Such A Girl

TBB is such a girl.

She went to her boss to vent about a co-worker.  He’s asked her not to do that; doesn’t really want to get involved.  He  said he would talk to the guy if she wanted, but was relieved when she didn’t ask him to.   It was so hard she wanted to cry, but she didn’t, of course.

TBB just knows he shouldn’t need to be asked, that he should address personnel problems as a matter of course.  But he is much more comfortable with technical problems.

He assured TBB that she was a very good engineer and she was doing a very, very good job, and not to worry about that.

TBB, well, she just melted.  A few words of praise and she was better.

And later, when they went to the bar, people told her that she cleaned up real nice, looking much better than the oil-stained wretch who keeps things running in the engine room.

TBB, well, she just melted.  A few words of praise and she was better.

I have never thought trans was about the freedom to wear different clothes.

I have always throught that trans was about expressing what you knew to be true about yourself.

And the past years of struggle should tell everyone that TBB knows herself to be a girl.

What does that mean?  It means that she knows she thinks and feels more like a girl, that she loves the things that women love, and that she responds to the world more like a woman than like a man.

There are more and more places where they are experimenting with sex segregation in the classroom, understanding that boys and girls tend to respond to different kinds of engagement and motivation.

That separation, though, while it might be coded as sex, to me is about nature.

Sure, we separate kids by reproductive biology to talk about reproductive biology, what to do with and about your genitals.

But social connections are about nature, not about simple binary organ counting.

I know that I was never, ever one of the boys.    Gym class was hell for me, because there manhood was enacted and I didn’t have the goods to measure up.

Transwomen often learn to hold back, not to enter their own feminine nature.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t have it, and don’t come to life when it is engaged.

TBB is such a girl, no matter how big or professional she is.  For her, that doesn’t mean being one of the girls; that is an experience she was denied.

But when she goes through all to express her femininity, it doesn’t just mean she wants to be a crossdresser.

It means she knows who she is, and she is trying to tell you, even if you can’t hear over your own expectations of her history & biology.

But treat her like a woman and she will smile.

She’s just such a girl.

Splatter

Last Thursday, just before my parent’s return, my sister realized she had to do the obligatory base touching she was asked to do while they were out of town.

I was having some gastric distress; cramps and wind, enough that I had to cancel any plans for a last blow-out before my parents arrived.  I may be able to struggle through work with gas & such, but trying to claim fun while blowing out the wrong way, well, a bit too much for me.

My parents have been feeling that this was their last trip, that it is just too much, especially for my father, who has to be the engine that pushes my mother to her dreams.  With the bad hip and the slowed ticker, it’s almost impossible for him.

The plan was that my mother would use her scooter to get around, but she soon decided that going about alone is no fun, so she didn’t.  And that cost is no surprise; she “doesn’t like to make decisions,”  so a half hour wait between when she announces she wants to be pushed to the can and the actual trip is routine.  Routine and vastly frustrating as she acts like a petulant and wilful child.

“I guess I’ll just clean up their shit until they don’t shit anymore,” I said to my sister on Thursday.

This week has been the test.

I was really sick on Monday, as I got the car unpacked and the laundry started.  I just reheated a stew I made for their supper, and fell asleep around 6 PM with explosive diarrhoea.   I was hurting bad and laid low.

I tried to recover on Tuesday, but it was Wednesday when my father was sick; their bedroom carpeting was splattered from sidetable to toilet, the sheets were messed, all that.  I even had to give him a sponge bath to clean his shit-spattered legs.  He went through 10 pairs of underpants, all wet and soiled.

Thursday night, though, he got the chills and got weak.  Covers, all; I even had to hold him up to help him go.  He didn’t even have the strength to use the phone to call down to me; I felt so bad I missed his moans.

To see him, an old man, this frail and dissipated, well, impossible not to imagine a future.  The image of him, naked and androgynous from the decade old prostate treatment, well, the cycle from baby to aged seemed almost complete.

He had strength back Friday, though he still asked for help with his long elastic socks.   He’s better today, but clearly with absolutely no reserves.

My mother, though, is back in her recliner in the living room, TV on all night, as it was when I slept on the couch next to her so I could hear if either of them.   Even as my father tries to clean the rug with wet, smeary underwear, and I need to come back with pine cleaner, my mother lies in her own filth, waiting as long as she can and then expecting others to mop up her leaked waste.   As readers know, my view of what I do here is not to take care of my mother, but rather to help my father take care of my mother; my attention to her is to make his life easier.

It’s been a tough week, with my own bowels tied into knots with the stress of resuming denial, though being on the phone twice a day while they were away never let me really enter a world beyond their limited expectations.  It’s the second year my mother wanted to know what was wrong with my eyebrow, and the second year I wanted to swat her in furious frustration.    They both don’t get it in different ways; my father wants to do the right thing but can’t pick up the cues, while my mother can pick up the cues, but has no real commitment to anything but her own self-pity.   They offer lip-service to my future, but their real needs are temporal and pressing.

Clean up their shit until they shit no more.

Just live in the splatter.

Hobbits!

Got a call from TBB while I was marketing for Parents return.  Currently, I accept calls from the Philippines.

She had been through a number of G & T’s and was feeling no pain.   The Chief and TBB shared a few drinks; that was good.

On the ship, she has learned not to make waves, but to work with discipline and precision.   The Chief has come to value that, but TBB, well, she is longing for space to make waves; her performer part is potent.

I think that may be what we share, the combination of logical engineering discipline and flaming emotional performance.  She’s off the ship for a month or two soon; that will be good.

She loved the bar.  She heard Neil Young songs and thought it was a tape, but no, it was a live performer, a great live performer.

A little person.

The Hobbit House in Manila is a bar owned by and employing little people.

Lots of them.

“I like this place,” she told me, after her five G & T’s.

“I feel safe.

“I just know that I’m not the only freak here.”

Long Gallery

The particular binds of fundamentalist Mormonism come to light in “Under the Banner of Heaven,” Jon Krakauer’s rowdy 2003 book about the faith. I finally read it this season, as a companion to “Big Love.” I recommend it. The book includes a quotation from DeLoy Bateman, who gave up ­polygamy and then surrendered religious faith entirely. He told Krakauer he doesn’t regret abandoning it. “Some things in life are more important than being happy,” he says, expressing the unmistakable tension at the heart of “Big Love.” “Like being free to think for yourself.
Virginia Heffernan, Together Forever, New York Times, 22 March 2009

While the producers of Big Love say that the show is about secrets, Ms Heffernan believes it is about the cost of being a group member, of fitting in.

In my experience, they are the same thing.   Suppression, submission, subversion and a whole lot of other things are at the core of that side of the primary duality, being tame enough to fit in as a member of the group.

Apparently, I understood Mr. Bateman’s point very early in my life, like before I was five, and I have the anecdotes to prove it, like betraying bus drivers at the age of 4, or standing for what I knew to be right over horrible peer pressure at the age of 9.

Being free to think for myself was always the most important thing.  It still is.

In my case, I don’t think it was a trade off from being happy.  My family wasn’t really happy; my father was off in his Aspbergers world, my mother in her own crushing, narccistic self-pity.

No, between my nature and my nutrure, I learned the only place I could have ownership is thinking for myself.   I created my own world and have lived in it for this half a century.  I never learned how to be happy as a member of the group; that always seemed impossible.

I am free to think for myself.   I’m just not free to be myself, to be loved and cared for.

How does one survive being cast out so early?  Don’t we all crave the safety of family, tribe, village, community, somewhere you are known and cared for?

In my case, I keep a gallery.  It is a long hall with murals that come back to life, reminding me again and again of moments where I have felt embarrassed or stupid or just disconnected.

I know when I have wandered into it.  I feel like shit, and mumble, “Marry me, Christine,” a plaintive cry for maybe the only person who knew me and was near me to connect with me, though that was never really a possibility, and we have been disconnected for at least 15 years now, a lost dream that never really was anyway.

But it is my call, my futile call, and it marks my sorrow.

The last mural in this gallery was painted just a few days ago.

I got back to the cul-de-sac early enough to get inside before the kids came home from school and started playing.   I sat in the basement at my computer, but I neglected to close the blinds over the sliding door to the back yard.

I heard a noise and looked up, and got eye contact with the 11 year old boy next door, grabbing a football.

Shit.

I want to protect children, I really do.  I care desperately about kids; my maternal drive is so strong.  “You’d be a great mom,” one woman told me, and it is a cherished reflection in my life.

So I hide to protect the kids, but I didn’t hide enough.

I know, I know, I know that the truth is that we can never hide enough, that we will always be exposed, that the way to handle challenge is being out, open, and owning my own story, but with other people’s kids, that is never so easy.

So I failed and felt like shit.  “Marry me, Christine.”

Just another mural up on the gallery, to be seen and replayed as triggered.  Shit.

I know what is important.  I get to think for myself.  I own my own wildness, my own freedom of thought, my own mind and knowledge.

But the child who needs connection, well, she keeps a gallery of the places where I fucked up, pulling out decades old stories to remind me of how I screwed up.  “We kept moving you to new schools, over and over,” my mother said, “but you kept making the same mistakes!”

Yeah.  I kept being myself, without skills and faith in my ability to connect.  I kept valuing thinking for myself over happiness, and where has it gotten me?  Read the tag I wrote almost three and a half years ago now: “The Loneliness of a Long-Lost Tranny.”

I don’t know how to pay the cost of happiness.  And while I am confident that I am right to value being free to think for myself over fitting-in, my longing to have someone know me and smile at me across at table, across a pillow, well, it is strong enough to keep a gallery.

Marry me.   God, I lost my virginity to the original cast album of Sondheim’s Company.

Or lose me.

My parents back tonight.  The sounds, the smells, the demands.

And me?

I’ll try to grab a moment or two to think for myself.

But it won’t be enough.

Readying To Reveal.

This weekend i made some progress but am looking for help.

How do you find the right bra??

It kept creaping up on my all night under my blouse and was uncomfortable.

I am realizing that real brests would help stop that but…. so what can we do about this?

I think i am ready to drop the pants and pull on the skirt,

Is there one willing to help me dress prior to hitting the bar on a sat?

I am not real concerned about makeup and wig but am willing to if someone can help

     List Post

 

And in the end
what transgender comes down to
is the process of finding solutions
to all those challenges of self expression
that require clearer self knowledge
as well as a wider knowledge of the world
because through that journey
we bring
who we show ourselves to be in the world
and
who we know ourselves to be inside
closer together
working the challenge of the mirror
serenely accepting what we cannot change
powerfully changing what we can change
gaining the wisdom of knowing the difference.

It may seem as simple as
finding a bra that works
but in so many ways
it is a step to
actualization & enlightenment
opening to blossoming
readying to reveal.

We transform as we can in every moment
and resist as we need to in every moment
the resulting friction burning away what is not real
polishing our heart and our expression
to mirror each other.

Each step is our step
and no one can take us where
we are not ready to go
but when it is time
we leap with no vengance
a step into flight.

Show your outcomes
Shine your choices
Beauty & Power

Why the fuck not?

Hitting The Wall

It’s like a RoadRunner cartoon.

I’m moving forward, and bang! slam!  I hit the wall.

A transparent wall, an invisible wall.

I don’t break through it, though.  I slam into it and leave a human shaped dent in the force field in front of me.

I am stuck there as I feel my limbs start to pop apart like a cheap toy, buttons pushed and springs ejecting the bits.  My shins fall to the ground, followed by my torso, then my hands, and my arms fall onto the pile below me.  My torso pops apart, moulded bits of plastic chattering down, and then my head falls, topping the pile like a cherry on a sundae of broken parts, which now have the ozone and smoke smell of burning electronics.

Whatever was of me has slid down the wall in broken bits, and I am now a heap of scrap more or less inert on the floor, even if my eyes still see and a body part quivers now and then.

I was at the supermarket, free and fair, no problem, whatever people were noticing of my body or imagining about my history & motivation.  Then I pull into the cul-de-sac, and after I dash through the garage door, one of the first warm days locks me inside.

I can hear the kids playing outside, and in the cold basement I think about how nice it would be to go into the sun and feel some warmth on my skin.

But unless I am willing to be very, very public, crossing the line in front of the block, I have to be between.

The rage wells up in me, a half-century of denial.  Could I pop out with an automatic rifle and clear the street of laughing children, children who remind me what I had to deny?  Or could I just go crazy in the car, mowing down pedestrians until I fly off the bridge and land in the river?

I’m not at all close to doing any of those things.  It’s my own death I am closer to, working to summon the fear and discomfort that will serve me when my parents return at the end of this week.

I still fall asleep in clothes and maquiage, not wanting to take them off, and knowing that soon it will be denied to me.  It’s been thirty years or more of that; my father even used to tell me to take off the “girl pants” when he caught me wearing tights to bed in fifth grade.  I so hoped it would be over by now, and a visible skin care regimen would be more fitting for a woman my age.

From a simple shop in a supermarket to an invisible wall that shatters me, all in the course of an hour or so.

So simple, so traumatic, so unconveyable to anyone who hasn’t had the experience.

But I have cleaning & preparation to do, and denial & dismantling to execute, bringing back the fear and discomfort that cripples me.  Yeah, maybe I should call my girlfriends and feel empowered in reflected beauty and power, but, well, none of them around, eh?

I have hit this wall countless times before, and survived.

But thriving?

How can you do that when you keep slamming into their walls of fear and expectation?

How can you do that when you keep respecting their walls of fear and expectation?

Not Depression, Suppression

It was some thirty years ago I went to an earnest young counselor who was trying to help.

“You show some signs of depression,” he said, “but you aren’t really depressed.

“Would you like to try some anti-depressants?”

Drugs back then weren’t the designer selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) that we have today.  The side effects were messy and the results limited, so I quickly stopped taking them.  I tried bupropion for a month about five years ago; no magic there.

I’m having to switch back to worker drone here, and, as usual I find that it makes me very tired and listless.   I have no energy or endurance to get things done.

My problem isn’t depression, I don’t think.   What’s Gloria Steinem’s diagnostic: “In depression, nothing matters.  In grief, everything matters.”

My problem is suppression, the requirement to kill part of me off, or at least to throw it into the deep-freeze.  It’s grief, not disconnection.

The cost of suppression is very high, spending energy to destroy energy, using power to deny power, working hard to hide your own heart.  I have no wonder that people turn to chemicals or other self-destructive activities to help destroy what they have been taught to fear in themselves.

I really want to get work done, but that thick, wet, stigma & hate filled blanket of suppression makes it hard to get the energy up.

And that makes sense, because the goal of suppression is to suppress energy that you have been told needs to be hidden.

Maybe some would say that rechanneling is enough, that one should us that energy for other purposes that are more socially valued.

But in the end, who you are is who you are.  Yeah, maybe it would be great if I was someone different with another heart, but I can’t change my essence any more than you can.

The great cost of stigma isn’t depression, it is the suppression of the energy of a beating heart.

Or, at least that’s my theory this morning.

Suffering & Pâté

When I was 17, I had a card printed up at MIT LSC (I consider MIT to be the ancestral home of the TLA.)

Sure, we are all born to suffer and die,” it said.

But before you go, try the pâté.  It’s wonderful.

Sure, when I was 17 all my mates were going through an existential period, with Sartre being the rage.  My generation had A-Bomb drills and were dying in Vietnam, after all.  But I was more compelled by Dos Passos’ USA trilogy, sweeping history collage with a pessimistic bent.

I don’t think we will ever know which came first, God or suffering.

Did God create humans to suffer & die, or did humans create God to contextualize suffering & death?

I don’t know.

I do know, however, that I need something to contextualize my own suffering.

I struggle every morning just getting up and getting dressed in a way that I don’t think most normies can understand.  What do I have to swallow today, what comfort must be denied so that other comforts can be obtained?

It may well be a common thread among all humans, but for me, suffering is always there when I look at my wardrobe choices.

Apparently, I understood this quite early, even if I couldn’t elucidate it in such extended length.

Struggle is what humans do.

And in the end, joy, Eros, is what makes the struggle worth it, what ever we are passionate about.

Sure, maybe it’s best to look for constructive long term delights rather than destructive short term ones, but transcendence is required.

Apparently, I knew at 17 that a key to a good life was finding the good pâté, whatever that means to you.

Why didn’t I trust that knowledge and make that quest?

Well, I’m still writing.  I guess, in a slow and roundabout way, I’m still on that quest now, all these decades later.

Moving Beyond Fetishism

At the RHI forum, Ari Lev asked Dr. Larry Nuttbrock to do a review of his paper on Transvestitic Fetishism.   Since it goes back and asks the questions that Blanchard wanted to answer against the data set of The Transgender Project, Nuttbrock had to go through and review Blanchard’s paper, expecially noting Blanchard’s nomenclature — autogynephilia vs transvestitic fetishism, homosexual vs androphylic (male loving), heterosexual vs gynophilic (woman loving) — and Blanchard’s lack of disclosure about race and class of the participants in his data set.

In the end, Nuttbrock revealed that Blanchard’s conclusion, that all you really needed to know about a transgender male was if they were homosexual or heterosexual to know their motivation, did not hold up under when asked against the more detailed data sex.  Specifically, there was some aging out – people got past fetishism — and bisexuals really messed with the simplicity (don’t they always!?)

It made me wonder if acceptance of bisexuality is a key in the maturation of transgender women (transgender males) who move beyond transvestitic fetishism (autogynephilia).

As long as one holds to classic patterns of desire — in my words, as long as one avoids “desire shift” — then those patterns persist.  Maybe It is only when one moves beyond binary attraction that one can move beyond the binary.

I have long asserted that all transpeople are at least politically bisexual, even if they don’t hold an equal attraction to both sexes, because we ask our partners to love all of us, beyond simple biology or history.

I know that a big marker in my emergence was when I clearly started identifying with women characters in stories, engaging their (fictional) relationships with men.

Do we have to let men into our lives in a new way to own our own womanhood?

Is it only when we get over desiring an image and move to desire on a different level that we can move beyond our initial fetishing of the feminine and into owning it?

I suspect that it is, but I don’t have the data.

The Cost Of Breaking Trannies

Larry Nuttbrock came up last night and talked about his paper on the long term costs of trying to break transpeople, specifically the costs of major depression and suicidality.

He didn’t call it, that, of course.  The paper is called “Psychiatric Impact of Gender-Related Abuse Across The Life Course Of Male-To-Female Transgender Persons.”   He shows a statistical correlation and maybe causation between suicidality & major depression in later life and abuse in earlier life.   In other words, he gives numbers to be used as tools for professionals to get grants to address this shit.

I listened to him, and I watched the twenty five or so transpeople in the room, the ones who stayed after the students snuck out at 9; apparently starting late was a bad idea as well as being disrespectful to the audience.

As I listened, though, to the quantification of abuse required to do statistical analysis, I thought about differences in abuse between classes.  One of the papers offered reported that out of the over 500 respondents, around 50% of the black and hispanic/latina were HIV positive at their first interview, less that 5% of the caucasian respondents were.   This may be a race thing, but I suspect it is more a class thing, as in this country, class and race have a high correlation.  There are middle and upper class people of color, of course, and lower class caucasian people, but they often get erased by statistical methods as outliers.

That trans-paradox that Nuttbrock talks about, being both vulnerable and resilant, probably comes from him only talking to survivors, those who have made a bubble for themselves in the world.   That’s always the problem with statistics; they are always reductive, starting with the questions asked, continuing to the selection of the sample, right through the interpreting of the results.  They may give insight into a population, but they can never be rehydrated to inform us about any specific individual, and most especially on who slipped through the screen of the sample, or even through the screen of the survey.

But I also know that the medical policy world needs numbers to justify resource allocation, so I am glad people like Mona Mason and Larry Nuttbrock are working so hard to get them, even if numbers without narratives seem wispy to me.

It’s hard, though, to quantify abuse.  The way many middle-class caucasians learn to keep peace in the family is by teaching the principles of self-abuse.  I don’t mean mastrubation, of course, but rather that internalized self-policing, so often based in internalized self-loathing, that gives us an internal zap whenever we do anything that might be, well, queer.  We learn to keep our choices “appropriate,” circumscribed, sealed.

I know that my abuse is mostly self-abuse.  I have been turned into my own jailer, my own dastardly inquisitor.  Preemptive abuse to avoid making waves and rocking the boat.  In my case, and I suspect in the case of many others, being broken isn’t a one time thing, rather it is a process set in motion, a worm released, a pounding unleashed, that continues deep in the core of so many of us.  Even if we do tend to rise above it, it still exists at our core, eating away at us, making us hold back, mistrust and wait for the third gotcha.

I don’t know the cost of breaking trannys in any statistical way.  But I do know the cost of breaking trannys in a personal way, in my heart and in the stories of many of those there last night that I know well.  I know how broken they still are.

Will the future be better?  Ari Lev says she is scared to see so many therapists willing to help but without knowledge, and her heart is broken when she is asked to help another 16 year old who got testosterone without anyone around them understanding the costs or rammifications of that choice.  We may want to be nice now, but without knowledge or understanding of the lifetime challenge of living a gendered life in a gendered world, it is not simple at all.

The cost of breaking trannys, well, it’s broken trannys.

What does a grown-up transperson look like anyway?

Such a struggle.

Love It

I was at a meeting of independant film makers.

A nice grown-up woman saw me standing alone — I had nothing to sell — and came over to welcome me.

“So, why are you here?  Are you an actor, ummm, actress?”

Sweet of her to change, even though most women these days prefer “actor.”

I told her I was a writer, never before imagining I could be pretty enough to be an actress, though I did know transwomen who did believe they could be an actress, and the stories I heard about one “deluded transsexual” were enough to keep me from ever considering emerging.  Ah, Jennifer, I am so happy you were wrong and I turned out nothing like you.

What I did notice on the nice woman, though, was her burgundy Persian Lamb coat.    You don’t see many Persian Lamb coats anymore, and even more rarely in a deep Merlot color.

I bet she loved that coat.  And since she had no challenges with trying to hide any part of who she was, she could take what she loved and wear it on her back, all winter.

Transwomen know that while people who went though puberty as female can wear something odd and it will just look individual, we can wear something odd and have it take away our hard earned gender, reducing us to being defined by our birth genitals.

We end up not wearing what we love, rather we wear what will help us blend in.  So sad.

I don’t think this is just a problem for transwomen, though.  Geneen Roth talks about wearing her beaded silk butterfly blouse to the market, and how many other women were astounded she would do it.  Geneen’s message, though, was simple: you only have one life to shine in, so why the hell should you stay boring just to avoid being seen?

I’m sitting here in my shaman weeds, the sparkly long skirt, heeled boots, low cut top, magical jewelery, long hair, eyelashes and glitter.  There is a trans event tonight, and my parents are back soon, so if I am every going to have a chance to wear my work clothes, this is the time.

Will people turn their heads?  Hell yeah, they will.  But if we can’t be visible at a panel on transwomen, can we ever be visible?

I know, I know.  Many don’t want to be visible, to be marked as “other.”  Some even think that the best way they can not be marked is to silence all people who might talk about the experience of otherness, or queerness as I might call it.   They just want to get a sex change and move on with their normative life.

I’d love a sex change too, but I long ago understood that hormones and plastic surgery, even on my genitals, does not a sex change make.  That stuff may facilitate gender shift, desire shift and power shift, but in and of itself it does nothing.

Until then, the best I can do is invoke my own beauty by invoking what I love.    Tell me who or what you love, and I will know who you are, as Kate Bornstein is so fond of quoting.    If I love rich Persian Lamb or gold or stones, well, I love them.  If I love making dinner and doting on family, well I love that.     If I get to indulge in what I love, I get to both express myself and grow myself as a human, as an individual walking on this world we share, rather than just holdng to whatever a group identity might ask of me.

I get to love it, whatever it is.

And I give you permission to love whatever you love too, if that is any help to you.   Sing your own song, do your own work, follow your own heart, and love it.

Love it.

Fighting In Heels

Women fight.

Women fight for their families, women fight for right, women fight for their own status, women fight for change, women even fight for fun.

This is a world of struggle, and that means we all fight, no matter how pretty we look.

In fact, being pretty is often a weapon women use in fighting.

I went to my first trans conference in 1993 and at my first panel, “Are you TV, TG or TS?” I asked the question: “Men and women take power in different ways; for example men often puff up and women often connect with others.  That means gender shift is also power shift.  How have you shifted the way that you take power in the world?

The three panelists, a TS who was there when I first came out, a TG who I was close to for a decade, and a TV who turned out to be TBB, all answered the question.

Power shifing, in the end, hasn’t turned out to be at all simple.   Fighting requires trusting your footing, and trusting that the ground you walk on while you pass as transsexual is always a challenge; the third gotcha.

Like any shift, power shifting requires the three parts, construction, deconstruction and conscious reconstruction.  We have to remove our old shell, the one we built without thinking, and get naked, so we can again feel ourself without carapace, and then rebuild a new set of fighting tools that meet the new requirements.   This is so easy an area for transsexuals to fail, keeping the old defenses, which are usually offenses, tools that are more appropriate for a man than for a woman.   I saw too many transsexuals who became even more growly when they dressed as women for me to be sanguine about the efforts of such a surface change.

And, like everything about change, we never have to deal with just one thing.  For me, a family resistance to confrontation is something I always have to be aware of, especially as I am still so bloody connected with my mother, father and sister.  For different reasons, fighting is to be avoided in this family, and that is a challenge, not the least of which is because as a manager I long ago learned that people who will not fight with you also will not fight for you.

My fights are cerebral.   I fight for meaning, always searching for what lies beneath.

But fighting in the bigger world, with my head up?   Challenging.  I try to be gracious and not in-your-face, and that means too often I don’t stand up for myself.

That doesn’t mean, though, that I am not good at fighting.

We transpeople always go through a process choosing a name, trying to find something perfect.  And then we get surprised.   I chose Callan as gender neutral and pretty, and then I found out it that in celtic, it is the feminine for powerful in battle.  The diminutive semed to be Callie, but that is often taken as Cali, a name for the Hindu goddess of time and change.  Oy.

And my history has fighting in it, though with a sharp mind and sharp tongue.

Yesterday was hard.  A woman in a bug cut me off twice in a parking lot, and seemed to be happy she had won the race, even by being rude and dangerous.  A fellow in a convienece store wanted to rip me off.   And worse, the new front brakes on the Volvo were destroyed because the fellow who repaired them left a bad hose; $500 right there.  And there are other confrontations to make, fron a DOA hard drive to a huge mess.

I need to confront these challenges, need to get in and fight for what I need, for what I want, for what is right.   It is all well and good to detach, but to make change and make life, attachment is required.   And that attachment may even be to vulnerability and connection in the cause of change.

And, it would be most best if I can do that fight in heels.

Invisible & Unrepresented

Watched the self-aggrandizing farewell documentary for The L Word.

“Such a breakthrough for visibility and representation, and the way we made television about lesbians was nothing less than astounding.”

And Max was touted as the first regular transsexual character ever.  Yeah, well, I understand why Ms. Sea didn’t want to actually have to transition, but that kept trans representation very marginalized, down to the wacko season six pregnancy plot.

What I saw, though, was women who came together to make something they thought was good and valuable and accessible.

And then I rack my brain for examples where transpeople who come together to create something good and valuable and accessible.  And beyond some conferences and lobbying groups, well, I just don’t see it.

I have been looking at transpeople these last months, and the more I see, the more I really get, deep down in my synapses, that getting past it enough to understand and value other transpeople who make choices you would never make for yourself is really, really, really hard.

Transpeople are where they are, and they are all struggling against one stigma limit or another, one chip or one boulder or one darkness, and that limit becomes the center of their own myopia, the focus they churn against so hard.   We think we open up so far, and then we just find another challenge were we have to squeeze though, keep our head down, not make waves, try to breathe, just make a life.   There doesn’t seem to be any open pasture to be trans and free, rather we have to keep going into different passages where some part or another of us has to be left behind or shrunken down or silenced just to get to what we need.

To me, this is the trans experience, this move from cell to cell, from closet to closet.  Because there is no place where trans is just natural and understood, we keep having to educate or insulate, to help others or lock ourselves down.   I know this is hard, and I know why even transsexual women find it challenging,  even if their imagining that somehow it’s the transgenders who sneak into their bedrooms and mark their foreheads with a big red T every night are the problem, not a society that doesn’t have any idea how to make room for the idea that we are our indvidual choices, not just the outgrowth of our genitals.

There is an old aphorism that wonders why the in-fighting in academia is so fierce.  The offered answer is that the fighting is fierce because the rewards are so small.    It’s not like business where you make your own rewards, rather you fight for a share of a tiny pie.

There almost no benefits in identifying as transgender, so few, indeed, that maybe the only real one is visibility.  Is there any wonder why so many fight so hard to define trans as whatever they take it to mean, trying to hold onto the visibility for themselves and not for those who challenge them?   We have so little representation that every crumb counts, and rather than working to expand that representation, a real hard task from inside the box we feel we have to be in to get what we need, we snipe at those who do speak up and speak out.

Why don’t we come together to make something good and valuable and accessible?

It starts, I think with the incredible difficulty of affirming someone else who makes choices you never would make for yourself.  In a potential sex partner those different choices may be titillating and exciting, but in a mirror those different choices are often frustrating and infuriating.  We are working so hard to be seen and affirmed that different choices can easily make us feel trivialized, mocked and dismissed.

Until we can get to affirmation and comfort in our own expression of who we are, until we can become mature and confident, then we will always have trouble affirming diversity and seeing the beauty in difference.  And as long as we struggle from cell to cell, closet to closet, pocket to pocket, we cannot be mature and confident.

I know how hard it is trying to get to a safe space.

I heard this week about a butch woman who owns a bar and enforces genital purity in her rest rooms, demanding an examination of suspect trannies for the results of surgery.  It reminds me that it is always the gender variant gay and lesbian people who are the most viligant inforces of gender purity, because they want to make sure that no matter how swish they are they cannot slip out of man, no matter how butch, they cannot slip out of woman.

And I talked to a woman who wondered why I didn’t become a butch lesbian rather than a femme lesbian, since it would fit my body better and be hotter, at least to her.  Did she choose to be a femme lesbian?  Why didn’t she decide to be a straight woman, since it would fit her body better, and give her much more opportunity for partners.

As long as trans identification is always open to question and challenge by heterosexism, including the heterosexim of homosexuals, who may even need clear sex/gender boundaries enforced more than straights, how do we find the space?

And as long as there is no space, where can we come together to make something we feel is good and valuable and accessible.

I despair.

But maybe that’s just because I am old.

After all, that’s why I though The L Word was defined by the plotlines: ludicrous.

B-B-B-B-B-Big

TBB felt the need to remind me of the duality that is really hard for people to get their arms around with her.

They see her come into the room, big and beautiful, blonde and boisterous, breathaking and brilliant, and they can’t imagine that there is any way for her to be small.   They can’t see the scared little girl inside, the one who needs affirmation and love, even though TBB feels her acutely in her heart’s pain.

It’s not how you can be both man and woman, both not-man and not-woman, that pulls at us.  That’s easy.  It’s how you can be both big and small, both tough and tender, both healer and wounded that is the most challenging duality for us in this world.

We speak for enlightenment and empowerment, and people find that challenging.  They assume that we can’t know anything of being hurt and crippled, of being crushed and deflated, of being abused and oppressed, beause we are big and speaking power.  If we did understand their pain, wouldn’t we be speaking like them, weaker and more empathetic?

But we speak the words we need to hear, and we need to hear them because we feel the lack of them so strongly.  This is always the result of the hero’s journey; we know the trials, and we know what we need to face them.  We have the gift of enlightenment to return, but if the world wanted that gift, they would already have it, and so we are scorned for it, rejected for it, silenced for it.

Who heals the healers?  For me, it is the constant question.  I know how to take care of others, but there are very few who know how to take care of me.  My sister sent me to Kripalu to learn that I had something valuable to share with others, but she neglected to understand that they weren’t yet ready to share with me.  It may seem that others have nothing I need, but the assumption that because I can do things that are hard for them then I must be able to do things that are easy for them, well, wrong.  Everyone can whistle; why can’t I?

I get the notion that I am a beacon, that I have energy.

But I also know that I am a battered hulk, that I have pain.

I won’t act crippled to gain connection.  My own knowledge will shine through anyway.  But I know that knowledge comes from a journey, a lonely and trying journey that is now etched onto my soul.

The duality I want you to get is this: we are all divine, we are all human.   We are all transcendant, we are all flesh.  We are all connected, we are all alone.

To me, that means I could use a good cuddle, a big smile, and some loving attention.

But that doesn’t mean I am going to swallow my own knowledge to get it.

Boners

I think when Marci did my surgery,
she took out my funny bone
because I don’t find anything funny anymore.

Well, that’s not completely true.

TBB, 7 March, 2009

When we did the VP Awards at IFGE 1998 Toronto, TBB played a wild crossdresser, and I played a transsexual woman whose consciousness raising group had decided I should be earnest from now on, not be funny anymore, not be one of The Drama Queens.

Luckily, there, an audience, a giant TV screen and a spotlight loosened us both up quickly and we went on to be funny.

Now both of us feel like we have to keep our heads down, and that’s not good, as I realized coming out of the highway rest are men’s room last night.  TBB doesn’t understand why, but I found it hilarious that I was trying so hard to keep my head down and still screwed up.  I’m not the first woman to make that mistake, won’t be the last, and with a laugh I survived it.

More laughter, please.

Heart Failure

I can’t tell you how my heart breaks when I feel like I screwed up.

I was on the phone to my parents when my sister called.  I had to do a quick juggle to pick it up, and left my mother on the other speaker while my sister talked about some family issues.

Hadn’t been planning to tell parents.  I failed her in her promise to keep a secret.  And she “Hates It When I Do That.”

I feel like shit, deflated, on the ground, runny and smelly.

My first plan was just to die, hang up on both of them and take the pain.  But I did the right thing and stayed on long enough to sort it, down to telling my father; my mother couldn’t keep it from him.

But I feel like shit.

I know all the caveats.  Sister didn’t start with a disclaimer, only ended with it.  I need to fill content to parents, who haul me back to shit twice a day anyway. Keeping secrets is an odd thing anyway.

It may be a small thing in the longer term context, but right now my heart feels flattened, deflated, torn up.

And that takes my energy away in a way that just cripples me.

It’s my response to my family, my response to being caught between, my response trained from years of trying to satisfy them and failing.

I am the black sheep, the target patient.  I take the slams.   I do screw up, of course, but without the air of successes, all I live is failure.

And my heart goes splot, squeezed and hurting, stuck in loss and dysphoria.

I don’t want to kick back, don’t want to find reasons they failed.

I failed.   And I never succeed, not in any context.

My sister bought my parents a book, When Our Grown Children Disappoint Us.

I am the disappointment.   No time to enter my world, just time to fail in theirs.

Bad, heart smashing magic.

Owwwwwwwwch.

Move On

If everything is about you
move on.

If you see blame in everyone else
move on.

If you believe yourself incapable of transcending your circumstances
move on.

If when you get upset, you believe someone set out to hurt you
move on.

If you demand someone else fix your life and are constantly disappointed
move on.

If you are so self centered you can’t see through someone else’s eyes
move on.

If you deny compassion to others until you get enough compassion to satisfy you
move on.

If you act out your pain and rage against others because they deserve it
move on.

If you are always looking for a villain who fucked up your life
move on.

If you can’t come to peace with your creation because you were screwed from the start
move on.

If gratitude is incomprehensible in the face of your personal oppression
move on.

If you can’t take responsibility for your own choices
move on.

If your life is crumbling around you and you just keep making excuses
move on.

If you assume that what anyone else does
move on.

If you are addicted, even to your 0wn pain and misery
move on.

If you threaten to hurt yourself if others don’t help in the way you want
move on.

If you routinely self-prescribe chemicals to make you feel better
move on.

If you live with ghosts because humans are too challenging
move on.

If you lock yourself away and complain no one is your friend
move on.

If you know steps you could take but fear keeps you from them
move on.

If you could smile, but instead you scowl
move on.

If you dismiss the positive affirmations you get to reaffirm your own victimhood
move on.

If you paint your windows black and then complain about the view
move on.

If you look for the sour instead of the sweet
move on.

If you slap those who try and help you
move on.

If you lash out at anyone who asks you to take responsibility
move on.

If you can’t imagine what might ever make you happy
move on.

If you can’t imagine that you can ever be loving or lovable
move on.

If you think your allies have to agree with you and not just affirm your choices
move on.

If you think the golden rule applies to the strong and not to victims like you
move on.

If you think that your creation is a cruel joke
move on.

If you think that your suffering is special and unique
move on.

Girlfriends

We had just come out of the local G&L center into a cold February night, and I needed to put on my coat.

I held out my purse for my companion, a transwoman around my age who has been out for a year or so, to hold.

She didn’t take it.

Holding your friend’s purse, one of the most basic courtesies of a woman connection, was just something she hasn’t learned yet.

I explained, and she happily held my purse as I pulled on my trench coat.

It occurs to me, as I am sure it has occurred to at least a few readers of this blog, that one key thing that is missing in my life is girlfriends.

Women like to travel in pairs or in groups, for conversation, for convenience, for safety, for empowerment.  There is more laughter, more support, more feedback.

I remember DeLane Matthews, who played the Beth Barry on Dave’s World, talking about heir haircut for the first season.  “The producers told me it looked like a mother’s hair.  I thought it looked like this woman didn’t have a girlfriend to tell her, ‘Honey, you need to go blond!'”

Women depend on other women to keep them connected.

And me, well, that’s missing.  Somehow a pal in on a ship in the Pacific and a brilliant Tarot queen downstate aren’t really enough.

Now, I’m not the only woman in my family who has challenges with girlfriends.  My mother doesn’t have any local girlfriends, and never really has.  And my sister has just a few that she has very limited time with whom to connect.

But not having local girlfriends to keep me connected, to keep me moving, to keep me checked, well, that really is where the loneliness and loss come to roost.  I know that I don’t have a family tradition of connection, I don’t have a history of being with girlfriends, I don’t have many venues to meet new friends, and most of all, I need post-therapy grown-up women to connect with.  I know how to help others, sure, but you can’t really relax and feel safe when you are always doing training, even training in simple things, like the obligation to hold your friend’s purse when asked.

I need girlfriends.

And that seems pretty well impossible.