Enclave To Sanctuary

Steve,

You said that people who stayed in a congregation were only those that were a part of the life of the church.  People who only come for services can come and go, but those who feel roots in the church stay.  That’s one reason you wish your church had to struggle a bit more, so parishioners would become involved in the struggle together.

You are right, of course.  Those who are a part of the life of the church are the vital parishioners, the ones who are the lifeblood of the church.  But for me, the question is how people come to feel a part of the church.

We spoke of one way that happens, creating an enclave in the church, an “us versus them” attitude that lets fear be the binder, our shared fear of the outside world.  This is a church that uses separation to create connection, and we both agreed that is wrong.

But if the church is not enclave from the world, it should at least be sanctuary from it.  Safe ground for connection and for exposure, a place where we use our shared commitment to being better, being more like our God, to create peace & acceptance.

Creating separation may be shorthand to create an enclave of safe space —  we are safe from them behind these walls, with these people like us — but how do we use love to create a sanctuary of safe space, where we are safe in diversity?

For me, the key is being seen.  I need people to see right though me, to see my heart, full of all the mess that is in every human heart, from sin to divinity, and still embrace me.  It’s all well and good for people to be nice and pleasant and not threatening, but does that really create a feeling of safe space to be human and to be loved by God and her people?  Starting from the pulpit and moving all the way to those pouring coffee, I don’t just want to be tolerated, I want to feel seen and feel loved.

My primary challenge in the world isn’t trans.  My primary challenge, the one I knew early, was that I am one of those “too people” — too smart, too intense, too challenging, too sharp, too everything.  I learned early that I had to play small, to stay defended in order to be accepted in polite society.  I learned to meter myself out in tiny doses, first trying to be appropriate and then trying to be authentic somewhere down the line.

I, like every human, learned how to perform a persona that gets along in the world, nice and constrained.

And I have absolutely no doubt that if it’s just that I bring to the event, people will accept me on a social level.  But is that enough to feel seen, embraced and loved? 

I know that most people rarely get naked even to themselves.  They don’t go deep into their knowledge, spirit, emotions and beliefs to expose themselves.  They are used to showing a little bit and being exhilarated by that revelation, needing and wanting only what they show to be appreciated. 

We “too people” though, well, somehow being exposed is what we do.  We just get real and get raw, letting it all hang out, because we have so much there is nothing else we can do with it.  And no matter how graciously and elegantly we learn how to offer revelation, offer the power of change, the essence of death and Rebirth, for many, many, many, most people it still feels like Too.  After all, how can someone so sharp and strong need connection, affirmation, tenderness? 

While this need to be seen may be more pronounced for “too people” like me, I think it threads though everyone.  We stay where we are seen and understood and still affirmed, for after all, how safe is safe space where it doesn’t feel safe enough to expose our own messy humanity?  For some, pleasant words at coffee make the difference, or even just the long term commitment to a church for our family, but for the truly powerful, it is the ability to be seen not only for what we do but also for who we are that makes us feel connected.

The traditional way to be seen is to be seen over time, for people to know us step by step.  But in a hurry up, fast fast world, that old way doesn’t work so well.  Creating community by decades is a rural kind of community, and with the world getting smaller & faster — small things always spin faster, ask any physicist — the challenge is how to move to a faster, more diverse urban community.

I spoke to an dear old friend a few nights ago.  What I needed to hear, what I gave her, was a simple affirmation that I have believe that God is in her heart, and trusting that divinity, I trust that she can make good choices when she trusts her heart.    I had trouble getting that back, though.  I got some chat about how hard it is to “cook for the chef” because it feels like not enough, and how, I doubted what was in my heart “maybe it was coming from the wrong place.” 

God didn’t make me to just be sweet and nice.  God made some of us to be sharp and insightful, remembering history, making connections, and showing the line between comfort & rebirth.  I know that to be true, but I also know that enacting that reality makes me more porcupine than puppy, and finding a safe space for porcupines is a challenge.

It’s a challenge for me, yes, but I think it’s also a challenge for every church that wants to move from enclave to sanctuary, from a closed comfort to an open vitality.  How can we see what challenges & discomforts us, acknowledge its truth and embrace it as a gift from God?

I’ll be at the Wednesday, I think, but it will be the last time for a while.

Thanks for everything.  Your open heart is to be valued.

Callie

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A Dwali Story

The local Interfaith story circle had a meeting at the Hindu temple tonight. To celebrate Dwali, they wanted stories about light, and finding light. (Remember, in India, this is the time of the year when days start getting longer).

I wrote the following story this afternoon, though I didn’t end up going. The parking lot was enough for me tonight.

========================

One thing that most hotel rooms share is darkness. Between the tiny windows, the blackout drapes and the light bulbs chosen by accountants, most American hotel rooms are just plain dark.

To me, darkness seemed appropriate. This was my first transgender conference. Sure, I’d crept through the darkness to a gay bar in Schenectady where one of the oldest transgender clubs met, but that bar was designed to be dark and secretive, the old style gay bar set up for clandestine assignations.

This darkness was different. At 7:30 AM the sun was up outside as I stood in from of the mirror trying to smear on my makeup.

I was scared as I opened the door to the corridor, my hear pounding. Luckily, the hall was as dark and as dank as any other Ramada Inn anywhere.

A name tag clipped to my blouse, I slipped into the back of a dark meeting room where an introductory session had just started. A few people were up front talking about their experience and choices. These weren’t people like me — these were people who had been outside in the daylight on a day other than Halloween. I listened and asked question — How do you take power in the world as a transperson who moves between? — and eventually the session ended.

I walked out into the lobby again, wondering if I needed to go back to my room to use the facilities. Instead I turned towards the curtains keeping the sun out.

One of the people from the session stepped over to talk with me. Sabrina Marcus-Taraboletti, a big tranny with an open heart and a thick Noo Yawk accent told me “I really liked the question you asked. You really got an understanding.”

I smiled, pleased to be in the spotlight for a moment.

“Come on,” Sabrina said.

“Where are we going?” I asked

“I need some air. Come with me out to the parking lot,” Sabrina said as she cruised towards the wall of glass doors.

I stopped. In here was a lovely, dingy hotel, but out there was a sunny September day. Sabrina may have simply stepped through the glass, but for me, well. . . .

I tried to breathe as the sun continued to rise in the sky, and there, as I stood in that cheezy convention center lobby, it found a crack in the faded draperies. A beam of sunlight came down and hit me smack in the face. I blinked and blinked, but couldn’t turn away.

Apparently, no matter how much I wanted to stay in the shadows, this place, a shabby hotel just off the perimeter now full of hundreds of trannys was my place to meet the sun. I walked forward and passed though the door, cheap wig, bad makeup and all.

It was a beautiful September day. The crisp air filled my lungs and the sun warmed my face. I went over to chat with Sabrina.

For me, staying in the darkness was staying in the shadows. staying hidden Now, everyday I face the same battle. You can’t both be scared of the sun and proud of who God created you. Now, when I feel the fear creep in, feel the desire to hide, to avoid upsetting other people, I remember the smiling face that pulled me into that parking lot, the spirit that helped lead me into the light for the first time.

Ouch!

So this is what I need to know: my feelings count.  Hell, as a femme, my feelings are at the heart of who I am, and to deny them is to deny myself.

I told my sister how I felt about Friday with the car, starting with a sticker check and ending with locking eyes with my old landlord, punctuated by arguments, difficulty and a cold.   She suggested that it was all just random, without meaning. 

It may well be random, but the meaning I assign to it, how I feel about it, well, that still is true and real and vital.   And while she may be able to pass over feelings — hell, while she may see her job at work as to get women to focus on actions, not feelings — it’s bad freakin’ magic for me.

I know the issues.  My mother has always been a mass of feelings that disempower her, so we both were more like my father, thinking creatures that knew how to work around that mass.  Trusting the gut seemed crazier than geting bound up in the head.

So when I get dismissed, told to stay focused and do it harder, I get very upset.  I blow.  I got short with my sister and let the call end.  What one way has she reached out to me with warmth, tried to enter my world?  Hell, we had the blitz about birthday rest– she could have asked me to dinner at one of the BBQ joints, or even just Old Country Buffet.  But no, just toughen up

_____ suggests I work to understand what I am really feeling.  Well this is what I understand: when I don’t do my work I feel ddisempowered.  But the only way to do the work is to trust the feelings and not the fear I have cultivated into a forest to keep the feelings down. 

My feelings count.  My bliss counts.  It’s my bliss that tells me when I am doing what God wants me to do.  And Sunday, well sunday I was in the zone.  Out there, beyond fear, even hazarding the women’s room at the Albany Library where Yumara was beat up, first ny two girls and later on talk radio.  The black girl did her business, and I moved on.

Thinking harder, doing more sensible shit will not get me out of this cesspool.  And that’s not something my family is willing to understand.  But affirming my feelings and my power, well that seems like giving into the enemy to them, supporting sickness.  Just ask ____ how I need to be strong armed — she’s very authoritative on every subject she chooses to pronounce on.  My sister even felt the need to explain how I was not without personal responsibility.  Wonder where she got the idea that I was without it, where she practiced the explanation.

So this is what I need to know: my feelings count.   But when the world’s response to you is to demand that you explain, justify, rationalize, console and comfort them rather than challenging them, well, not easy.  I remember a sketch where TBB and I played CDs going to an event.  Her strategy was to be above it all, doing a performance, mine to rationalize, offering some credible story that people could accept.

But I am big, strong and smart, so clearly, the feelings of others who feel fear or disquiet are more important than my feelings.  I need to respect and understand the feelings of others — indulge their illusions — while my big, messy, challenging & intense feelings are subordinated to the need to do what is required.

Ouch!  fuck that!  I can’t keep huring this way any more, internalizing all the pain.  That’s what makes me sick.  But my sickness is a gift to people who don’t want to face their own.  If denying, dismissing and dissapearing my own feelings incapacitates me, well then I have to be tougher, don’t I?

I gave my health to them, freely, willingly — and they gave me a request for more giving.  I hold onto my fear to keep my head down, and they want me to do more in this crouch, this enfeebeled shuffle where fear keeps me taut & tucked away.

The question is simple: Do I do the stupid thing and trust my heart, letting the power flow by valuing my feelings, or do I do the smart thing and keep trying to force myself to follow the rules, pushing harder to be functional while crippled with denial?

airless poetry

it is, i know
the lack of poetry
which keeps me
breathing so shallowly

bbc crackles on waves of real
such language respect
such respect of the poetry
in each heart

this is diversity
not groups and bundles
applied identities
but the poetry
bubbling from souls

bubbles to shape
grow and crystal
make into the artifacts
revelations of the god
bubbling within

bubbles to pop
let out the air
flattened to stay
hidden and american
burst.

what they say they want from me
is more clarity
more explicitness
more specifics
that they can dismiss & ignore

but I tried that
and know
I am poetry
the voices of thousands
lilting and laughing
lumbering and lumping
effete and egalitarian
all that music in me
reduced to a few lines of text
all i can save.

my voice,
my voice,
my voice,
my voice

muffled to thuds
by the blanket of stigmata
placed by those who fear their own poetry
so long ago
bubbled to fearts.

my voice is hoarse
too many tries
now all that’s left
airless poetry

gasp, gasp,
exhale.

Unsustainable Zombie

It’s not this death, this most recent and, at least to we embodied humans, the most final death that we need to think about here today.

No, the death today is just the cumbling of an zombie that became unsustainable for Callan.  Zombies aren’t like humans, you know — they don’t heal.  They just keep adding up the wounds until they crumple and turn to dust.

How would you feel if you looked back on your life and saw the fire of it, the years of energy, enthusiasm and potency, the time of passion and possibiility, all blowed up? 

Some peopel encourage Callan to change clothes when she wanted to, and never understood why she didn’t take any opportunity.  But for my friend Callie it wasn’t about the clothes.  It was about letting out that beautiful power-femme woman who lived inside of her, and that took more than just slapping on a wig and some makeup.  I know that she could see when that fragile flower dissapeared and the zombie hulk took over, and more than anything else, it was those moments of death and dissapearance which tore her heart to shreds.

We saw it, we all saw it, that tender beauty and serene smile of femme.  But we also saw it dissapear, hidden under piles of dead flesh, dead hopes and dead dreams, just like it first did so many years ago when voices would roar about taking off those girl clothes.

Callie learned to internalize, and that was a blessing for her and for all who could enter her world.  But she never learned to externalize, to make her place and her space in this world, make a home, a church, a place where she could be out and safe.  That wasn’t possible.

Callan worked hard to go back and find herself, to treasure that truth, but by the time she could do it, her time was running out.  The zombie just had been worked too hard, the defenses of that hulk used up and gone.  How can this beautiful girl show up in an old, fat balding man’s body?  How?

It was this, in the end, that broke her heart.  The zombie died, too many slams & slights, and imagining how to use that ravaged body to take power in this world just seemed beyond possible.  As the zombie became unsustainable, she fell off the grid, losing to debts and beuracracies and all the other challenges we as humans have to endure to live in society.

A few offered solutions, usually the option of claiming illness and getting medication, the possibility of claiming charity.  But Callie just had too much pride to take that route, too much truth to engage the process of people questioning and questioning again, all in the attempt to get her to just admit the truth and be normative.  After all, that’s what started killing her in the first place.

The messages were there, were always there.  It was five years ago when she wrote “How Old?”  for Transgender Day Of Rememberance, a poem which asks when we learned we had to die.  Death was a constant companion for her, not because she was looking to die, but because she was trying to make sense of her own death, the death she took upon herself at such a tender age, the death which sapped the life out of that zombie who finally wore out.

Please don’t think about the death of an unsustainable zombie today, projecting whatever sharp slap of reality you think would have made him come to his senses and take responsibility for his zombie life.

No, stand with me in thinking about the death which made that zombie in the first place, the murder which left the not-living undead, squeezed of desire, passion and vitality, to walk in pain though this earth.

Today we gather to mark the end of an untenable zombie, a shell that could not be sustained.  But even if you assume that zombie, being what we saw, was the only real thing about this person, please hear me now when I tell you I saw sparks of the life that could have been, that should have been, the open-hearted, skirt-swinging woman who had beauty in her essence.

I mourn for her, that she could never break out of what was piled around her, flesh yes, but more than that, expectations.   And I can only hope that when people read what that sweet girl wrote, they can start to put aside those expectations and live, letting other people live and blossom — especially the trans-kids who still feel the weight and threat which collapsed Callie’s heart, making it into a black hole, all turned inward

because you listen

you said that it would be an interesting story
to tell how it isn’t one crashing event
where god reveals herself to you
but in thousands of little bangs
which each take a tiny bite of your flesh
eroding the external away
and revealing essence

but the point is this:

campbell said that one thing that made joyce so brilliant
was that he saw everything as symbol.

or as the talking inanimate animals in “wonderfalls”
say to jaye when she asks why they talk to her
“because you listen.”

those thousands of little explosions
happen to everyone everyday
it’s just that most people
don’t see the symbol
or read it oddly.

we all have god in our lives
but she appears only
to those
who open their eyes to her.

oh well.

read between the lines.
that’s where we hide the truth
between the lies.

Helen & I

From: “Callie”
To: <helenboyd@myhusbandbetty.com>
Subject: Going To The Queer Playce
Date: Tue, 8 Mar 2005 06:49:49 -0500

It was lovely meeting you in Burlington. I read your blog entry on the conference, and it is joyous to see someone who is so hepped up about the community. It is when you acknowledge that this isn’t simply your partner’s community, one where you only put out the potato salad & soda, but that it is your community, one that supports (and challenges) your own journey beyond gendered expectations, that you are compelling.

Anyway, I was in the shower this morning, and a blurb for your next book came to me. As a writer, I have no thought that you want to do what others suggest, or that you have any lack of projects on your own plate, but who knows, it may stimulate a little something in your own thinking. My only flickering hope is that it gets you in the mainstream, talking on Oprah, not about dealing with queer husbands, but about how queering ourselves beyond gendered expectations can be the most empowering thing we can do for ourselves.

In any case, continue your good work, your good exploration and your good life.

Love & Light,

Callie


Going To The Queer Playce: Enhance Your Relationship, Expand Your Possibilities And Empower Your Life By Playing Beyond Gender

In this book, Helen Boyd shows how exploring beyond the expectations we hold about gendered behavior can make any relationship better by allowing the full potential of our humanity to exist. The bedroom should be a place where people drop their armor and are allowed to touch the tender and tough parts of them which we often hide in everday life. By playing beyond gender expectations, we reveal more of ourselves, and that revelation makes us more able to life a full, happy & joyous life.

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On the evening of  November 12, about 75 people gathereed at the New York State museum to hear a straight white woman explain how trans people screw up in building community.

Helen Boyd and her crossdressing spouse, Betty Crow, were brought to Albany by Rhea Daniels to express a message that ” resonates for all people on the transgendered spectrum, those in their lives and those who want to support them” according to a publicity flyer.   Ms Boyd’s message though, was a sour diatribe based mostly on how the transpeople in her circle, message boards she runs on her website MyHusbandBetty.com, are mostly quabbling about things she considers minor, and that transpeople have to get over that behavior and act like adults.   She supplemented this with an anecdote about how trans patrons had abused a NYC bar she patronized, talking too long to change in the bathroom and carrying in flasks to avoid paying for drinks and when one was confronted with their behaviour they started an e-mail campaign saying that the bar was anti-tranny.  This tale, which seemed based only on conversations with bar staff, was told to remind explain how trannies pollute even places that welcome them.

Ms. Boyd said her book, “My Husband Betty” came out of a rant she made to a friend about how bad the advice Dr. Phil gave to the partner of a crossdresser was.  Her friend, who also worked in publishing, suggested it was the basis for a book.  This, according to Boyd, was the beginning of her steps into building trans community, steps she might not have taken if she had thought about her actions before making them.

While Ms. Boyd told anecdotes from a few gay people she knew, she told almost no anecdotes from transpeople.  She did recommend Jamison Green’s book and mention comments from Tristian Taramino, but her view seemed  to almost be entirely based on the crossdressers and neo-transsexuals who populate her board.

While demanding support groups that are supportive, she pushed her own agenda against the lives of trannies.  She complained that she and her husband had been attacked while casting the community as a whole as a failure.

dominatrix

denied her own gender queerness to get dates and have a sex life

 i don’t think i will ever forget betty repeating to the crowd “we have to grow a pair, grow a pair, grow a big pair” when talking about lobbying the govt.  betty did note the oddness of saying this as a tranny, but said it anyway.  betty may not say trans what, but lines like that make it clear.

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 From: Callie

To: Diane Sofia Frank

Sent: Saturday, November 12, 2005 9:53 PM

Subject: crowboyd

It was like watching the high schoolers rag on the junior high kids for being so immature.

Helen wanted to talk to about 60 people about what’s wrong with the transgender community, and surprise, surprise, that comes out to the fact we fight over trivialities again and again rather than acting like grown ups. She wants us all to grow up, but to her, that meant we have to stop being so obsessed with identity.

She feels she was gender queer in hs, but learned how to act feminine to get dates. “If I wanted to have sex, I had to learn to act like a straight girl.” And then at the end, she wondered why people who are gender queer suppress it, I reminded her she told the answer: to get laid. That surprised her, just as it did when I caught her asking someone wanting an autograph if she was a partner. “You don’t understand! Partners are my peeps!” No, you don’t understand when you say trannies shouldn’t be so identity obsessed and you say you don’t know why, and you do the same thing, it’s noticed.

Betty spoke up and challenged me, saying we need to look beyond trans, and I asked if any support group with trans in the title was set to be wrong, and she said “no, that blah, blah, blah, when you stay with trans you end up shooting yourself in the foot. ” In other words, just what I said.

These are people who find it easy to talk to trannies but can’t handle challenge.

I laughed on the way home, that death laugh, the one I get when I realize how separated I am. The people who know me know I have always been porcupine, and I made Helen laugh, and Betty tried, but they will slough off the challenge quickly. They have to. It’s about being what they want to be, and it’s more fun to be the big wallys.My mother was suprised when I was back at like 9:15. No change for me, because in a short time, running, no time to look like more than a cheezy CD, and that ain’t me. But I doubt I could explain that to our speaker — the one that the host said would “resonate for all people on the transgender spectrum” — because the struggle to be exposed and seen is not one she understands, and not one Betty is focused on. No deep truths that need to be revealed, just a fun character to be played.

It was sad and sadder for me.

So I laughed.

And wanted to die.

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Session Start (Callan:Diane): Sun Nov 13 08:26:05 2005

Callan: the more I think about this straight white woman, out for 4 years, hectoring trannies about their idiocy in building community based almost totally on her experience on her board, the more upset I become.

Diane: I haven’t totally read her notes for Albany yet.  Sorry to hear that

Callan: Well, she told the people what they wanted to hear: it’s those bad trannies that are the problem. And self-loathing creeps that we are, we loved hearing that.

Diane: There have been a lot of catfights on the boards lately

Callan: Right.  And in her myopia, seeing the board as the window, that’s transdom to her . Identity battles over and over again, like junior high schoolers.  But the only good tranny she mentioned was James Green.  And I’ll guarantee I know that James Green better than her.

Diane: ok…but I think I’d have an easier time here if you gave me your “positive” point of view rather than what bugs you about Helen

Callan: I give my positive point of view routinely in my writing.

Diane: Yes, I know… but somehow I’m not connecting that talking about what’s wrong with what they’re doing she’s not what’s wrong with them. I see her as criticizing behavior and you’re spot on that she herself can’t get away from identity labels

Callan: This is about an arrogant intruder telling people what is wrong with them. She claims to want to build community. I think doing that by scolding, by criticizing in ways that can be shown as not reflected in your actions is not building community.  I think her actions are more destructive than constructive, whatever she calls them because she doesn’t lead by doing what’s good, listening & reflecting but rather by telling others how they are wrong.

Diane: ok… So besides yourself…who did you see leaving the room/barfing etc?

Callan: I just saw the old hands getting crusty.  We have heard this before. But as I said, many love preachy preaching, when someone else tells us that the others are as wrong as we think they are

Diane: well, fire and brimstone can be a fun ride

Callan: “Thank you for speaking the truth that the bad trannies fuck everything up! We need to save the community from them!”  

And the that very separation is what is bad

A preachy preacher tells you the world is going to hell and they have to change.  A teachy preacher tells you that you are in hell unless you change and Preachy Preachers are a lot more comforting

Diane: fine bad republicans fuck things up for good republicans too. I’m not entirely sure where anything goes/is going. I wonder if in E. Germany,or in Hirschfeld’s times that they worried about the distinctions

Callan: Well, that was a point she thought she made, that we are all in this together

Diane: fair enough. but do I think a big trans community is possible

Callan: Has she read “Those Heterosexual Faggots!” from 1994? Terry Murphy liked it so much she called and read it to me on the phone.  Was upset to find I had written it.

Diane: that’s the part that I’ve always had difficulty with myself,

Callan: No, Helen tried to say that.

Diane: when you say we’re all in this together sometimes I start thinking like that old joke where Tonto turns to the lone ranger and Says What you me “we” paleface?

Callan: what you mean we, white man. . . yeah.  And that’s why Helen’s “we” feels so empty because it’s clear she doesn’t really listen to us just sweeps us together.

Diane: so if I feel that way. I get down to a certain bottom line. I want ‘some’ legal protections. I don’t want to have to worry about employment, housing issues. I want a clear, protective, clean legal process for TS. I want “gay marriage”

Callan: I understand the questions of what “the community” wants.  It’s not as simple as a dance event every weekend.

Diane: and I’m not sure what else there is

Callan: I am the one who says there is no trans community, only a network of interlocking communities

Diane: We wrestled with that last night at AO we provide what middleaged couples want

Callan: But Helen sees her world as “the trans community.”  And so do her supporters, like Rhea

Diane: Well, you say that, I say that, and sometimes dear old Suzy might be interpretated as saying the same thing. I say there’s no such thing as community on her boards frequently. I talk about trans-communities plural

Callan: OK.

Diane: but I think people do get infected by the unification bug rather than the coalition building bug

Callan: But when Helen claims to speak about and for the trans community and I get upset then she tells me I am an identity monger.

Diane: ouch…  she has a tongue she does

Callan: You know my big beef with Miqqi?

Diane: no…but I find Miqqi unitelligible anyhow…how can I have a beef with someone who I can’t read

Callan: Miqqi quoted me in one of her pieces, calling me a CD.

Diane: put a label on you rather than just saying “callan”

Callan: I said that I had never identified as CD, and was upset she labeled me that way

Callan: She told me that she was sick of identity politics people like me.  She assigns me the damn identity! and when I am upset, it’s my identity politics problem!

Diane: annoying

Callan: U bet. And much what Helen did last night. “Don’t label!  Only I get to label!”

Diane: I’ve been dealing with that in ways too but I prefer to make an educational event out of it

Callan: I just went last night.

Diane: I keep talking about all the modifiers that are assumed to be attached to a label and ask which ones they assume about me

Callan: We need language we do. But explicitness identifies twisted thinking and that makes people upset,  like people who want to claim enough superiority to write books, stand at the front of lecture halls and take board positions

Diane: that’s the flip side After we signed off last night I got an email from my sponsor in the book circle she didn’t like the first two paragraphs of the review, and it was clear that I wrote those paragraphs for a “in” audience for people who lived with the lies who lived and worried about other people writing about them and that for an outsider to this those paragraphs didn’t work as well as they might

Callan: Yeah.  How do you bring everyone else in when you only have a few graphs?

Diane: well, I can and will do better

Callan: It’s a big challenge to contextualize growing up trans every time.

Diane: smart woman

Callan: Good.

Diane: a bit nuts but very smart

Callan: Nuts is good.

Diane: she said once past the first two paragraphs she was reading the rest on the edge of her seat

Callan: Good.

Diane: so I’ll do some tinkering…at least for the version that goes to the book circle but there was a point to this relating to what you were saying about explicitness and who understands what about needing language

Callan: OK

Diane: and then having the experience to create the language and I keep writing and hit and miss

Callan: I have a note of someone who says that we need things to communicate — memes!  God, not memes, shared metaphors, codes to invoke shared experience symbols and when the experience isn’t shared trying to cobble together a set of metaphors is hard. Tell me what that fraise de bois ice cream you had from that little shop in Paris tasted like and I bet it’s not like strawberry ice cream from Kroger

Diane: which is why I think “I am my own wife” fails a bit because it never really communicates Charlotte’s experience as trans or gay….. Charlotte has no lover in the play,  no affair, only furniture and gramophones

Callan: But she never found one which is very trans

Diane: she had several affairs with older men according to people who have read her biography

Callan: But even the actor didn’t get Charlottes experience. his inner charlotte didn’t feel better in the dress

Diane: I don’t think the playwright got Charlotte’s expereince

Callan: Right. I believe that to be true.

Diane: He only got his experience being a gay American from the bible belt, and he stopped there…. and never really got into Charlotte’s skin,  what her desire really was

Callan: And Helen, well Helen isn’t even trying to get to the richness of trans experience.  She knows enough and can’t move beyond that yet.

Diane: Helen is freaked by Betty’s claims of transness

Callan: Right! So how can she speak positively about transness?

Diane: and her (and don’t you ever repeat this) not reading Betty as femme anyhow

Callan: Right.  Helen is a woman, Betty is not.

Diane: It’s not only that she wants a penis in her love life,  she doesn’t see woman in betty in the first place, and not having met Betty I don’t know

Callan: And if Betty ever got there, became pussy, how would Helen feel? : Is it Betty holding on or it not being there?

Diane: Helen wants a guy

Callan: And she should get one, rather than keep the mate she has as a guy. as much as possible

Diane: she has written recently about missing having the ‘catch’ on her arm….the hot guy, the smart guy

well, there’s also the question of what Betty really wants

Callan: Desire shift is wicked way hard especially when we don’t want it

Diane: just like Z uses me as an anchor  Betty may use Helen that way

Callan: Very well may.  Betty works for Helen’s brother in law

Diane: didn’t know that

Callan: All in the family.

Diane: right.  that creates knots of it’s own

Callan: But all this shit, well it’s real

Callan: and the declamations last night were a projection and I felt abused by them targeting all of us for her pain. It means her words lack blood. No reality.

Diane: the other thing with Helen is that she doesn’t care for women all that much she is somewhat ,,put off….I guess I can put it that I dig being in the women’s circle so much.  she’s annoyed with Judith Halberstam’s notion of female masculinity,  because Halberstam had no room for hetero women with masculinity

Callan: She is annoyed with many things, but can’t leave them as questions or see how that illuminates her just makes it other people’s fault.  where you stumble, there lies your jewel.  J. Campbell

Diane: but as you say, the old timers just sit and bristle?

Callan: What the hell can we do? I mean, I bet I pissed her off but not so much that she found me psychotic. Enough letting others talk, enough reflecting what they say, not just saying my own point

Diane: well that’s the point.  I’m taking the somewhat cynical view that time will teach Helen what arguments can’t

Callan: Yeah.  Maturing is a process but still, the people hit in the process.

Diane: that she’s not like Virginia…. but I don’t think she wants to stay with trans stuff anyhow. She really wants to be a writer and started with stuff close to her it’s the next book I want to see

Callan: When I e-mailed with her I told her that I though that trans partner was way too confining, that she has to talk about how to be a straight queer, her journey as helen, not as partner to betty, and that was something she cannot yet hear.

Diane: btw is the “Those heterosexual faggots “somewhere where i can find it easily?

Callan: It’s on my site somewhere.  PicoSearch has it.

Diane: I think she’s actually starting to separate Helen the straight queer from betty…its just beginning of a process

Callan: Fine.  But last night, that wasn’t the point.

Diane: that’s the problem for her being asked to speak at a given time. You get where she’s at now and that does keep changing the gender queer business on her part just showed up on the boards strongly in the last two weeks

Callan: Well, it was abusive.  She isn’t capable of giving context to a big speech,  to making clear this was like a blog entry not a book

Diane: It was abusive because she put labels on other people….

Callan: And was mightily twisted in her rationalizations. No thinking through. No respect for others challenges beyond her nose

Diane: thinking this stuff through takes years

Callan: Yup.

Diane: maybe decades.  it’s really hard stuff

Callan: And what I wish was when she found someone who could challenge her,  she engaged that challenge rather than putting it off, Like I keep looking for people & ideas to challenge me and help me do the work.

Diane: What I wish was that you had private time with her.  many people don’t do well with public challenges

Callan: I’m too scary.  I offered myself a few times and she mostly wanted content for her site rather than to engage the issues and once it gets on her site it’s public and I have to be killed.

Diane: I meant sitting down after the talk…small BS session. just a few people,  some good booze,  a little light jazz

Callan: I am sure she would rather sit with the sycophants who think she is a hot mama

Diane: I’m not sure

Callan: Well, she doesn’t say “Why don’t you come with us?”

Diane: How were you introduced to her btw What I mean is this:  I want to work on some of those things,  but I don’t want it to be about you personally

Callan: I met her in Burlington, some e-mails, saw her again last night

Was I wearing the right labels? No.  : I’m one of those people who think that quality is more than labels and you have to look at the content, not the label.  But then again, my mother taught me to shop.

Diane: I agree, and on the surface Helen agrees but she slips back into the easy stuff

Callan: Yup. And when she is queen of the hop at these things, well… some people like that.

Diane: she’s Peggy Rudd’s almost chosen successor

Callan: Yahoo!

Diane: the straight white chick who can advocate for guys in dresses but she’s far queerer than Peggy

Callan: Next Generation

Diane: and she does see a lot of the crocks that peggy was blind to

Callan: But maybe like Linda Peacock she will find someone who really sees her and move on.

Diane: she just got kicked off  partner’s list for not being pro trans enough. Her natural voice is that of partner who wants a man but gets trans in some way

Callan: Once we get an audience we think we have to serve them, when often we have to move on, or they make us into someone we don’t like being as many wives have found out. 

I think her current voice is partner but it’s not her real voice the one she clings to to avoid the mess of who she is.

Diane: do elaborate?

Callan:  Like “The Lean Out” on my site where partners have to lean out to balance each other and as long as Betty is the queer one she can be the one holding hands and leaning out

Diane: she’s an ex-punk…. who hates women who use beauty to get what they want from men

Callan: Her role model is Billy Idol and she was never the pretty one so Betty wanting to be the pretty one is freaky.

Diane: I don’t really get Billy Idol…never have

Callan: “I can’t claim that his clothes were mine, because people know I would never wear them — and that’s not just about size.”

Diane: Helen had an icon up showing her rolling her eyes and in the middle of the animated gif, there’s one frame… where she smiles and it’s dazzling. I told her that guys would kill to be the person who she smiled at that way and it pleased her

Callan: I know.  She could be hot if she let herself be. But somehow, she has to be the smart girl not the pretty one.

Diane: she can’t be both… but as you say, a lot of this is a vehicle through which she works out her own issues but at least she’s doing that

Callan: And one thing I know is that as long as I am a tranny, Helen won’t be able to hear much of what I say. Because I am behind the filter.

Diane: I read Peggy Rudd and I get the imprssion of a woman who is wrapped in cloud of novacained cotton candy

Callan: What we do for love. . . .

Callan: Last night an MTF who is in a support group with FTMS, group therapy, said they thought it would be bad. but found that she could actually hear what FTMS said when she filtered out the same thing said by an MTF like her

We have these filters when we let the label mean more than the content, and to Helen, well any tranny born male has a lot to prove

Diane: you don’t get the content because of the filters that stop at the label

Callan: Yeah. If a republican says it, it must be wrong, at least according to Betty.

Diane: Betty hasn’t met the ‘good’ republicans

Callan: Could she see them even if she met them? The issue is Betty not being open to good people, whatever label

Diane: Have you read Rhenquists dissent on Roe V Wade?

Callan: No.

Diane: I have, and it’s really an amazing document.  What he said was- the supreme court needs something other than it’s own judgement, a legislative history, in order to find that the right of privacy extends to abortions. He didn’t say it couldn’t make that determination, he said that there was a procedure that needed to be followed in how the law is constructed.  Now, I happen to disagree that that is the proper way to deal with 9th amendment issues. I think the 9th amendment, by virture of not defining the process of determining non-specified rights left it open to the court to do just that to say we see the state encroaching on an inherent right …but I digress

the point is that Rhenquist was operating from a solid basis of legal tradition that had nothing to do with anything other than how law works in government and I can disagree on this very important question STILL see him as an honorable man vs Scalie who rewrites stuff to fit his conclusions

Callan: And you have to value his dissent,  respect a different POV and so many can’t do that.

The problem I have is with people who can’t imagine that there is a level of knowledge different than their current level that is valid and valuable They are in 5th grade and they can’t imagine what an 8th grader would think because the label makes walls that keep them in their own closet where they can call others wrong.

Diane: I’m a classical liberal…we do respect the conservatives, just not the radical fundies, so it still comes down to Helen pointing fingers about labeling and division and then going ahead and labeling and dividing

Callan: Learning to honor, value, respect, and support others who are different is so valuable And yes, Helen don’t do that and then abuses others for not doing that. But that’s the real work supporting even people whose choices squick you, as long as those choices are informed and consensual

Diane: I think the hardest thing I do is to support the people who are different.  I’ve been making friends slowly with a literate thoughtful promiscuous, man-hungry CD who is honest, about her choices, and who she is and what she wants

Callan: Good on’ya!

Diane: point is we’ve very different agendas, but we’re talking from mutual respect, or at least I am

Callan: Different ways to be woman. But women have that issue all the time. how do we support people making choices we would never make?

Diane: she doesn’t get a lot of people telling her she’s good

Callan: What tranny gets affirmation enough? I watch SuperNanny to pretend she is praising me.

Diane: because there’s honesty, integrity UNDER those choices behind those choices I don’t want to pick up a guy at a bar she knows who she is

Callan: Well, lots of women consider that a pleasurable and proper activity.  She has thought it through

Callan:.

Diane:  http://www.jamieyanak.com/confessions/beholder/beholder.html
You might get a kick out of her

Callan: Thanks. Always like good writing, not people acting out on an auditorium of people and claiming to be the informed and enlightened one.

Diane: well, it’s not like Jamie doesn’t act out

Callan: Acting out isn’t the same as acting. And in Helen’s case, lots of people in her wake

Diane: well, I think there’s a lot of hope for Helen, but it takes time.  when you get called to preach it’s really hard to change the contract to “teach” it’s easy to give the audience what they want and not what they need

Callan: Unless you are open to your own obligation to heal by engaging challenge.  But yeah, being the queen is fun. Wish I could get that feeling But somehow, I’m left being the sage

Diane: I wish you could too I think it would a lot healthier for you (excuse me) to be teaching rather than critiquing

Callan: The doubter is wise, the believer is happy.

Diane: I doubt too….lots

Callan: That part I get

Diane: you could take that stage but your doubts stop you? not wanting to be the preacher stops you?

Callan: But taking the stage requires an audience and I have always liked to kill audiences so they can experience the same joy I get in rebirth.

Diane: so write a book get an agent

Diane: tell Rhea you want a forum

Callan: Not so easy when you have fallen off the grid. and Rhea sees me as anotha tranny not a real girl goddess

Diane: the grid is easy enough to climb back on

I’m gonna make you mad at me

Callan: OK.

Diane: because I think you CAN do it and I just don’t know what stops you.  I don’t always agree with you but I do believe in you

Callan: Thanks.  Now make me mad.

Diane: “Just Do it” speak your truth

Callan: yeah,

Diane: tell Rhea you want a turn on stage.  build a community of your own

Callan: Look up “low latent inhibition.”

Diane: overcome it

Callan: Good ideas. Reasonable requests

Diane: hey, one thing Helen has done is build a community on her boards.  people get together. yeah, you can say it’s like minded sycophants but ANY community can suffer that charge

Callan: I agree with you. I “should” do something. but somehow,  I don’t know how to find ways to heal the little hurts.

Diane: whose…your hurts or someone elses?

Callan: Mine. I am way too raw and way too sensitive and I don’t know how to just take the hits and keep going.

Diane: My suggestion….and this is something I try to get across to Zanna without success your healing/saving the world comes from healing other people

each time you help someone else, somehow a little healing will go on with you whether it’s time or distance it’s the recipe for dealing with the loss of a loved one and isn’t that really about the loss of a part of myself

Callan: My sister sent me to Kripalu, wanted to remind me that I could help others.  I did, of course, even though she trapped me in a hell course for that. But the challenge was always how I got healed in the process.  Who heals the healers?

Diane: your sister sent you to cripple you because she couldn’t think of anything else

Callan: I agree, you are right, To give is to receive. But my reception, well. not so good.

Diane: and you have a lot to give. Constructive suggestion: some of it is packaging

Callan: All of it is.  be the cartoon people need but how does that help me?

Diane: which means that maybe you need help  in an editing process

Callan: You know, I tend to blow fuses in therapists. as in many people

Diane: I know… you blow fuses all over the place.  you warned me when we first started talking a few years ago that you’d alienate me too so far you haven’t

In some ways you are that hot pot of water you need to find a way to be cool at first and turn up the heat gradually so people don’t jump out

Callan: This makes me crazy.   The whole “play small and then get big” ideas so you won’t scare people off at first,  and when I transform to lower voltage all the heat builds up in me

Diane: well, come up with an alternative if you don’t like that then you need to find another outlet for it

Callan: Sorry.  Haven’t done it yet and I’m a bit too fried after these decades

Diane: I don’t know how to help you on that.  You know…

Diane: that maharishi keeps going

Callan: Yup. He has the rap down and gets odder and odder the farther he is from challenge

Diane: he started out saying that all it took to reach enlightenment was 20 mintues twice a day, and looking at it through my eyes he either was wrong then or wrong now,  but he keeps going he keeps trying and that I have to hand it to him

Callan: Amen. Time’s latest issue is on Ambition, and I perused it to see what I missed.

Diane: and?

Callan: Long list.  Family and Faith at the top, probably.

Diane: I see, when you don’t have an answer, round up the usual suspects?  So like time

Callan: LOL. That was quite the dismissal. I answered about what I missed.  No comment on Time.

Diane: I was commenting on time for having that in there. I obviously misunderstood in these reactionary times…family and faith are trotted to the for of everything with the Bushies

Callan: But, this is one point CrowBoyd doesn’t get.   Helen Boyd says that we have to counter letters from the right with letters from the left. But the left is open minds and the right closed, at least in terms of movements, Southern Baptist, Robertson et al,  and the have the faith to discipline followers but who can discipline the lefties?

Diane: I’d rather work from the another place entirely. Clinton’s genius was doing that.  the point isn’t to discipline the lefties, the point is to subvert the righties

Callan: We do need to work from another place entirely but Boyd don’t get that.

Diane: The right wing wakes up every day from the nightmare that science and modernity has taken another wounding shot at the god of their fathers the modern world confuses them

Callan: a shot at the simplicity and closed minded world view of their fathers too much choice so we need to cut off the edges

Diane: they want certainty, and the way to deal with that isn’t too worry about party discipline in the left it’s to keep on hammering on the self-doubts of the right to talk about the fear behind home schooling

Callan: It’s to build wonderful things they don’t want to live without to be attractive and compelling,  rather than dour and defended

Diane: well, that’s the other part: seduction.  You need the carrot and the stick

Callan: And why they hated Clinton because people loved him and that freaked them

Diane: he did it well.  too bad about his dick

Callan: But the people who loved him really just saw that as part.  The people who hated him saw that as revealing the flaw of seduction

Diane: yes… it stlll baffles me how having an affair and lying about it, is somehow more a crime than starting a war on false pretenses and lying about it

Callan: Yup. But one is moral because war is moral and one immoral because sex is immoral

Diane: oh well…it’s getting late in the morning… I think I need to get on with my day

Callan: Have a lovely.

Diane: you too

Callan: bye

Session Close (Diane): Sun Nov 13 11:12:21 2005