Monday, October 31, 2011


I sometime go back and read some of the "raw" documentation from the early days of my transition. Some would say that those days are best forgotten and to revisit them is to get stuck in them. I disagree.

I think it's important to recognized how you got someplace to truly appreciate where you are. And, at this point in my life, I'm in a place where I never ever imagined.

My entry from Oct. 28, 1999 is the letter I received from a friend in response to coming out to him. Those early days were filled with coming out to people in my life, and although it has certainly gotten easier over the years I still don't know that it's ever easy. But that's a whole longer discussion than I intend to have here now.

I met this friend through my need for wedding videographers. I had a company that taped 3 or more weddings on most every weekend spring thru fall so I approached the local colleges for creative kids who might be be interested in doing some weekend work. Mark was a fun-loving tall guy - very handsome and smart. He had a great smile, and I remember a time when I joked about his orange skin from drinking too much carrot juice.

Anyway, his letter to me was a pretty deep one:
I have been completely immobilized by your e-mail. I appreciate the opportunity to process this offline. I don’t think I could have had a dialogue without thinking about this first. My friends know that I am more of a "think out loud" thinker. For me to think BEFORE I speak requires a lot of effort and quiet time to sort out my thoughts- I’ve needed a lot of quiet time the last day. This is one of the hardest letters I've ever written.

I have to start by saying I respect you for being upfront with me. I have been trying to define what I feel- Its been very challenging and very difficult. In a book I read a while ago, I wrote down a quote in my dayplanner "...there is no formal difference between the inability to define and stupidity" - I feel really stupid right now. I realized a way of understanding others by having empathy for them. Not the I-feel-sorry-for-them empathy, but to put myself in that persons shoes and try to feel what they feel & understand their situation, not to rush to judgment. The bible says: " ...restore one another in fear and meekness, considering oneself" . I have learned and grown with this advice. It has been extremely helpful in personal and professional life.

I have to say I am so grieved for the pain you, your wife, son family must have (and still are) going through. I can’t say I understand your choice- but I’m a long way from your shoes.

I keep on rewinding to the times we’ve worked together and I see someone who is intelligent, funny, considerate, has integrity, respect, creativity, sincerity and someone who was patient enough to work with a goofy college kid who needed a job. Whether you realize it or not, you affected my life in a great way.

I have a list of attributes that I collect that describes what I value- you had many of the qualities that I value today. What I keep asking myself is what do I value in people. What is the essence or spirit of a person that I value and how does sexuality fit in? Simply, I think a person’s essence is not in their physical heart, but in their brain.

The most important part of what I wanted to share in this is that last paragraph - recognition that the essence of who we are isn't the skin that covers our skeleton but the spirit that resides within.  Our essence is spiritual, not physical.  I've never been more sure of that.

One news story that caught my attention is a trans college student who was expelled from school because of "fraud".  The university says that the student identified as female although identifying as biologically male on an MTV Reality show...

This highlights a couple of things.  First - be careful about where you share stuff about yourself.  Reality TV, FB, blogs, anything Google-able - it all reaches far beyond what you'd expect so if you're going to do it at least be aware of the risks.  But secondly - I would have done the exact same thing (except for the Reality TV part).  When I fill out an employment form or something that has a question similar to "List any other names you've been known as" - I leave that question blank.  There is always talk about whether or not that's appropriate as it could provide grounds for termination but, really, I don't care.  It's nobody's business and I'm not going to share that.  Sometimes, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't and this situation seems to be one of those.

There's another recent story about the implications of putting yourself too far out there (read it here).  And, another friend deals with implications of appearing in a documentary that seems to get broadcast two or three times a year.  Altough she has moved on in her life, it never seems to want to go away...

Oh - On the Girl Scout front, the story made national news (ABC News story here).

Someone I've come to know thru email and on FB competed in a bodybuilding competition in San Diego this weekend, and it's another one of those flashpoints where trans intersects competitive athletics (read about it here).

Today is Halloween.  It doesn't really "feel" like Halloween here in the desert - it's supposed to get up to 90 sunny degrees here today.  My memories of taking my son trick or treating back in upstate NY involve cold, wet, slush, and lots of yuck.  One house along our route had a special "Parent's Aid Station" in their garage where they provided warm apple cider mixed with an adult beverage that warmed you from the inside out. 

Speaking of yuck, the northeast got smacked by a freak pre-winter snowstorm this weekend.  I saw scenes of it these last couple of days and it made me cringe.  We attended Fantasia Fair the weekend before - it would have been an unGodly mess if we had gotten stuck in it.  I suppose it's one instance where the timing was just right.

This was a wonderfully chill weekend - my first in a long, long, long time.  Between packing, driving across country, traveling for a conference, and other "stuff" I haven't had a weekend to just do whatever in a long time.  I enjoyed every minute of it.

Saturday involved washing and trimming all 5 pups, and attending a wrestling event here.  I had originally planned to compete in it, but after further consideration I'm saving myself for the US Women's Sr. National Championships to be held in Arlington TX in mid-December. I very much enjoy watching the women compete and yesterday was no different - the national teams from Japan and Canada were there so the level of competition was high.  In fact, there was only one US Champion in the entire women's event which is telling given that past world champions and Olympic team members competed.

Yesterday we were at the fitness center for spin class by 9am, and the afternoon was spent watching football and relaxing with friends (Maggie fell into the pool!).  The Bills won, and thanks to a New England loss are again in the lead in the division.  I saw one "analyst" who suggested that the Bills won't make the playoffs this year because of the difficult patch coming up in their schedule.  But one of the reasons that they continue to surprise (which is something I feel about me, as well) is that people continue to underestimate them.

Today we're going to spend the night in a haunted building in a picturesque old ghost town here in Arizona.  It seems like the perfect way to spend Halloween. :)

Lastly - something fun.  Tracy send me an email full of funny text messages that were altered through auto-correct.  There's a website dedicated to this stuff, and I'll admit I can't read them without laughing out loud at least once.

I've been a victim of auto-correct myself a time or two but nothing this serious.

Anyway, if you're in a cranky mood, visit the website and look at the "Best of" lists for the last few months...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


My hair loves being back in Arizona.  It's straight, and soft, and generally very well behaved here.  The humidity of South Carolina sometimes frizzed it no matter what I did so I think my hair is glad to be home.

Everything else is dry, too, which is taking a little getting used to.  My nose is dry.  My mouth is dry.  My sinuses are dry.  My skin is dry.  We had a pretty impressive storm blow through the area late yesterday afternoon (no real impact here, but still very impressive!) and temperatures today are in the mid-80's so it's actually very pleasant.  But still, I'm dry.

The 2011 Out and Equal Workplace Summit is happening in Dallas this week (Flickr photos).  This is the second year in a row that I've missed it but based on everything else that has been happening in my world there's more need to enjoy a little down-time than to get back on the road again.  I enjoy reconnecting with friends there, and the collective energy of 2000+ corporate advocates from around the world is something you've got to experience to "get".

I also think it's representative of the good balance in my world right now.  I'm training for the 2011 US Sr. Women's Wrestling Championships in Dallas in December, my world got turned upside down when I met Tracy, I'm doing some training over the next few months, my career seems to be solid right now, my health is good, and all things considered I'm very careful about letting myself get pulled in too many directions.  The key is recognizing that sometimes you can't do everything and to get comfortable with letting things you've traditionally done go.  I'm still working at that, but it's getting better.

There was a news story earlier this week about a young trans child who was told "no" by the Girl Scouts in Colorado.  Well, after further review the Girl Scouts released a statement indicating that their policy is actually to support and welcome trans kids (details).  I figure that this will get lots of discussion and airplay for a few days.  Expect Fox News faux-psychologist Keith Ablow to swallow his tongue over this one...

It may even overshadow the fact that Chaz Bono was eliminated from DWTS last night (details).

Anyway - I digress.  I was talking about balance....

I brought Maggie back across country with me.  She was born near Phoenix so this is actually "home" for her, too.  Mags has been an only dog for 8 months now, ever since my son took Codie to be with him in Austin.  In all honest, I think she has been happier as an "only dog" as there's no competition for attention or affection.  And I do think she enjoyed our time together in Charleston.

But just as I'm very much in uncharted territory right now so too is she.  She's part of a "pack" - Tracy has 4 wonderful dogs.  I think we were both a little wary about how she'd be accepted or how she'd take to the multitude of tails and tongues but I can say without reservation that she's done better than I imagined.  The group has warmed to her, and she very much seems part of the gang at this point.  I'm tremendously happy for her (and relieved too).

I'm finishing up work and getting ready to head for the fitness center for a run.  Some things never change...   :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Time will Tell

It is Tuesday morning and I'm finally feeling almost human again after a much-needed good night's sleep.  The last week has involved a 2,200 mile cross-country drive, a couple of days of unpacking and repacking before flying back across country again for Fantasia Fair in Provincetown, a 36 hour stay there, and then 20+ hrs of packing, driving and flying to get back home.  My time zones are messed up, my internal clock is confused, I'm in generally uncharted territory for me, and I'm awash in things that need to get done.  I hope I can finally focus a bit now that things are settling down a bit.  The good night sleep really helped.

The trip to Ptown for Fantasia Fair was very pleasant.  I've never been to that conference before and it was unique in several ways, one of which was the number of people who have been attending regularly for 15 or more years.  The town is beautiful, the weather was wonderful, and I think most of the 150 attendees enjoyed their time there.  We stayed at a quaint little bed and breakfast that was convenient to everything (see Admiral's Landing).  Thanks to everyone there for their wonderful hospitality - I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area.

My keynote on Saturday was titled "Community Matters".  I'm not shy about how I feel on the topic and I appreciate everyone who attended, or who participated in the discussion afterwards.  One friend drove up from Philadelphia and another who I haven't seen in 3 years made a special trip from Boston to visit so despite the fact that we were only there for a day and a half we made the most of our time in town.

A friend I've known for several years is at the center of a bit of a brou-ha-ha involving marriage in Texas (details here).  With all my traveling over the past week I haven't been paying much attention as (a) I just haven't had the time and (b) her business is none of my business.

I have known Meghan since before she transitioned and she has done some wonderful work.  She and her partner have been together for a number of years and are expecting a baby.  She knows, just as I do, about the difficult toll that being out and visible as an LGBT activist has on her career, on the relationships in her life, on her credibility, and on her psyche.  She's a friend and I can't and won't attack her personally.

I don't require that my friends and I agree all the time.  In fact, when Meghan spoke at the HRC Dinner in San Francisco in 2008 in the middle of the ENDA mess I felt that she was doing herself and the community a significant disservice and I wasn't shy about saying so.  My friend Chloe was in an ABC documentary a couple of years ago and said a couple of things that I couldn't allow to pass without comment.  And I've faced my own share of both public and private criticism, as well.

As I sat with Tracy in Charleston a couple of weeks ago I showed her one of my most prized possessions.  It's my birth certificate.  I realize that it's only a piece of paper and that it doesn't "define" me, but it's something that's more than simply symbolic in my world.  It's something tangible that corrects an unfortunate unseen mistake that happened the day I was born and that impacted every aspect of my life for a long, long time.  Long after I've come and gone in this world, the birth record that a baby girl was born in Chicago Laying In Hospital early on that gray February morning in 1959 will endure.  Lord knows, that recognition was earned the hard way and is non-negotiable.

I've seen a number of responses to this news - some supportive but many very nasty and upset.  Some seem to appreciate the fact that she seems to have used the system's own rediculous-ness against itself while others vehemently attack her.  Regardless of anyone's opinion the only person who needs to be ok with whatever happened and why is Meghan.

But this situation has forced me to consider my own distinction between "equal rights" and "special rights" and as much as anything I bemoan that any of us are put into this situation in the first place.  To demand recognition as a certain gender in this culture inherently involves certain responsibilities and obligations, and there are times when you simply can't have your cake and eat it too.

I have friends who have heterosexual marriages, who stay legally married after one partner transitions, and are therefore in legally recognized same-sex marriages.  Jenny Boylan is a good example, and she wrote about some of the unique considerations and absurdities with regards to trans people and marriage in a May 2009 Op-Ed for the NY Times titled "Is My Marriage Gay?"  Why is it that I can justify that particular situation of "bending the rules" but that I seem to have more difficulty with aspects of Meghan's even though I have no idea of Meghan's surgical status?  Would I feel similarly about someone involved in a same-sex relationship who transitions simply to get married?  It's very murky territory....

So to those who have asked for my thoughts on the subject, it's complicated.  All I can say is that for me - Donna - if and when I get married it will be to another women and we will be married as women.  Neither of us will be forced to swallow charges of hypocrisy, implications to our integrity, or any loss of dignity in the process.  That's not how I've always envisioned my wedding day to be, and I don't see any reason to change my expectations now.  As far as Meghan is concerned, I wish her nothing but happiness.

Moving on......

I received an email from someone regarding Wrestling and LGBT athletes:
HBO Sports, Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel is seeking to speak with high school wrestlers or college wrestlers who identify as gay or transgender for a story they are putting together. If you know of any appropriate athletes who are interested in speaking with HBO please would you have them email me...

If you're interested in this or know anyone who might be, send me an email and I'll connect you...

Speaking of LGBT youth - a documentary on Trans Kids produced by the CBC will be shown in Canada soon.  Here's a trailer:

It continues to be a very hot topic right now and this effort looks to be a worthwhile one...

Back to me - I mentioned that I'm in uncharted territory right now.  I am.  That's not to say it's good or bad it's simply to recognize that significant aspects of my life are things I've either never done before or never allowed before.  My comfort zone is non-existent right now, but I've learned to be ok with that in the past and my instincts have generally guided me well.  It's nice to be at this stage of life and still appreciating major "firsts".  I'm hoping there will be several more big "firsts" in the coming months and years.  I suppose time will tell....

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Welcome Home.

My drive is done.  I traveled 2,178 miles with a piece of duct tape holding one of my front turn-signals in place, a bike strapped to the back, and as much stuffed in the car as would fit.  The last leg of the trip was 875 miles between Abilene, TX and Phoenix.

West Texas is no fun to drive across.  Even though the speed limit on I20 up through Midland Odessa is 80 mph you can't get out of there fast enough.  It's desolate country and I'm glad we covered a good portion of it before and during sunrise.

The last couple of days here have been a blur.  My body still thinks that it's in the Eastern time zone so days seem extra long.  I've had a wonderful time meeting some people that I've come to know on FB.  The pup has done well integrating into her new "pack".  And, most importantly, there was a certain smiling fact here to welcome us as we pulled into the driveway.  I still pinch myself from time to time so make sure everything that's happening is real.

Home for me now is Phoenix.  Again.  It feels nice to be home, but it's different for a number of significant reasons that I really don't want to try to explain right now.

I don't have much more to add at the moment.  So much to do to get settled, and then we leave tomorrow for Fantasia Fair.  Never a dull moment....   :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011


As I type this Maggie and I are sitting in a La Quinta Hotel in little Monroe, LA.  I stayed at this hotel before on one of my trips between Dallas and Harrisburg last year.  It's a little after 6am so it's time to get the day going.

This trip has been one of those things that embodies "Go with the Flow".  I had originally planned to leave on Friday after work but a couple of issues cropped up that delayed the departure until yesterday morning.  We drove 825 miles yesterday, and have two similar days ahead of us.

We'll be arriving in Dallas today and I'm looking forward to seeing mom.  If things had gone according to plan I'd be typing this from her house and not this hotel, but she seemed to take the change in plan in stride.  Regardless, we'll be there by this afternoon.

Maggie has been a wonderful travel companion.  She's really great on long road trips and actually seems to enjoy them.  The days leading up to leaving, though, seemed to concern her.  I don't doubt it.  She's seen me prepare to travel before where either she didn't get to go, or something else that she didn't like happened.  Once we got going she got right into the groove and as I type this she's happy and looking up at me.

I try to stay at La Quinta's when I travel with pup.  They've got the best dog policy and although the quality varies they're typically clean and quiet and comfortable.  This particular one is very nice and I like the fact that it's one of the kinds where the doors face the parking lot so you can just drive up to your room.  I've got a bike strapped to the back of the car and it was convenient to take it off and roll it in without having to go through a lobby, down a hall, or any of that other hassle.

When you're alone in a car for hours on end you've got lots of time to think.  As I've gone over recent events I noted that I've had two people in my life over the last few weeks use the term "God's Will" to me.  I find it interesting that anyone would presume to know what that is, but yet people want to use it to explain or excuse their own actions or inactions.  Regardless...

I'm no theologian, but my spiritual sense is as healthy as it has ever been.  I have always envisioned myself as an active participant in my life.  That is, that I've been given this chance to live my life and the tools to build something and that it's more than my responsibility - it's my obligation - to make the most of it.  I own that, and although I continually thank the Higher Powers for their gifts and their guidance that's all I ask for.  I'll do the work to make my life whatever it becomes.

I'm standing on the front edge of some significant things in my world and I'm not afraid.  My head and my heart work together to guide me and I've got total trust in how I'm feeling.  Eventual outcomes in life are never guaranteed but so long as you go into them with a sense of purpose you'll be fine.  I've got a very healthy, strong "Will" myself.

The thing that bothers me with that phrase, I think, is the context in which people seem to use it.  It seems more like an excuse, or some kind of "not my fault" if things don't work out thing.  And while I appreciate that each of us contemplates our Faith in our own way I just don't buy that.

I recognize God's involvement in bigger things: if I die in my sleep tonight, or if I get hit by lightning, or if I encounter some other "Act of God" like thing.  Ultimately, I believe that people must be responsible for their own actions so to define the course of their lives so to justify what happens (or doesn't) as being forced upon them by some larger power is a cop-out.  Own it.  I'm just saying...

So, whether or not we arrive safely to our destination or not may be part of some larger plan.  But whether or not we get out of here by 8:30 is more up to me than God's Will.  And, we will...

They just had a story on CNN about some woman who is selling her prized possession - a potato with markings that she says resemble Jesus - on eBay.  Oy.  Somehow I think the most divine thing about the potato is that it exists at all.  The markings, methinks, are happenstance....

Well, the next thing that gonna happen is that I'm going to take a shower.  Keep your fingers crossed for another good day on the road.  If all goes well we'll be in Texas tonight.

Time to get the car packed back up and on the road.  We've got a long way to go today.  :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

No Hurry, but I wish it were Sunday.

IOS 5 for iPhone came out yesterday.  And apparently lots and lots of people were in a hurry to get it.  Unfortunately, there was a problem that seems more than isolated and some had to scramble back to get their iPhone restored to the factory settings (details here).

I guess I'm not sure what features are so exciting to want it on Day 1 but I'm more than happy to wait for a bit to let the bugs shake out.  When iPhone 4 came out there was initially a problem with the antennas and they eventually fixed that by providing a free case (which I got).  I also just generally figure that early versions need to go thru their paces before they're really ready for prime time.

I'm getting ready for a road trip.  There was a time not all that long ago that getting in the car and driving for 500 or 600 or more miles and then back again was something I seemed to do every other weekend. But thankfully I haven't done a road trip in quite a while so I may have gotten out of practice.  The last trip I'd classify as a "road trip" was when I drove between Charleston and Rochester over July 4.

There are lots of good things about this trip, one of which is being able to visit with my mom.  I haven't seen her for several months so the 1100 miles of road between here and there will be gone before you know it.  I do admit that road-warrior is not something I want to get in the habit of doing or being anymore.  But it's not something I'm shy about when necessary either.

I was chatting with a friend this evening saying that if I could take a pill and wake up, and it'd be Sunday night, I'd do it in a heartbeat.  But I can't do that, so I'll do what needs to be done....

Next weekend I'll be in Provincetown for Fantasia Fair. The extended forecast is calling for partly sunny skies with high temperatures in the low to mid 50's.  That's fall.  I hope the leaves are still bright, too.  That'd be sweet...

It's no secret that it's already election season.  The Presidential election doesn't happen for over a year but all the posturing and all the games  that get played started months ago.  I can't speak for anyone else but it's almost like seeing Christmas decorations shortly after the 4th of July - it just ruins things.  It is unfortunate that this kind of silliness has come to pass itself off for politics these days but apparently it has.

Does anyone think that recent gains made in the LGBT world won't be the target for the right?  Those who supported equality and those involved in supporting DADT, or the ongoing effort to repeal DOMA, or would sponsor ENDA - it attracts the wingnuts like a magnet.

In one recent story, a Republican Florida Congresswoman is under attack for supporting repeal of DOMA because her son is trans  (story here).  I'd support my child, too.  That's more than simply being a good parent.  That's being a good person.

Anyway - lots to do before I hit the road tomorrow so this is gonna be short and sweet.  I'm praying for good weather, good traffic, safe roads, well-behaved car, and time passing quickly.  The clock is ticking....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Fall is here.  We've been smack-dab in the middle of a flow of wet, cooler air pumping up from the storm in Florida that's being held in place by a High Pressure system to our west.  It' finally headed out of here later today, although if you live on the east coast you're gonna see this thing come splashing through.

We've had on and off rain, some pretty impressive winds, and general "wet" for several` days now. 

I took a bunch of wet fall photos while taking the pup for her morning walk today.  These kinds of days have been relatively infrequent and I wanted to be sure to remember them.....

I enjoy autumn.  It has a unique "feel" to it for me.  I was asking myself the other day if it has always been this way for me, or if this ability to "feel" things is a relatively new phenomenon in my world.  I find I have a deeper connection to "stuff" that seems to involve some layer of emotional attachment (or detachment, as the case may be) and fall is one of those things....

For example, I've had more apples in the last week than in the entire last year combined.  Delicious Honey Crisp apples.  Soooooo good.  Apples (and caramel!) are fall food.

Winter, on the other hand, is a whole other story.  My emotional response to cold and snow is to avoid it.

One of the best parts of 'being" over recent years has been the integration of my emotions into pretty much everything.  That was hard to handle at first because my mind wasn't wired like that so the addition of so much emotion tended to overload me from time to time.  But now I can't imagine NOT feeling the things I do or the things that happen in my life, both for better or for worse.

I mentioned a while ago that I still get estrogen injections.  Although I could easily go on some low maintenance dose of oral estradiol, that doesn't seem to provide that same level of emotional integration that calibrates my world.  And whereas someone can manage hormone levels strictly by the numbers I've come to accept that there is an intangible component to it that can't be measured.  Perhaps that's emotional, as well.  Regardless, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and I've pretty much found my own balance there.

Speaking of balance - yesterday was National Coming Out Day.  I'm not all that ashamed to admit that I didn't come out to anyone yesterday.  Actually, on second thought, I did.  I found my best friend from high school, Dave, on Facebook and wrote to him.  I don't really expect to hear back but it's something I wanted to do and is part of that "coming out again and again" process that always seems ongoing.  But I think of it more as a "re-introduction" than Coming Out in the traditional sense.

As I look back over my time here in Charleston I've only had "the discussion" with a handful of people, most of them on a need-to-know basis.  The people who need to know for one reason or another know and that's the way it should be, at least for me.  Whoever else knows - I don't really care or worry about that.  Although I write about these topics here in my day-to-day world they really don't pop into my head all that often.  I think that's why this blog has endured, as it's my ongoing opportunity to express those parts of my life....

Similar to my post a few days ago about my body, I find that being "out" isn't binary.  I'm generally out where I want to be out but that doesn't encompass every aspect of my life.  It's contextual.  And NOT being out isn't because I'm ashamed or trying to keep it secret, it's simply that it's not appropriate for the level of intimacy for any particular interaction or relationship.

I am a cornucopia of letters - not any one thing - in that I'm lesbian, too.  It's possible for me to come out as one without coming out as the other.  I found it absolutely fascinating to notice some of the people around us as Trace and I walked hand-in-hand around downtown Charleston.  No apologies there.  And I'll never refer to her simply as "a friend".  She's more than that.  She's my partner.

The Washington Post ran a blog entry yesterday asking "National Coming Out Day: What  does it Mean To You?"  Some of the interesting responses:
The problem I see with gay peoplei s that they feel a need to tell people they are gay. I mean I do not care if they are gay or not and I do not think most people do either-so why tell everyone. I do not go out and say "I am straight" who really cares.
What does this day mean to me? It means my country has gone so far down the path away from God that we don't even know to be ashamed of our sins. It means the entertainment media and news media have been successful in their attempt to bully and yes "brainwash" us into thinking that we should be ashamed for seeing something wrong with homosexuality. It means this nation cannot long survive. It means those of us who would be true to God's word must have increased courage and willingness to stand on our convictions without being propped up by sympathetic public opinion.
One of the things that I think gets missed in all of this is the process of coming out to yourself and just how important that is in the scheme of things.  Whether someone EVER comes out publicly or not as anything, getting past the questioning and the shame and the guilt to accept something about yourself is a difficult, time-consuming, painful process.  As far as I'm concerned, NCOD is  more about coming out to self, or re-affirming that coming out process, than anything public.

I also think one of the key elements of the day is to recognize those who come out as allies.  Being publicly supportive of LGBT people can be problematic for some.

The day is observed throughout the country.  San Antonio.  Florida.  A student at Yale wrote about the need for people coming out to recognize the need to come out to support trans people as well (story here).

What made the biggest difference in my own coming out process?  Finding other like me who shared their stories.  That single thing helped me to gradually realize that I wasn't as alone as I had felt all those years, that there were others like me out there living happy lives, and that whether you accept something or not doesn't change whether or not it's true.

So - Although I am so much more than a letter or two I take the opportunity to thank those who came before, and to re-affirm my own sense of self as proudly both L and T.  And happy.  I'm coming out today as H.

Come to think of it,  I'm  Happy.  I'm Energized.  I'm very self-Aware. I'm Lesbian.  I'm Trans.  Did I mention that I'm Happy?  And I'm always Yearning for more out of life - so much to do, so little time.  So, I guess I'm coming out as HEALTHY.  Go figure....

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Change in the Air

Change is good.  I keep telling that to myself all the time.  And while I realize that not ALL change is good  it's one of those oxymorons that the only constant IS Change.  Everything changes, and the more comfortable someone is with that reality the easier they can integrate it into their lives.

Change is a topic I've considered for a long time, and this coming week is an other chapter in my ongoing narrative of change.  I've had some significant changes lately - welcome, amazing, wonderful changes - that have opened the door to even more change.....

The weather here has gone thru 2 stages of change from summer to fall.  The first was typical warm summer weather.  These last ten days have been amazing - cooler, sunny, just incredible.  But yesterday the wind started blowing from offshore and a storm that's apparently sitting off Florida is getting ready to drench us all week long.  I'm enjoying the death throes of summer here while I can.

October is the month for the Fall Tour of Homes and Gardens throughout historic downtown Charleston.  Different areas of the cities provide tours, historic discussions, and other things throughout the month.  The house I'm living in was the inspiration for what eventually became the Gershwin musical "Porgy and Bess", and iconic Charleston landscape architect Loutrel Briggs lived here in the early 1900's so groups of tourists are always stopping by, taking photos, or trying to peer thru the iron gates at the garden.  The history of this complex of 3 buildings indicates that it was once a tenement and housed over 100 people - something I can't for the life of me imagine.

The reason I mention any of this is that the gardens of my house were open as part of the tour yesterday so there was a long line of people streaming through all afternoon long.  Thankfully the weather was still pretty nice so the musicians and all the people didn't have to protect themselves from rain.  Maggie watched it all with kind of a quizzical look - we don't usually have much traffic through here....

Visitors to my yard as part of Charleston Home & Garden Tour

On other topics...

I like caustic comedian Lewis Black.  I find him funny, and his direct tell-it-like-it-is approach to controversial topics can sometimes make me laugh out loud.  His recent take on the Chaz Bono DWTS uproar was one of them (he starts talking about Chaz 3:00 into the clip):

Too funny, and too true.

The Australian High Court recently rendered a decision that will reverberate.
In what may well turn out to be one of the most imperative but controversial judgments made by the Australian High Court of late, the court has on Thursday released its verdict that it is not mandatory for transsexuals, who are looking for official gender reassignment, to undergo painful and expensive reproductive organ operation so as to gain recognition as male or female.

Read it here.

This topic continues to inflame passions both outside and inside the community, but the trend towards social recognition that gender is more than simply physical is a force that continues to move in a progressive direction and no amount of name-calling, whining, or shouting will change that.  The beauty of these kinds of decisions is that it sets not only social precedents but legal precedents as well which takes elements of "opinion" out of the discussion in those forums.  The Court articulated in a single sentence how I've felt on the topic for a long time:
"Social recognition of a person's gender does not require knowledge of a person's remnant sexual organs", read the verdict released by the Australian High Court.

In another of these social visibility opportunities, ESPN aired a documentary on Renee Richards last week as part an ongoing film series (see short clip).

I remember when all of that was happening back in the '70s.  She's undeniably the first public person with whom I could identify as I struggled with my own situation as a high school student.  And while we've come a long way in so many areas recent events indicate that the intersection of gender and athletics remains a dangerous minefield.

As an athlete I've made a number of friends in the community with others who experience similar challenges.  Several of us compete at national or international levels so rules of eligibility are important for us.  And whereas I think several governing bodies have guidelines on these things that doesn't change the backroom grumbling that I'm sure goes on.  One sport actually changed their rules to prevent a trans competitor from participating until a law suit forced them to change it back...

One friend recently competed and won a gold medal in Sr. Women's Fencing (news here).  Congratulations to her, not only for her achievement but for having the courage to follow her path.

I own the domain name "".  When I got it a couple of years ago I envisioned a sort of "Transsexual Woman's Successes" site similar to the one that Lynn Conway started years ago.  It would provide visibility to how many of us there are, resources, and other content of interest.  Knowing that you're not alone is a tremendously empowering thing - Lord don't I know.  Anyway, it's another project I've had on the sidelines for a while and hope to get something there over the next few months.  If you'd like to be included - please let me know...

A couple of people have asked about brief mention of a new body "adornment".  When I turned 50 I got the tattoo on my leg and I'm still very happy with that.  The most recent "upgrade" is something I've thought about for a while but only recently got the nerve to do.  I got a small nose piercing....

I'm liking it.  Special thanks go to Trace for holding my hands through the piercing.  That helped A LOT!!  :)

President Obama spoke at the HRC National Dinner in DC a couple of weeks ago.  He recognized that we've got some unfinished business to do.  Specifically, there's the passage of an inclusive ENDA.  And there's the repeal of DOMA.  Both are very important to me as (a) I need and expect to be able to keep my job regardless of any particular part of my past and (b) I very much expect to be married again - to a woman - so gaining Federal legal recognition is more than simply symbolic.  As the elections ramp up the tendency to avoid controversial legislation make getting these things done sooner rather than later becomes more critical.

Would we even have been having these discussions just a few years ago?

Friday, October 7, 2011

My Body

I have been at peace with my body for a while now.  It's a good thing, too, because my soul is trapped in here and it's nice that they can both finally get along.  That wasn't true for a long, long time.

I think everyone has something about their body that they'd change if they could and I'm no different.  I've got a few areas that are either too big, too small, to loose, too tight, or too something.  But these are merely quibbles and in the scheme of things are hardly worth noting. 

Contrast today with a time when I'd change everything if I could (and, by and large, I did!).  I had a body make-over of the most significant kind and I continue to marvel at the effects of it all, not just on my physical self but on my social self, my spiritual self, my emotional self, and my rational self as well.  Finding congruence where there had been none before is a big deal, so alignment is more than simply about body parts.  It's bigger than that.

There are those who want to define being transsexual as a "birth defect" and I'm not heading into that territory here.  I do agree that this incongruence between body and spirit is inborn, and I agree that we treat it medically.  The bigger question, though, is whether or not it actually "fixes" what's wrong.  That's the crux of the entire dilemma.  Thankfully - it can, and it does.  But other things have changed in me, as well.

For example, over the years my sense of masculinity and feminity have changed significantly.  I've talked in the past about how our culture assigns gender-specific traits to things and behaviors and it can get very grouchy about crossing that boundary.  Sometimes it actually celebrates the non-conformity.  More often, though, it punishes it.  But it wasn't until I came to peace with that in myself that I could truly find peace.

I've written in the past that I started with some vision in my head of what a woman was supposed to look like and act like and do.  And as I transitioned that vision served as the steering mechanism as it reminded me when I wandered too far off.  The thing I came to realize over time, though is that the path to this mythological "thing" called womanhood and my path to simply being me were not one and the same.  The paths crossed from time to time, but abandoning the pressures to be stereotypical and simply doing what felt comfortable has made all the difference.

I've got two pictures of myself taken within the last two weeks that are good points of reference in this discussion.

The first were taken at the Colorado LGBT Center Gala in Denver the Saturday before last.  I'm very happy right now and I think that comes across in the photos from the evening.  The dress feels feminine, I felt good, and all things considered I'm very happy with them.

Compare that to a photo I took in the locker room yesterday.  I had just finished a workout and caught the reflection of myself in a mirror out of the corner of my eye.  I've been training very hard to prepare for Wrestling season and it's apparent in the photo.  I'm in very good shape.

The reason I even mention any of this is that I remember a time when I was ashamed of my shoulders and arms.  I had deluded myself into believing that they were somehow "un-feminine" and I worked very hard to erase them.  For years I wouldn't have touched a weight for anything, and the overall goal was actually to break it all down and wash it all away.  I'm glad I was only marginally successful.

I've come to peace with the fact that I'll never be 110 pounds.  I've also come to peace that I am and will continue to be athletic.  Over the years it has simply become part of my world.

Why should that matter to anyone?  It matters because I'm not the only one.  I know many of us who have had similar backgrounds and who have gone through a similar effort to remove/erase/minimize features that are part of our athletic prowess.  And while it would be easy to succumb to the pressures to do more traditional feminine things some level of validation comes from the realization that others seem to feel similarly, and are handling it well.

That's not to say that my own balance is everyone's balance.  Each of us needs to find that for ourselves. But what I will argue is that to be muscular (per the second photo) does not necessarily preclude feeling or acting or looking totally amazing (photo 1).  Ergo, it doesn't mean that someone has to choose one or the other - it's possible to be both once you become comfortable enough to go there.

It can be a complicated conundrum.  Thankfully, for me it's not all that difficult anymore.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


These last few days represent significant milestones in my life.  My last day at work before starting FT was on Oct. 1 1999, meaning that my first full day as Donna was Sat. Oct. 2.  Yesterday marked what my first day at work (Oct. 4).  After I got home that day I wrote:
How long have we talked about this day? I can't believe it's here. I can't believe this is me. It's as if I were just a spectator watching this person do these things, and to realize that it's me is really amazing to me. I have no idea where I have gotten the strength/courage to actually show up here today. It has built itself up over time, because I know it wasn't here too too long ago. It's one thing to want it and talk about it, and another to do it. And still another to feel comfortable about it. How many people actually follow it through? Pretty amazing..
Although I know people who choose to forget those milestones in their lives, or move on from them and rarely look back, I choose to keep some of them close; this is one of them.  To appreciate where I've come from is a way to draw energy into where I am and where I'm going.

The single thing that shines thru to me from that time in my life is the profound sense of amazement of it all finally happening.  And whereas life can gradually wear you down to the point where amazement becomes frustration becomes apathy I readily admit that my sense of amazement at things happening remains alive and well.

I have a number of friends who seem aimless right now.  They seem rudderless and floating through life with very few options or ideas which way to turn, which is very sad.  I hate to see those who have struggled mightily to own their lives and their destinies give it all back based on complications life can throw at you sometimes.  But I daresay it happens more often than not, and those who were once commanding their lives become victims to their (sometimes self-inflicted) circumstances.

As for me: I will share that my own life priorities have changed in recent weeks as a direct result of my relationship with Tracy.  Goals and plans I had two months ago that are very much within my reach right now have been sidelined because of other, new priorities. That's not to say that they're in any way transient or that they are (or were) more or less important than anything else.  But as far as I'm concerned when a special relationship enters an already full life things need to be moved around in order to give it the high priority it needs and deserves.  The more we're together, the more special she makes me feel.  That's where I'm at....

Tracy and I had a wonderful time together during her week here. The weather has been spectacular all week long, with bright sunny skies and coolish autumn temperatures reaching into the 70's.  From the moment she landed everything felt so seamless and effortless; it was truly magical.  Even the mundane stuff was fun.  I got a small "body ornament" over the weekend that I've been wanting. We took Maggie to the vet together on Saturday. Sunday was spent kayaking through some of the lowcountry marshes, walking together on the beach, and enjoying a nice quiet dinner out with a friend. 

She boarded a plane to fly home today.  I was sad to see her go, and ended up being sniffly about it for the entire rest of the day.  And I'm just now realizing how tired I am.  The energy of being together has given way to the need to get some sleep.

In other news, I'm actively looking to move my blog back to a WordPress platform.  I moved it to Blogger a year ago after some hacking pulled me down for a while, and that database  has since become corrupted.  I'm hoping to fix it, to migrate all the stuff I've added here, and to generally get things cleaned up a bit.  There are a number of reasons - but first I've got to get everything working again.

There was an article about my wrestling recently (see it here).  Back to my point about being aimless - I'm certainly not that.  If anything, I sometimes feel I've got too many goals.  But it's just that perhaps I should aim for less dangerous ones.  :)

I've heard from a number of friends about SCC this year.  I'm told ~900 people attended which is nice to hear.  Many of the larger conferences are suffering (or have folded) for a number of reasons so seeing that this venerable Grand Dame of the trans conference season is very much alive and well.  It was part of a bigger series of events this year with both WPATH and GLMA having conferences in Atlanta that same weekend, but it still bodes well.