Attraction Fraction

There are days when I really wish I could believe in the “Law of Attraction,” the idea that simply wishing for and visualizing things can draw them into our life.

There is some truth encapsulated in that notion, of course.   If we don’t believe we are worthy, don’t trust in our own grace, we will have problems accepting what is offered to us, missing possibilities that those who trust in their own attractiveness will easily grasp.  It is very much true that those who are confident and open about their own shining attraction will be seen as more attractive than the skittish, defended and avoidant.

A pretty woman can play ugly but an unattractive woman will have trouble playing pretty goes one old casting saw.   Someone who is confident in her own beauty can show her insecurity and mousiness but one who never felt attractive has much more of a challenge finding her own inner vixen.

Every woman knows her flaws, having them mirrored to her by a judgmental and compeditive culture.   This is one reason the “put-down” pickup technique often works, where a woman is challenged by a man who appears to not be struck by her beauty.

Not every woman knows her glories, though.   The mirrors are shattered and warped for those women who don’t fit conventional expectations, those who are marked out by not fitting the images of beauty all over the media.  We live in a world where trolls all across the internet feel entitled to slam those that they don’t find appealing with whatever horrible put downs that they can muster, cruelly judging women on appearance alone even as they never question the value of their own looks.

“You are the fat girl!” I was told as I posed in a vintage Corvette at a photo shoot in the 1990s.  “You need to smile!  You need to look jolly!”  When the editor of IFGE Tapestry wanted a picture of me, she turned to a premier photographer who attended trans conferences.   She quickly called me back, saying “We will go with an illustration,” acknowledging that my big frame just was never pretty enough to catch the eye of Mariette.

“The only way I will be with a man is if he sees me as a woman,” I told a gay guy at a bar.  “That’s never going to happen!” he responded.  “Okay, then, it’s never going to happen,” I accepted.  One reason I have been abstinent for so long is a refusal to play into the roles my body typecasts me into.   I can’t be intimate with anyone who doesn’t see and reflect my big and beautiful heart.

That’s why the law of attraction is so ephemeral for me.   I know that most can’t see beyond my body and my history, most cast me into roles that they understand and that keep me separate, rather than opening up intimate pathways.   I’m smart, sharp and loud, yes, but because that comes from bits that went through puberty as male, my tender heart tends to get trounced in the interactions.

A lifetime of interactions, added to the truth that aging tends to move us away from any ideal of desire, shapes the expectations I have around attraction.   Few women see themselves as getting more attractive as they get older; a realistic viewpoint.

To be a more public person, though, requires me to trust in some level of my own attractiveness.   If I show myself, put myself out there, what will people see?   Look at me! See my heart! Don’t look at me! Don’t see my assignments!  I knew the issue twenty some-odd years ago. How has it changed now?   How can I change now?

I need the social connection that attraction can deliver, but I have learned not to trust my own image.   People are happy when I take care of them, but being present for me is more than they are ready or willing to handle.   I am not a beautiful flower but a big bull, ready for work but not for admiration.  No one was ever wrapped around my little finger, smitten by my fragile beauty, desperately wanting more of my glamour.

Always depending on the kindness of others leads one to a limited life.   Accepting the gifts — the miracles — of the life you have is more important than imagining what you want and finding ways to try and get it.   Learning to do the work of growth, change and healing is vital, and not just when the bloom is off the rose and you are no longer the flavour of the month.  It is easy to lose yourself in who others want you to be, in creating what they find attractive rather than what you know to be authentic, and that can lead to the loss of inner comfort and awareness.

It’s the balance that counts, and while for many women, learning to find themselves apart is hard, for women like me, learning to find myself connected has always been the challenge.  I had to be a strong self from earliest days when even my family cast me out as “stupid,”  so never learned to be a strong link, part of the network of women.

Attraction for me is not about finding something sexual, it is about connecting with something powerful.  Olympia Dukakis says that when she met a transsexual woman prior to playing Anna Madrigal in “Tales Of The City” she was most surprised when she asked why they had gone through all of the changes.  “I needed the company of women,” was the answer, which was both surprising and sensible to Ms. Dukakis, who knew that her power came from being part of the web of women in the world.

My mother in the sky finds me brilliant and gorgeous, I am certain of that.  My mother in this life, though, never did.   Too many have expressed their own odd attraction to me, seeing me as fire, both fascinating & illuminating while being terrifying & isolating at the same time.

There are days when I really wish I could believe in the “Law of Attraction”  but then I flick through the way I have been mirrored in the world, the way people like me continue to be mirrored in the world, and somehow, my faith quickly fades.


Salvation’s End

I believed that rationality would save me.

What else possibly could?

I was growing up in a house where my mother’s intense internalized trauma of growing up with Aspergers got sprayed over everything and everyone, where every moment threatened another explosion, another erasure, another lashing out in search of a scapegoat who must be the one who stole her normality and happiness.

She had chosen my father at a new year’s eve party when she saw his iron ring, a signature of engineers in Canada.   He brought a kind of rationality that didn’t demand the emotional involvement that other men demanded, a kind logical problem solving approach that would enable him to focus on taking care of her with no messy needs of his own.

Between the flailing, pained emotionality of my mother and the withdrawn thinking of my father, I had to find a way out of the challenges that faced me in the family, the home, the neighbourhood.

I believed that rationality would save me.

I could think my way out, moving beyond mess to clear & sharp understanding.

That choice has been my blessing and my curse.

Neel Burton has a new book out, “Hypersanity: Thinking Beyond Thinking.”   It is a direct response to his last book, “Hide and Seek: The Psychology of Self-Deception” as he found that there were those in the world who strove to purge themselves of self-deception,  learning to think out of the box, and that those people find both benefits and costs from moving beyond convention.

Both mental disorder and hyper-sanity place us outside society,”  Burton wrote in 2016.   Both shatter the self-deception that most use to hold themselves together, the shielding and shedding through latent inhibition used to hold onto the conventions of sanity.   “By protecting us from fearsome truths, ego defences not only blind us to those truths and so to reality, but also confuse and constrict our thinking.

The truth around me, no matter how fearsome, was not manageable by blindness.   I didn’t understand how rare my concept forming survival strategies were, though I did understand that most people “didn’t get the joke,” weren’t able to understand and mirror me.

Others, I also knew, weren’t as excited to see the world from another perspective, to go around corners and find new ways of understanding our shared world.  Not wanting their beliefs and feelings to be challenged, they tended to cling to the known and comfortable instead of opening up to connections, mental and otherwise.   Quick, fluid, deep thinking isn’t easy for those not taught the habits of analysis and understanding.  Seeing things as we expect them to be is so much easier and assuring of current comforting correctness, so for many rejection of challenge as “noise” becomes second nature.

It is not sick to be sick of sickness.   I knew my choices were limited as a queer/trans person, as a child in my family, as someone who could see clearly.  I knew that I had to trust rationality to save me.   In a world that values assimilation over sanity, though, that rationality also has the power to destroy me.   I know what it is to be seen as a “too person” — too smart, too sharp, too intense, too queer, too overwhelming.

The idea that rationality exists in opposition to feeling, that it mostly serves as a way to impose structure on the world, winning by forcing it into your own framework is held by those who seek control rather than understanding.   To me, rationality is a gateway into understanding natural complexity, even the beautiful complexity of my own soul.

Seeking the connections between stories lets me identify deeper patterns, the truth that can often be lost in as we rationalize difference or try to impose arbitrary structures.   Living in the chaos made me understand it, and while I tried to control it by manipulating those around me, it was not until I let go of those behaviours that I could finally embrace messy humanity with all the passions, needs, desires and brilliance.

Rationality, though, is one of the most effective ways to identify and challenge rationalizations, those mental mods we build to try and justify our choices and beliefs.  This has always made me seem dangerous to those trying desperately to stay in place even while it makes me compelling to those who seek healing.   Too many have wanted me to use my rationality to challenge what challenges them without challenging their own assertions, but questioning just doesn’t work like that.   It is always our assumptions which have to stand the test first if we really want to get to clear thinking.

To question our rationalizations is to question the fundamentals of our own identity.   If we aren’t the notions that we use to inform our choices, then who are we?   If the ground we stand on is shifting, what can we trust as a foundation for our claims, our beliefs, our truth?

For me, going deep into connection is the only way to find a bit of bedrock, but the willingness — no, the absolute need — to always be questioning, ready to doubt, makes it very hard to assert ego in the world.    I may have found some fundamentals but I know they will be dismissed by anyone who finds them threatening to their identity props and I have no simple conventions to back up my hard earned wisdom, only the way it has helped me understand my surroundings.

I believed that rationality would save me and it has.

I learned early, though, from a mother that gave me the family nickname of “Stupid” that my questions would also isolate me and keep me lonely.  This pattern has continued, wearing me down and wasting me out.

Does this make me “hyper-sane?”   I’m not quite ready to embrace that moniker; I still have a few questions to work through.

And that, I know after all these decades, makes me me.

Frayed Bootstraps

3) The hardest thing about trans is doing it alone.

How many times can you perform the trick of lifting yourself up with your own bootstraps before they just get too frayed to hold you?

When you get abject, marginalized, oppressed people together for mirroring and support one of the big challenges is to get them to affirm the choices others make that they would never make for themselves.

Their own choices are supported by a carefully understood and constructed rationale that keeps them inside of the line, keeps them within the range of approval, and identifies others as too far out, too boundary breaking, too arbitrary, too erotic, too queer.

“Sure, I stuff gerbils up my butt, which is normal, but he stuffs guinea pigs up his, which is just sick!” as I used to put it in the 1990s.

When disapproval, dis-empowerment and dehumanization is at stake, it can feel safe to be on the side of stigma, staying inside what you can rationalize as normative while throwing out those who make choices which squick and scare you.   That may mean being too weird or being too assimilated, standing outside of what you see as group values in any visible way.

I know that someone owns their own journey, become positive rather than reactionary, when they can finally say “I would never make that choice for myself, but it looks very good on you!”

These internalized judgments, based on our own social beliefs and personal self-policing, are easily hidden just under the surface, ready to be triggered at any time.   We strike out at others at things that we fight to keep immersed in ourselves, ready to attack what we fear rather than having to face it with grace & healing.

If we can’t trust those who are much more normative to support our choices when they feel fear, disgust or intensity, and we are pretty well guaranteed to get pushback from those who are struggling with the same impulses & needs, where can we find the kind of support we need to emerge beyond history and biology?

We can only trust ourselves. Even then, though, we can’t trust everything; we know that we need to keep aware of those who are triggered by our choices, staying safe and connected by active self-policing.   So very much to remember, so very much of a burden.

3) The hardest thing about trans is doing it alone.

We are expected to lift ourselves up by our own bootstraps, not only pulling hard but doing it while we show a happy, integrated façade to others so that our sweat and fear won’t upset them.   Showing strain asks them to participate in the magic of transformation while they just want to be amazed & soothed.

Does that sound like a recipe for failure?   It is supposed to be, of course.   The stigmatized are supposed to be pushed to the margins and broken so that others who might think about following them get the message and decide instead to follow the “straight and narrow path” towards social normativity.   Fit in or pay the price is the message that keeps the status quo enforced.

Somehow, it’s always much easier to pay attention to those who loudly attack what we hold dear, even at the cold distance of news reports, than to find people ready to understand and support us, or even trust the majority who are mostly neutral, much more concerned with their own issues than with ours.   Threats are much easier to be aware of than the banal neutrality which can conceal unpleasant surprises.

Most people, who live in a cluster of like minded friends, know that when they are attacked their group is attacked so they have someone to watch their back.   For transpeople, though, travelling the road alone, we don’t have that comfort.   Worse, we know that any challenge we offer will easily be dismissed by threatening our standing to speak, every word mocked as a lame excuse that cannot touch the fundamental belief structures and feelings of discomfort held by those who seek to cast us out as sick.

Still, alone we go in the world, without even people to tell us when a label is showing or we have lipstick on our teeth.

3) The hardest thing about trans is doing it alone.

I know how to lift myself up by my own bootstraps, no matter how impossible that task may actually be.  I have done it many times.   I can still do it for moments, falling back and struggling to recover after the effort.

Going through and doing the work to grow & heal is something I have done all my life.   My authority and words show that my choices are the stuff of serious consideration and struggle.

Still, I am alone.  “The Loneliness Of A Long-Lost Tranny,” as the tagline of this blog has read since I started it 14 years ago.

I don’t see any way to change that, either.  My questioning journey may have taken me to places I needed to go, through the hells that blocked my healing (1996), but it has also taken me far away from the banalities of everyday smalltalk.  It has made my references almost incomprehensible, my contexts most off-putting and my questions most challenging.

3) The hardest thing about trans is doing it alone.

A lifetime of loneliness, starting with my isolation from parents who had almost no theory of mind, no way to understand and enter other worlds, and continuing through queerness and theology, well, once you learn to live there, it becomes a well worn habit, enforced by a society that can’t accept the gifts you have to offer without becoming new & open.

My bootstraps are quite frayed, so every time I grab them to pull myself up one more time, straining for the magic just makes me quite exhausted.

Hard.   Yes, hard.


What do I fear?

Over the years, I have learned to deal with lots of challenges.   Even back at MIT, a challenger of mine acknowledged that while I made more noise than most, I also did more work than most, which earned their respect.  In many situations when I had someone to fight for and someone to fight with me, I waded right in, taking the hits, doing what was needed, and pushing well past comfort & ease.

This work, though, always came with a cost.   The requirement is to put my feelings in the background, to divert power to the brain, and not get stopped by any sense of emotional need or desire.   I need to stay chill, playing the concierge role, and leading with my head.

As a woman, though, especially as someone not seen as a woman by most who read my body before my heart, a lifetime of cold denial has not helped me grow roots, blossom and trust my feminine power.

I have learned, though, to be safe with myself, to cut off the outside world in a hermetic fashion, so I can create a place where I can just be me, not having to toughen up, being as melty as I can manage alone.

Is being melty alone very satisfying?   Well, no, not really.   Vulnerability is much more comforting when someone else hears you, understands you, and wraps you with their caring.   Tenderness and emotional availability can work wonders, or so I hear; it really hasn’t been part of my relationship experience.

What I fear, you see, is that dreaded choice that happens when I feel emotions in the wider world with no means of support.   Do I have to harden again, or do I just start sobbing in the car, needing to hide and get the stress off my aging, tender skin?

The challenge of engaging unhealed people, individuals who haven’t done the work to own their own feelings and make considered choices, is not new to me.   I know what it feels like to be targeted by someone who needs to act out their unresolved issues and I know how some want you to help through magically giving them answers, remotely doing the healing they find daunting, onerous and terrifying.   The notion that I am responsible for the feelings I trigger in others, that I have some responsibility to reply to their concerns and to change for their comfort, well, that is a challenge a melty person will tend to avoid.

The most difficult thing about trans is negotiating others fears.

In a lifetime where I was never safe being melty, even as a toddler, someone who needs caring and being put high on the priority list, being out and about for too long without somewhere to retreat into myself and melt, well, that just feels like a burden too big to bear.

Engaging a bigger world would be easier, I suspect, if I had a better way to recover in my little world, some safety, some warmth, some understanding, some encouragement, some tenderness, but while I have learned to give these things to others, I haven’t found much of it for myself.

Most hits are not fatal.   With some brains and some work, you can recover from them.   Making smart choices helps give a sense of agency, of control, of power.   The only time you really fail is the last time that you try, as giving up is giving in.

I know all of this.   The reason that I should be more active in my own life is clear to me.

Oh, but the cost of lifting up my heart to embrace that burden, the price of having to take the hits & keep going when you just want to melt, just need to melt.  Oh. It scares the crap into me.

Good things can happen if I get out into the world.   People can see me and like me, bits of attraction kicking in.   I can feel the affirming energy and power as I connect, my voice being mirrored, my energy flowing.  Bits of what I desire can come back to me, tiny delights.

And, of course, I can be present for the divine surprises of life, those moments when you get what you never expected or even imagined, when the universe reaches in and touches your mind and your heart, opening you up and reminding you of the awe and beauty we are each heir to.

I know what  I fear, the meltdown that leaves me gasping, demanding healing time that just puts me off-line, crumpled and crushed.

Yet I also know that fear is a barrier to love coming into my life, the love of learning, the love of succeeding, the love of being seen, the love of being loved.

The experience of having to attenuate myself to keep others comfortable is an exercise of the mind, of a mind that I empowered to save myself so long ago.   A sharp mind was required to face a society that told me I was too damn much, too overwhelming,  too visionary, too intense, too queer, too passionate. I needed to modulate for others, policing myself to consider their fears by amplifying my own.

It is the heart, though, that drives that mind, a tender, feminine, emotional heart that needs to have the space to melt into beauty, into mushy, into love.   It is a heart that learned early what expectations were laid on this big body and big brain, expectations that just were designed to break it.

I know what I fear.  I fear a meltdown that I just can’t recover from on my own, one that costs just too much of the scant resources that I have left.   I fear the assumptions, expectations and just plain self-involvement of others who have never, as I see it, really been able to be there for me.   I fear the ultimate loneliness of a long-lost tranny.

I also know what I need.  I know the only way to get it is to be exposed, to show my love with grace & commitment,  ready for love.

Melty, then, like so many things, is both what I need and what I fear.

It has been a long, damn life.


The easiest way to challenge someone whose words challenge you, challenge your beliefs, your feelings, your identity, is to attack their standing to speak, working to remove the authority of their statements.

As long as all they offer is the abject ravings of a crackpot, revealing their own jealousy, personal twists and internalized fudge, well, they can safely be dismissed, ignored, erased.

Instead of engaging challenge, instead of actually having to understand what you know and believe, to find words and connections that validate and reinforce your thoughts, an attempt to silence others by removing their standing to speak allows comfort to be maintained, the status quo to be enforced.

My history is full of doubt.   From as young as I can remember, I had to question everything from my parents “truths” to my own very clear desires.  By taking apart the narratives, seeing what was valid and what rationalization, understanding the motives and preconceptions that drove words, I was able to find a basis of truth.

I remember a meeting where, right in front of a customer, another staffer expressed shock that big mouth me wasn’t saying anything.   No matter how rude she was, she discovered one of the big secrets of how I look so smart: if I don’t have something I know to be true to say, I keep my mouth shut.

A guy from our ad agency once said to me, “People who talk a lot usually have nothing to say, but I was bored in that meeting, so I actually listened to you.  You have a lot of smart things to offer!”   Of course, I wanted to can the agency after that, but if you only speak on what you have worked to understand, it’s easy to sound smart.

Being smart is not something everyone admires.   Fun bar chats often depend on the absence of an expert, so everyone’s opinion has the same standing and no one can challenge them with pesky, authoritative facts.   Facts are a problem, as many in the political system have discovered, so much better to be anti-intellectual so you can wave your arms and spout shite than actually have to engage challenging arguments, working to find common ground and effective compromise.

My history of doubt is a history of sharpening, of clarifying my own understanding.   This allows me to suss out the meaning of what others share, put it in context, find connections and identify where growth & healing is required.   I can clearly summarize the situation, which, I have found, is often a conversation stopper, as people can’t just continue to bicker.

In other words, my struggle to understand has left me as sounding — and being — rather authoritative.   Even when I run up against new facts, new truths, I am able to understand and integrate them into my own worldview quickly, another talent that surprised other staffers.

My smarts don’t come from rote knowing, they come from active doubting, and that continual questioning has always served me in good stead, even if it makes me less than driven.

Having an authoritative voice, though, especially one that doesn’t just parrot doctrine but instead demands sharp thought to cut away the fog, is not something everyone is comfortable with.   They would rather diminish my standing, cutting me down so everyone has “an equal voice,” no matter how considered their content is.

Just like any gift, my authoritative voice is both a blessing and a curse, allowing me to see, to help, to be present and also bringing on ad hominem attacks, dismissal & erasure.  The quick assumption is that my feelings can be ignored because clearly, my thoughts are enough, an assumption that has caused me pain since I was very small.

If they aren’t ready to doubt their own choices, to examine, to heal and to grow, many turn away from what I offer, more comfortable to just write me off as “one of those people.   They prefer comforting, standard, politically correct answers to difficult, sharp, authoritative questions.

Guarantee: If you don’t find something on this site
challenges your thinking or your identity within 20 minutes,
we’ll give you
double your money back! (1997)

I have the sneaking suspicion, though, that it is time to assert my own authority in the world.    This is sure to make people try to find ways to dismiss my words, especially fundamentalists who believe that their scripture already has all the correct answers, while I just have the power of smart, informed questions.

Trying to attenuate my voice, cutting it back to be cuter, making people less uncomfortable, has never been a successful strategy for me.   Even when I am quiet, a few words and the look in my eye tends to make people feel seen and heard in a way that makes them feel naked.   Having my vision has given me compassion beyond judgment for the frailty of humans, but that doesn’t mean others aren’t ready to feel the internalized shame they work so hard to hide, ready to feel rationalizations pierced.

Standing on an authority built on the shifting sands of liminal, bridging, connecting questions may seem a bit queer, at least until you understand that with enough digging you almost always find bedrock.   Joseph Campbell reminds me that cross-culturally, human truth has been mirrored the same meaning in many places, many times, that there is such a thing as shared understanding of our continuous common humanity, even if we use very different symbols & metaphors to convey those deep truths.

While I believe in the fight, I don’t believe in battle, in seeing someone or some group as the enemy.   What we share is always, always much more important than what seems to divide us.   Healing, growth, change and transformation is possible if we hold open the space and ask the powerful questions that help us let go of comforting falsehoods and defensive rationalizations.

I know about the attack.  I also know that the only way to transcend it is for people to speak up out of the love which embraces & replaces fear, answering the call for love & connection that lies deep in the soul.

The authority to speak is something I have, if only because I worked so damn hard to discover and claim it.

Now, as before, though, the challenge is to share those lovely questions,  the ones which lead us to divine surprises, in the wider world.

Bloody Gifts

Some have called this “performative spirituality,”
which I think is a good designation,
as long as we understand clearly: there is no other kind.

Jenny Brien offered up gifts when responding to yesterdays post, including an announcement of her presence, of her being touched by my work, a moving poem she created that was inspired both by a post of mine and a blog post referenced above.

The sweetness of Jennifer’s words, all the way from Fermanagh, touch her deep knowing, and the touchstones she has found touch me.

Calling, you see, well, it is a bit of a bitch.   Especially if that calling is seen as queer.

The gifts of your heavenly Father aren’t solely for your own personal use. They were given to you for others and for him as well. If you have received more, more will be expected of you. If you have anything to fear, it’s not the acknowledgement of your gifts, but your failure to use them.
• Michel Quoist, Keeping Hope

As Martin Mull reminded us, “Jesus is Easy.  When we wrap our calling in Christic imagery it assumes the guise of normativity.  If I explained the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints most wouldn’t identify it as canonically Christian, but the Mormons are clear: Jesus is at the centre of their beliefs, so that makes them Christian.

Resisting calling (2003) has always been a theme in my life.   After all, feeling the call to move beyond the gender expectations placed on me was just one facet of how I understood the need to transcend, to move beyond, to go deeper and serve those I love in ways that they didn’t understand so they could not value.

How many people do you have to make uncomfortable before you are voted off the island?   In my experience, most people find it easier to stand with the crowd than to stand alone, stand up for challenging voices and visionary diversity.  I was taught to judge my worth not on how many people that I inspired but rather on how few people I pissed off, not on how I brought cutting edge ideas but on how I served expectations.

I always brought more than meets the eye to my interactions with other people.  I learned to sneak in the theology like other moms learned to sneak in the vegetables.  How can I help it?  I have, well, a calling, something that just doesn’t want to stay hidden, no matter how much I try to keep it down.

Some have called this “performative spirituality,”
which I think is a good designation,
as long as we understand clearly: there is no other kind.

My relationship with my mother in the sky has always saved me.   I know that she loves me even when it feels like everyone else is just looking askance, ignoring me, or consumed by their own issues.  She doesn’t care how big I am, in body, in mind, in voice or in spirit; in fact she loves it the way she loves me, seeing the powerful feminine voice that cuts across gender expectations, revealing the beauty of continuous common humanity.

My relationship with humans, on the other hand, has always been strained.   Part of the cost of being liminal.   Would I have traded away the joys of liminality to be less challenging?   Could I?  Like I told the therapist who offered me a lobotomy to knock my edges off, or the one who pushed me at 12 to say who I wanted to be when I grew up trying to read my dysphoria, the gift of a lifetime is being who you are.


You can’t fight for someone unless you are also willing to fight with them.   Not battle; battling is just ego trying to force change.  Fight fair, fight fun, fight with love to support them as they grow and change, no matter how long it takes them, no matter where following their own heart takes them.


Some have called this “performative spirituality,”
which I think is a good designation,
as long as we understand clearly: there is no other kind.

Thank you, Jenny, for reminding me that what we give matters, even if we can’t immediately see its impact.  Calling counts, but only if you follow it, letting it lead you beyond comfort and expectations.

The gifts we were given need to be discovered, polished and passed on, even to those who never imagined needing the gifts of spirit.   Machine made red shoes don’t ever take us on the journey of the heart.  Blood is required.

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.   Amen.  Life isn’t about what we say, it is about what we do, the work that leaves ripples.

I may never be simple, conventional or expected, but if transpeople don’t hold open the space for change in the world, who will?   How can the possibility of change beyond the bounds of normativity ever be affirmed if we don’t offer a hand?

If it is to be, it must start with me.  Someone else out there must understand.

After all, Jenny does.


The many solicitations in the mail box remind me that I am rapidly approaching a milestone birthday, one where things change.  I need change, I know, but like most things in my life, it’s not that simple.

I have three draft posts open and have for quite some time now.

One is an ode to ambition, both an acknowledgement how being ambitious sets us apart from the mass and how nothing gets done without ambition.  The ways we justify & rationalize our ambitions, working to sanitize them so they seem normal & godly, make commitment to inner calling difficult.

The second is on compassion, on the power of love to help us engage and empower those who are struggling to grow and change.  As a woman — as a mom — I know how much I need people to lavish my own love upon, to be present for in ways as simple as feeding them and as complex as helping them find and face their own inner voice.

The third is on breakage, on the need to shatter bits of our lives to break through to new possibilities.  What do we need to smash and what do we need to hold close?   What bits can’t we break, no matter how much we want to, so we need to learn to live with them?   As the target patient in my family, I was both the scapegoat and the healer, revealing what others would rather keep hidden, revealing where healing was needed.   The obligation to both break through and to be the one who mends breaks, facilitating growth, always left me split and scared.

My history is playing small, using guerrilla strategies to make motions towards change.

There is, however, a good case to be made that at some point, I need to just let fly, opening my big mouth, my big brain, my big spirit and my big heart to speak loudly and see what that release attracts, in the world and in my life.

This is not a case I have been able to make easily, as my ambitions are feminine, my concern has been for those I loved, and I have been as conservative as I have been queer, valuing structures and social norms.   I have resisted calling to the point of self destruction, as I have noted before.

A few days ago, though, my mother in the sky gave me a sign that my voice has power.   Someone found this blog and read like fury, going deep and chewing through an enormous number of these dense posts.   It was a surprise to see that day in my stats because I am used to being just a voice in the wilderness, speaking without being heard.

I also found a bit of feedback from three years ago, stuck somehow as a draft that I had never seen at the time.

You are an incredible writer. And I don’t say this lightly, I’m a journalism grad from Texas Tech. Any books? Where else can I find you? Big fan!

So now, at this time,  the question comes to me, simply and powerfully: Do I have the energy for one more rebirth, this time as a very public persona?

I know why I haven’t gone big before, why even after exposing myself and my writing, I didn’t work the room, doing the social connection bit, preferring to have said my piece and let others find me if they were ready and willing to do the work.   I never work for an audience, never search for affirmation & acclaim, and in fact don’t trust that kind of feedback when I get it, assuming that there was a kind of shallow, surface connection which was more about others projecting what they need onto me rather than deeply engaging.

Working the crowd just feels to me like missing the point.   Maybe, though, those feelings miss the point: if you don’t put yourself out there, don’t let people get to know you, how can they ever engage more deeply?

One of the hardest things for me is my utter lack of a social support system, people who affirm my ambition, who enter my world with compassion, and who support my breaking through.    (That’s a recall, in case you didn’t notice.)  Instead of engaging public life, taking the knocks and challenges that come with it, I live as a hermit, missing the bruises but also missing the divine surprises that are out there for me.

Yet, a milestone approaches.   Change or, well, whatever.

I have trouble when I invoke a voice to write encouraging polemics.   One I wrote as a bad example was read to the crowd during an orgasm workshop, sending me into a long and extreme laughing jag.   Recently a therapist asked who had sent me the polemic, not grasping that I was always stuck writing them for myself, which makes them almost more sad than empowering.

Still, I seem to need some kind of transcendent encouraging.

I have read your 1997 poem Look At Me/Don’t Look At Me.   I know what you fear.    From being targeted by your mother to being “too much for the room — too queer, too intense, too intellectual, too visceral, whatever” you have learned to play small, to stay invisible, to own your own voice by not having to satisfy the crowd.

What I want to tell you, though, is that over the decades you have cleaned and cleared your presence.   Even though you vividly remember your missteps and blunders, they don’t define you.   What defines you is your crystalline vision and your powerful voice, gracious and transcendent even when it illuminates what others want to keep hidden.

You have lived a deep life, discovering by exploring.   Now is the time, though, to be the crone you were meant to be, the grand-mère who returns her gifts to those who are still seeking, those who can incorporate bits of your hard-earned wisdom into their own expression.

Be seen.  Speak up.  Shine.  Now is the time, no matter how it inspires fear in others who would rather see you play small.    Go on with a bang, not a whimper.  The world needs more Callan, especially a Callan who can convince others to bring their smarts, their wit and their spirit out to be more beautifully themselves.

Change comes, if you want it to or not.  The only way to make it better is to be bold and take ownership, breaking the rules to make new ways to be.   When people see you, some will see you shine, but only if you own that brilliance rather than just flashing brightly and then falling back into the tiny darkness.

Show yourself and you will be seen.  That will let people see you and your heart.  And if they see a bit of what I know is there, well, I know they will be moved. 

You are lovely, even if you don’t always see that when you look in the mirror. You are loveable not just in spite of who you are but because of who you are.  Some people will see that and be able to respond.  Let them find you.  Let them love you.

Shine.  It’s your time.

Or, at least, that’s what I would say to someone like me.