Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

I've said it before, and I'll say it again because it continues to be true.  The single-most important role in my life...the one that provides the deepest sense of fulfillment... is being my son's father.  Not his I am most certainly not that.  His father.  Physically, socially, legally, spiritually - I am my son's Dad in every sense, and proud of that fact.  Despite  else that has changed in our lives...that dynamic has not.  Thank God.

Thankfully this year we didn't get any emails or calls from reporters asking what my son calls me, or how we celebrate Father's Day.  Whatever words I use to describe the relationships in my life don't also necessarily define me.

The second most important role in my life is in being my dad's child.  Being his living spirit is something that's real and tangible in my day-to-day world.  I truly believe that by doing that he continues to have an active, living presence in the world despite his passing in 1998.

My Dad - as I remember him

When I think of Father's Day, I think of him.  I miss him, even all these years later.  It still seems odd to me that I don't have anyone to call, or anyone to send a card to.  The first year after his death the particular holiday blindsided me with an emotional punch I wasn't expecting, but the ensuing years have been a bittersweet mixture of celebration and sadness.  I realize I'm not alone in how this day "feels" for many fathers....

This year, I'm preparing for my road trip.  I expect to put several thousand miles on the truck, and if all goes according to plan I'll see my mom and son this week.

Yesterday I learned that my mom will need a pacemaker but that she's putting it off until fall - after her birthday, my niece's wedding in August, and the "harvest" of her iris garden in September.  If anything,  Fathers Day reminds me to make the most of Every Day while I can.  I've got a little bit of time on my hands, so I'm putting it to good use....  :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I'll start with today's photo.  Actually, it's from yesterday.  We had a nice morning, some hard rain over noontime, with the sun breaking through as I was walking to my truck.  I posted a couple of photos on my SnapLog.  One is of some flowers as the sun was breaking out this afternoon, and another was of sunset as I was walking around my neighborhood.

As for the first photo - the flowers with the fresh raindrops on them were intriguing so I took a couple of close-ups.  I absolutely love this time of year, and one can never be moving too quickly to stop and appreciate simple beautiful things like these.

I find that my relationship with my blog is much like a relationship with a friend.  Sometimes, we just need to "talk" more often depending on what's happening in life.

During my transition a dozen years ago I had so much to to much that I needed to "output"...that finding safe outlets became as critical as breathing.  I can't thank the people who invested the time an effort to be what I can only describe as "pen-pals" with me enough...SMRInExile was at the top of that list.  That, and an on-going journal that didn't judge or complain.

I recently fixed some broken links on my website that bring those early days back.  They are the original documents and writings that formed the basis of my book.  And they're available online again for anyone interested in getting a sense of how it was for me (Trapped In Blue).

A word on current events....

Back in 2007 I left the Board of Directors of the Human Rights Campaign over our failure to support trans-people in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).  It was a very public split, and one that I'd do again in a heartbeat.  The thought of dropping people most needing protections because they were also perceived as a potential political liability is contrary to what brought me into activism in the first place.

I've argued for a long time that eventually corporate America will implement discrimination protections and will remove barriers to benefits that have been embedded in corporate policies for decades, making ENDA almost moot.  But the fact is that having a job - having a career - is a significant part of validation that satisfies not only the practical day-to-day needs of paying bills and living life, but of personhood.  As a society, codifying our values has more than symbolic value.

The reason I mention any of this today is that the Senate held a hearing yesterday regarding ENDA (story here).  And although I've faded from much of the spotlight in those circles my passion for those core tenets of justice and equality remains as bright as it ever was.  Kylar did an amazing job, and having those kinds of opportunities to humanize ourselves as otherwise ordinary people simply living life don't come around very often.

Reaction to the hearing by those looking to perpetuate age-old stereotypes was immediate and typically nasty (see an example here) but that's nothing new.  Nothing has changed in that regard.  But I'm confident that opportunities like this will continue to demonstrate that who "we" are and what "they" want to portray us to be are not one and the same.

I mentioned in a previous post that I feel my "history" has affected my career in negative ways over the years.  Most of us have similar experiences.  As articulated in US News and World Report today:

A recent study, "Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey," found that discrimination against transgender people was a very real problem in America.
According to the study, transgender people experienced unemployment at twice the rate of the general population. Ninety percent of transgender people surveyed reported experiencing harassment or discrimination on the job or had to take actions to avoid it.

Legislation isn't going to fix that.  But it needs to be fixed, and it's not going to happen by itself.

I do my part.  I'm in the process of converting a talk I did at the Department of the Interior last fall into a format I can share on my website.  I hope to have that done over the next couple of days.

If it's not done by tomorrow it'll have to wait.  As I previously mentioned, I'm thinking about doing a road trip to see my mom and son.  Lots to do between now and departure time....

Finally - I've mentioned before that I've followed the Canadian power trio Rush since I first became aware of them in high school.  The first time I saw them in concert was 1979, and I've seen them more than a dozen times since.  My brother is even more of a Rush-nut than I am.

Anyway, they released their 19th studio album this week.  It's nice to see bands from my youth, bands whose song played an integral part of my own growing up, still doing what they do and doing it well (album review here).    :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


One of the things I enjoy about this area is the sky.  In Phoenix I remember it being deep, vivid blue.  Almost non-stop.  It was virtually cloudless except for the late afternoon monsoon storms that would blow in add some localized drama to the scene.  Here, we've got skies with personality - all sorts of different clouds blowing through, sunny one minute and cloudy the next, storms offshore, all kinds of things.

That's a good analogy for life right now: Charleston skies.  Dramatic clouds, peeking sun, fast moving storms....Just, well, complicated.  I used to joke that one of the easiest jobs in the country would be as a meteorologist in the Phoenix area where it's sunny, sunny, sunny, sunny, and hot, hot, hot, hot all summer long.  Here - they've got no clue, so you just prepare for anything and anything usually happens.

I'm very strongly considering driving to Texas this weekend.  It'd be nice to see my son for Father's Day, and I haven't been able to spend any time with mom in a while.  I've got a little time on my hands so all I need to do it hop in the car (or truck) and that'll be that.  I promise to myself not to do the Charleston to Dallas portion all in one day - I did that in the fall and I haven't forgotten how crummy I felt for days afterwards.

I had a very pleasant weekend.  The Spoleto event we attended on Saturday night was wonderful.  It was called "Traces" and was some mixture of dance, Cirque du Soleil type acrobatics, humor, and just plain fun (link here).  It's one of the two events that the box office guy recommended when I told him we'd like to go to two fun things....he was right on both counts.

Afterwards we stopped for 10-layer coconut cake on the walk home.  Yumm.  Sunday's highlight was brunch.  And a nap.  I can't remember the last time I took a nap.  But apparently I needed one....

So - that's that for now.  Perhaps a road-trip on the horizon.  I've done it a number of times before so it's not that big a deal.  But for some reason the need to spend a little time with family has become stronger recently.  I will listen to the callings...

Saturday, June 9, 2012


The weekend is upon us again.  Today looks to be a pristine day so I'm hoping to do a bike ride to the beach.  We've got tickets to a Spoleto Festival event tonight, and then reservations for brunch tomorrow morning.  All things considered it's shaping up to be a relaxing next couple of days.  I hope so.

I realized even before I started to transition that the minute others learn about my unique "situation" is one of those moments when I become more vulnerable than I had been minutes before.  There's no way to gauge the impact, and in fact in my life there's no way to gauge when that moment occurs - when others "find out".  As I've said before - it's not a general topic of discussion and in the day-to-day mechanics of life it really doesn't creep in all that often.

But sometimes, you can surmise things that defy explanation.  When you make a new friend who suddenly stops contact for no specific good reason life experience has demonstrated that there's a better than even chance that they've Google'd me and what they learned made them uncomfortable.  That's a shame but that's reality.  All is well one moment - people freaked out the next.

I can point to one other time in my life when my history has significantly impacted my career.  I'm absolutely certain that there are more and I suppose I'm glad I don't know more than I do.  Regardless, I believe a second of these "events" happened this past week.  I really don't want to go into detail but back to my original statement when things happen that are contrary to things that happened recently before and have no discernable reason for changing it becomes a suspect tilt point.

Although I've said this, I've bristled at the notion of being a victim.  Do I believe we're treated unfairly as transpeople?  Absolutely.  But it becomes way too easy to use this as the scapegoat for anything and everything that goes wrong in your life.  It's certainly not nothing, but it's not everything either.

This, in fact, is the crux of my activism.  I've learned that there are two things I can do about this continuing negative impact on my life and on the lives of other trans-people when they arrive at a similar tipping point with people in their lives.  One is to hide and hope others don't notice.  To fade into go try to become "just a".

The other is to simply live your life and when these moments happen, to bring them to light.

Just this past week, at the Miss USA pageant, there are reports that one of the contestants is giving up her state crown because of a recent decision to allow trans-women to compete (story here).  This, following the eventual winner's very well-said, courageous, answer to an on-air question about trans contestants (details here).  If Miss PA had been asked that same question, on air, it would have been interesting to see what came out of her mouth.

There's certainly no way for me to become invisible even if I wanted.  The fact that I not only renewed my website for another 5 years but have already started updating it make is a statement specifically about that - I refuse to hide.  But all it takes is for any employer, internet "pen pal", or other to learn personal stuff about me is to type my name into a Google search.

I work for the military.  It's got a unique culture to it....and one that's not necessarily supportive of anything that challenges a certain machismo.  One of the guys I work with confided in me a few weeks a go that he'd seen my CNN interview on the Miss Universe controversy and wanted to share his support.  I really appreciated that.

Well - after what happened at work this week he texted me:
"After the CNN interview I looked you up because I think you're cool as shit.  I saw the pictures of you when you were young and of you wrestling.  Whether its people or're a winner.  Don't go away.  I have very few people to look up to."

I'm not going to go into more detail than that now.  It's a beautiful Saturday morning and I can hear the weekend calling me....

Oh - one more thing.  We went to see Prometheus 3D at the IMAX theater yesterday.  Special effects were amazing, and the usual IMAX "Experience" was overwhelming as usual.  There's a scene where this spacecraft lands and honest to God the sound is so good it makes your chair vibrate just like you were there.  But the story itself was "odd" at best, and was full of holes that just didn't make sense.  That's not to say we didn't enjoy it because we both did.  But after going to see a substantive movie last week this was a sensatory blast without much filling....

Onwards.  The day is a-calling.  And I'm a-coming...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Some Folks from my World.

In some aspects of my life I'm pretty spontaneous.  Or, at least I feel I am.  In others, tho, I'm consistent like clockwork.

Like Tuesdays.  Although there are lots and lots of good restaurants here in Charleston Tuesday nights I'm at half-price burger night at Blind Tiger Pub.  I just am.  Do they make the best burger I've ever had?  I wouldn't go that far....but they certainly old their own against anyone else.  But it's a combination of food, atmosphere, loyalty, and building relationships.

One of the guys there is Victor.  I bump into him at the gym fairly often and he's a nice, friendly guy with a great smile who goes out of his way to chat.  The first time he came up to me I didn't recognize him since he wasn't wearing his BTP T-shirt.  Now I'd recognize him anywhere.


Another person from my world:  Alyssa, the bartender at Oak Steakhouse.  Alyssa rocks.

Other brief topics.  I'm tickled that one of the questions that they asked the new Miss America had to do with trans contestants, and that she answered it so well.

I started working out again.  Finally.  As I've explained a few tunes recently I just haven't had the time so getting back in shape 

Monday, June 4, 2012

June begins

So, here we are.  At the beginning of June.  It's almost "summer".  Actually, in many respects it already is.

I drove to Jacksonville to meet a friend from Arizona now living in Florida for dinner.  It's a 4 hour drive from here to there, but it's actually a fairly petty drive and the traffic isn't too bad so it goes quickly.  I had just covered that road the weekend before, but Friday was her birthday so it was nice to have the chance to catch up on things.

People come and go in our lives, but I think some of the best relationships aren't necessarily the ones where you see each other every week or talk a lot, it's those that don't lose steam over the course of time and distance.  Renee and I climbed Humphrey's Peak a couple of July's ago (photos here) - the number of people I've gone hiking or camping with are few but it builds strong relationships.  Anyway, it was nice to see her.

On my way back I stopped in Savannah to look around.  I've heard people compare it to Charleston and wanted to see for myself.  Personally - I didn't see (or feel) whatever it is in Charleston that makes it such a special place for me but perhaps it's just own personal prejudice at play.  Regardless, although it's certainly a very nice place I'm glad I had a chance to visit.

There's actually quite the feud between Savannah and Charleston.  They compete for port traffic, so the fact that Savannah is dredging to deepen the waterway is causing much discussion around here.  I realize this probably isn't important to anyone except locals, but in some way there's no love lost between the two cities.

Regardless, I posted a few photos from my iPhone on my SnapLog page (link here).