Friday, September 2, 2011

Stepping Out

A friend from the Phoenix area called recently to tell me that the temperatures hit 117 degrees - the hottest day ever recorded there in August - and that this was the hottest August there in history and perhaps even the hottest month ever (story here).  Honestly the heat doesn't bother me but the weather here has been so amazing recently that I can't imagine being anywhere else.

This morning the sun was shining, temperatures were in the mid-60's, and the forecast for the long Labor Day weekend is more of that.  Someone asked me if I was going anywhere and I simply shrugged and asked why I'd leave to go anywhere else.  The only place I can imagine going would be to visit with my mom and family in Rochester, but the thought of Labor Day weekend traffic and spending 2 of the pristine days in a car puts the kabosh on those crazy ideas.

I've got a friend from out of town visiting and I expect we'll go on a bike rode later this afternoon.  I'm  hoping to do some kayaking.  I've got meats to grill.  I want to attend my usual 8:30 spinning class - I really like that particular instructor.  She's got great music, and she doesn't talk to much.  One thing I can't stand is instructors who are constantly saying stuff, who yell, or who are too exhuberant.  This particular woman is the right amount of all of the above for me.

In "other" news, Chaz Bono has been selected to participate in the popular TV show, "Dancing With the Stars".  Not surprisingly, this news has brought out some strong reactions to the point where Cher has had to weigh in to defend Chaz (Rolling Stone article, additional story here).  As for me, I applaud Chaz enthusiastically for putting himself out there like that.  DWTS is a sort of cultural phenomenon and putting himself in that spotlight takes a great deal of courage.  But the underlying, and perhaps most imporant, reality is that trans men and women are slowly integrating into every aspect of society not simply as men and women, but as openly out trans men and women.  That is, we are not keeping our history a secret.

There was a segment on Nightline a couple of nights ago about trans people (information here)...

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It's happening in fashion, in the media, in music, in workplaces, in every aspect where people of all types come together to do something trans people are now part of the mix.  It's happening for kids who are self-aware of their gender at younger ages.  Those developments, to me, have been main goals for what many consider "activism" - that having to hide a portion of yourself or to try to fit into some neat little box based on other peoples' expectations or comforts is neither healthy nor productive. 

One friend recently shared a quotation from a book by Isabel Allenda that I like: isn't the truth exposed that makes us vulnerable, it's what we try to keep secret.

I've come out to two people here in Charleston in the last week.  One seems to be struggling with it a bit.  I hope time smoothes things out but there's only so much I can do.  I'm done apologizing for any of it. The other is tickled pink and seemed genuinely excited for me.  And, for anywone who cares, I will never disavow or otherwise minimize my life pre-1999.  It is part of me.  I am not ashamed of that, either. 

Do I apologize for being born in a male body?  Not for a second.  Am I ashamed of the life I led prior to my transition?  Hell, no...the photos on my website indicate exactly the opposite.   Did I enjoy aspects of my life prior to that time?  Of course I did.  I enjoyed being a father, a husband, a brother, and many of the other roles that came with the territory.  It's not like my life had become some sad, morose, death spiral that needed medical intervention to finally stop.  But my transition enabled me to achieve a sense of deep inner peace that was missing for a long, long time.  And, for that, I'm greatful.  I'm not about to let someone who can't wrap their little head around it or suddenly feels uncomfortable about me to change my own reality.  Just not gonna happen.

I'm also not going to wait forever for others who are just learning that I am deeper than what I may seem at face value to accept it.  I realize that it often takes some period time for people to try to integrate conflicting thoughts that the disclosure sometimes provokes for any number of reasons and Lord knows I'm willing to be patient.  But at the same time I'm just continuing on with a very busy, full, fulfilling life so either jump in and come on or stand back.  I've mourned the slow decay and death of too many relationships that had been, up until "the disclosure", very comfortable and healthy and I've learned not to stand around and watch that happen anymore.  That's depressing.  If it does it does - I can't prevent it once it becomes too much to handle - but if not then it's a pleasant surprise.  A couple of posts ago I mentioned one of my  Five "Rules"...another is "Manage Your Expectations".  I do my best with this...

We all outgrow things as our lives change and as time works its magic on our ability to understand or accept.  Just as I've outgrown the old life as I knew it I've outgrown initial plans to transition and fade away, to simply replug myself back into the Matrix, to accept that "ordinary" is somehow acceptable, and any number of other pasts that seemed to fit at the time.  As difficult as it can be sometimes, until you can prune your closet of clothes that no longer fit you can't add new clothes.  My transition started a profound process of pruning (how about that aliteration?!) that hasn't stopped... 

It can be hard to explain that to people - that to think you're going to transition which sometimes involves changing every single thing about yourself and then you're going to re-insert yourself in your old life is often more than simply naive.  It's impossible.  As you strip away the years of walls and behaviors built upon a life that you no longer lead so too do the connections to those various aspects of life become uncomfortable and outdated.  Careers, hobbies, relationships, interests - it's a fascinating process.  But the easiest way to bog it all down is to change everything about yourself, to gain your freedom to finally "be", and then to surrender it all again by trying to still be something you're not.  I am absolutely not the same person I was a dozen years ago, just as I'm not the same person I was a year ago.  Life changes you.  And, you change life.

Back to the reason for this little post - it's nice to see Chaz make this big step.  Whether we realize it or not it will help others of us to be "out" in various aspects of their lives.  It reinforces the message that none of us should expect less out of life simply for being unique or different.  It helps empower those of us who feel a need to "hide".  Those are messages that transcend specifics and that everyone can understand. 

I was out to dinner with the friend who is visiting me at the moment who noted that I haven't been the crazy road warrior that I seem to have earned a reputation to being over recent years.  She's right.  Other than my trip to Rochester over July 4 I haven't done a road trip in a long time, and my most recent visit to Austin and Phoenix was my first flight in months.  I half-joked that now that I'm where I want to be right now I have no reason to go anywhere else. 

We stopped by the beach as the sun went down.  The sunset was stunning - tide was out, winds were calm, sky was beautiful. It's hard to believe a week ago we were bracing for the fringe impacts of Hurricane Irene.

Believe it or not we're already watching a storm out in the Atlantic that may or may not be headed this way.  Katia is expected to be a Category 3 Hurricane off the East Coast by early next week (details here).  I suppose it's never too early to be wary to these kinds of things.  Just because we dodged the last one doesn't mean we'll be so lucky the next time....

A special friend recently sent me a "Care Package" - I doubt she reads this blog - and there were a number of CD's filled with various themes of music.  I've been listening to one of the songs over and over - it's one of those long-forgetten gems that somehow seems to fit.  Anyway, here's a live version if it.  Love it....


Miz Know-It-All said...


Did it ever occur to you that there are MANY of us that find what you and what Chaz are going abhorrent? That your " self appointed activism" and his plain and simple limelight milking are hurting us both past and future far more than it is helping? That the both of you are out there reinforcing the publics prurient idea that we are all in it just in it for the sexual kicks and that those messy little things me need to survive like surgery are cosmetic and optional!

Look here Missy! I don't know where you got the idea that you speak for women with transsexual past because I for one did not go through all that hell so I could end up in your trans world as a "trans-woman! and neither did my sisters My goal was the same as it is for many of my sister and brothers... We wanted and we got full and complete integration into the binary as the men and women we are!

You may call that being in a closet till the cows come home but I would put it back to you that it is you and all those like you who are holding onto the crutch of Trans so you really don't have to measure up to the standards that pertain to women who are "in the closet!"

Enough already!


Susan said...

"Back to the reason for this little post - it's nice to see Chaz make this big step. Whether we realize it or not it will help others of us to be "out" in various aspects of their lives."

I don't think most want to be "out" in various aspects of their life, and even those that do end up regretting they've revealed as much as they have. The goal for most - really the only goal - is to have SRS and then simply live life...not be "out", which by implication, signals being something other than or different than. But, your life, not mine. Surely you realize that once denoted as a transsexual female, you'll never be seen as just female...with no prefixes or modifiers.

I will say, Donna, this post is just one of many that illustrates just how much you enjoyed being male. You say:

"Do I apologize for being born in a male body? Not for a second. Am I ashamed of the life I led prior to my transition? Hell, no...the photos on my website indicate exactly the opposite. Did I enjoy aspects of my life prior to that time? Of course I did. I enjoyed being a father, a husband, a brother, and many of the other roles that came with the territory. It's not like my life had become some sad, morose, death spiral that needed medical intervention to finally stop."

I think what may be very hard to many to fathom is if you had such a swell time and enjoyed yourself so much as a guy, then why'd you have SRS? There's a huge contradiction that is quite alien to many of us. Then again, it is your life.

Donna said...

@Susan: I appreciate that the goal of many is to not be out. I also appreciate that some may want to be "just" female. I am comfortable with being a transsexual woman, and the umbrella of Transgender does not cause me discomfort regardless of how others feel, act, or behave. My journey to womanhood was not the same as someone born and socialized as female and I find no reason whatsoever to apologize for that. If anything, I have come to appreciate it. If I were to try to live any other way it would simply be to trade one closet for another and I'm done with that. You say that your single goal was to simply "live" life and I suppose that my goal is similar, except that my own sense of balance does not involve rejecting the life I lived for 40 years. As far as I'm concerned there is no contradiction. And you're right. It is my life.