them, and sometimes it will just give me some contact to know that others hear what I am saying, rather than just believe that I am saying what they want to hear.  I know that Gwen has done this by riffing off my posts in her writing, and I value that.

I can't say that I think this is easy, though.  I don't like surprises.  I assume they are going to be bad, very bad.  I've been waiting too long for that third gotcha and I ache like hell from holding this tension.  That means I don't just open easily to comments, because I know I am very damn raw.

The human part of me, though, that human part, well… 

Everyone needs jam, and when we don't get that affection and affirmation, we need to at least dream of jam, of being touched, valued, and caressed. The slug at the top of this blog says "The loneliness of a long-lost tranny,"  and if that doesn't remind you what my state is, no matter how elegantly I speak of it, well, then you just fall into the standard human trap of not engaging content but just apprecating tone, loving the poetry more than the person.

I do thank you for your comments, but I also assure you that every one you ever meet or read is human, and that every human needs jam, even if they live their life in a way that doesn't seem needy.

Surprise and delight me.  Remind me that my words have value, and that there are still joys out there that escape me, like the joy of seeing in a new and potent way though different eyes, seeing myself though different eyes.  My favourite definition of a therapist is "someone who sees in you something that you do not yet see in yourself." 

Two-thirds of help is to give courage.
   Irish proverb

Do your own work.  Heal in your own way, grow in your own time.  I do write this thing without expectation of engagement, and that's why it's my testament.

But everyone needs jam.   And I have it on good authority that even Joseph Campbell loved madeleines. 


It's been six months since I started this blog on Thanksgiving. How time flies, eh?

I think the most dissapointing thing is how little engagement and feedback I get here.

Note that I say that's dissapointing, not that it's surprising. It's been my experience over the last five decades that people find me hard to engage, and when they do, their responses tend to be about them. I'm not surprised that it's no different now.

It's not like the blog has caught fire, where people who sampled it really wanted to come back and read more, wanted to tell their friends. Technorati lists my ranking as number 1,203,480, and I tip my hat to the one million, two hundred and three thousand four hundred and seventy nine blogs that rank higher than I do. Congrats!

As I have continued to write here, I have begun to understand that this blog is my testimony. It's mostly all about me because my life is not much at all about me. It is here that I expose myself and reveal what's going on inside, so people who say "well, they never shared their feelings with anyone" can be refuted. I mean, they will probably still say that I didn't do enough, didn't do it right, didn't do it in a way they found correct, but they are going to say that no matter what. That's another thing I have found over five decades, that no matter how much you do, it's easy for others to dismiss you as not doing enough if you haven't met their expectations.

This is my testimony.  It's not a place where I want to try to walk people in baby steps though my history and my views, trying to get them a few feet forward and still miles from where I am.  It is a place where I share where I am, testifying my truth, even if it's hard (or impossible) for others to hear right now.
And as a testimony, I offer a piece from February 2004.

Why Am I Dead?

I am dead.

I am dead because I just ran out.

I am dead because I ran out of energy to sort though the chaff to find the wheat.

I am dead because I ran out of resilience to handle people's startle response when they feel surprised and threatened by me.

I am dead because I ran out of a story to contextualize and ease the daily challenges.

I am dead because I ran out of place to put my internalized pain and rage, and I long ago found that there was no external place to put my pain and rage.

I am dead because I ran out of tolerance for being erased and marginalized.

I am dead because I ran out of patience with people who only want what they want in the way they want it from me, who demanded I enter their world but refused to enter mine.

I am dead because I ran out of reserve to handle those who want to project their own beliefs onto me and my choices.

I am dead because I ran out of capacity to be torn between my received wisdom and people's expectation.

I am dead because I ran out of strength to handle those who need to tell me how I am wrong, who need to beat me into accepting their comforting beliefs as facts.

I am dead because I ran out of stamina to face the everyday requirements of life in this culture – work, government, bureaucracy, all that.

I am dead because I ran out of support networks where I feel seen, understood, affirmed engaged and challenged in a loving, compassionate & present manner.

I am dead because I ran out of the power to be the healer to those in pain, and never have healers come to me.  Being the one who handles the pain means you can drown in it.

I am dead because I ran out of desire to live in a place where desire and Eros are lowered to their most common forms, a place where my love is lost.

I am dead because I ran out of exuberance and enthusiasm, worn away by age and stigma.

I am dead because I ran out of hope that I could make enough change to get what I need.

I am dead because I ran out of space and energy to stuff away my too intense, too sensitive, too questioning nature so that I could fit neatly into a box.

I am dead because I ran out of ways to keep the lost, hurt, abused child inside of me quiet.

I am dead because I ran out of dreams that could keep me going though the long, dark nights.  I ran out of a song to sing.

I am dead because I ran out of the power to stop myself manifesting on the outside all the abuse I feel on the inside.

I am dead because I ran out of the illusion that someday people would open their hearts to me.

I am dead because I ran out of the ability to be not man, not woman, but angel, as Wang Foo would have it.

I am dead because I ran out of the power to hear other people tell me what is really wrong with me, always things that can be solved with their solution.  When all you have is a hammer, other people get sick of being treated like nails.

I am dead because I ran out of endurance for those who needed to make my life understandable to them, needed to make my life about them.

I am dead because I always lived just a little too far in the future to be really visible and vibrant in the world.

I am dead because it is time for me to be dead.

I am dead.

In The Pain

You know, those Opus Dei flagellators are not wrong.

In many ways, God is in the pain.  Sensation is sensation, pleasure to pain, and that sensation opens the space for focus in a way that moving through the routine never can.

I don't drink often, and I rarely drink a lot.  But that once or twice a year that I feel a bit of a hangover, well, it makes me move slowly and conciously.  I have to be super aware, and that is a kind of gift, though not one I could recieve every morning.

I think that kind of awareness is one of the things I miss about not really living an embodied life. Entering into sensation is entering into sensuality, and that's not something easy to do unless you are around people you trust or beyond caring about how people see you. 

This guy thinks that homos entering into sensation is counterproductive for them, and any transperson publically visible is an offense to all that is moral and appropriate.

GLBT includes "transgender" in there. Have fun explaining "transgender" to your kids in the Winco line. Equality means that "Samantha" who used to be Sam until he cut of his genitals, went through hormone treatment and started wearing fishnet stalkings has just as much a right to teach a third grade classroom as Miss Nelson does. Thanks governor K.

The American ethos is about getting numb, numb enough that you can tolerate the souless crush of rush hour, the banging and scraping, the essential denial.  That requires the denial of any sensation other than the anasthetic, the denial of ectasy, even in others, or maybe especially in others. 

In cultures with a history, that history always includes the passionate, the intense, the erotic.  There is language and symbol to communicate nuance about desire, not denial and erasure about that facet of being human.   This is something that those mystics knew; even as they denied themselves what they considered mindless sensation — the sedative —  that mindful sensation was a path to communion with their God.

A friend once called me as I was getting dressed to go out and I wasn't really responsive.  She asked "Where are you — in a fugue state?"  Ah, yes, a fugue state.  It's impossible to say howimportant that fugue state is to me as I immerse into my own truth, open myself to my big bandwidth connection with the godhead.

I know the hair shirtToo.  It makes magic by opening us to sensation, by having us dance in that space between the pleasure of being possessed by god and the pain of living a human life.   How can I tell crossdressers not to immerse in the sensation of expressing truth?  How can I tolerate them only using sensation to ansesthetize rather than to blossom?

I miss having a safe place to enter the transformation of sensation, and miss even more having anyone to affirm and understand that essential magic.  I know people have to stay stabilized to live in this culture, buying more machine made red shoes rather than crafing their own beautiful handmade expressions.   For me, I have feelings that aren't easily expressed by Hallmark, so I have to make my own expressions, but that also means that others don't have the comfort of understanding me just though predigested mass market epiphanies.

Maybe people have this nakedness, this total openness to sensation in their bedroom with one partner and that's enough.  But to me, the physical intimacy isn't the start — the intellectual, emotional and spritual intimacy are more ecstatic, more sensational and more invigorating.

Still, sometimes I feel a bit of the sensation, rubbed raw and aware every time I move.

And I know then that God lives in the pain, not in the comfort of routine. I catch a sense of her though the sensation of her.

And I remember how much I miss her and her spines of awareness which stimulate oceans of love.

Free Floating

It astounds me how many crossdressers see themselves only as rugged indvidualists and don't understand how the possibilities of the closet have changed in the last 50 years.

The Prince made guests bring a bag to the first club, Hose And Heels, and made guests put on the contents before talking about transvestism because she thought no LAPD vice cop would put on stockings and high heels.

We didn't have the words and lanugage in the late 1960s when I was coming out, and we certainly didn't have the venues.

I think young trannies understand this, and people raised as women understand connection (though they often devalue manhood as something offputting, even if they claim it), but it takes so much energy to be a het man in relationship with a family & a job that even understanding the lay of the interlocking queer communities, let alone immersing in them, seems impossible & disruptive.

But it's when we understand that we are not free floating that we begin to have some kind of roots and know the limits. 

I recently read the comments of one doctor who recently had surgery who was complaining that being in Trinidad people don't treat her like a woman.  Apparently she didn't have to sign the disclaimer that reminds patients that all SRS buys you is genital reconstruction, not womanhood or anything like it.

Now, if she had immersed in the narrative, lore, history and connection of a community, she would know that, but as a rugged individualist on a solitary path, all she knew was what she wanted and what the creation myth she created in her head said: get the surgery, and everything changes. 

The surgery changes nothing, as anyone who has lived with it for a while can tell you.  It merely gives you another tool to change yourself. 

The stories are out there, and if you listen, the picture becomes clear.  

But if you see yourself as an indvidual in a closet who is separated from all those other trannys, well, then you are just a free floater.

And floaters are always the hardest to get in control.

Gay Transvestite, My Ass

Just saw Neil Jordan's "Breakfast On Pluto," based on the Patrick McCabe novel.

Cillian Murphy was fabulous as Kitten, but every review describes her as a "gay transvestite" and uses masculine pronouns.  By the end of the movie, when she can, she is living as a woman, and it's that simple.  She even is clear with the father: she is a woman.

One of my favourite scenes was when the school is having a puberty retreat, and the head priest says that you can put any question into the box, that there are no bad questions.  Jump to the priest hauling Kitten kitten by the ear and calling her a sick pervert — apparently the space wasn't safe enough to hold her question: "Do you know any place to get a good sex change?"

We know people don't really mean it when they say we are safe, and we know from early who we are.  But sometimes a friend can't make the choice to destroy "a disaster like us" because the love us, and that's potent.

Still, the message in this film, at least according to a few reviewers, is that the tentpole of the film is Kittens absolute conviction about who she is — a "gay transvestite" according to them.

How brave we are standing up to stigma and forming a lesson for everyone, all while they erase that very truth and reduce us to homosexuality and crossdressing.

We are symbols at the very same time our meaning is erased.  Gay transvestite, my ass.

Creepy, and in the end, hurtful.

The Point

Everyone is mostly like their family of origin with two exceptions: the handicapped and queers. And some people think they are the same thing.

If someone treats you like pussy, well, the odd are that someone treated your mother like pussy once. And if someone discriminated against you because of the color of his skin, well, odds are that someone discriminated against dad for the color of his skin.

But if you are different than your family of origin, well, that's not so easy.

How do you explain your dissociative identity disorder (DID) to your mother? Other than saying "treat me gentle" what can you say to explain something that started when you were seven and your parents couldn't handle your sexual abuse by a neighbour and you had to shatter, shatter in a way that when you are 50 you can't handle it anymore?

How do you explain what it feels like to have to shatter yourself because you know you have a woman's heart but no one can hear that, and you are so clear on that by the time you are eleven you know you have to lie, compartmentalize and deny, in a way that by the time I was 40 I couldn't take the shit anymore?

I don't know. All I know is that when I try to share my experience, people come back to their more normative experience and I am lost again. And when a friend's mom figures out her daughter is shifting, how do you get the phone call to explain what's happening, without being able to talk about origin myths that never have been made explicit.

I know the trannies who have gotten to this point, and the ones who haven't yet gotten here. What I don't know is the trannies who have gotten to this point and moved beyond here. That means I don't have anyone to jump down into the hole with me, someone who knows the way out.

Don't tell me I don't get normative. I have written tales in the voices of normative people and they are amazed at how much it speaks what they feel.

But I'm willing to tell you that I haven't found anyone who can speak for me and make me feel safe and heard and understood. Maybe I'm just too sick to hear them mirror me, or maybe I'm just too sick for them to understand me, or maybe I'm just too everything.

When someone tells me that I just need more focus, discipline & compartmentalization, that I have to try harder to do what others expect of me, it takes all my focus, discipline and compartmentalization to not lash out at them, to accept they are just offering what they think would be best for me.

Marianne Williamson talks about how she didn't initally accept A Course In Miracles because of the religious style language, but after struggling to grab her life tighter and watching it slip farther away, the Course message of "Relax" began to resonate with her.  Shmuley agrees; you have to do the right thing just because you know it's the right thing, not because you are trying to meet someone elses expectations.  Doing anything to satisfy another, placing your value on another's approval, that is "prison." 

The question for me has consistently been what happens if your nature is stigmatized and rejected by society.  If I just "relax" and "follow my bliss" I end up putting myself in the target for many, and doing that without having any network of people like me to support those choices.

You may not know this, but since trannies are defined most easily by the defenses they have chosen to protect them in this world of hurt, the clash of defenses is often the defining factor in trans-trans relationships, the defining factor in the shape of the trans communities.  People end up demanding that others support their defense beliefs and strategies rather than simply affirming their nature.   They want others to reinforce the compartmentalization, focus and discipline they have chosen, or they want others silenced, erased, removed, debilitated.

Look, I don't expect you to understand this.  I don't expect anyone to understand this, because I grew up in a place where expecting to be understood, expecting to be valued and affirmed for my queer & challenging nature, were expectations that set me up for more pain.   We build our defenses, some shattering, others building a mental corset, and they work for so long, but we get old and the pain grows, we get old and the ability to manipulate & deny weakens, and then it just feels like our head is literally going to explode.

And that's the point.  Your experience, the one where you had experiences that you shared with others, that fit the norm, well, that's not my experience.  And your solutions, the ones where you just relax and ground out with others who understand you, well those are solutions that haven't worked for me.

"What makes you exceptional must inevitably also make you lonely," Lorraine Hansbury said.

And what makes you exceptional also inevitably makes you disconnected & stigmatized.

That sound?

Just my head going bang. 

Mental Discipline

My father is concerned about my mother, since she mostly sleeps now, avoiding everything.  She even knows that true and joked today about never going anywhere again.

I talked about when you learn mental discipline, how hard it is to muscle though.  "God give me the strength to change what I can, the serenity to accept what I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference."

"Yeah," he sid.  "Even you don't have that mental discipline to muscle through."  

Having just spent an hour on the phone with my DID friend & her mother who wanted me to talk to her mother about this new disclosure as she kept switching, this wasn't easy to take.  How do I tell this man how much heavy lifting I have to do just to manage them and sit in the doctors office with my mother like I did today.  How do I tell him about people who assume that their normal experience should model my queer one?
My friend is stressed because she is helping a friend though breast cancer treatment — the chemotherapy port is installed tomorrow — and my friend has no other stress relief than to switch, which has been making her aged mom, the one she takes care of, crazy.  

Me?  I have no stress relief at all.  

But I am just a weakling with lack of mental discipline to do what is required, at least in my father's eyes.

God, my head hurts. 

Life Escaped Me

Rabbi Shmuley says that one of the most important passages in the Bible (Deuteronomy 30:19) is where we are told that death is easy, but that we have an obligation to choose life. While many Christians see that as an injunction against abortion, Schmuley thinks that's a call to vibrancy & joy.

Me, well, that was never the lesson for me. People kept telling me I needed to die more, to shrink and shrivel and play small. I was too big, too hip, to overwheming for the room, so instead of helping me find a bigget & better room, I was encouraged to take the arsenic, grow old and feeble.

Now, when I am in a house with two people whose death seems palpable to them, life is even more elusive. Life has escaped me, as my body aches and releasing what little joy I have left seems like too much heavy lifting.

I know that this isn't comprehensible to most people. People hear what strikes them, for whatever reason: where they have an answer, where they see their own challenges, where their own beliefs are challenged. This blog may be all about me, not you, but you can only read it though your own eyes. The limits of my manifestation are the limits of your experience. No matter how many references I make, your life is your life and my life is my life, and we don't share the same point of view on this reality we both seem to inhabit.

I can't help you hear anything that doesn't make sense to you. If you have no context to put what I say in, no way to resolve the references and interpret the symbols in a way that reflects what I am trying to say, well then, communication falters, doesn't it?

I need to tell someone that I feel like I am at the end of my rope. But it is my experience, and therefore my belief, that no one can hear what I have been saying.

I know that my relationship with my creator is where I need to look for real power. But I also know that the way most religions work is that two or more come together in her name, affirmation is created. I know that theraputic process says that I have to acknowledge that my pain is not special, that we all suffer and pain is the same. The problem I find with that is the problem of being trans in the world, being something stigmatized and hard. I know how to be humble and do the work, but I don't have the affirmation and encouragement to be who I know myself to be. Becoming the lowest common denominator really hasn't been fulfilling for me, really triggers the pain and stress in my body rather than releases it.

Just be yourself may be the cry, but when yourself is a fast, sharp, queer tranny, well, somehow that doesn't seem to be a self that others can understand, celebrate and affirm. Stripping me down is denying me expression and without expression, I am stripped of the flowers of my own inner life. That life escapes me.

Everyone faces challenges in life, but when they do, they can find encouragement to get back to normal, to push and become what we understand as a survivior. The encouragement to get back to queer, to push and become what people don't understand as a lifespring, well, somehow that seems almost impossible to find.

This seems an impossible worldview to convey to people who do live in the normative, as I have been trying to do it for over a decade now and failing.

So much of my effort has gone into not actually living life, but into questioning the life my creator gave me. Stigma turns the simple question of if my essence is sick or sinful into the overriding burden of my life and the lives of all those stigmatized. It's in that process of denial and searching that life escaped me, and continues to escape me.

I don't, I don't, I don't want to go and talk to someone who is going to make me go though the process of questioning and denying who I am again. I don't want to have to defend who I am to someone else's satisfaction again and again, which is why I stay invisible, which is why I stay dead. I may deseperately need affirmation & encouraging, desperately need being seen & understood, but I know from long experience that the effort to get that will probably fail, but fail after I have spent a big chunk of the rest of my valuable resource trying.

Life may beget life, but death begets death.  My lifelong relationship has been with death, in my family and in the cutting doubt I have used to dissect my own living brain, working to kill off the sin & sickness and ending up killing the bliss & divinity I was born with. 

Tragedy is here to be smelled.  But living with it — or dying with it — well, that's another challenge. 

Happy Drag Mother’s Day

To all those who helped others find their own voice, shape their own expression and embrace their own beauty, Happy Drag Mother's Day.

That second adolesence is so often a killer, and we need help.  But we understand the value and sacrifice of our own mothers, understand that we may growup like them, our drag mothers often seem of less value, easier to fight with than respect.

Of course, if we don't respect those who came before, who fought the fights, who helped and grew, well, then we have an awfully hard trime respecting ourselves as we come into that role.  The queer community often thinks it is just a place for the young, even if young is a newly out tranny with a chronological age of 55.  Until we understand that aging, assimilating and maturing has value as we stay queer, we can't value our own aging, assimilating, maturing and taking the role of the parent in culture as part of our queer path.  

Maybe it's true that queers who come out while they are still true adolescents understand this, but in the trans communities, there aren't a lot of them who still stay out.

And while I honor those drag mothers who help in the emergence of others, let me also remember all those queers who end up in the role of caretakers, parenting the parents as they age.  That move back into diapers is often a hard slide for those who have had a mature and full life, and they can fight the changes in their life as hard as any pre-teen.  But someone needs to care for them, honoring their dignity and power even as that power is harder for them to master.

To all you who have helped queer emerge into beauty, and all who have helped family and adopted family find comfort & peace as they look towards another transition, well, Happy Drag Mother's Day.

I'm sorry I can't buy you all an orchid corsage, but I do know that each and every one of you deserves a beautiful flower to wear on the outside, too. 

Knowledge As Disarmament

Got slapped around again on an e-mail list today.  The post is full of lies — there was one post from me, and it wasn’t a slam at all, wasn’t anonymous. . .

But that’s not the point, I know.  The point is simple: what people say tells much more about them than it does about their presumed target.

And that’s why I had to be attacked.  This person let her pain slip, and I let her words speak for themselves with a two questions to put them in context.  Then she got wound up towards the wrong target, spewing venom towards them, and felt I should have stopped her.

In the end, my one list post (and a few clarifiers when attacked by her) triggered a reaction from her that showed her so naked that it demolished a functioning e-mail list and tranny center.

Yeah, that’s what I know how to do: ask just the wrong question, the one that lets in the light.

And today that venom came out again, characterizing my choice not to enter open battle as pathological, ignoring more than a decade of tranny support, and just generally slamming me.   It shows how the defenses grew back around the wound, driving this person into the warm arms of the separatists who like to be able to draw a barrier between the sick and the healthy.  The “sanctification of rage & expulsion” as Chris Hedges says.

You know what I say: There are two groups of people, those who like to divide everyone into two groups, and those who don’t.  And it’s the dividers who cause the problems, you know like a president who is sure he can tell who is evil and who is good, and knows that anything done by a good person, even if it’s unconstitutional, is good.

I know, I know, I know that this is not really about me and my behaviour.  This is about pain, about someone who floated on the surface of a big pool of rage, and who was angry when I spoke in a different way than my upbeat old stuff, the only stuff she knows me from.  I spoke of sickness and dysfunction, and that upset her: she wanted gloss.

Me, well, I think the only way out of hell is though it.  You gotta drop into that huge smelly trough of pain if you really want to get centered.  You can’t just figure out how to draw lines between the sick and the good, because only sick people need to deny connection and “continuous common humanity.”

That knowledge, though, the knowledge that it isn’t about me, means that I need to just move past the basic instinct to savage and hurt someone else.  I do know how to use words to wound, believe me, but I also know that if passing the pain is going to end, it has to end with me.

That knowledge has to disarm me, and that disarmament is often seen as passive-aggressive behaviour, deflating the balloons of pain and rage with just a bit of light.  It makes people crazy when you won’t “fight fair” and engage their sickness, because that fight is what validates their own aggression.  I learned to call it akido, using their own energy against them simply by moving sideways as they lunge, or reflecting their rage back in a way that illuminates it.

I know that when someone acts out against me, it says more about their pain and hurt than it does about me, and that means I can’t just savage them.

But it doesn’t mean that the attack doesn’t hurt me.

Not at all.

When Some Trannies Glimpse Their Reflection. . . .

—– Original Message —–

From: <susanpoe@freegenderexpressionforall.com>
To: <pass_genda@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Friday, May 12, 2006 8:43 AM
Subject: [pass_genda] Albany In-Person Meeting

Whatever happened to that rescheduled meeting I griped
about a couple of months ago?  All I got for my complaint
was a pseudonymous passive-aggressive series of smears by
Callan Williams on our local elist which, predictably,
successfully snowballed into the closing of the Albany TG
Social Center.  (We thank her for her lack of help,
ostensibly in defense of the GENDA Coalition, in providing
trans social services here).

Our services continue through the Gallae Central House and
at the CDGLCC, with the help of a recent grant from the
IFGE.  As far as we can tell from service agencies that
have responded, we've been key in eliminating trans
homelessness in the greater Albany area since last summer.

Susan Poe

Ah, Trannies. . .


I was talking to a friend last night about her Second Life.  She plays a role in that virtual world and loves it, especially because her current job is one of those soul-crushing clean-up-other-people’s-messes-the-way-we-tell-you things.

The best part for her is that because in the game no one knows she is a big transsexual woman, no one carries for her the expectations people put on trannies.  You know, the expectation that because we can do what others fear to do, we are strong and potent, beyond feeling vulnerable or hurt, beyond needing the help of normies.   They assume that since we have dealt with our fears we have some obligation to manage the fear of others, that we are tough enough to absorb the blows and still offer good, heart-warming legends.  It’s a much like being a costumed character at a pizza joint, where kids assume you are a cartoon, so you can take the punches and abuse with a smile.

My friend isn’t a tranny because she wanted to be an activist and writer, someone negotiating the way society stigmatizes and pressures into compliance.  My friend is a tranny because she knew she is a woman, and in choosing between the armor of playing man or the armor of being out and trans, at least one let her try to show her heart & beauty.

So, in this virtual world she can walk unshelled, just another avatar doing their thing, learning to be the pretty and giving one rather than the big and scary one.   And to her, this is a delight.

Trannys, I said long ago, aren’t best categorized by TV/TS/TG/DQ/FTM/MTF and so on.  Trannys are best categorized by how they choose to defend themselves in the world, what armor they choose to wear.  Remember the Six Approaches? Conceal – Concede – Confront – Convert – Clown – Calm

It’s the exoskeletons we grow that define us, be they well camouflaged passing suits, gender queer “fuck gender” drag, bristling “fuck-you/fuck-off” attack weapons, blood stained cloth robes that reveal our wounds, or other kinds of armor, from hot drag gowns to butched up denim, bubbles of ignorance to wanking mini-skirts.  They all start as an expression of defense and end up molding our expression and our lives to fit inside of them.

It’s damn hard to change armour.  To do so you have to get naked, see how you have been scarred and warped by your old suit, and then you have to find something new that fits you, that you can grow into in a new way.  That’s why virtual places are so important, even if so many on the internet don’t want to celebrate the power of virtual experimentation & rehersal, preferring instead to try and ground others so they can be attacked or dismissed.

It’s hard to find a safe place to be unshelled, to be able to dance in another skin and find how you can be beyond the carpace you have learned to carry.  My friend is doing that and it feels good — more power to her.

But me, in my wounded healer vestments?

Exsanguination seems like a relief, don’tcha know….

Get Loud, Be Proud

I don't cry. 

I remember the last time I tried to hide in the basement and cry.  My sobs echoed though the heating vent and my father came down from his bedroom, wanting to know how to make me stop.  It was the next day I was aching so bad I misjudged a parking space, leaving issues still unresolved.

I did cry the other day, though quietly enough to avoid notice.  Dr. Phil was talking to two kids, 7 and 9, and telling them that when their mother lashed out, it wasn't their fault.  They aren't stupid or any of the other things she called them, and they don't have responsibility to fix or protect her.  I saw myself in those kids and I wanted to care for them at the same time, but there was nothing I could do. 

But today, I am alone for a few hours.  There is work to be done, sleep to be caught up on, and a self to be listened to.  The tears are there, just under the surface as Rosemary Clooney sings "When October Goes."  But more, there are outbursts and ejaculations, big booms of sound that issue forth, eminating from somewhere deep inside.

I startle people, I scare people, I sqiuick people when my voice erupts.  I know that, and that's why I stay slient, not letting out the sounds that hold my emotion. 

But in times like this, the old Charlie Daniels injunction comes back to me: "Get Loud! Get Loud People, Be Proud!  Be Proud You're A Rebel..."

I just had that blasting from the speakers but as I started to cry, I heard footsteps above me.   I immediately switched it off and went upstairs to unload the car and make a supper for them.  I'm rocking, starting to cry down here, and then I have to switch off, be of service in a way they understand.

Get Loud, Be Proud.   In a family where noise as seen as painful, and emotions are seen as noise, that seems impossible.

But please, don't let that stop you.  Get Loud, Be Proud.   And make at least one of those deep, primal whoops for me, eh?

Looking Behind

Last night on House, Wilson took Cuddy's spoon from dinner and tested it for cancer markers.

Intrusive, boundary breaking, and rude yes, but essentially loving.  Wilson knows that people lie when they can't face some things, so you have to look behind if you care for them, go deep beyond their defenses to discover what is really huring them.

This kind of love that looks behind, looks deep into you, looks into places that hold your hurt, well, it's both the kind of love that everyone wants, and the kind of love that no one wants.  We crave being seen, but when someone is looking at something we can't or won't look at ourselves, well, that's creepy even if it is powerful and true love.

I think this is the difference between the normies and the people I understand.  Normies really think you can live your life without looking behind, that things mean what they mean on the surface, but my people, well, they understand that the surface is just the beginning.  It's not things, it's the connections between things that counts, not the symbols but the shadows they cast where meaning is revealed.

Oprah did the same show she has been doing for twenty years yesterday, again talking to women who have discovered that fairytale weddings followed by attempts at being the perfect wife do not a marriage make.  Marriage is relationship, and relationship is conflict, especially conflict that comes from a deep caring, from love.  How can people stand at an altar when they are 22 and promise "until death do us part" unless they have looked behind and know that means everything will change, time and time again, until death comes?

The Beautiful Paige called last night, and wanted to talk about friendships.  How can someone call her "my best friend" in one moment, and then end up not seeing her?  I suggested it was because this person had never really seen her in the first place, at least not in the way that Paige sees people, looking behind.  Her friend loved how Paige saw deep into her, but seeing deep into Paige, looking behind and understanding?  Well, there are other things she needed to do.

I don't know how to look at the world without looking behind.  That's a blessing and a curse, because I don't see just this moment and good possibilities, but I see the mechanics, the gears and screws that drive us to a messy and fatal human life.

That means that people love it when I give them a glimpse of something deeper in themselves, but when I ask them to look back at me, well, they gotta go. 

Looking behind, seeing the mess and still caring enough to try to help, well, it's a magical thing, you know. 

But real magic, well it's like real love.  Scary.