The End Of Denial

Where is the end of denial?

I’m good at denial. It’s not the kind of denial that makes truth invisible — truth is maybe my only nourishment — rather it’s the kind of denial that defies temporal desires and needs, the aesthetic denial of the cloistered. It’s this denial of desire that opens one to deeper flows, which is why it is so common in communities of seekers.

I was taught early that denying the desire that lives in my soul was the only road to an appropriate and sanctified life, so my experience at denying that desire is deep and well honed.  I know how to tough it out, swallow the pain, go around the obstacle, just take it.

What I am not good at is understanding where the end of denial is.

I know it’s not in just submitting to desire willy nilly; my consciousness is hard earned and I value it.

But I also know that if I am going to live in this temporal world, some temporal things I have to not deny, I have to engage. It’s not just for survival, it’s also for learning. “We discover our talents by using them,” a fortune cookie says, and discovery is the point, is it not? I have discovered my talents of clearing the desire and that discovery makes me insightful in a rare way, but what about my talents of entering the desire?

For many people, who don’t have the kind of polished and well muscled power of denial that I have this is very hard. I have often believed that I lived my life backwards; for most, entering desire comes first and then comes learning to channel it. For me, I learned to channel before I learned to enter, which leaves me without the exuberance, innocence and youth that seems valuable to this primal indulgence.

I need a strategy for ending the denial of desire. Not a strategy of not denying desire anymore ever again, but one of going far enough into my desire that I can move back and find a center.

When I tell people I need to enter my desire, mostly they balk. Therapists seem ready to help you live a more considered life, not a life of more abandon, and Life Coaches aren’t real comfortable helping you go where they would fear to tread. There is a reason I have found it easiest to deny my desire around others for the last half century, even if I know that in those dreams are the seeds of what my mother in the sky has planted in me.

Getting back on the grid for me requires the end of denial, and some form of entry into getting what I desire. I know that trying to fit into conventional desires is a dead end for me; it’s too easy for me to desire just leaving rather than another attempt at being some normative spoob just to fit in. Just don’t have the energy for another try at that dead end.

The end of denial for me can’t be just the end of resisting taming, nor can it be just be going wild and letting my freak flag fly. I need to not just stop losing, but to feel empowered & supported in starting to actually win, to be bold brave and out there in a way that cares for me and cares for my world, sharing not just my lowest service of washing pee rags, but also my highest service of demanding and ennobling healing.

But that balance seems hard to do in any context that I can understand.

I am denial of desire, and to end denial and be empowered, I can’t just compartmentalize and contain. When we do the menial as part of something bigger it is a means to better, but when the menial becomes the limit of our vision, well, you are blind in one eye, losing the perception of depth that helps us see further. (OK, I enjoyed that “joke.”)

I know I need to find the end of denial.

I just have no idea how the beginning of empowerment won’t just freak everyone out.

HBS & Vulnerability

It occurs to me that the key tenet of those who believe they were medically diagnosed and properly treated for Harry Benjamin Syndrome (HBS) is that since the medical community believed in their assertions about themselves and acted on those assertions with interventions, the rest of society has an obligation to believe those assertions too.

They often take this tenet to believe that anyone who challenges their assertions, even just by expressing that person’s own beliefs about their own transsexual experience, is attacking the identity of HBS sufferers and deserves to be silenced.

It’s my sense that the entire game here is a rejection of vulnerability.

Every human has a messy and ragged story about who they are. When we fear that story will cause us to be rejected, we try to control our presentation to put out a controlled and constructed story about how we would like to be seen, policing that story with defenses, with a good offense most often being the first choice. We try to knock down the credibility of those who challenge us to thwart the challenge.

To be vulnerable is to be exposed in that messy and ragged truth and letting others take us for who we are. Sure, we don’t expose everything, and we try to look nice, but vulnerability requires being open and honest about ourselves.

That’s a frightening thing, no doubt. And it’s especially frightening to someone who has been cast beyond the pale with stigma and abuse, someone who has suffered the pounding of the nail that stands up.

The transpeople I respect are the ones who want to get naked, want to be exposed, want to be vulnerable. They want to find a way to live in truth & honesty about their lives. And that truth & honesty always requires that they acknowledge that their history & biology aren’t exactly typical for their gender expression.

Vulnerability is hard, but, in my experience, it’s the only way to get the satisfaction we crave of being really embraced for who we really are.

It seems to me that people who need to repeatedly claim their own assertions to womanhood, demanding deference to their beliefs, and especially those who need to repeatedly try to silence those who they believe challenge those assertions, well, they aren’t really comfortable in themselves, aren’t comfortable in the idea that if they are seen for who they really are, twists and all, they can be lovable and valued.

Is fighting to demand your HBS diagnosis be valued over any challenge really just a rejection of human vulnerability, that openness which can connect us?


Meaningful And True

 In response to  In which I do further harm to the cause of transgender linguistic gymnastics…

For a guy-in-a-dress, the pronoun “she” is just another one of the borrowed symbols appropriated for whatever the reason expressed.  “She” may be a linguistic symbol rather than a fashion symbol like high heels or a scent signal like perfume, but it’s just a symbol of womanhood, not womanhood itself, and as such I fail to see why it is more sacred than other symbols.

That said, the drag queen/Virginia Prince Crossdresser model is odd in the way it splits symbol from meaning.  “Sure I do what I can to look femaled, even appropriating a feminine name and pronouns, but those choices express no real meaning about who I am, because I am a straight man and always will be.”    The drag queen model has somewhat more understandable semiotics, rebelling against the limits of heterosexist gender, but still seems to require that the meaning of invoked women’s symbols never take away the manhood of the individual.   The reason for this seems simple: remaining a man keeps them stable in the system of desire as a gay man or straight man, and not as a wobbly woman.

The flip of this are transsexuals who believe that symbol must actually be meaning and try to demand appropriation of legal and social womanhood just because they have appropriated the symbols of womanhood, even the symbol of an un-penised crotch.  These are the HBS crowd.

There are, however, many transpeople assigned as male at birth who work to claim their own womanhood rather than to only invoke the symbols of it while refusing to let go of manhood.  They do try to align symbol and meaning, and exist more in the woman’s experience than the man’s, even without some cannonical bits of history or biology.

The key flaw in your trope is because there are only two words for gender in English, it must be a  binary function.  You are stating that because the symbol set is limited, the meaning must be limited too.  That’s a very guy thing.

But you are correct that many lazy people appropriate symbol without meaning, even down to rejecting the meaning that the symbols they claim  are redolent with.

I did my time as a guy-in-a-dress, rejecting the Prince model, and caring about not just feeling entitled to grab feminine symbol without meaning.   But as I discovered my own meaning, I found symbol to be expressive rather than just playful.

Claiming symbols without meaning is creepy & lazy, yes, but I understand why it is important in a heterosexist world, divided into binary.

It’s just that symbols are so much more meaningful and true when they represent meaning and truth.


I want to congratulate
on all of your amazing & wonderful

I shout Hurrah to celebrate
all the times you screwed up
and really stepped in it
making a fool out of yourself
willing to be stupid
and try even though you risked failure.

You are a miracle
in all your beautiful mess
a spectacular show
of the grace of humility
of the grace of humanity.

You, you, you, you
are a failure  so lovely
you sparkle with possibility left
cleansed by lessons
of abject screw-ups
and painful put-downs.

We celebrate your failures
screwed and screwy
and wish you many more
because we believe in the power of you
and know
the more you fail
the better you get
the more beautiful
you are.


TBB called. She had just been resetting the radio at work away from the jughead country that one of the guys left it on, and realized that the stations she was choosing, the music that she prefers is now chick music.

And in a flash she got it. She’s not the odd man out at work, as she thought.

She’s the woman. The only woman in a gang of six. They no longer see her as a man in a dress, she’s a woman, making the choices of a woman, even if she came by that identity through a twisty route.

She feels the leap, her new footing gathering under her.

And that feels good, good enough she wants to call and share the moment.  “I’m happy I transitioned,” she told me.  “This wouldn’t have happened any other way.”

Which comes first, the belief or the reality, the dream or the incarnation?   To be a woman is to make the choices of a woman, and until you believe that others see you as a woman, making those choices feels dangerous.

Kevin Spacey spoke with David Letterman about working with The Lady Chablis on Midnight in The Garden Of Good And Evil.

“She’s great,” he said.

Letterman said “Yeah, but isn’t she, well, a guy?”

Spacey was clear.  “You spend five minutes with her and you will know she’s a woman.”

Dave may jave been thinking of Hope Vinitsky, who, in a previous incarnation, created the signature audio mix for Dave’s show,  down to the pencils crashing through glassless windows.  He would have seen Hope transition, before she owned her choices, before she owned her womanhood.

It’s not easy to know how to be the woman around guys if you don’t have much experience being the girl among the boys, and not easy to be confident being that woman if you used to be seen as one of the guys.

But as she changed the radio back, frustrated with the guys, TBB not only got that feeling, she enjoyed it so much she wanted to share it with me.  What a gift!

Womanhood isn’t something that comes bundled with genital surgery.  It’s something that you embrace as you feel the permission and even the obligation to make the choices of a woman.  No amount of demanding will ever get it for you, only incarnation will.

And as TBB peels one more layer of defense back, from where I sit she looks gorgeous.

Off The Grid

My mother was scanning the obituary page this morning.

“Anyone you know?”  I asked her.

“No,” she said.  “But, then again, I don’t know many people.”

Last summer, my father aborted his hip replacement with a blood pressure over 200.  He has since tried to convince himself that it was a warning from his body about the replacement, and not a warning about the way he internalizes stress.

Last night he was telling my sister how he has developed techniques that let him sleep for more than three hours at a time without waking in pain, how a shot of cold after a warm shower helps.  It’s the kind of management you expect from someone who grew up on a farm a long horse ride from the nearest small village, and a long ride from town.  It’s what he taught me, and how I deal with my medical challenges, like my bad left eye.

It’s managed.  But better?  No.

The point of these stories is that living off the grid is a tradition handed down to me, by a mother who doesn’t make social connections, by a father who makes do rather than makes better.

And when you combine that tradition with my own experience of being stigmatized into the closet as a transperson, well it all gets very off indeed.

My friends — the ones who have since felt the need to move on — want me to understand that I need to get back on the grid, and it’s not that hard.  Connection, job, friends, finances, all that stuff, just get on the grid.

Me, well, I’m pretty far gone off that.  It’s not like it was hard for me; I was very tenuously connected in the first place.  So many things people tell me that I should do like I remember, but I don’t have those memories of being part of the group, connected in the net, a functioning part of the system.  I did it, a bit, but never easily.  I wasn’t one of the guys, one of the gals, one of the anything.

There are joys in being off the grid, the joys of claiming individuality.   But the costs in social losses, well, they mount, especially as you age and things start to fail.

Help, I’ve fallen off the grid and I can’t get up.  I certainly can’t get up with the pretenses I used last time.

And so people see me off and alone, without connection & support.

And they aren’t wrong.

Tell Me

It surprised me the first time I met Kate Bornstein.  I had read Gender Outlaw in the parking lot of the bookstore on the day they called me to tell me it arrived.  To me, Kate was saying new things about moving beyond assumptions, against the old Benjamin/Prince models, things I needed to hear, seeds that might grow pride.

“When are you scheduled for surgery?” Kate asked me when we first met, some 14 years ago now.   When I said that I hadn’t planned on surgery, she immediately assumed that I must be a crossdresser, and wanted to get to know Veronica Vera.

Magical Kate, and there it was: the TV/TS binary almost the first thing out of her mouth.   I have seen Kate in many garbs and guises since then, the life of a metamorph, and we both have moved a long way.

Goblyn Queenne notes that only trannys are rude enough to ask her about the shape of her genitals, at birth or currently.   Others just want to know about her choices, her role, her desires, her life.

I never ask transpeople about how they fit into some matrix any more.  Yeah, I want to know who they are & who and what they love, but I don’t think their experience of genitals tells me very damn much about them, any more than knowing about someone’s genitals tells you about them.

It’s an old teaching I use; if I tell you the shape of someone’s genitals, what can you tell me about them?  Can you tell me who they love?  Can you tell me if they cook well?  Can you tell me how tall they are?  We may have all these stereotypes about penised vs. non penised people, and they have some truth; penised people are usually taller than non-penised people, for example.  But using those stereotypes to know something about any individual is impossible.  Some people identified as male are 5′ 1″ and some people identified as female are 6′ 3″   That’s what trans is about to me, accepting people as individuals, not as extensions of some assumptions about group features.

So when I meet a new transperson, I don’t ask them to tell me where they fit in some context I have.   Instead, I just ask them to tell me a story.

It’s when I listen to someone’s narrative about what they consider important or interesting or funny that I learn about who they are by hearing the choices they make in telling me their story.    Admittedly, their story may be about “op-status” or some such, but when they tell me that, I know about where they are now.

Today, when I start to hear someone start by explaining the difference between crossdressers and drag queens and transsexuals and such, I just leave the room.   They are almost always explaining this differential diagnosis not to tell you who they are, but rather to tell you who they are not.  “I’m not one of those damn _______” goes the cry, and when I hear that cry, I know that this is someone who does not yet know who they are, only who they want to be, and that means as much as a fart in the dark.  It may give you a sense of where they are now, but contains not one whit of useful narrative.

We are stories, we humans.  The biggest gift we ever get is the gift of symbolic language, of the ability of recounting experiences, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, imagination and desire to others through symbols.  We don’t just shape our stories — in fact, few humans move to consciously shaping story — but are shaped by our stories, the stories we are issued, the stories we grab onto, the stories that justify and rationalize our choices, the stories that clothe our deepest dreams.

So don’t tell me your experience, or how you fit into some matrix you heard once.

Tell me your story, and by that I will begin to know you, starting where you follow the contours of culture and where you cross those lines.

I am the shadows my words cast, as Octavio Paz said.  And I think that you are the shadows your words cast, even if that scares you, and you want to be your claims, your carefully shaped resume, your projected illusions, want to shout down those who offer a glimpse of something you try to hide in your own expression.

You are human.  You are your stories, with all their contradictions and ambivalence,  because your stories reflect your choices, and your choices are based in your stories.

So tell me that, and by that you may be seen.

Even if that scares you.

Slice No Magic

Maybe the most persistent myth inside the community of transpeople assigned as male at birth is that somehow, someway, genital reconstruction surgery (GRS) — the operation so many call “sexual reassignment surgery” or SRS — is powerful magic, changing everything in a person’s life.After all, if GRS isn’t so powerful, the thinking goes, why is access to it so guarded by protocols and procedures? Isn’t it all about the penis, and when that organ is transformed into a hole, isn’t everything changed completely?

There are two groups who don’t buy into this idea that GRS is magic in and of itself.

The first group, as you would expect, are the people who decide not to have the surgery and choose to minimize the power, denying that transformation can happen at all, that people are mired in their biology and history and reach change is impossible.

The second group, as you might not expect, are mature women who have had GRS in their history and have moved on. These women don’t doubt the power of transformation past expectations and assumptions; they have done just that. They were raised as boys, even if that didn’t fit well, and are now living as women.

These women don’t question the possibility and power of transformation, letting what is inside of you come out and becoming new, beyond the gender projections laid on your birth sex. Instead, they know that GRS is just one step in the process of that transformation, and they know that however they felt around it, it’s usually not the most important step.

GRS doesn’t change you you are, nor does it change how you walk in the world. At best, GRS only offers you more power to facilitate that change. That may mean being more comfortable in locker rooms, more confident with lovers, more centered in your body, or it may only mean shutting up others around you who may believe once you have been chopped and channeled, their demands to have you go back to their old expectations won’t really work so well.

They often say that time changes things,
but actually you have to change them yourself.
Andy Warhol

It’s possible to transform, and GRS can play an important part in empowering a role transformation, but it changes very little other than the shape of your body, and maybe, just maybe, a letter on your driver’s liscence.

This is hard for many transwomen to hear. They want to believe that GRS comes with magic, the magic that changes how everyone views you, the magic that changes you. If they are committing to intense body changes, they want to believe that they get social changes with that, or if they have done those changes and still aren’t getting others to respond to them as women, they want to point out who stole that magic away from them. (Just for the record, most think it’s those damn transgenders.)

I responded negatively to an article where I thought too much was made of the genital status of one transwoman.

Personally, I find the story intrusive and misleading.

In my experience, once we are drawn into the mechanics of transsexual surgery, the details of a so called “sex change,” then the focus on the experience of being trans in the world is dismissed by panty peeping, a kind of expectation that transpeople are required to reveal what normative people have no obligation to discuss.

I’m very glad Andrea has gone out and made The Bridge happen, made a place for people to move beyond the norms. She has gotten funding and made magic. And I’m pleased that the Post-Star has chosen to publish that story.

But when the story pulls down Andrea’s panties and talks about mechanics of her body as if that is a common subject for public discussion, I find that a disservice to the dignity that transpeople should be accorded, to the dignity that all people should be accorded.

Andrea replied that she never used the term “sex change,”rather she only discussed her “op-status” when discussing why she was only bethrothed to her husband, not married. And I was so peeved I missed that there is no funding issued, only funding planned; my mistake.

The author, a self-identified butch lesbian, was disappointed in the reaction, believing that she was being sensitive and an ally. She believed that it was important to make the distinction between “biowomen” and trannies for her imagined audience of “Johnny Retiree.”

Lesbian and Gay reporters asking questions it would be rude to ask non-trannies, to act as gender police. I’m a bit sick of it.

I know why trannys who are obsessed with body changes, with the changes they wish to make, the changes they are making, the changes they dream will come with body changes, talk about it all the time. It’s part of the second adolescence, where bodies are almost obsession.

But me, I identify with grown ups, for whom bodies, well, for most of us they are detail.

Cat Kisser understands this well, writing about this in a very nice blog entry.

Not Ready for Prime Time or
How the TG rights movement went insane by talking only to themselves

I said this to the list:

In my view, trans is about gender, the role we play in the world, ather than about sex, the shape of our genitals.

That’s why it’s so important to me to keep focused on gender rather han sex in talking about trans, no matter how much we feel limited by he expectations piled onto our birth sex, the assumptions written nto our bodies.

I know why gays and lesbians are so hepped up about sexual identity, a challenge of desire they face everyday.

To me, though, that’s just a subset of gender identity, who we are in the world. Most of us are not going to let many people see our genitals, no matter what, but our gender will be on display all the time.

Transvestism is about changing your clothes.
Transsexualism is about changing your body.
Transgender is about changing your mind.

Gotta be at least a decade since I first said that, and the more I live, the more I believe it. Heck, the more I live the more I believe that is the journey for all humans, moving beyond the assigned, finding a knowledge of yourself, and then learning how to create a powerful you based on that knowledge, reborn. The hero’s journey, in other words.

Genital reconstruction is not magic. In fact, for all but a few moments in our lives, the actual shape of our genitals matters not one whit, though the expectations placed on our “cultural genitals” can shape us and our expression in the world.

Most normies, well, cultural genitals are all that count, no matter what the gender police think retirees need to know.

That’s why I hate it when we feel the need to pull down our panties to try and prove something, be that proving why we are “oppressed,” proving that we are “real,” or proving to the gender police that we are who we say we are.

There is no magic in the shape of your genitals, either the ones you had at birth, or the ones you shaped as an expression of who you knew yourself to be.

The magic comes in the shape of your heart, and how your heart opens a role for you in every moment.

Yeah, maybe changing your genitals can open up space to get your heart growing, get your heart out from behind the defenses.

But in the end, it’s your heart that matters. Show that, like Andrea does, and you can find your own power too.

And since it’s your heart, well, there’s no one else to blame.


Taking my mother to the doctor, a woman had parked across three handicap spaces, blocking access to both spaces and the landing zone between them.

We found another space, I got my mother into her chair, and rolled her to the door.

As we passed the woman, I said “Taking all the spaces!”

That was wrong, I was quickly told by my mother and my sister as we passed into the building, their sour faces showing disapproval.

My comment was counter-productive, because in my sister’s experience people just shut off those comments.

My comment was rude, because she was just one woman trying to get something done.

My comment was just wrong.

I should feel ashamed of making it, according to them, because obviously they were ashamed of me for speaking up.

They didn’t want to start by understanding the point I was making, and then help me find a way to make the comment that would be more productive. No, they wanted me to understand I had crossed the boundaries, and they were embarrassed by my actions.

Yeah, I get that. The drama, the engagement, the speaking up is something that makes them uncomfortable, something they want to avoid, something they want me to avoid as I might drag them in. It’s a lesson I learned very early, a lesson I am retaught very often.

The problem is, though, that simply to walk in the world as a proud trans woman is inherently to be in-your-face to some people, and inherently requires to ignore the shaming that some others feel entitled to dish out.

And to support a proud trans woman, you can’t allow yourself to feel ashamed by her standing up against the stigma, standing up with voice and presence.

They want to shame me for mildly calling out a woman who rudely took up spaces others needed, then I need to expect they also want to shame me for calling out my own truth as it disquiets others.

How do I play small so not as to push their buttons and play big enough to lift my own head with pride?

How do I not engage their own internalized shaming?

February Sick

Last February, after my parents left, I got real, real sick.  Walking pneumonia sick, for a couple of weeks.  All my energy was gone.

I saw the first episode of VH1 Celebrity Rehab, and it left me wiped.  All those people, living in their sickness and being taken care of, supported in their healing, understood in their pain.   They get help to do what I learned to do by myself, go inward and buck up.

Still, it’s winter and I hurt, though I can’t let it stop me.  My teeth hurt, and my eyes have trouble converging; neither eye is blurry, but they don’t register together like they should, leaving me struggling and dizzy.  I am often woozy, tired and knocked, and I don’t take care of myself, at all.

I know that this is bad, but what I don’t know is how to just take care of one part of me, to just externalize in one or two areas.  I tend to see all this denial as interlocked and integrated, not compartmentalized, and I know that symptomatic issues don’t get to the core.

My sister talked about stories of women who got gastric bypass and then found themselves sick in a year, because taking away the weight just exposed deeper parts of their wounds and hurt.  It’s being exposed that counts,  you know?

I go back and read my stuff, and while I can see brilliance, I can also see how the intense immersion in what appears to be the same pain can drive people away, can make them feel frustrated and distressed that nothing seems to change.  They don’t assume that the immersion continues to burn away and take me deeper, don’t assume that my commitment counts, if only to me, rather they assume that I am resisting getting better, resisting healing over.

TBB got this, finally, on our last day together, acknowledging that while I may not do what she would, which is to kinestheically take change in my body, that I do explore and expose everyday by shaping words and sounds to express.

But now, it just feels like it will soon be February, and I need to be able to just release the sickness I have held so close for the last year, though I can’t do that because my parents are here and need help.  It’s been over a week and my father still hasn’t touched the broken drier, though I need to squeeze next to it to wash the urine soaked rags and other accouterments of a geriatric household.

I feel February sick, but not able to fall in, and that’s even harder.

At least to me.


My parents like things to disappear.

My father makes things disappear, for example, by standing at the garage door and tossing them out there. Cans, bottles, phonebooks, whatever, once they are in the garage, they are gone.

Of course, this doesn’t mean he doesn’t whine about the messiness of the garage. He always moans that his tools are a mess, and I agree. The most frustrating part of doing work in the garage is finding the right wrench, which has disappeared.

What he doesn’t seem to acknowledge is that this has always been his problem. No white outlines on a pegboard kind of guy is he, so there never has been order. It was I, when forced to do a brake job against my will, who was the last to reorganize his tools, I who set up the shop light over the tool bench. Still, it is I who gets blamed for the mess.

My mother uses more simple techniques. To her, anything on the floor is disappeared. She will throw slick magazines onto the rug, no matter that in the past I have slipped on them and hurt myself, and declare them disappeared. She will brush a table onto the floor, and to her the mess has disappeared. She will throw her old clothes onto the floor and assume they will disappear to the “welfare,” never caring that no one wants her stained socks or shot bras.

It’s easy to think this is a recent thing, happening as they get older. But as a child who was expected to disappear, I know it is not.

My mother, for example, doesn’t remember the around seven years when my nickname in the family was “Stupid.”

“You made that up!” she told me, years ago.

My sister remembers, though, when from when I was about five until when I was thirteen, and the name changed to “Stupid,OhTheShrinkToldUsNotToCallYouThat” I was officially sanctioned as “Stupid.”

All sorts of things disappear, swept away with the expectation someone else will clean them up.

And that someone else — that scapegoat — is me.

Attentive & Considerate

Rupert Everett is widely identified as a gay actor, says John Walsh in the London Independent, but he’s actually a bisexual. As a younger man, the handsome Brit had been involved with several gorgeous women, Susan Sarandon and Béatrice Dalle among them. Though he’s usually attracted to men, Everett says, women provide a refreshing contrast, and are far more attentive and considerate. “In a gay relationship,” he explains, “men are always elbowing for supremacy.” There are other advantages, too. “When you’re heterosexual, the world opens up for you. If you go to dinner in a restaurant with a girl, everyone looks at you in a friendly way. There’s a unity in the world. You’re totally embraced by it, you totally fit in, it’s gorgeous. If you go to dinner with a boy, even now, you have to harden your energy fields against the world’s disapproval.”

The Week, 18 January 2007

TBB came back from Key West reminded that drag queens are just like crossdressers, though better put together.

“They are guys,” she said.  “Gay guys, sure, but still guys.”

Yeah, I get that.  I was amused at how The Lady Bunny’s big revelation from a stint of Jury Duty was that women are interesting.  When you live in a world of men, it’s often hard to remember that, and both drag queens and crossdressers need to keep living in that world of men to keep up their sexual identity and to avoid challenge from women who assume it’s women who own the meaning of women’s clothes and choices.

Candis Cayne notes that when she went up for women’s parts, it was always some gay guy who would bray that she was really a man, really a man.  Others were willing to accept her as her, but the gay guy needed to police those lines, needed to keep up the “hardened energy fields” he uses as a gay man to make defenses & boundaries.

I have been watching this whole Democratic primary cycle with amazement.

Obama just has to add race to the old model of a man working to look “presidential.”  It’s not a hard task; just ask Oprah, who likes the man.

Other blacks, like Sharpton, are making it easier by playing the card, beating up Bill Clinton for using the word “fairytale,” making it look like Clinton was saying that a black president is a “fairytale,” when Clinton only meant that Obama saying he never supported the Iraq war was a “fairytale.”  One word and racist paint comes out, smearing.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has to create a whole new model of what it means to be both a woman and be “presidential.”  If she looks unemotional, many other women don’t trust her, but if she shows her emotions she gets beat up by women who think they are still in some collegiate feminist consciousness-raising group, where they need to tell other women how they are doing woman wrong.

No other woman has even broken the ground Hillary has to break, have had to create a persona that isn’t just politically correct but is also compelling to a wide range of women and men.  But since women haven’t learned to come together and support the work, rather just be feminist and support the cause, Hillary’s work isn’t valued for success, with the assumption that others will follow and succeed in their own way, rather it is ranked out for failing to meet the high standard for women.

I don’t know.  All this gender policing, trying to shape that “imitation for which there is no original,” as Butler calls gender.  I know that there is racial policing too; some argue that Obama isn’t really “black” because he is not the descendant of slaves, but somehow, there is also racial support, even if it’s slippery and mean-spirited, meant to aggrandize separations in a way that accumulates the power of division.

Groupings just seem so odd to me.  Aren’t, in the end, humans all very individual,  and not just representatives of a grouping we assign?

Queer is that fight for respecting individuality, at least to me.   But, while I can’t understand it, I do know that many feel more comfortable with a group identity that they can try to enforce on others.

Just makes me sad.

Imposed Analyst

Years ago, we did a sales exercise that was designed to help you understand how the client approached the world, so you could better communicate with them

The tool was a two vector grid, resulting in four quadrants. One axis was Feeling/Thinking while the other was Fast/Slow. A slow thinker was called an Analyst, a fast thinker a Driver. A slow feeler was called a Friend, a fast feeler a Performer.

The fellow who offered this tool said that people moved along axes, never crossing the streams. A Driver, making fast thoughtful choices didn’t worry about friends, and a Performer, fast and emotional, was never also a slow, thoughtful analyst.

My boss, though, came up to me after the session. “How did you score?” she asked me.

I told her.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought about you too,” she agreed. “You are an analyst/performer, which isn’t supposed to exist.”

I understand now that my essence is fast and emotional, but my training is to be slow and thoughtful. That was the only training my father knew how to give me to manage the swirling emotion and drama I had, and it’s still the training he believes could help me find my health.   After all, there is no outcome that, in retrospect, you couldn’t have avoided if you had thought it through more, no result that can’t be seen as failure.   And there is no action that can’t be stifled with analysis paralysis, either.

Of course, it’s the cross tensions of one more contradiction that’s not supposed to exist in humans, that adds another measure to my overflowing vat of stress.

Oprah had people who came out as gay while married on her show. The narratives were about freedom, release, doctors warning of stress & death from denial, love & passion and claiming life.

My mother watched drowsily, never connecting these people who were now “living their best life” as The Oprah said, with me, yoked under expectations of service & denial while her rationalization is that I am “living my life as I like to live it.” I just kept making her dinner and boiling.

Coming to understand how much my analytical view of the world is imposed onto me makes me even sadder. My tragic waste of naivety and exuberance seems criminal now that it is lost.

My mother tells me that my father has some pangs because neither of his “sons” became engineers like him, neither carried on the kind of thought he values.

Yet I twisted myself into unnatural contradictions after a long half century trying to be like him, and those demands continue, even as they cripple my own natural and somewhat mercurial performer, who makes magic by breaking eggs and creating new & fanciful omlettes.

My analysis is imposed as discipline, and while I have made it serve me and others who come to get insights into making liminal choices, that imposition has constrained my spark so much it is no wonder I am now neither warm nor hot, rather am just out in the cold.

Because You Were Living Your Life As You Like To Live It

I had to take care of my sister on the phone. Her friend is challenged and my sister needed help managing her, and then there was her work to talk about.

Nothing about me, of course.

The phone call was cut up three times by her trying to take other calls, and my end, it was made harder by trying find places away from my parents and their noise. Stairways and alleys, jumping around.

I saw his thermometer needed batteries and went to the basement to replace them while I was on the phone. The CNN was on, so I stepped outside to hear, into the mud stirred up when I tried to clean the nasty home-made flagstone patio — no drainage planned — in this January Thaw.

Add this to feeling denied about getting out and doing what I need to do — a bit of spring fever — , plus not being able to contact people, worrying I did something wrong, and when I got the lecture about not leaving the door open and not tracking mud, the standard lecture about how slowing down and thinking more would make my life better, well, I took it badly. Lots of head banging.

I brushed by my father, who has taken to blocking pathways, and went upstairs.

My mother told me to be quiet.

I tried to explain what happened, asking her to echo it back.

“It happened,” she told me, “because you were living you life as you like to live it.”

Huh? I’m here, a servant to them, and I am living my life as a like to live it? Huh?

Maybe my nature is exposed, because it’s who I am, but because I am making choices, “living my life as I like to live it?”

My father told me that “You have to change yourself if you want to. It’s up to you.”

Yeah, I can. But I can’t change into you, no matter how hard I try.

He asked if I wanted to go on a drive with them. “You can come with us. You can help too.”

Doesn’t he get the fact that between them slowing down, the missed hip replacement and much more, there is work to be done by me?

I did tell him all this, down to his difficulty communicating, and he was nice.  “We don’t want you to be our servant.  We want you to claim your life.”

Yes, but, those are words.  The actions, well, they are people who like being taken care of.

The drier died two weeks ago.  I did some dismantling to see what could be fixed, but couldn’t see easily replaceable parts.  On my second laundromat trip, my mother pushed my father to get a new one.

He responded by telling me we needed to look for what could be fixed.  Five days ago, I pulled out the drier for access, and left the right Torx driver for him.

He hasn’t touched it, and tomorrow I’ll have to wash her urine soaked rags again.

The intention may be there, but the push is not.

And my mother thinks it’s because I am “living my life as I like to live it.”



I watch the presidential race, and I am struck by how many people want to be seduced by a candidate.

They want someone to promise them their dreams will come true, that they will be taken care of properly, that they will be happy. They want someone who pulls at their heartstrings, who knows their secret desires and will make them manifest. “Oh, yes, I will never have to see another Mexican checker in the Piggly Wiggly and little Willie won’t even know what gay is, let alone be lured by the homosexual agenda!

I find it hard to believe in seduction. Maybe that’s because I don’t really believe anyone knows what my dreams are, let alone how to make them come true, or maybe it’s because I gave up trying to hold onto standard-issue conventional dreams so long ago. To be conscious and come from the head means you come gimlet eyed into life, always with a question & a doubt, rarely with a hope & a dream.

Since I find it hard to believe in seduction, I find it hard to believe in seducing people, too.  I watch the newage healers, and I see the game, see how much people crave poetry that enervates and soothes, even if the meaning behind those words is cracked and twisted, laced with rationalizations and dissembling.

Still, well, still, well, that doesn’t mean I am not somewhere, deep inside, a romantic who wants to believe in the power of love, the transformational instant magic that comes when our heart leaps to a new person, a new idea, a new possibility, a new love.

I’m just cynical that most times when we have that leap, we leap to an old vision, an old dream, an old desire and project that onto something or someone in our line of vision.  We imagine that this new vision will complete old tropes, making us healed and whole and perfect in the way we always wanted to be.

Excluded Again

When I leave the subdivision and make a turn onto the main highway, just south I see a billboard that includes the word Transgendered.

Up here, in this Republican stronghold, there is a big, bold foot high word that describes me.  Wow.

But when I read the sign, I find that In Our Own Voices supports gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people of color.


Excluded again.

Unconcious Living

ABC World News Tonight’s “Person Of The Week” was an academician who is now in government who came up with the weight loss breakthrough that people get bigger because they are not concious of what they put in their mouths. He found that while they think they can’t be fooled, they eat more of something labeled “Creamy Mac & Cheese” than something just labeled “Mac & Cheese,” and take more pasta when given a bigger plate, and so on.

His goal is for people to be conscious when they eat so they avoid this “unconscious eating.”

OK, fine. But can he also get the masses to be conscious when they are driving, when they are in a supermarket, when they are at work, when they vote, when they watch TV and so on?

The problem isn’t just unconscious eating. It’s unconscious living, where people don’t apply critical thinking to any area of their life. The US is a country that doesn’t teach critical thinking, where kneejerk mobbing is the goal, making students easier to manage, workers able to be trained like machines without asking pesky questions.

Actually [Yosssarian] was a very warm, compassionate man who never stopped feeling sorry for himself.

“Why me?” was his constant lament, and the question was a good one.

Yossarian knew the question was a good one because Yossarian was a collector of good questions and had used them to disrupt the educational sessions Clevinger had once conducted two nights a week in Captain Black’s intelligence tent with the corporal in eyeglasses who was probably a subversive. Captain Black knew he was a subversive because he used words like “panacea” and “utopia,” and because he dissapproved of Adolph Hitler, who had done such a great job of combating un-American activites in Germany.

Yossarian attended the education sessions because he wanted to find out why so many people were working so hard to kill him. A handful of other men were also interested, and the questions were many and good when Clevinger and the subversive corporal finshed and made the mistake of asking if there were any.

“Who is Spain?”

“Why is Hitler?”

“When is right?”

“Where was that stooped and mealy-colored old man I used to call Poppa when the merry-go-round broke down?”

“How was trump at Munich?”

“Ho-Ho beriberi.”



all rang out in rapid succession, and then there was Yossarian with the question that had no answer:

“Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?”

The question upset then, because Snowden had been killed over Avignon when Dobbs went crazy in mid-air and seized the controls away from Huple.

The corporal played it dumb. “What?” he asked.

“Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand.”

“Ou sont les Neigedens d’antan?” Yossarian said to make it easier for him.

“Parlez en anglais, for Christ’s sake,” said the corporal, “Je ne parle pas français”

“Neither do I,” answered Yossarian, who was ready to pursue him through all the words in the world to wring the knowledge from him if he could, but Clevinger intervened, pale, thin, and laboring for breath, a humid coating of tears already glistening in his undernourished eyes.

Group Headquarters was alarmed, for there was no telling what people might find out once they felt free to ask whatever questions they wanted to. Colonel Cathcart sent Colonel Korn to stop it, and Colonel Korn succeeded with a rule governing the asking of questions.

Colonel Korn’s rule was a stroke of genius, Colonel Korn explained in his report to Colonel Cathcart. Under Colonel Korn’s rule, the only people permitted to ask questions were those who never did.

Soon the only people attending were those who never asked questions, and the sessions were discontinued altogether, since Clevinger, the corporal and Colonel Korn agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.

Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (my favourite book as a teen, by far)

Does this guy in the government actually want the American people to become conscious? Won’t that beat crap out of the consumer culture where people just buy what they are told is right for them? Heck, even the Greenies do that crap.

Conscious living in America.

What a concept!

Susan Stanton

I get that Susan Stanton is a newly out transwoman, desperately seeking the assimilation into being a “normal woman” that she has dreamed of since she was a small child.

I get that Susan Stanton is working so hard to be normative that queerness still scares her, the queerness in the “gender community” and the queerness in her.

I get that Susan Stanton still believes she can be accepted as normative if she rejects queers and queerness.

I just know, from hearing way too many tranny narratives, that it’s not quite going to happen that way.  She’s never going to have a girlhood, never going to have a female body.  Never.

I’m really OK with her taking her path, with her finding out all this for herself.

What I’m not OK with is her thinking that she doesn’t have lessons to learn, including the lesson of compassion and understanding for other queers, others who feel the need to transgress the gender norms assigned to their birth sex to express who they really know themselves to be.

There are lots of broken and ugly trannys out there.  But most of them are broken from a lifetime of being crushed by stigma and twisted demands, unable to find a mature expression that fits them and is well accepted and embraced by society.

To say that we have to prove we can be normative for the mainstream, well, that’s a bar that’s impossible to achieve, even if that’s the bar she is working so hard to meet.

Ms. Stanton has her own path and her own progress.  But she should know that she is an adolescent again, and has a while to come to maturity as a gracious woman, a gracious trans woman who speaks for connection and not separation, a gracious and mature queer woman.

And until she finds that center, she shouldn’t assume there is any “us” for whom she can speak.

Armor Piercing

They were just three tranny gals sitting in a straight bar in Key West, enjoying drinks & company.

And across from them was a table of women, led by a queen bee who lead her pack by reading out the people around them.   “Her bag is fake, her boobs are fake” and so on.   Her witchy power was to raise herself up by putting down others.

And when she turned her laser judgment on the gals at that table, well, you know she had to read them out, too.  “Look at the hair on that one.   And this one definitely used to be a man.”

TBB was at that table, the only one of the three open and connected enough to hear her.

And TBB was worn down.  Four months of manual labor, working in a world of guys, well, it doesn’t leave a lot of place to have femininity affirmed. She was deflated and another leak was just too much to handle right then.

She said she would go back to the room, but her companions didn’t want to lose her.  After all, she’s TBB, the life of the party.

They wanted to know what brought her down.  She didn’t want to tell them.

They persisted, so she told them.

They were shocked.  Not shocked by the woman’s bitchy read, but shocked that TBB would internalize that, shocked that she would bring it inside the lucite egg that they thought they shared.

One of these gals, well, in her egg, she thinks she’s ready to be a straight gal, and wonders why straight men don’t accept & engage her as a straight woman.

The other, well, she had her straight relationship.  Now, she is getting ready to accept that no one will ever love her, never, never, never.

They known how things should be after transition and surgery, have clear images in their mind.  The first waits for that magic to happen, while the second has given up on magic.

And TBB?  Her magic has been blocked by an attempt to fit in, be normie, not make a fuss.   She didn’t feel she could muster the magic to heal from that armor piercing blow from the queen bitch.

There were struggles, but these gals were sisters and tomorrow was New Year’s Eve.  And TBB lead them to the queer side of town, where people were bright & respectful, letting themselves shine rather than throwing mud on others, as normies are often wont to do.

They were close to the stage in a drag bar, then came out to catch some camera when CNN covered the big drag queen dropping in the giant red shoe.

And in a straight bar, they met some queers from Austria, one of whom quite enjoyed kissing the New Year in TBB, quite enjoyed it indeed.

To TBB, the lesson of this story was in how that woman pierced her armor.

To me, the lesson of this story is in how TBB was brought so low by trying to be invisible to normies that she lost the power of her magic for a moment.  And her galpals, well, they haven’t yet figured out, as TBB has, that the only magic comes from within.  You gotta own it before you can own it,  gotta love yourself before anyone can love you.

I asked TBB what she thought I would have done if I was at the table.  She guessed that I might have read out the woman, gotten us out of there, or some other defense.

“Actually, no,” I said.  “I think I would have leaned over and French kissed you.  It would have gotten your mind off the slams, and would have reminded you that you are beautiful & powerful.”

“Well, it certainly would have gotten my mind off that bitch!”  TBB replied.

When people around you don’t support you in your magic, because they can’t really enter their own magic, well, that can wear you thin quite easily.  I have little doubt that her galpals wanted to be with her because they needed her spark and sparkle, wanted TBB to use her big, bright warmth to affirm their magic.

But while TBB was playing their game —  lucite egg and wishing to be normie, playing small so as be accepted by others — she was as vulnerable as they are, but without the shell they still carry.  TBB don’t do so well in a shell.

There is a reason I know TBB to be my sister.  We share much in common, both a bit big and both a bit powerful.   She keeps growing and will eventually understand why “used to be a man” means something different than “is a man.”

But when she feels those moments when her fabulousness gets thin, leaking out under the demands and expectations of others, those gender enforcers of the correct way to do “the imitation for which there is no original,”  well, those are moments I understand the pain of all too well.

May, in this new year, may we all be affirmed not in how we fail to meet norms, but in how we shine in our own special magic.

And let’s kiss a lot, too.