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.