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....

2 comments:

Sophie Lynne said...

I am glad that you did all that travelling and are safe. Wish i could've seen the speech.

As to the texas thing, it's not only not YOUR business, it's NO ONE'S business. But i guess people just won't let it lie there, will they. Too busy waving around a book they don't read and being holier than thou.

Tammy said...



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