Saturday, November 27, 2010

Not so Black Friday

Friday 11/26

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  It was relaxing and peaceful - two words I don't often equate with a day that often involves frenzy of one kind or another.  I spent the day with a dear friend, and all things considered I can't imagine myself anywhere else right now.

The DonnaNater at the Rifle Range on Black Friday 2010

This morning throngs headed to stores to take advantage of Black Friday specials during the wee hours of darkness.  Not us.  We got up early, got some things together, and found ourselves at a rifle range by 7am.  We spent a couple of hours shooting which - I must admit - was a first for me.  I had a blast (please forgive the pun).

I've never been to a rifle range before.  Heck, I've never spent much time around guns at all partly simply because I never had anyone to teach me or take me.  I took to it like a fish in water.  We had a number of firearms to shoot with and I'll admit to the thrill of aiming at something 50 yards away, pulling the trigger, and watching it jump when you hit it.

I can't imagine hunting, though.  I couldn't before and that's even more true now.  But to go to a range and to practice for a couple of hours this was fun.  I'll even admit that cleaning the guns afterwards was fun.  All in all, a morning I won't forget.

I've done a number of "new" things on Thanksgiving over the years but this one was unique in many ways.

Saturday 11/27

I'm relaxing on the last night of my Thanksgiving trip.  Tomorrow I'm hoping to make it to the beach for a bit before beginning the daunting drive north.  The last time I did it it took 10 hours.  I expect it'll take a couple of more hours tomorrow thanks to Holiday traffic.  I hope not, but I'm expecting it....

I've had a wonderfully relaxing time here.  After the craziness of the last several weeks it was much needed and much appreciated.  These kinds of things revitalize the psyche and the soul and although I'm already feeling pangs of sadness over leaving I'm also looking forward to all the things that are on my plate at the moment.  Lots of challenge.  Lots of opportunity.

I had someone write to me recently and ask me when I was finding any "Donna Time".  This is my Donna Time.  It's the Yin to my Yang.  When I'm doing what I do I'm on and I'm focused and I'm tireless.  But when I let myself relax, which believe it or not I do from time to time, I do it fully.  I'm fortunate to have a few people in my life who provide the spiritual nourishment I need.  Thankfully, I'm visiting one of them now.

So tomorrow I'll be driving.  I'm hoping that everyone who happens to stop by here had an enjoyable Thanksgiving.

Oh - one more thing.  My oldest niece, Rachel, got engaged last night.  I really like her boyfriend...well, her fiancee, Andy.  Both of them are truly blessed to have each other in their lives.  Congratulations to both of them.  And welcome to the family Andy.  :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Each year it's the most significant Holiday in my calendar.  Why?  Because there truly is so much to be thankful for and life sometimes goes so quickly that it's important to set aside some time each year to reflect, to re-prioritize, to give thanks, to appreciate, and to tell others that your life is better because they're part of it.  In a perfect world every day would be Thanksgiving, or perhaps there would be no need to set apart a day for it because it would organically happen by itself all year long.

Where am I this year?  Where am I spending Thanksgiving?  Without going into specifics - I'm in South Carolina.  I've got a turkey in the fridge ready to cook tomorrow, I've got some special people in my life sleeping upstairs as I type this, and all I can say as I get ready for bed is that it's nice to be here as it feels very much like home in many ways.  And (in my best Forrest Gump accent) "That's all I have to say about that...."

I suppose part of the reason I feel the way I do about Thanksgiving has to do with some emotional attachment to memories of this day forged over the years.  I don't have a similar attachment with any other day - not Christmas, not my birthday, not New Year's.  Over most of the years that I was married Thanksgiving happened at our house, I cooked, and the next day was reserved for putting up our Holiday stuff.  My first day at work as Donna was in early October so the first real time I spend with my family after that was Thanksgiving.  I remember crying as I packed to go back home afterwards - I didn't want it ever to end.

But the fact it, it does end.  Endings are part of life, as are beginnings.

I'll enjoy a couple of days of chill time before heading north again.  I just wanted to take a minute here to give thanks to friends and family, to possibility, and to Life.  During the storms that occasionally blow into life those are the things that will keep us moored.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Going with the Flowing

I was thinking tonight that my life has been pretty interesting in recent years.  Lord knows I never planned it like this.  All I ever wanted was just to be me and to be left alone.  It's amazing what a pesky little social consciousness can do.  Anyway, I probably have enough interesting experiences and knowledge to write another book.  I suppose the only thing missing is time.

CNN did a segment on Joy Behar tonight titled "Transgender in America".  Personally I'm not a Joy Behar fan but that's just me.  It felt a little like a Trans 101 thing but whatever - this is what came out.

The first thing that stands out for me is the obvious diversity of the group of people talking.  I recently did a panel and everyone on the panel was white FTM.  The mix of perspectives here is nice to see.

There was an incident in Houston last week that didn't get much visibility but that has me very cranky.  A trans-woman was arrested for using the women's bathroom in the Houston Library.

The fool who says that as long as this woman has a "male organ" she should use the male bathroom needs a serious lesson in safety, dignity, and law.  If something like this happens anywhere around Harrisburg I'll be all over it like you wouldn't believe - it's just not right.  According to the report the case may move to higher courts as well it should.  As I say - it's just not right.

My days these days flow.  That is, they're one thing after another after another.  I had an evening discussion to do at a local university last night but made sure to take an hour of "me" time.  Where did I spend it?  On a treadmill.  And it was wonderful.  It's constantly amazing to me how my psyche and my physical self are connected.  Anyway, the opportunity to run for an hour, do some sit-ups, and work these legs did me a world of good.

The article I mentioned that would be coming out in the local paper was on the front page yesterday (read it here).  I'll admit that I didn't read the entire thing but what I did read was well done.  Thanks so much to the reporter and the editors.  The thing I'm happiest about is the needed visibility it provides for the Center.

I got a bunch of email from it, as you might imagine, and it was overwhelmingly supportive.  I don't read the comments on things like this because it can make you crazy and from what I've heard there have been some doozies which is certainly fine.  If someone wants to come and say that kind of ignorant crap to my face they know where I work.  Come on down.  It may surprise people that based on current counts the number of comments on the story is more than any other story in the last two days - twice as much as on a story on PA Legislators getting a pay raise.

I spoke on a panel at a local University last night.  It was fun.  Thanks to everyone who arranged it and attended.  These kinds of things make for long days but that's not a complaint.  I'm pacing myself so all is well.

As for Thanksgiving, I'm traveling.  I've got 600+ miles to drive in hopes of getting from here to there by mid-day tomorrow.  If I leave at 4am perhaps I can make some headway before too many people get on the road.  As I say - I'm pacing myself.  It's the only way I know how to do it all....

BTW - I realize that the Holiday Season is here and that times are tight for many but we'll be doing a phone-a-thon to raise year end funds here at the Center.  If you can spare a hundred bucks send me an email and I'll give you a call to get your information.  Know that it's going to a wonderful cause and I will be much appreciative.  :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Off My Last Board

I'm pooped. As I type this I'm propped up in bed waiting to sink into sleep.

Me and Jenny Boylan meeting up for brunch today...

The last three days have seen trips to DC and back again and Philadelphia and back.  I attended the NGLCC dinner in DC on Friday night, I got 2 new tires on my car yesterday, I spoke at the TDOR event here in Harrisburg at dusk yesterday, I had brunch and a very pleasant afternoon today with the always fab and wonderful Jenny Boylan, and I attended a very pleasant Meet and Greet event this evening.  Bedtimes over the past two evenings was 2am both nights.  Thank God for coffee.

Some things to note:

The NGLCC National Dinner 2010

After 2 2-year terms on the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce board I am stepping away.  Although I have enjoyed watching the organization grow from next to nothing to being on the brink of some wonderful things it's time to focus on other endeavors.  As a result, at the moment I'm not on a single board of directors for the first time since 2005.  In some ways I feel like I've done a tour of combat duty and have finally been called back home.

The dinner on Friday night was another wonderful chance to meet up with friends I only see once or twice a year.  The Building Museum is a classy, elegant, very nice place to hold these kinds of things.  I hope they don't outgrow it because I think they'd lose something important if it were held somewhere else.  In any event - I had a nice time.  The City Council member from Ft. Worth TX who started the "It Gets Better" stuff was there with his daughters.  So was the gay student body president from the University of Michigan who was targeted and harassed by an Asst. Atty General there who eventually got fired for it.  So was Martina Navratilova.  So was dear Amanda Simpson.  All in all, a stellar evening.

Gathering for TDOR on the steps of the State Capitol Bldg

We estimated that there were 80 people or so at the local TDOR event on the steps of the state Capitol Building yesterday at sundown.  I'm told that's twice the number who attended last year.  Thanks to everyone who braved the chilly temps to participate.  The sunset was spectacular, and the full moon was equally amazing.  A special thanks to Jeanine and the gang at TransCentralPA for all their work to put together an awesome event. 

Lastly for now, I probably won't have to come out to many people here in Harrisburg.  At the dinner this evening I was told that an interview I recently did with a reporter for the local paper will be featured on the front page tomorrow.  I hope it came out well and provides the needed visibility for the Center.

This will be another busy week.  I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving.  Lots of things to do before then.  First things first, though.  Time for bed.

Friday, November 19, 2010

T-Day Minus Six

Thanksgiving is less than a week from today.  How the heck did it creep up so fast??

Living in the desert you get used to having it NOT feel like Thanksgiving.  For those of us who grew up in climates where Thanksgiving often involved cold and snow I don't know if you ever get used to it being just another sunny 82 degree day.  But now I'm living back in the northeast and it still doesn't feel like itself.  Hmmmm.  I wonder why.

For those following the saga of my car - I picked it up yesterday.  New timing belt + New tire +  New O2 sensor + A few other minor things = Big OUCH!  It still needs some things in the front end suspension which all add up to another OUCH but I'll wait a couple of weeks before dealing with that.  The good news is that when I picked her up she drives like a kitten again.

My life has been a whirlwind lately.  I realize that my life is often very whrilwindy but this is a different flavor or it.  My days are full from early to late and then it starts over again.

Here's a synopsis of my last couple of days:

Wednesday I worked all day, then I had to drive the 100 miles from here to Newark DE to speak at the University of Delaware.  After I finished we went out to dinner and they had gotten me a hotel room to get some sleep.  But I knew I had an 8am meeting back here in Harrisburg so I drove the 100 miles at midnight to get back home.  I was finally in bed and asleep by 2.

Yesterday: The alarm went off at 6 so I could be at work by 7 to prepare for an 8am meeting.  In mid-morning I had a state Human Rights Commission meeting related meeting on bias related incidents.  That went thru lunch, then I had to be back at the office to finish up a couple of things.  Someone came to pick me up at 4 to drive me the hour it takes to get to Carlisle PA to meet with the LGBTQA Faculty group at Dickenson College there.  I was back at my car by 7:30, and made it home by 8:30.

Today I work for half a day, then I drive the couple of hours from here to DC to attend the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Dinner there tonight.  I'll spend the night there.

Tomorrow I drive back home, I'll participate in the Day of Remembrance event on the State Capitol steps and then I'll drive to Philadelphia to meet up with a group there.  I expect it will be a late night.

Sunday I have to drive back to Harrisburg.  There's a Meet and Greet event here on Sunday afternoon.

Monday it starts again....

People ask me if I'm enjoying the new job and I'll admit that I am.  But things go so quickly there's always something going on.  And the combination of having a job that involves food and drink with a lack of opportunity to get to the gym on any regular basis is making me feel like a blob.  I hope things settle out but it's not likely anytime soon.

In the bigger world, things are happening as well.  I was gratified, but not surprised, to see that the LPGA is in the process of removing the clause from their rules that prevent trans-women from competing (details here).  The comments are pretty ignorant, as you'd expect, but such it the world in which we live.

I was on a conference call with Dept. of Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius a couple of days ago to discuss a new directive on hospital visitation for same-sex partners (see story about it here).  One of the questions during the Q&A was about what are the consequences of hospitals that do not comply, or what are the teeth to make sure this happens.  I'm dubious that most hospitals even know about this, much less that they have the power to push this kind of stuff down to their staff.  When a trauma happens things happen quickly so I'd be interested to see how his all plays out.  Don't get me wrong - it's a step in the right direction and I very much appreciate the attention and energy that is being given to issues that affect LGBT lives.  I'm just concerned that the way it plays out in the chaos of real life isn't the same as the way it does in the controlled world of planning.

Gotta go.  Lots to do.  It's going to be a busy weekend.

Oh...and did I mention next week is Thanksgiving?  I've got plans, and I"m looking forward to enjoying some relaxing time.  And - LOTS of food.  :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend in Donnaland

It was another wild and crazy weekend in Donnaland.

Last Friday night was my last night in hotel in I don't-know-how-long.  Between driving across country and being here there past two weeks I've been living an existence that feels more like dorm living than anything.  It hasn't been all terrible since I'm actually not around all that much but I've talked in the past about the deeper comforts of being surrounded by your "stuff" and having a place that feels like home.  The place that feels most like home to me at the moment is a long way away, but finding somewhere here locally to land has been the next significant logistical hurdle in settling down here.

I moved what little bit of stuff I have into my new place yesterday.  I'm on the bottom part of a house so I've got a large walk-in closet, a small bathroom, a queen size bed, a fireplace, a dining room area - it's pretty much everything I could want given the circumstances.  It's 3 miles from work which is a piece of cake....

In between Friday and yesterday I had quite the social weekend.  I drove up to Rochester to attend a wedding and spent some time with my family while I was there.  Plus, I got a pedicure - my toes NEEDED some loving.

I sometimes share things that show up in my in-box.  Here's an email I got yesterday in response to the article in MetroWeekly last week:
Concerning the interview with David/Donna Rose in the November 11, 2010 Metro Weekly:

Transgenderism is a psychological disorder springing from faulty early-life bonding and identification with the same-sex parent, and compensatory cross-sex bonding and identification.

Autobiographical works by James/Jan Morris and Chastity/Chaz Bono confirm this.  Clinical writings by Richard Fitzgibbons, M.D. and others do as well:  "Gender Identity Disorder in Children" and "The Desire for a Sex Change" at

Gender development is a function of both nature and nurture.  In homosexuals and transgenders, the problem is one of NURTURE.
My response:
I appreciate your opinion but almost all current research contradicts outdated Freudian notions regarding gender identity development.

I'd go a step further to point out that many of the words that you use - "psychological disorder", "problem", "faulty" - are also part of outdated approaches that attempts to pathologize difference. In reponse I'd argue that I'm probably as intelligent, psychologically well-adjusted, mentally healthy, spiritually comfortable, and generally peaceful as you are - if not moreso. Whether you want to believe that or not is another matter.

Regardless of how you and I may disagree about the "cause" we are reaching a point where people who may not fit traditional gender norms no longer ask for tolerance, but demand acceptance. We are no longer ashamed or guilty about who or what we are. Nor will we allow ourselves to be defined by one single aspect of ourselves. We are far more complicated than that.

My right to be me is no threat to your right to be you and if we can agree on that then all is well. It's when people (I mean people in general, not specifically you) step across that boundary by thinking that self-righteous, judgemental bigotry cloaked as anything else somehow empowers them to be ignorant is when people like me say "enough is enough". I'll stand up to that challenge ten times out of ten.

Thank you again for your opinion. And, best of luck to you.

My Buffalo Bills won this weekend!  Yay.  Miracles do happen.

The weather here continues to be autumn-magical.  According to forecasters it's about to end.  I've really enjoyed it, though.  The drive from here to Rochester up Rt. 15 into New York State was absolutely stunning.  I wish I had my big camera with me but I really didn't have the time to stop and appreciate it.

There was a Meet 'n Greet event for me in Lancaster, PA yesterday.  Even the Mayor and his wife were there - it was nice to meet everyone.  I once mentioned that I wished my career had a more "social" component to it.  I'm happy to say that this role provides that and more.  That's not to say there aren't some difficult things to do but it really provides an opportunity to mix many of the things I find both interesting and fun.  Here's are a couple of pics from the mixer yesterday:

It was way cool.  Thanks to everyone who helped to plan it, and took time out of their weekend to be there.

My car is still getting some loving (expensive loving).  I expect to have it back tomorrow.....

I'll be speaking at the University of Delaware on Wednesday so if you want specifics feel free to write and I'll send them along.

Also, people write to me from time to time and want me to call or otherwise chat.  I wish I had time to do all of the things I'd like to but I rarely do.  Still - when people are local and want to meet I do my best to make that happen.

Other people contact me looking for ways to help.  I have all kinds of ideas and I'm happy to provide input.  Lord knows I do what I can and being on the front lines can be "interesting" but it's a role I've become comfortable with.

What I'm leading up to is that one of my main roles here is as a fund raiser so if you could help the organization out as a donor (a) I'd be personally thankful and (b) I'm happy to contact you to thank you in person.  Keep that in mind moving forward.  My goal is to make this organization something exciting.  I didn't come here to do nothing and although I rarely ask for much this is more something to keep in the back of your mind than an ask.  :)

And, to keep things fun - for those who are generous enough just know that there may be kisses involved.

(After all - Hershey is 15 miles away!)

Friday, November 12, 2010


My poor car....

It has served me well.  In the last couple of weeks I've driven almost 4,000 miles in it.  It's got over 120,000 miles under it's tires.  It's finally paid off.  But it's not new anymore, and it needs some stuff.

It's had a few symptoms lately that have been a cause of some concern so I brought it to the mechanic today.  Diagnosis: It needs an O2 sensor.  Since it's got over 100K miles it needs a new timing belt.  Tires?  Yep.  And recently the front end has started acting funny so it needs a bunch of stuff up there too.  Ouch.

When a car gets to a certain point you start to question if it's turning itself into a money pit or if this investment in it will keep it healthy for a while.  I'm hoping for the second scenario as it has behaved wonderfully for me and I feel compelled to try to bring it back to health.  But it's a BIG investment, and given that I'm in the process of moving and other expensive changes I can only do so much at a time.

I'm headed to Rochester for a quick wedding trip.  My ex-neighbor's daughter, who used to babysit for my son when he was young, is getting married.  This is the first wedding I've been to since I transitioned as an invited guest.  I've been to a couple as the plus one for someone who was invited but this is my first event as the invitee.  I'm looking forward to it.

The big news of the week is that I found a place to live.  It's a huge weight off my shoulders and I'm really looking forward to being there.  The trip to Rochester will be a fast one as I've got a Meet and Greet event on Sunday afternoon...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hit the Ground Running

I've had to hit the ground running here and so far I'm feeling good that I'm keeping a pretty good pace.

What does an Executive Director do on a typical day?  That's hard to say because in my case no one day has been like another.  Every day is full of new "stuff" which is what makes it all so interesting.

Take yesterday as an example. I met with the director of the local Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for lunch.  A local newspaper reporter came to the office for an interview.  I visited with the sales manager at one of the large local hotels to gather pricing and facilities information for planning our big Autumn banquet next year.  Someone from NCTE who specializes in Health Care policy came to town so a group of us met for dinner (thanks to the local AIDS alliance!) before she talked.  Then, out for a glass of wine with some friends.  I finally got back to my hotel room at 10.

Today?  Vacation day.  I'm going to the gym.  I'm catching up on bills.  I've got several places to look at to live and hope that tonight is my last night in a hotel.  It's supposed to be 60 degrees and sunny here today which is absolutely amazing for this time of year.  I keep joking that it's going to stay like this all winter but we all know that it's not.  Still, I'm enjoying it while I can.

For some reason I've been doing a lot of media stuff lately.  It's not like I go out and seek it - it just happens.  For example, earlier this week I got a call from a reporter at ABC who wanted to talk about a story out of the UK about someone who transitioned from M2F and ultimately transitioned back.  That's certainly their right.  What made news was this person's assertion that they had been coerced to transition by doctors and therapists.  Furthermore, she asserted that transsexuals were "delusional" and needed to be stopped, surgeries needed to be banned.

The reporter and I had a good conversation but one of the things about media is that, despite the best of intentions, the ultimate goal is to attract readers.  How?  Sensational titles.  Editing the interview in a way that focuses on extremes.  As frustrating as that can be sometimes that's just the way it is.  So, when you do what you think is a good interview and the end result is very disappointing you can't get too bummed.

All that said - the interview appeared on yesterday morning (read it here).  From the title to the photos to the general slant of the story - fairly typically sensational.  But it is what it is and I'm hopeful that the ultimate message is a positive one, not a freakish one.

Late last week I got a call from the editor of MetroWeekly, a very nice magazine in Washington DC, about doing an interview and a photo shoot.  I went to DC on Friday and we did it - they're a really good group of people and I had a very pleasant afternoon.  They asked some good questions and we took a bunch of photos.  Anyway, the end result came out today. (read it here)

I don't think I've never been on a cover before.  Anyway - it's a nice contrast to the sensational stuff.  I'm glad they let me do my own hair and makeup because when other people do it I never look like myself.  For better or for worse - this is pretty much how I look on any given day.  It's the best I could do after driving the couple of hours from Harrisburg to DC, walking a few blocks to their building, changing in a small bathroom, and trying to smile.....

There are a number of things coming up as well.  I suppose doing press is simply part of the job now and I'm no stranger to it but it's nice when things come out well.

Back to living here in the hotel for a minute.  It reminds me a little of living in a dorm room.  Doing my laundry costs $3.00 in quarters.  They provide breakfast.  The room itself is fine.  I've become something of a minimalist in recent years so I don't need too much.

Last night at the talk about Health Care one woman there said something to the effect that I'm technically "Disabled" because I'm trans.  I told her that I'm not.  She told me that I am.  I adamantly refuse to accept that label for myself and in no way perceive my life situation to be disabling in any way.  Challenging?  Yes.  But disabled?  No friggin' way.  I have no problem with others who believe differently or who play the system because they can but that's not a path I'm going down...

Time to get on with the day!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Crazy.  Things have been just crazy here over the last couple of days.

First, I"m still living in a hotel room - not that that's bad or anything because I really don't do much more than sleep here.  But still - it's not a home.  It's a hotel room.  The next major thing to achieve in my world is to find a place to live.  I'm actively working on several options.

I've been exchanging emails with someone about a potential place to live.  In or most recent exchange I shared where I work and they did some research on me and learned about my background - not that I was trying to hide it.  She wrote me an email this evening:
I have no problem with you or your lifestyle or being transgendered. However, I am a young woman with a mother who is very active in my life. To be quite frank, she would have a heart attack if she knew about your transition.

Whoah.  That's heavy stuff.  I respect her decision and appreciate her honesty but it's amazing to me how people make so many assumptions based on nothing at all but their own fears.  I suppose when I worked in corporate America is was easy to simply live life without having to face these realities but the fact of the matter is that working for an openly LGBT organization invites extra scrutiny.  For someone who never knowingly experienced discrimination of any kind until age 40 this kind of stuff is a reminder of why it's so important to do what we do.

That brings me to the second point.  In a county just north of our service area, only 40 miles or so from Harrisburg, a teenage boy walked 13 miles to end his life by throwing himself in front of a semi on a highway.  Details of why this happened are only now coming out, and it is becoming increasingly obvious that at least part of the reason was anti-gay bullying (read about it here).  That's heartbreaking.

From our local news:

Because we're the largest major city to this horrific situation and we house the most significant LGBT Youth Program in the region we had calls and visits today from local TV and radio news shows.  I'll probably have some video from today on my next entry.  Our youth program manager, Louie, did a wonderful job.

The sunset tonight was spectacular.  I stepped out in front of the Center and took a bunch of photos over the Susquehanna that I think came out very well.  I may post one of those tomorrow, too.  Weather here this week is heavenly.  Highs are in the low 60's with abundant sunshine and it's supposed to stay this way thru the weekend.  I realize that something more wintry is certainly on it's way but the fact that it's holding off like this is helping to ease the transition....

Speaking of this work - I got an email today from the Transgender Law Center in San Francisco about some opportunities there:
Can you please help me spread the word about two open positions at the Transgender Law Center? We are recruiting for a leadership-level operations professional for our San Francisco office, as well as a part-time advocate in Los Angeles. These are both incredibly important jobs, and I would appreciate your help finding fabulous candidates.

Thanks tons for your help!

In solidarity,

Masen Davis, Executive Director
Transgender Law Center
870 Market Street, Suite 400 | San Francisco, CA 94102
415-865-0176 x301 (w) | 323-309-0459 (c)

If you're interested, please contact Masen.

Part of my day tomorrow involves talking with a reporter.  I'm meeting with a local hotel to get pricing for our benefit dinner next fall.  And in the evening I'm participating in a discussion on trans health.  From TransCentralPA:
Don't forget, the Alder Health Services, formerly AIDS Community Alliance, is conducting a Trans Health Forum at the MCC of the Spirit on Wednesday, November 10th at 7:00 pm.  Key speakers include Mul Kim, trans health care expert and counsel for the National Center for Transgender Equality ( and nationally renowned motivational speaker and transgender activist Donna Rose, who recently accepted the position of Executive Director of the LGBT Community Center of Central Pennsylvania (

The Trans Health Forum is free and open to everyone, so come, listen and ask your questions about the current status of Transgender Health.  

This is an important topic and I'm looking forward to being part of the discussion.

Lastly for tonight:  I rarely share humor that gets sent my way here but here's something from my sister worth posting:

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again invited  readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding,  subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new  definition.

Here are the  winners:

1. Cashtration
(n.): The act of buying a house,  which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of  time.

2. Ignoranus
: A person who's both stupid and an  asshole.

3. Intaxicaton
: Euphoria at getting a tax refund,  which lasts until you realize it was your money to start  with.

4. Reintarnation
: Coming back to life as a  hillbilly.

6. Foreploy
: Any misrepresentation about yourself  for the purpose of getting laid.

8. Sarchasm
: The gulf between the author of  sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get  it.

I dunno.  I think that's funny.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Lots. Going. On.

It's 6am on Monday morning.  My most pressing need going into the weekend was to make some long-term living arrangements - I'm still living out of a hotel room.  No progress has been made in that regard - not because I looked and didn't find anything but because I realized on Friday that a more immediate need was to spend a little down time after all of the hubub in my life recently.  So I took a bit of a road trip to spend time in a warm place with a friendly face.  It was much needed and much enjoyed.

Life is in high gear.  Over the next couple of weeks I've got a speaking event at the University of Delaware.  I've got a wedding to attend in Rochester next weekend.  I've got the NGLCC National Dinner in Washington DC a week from Friday, and then I'll be at the DOR event on the steps of the State Capitol Building here in Harrisburg on Saturday the 20th.  I've done some media stuff so that'll be hitting the world over the next few days - I hope they came out well.  The schedule is full of a number of other things, as well - lots going on.

Plus - did I mention that I need to find someplace to live?  That's a big deal right now.

I find it interesting that I was faced with an opportunity to get away for a day and a half - which was totally a spur of the moment thing and involved more time in the car.  Or,  staying put and taking care of business.  It's not as obvious a choice as you'd think and, in fact, what ended up happening was a bit of a surprise even to me.  The good news is that I haven't grown past the stage of enjoying surprises - especially ones as pleasant as this one turned out to be.  Long story short - I had a very nice weekend.

I did an interview on Friday and was asked some refreshing new questions.  Questions about spirituality, and the changing nature of relationships.   I actually enjoyed having the chance to talk about some of that stuff.  As you'd expect there were some questions about the state of some of the work I've done - HRC, NGLCC, etc.  They also asked about my own expectations for how soon ENDA may get passed and I was honest in that I'm not optimistic to see it any time soon - not simply in terms of months but years.  Many years.  The realistic window of opportunity has closed and given the political landscape right now it may be shut for a while.   I also said that I'm not sure that ENDA will be the be all-end all that some make it out to be but that's a longer discussion.  Either way - between now and whenever the window opens again we've got lots of work to continue to do.

Remember that blog post by a woman defending her child last week?  It has made quite the splash.

The fact that the psychologist says that the reaction of having parents confront this mother was a "natural" reaction is ridiculous.  This guy lost any credibility in my book as soon as he said that.

Other than that I don't have much more to say today.  I need to get ready for work.  As I say - lots going on.

The good news is that I'm feeling good and doing well - inside and out.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Quite the Week

I'm a big believer in re-invention.  In that same vein, I find it to be both a blessing and a curse.

I think there's a natural tendency towards homeostasis, or stability.  But often there are pressures to venture out of the inherent bubble of safety or comfort that's involved.  That's true with regards to career, life experience, relationships, and pretty much anything else you can think of related to growth or maturity which are, oddly enough, also natural life events.

How does one balance this pressure to grow outside of comfort boundaries with a need for some sort of stability and safety?  I dunno.  When I started my transition little did I know that it would transform everything about me - not simply my gender - in terms of life experience and growth.

So here I am - in Harrisburg PA after the first week of something totally new for me.  How am I feeling?  Comfortable.  A little relieved.  Optimistic.  And generally positive.

I am under no illusions that there won't be bumpy days ahead.  That's just part of life.  But I think it's important to gain a sense of how you're feeling about general direction in order to keep those bumps in perspective and after one week I'm good with all the above.

My most significant issues right now are logistical ones.  I need to find a place to call home since I'm living in a hotel at the moment.  Granted, I'm not there much except to chill a little in the evening and sleep but I still need to make some longer term plans.  Now that I'm here - making those arrangements is the next big deal.

I won't call what I do here a job although it certainly is that.  It's a role.  It involves evenings and weekends.  There were two days this week where we worked all day and then had meetings afterwards over cocktails and food.  On Saturday I'll be attending the Womyn's Chorus Spaghetti Dinner here in town.  There are other similar events and obligations over the coming weeks that are both part of what I do and things that I enjoy.  One of the things I've missed in my "career" in recent years is any sense of personal interaction that this role is full of that.  I'm really enjoying it so far.

Last night was the first night I was able to get home at a "normal" time and I took the opportunity to get to the gym for a couple of hours (much needed, both for body and mind) and do laundry (also much needed).  Today I've got to do the couple hour drive to DC and probably won't get back until late (to avoid the Friday traffic crunch out of the District) so I'm glad the rain of yesterday seems to have headed elsewhere.

I realize that's probably more information about my own comings and goings than anyone really cared to know but that's what's going on in my world right now.  There's lots of stuff.  But I'm working thru it all and doing well.  I suppose that's the most important thing.

The world continues while I settle in here.  My Op/Ed on CNN from a couple of weeks ago continues to be a topic of discussion (here's an example, and here's another) and I continue to stand by my words.  There are other follow-up things in the works as well.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, gotta get busy.  Onwards!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thursday - Day 4

So, here I am in Harrisburg.  The trip to get here is done.  Now it's time to get on with it.

Today is Thursday.  It's hard to believe a week ago I was just starting out on my drive to get here.  If you gauge the passing of time buy the number of things that happen during any particular timeframe no wonder it seems like so long ago.  Between getting here, getting somewhat settled, and starting my new job here at the Center things have been crazy.  But - they've been crazy good.

It still feels odd to see my name and the title "Executive Director" underneath it.  I've never been much for titles and I find way too many people who seem to feel that titles inherently provide some level of respect or power rather than having earned those things through actions to get there in the first place.  Be that as it may, it is truly wonderful to finally feel as though things are aligned in my world - that the work I come to work to do every day is work that I feel passionate about.  It's like a whole new world but more importantly it's a world where I feel very comfortable.

I'm a creative person.  This opportunity provides outlet for creativity.  I'm a passionate person.  This position provides opportunities to express and direct those passions.  I'm a strong person.  This role provides opportunity to share that strength.  I'm a social person.  This position requires a significant degree of interaction.  I'm a focused, driven person and I feel a very strong personal investment which is something I haven't had in a "job" in a long time.  In short, I realize that I'm less than a week into it but it all feels very comfortable and natural.

The people here have been great.  Our Board chair has been wonderful and the full-time director of our Youth Services programming has been great.  He provides some much needed background on things for me but is also helping me to learn my way around and know what's what in the area.  Both have been incredibly helpful and important to me and have helped to make this transition much more comfortable than it otherwise could have been.

The weather has been great, too, but as with most things the honeymoon eventually ends.  I'm staying in a hotel at the moment until I can make some arrangements on more permanent housing and when I've walked out to my car these last few mornings there has been frost on my windows but they chill burns away to crisp, cool, sunny days.  Today we've got gray, rainy, chilly weather that is more in line with what I remember about fall.  Someone said "flurries" on the weather last night and I realize it's only a matter of time.  I'll try not to complain about it too much because it just comes with the territory.

Days have been long, which is fine.  We're working all day at the center and then the last couple of nights have included meetings after work, which typically involve food and drink.  We did a "Meet and Greet" with the Allies group at the local community college and that was great - wonderful kids who were engaged and energetic and excited (E cubed).  I'm really going to look forward to working with them to move our youth stuff forward.  I'll be attending a Women's Chorus Spaghetti Dinner on Saturday, and I've got more people to meet next week.  All in all - as I say, busy days.

The election was a slap in the head and I really don't have much to say about it right now.  There will be all kinds of analysis about what happened, why, and what it means.  One friend sent me a link to an article in the NY Times that I agree with (see it here).  I'll have more to say once things calm down in other areas of my life, but it is what it is.  The window of opportunity for many of the things we've been promised has closed and at some point people need to measure how much good intentions are worth compared with failed opportunities or unrecognized potential.  Sigh.

Two more  things to share briefly.

One is a link to a blog entry by a mom whose young son wanted to dress as a girl for Halloween and the reactions she experienced (read it here).

The other is a movie that's out that I'm hoping to do a preview for here at the center.  The title is Two Spirits that's well worth checking out (see details here).

I'll end this for now.  In closing, I just want to say that I'm liking Pink's new song. For some reason, the fact that she rhymes "chancy" with "dancy" tickles me. Anyway, here's the video:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Crazed Cross Country

I have lots to say but not much time right now.  I need to get to bed shortly, but wanted to spend a couple of minutes catching up on recent events.

The short version:  I packed the car and took care of last minute details before leaving the Valley at noonish on Thursday.  I drove about 700 miles - arrived at Ft. Stockton TX at midnight.  One of the most memorable moments was getting pulled over by a Texas State Trooper for a blown-out light.  He was actually very nice and I didn't get a ticket....

I only got 4 hours of sleep before I needed to be on the road again.  Friday included driving 350 miles to Austin, spending the afternoon with my son, driving another 200 miles, and finally getting to my mom's near Dallas to spend the night.  I was wiped.

I enjoyed breakfast on Saturday with mom before leaving - driving 800+ miles to just outside of Memphis, TN.  And then I finished the drive yesterday with 600+ miles - arriving at my hotel shortly after 8pm.

As anyone who has followed my travels for very long will know I'm no stranger to road trips.  Typically if I'm driving by myself my limit is somewhere around 1,000 miles or so in any given day.  That's fine if you get a break afterwards but stringing long days like that together takes a toll.  Even though the car behaved wonderfully, I didn't see a single cloud along the way, and the roads were fine it will still take a few days to get back to my usual self.

One oddity - I was driving through TN on Saturday evening and I had a sudden attack of either allergy or red-eye in my right eye.  It started itching and within minutes it had swollen up and there was an icky film on it.  By the time I got to the hotel it looked as though someone had punched me in the eye.  And yesterday when I was moving stuff into my hotel room somebody stopped to ask me a question and asked me if I was crying.  I have no idea what I might have touched or what might have caused just one eye to get all funky but it finally seems to be on the mend....

Today was my first day on the new job.  In a word - it was wonderful.  I had a number of very nice emails and notes welcoming me to the area and spent the day getting up to speed on a number of things.  My next most important job is to find somewhere to live.  I'd like to get that settled by the end of the weekend, if possible.  Anyway - things are already falling into place.

I went to check one of the local fitness centers after work today.  All this time in the car and road-trip food has made me feel pretty "blah" so making arrangements to get back to my usual routine is a priority.  I think I've made my decision but I've got a free 1-week pass so we'll see how it's feeling after another couple of visits.

In other news, reports of an FTM NCAA Div. 1 basketball player (read details here).  Mark my words - there's going to be a big wave of visibility of trans athletes in the coming months.

I encourage people to contact the Equality Forum to nominate people as LGBT icons for 2011 (see details here).  The only way that many of the people we know will get the visibility they deserve for all the hard work they do is for people who appreciate it to put their names forward.  Please take a minute to think about it, to follow the link, and to send an email.

And lastly, tomorrow is Election Day.  Democrats across the country are in for a pounding.  It's amazing how quickly things can go from the Euphoria of 2 years ago to today, when a candidate can charge that his/her opponent is a "liberal", supports Obamacare, and is aligned with Nancy Pelosi - completely disregarding any of his/her own achievements - and get elected.  Welcome to politics 2010 Style.

Time for bed.  More later.  Zzzzzz......