Monday, July 13, 2009

Pardon me; your Umbrella is Leaking - a Transgender Moment in Time...

Between my own GID/Transgender issues, Dreamweaver's issues as a partner to a GID/Trans identified person, and the discussions that have been appearing on several lists we are on about the subject, I want think aloud here and at random about some questions regarding being transgender.

One of the discussions that has arisen obliquely is the exact definition of Transgender. First off, who defines "Transgender"? For that matter who defines sexuality and gender in general and how is it defined? As members of the GLBT community, a minority group that many do not even acknowledge as a minority in the strict sense of the word, we live daily in conflict with the dominant paradigm of society. Our over all culture here - and largely throughout the world is Heterosexual, divided into to 2 categories, male and female. This is a binary definition where society dictates that there are two boxes, if you will, one for male and one for female. Certain characteristics have been assigned arbitrarily to each box. Some are physiological - such as primary and secondary sexual characteristics, some are traits that have become associated with genders - being strong and stoic and good at directions, etc with being male; being emotionally expressive and intuitive, good with children etc with being female. (and I know there are immediate howls going up out there about the fact that no individual actually fits these boxes...yes, that's my point!) The trait list is a long one and includes how we dress for instance. Women tend to get away with a LOT more variance on traits and dress then men do...(the reasons for that are related to patriarchal world views and that is a WHOLE different blog entry unto itself - not going there right now!) women may dress in androgynous clothing or in out and out male attire, hold the same jobs as men, and be tomboys. While "masculine" women *do* come under fire, we seldom are treated as savagely as the men are with any gender variance.

I for instance (with the notable exception of "The Dress" for my stepsons wedding!) dress completely male - I wear NOTHING that does not come from the men's department except for the sports bra, people! LOL! And yet, when I have pointed this out to some folks, even those that are close to me, they are suddenly completely non-plussed when I point out that I am cross dressing quite deliberately! And that is because so many straight women are wearing similar clothing, if not the same, even if they don't present as male. Basically, as my startled bemused psych professor pointed out - "You couldn't 'cross dress' if you wanted to!" Men, of course are allowed virtually NO variation whatsoever...they cannot shop in the women's department for clothing and blithely wear it at will...they cannot in any way present as female, or they get kicked out of the gender box, violently ostracised and endangered physically and emotionally! Not to say that women who don't conform to the stereotypical gender schema DON'T risk prejudice and danger in certain areas, it's just that we do have alot more leeway today, which has not always been the case. A look back up the history of women's suffrage - there was a time when women were forbidden by law to wear masculine clothing

There are SO many men and women out there that by these "definitions" are failing the gender box test utterly. For instance, to look at the male gender box, if being sensitive and gentle, working well with children, lack of mechanical ability, being bad at directions, etc.(and this trait list comes from one of those on-line discussions that has been on-going, if you are wondering where I got that list from) means that a man is not a "real" man, then men with these traits are flunking the Gender Box by binary heterosexual stereotypes.

They may present totally as male, and be "straight", but their competence as Real Men is judged and found wanting by those standards. In fact, the above describes my father completely - he is sensitive, gentle and kind and great with kids, barely able to hammer a nail the right way, and SUCKS at directions! I don't know HOW many times I have gotten lost because I trusted directions he gave me and wound up totally in outer Mongolia! I now thank him profusely when he tries to tell me one of his *alternate*routes and then go find a map!!! (or consult my Dreamweaver - I am as directionally challenged as he is - the difference is I will admit it! LOL!)

And he is a very straight man - in fact he is a reactionary old wing-nut Conservative whose right-wing rhetoric more than makes up for any "sensitivity" he may have! (wonder if its over compensation? A way to fit the Masculine Box despite his supposedly non-masculine traits?) And anyone who has ever encountered a dour redneck shade tree mechanic who scorns anyone who cannot work on their own car knows that the prejudices are real! So...the question is that if we don't fit certain stereo types, ask yourself are these failures of the Gender Check list...or are they simply Human traits that are uniquely combined in us to make us the unique individuals that we are? There are no tests, no grades, and the Binary gender paradigm is a social construct, an illusion that dominates us falsely.

So if there is an over laying Heterosexual schema that dominates us, how does that inform or construct Transgender schemas? IS there such a thing as a Transgender socially constructed check list, paradigm, or Box? I think that one of the difficulties today is that there really isn't.

Understand, people of both sexes have been passing for centuries as the opposite sex. To give several accounts of this here - there was a woman named Jennie Irene Hodgers born in Ireland in December 25, 1843; by 1862 he was passing as Albert D. J. Cashier and was enlisted in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He fought in 40 battles, was captured once, but escaped back to the union army and mustered out at the end of the war, his secret undetected. For the next 48 years he lived quietly as a man, until at the end of his life, he was committed to an asylum for dementia and his secret was discovered. He was immediately forced to wear a dress and identify as a woman until his death in 1915...surprisingly he was buried in his soldiers uniform and identified as Albert D. J. Cashier on his grave stone! . In the 1970s, over 55 years later, a second tombstone, inscribed with both of his names, was placed beside the first tomb stone. There is a good illustration of the Heterosexual Paradigm at work, that society would feel driven half a century later to make sure the grave was identified as that of a woman, even though "he" had no heirs or family after him to care.

The second example is that of Billy Tipton.Billy Tipton was born in 1914. He began living as a man full-time by 1940 at age 26, and “passed” completely as a male. He had a career as a jazz and swing pianist and entertainer and a common law marriage (unregistered but publicly accepted), and three sons by adoption. He recorded two successful jazz albums and had a successful career. Billy evidently pulled off his deception in marriage by a story of having been injured in a car wreck that affected his "genitals" and necessitated his chest to be bound. He was discovered to have been female-bodied after he died in 1989 at the age of 74 due to a hemorrhaging ulcer that he refused to have treated. (a very common thing for those who were passing back then and before – they routinely avoided medical care in desperate fear of being exposed, and this often led to death in serious medical issues. And I am hunting a reverse tale of a man or men who chose to live as a woman - when and if I find it, I will add it in.)

However, "transgender" is a modern word only a few decades old. It popularised in the 1970s to initially attempt to describe people who wanted to live cross-gender without sex reassignment surgery. In the 1980s it began to include all those whose gender identity did not mesh with their gender assigned at birth. It now also has a political dimension to define alliance of all those who have at some point not conformed to gender norms, (gee - would that not include the entire human race at some point or another!) and is used to question the validity of the heterosexual paradigm. Included under the transgender "umbrella" today are terms like Transsexual, Crossdressing, Transvestite, Drag kings and queens, Genderqueer, people who live cross gender, Androgyne, and more - and please note there is a raging argument going about whether any of those terms belong under "Transgender". In other words, the umbrella is LEAKING!

So, do we have a paradigm for Transgenderism? I would argue not. And while some people abhor labels, labels and paradigms and schemas are also about forming identity. No, no one individual fits a stereotype or paradigm perfectly, but all of us as we form our identities through out life do tend to fit more or less into certain ones and find that an important part of individuating and shaping our identity. The problem is not only do we not have a good definition for transgender, the whole concept of transgenderism challenges the Male/Female Heterosexual Stereotype at its very foundation. For that matter, it challenges the identity formation of everyone around the transgendered individual. When a GID / Trans individual elects to completely transition, the changes are huge and go far beyond the physical. Emotional and personality changes occur too. Floundering and struggle for identity and authenticity can wreak havoc as trans individuals struggle to work through the stereo types they have in their head of what male and female can be, and to realistically present their target gender. (and yes...the two individuals here started out life as the opposite sex from where they are now - Lynn was a man and Jake was a woman.) Male to Females struggle with presenting authentically, as they can begin by being far too the extreme of a feminine stereotype, drawing unwanted attention and scorn. Female to Males can struggle with male identity - wondering if they can live up to the stereotype, wrestling with temperament and behavior changes brought on by Testosterone treatment. This road is NOT for the faint of heart...

And it is a dangerous road too, for all too often, society can react violently to trans individuals, whether they are male to female or female to male. (for that matter, that is an issue all GLBT individuals can face.) Brandon Teena who's story is told in the movie "Boys Don't Cry" who was raped and murdered for presenting and living as a man and dating a young woman known to the murderers. Gwen Araujo who was murdered when she was discovered to be a young man biologically. Go to this link and see the list of names - it is a sobering thing. And it is a reminder of how incredibly reactive and violent the reaction of those who can see nothing but the Heterosexual Binary as an extreme - remember that their violence is driven by fear and misunderstanding so huge to a hatred so deep I cannot begin to comprehend it. This is not a safe path to walk.

A straight partner of a trans man or woman, suddenly finds themselves being "identified" lesbian or gay, whether they wish to be or not, with all the prejudice and loss of heterosexual privilege that goes with it. A gay or lesbian partner suddenly finds themselves identified as straight, which can be unbearable after years of identity building and self individuation as gay in the face of a hostile heterosexual society. Spouses of transgenders suddenly find themselves with spouses who are no long the sex that they themselves are attracted to. And it is extremely difficult for a non-trans individual to begin to wrap their minds around what the actual experience is like for the trans person going though it from the inside out. It was suggested to me the other weekend by a trans person's spouse that it is impossible. It is extraordinarily rare for relationships to survive one of them transitioning. The experience can be so devastating that it becomes impossible for many to even try.

However, some rare ones do - Helen Boyd and her wife Betty are one of the most publicly known couples that are together and strong and are surviving the changes it has wrought on their relationship. (They can be found at on Helen's blog, en/Gender and I highly recommend her books on their journey through this together) I have also recently heard of a couple who are a man and his now male partner who was his wife who are still together, which appears to be even rarer than the other way around. Think about it...the husband is now, in so far as the world identifies him - a gay man, since his wife is now his male lover. Mind boggling!

I actually know one couple who live near me -pictured here - he was an FTM; they are happily together, with kids, and to the outside world, they would "appear" a straight couple. I invited them to come speak at a class with me on trans issues; he had to work, but she came - her words were powerful and positive as she spoke of their relationship and the journey they have had together. can be done! And they are a shining example of it!

And just because I am looking at all this gender bending wildness, don't forget the guy who began life as a woman...and then after transitioning, and marrying, he and his wife discovered that she could not have children to term. So he, having not undergone a full below the waist transition, undertook to bear their children. Frankly, I thought that it was an absolutely beautiful human gesture of faith and love on both their parts to do this. However. the level of freak show, nasty hateful treatment they received was heart breaking, when it should have been treated as a triumph of the human spirit! (and talking about gender bending relationships and stereotypes! - fixes things, takes out the garbage AND has the baby! Talk about the perfect husband!!! LOL)

So....where I am I in all this craziness?

For my part, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am male in a female body. What I see in a mirror does not match what I am. (talking about avoiding full length mirrors like the plague!) ....however I also know, just as deeply and profoundly that the things that are feminine about myself that would be changed by transitioning, I am not willing to give up either. I have a very strong identity as a lesbian that I am very comfortable with. I feel a part of the Lesbian Community as well as a part of the Trans. Thats important to note - most FtMs that pass through identifying as Lesbian on their way to Transitioning find that it is a poor fit. They may be in a woman's body and attracted to women, but they are NOT women. They are men and the dynamics are completely different. In my case, its as though I feel like a man in a womans body AND a woman who is a Lesbian. I have a Trans Identity and a Gay Identity. Go figure....I can't explain it - I don't think the English language has invented the terminology yet. The genderqueer community is trying, but I think until and unless the primary straight binary paradigm is altered to become simply an inclusive human paradigm, our struggle to express concepts like this to other people are doomed to failure.

Feeling male or not inside, I really DO like things about myself that are female. I like myself as I am, even if it is confusing or difficult or stressful at times. I do not want to transition and risk these huge changes. If forcing me to deny what I am by making me try to present as a feminine heterosexual woman (and I did try, people, for 36 years of my life I tried!), then transitioning with testosterone, and surgery is also and equally a denial of myself as a lesbian woman. I also have physical issues that make transitioning completely a huge risk - I have had a hip replacement surgery and the risks of infection that can go with such extensive surgery are completely contradicted. I would have a very hard time getting a doctor to even begin to consider me for trans surgery, with those issues present - nor is it a risk that I want to run.

And perhaps most importantly, I am in a relationship with an incredible woman, who despite her fears and doubts, is utterly committed to me irregardless of my choices and working HARD to relate positively to the earth-shattering realization that her partner is trans. However, as I said above, transitioning is a life change that can and will shake a relationship to the utter ground. Very few survive it. While I feel positive that Dreamweaver and I would survive if transitioning was the right choice for me, I have no romantic illusions as to the cost of those changes on us and our relationship. No one who truly must transition to live will be stopped by relationships, even their most intimate ones. But since I am already sure that transitioning is not the answer for me, then it becomes infinitely even more important not to risk the most precious relationship of my life! Dreamweaver and I will find our own way through and we will do it together. (and yes, she is talking to her therapist and on a transpartner list - she is not floundering alone! We are doing all we can to help each other and communicate, clearly, often and always.) And I will remain her cute little butch dyke/trans boi, and the woman who is her wife! And I love her with all my heart!

For me, what makes my scenario so ground-shaking is that I since I will not be transitioning...therefore, where IS my balance, my path, my center? I am coming to understand that the difficulty is that I collide daily with that Heteronormative Binary Juggernaut of a cultural Paradigm every minute of every day of my life - as a woman in a patriarchial society, as a lesbian in a straight society, as a transman in a binary - focused society. Encounters at church, at school, in the store, trying to buy clothes, using a rest room (I have used the mens room by accident, yes, REALLY, and the guys in the restoom did not even realize I was a woman. I totally "clocked" as male. Really WEIRD moment!). I see it constantly in entertainment industry. in popular music, in the newspaper editorials and the news. I see it in the pain and fear in my parter's eyes as she goes through this with me...pain and fear for me and what I go through, pain and fear of the changes it has brought to our relationship. Even knowing intellectually, who and what I am, and knowing what I know about how society constructs itself, emotionally it is a continual shocking jolt, day in - day out.

I dont have an *easy* answer (as if tearing your whole life and body apart and putting it back together could be considered an easy solution! *snort!!!*) Androgynous does not explain me, it is not an equal blend, and yet I am truly both. I am learning step by step as a unique human being that my path will be unique as well...just as every persons path in life is. Mine may be a little more unique than some peoples...and that is not a comfortable feeling at all! But it is who and what I am and I am learning to value myself for that.

So...there are some of my thoughts on Transgender issues and how they can affect our lives....

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference."

(Robert Frost)


  1. Believe it or not, I made it through this post in under an hour...OK...You probably already know what I think about all this...I don't understand WHY we have to label anyone anything. I have yet to figure out why we must mark male or female on a job application, or any other form. I can perhaps see a reason for it at birth, no, really, now that I think about it, I don't see what purpose it serves then either. If someone could explain WHY we need labels in the first place, then maybe I would have something intelligent to add to this conversation...Until then, I'm going back to unlabeled corner.

    Glad you got your post back, btw.

  2. Ah, Hermit, over there in the Unlabeled time out corner! *grin* Labeling is like everything else - it has both value and disadvantages... The disadvantage of course is stereotyping and trying to make everyone conform to something that is NOT a universal one size fits all. Not to mention what happens when one set of labels becomes the dominant discourse, and becomes orpressive to all other naratives.
    On the flip side - labels and categories are a way to form identity in the process of self individuation, and in finding community. They can be a comfort zone by creating a sense of the familiar in a crisis, and a sense of power in being able to name that which threatens you or your identity.
    Some people need labels - some people do not. Nither way is better, only different. I personally in the above post propose that the Domninant Discourse of our society - that of heterosexual binary normative be dismantled, the labels done away - that we move to an inclusive veiw of all of us, rather than being splintered in to factions.
    And yes, I admit that the labels of trans, and gay and so forth are at this point in time in my life important to me. They are indicative of community, there are others like me, they are talismanic, naming that about myself that has been my shadow all my life. But I also realize that I do not NEED them as an absolute definition of me. So...there you may never need labels. I may always be intrigued by them and looking to identify where the labels and the narratives come from and why. But neither of us are blind to the fact that all these things are sociatally constructed and that we can stand outside them if we choose.

  3. God, I hate typos in the posts! Sorry about that - it's time to go to bed. I'm not typing fast enough to keep up with my thoughts!

  4. Beloved,

    Wow! You put it on your blog for all the world to see.

    We once had a conversation in which we discussed the fact that homosexuals never stop coming out. It is a lifelong process, because every new person, every new audiance, every new beginning requires the identity identification to remain authentic. People do not immediately identify as heterosexual, it has been argued, so why do gays? And the answer would be because we are assumed to be heterosexual until we identify ourselves otherwise.

    Trans, boi, lover, you have that scenario times two. It will never be enough to "simply" identify as gay because that first outing still denies the trans status, so you have out yourself, deal with that possible rejection, and then follow up with yet anther outing.

    I do not believe labels define people. Used appropriately, labels do become a shorthand for our language to communite meaning in a word rather than a paragraph. I am a Witch, Woman, Gay, Mother. Each word conveys a vital aspect of self. Each word labels me. When I say High Priestess, Middle Aged Woman, Partner of a Transgendered Lesbian, Non-custodal Mother, I shift the meanings. So labels can also be about claiming, reclaiming, redefining and empowerment.

  5. This is a lot of food for thought. I've told you before that hearing you expound on this topic is a lot like listening to myself. This post may be the impetus I need to do an exploratory post of my own.
    Labels are helpful to a point, but sometimes I feel like someone is sitting at a large desk, banging a round peg into a square hole screaming, "Fit! Fit! Fit!"

  6. Oddly enough...I've always seen you as a boi.
    Go figure

  7. Hey Missbehavin'!
    I remember you looking through my family photo album, seeing a picture of me at age two. wandering on the beach in a diaper and shirt, and you saying, "oh look! It's a baby dyke!" LOL! It's a wonder that ANYONE takes me as straight! But there are some who do...people see what they want to or need to see I guess.

  8. Cameron, wonderful post. Well thought out and reasoned, but also with spirit and soul..and yes, love.

    To you and Lee. I hate labels, but we need them...for multiple reasons. For the trans, a correct label means services...unfortunately the American Psychiatry Association hasn't figured that out or chooses not to.

    Further labels while limiting to an extent also allow us to form communities with those who wear the same or similar label. Support is built this way.

    Does it always work? No. Flat out no. As a new member of the trans community, and an older member (53) I've thrown myself out there. I have little too lose now and everything to gain. I have a facebook account that I write about what 'm going through and talk with Alums that I knew and supported as they passed through our institution.

    I also volunteer. This last week and through Sunday I will have volunteered 49 hours to OutFest. This is on top of my normal 40 work hours and time spent with my kids...while they'll let me.

    So after being accepted by the coordinators, I was amazed and saddened by the number of times other volunteers or patrons at the shows asked why I was wearing the wrong it didn't match how I looked. This is the community that supports us? Oh, that would be the same one that thought dropping trans from the 2007 ENDA was a good idea (thanks HRC)?

    I think we can accomplish a lot as a true community...if we can every get there..and Transpeople aren't alone. I hear gay men bashing lesbians, butches bashing lipstick lesbians, muscle bois trashing twinks....and we wonder why it takes so long to get anything done. If perhaps we, as a community could stop trying to desperately put ourselves at the top of the dung heap, perhaps we just might dig ourselves out..

    be well and safe.


  9. Hi Cameron -- What do you think of the work of Kate Bornstein (Gender Outlaw, etc.) who says that transgendered people (whether transitioned or not) are neither male nor female but are in fact a third gender, uniquely male AND female but not exclusively one or the other? She would see nothing contradictory about you being trans male and lesbian at the same time.

  10. Good post, hon. :) At least you know WHAT you're grappling with, right?
    You're getting a handle on it, and that's the most important thing.

    It's such a recursive thing. Would we worry about how to live, what our
    roles were, how we dressed, if society wasn't constantly telling us to
    worry about it? What would identity BE if there wasn't something that we
    had to define ourselves against?

    I sense from this that you're still in the process of positioning yourself.
    It's no use lamenting the need to do so -- arguably, that's what "belonging
    to a society" means, even if you aren't "belonging" but rather are rejecting,
    you're still positioning yourself one way or another, in, out, or liminal.
    The issue is always getting others to respect our positioning. Or, it's
    the fight to be allowed a broader range of positions. Deciding between
    "opting out" or staying there and saying, "this is my space, too, and I have
    a right to ask that it accommodate my needs as well".

    The *explaining* gets really tiresome after a while, though, doesn't it?
    Don't you feel the urge to have little business-card sized things printed
    up that would explain things succinctly? "Here, read this first - okay,
    NOW I can talk to you". (Or, as Doonesbury once put it, "I favor
    a system of lapel-pins, myself.")

    Or maybe it's not the explaining that's a pain, because explaining is about
    identifying ourselves, and that's something we tend to LIKE to do. Maybe
    what's tiresome is when it feels like it's shading over into "I have to explain
    this in order to justify its right to be". That's what shouldn't be needed.

  11. Holly,
    Bumper stickers - think bumperstickers! LOL! No, you are right, even my friend Lee (Hermit who hates labels) is not neutral because society won't LET you be neutral. And yeah, its the Have to Justify my Right to Live part thats the issue! (sometimes literally! EEP!) Because society has this massive overbearing arc of HOW THINGS MUST BE, there is no excaping it - maybe someday mine and Dreamweaver's great grandkids will not understand what the problem was or all the fuss is about. Unfortunately, we live in this world as it is NOW. And think...if we were accepted as human beings as we are. people in marginalized positions could form healthy identities in early life just like everyone is "suppose" to, instead of having to claw our way to it later in life, and constantly redefine it. In a hypothetical world where I am accepted as I am, all this identity formation would have been done childhood through teens and not now in my middle years after spending a life time of trying so desperately to fit into a box that I was never shaped to fit.

    Ah well - Plato DID say that the unexamined life was not worth living! So I guess I am in good shape!

    And don't worry about the formating - ye stars, you should have seen this post before I stuck in on the blog - this is the one that the formating went to hell on and trashed the entire layout of my blog before I got it fixed! Yikes! A few weird line breaks are no problem, trust! Allisia and Debra - will respond to your comments after I have had supper...I am so glad to hear from you!

  12. I think I have the perfect label for you...


  13. Laughs...How was supper? I'd have more to add, but I'm working it out...a work in progress? Just got home...well about 1.5 hours ago. Then talked to my baby. Want confusion? Understanding? Good luck.

    When this all began I hid in an online community. Met a wonderful woman, fell in 'love' and quickly explained what and who I was. Didn't want lies. She was fine with it, and considered me a woman...let me be me.

    Two weeks ago she broke down and told me that she is exactly like me..well, not exactly...she hasn't started, living in a very small town in northern community. I still love her...sad that she didn't trust me from the beginning. We've already made plans for her to come here and meet with others like us. And things beyond that. Who knows where this journey takes us. She was there for me when I needed I'll be there for her.

    How does one define love?

  14. Heavy stuff, Cameron.

    Do we all feel a bit gender-fucky? I grapple with my spot on the male-female continuum. I am not male, but I don't fit the female stereotype. I prefer the company of males, and not from a sexual orientation perspective. I tend to think like a man sometimes, in some respects. The older I get, the less it bothers me. I'm glad about that!

    big hugs, dear. And yes, I want to escape to your safe place. I'm looking for a window of opportunity, but haven't quite found it yet. I'll keep you posted.

  15. Okay, comments piling up faster than I can respond to! Nice problem to have! Alissia, sorry for taking so long to get back - understand, I am a full time non-traditional college student in my Senior Year, I am painting a mural project, and working with Dreamweaver to care for and nuture our relationship - you think my schedule sucks, she is working full time AND in gradschool in her practicum! Part of the function of this blog is a way for us to stay in touch...we see each other for a few momments each day, right before we fall asleep exhausted! So...since I had a test today - Astronomy - everything got shoved a little aside! So...
    I think the thing that strikes me about your first comment Alissia, is that you have that much community around you at all, even if it doesnt know what to do with us. I live in an area that being gay is not safe, and being trans is courting death. The last time Dreamweaver encountered a very young dragqueen (do not know if he was a drag queen or if he was trans identified) in a bar that was sort of gay for the night because the singer was a lesbian, when she left, she changed clothes before settng foot outside the bar and went bak to presenting as male. Smart. And I still walked him to his car down the alley because I was deeply concerned for his safety. I too hate that our community is so devided, but it sounds like that you have more cohesian that we do - there is no trans group have to cross the state line to get a trans support group (I am talking about the old fashion kind, where you actually physically get in the same room, not an online group!)and the gay community here is pretty beaten down below the radar. We did have a successful Pride March in a local city near us, but its like there is this vortex of conservatism here that colors the whole city. I envy you your resources and I am amazed by your activism and volunteerism! You sound like you are in a confusing relationship scenario right now, which is stressful! How does one define love? Oh man...better people than I have tried much more eloquently than I and failed...I do remember the Robert Heinlien definition (paraphrased - or perhaps mangled ) from Time Enough for Love...Love is where someone elses happiness is as impottant to you as your own. I am afraid that my musings are once again going to be short - I have to get up and be at work by 7 am, and it is after 1:00 am. But I am hanging in there...will continue to post to this thread. Hope you all keep abreast of it.
    Blessed be - can bare;y keep my eyes open all of a sudden, so that might be a message from the Clur Fariy that I need to crash. Ah me...not enough hours in a day! Looking forward to more discussion.and catcning up on comments!
    Be patient - life will not always be this chaotic - and I keep telling my self that at extreme moments. Hope you get to read my brief posting of on drag....
    More soon!

  16. Yeesh - I KNOW I am tired - my typing went to hell in a handcart at the end there! Going to bed and to sleep now!
    Blessings to all....

  17. Sleep well hun.
    I had 3 hours of sleep last night, up at 5 to go to work, and then OutFest till midnight, home by 12:30, and then talking with my baby for a while. Now checking emails and blogs before I pass out...then get up to take son on his papser route morning. It's 1:10 AM. So I can sympathize. Nothing like working a party with 700 drunk lesbians...grin. Was fun though.

    I will keep following this thread, seeing what you add as you have time. Take care of yourself and your love first though. Remember your own quote.

    I take it you are in the midwest? Guessing. That sucks in ways I can't adequately describe. If I can do anything to help. My volunteering never ends. I've had so many help me, I have to give back so that I don't feel quite so guilty at having it easy.

    "Love is where someone else's happiness is as impotent to you as your own."...I'd change a couple of words...."Love is where someone else's happiness is more impotent to you than your own." In either case though we love each other. I don't feel confused about her, just in trying to do the right thing. I want to help her and be with her, but I also feel like a homewrecker. My own issues to deal with. Obviously I didn't know she was married when we started out.

    But I don't feel it's confusing. I thought I would in the begining because she had lied on a number of fronts (age, natal gender, work, relationship status, etc) but I came to realize why she'd done it as well. I also realized I'd helped her move from an abused person who had accepted the role of submissive, to one who was confident and cold articulate what she wanted. And she'd helped me just by accepting me as I was..warts and all. I still loved her very much and realized I couldn't let her early fears break us up. It'd taken a while, but she'd found the strength and trust to tell me the truth....that meant a lot.

    So I move forward...with my life..and with hers. Intertwined in a wonderfully strange way. She wants to marry me, which oddly enough will be possible at one point. This isn't where I thought I'd be, but it is where I am.

    Best to you and Dreamweaver. I hope you find a way to spend more time together. Practicums can be hard. Orals even more so. And it sounds like your life is very full...enjoy it. College was some of the best times of my life. Brutal hours, but great insights and accomplishments.

    Be safe and well,


  18. arrrg..impotent s/b important! Late night ramblings at the all night dinner. The food's lousy, the drinks warm, but the discussions are worth living for.

  19. Alissia,
    first of all, do you have a blog, or an emaail or something? tried to back track you to return the favor and cant find you.
    Your memory of the quote is better than mine - that is indeed how it is phrased in Hienleins book! I stand corrected.
    No, I am not in the midwest - without nailing down exact location, we live a matter of miles from Bob Jones University - Dreameaver, at the time, worked within a block of Sean Kennedys murder the night it happened. So, you could say we are wedged into one of the holes for the tongue of the buckle on on the Bible Belt....yeesh! Its a confusing area...progressing and with great arts and school opportunities, and yet there is that ugly under flow that can bite!
    I pray that all goes well for you and your friend - sounds like you had a rocky start - thats ok. So did Dreamweaver and I! If we survived, anyone can!
    you are a perfect example of what I mean when I say that no one fits into the stereotype of their little gender box. You are a straight woman, and yet you dont fit the paper cut out version of women that scociety wants us all to conform to. Here the question - would you ever in your life have worried about these things if there was no box, no stereotype, no mold that society tried to make you fit into? I bet you would not. Getting rid of this paradigm benefits all of us, straight, gay, trans, bi, male female, intersex.....heck there would probably be some benefit for the family dog if it were to ever happen. (your safe space is here waiting on you - however, the bed in the guestroom is now a matress. - the frame had a nervous breakdown and hand to be dissassembled before any guests could be potentially injured - however, we will make you comnfortable, we promise! Come on whenever you like!)

  20. Cameron,

    Wow! Dreamweaver has said that you were working over GID issues, but I can see its quite a conundrum. I love you for who you are, regardless of what form your body takes or what gender your head or heart thinks you are. You are marvelous in all of your forms.

    Your thoughts on this subject are quite profound. While I don't think I'll ever completely understand what you're going through, as a woman who is comfortably making a name for herself in a male-dominated profession, I can relate to some aspects of it.

    I'm going to keep an eye on thie topic too. It's very interesting reading your thoughts and reading your blog is going to be a good way for me to feel closer to you guys. I miss you!


  21. address? Hmmm, hate posting email publicly, and I can't find a way to send a pm...hmm...ok

    Should be easy.

  22. Fiber Geek, I am thrlled that our blogs give you a chance to connect - we know you miss us! We miss you too - as in you live too DAMN far away! As for your assesment of your job in a male dominated proffesion, yes - that constant feeling of having to justify your place, existance, your abilities, your self over and over, in ways that the people around you do not. Whatever the reason - sex, gender, race, color, creed - if we do not "fit" the over all unspoken arc of this cultures "how things must be", we feel that dissonance in ways that other people do not. I am sure - or perhaps I suspect that everyone feels something of the sort in some way, because as I maintain above, NO one can FIT the ideal. But the closer an individual fits it, the less the cognitve stress. I consider your comparison quite valid! What a wonderful comment - seeing you post here made me very happy! I will be watching for your comments! And we look forward to seeing you soon, I hope!

  23. Alissia, that didn't work. Suspecting my lack of Geek skills, I checked with Dreamweaver and she said that it requires your email, so we are back to square one, and like you, neither am I handing out info, for obvious reasons. So, lets just stick to the works! Look forward to hearing from you soon.

  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  25. Reposting Alissia's last comment:

    One thing I've noticed that people seem to have a hard time getting past is the idea the binary. I'm sorry, but it doesn't exist, and the trans community is the ultimate example of that.

    People going for boxes see 0 or 1. Male or female, gay or straight, {laughing} D/ or /s.
    It's not that way anymore, and really never was, we as a race were just better at keeping the boxes closed before.

    I stood at the wrap party for OutFest last night and marveled at the continuum we have now. It still throws people who are used to boxes, but it's -slowly- gaining acceptance.

    While other than clothes and a set of 38B's I appear male. 3 years from now not so much. But right now, every time someone looks at my badge and wonders if I have someone else's, it opens the possibility of a discussion, a sharing of ideas, and the possibility that one at a time we can change things.

    At 53 I both do and do not have the luxury of time. I can allow in depth discussions with groups of people about what TS means to -me-, always stating that I don't speak for the community, and anyone who says they do are seriously egotistical. The 'do not'? I'm the time I'm 60 no surgeon will probably touch me.

    So when the world sees that we are all shades of one fully black or white...then we can start accepting everyone for who they believe themselves to be with out having to check off boxes on a form.
    JULY 20, 2009 12:24 PM

  26. I think this is an incedibly perceptive comment. You are right - the boxes are empty, illusionary, and sociatally constructed. In the centuries before, when in the words of Oscar Wilde, we were "the love that dare not say it's name" that illusion of either or, and quite frankly, depending on where you live, there are places where the boxes were absolute...Male or female, straight.
    I still live in one of those areas. The greatest thing we ever did was break our silence, find our voices, and speak out.
    I love the fact that you enter into dialogue and discussion...that is how we will change things. One of my deepest fears is that as tensions ratchet up, that we will achieve the level of visible violence that the Civil Rights movement did - that we will face our own Selma. The Soul Force bus came through here in 2007 and took on Bob Jones and left shaken by the ugliness of it. Thats not to say we haven't had violence, and more violence. Every act of hate, or discrimination, or death just ratchets the tension higher. I fear an explosion that we have not yet seen...and all for a concept that is an illusion, that applies to NO ONE. The straightest male in America does not fit "the box" 100% - NO ONE PERSON DOES. Because in the end - "the box" isn't real. It exists in peoples minds.
    It took how many years for them to get the racial designation off the drivers license...
    Someday we won't need male/female on it either! There is a lovely, radical thought!

  27. A fun video to start this off:

    Calpernia is wonderful but in the context of your final thoughts, one section stands out. Don't ask any human being if they are male or female. If you don't know you shouldn't ask.

    What? No labels? How will we survive? The world will end!!!

    I studied Zen Buddhism in the late 70's. I was with a number of students. Many could not grasp cetian concepts. I seemed to and could articulate them, so the instructor gave me an "A". I handed it back to him, and asked why? He said you don't think you deserve and A? No, I don't think I deserve a grade.

    You see I actually understood it better than the instructor. The moment you give something a label you define everything else in the universe as not that. Zen is about understanding at a total level that there is no 'thing' but rather an all that encompasses everything.

    Yeah, so much for eastern philosophy. Outside of a handful of people I haven't found any that understand it.....And those that do? Unwilling to label themselves as knowing or others as not knowing...a desperate dichotomy. The sword of Damocles. Actively showing someone knowledge ascertains that you felt they were part of a group that did not have the knowledge.

    So what do you do? You live your life in the zen way and not worry about the labels or the teaching. Those that see your way and start to understand will come and ask the questions... This is also true for our community.

    Standing on a corner waving a rainbow flag may make us feel better, but it does squat in changing things. We're (the greater community) still freaks to middle america. So what does change them?

    Sigh. I hate this part. Us being out and living our lives like anyone else so that they see we're not corrupting their youth. They see us being like anyone else...doing our jobs, taking care of our house and car. Spending time training the dog. Going for walks around the neighborhood. Holding hands. Loving and being a spiritual sense...get your mind out of the gutter! .....
    .....Like I said, I hate this part....And dying. Being murdered not for anything we did, but just for who we are. Community leaders will rant and rave about not getting the resources needed to track down the killers, or about not enough coverage by the news......But when was the last time you saw a major news story about a black or Hispanic person being gunned down in the barrio? And how many murders, rapes, and beatings go unsolved every day?

    No we get better coverage than most.....and it makes a big difference. Even middle america is starting to become, albeit slowly, upset with the murders of people who's only crime was living.

    We talk about the fact that only 12 states have gender protection laws. I asked leaders in the community about how many states they thought did. Most though that all the ones with gay and lesbian protections, no. The deaths bring us to the front and put a face on us....a face we didn't have..and when you are faceless it's easier to hate and write off.

    Wow.....Looking at time and amount written...sorry. I don't or shouldn't write on Monday nights....injections on Sunday night tend to push me. Hormones gone wild.

  28. and since you asked... I started. Sleep now.