When I look at my middle period writings — the stuff from around 1994 to 2000 — I see one key question that seeds through all of it.

(For the record, while I wrote bad trans fiction as early as 1973, some of it published in Female Impersonator News out of Belmar, New Jersey, my first real writing was from 1988 to 1994, much of it published in The Transgenderist fo TGIC, and some later ripped off by Cross Talk.  Most of that is lost now, written on a Commodore 64 in the mists of time, but a representative sample of the middle period stuff is on )

That question is about truth.  How do transpeople live a life that is truthful, truthful to their history and biology, truthful to their inner knowledge, truthful to the universe, truthful to themselves?

In those days, our narratives almost nothing but rationalization, creating masks to explain and justify our seemingly twisted behavior.

There were a few voices out there; Kate Bornstein, whose awesome Gender Outlaw I read in the bookstore parking lot, reminding me of how in the early 1970s I went through The Transsexual Phenomenon and A Year Among The Girls on the blue line to Wonderland to meet my parents, but this one I didn’t have to leave in the station, and Holly Boswell, whose “The Transexual Alternatives” seemed to offer a life past mounting a normative facade.

It was those years when I learned to love the word queer, a word that captured the idea of individual expression beyond convention, rooted in the old words for twist and thwart, which suggests crossing, baffling and claiming a different path to me.

The most important thing for me was truth, to live a life without lies.  While others looked for women’s clothing they could wear as a man, I looked for men’s clothing I could wear as a woman, in the end much preferring to be a woman in men’s clothing than a man in women’s clothing.  It was inner truth that was always more important than a claimed cross expression.   I knew women who wore men’s clothes for many reasons, and I finally understood myself to be one of them.

For me, that second period was a quest for understanding my trans in a context that was neither dismissive nor self-centered.  I knew how to be erased, the way society wants to erase challenging deviance, and I understood the option of indulgence, the option of just saying “screw you” to the world.  I wanted a path that allowed connection & interdependence while telling truth.

This last period, from 2000-now,  has been about internalizing that truth, about making it part of me.

It’s my guess that if there is a fourth period, it will be about acting on that truth in the world.

It’s all very Joseph Campbell — youth, searching for the gift, becoming new, returning the gift.   And returning the gift to the world you left is always the hardest part.

Mom’s Thanksgiving

“I can see it,” my sister said.  “She acts like a little kid.  She has your attention and wants to see how much she can stretch it.  It’s all about being served,” she said.

My sister was talking about the time between when my mother announces she wants to be taken to the bathroom and when she actually stands up to go, the time when you have to stand and wait for her.  It might be three minutes, it might be twenty minutes, and I have even spent over an hour on the sofa before she decides she isn’t going.

Her Thanksgiving grace went something like this:

“There are so many people who have less than we do, and so I know I shouldn’t whine, even though I do.  I know I should be thankful for my husband, even though he won’t change his mind.  I worry about all my children and hope they will finally get their acts together and make me worry less.”

Yeah, I know.  But it’s really not appropriate to say “What Bullshit!” at the dinner table.

So, here is my version of what she should have said.

I want to thank God and all of you for indulging my whims and treating me like a queen everyday.

I know that very few people have two people who give up their lives to keeping them comfortable, but I have that and that is a blessing, even though you never do exactly what I tell you to do in the way that I want it done.

With the help of my family, I am able to wallow in my own self-pity and not have to work hard to clean up my own messes or to serve others in the world, and that is a gift I value everyday as I sit in my chair, stinky and obtuse.

I give thanks that though my own introverted worldview I am able to control the world around me so I don’t have to rise to any challenge, but rather can just suck the joy and the air out of the room with my own sense of heartbreak that I have never been happy.

I get exactly what I want as you people serve me, and that is something I am entirely thankful for.   May you all keep trying to make me happy and then keep failing, so I can always sit here in my own narcissistic fervor with my own worry to keep me comfortable.


Thanks, Tito!

Tonight I give thanks to Tito Puente & Count Basie.

It was easier spending time with them on the bandstand, playing in my ears, as I cooked and cleaned and such.

Somehow, their world is so much more fun and lively than the one here.

And thanks too to all those who offered words of support here.

Maybe tomorrow I will be enough myself to engage them.

May you all have had moments where you felt the connection, affirmation and love today.

You certainly all deserve it.

Unwelcome & Unsafe

One of the nurses at my mother’s primary care doctor (she sees many doctors) felt the need to ask her the secret question while I was in the examining room with her.

She held up a paper that I could not see and asked my mother to answer, eying me suspiciously as she did it.

What was the secret question?

The question was “Are you safe at home?”

Yes, in that moment, I was suspected of abusing her, making her unsafe at home.  That never feels good.

Of course, no one has ever asked me that question.

“Are you safe at home?”

“Are you safe at home?”

Here we are, another feast day, sure, and while I know how to serve, my family can’t understand why I am so  tight and snippy.

To me, the answer is obvious.

I am not welcome here on this holiday.

I can’t actually show up here and be welcomed.

To me, it feels like I am the black servant who is welcome to cook and clean, but would never be welcomed at table in this house.

Problem is that I don’t have a real option to go home and be with my family after work is done.

And this family assumes that I should enjoy and celebrate, not just work and serve.  My mother’s passive aggressive nature is triggered when I say that she “ordered” dinner at 4 PM and a dessert buffet that will include my brother’s family at 5:30 PM; she doesn’t want to believe she is ordering what she wants.

People feel like I am an asshole because I don’t play along, enjoy the festival.

And I feel like they are assholes because they can’t get why I cannot be present here, why this is so much not about me.

It’s another anniversary, too.  I started this blog three years ago at Thanksgiving, with a post noting that my mother was thankful for who my sister was, and was thankful for all I do.  She got thanked as a human being, I got thanked at a human doing.  La plus ça change. . .

I feel unwelcome in this home.  And expecially now, after my sister’s threat to call the authories to have me removed as a danger to my parents, I also feel unsafe in this home.

I can do my job, but doing my job is seen as abusive to others.  They want me to play along, to be Uncle Shithead, too.   “We don’t like to see you suffer,” my father tells me, but to him that doesn’t mean he wants to participate in my joy, only that I should mask my suffering more effectively.

I feel unwelcome and unsafe.

But there is work to do, so, my head pounding, I go to do it.

16 Reasons My Head Is Going To Explode

These aren’t in any particular order.

  1. When I tell my mother how Phil McGraw presented someone as a doctor and an expert on trans when they were just an evangelist, she laughs.
  2. When I am looking in Avenue, a clerk asks if I am shopping for a “female person,” making it clear that she did not approve of anything else.  I was shopping for my mother, but not hers to judge.
  3. After I throw spilled ice out of the car, a woman drives by and curses at me.
  4. My father natters on to me about the paper he has been asked to review, making no sense.
  5. My mother refuses to go to the bathroom on any one else’s schedule, so both of us wait.
  6. It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I am denied any attempt at being actually festive.
  7. The car I am driving, the one that I told people was bad but that they wanted me to keep driving, not only has oil leaks, check engine light and bad brakes, but now also has a throbbing shot muffler.
  8. I saw My Best Friend’s Girl and am aching to satisfy my pussy.
  9. I have to make dinner tomorrow with not even help about schedule, guests or menu
  10. I have been invited to a fabulous TransGiving and there is no way that I can go.
  11. I need to relax and shake this off, but am interrupted every five minutes or so.
  12. Usually on Black Friday my sister and I go shopping, but this year she hasn’t even attempted to repair the breech that she, my father and my mother created.
  13. My head is throbbing with pain, the “feels like my ears will bleed” kind.
  14. Christmas is everywhere, which means more obligations for me and less joy.
  15. It’s been way too long that I have to pee my mother, like after midnight and at 4 AM last night
  16. The Bush administration has screwed the world.


“When it comes to love, there is only one thing you can trust.

It’s not your friends, it’s not your head.

It’s that little voice inside your clamburger.”

Woman in strip club women’s room, “My Best Friend’s Girl

I now know that if I trusted that little voice about my, rather than trying to believe in my head or my family, I would have more of the passion I need.

Trust the clamburger, eh?


So Grace has asked the big question, a question I ask myself all the time: With my parents, where does caretaking stop and enabling bad behavior begin?  Am I taking care of them or just letting them not take responsibility for themselves?

It’s a very hard question, I agree.

I want them to grow and change, because growth is the essence of life, and we can learn up to our dying day.   To grow we have to be aware and choose again, trying to become better.

But I also know that I can’t change them by myself.  As I have said many times before, life would be so much easier if people would mature & heal  on our schedule rather than on their own.   If people just got it and acted in more enlightenment, we wouldn’t have to struggle as much, and by “people” I include ourselves; carrying our own lack of healing is always a burden.

How much do I get frustrated that my parents don’t heal & grow in ways that would be useful to me?  How much do I have to let them feel the effects of their actions so they change them, and how much do I have to clean up the effects of those actions to keep them safe and comfortable?

I remember a moment in my relationship with my mother when I was thirteen.  I hadn’t taken out the garbage and she decided to guilt me into it.

“If you don’t want to help, if you want me to suffer in filth, well, fine,” she said. “Then don’t take the garbage out.”

I felt the nasty, self-centered, passive-aggressive manipulation and said “Great! Then I won’t do it, ” and walked away.

She was furious.   But one reason I was called stupid, one reason so many people found me frustrating is that I wouldn’t fall for their emotional manipulation.  Christine knew how to manipulate men, but that involved men responding emotionally rather than seeing the manipulation like I did.  Dara, in frustration,  once called me “emotionally uncastratable” both a sign of who I knew myself to be and a mark of how she tried to manipulate.

Beyond this, I have always called my mother on her stuff.

We had a meal of take-out Chinese on Mother’s Day, and my mother had made a big apple crisp for dessert.

After too much food, we only had room for small portions.

“You don’t like it,” my mother whined.  “You didn’t take seconds.”

I switched to my opera announcer voice, hushed and intense.

“And now,” I said, “in honor of Mother’s Day, she will perform a series of guilt trips taught to her by her own mother.”

My sister tried not to giggle.

My mother looked both upset and amused.   But I knew amused would win out.   That’s my up close strategy; make you laugh when I slip the knife in to slice between truth and rationalization, between core and manipulation, revealing the funny side of humans.

I still do this, all the time.  I call people on their behavior, including my parents.  I know that a crucial thing I do here is to stop the introversion cycle that is so typical with seniors.    When alone, they follow the same ground, run the same patterns, let their world shrink.  They need someone outside to keep them connected, about social trends and new horizons, and I do that, which keeps my parents young.

My father is the third of five siblings and all the rest are dead now, the last more than ten years ago.  My mother talks to two of the three widows who continue on.  It’s his determination that kleeps him going, and maybe his family.

The place where push comes to shove on this issue, though, is with me.

My mother knows it.  “I worry that we are taking your life from you.”

But that doesn’t mean she can change who she is, any more than my father can change who he is.

I don’t push for myself.  I have said that it is hard because I can’t both be responsible for breaking the wall and stopping to clean up the mess, one for me, one for them.

My sister rankles every time I mention this summer when I needed her help to get my parents through it while I broke the wall.  She rankles because she knows she failed me, knows that other assignments took priority even as I has a moment where I could dream of something joyous for myself.  The problem is that my joy required real out, and that means someone had to keep the seniors stabilized.

Do I not take enough for myself, to build a life?  Probably.

Do I take my role of caretaker seriously?  Absolutely.  That’s why, when my sister threatened to call the authorities and tell them I was a danger to my parents to get me removed from the house, I was so upset.  She may have wanted to protect both of us, but she offered no other plan, just a screaming pain.

If I can’t demand that my parents heal & grow on my schedule, but can’t just allow them to be insulated from the effects of their own actions — enabling them — how do I make that balance?

I was away for a week last September, down at Southern Comfort Conference.  Did they ever get how much I do, how much I am taken for granted, and how much of a struggle it is for me?

Well, no.

I know the theme of “How can I miss you when you won’t go away?” and have used it successfully in the past.

But breaking through these two people who are just getting “more so” as they age?  These two people who resist acknowledging how they become more helpless as they get closer to death?  These two people who cling to their independence even as their faculties diminish?

I ride in the car when my father drives, and every time it is a frustrating and terrifying experience.  He can’t listen, misses cues, changes speed, all that.  I have shared many incidents of how he gets to the edge, and my worries that someday he will go beyond it.

But am I the one who wants to take his keys?  To take his mobility?

And if I do, is there any chance that they will go somewhere without me?   Am I even more tied to them?

There aren’t any perfect choices, as any parent will be happy to tell you.   Relationships, especially when people are changing faster than they can adapt, are very, very hard.

But everyday I walk the line, trying to both be there and let them be there.

And yes, it’s killing me.

Thanks For Possibility

Again, a Table Grace:

Today, we give thanks for all we have — food, shelter, health and connections — as we should do everyday.

On Thanksgiving, though, we also need to look deeper.  Today, for example, we give thanks for our history.  We give thanks not just for the moments when we got what we desired, but also for the moments when instead we got a lesson, a miracle that changed the way we see the world, making us wiser and more centered.  We live in time, and time passes us, transforming moments to memories, writing the experiences of our fresh flesh into our deeper soul.

Most of all, on this Thanksgiving, let us give thanks for one of true miracles of time, for time offers us not just giving the lessons of time past but also offers us the possibilities of time future.  I truly believe that you stop living when you stop learning, and in every moment until we leave this world we have the possibility of transformation, of learning new and changing choices.

Thank you for not just for yesterday and today, but thank you also for tomorrow.  Thank you for another dawn of new possibility.   May we be present in that possibility with an open mind, an open heart and with open hands, ready to learn, to grow, to change, to blossom, to write.

Thank you for all the tomorrows we have lived through, and thank you for whatever tomorrows we have yet to come, for every tomorrow is another chance for divine surprise, the surprise that enlightens and empowers.   Tomorrow we again have the chance for change, the chance to choose again, the chance to learn and the chance to become better.

On this Thanksgiving, we give thanks for the gift of time, time past, time present and time future, time to live and to learn, time to love and be loved.  We share this time together, present not only with each other but also with people we have loved in the past, holding the possibilities of what we will love tomorrow.

Thank you for the time here with these people, the time here in this beautiful world.  May we be grateful for the moments we are given, holding them precious and using them well, for each one is a gift from you.


Play Along

“Are you deliberately trying to make me upset?” my mother asked, as I pushed her quickly into the Olive Garden.

“No,”  I wished I could reply, although I knew it would only upset her more, “but are you trying to deliberately make me upset?”

My brother and sister-in-law finalized the adoption of a second child today.  Their first child was born 24 years ago, then 22 and 17 they had a girl and a boy, three in total.  They then adopted a boy who is now eleven, and today my sister-in-law got her wish, a three year old baby to proud 50 year old parents.

This week has been a huby, stairlifts and kid gloves, waiting and pulling, real nasty.  It has been tough, and continues to be hard.

I didn’t want to go to the courthouse ceremony.  Don’t like courthouses, don’t like the kid, don’t like my brothers family.  Plus, I hate being called “Uncle Shithead” all the time (insert given name here); years ago my mother informed my brother that I am trans, though that and all other details of my life are erased by their blue-collar judgementalism.

None of my sister-in-law’s siblings attended this adoption, nor, for that matter the adoption for their son.  Both my sister and I were there today, me as hostage, and she as guest.

I was clear I didn’t want to go.  But there was gas to pump and chairs to push and packages to haul — I was up late last night to get what my mother wanted — so I was hauled too.  My parents didn’t get off early enough to get any of my errands done; picking up a rake 1/2 mile away, grabbing some sale pies, but they did get off early enough to drive like idiots around the city, whipping me around in the process.

My mother likes to tell my father where to go.  That might be useful, because my father is so slow and erratic that he needs help, except that she doesn’t know where to go either.  When the erratic lead the erratic, you can be sure you are in for a bumpy and hellacious ride.

I stood up for an hour in the lobby of the courthouse waiting for them.   I then directed them out of the city — hard — and checked the tyres (the pressure light was on) and got them to Olive Garden.   I was hoping someone would push my mother in, but they had all run in, no wait not nothing, just me.

That’s why my mother asked if I was deliberately trying to make her upset.

I ended up stuck in the back with the kids.  I had to interview them; I don’t know what else to do.

The details all pile up; noise, dumbess, not getting what I wanted to eat, all that.

And I thought about my mother’s plaint.  My actions were all about her; I was trying to upset her.   It couldn’t be that I was upset, that I was upset all that week, that I had said I didn’t want to go, that I was feeling tough and painful things about celebrating little girls being given a family name I have been denied in many ways.

No, it couldn’t be about me, no matter how clear I said it was about me.  It had to be about her.

What my family wants from me is simple: they want me to play along.  Just be nice and pleasant and upbeat.  Swallow your own feelings to let others play out their own little dramas.

Celebrity Rehab was on last night.  Amber wanted to know why other people got to act out and that was OK while she had to swallow her feelings, and Steven had to face a mother who is sure that any emotional damage done to him just doesn’t count, isn’t relevant.

I had to be dragged through this, beaten and bruised.

There was no festive occasion for me, no getting dressed to celebrate an event, only grunt work

And my mother wants to know why I was trying to upset her.

Couldn’t I just play along?   Couldn’t I just not have emotions that upset other people?

Clearly, I do know how to do that.

It just feels like crap.

And the holidays are just around the corner.


On Home Improvement — a great show — Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor hasn’t remembered an event that his wife Jill reminded him about.

“Well, you can’t remember everything,” he retorts.   “Like, what kind of carburetor is on the hot rod?”

“A Holley four barrel 4891,” Jill answers.

“Huuuuuuh?” grunts the Tool Man.  “How did you know that?”

“It’s easy,” says Jill.  “When someone I love talks about something that is important to them, I pay attention.”

“Ooooooooooooh,” Tim replies, chastened and more aware now.

Ms Rachelle says that giving attention is easy, but sometimes we just let it slip.

I suggest that giving attention is hard, because to really be engaged we must be aware, and to be aware is to be challenged.  Anything that pulls us out of own world to see through the eyes of another is potentially transformative, requiring us to see past our own assumptions and fears and affirm choices we would never make for ourselves.  Celebrity Rehab reminds us of that power of the group; their narratives bring up stuff for us in many ways, requiring us to engage and confront what we have chosen to be blind to.

When I talk to TBB, it is the connections I make that remind her that I pay attention to her.  There is an old saw that a friend is someone who knows the song in our heart and sings it back to us when we forget the words.   I tend to remind her of the forest when she is just seeing trees, connecting something she is saying now to what she has said in the past, acting to reinforce the context of her life.  I take the things she often can only say in an oblique way and illuminate them in a way that supports and empowers her, as she has supported and empowered so many.

I have found that there are few more powerful tools than reminding people of their own words and deeds, their own claims and intent, their own dreams and desires.  But to do that, I have to keep them in my head & heart somewhere, following as they change, paying attention as they share.

On Home Improvement, Jill Taylor understood that, because JIll is a mother, and being a good mother requires you to pay attention to your kids in a very present way.  They don’t have the insight and the language to make connections, to see and express the bigger picture, so you have to help them with that, help them learn and grow.  Now, you can argue that women have to do that with men too, after learning to do it with their friends, but that’s another game.

I saw a button in the store last night that said “Moms Rock.”  True, but I would have bought a button that said “Moms Love.”

I was surprised at how many paid attention to my piece on Priority.  Gwyneth is correct; she has acknowledged my deep femme need to be heard and affirmed, and I thank her for it.  Ms. Rachelle has often given me the gift of being present for me, even across oceans.  Abby offered her ear and her heart.  Grace  shared her experience, mirroring and reinforcing my own feelings in a potent way.

I know that I have touched them, and in knowing that, I also know that I have changed them, if only in the tiniest, tiniest way.  I have said that the most painful thing about being trans is to not be able to share your gifts and have them accepted, because so many people need to reject who I know myself to be to stay in their comfort zone, but people who are willing to be discomfited by being open to me, well, that touches my tender heart.

We show attention when we hold open the space for others to be authentically themselves, entering their world in a way that keeps the focus on them and makes it easy for them to express their depth without always having to protect and insulate themselves from the world.  We show attention when we remember and connect, easing communication with informed context rather than choking it with expectations that everything is about us.  We show attention when we engage and embrace challenge, knowing that our emotions are about us, that we hold responsibility for our own feelings, expectations, prejudices and fears.

Sweet people have offered me attention, and I thank them.   But we are spread so thinly on the ground that our presence so often seems sparse and empty.

As for me though, I take what I can get, and keep speaking into that dark night.


A number of years ago, I went to a LGBT meeting in Asheville.  The topic of discussion was the possibility of a new LGBT center.

I listened to all the discussion, nice earnest discussion about benefits and challenges.  It was all feel-good and sincere.

At the end of the meeting, I stood to ask two questions.

Number one was “How many of you think it would be good to have an LGBT drop-in center in the area?”

The majority of people raised their hands.  They mostly thought it would be a good thing to have.

Number two was “How many of you think that an LGBT drop-in center is the number one priority to work for in this area?”

Nobody raised their hand.  Nobody.

“Well, I predict that there won’t be a LGBT center anytime soon,” I said.  “Unless a few people think this is the most important priority and are willing to work to lead the effort, it’s probably just not going to happen.”

People shook thier heads in agreement.

In the end, life isn’t about what would be nice to have.  Life is about what we give priority to, what we will work to make happen.

In an information economy, attention is the new currency, someone said.

I know that the people around me want to help, want things to be better.

But I also know that their attention is consumed, that many things fall down so low in the priority list that they are just not going to happen.

My brother, my sister, my parents, well, they just don’t have the attention to pay.  They put their priorites elsewhere, even as I put my priority on them (which, ironically, gives them more attention to pay to other things.)

I have often said that the key to a great relationship is that at some point, you are the most important person in the other person’s life.   Maybe that’s rare — a dinner date once a month, say — or maybe that happens in almost every moment, as a mother has to pay attention to a young child, but what we all crave is being the center of someone else’s attention, being a priority at some point in someone else’s life.

Rachel has said that she finally figured out that Callan wants to be heard, wants attention and bandwidth to be paid to her.

But I don’t get it much.  I most often fall into the “too hard” basket.

Now, I do understand, don’t think that I don’t.

People have other priorities and attention is a scarce & valuable commodity.

But I do suffocate with out it, eh?

Hard & Bitter

The way to stay on a roll is to stay on a roll.

So if you are resisting your own desires, in the end you have to resist desire.

People who don’t do the whole penitent thing have trouble with this idea.   They wonder why you can’t just desire a few things and leave the rest alone.   They want me to desire on some kind of schedule, on some kind of framework, you know, like desiring on Wednesday afternoons from 1 to 4 PM.

But discipline isn’t like that, at least not in a way that I understand.   I am on call all the time here, from 7 AM to 12:30 AM pee runs, and even beyond that for emergencies.

Others have told me that to really relax, they have to spend a day or two decompressing.  I don’t have that.  Even if my parents are away, they expect phone calls once or twice a day to chatter.  That’s good for them, of course; I have seen many lonely old people, even old people who fall into a partner spiral, pacing over the same ground in the same dance over and over again.  With me, my parents are constantly stimulated, have something new to discuss, and while that may be a bit irritating, it is also enervating, also lively.

Good things are going on in my sibling’s lives.  My brother’s family is adopting a new child, a three year old to go with the eleven year old they adopted, along with 18, 22 and 24 year olds they had.  My sister is having a gallery opening of a shared show, back to Art, as with the one woman show I helped her with a year ago.

Of course, few good things are happening in my life.  Stairlifts and money loss and travel plans that probably won’t come true.

I will tell you this:  I really, really, really want to be soft and sweet, happy for others.

But when you are on a roll you have to be on a roll, and that means I am often, at least on the surface, hard and bitter.

Christine didn’t really like my curmudgeon exterior.  She joked I was turning her into a curmudgene, the feminine of curmudgeon.

I really do work to be encouraging and positive for the good things in people’s lives.  I have long ago stopped being cynical and cutting to others,  instead blessing their success.

But the one thing I can’t really figure out a way to do is to be happy for others.  If I can’t be happy for myself, if my happiness needs to be denied, like I deny my own beauty and grace, well, how can I really be happy for others?

I don’t like being hard and bitter.

But when you are on a role, well, that role is you.

Small Or Happy

I have been watching Chris Lilley’s We Can Be Heroes: Finding The Australian Of The Year.  In this series, Lilley takes the tradtional TV convention and upends it, looking at six characters whose stories are heroic on the surface, but underneath are just human, and mostly rather venal humans at that.  The contrast between the TV producer hype and the smarmy reality is the basis of the humor of the piece, at least to me.

To me, one problem we have is that we tend to want to fall into that hype, to believe that if we can fit into some heroic archetype with some lesson for others, then we have value, but if we don’t fit a cookie cutter, we are less than good.

I know of people who reject this blog because I am too negative.  They want the upbeat, positive and santized, the nice stuff from TV that they want to sell to those around them, looking happy as Ms. Rachelle set the deal.

I have been thinking about being scary.  Robert Caro, in the third volume of his life of Lyndon Jonson, Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson leads with a quote:

When you come into the presence of a leader of men, you know that you have come into the presence of fire – that it is best not uncautiously to touch that man – that there is something that makes it dangerous to cross him.

Woodrow Wilson

If you are a “too person,” you are a carrier of fire.

And if you carry the fire, you are both compelling and scary.

There seem to be only two ways to try to make people more comfortable around that fire.

You can be small, from simply being gracious to really trying to hide the fire.

Or you can be happy.  Fire is scary, but fire that can be pleased, fire for joy, well, that is fire that serves for good.

Of course, the truth is you need both these techniques if you are fire, grace and peace.

How do we become a hero?  Do we play the stereotype and make people feel uplifted in their own preconceptions?   Johnny Carson noted that most people won’t pay much to be educated, but they will pay to be entertained, and if you can make them feel like they are being educated while just entertaining them — while just playing to their expectations and telling them a story that affirms what they already believe — then you can go very, very far.

But fire, well, fire burns dross, fire smelts metal, fire tempers character.  Fire is strong.

Chris Lilley knows how TV wants its heroes, simple and simpleminded.  He just wants to remind you that however simple the story seems, there are always humans involved in the process.

But when you carry fire, you have to find a way to make people feel safe in the presence of fire, fire that gives heat & light, fire that entertains, and fire they know can burn them and their preconceptions.

Small or Happy? Quenching the presence or dancing with it?

You know the answer.

Just don’t ask someone who still fears their own fire.

You know what they will tell you to do.

Fight, Flight, Die

“Oh, you’re great.  You sacrifice so much,” my father told me, his words dripping with sarcasm.

I am in a full autonomic fight or flight reaction around my sister these days.

But I resist it to do what is required, errands that involve driving her around and such.

It feels like I am being beaten, but I do it.

I finished the ride and came downstairs to my bed and computer to burn it off.

My father asked what happened.

“She is here.  I did the work,” I told him

“Oh, you’re great.  You sacrifice so much,” my father told me, his words dripping with sarcasm.

My mother hits her head when she feels mushy.  She assumes I hit my fead for the same reasons.


I hit my head for discipline, to silence my feelings and do what is required.  I hit my head for focus, for denial.

My father assumes that I am angry at my sister because of pique, because I am holding a grudge.

The idea that it hurts escapes him.

“Oh, you’re great.  You sacrifice so much,” my father told me, his words dripping with sarcasm.

I bust hump and it means nothing, only that I am too overwrought, hold on.

And it kills me.

Did You Ever Dream. . .

Did you ever dream of a different life?

Bob to Amber Smith, Celebity Rehab S2E3
(“It’s clear that Amber’s lifetime enmeshment with her addicted mother is a block to her sobriety,” says Dr. Drew Pinsky.)

Did I ever dream of better life?

Possibility is the key to a different future.  You may not be able to make your dreams come true, but without dreams you can’t make any possibility come true.  Dreams keep hope inflated; without the dream of better, there is no possibility of change.

Tim Gunn and his team understand this; they made a 24 year old woman feel like a princess, which unlocked her confidence and her smile.  They “saw something” in her that she had not trusted and helped her “bring it out.”

For a moment today, just for a moment, I had the dream of putting on a nice dress and boots, getting in a Volvo and driving to a very special Thanksgiving dinner.

But I’m still driving a broken Subaru that won’t pass next month’s inspection without more repairs than it is worth, still had to stuff the nice top away in a bag after imagining what it would look like without the grey badge of denial, and still had to stay up very late to roll my mother to the toilet.

Tomorrow gets worse; it’s all about my sister again.

But I still grabbed a glass of rum and coke, and still had a moment where I could dream, but only a moment.

TBB teared up today on ship when recounting her days being a rocket engineer.  Her boss, a young woman, comforted her — you know, like one woman comforts another who is emotional for a moment.

Yup, they see TBB as a woman, and expect her to make the choices of a woman, rather than beating her fpr that.

My mother said to me last night “I fear I am ruining your life.”  I think she wanted me to agrue, comfort her, disagree.  Instead I said nothing, but kept holding her hand.  It was OK.

Did you ever dream of a life different than this?

Only for a moment, but the enmeshment pulls me back.

But, I suppose, there was that moment.


Sarah Palin has no context.

She likes it that way.  So what if no VP candidate has ever introduced a Presidential candidate’s concession speech?  Why not her?

You see, when you have no context of broader issues, you can always just say how things would be in your perfect world, and then be upset that they are not that way.

She doesn’t like how she was treated by the McCain campaign. So she tells us how they did her wrong, not letting her blab more, without understanding why her blabbing might have not been effective.

Of course, that’s why she was chosen, why she empowered the base.  She could stand up and say “Shouldn’t things be the right way, the way we like them?  Yeah!  So lets slam the people who do them the wrong way, the way we don’t like them!”

What good fundamentalist couldn’t agree with that?

Sarah Palin has no context.

And for the people who like her, that’s great.  Context is confusing and messy and hard.

Joe Scarborough believes that she could become a great candidate; after all, Hillary Clinton got much more polished.

But Hillary came with context, all the context a Rhodes Scholar could hold, and needed to learn communication.

Palin has communication, but needs context.  And context would spoil her sweet appeal.

Sarah Palin has no context, so she could voice the whining of fundamentalists who know how things should be and want simple solutions that erase nuance, that erase challenge.   She doesn’t hold geography or history, always a new slate, blank as the new dawn.

And, to me, that’s scary.


My sister claims that she threatened to call the authorities and lie to them about me being dangerous to my parents as a failed form of “emotional manipulation” to get me to do what was good for me.

I have been thinking about that — yes, I have very low levels of “latent inhibition” and don’t slough well — and I don’t find that claim credible.  I can’t imagine how she believed that threat would get me to be compliant.

No, I think that her real goal was emotional expression.  She wanted to express to me how much she was hurting, how much my parents were hurting.   She wanted to get through to me about how much they hated to see me suffer, how that was creating emotional suffering for them.

In other words, she was acting out her emotions onto me under the guise of doing the right thing.

= = = = = = = = = =

The terrible thing for the little girl is not just that everyone sees her as an ogre, but that she sees with absolute clarity.  Your perceptions are so clear, and so strong, in a way, and the awful thing is they just bring more pain, because the little girl just wants to be seen and loved and taken care of.  While I had your message up and I was listening to the mp3, Gmail had one of its ads alongside–beautiful bedding for beautiful little girls —  and I kept thinking how different your life might have been if you could have had some of that as a child.  Or now.

Your sister, like so many other people in the world, uses her lack of clarity to indulge herself in self-righteousness and claiming victimhood.  You don’t allow yourself that luxury.  It’s a terible burden, and it feels like your skin being torn off, but maybe in some deep way there’s a salvation.

I just noticed that my friend has a copy of my Tarot deck above the computer, so I cut it and got a card called 3 of Birds, which is about being willing to take hold of the pain that pierces the heart like three swords, and then freeing it so that the swords become transformed into a snake for life energy, a beam of light for spiritual truth, and a river for the emotions that are bound up in pain.  It’s one of the most painful cards in the entire deck, and yet also, because of its clarity and honesty, one of the most hopeful.

I send love to the little girl, and the woman of clear sight.

Ms. Rachelle, after the Bad Night.

= = = = = = = = = =

Abby was feeling quite tender after the election.  On one hand, Obama is hope, but there were so many other kinds of feelings based on the results, too.

I commented:

This is the challenge of enlightenment; that to be enlightened you have a broader vision and see where the unenlightened choose separation, defense & fear over connection, vulnerability & love.

They are right: ignorance is bliss. Awareness, well, that is awareness.

So many jump from cult to cult to remain in ego comforting ignorance, but eventually, the self has to fight the ego, to come out from smallness and myopia.

Enlightenment is enlightenment. Luckily, the course tells us that we have nothing to fear from engaging the quest for miracles, because even as we seem to separate from the masses, we become stronger in our connection to the universe.

The trans path is always an individual path. We can’t be “one of the gang” for very long until we find a part of us that doesn’t fit the constraints.

Yet, with enlightenment we can see ourselves in context, knowing that even if it isn’t going to come in one human lifetime, growth, change & connection will always win out in the long run.

Look for the miracle that helps you see things in a new way. Maybe look for how missteps become lessons that set us and our society back on the path later. Maybe you have some other miracle to come that lets you walk more with the holy spirit.

Enlightenment is hard, no doubt.

But would you really want to go back to more ignorance?

= = = = = = = = = =

I vividly remember once, years ago, when my sister asked me what she should do for me.

I offered what I would find valuable.

She blurted out “Well, I guess that I am not that enlightened!”

= = = = = = = = =

My sister came to dinner Friday night.

I spent the moments after I found out hidden in the basement, crying.

My gut was clear: she had hurt me, she will hurt me.

But my mind was also clear: she is my sister and is she is hurting too.

Still, the physical pain the encounter brought me is still resonating in me a day and a half later.

She later came down and told me stories about how much crap she has to go through at work.  I understand that she needs defenses to tolerate that, and anhedonia is the solution my father taught her. Having seen Amber Smith’s comments on Celebrity Rehab, well, I also understand how that strikes out against people who turn the lights on and force her to feel.

(Am I going to get someone invoking the authority of “people close to me,”  invoking her authority, bashing me again for this statement?  One more thing to fear that leads me to this pain, eh?)

I just came back from driving her to work.  I have to pick up her mail this week, and help with her car transfer on Friday, much like I spent my 50th birthday helping her move into her new house.

My ears ring, my neck aches and it feels like someone kicked me in the kidneys.

Ah, stress.

= = = = = = = = =

TBB got someone else directly questioning her gender yesterday.

It felt bad.

She remembered when she was a CD and a trans political leader told her about being read out at the airport and how it felt.

Crossdresser TBB thought it was just oversensitivity, something to be expected.

Transsexual TBB now knows it is a challenge to be faced, another gotcha that can shut you down.

Ain’t enlightenment a bitch?

= = = = = = = = =

To be aware is to be challenged, challenged to stay aware in the face of a world that would prefer you silenced and blinded.

If enlightenment was easy, everyone would have it, eh?

But people don’t want it because the cost of being present in a world where so few people are is terrible.

Full Time Crossdresser

I congratulate Stu Rasmussen on his election to another term as mayor of Silverton Oregon, a position he has held in the past.

The big difference with this election is that Stu is out as trans, which to him means having long hair, breast implants and high heels.

Stu still identifies as a straight man, though.  He is with a woman-identified partner in a heterosexual-identified relationship, loves motorcycles and all that.

I salute and affirm his personal expression, his taking that right and running with it.

It’s just that on some deep level I don’t understand it at all.

I understand the pragmatism of being a full time crossdresser, not having to walk across walls and take risks to identify as a woman, I do.

But I don’t understand the desire, any more than I understand sissys who want to be men humilated into some kind of feminine expression, or drag queens who want to swing their dick out from under a mini-skirt.

To me, gender expression is expression, showing something about you.  I have called gender a form of advertising, showing your training and your inclinations.

To me, anyway, my guy-in-a-dress days were a pragmatic expression of what I hoped would be possible, a bit of costume play that took me closer.

But that expression never really worked for me.  Now I believe it was because I was never really a guy, never really cocky enough to handle a cock well at all.

I know myself as a woman, whatever I look like, and whatever people around me want to believe, which is often the heterosexist notion that birth genitals define everything.  They can have their opinions, but I can have my heart.

I don’t get men, not that I ever really did, and that includes men-in-dresses.

That doesn’t stop me from affirming Stu Rasmussen and his community service, or affirming all the other guys-in-dresses that walk through the world.

I just hope that they don’t tell people what trans means based only on their choices, beliefs and experiences.  TBB has acknowleged that in the past few years she has come to understand what I was telling her when she was a crossdressing husband, acknowleging she never could have gotten it as a man-in-a-dress.  To her, the key to crossdressing was denying her womanhood, and that means she screened out the womanhood in others.

Congratulations, Mayor Rasmussen!  May you continue to make the world safer for a wide range of transgender expression!